Appointment With Destiny Chapter 14
"I'm so confused!" said Aeris sitting down. "I left the building and everything went crazy. Someone please tell me what's going on!"
"All I know is I saw Tseng talking to the three men who attacked you first," said Cloud. "I couldn't charge right in and help you without giving myself away, so I had to circle around. Apparently the last four guys came upon what was happening in the alley and took over from there."
"Yeah." Aeris turned a little pale. "You killed them."
"It's that or they would have killed both of us." Cloud's face was emotionless.
Aeris shivered. "Tifa and Jessie were trying to meet me. Why?"
"We need your help," said Barret.
"Why?" Aeris looked puzzled. "What can I do for you?"
"We need you to help our side," answered Jessie.
"Me?" Aeris laughed without humor. "You want me to join a terrorist operation? Do you know what you're saying?"
"We're not terrorists," said Cloud. "We're concerned citizens trying to save our world any way we can."
"By blowing up reactors?" asked Aeris.
"If that's the only way we can stop Shinra from sucking the Planet dry, then that what we'll do!" Tifa looked defiant. "We can't stand back and watch our world die."
"WHAT are they sucking dry?" asked Aeris.
"The mako energy that flows beneath the ground," said Marlene. "It's the source of all life on this Planet. If the all the Mako is removed, everyone will die."
Barret stroked the little girls head.
Mako here must be like oil back home, thought Aeris.
"What do you want me to do?" she asked.
"It's what we don't want you to do," said Tifa. "Don't help Shinra."
"Don't help Shinra destroy our Planet," repeated Tifa. "They've been waiting for you a long time Aeris."
"Waiting for me?" Aeris shook her head. "I don't understand. What do you mean they were waiting for me?"
"Jerin had powers far beyond those of magic," said Barret. "We believe somehow he was able to twist time and space or something, to make things happen his way. By the same token Lasinda had powers no one had ever seen a Cetra use either. When she crossed Jerin's path he decided he wanted her and no power on this Planet would stop him. Somehow he got the idea that he could add her powers to his and become the most powerful being on the Planet. He literally lost his damn mind when she rejected him. Instead of letting her go, he cast that spell or bent the future, put a loop in time, whatever it was to force his and her descendants meet in battle every generation."
"The battle of their kin raged on for nineteen generations," said Tifa taking over the story. "During all that time none of Jerin's descendants displayed powers to the extent that Jerin had. The Cetra beat them every time. It was assumed that Jerin's bloodline was being diluted by marriage to regular human women. After the first few tries, no one really expected his descendants to win."
"Then came Sephiroth," chimed in Jessie. "Sephiroth has mastered every materia he's ever put his hands on and displayed powers far beyond the magic taught to those skilled enough to become SOLDIERS. The general consensus is Sephiroth has inherited all of Jerin's powers."
Aeris didn't respond.
"We were hoping he'd lose just the same as those before him," said Cloud, "But when we found out otherwise, we weren't surprised at all."
"Your ancestors have put Jerin's kin in their place for nineteen generations," said Jessie. "Sephiroth's skills must a lot stronger than anyone gave him credit for if he beat you."
Aeris looked away. They don't know I don't have any powers, she thought.
"The way I've heard the story, Sephiroth had to break through three seals of defense to defeat you." said Wedge. "What kind of spell did he use to get through?"
Aeris looked down at her hands. Should I tell them?
"Are we being too personal?" asked Cloud.
Aeris shook her head.
Marlene stepped forward and touched her shoulder. "Are we making you cry?"
"Cry?" Tifa looked ashamed. "Oh Aeris, we didn't think! I'm so sorry!"
"It's all right." Aeris fought against the sting in her eyes. "I still don't understand why my defeat would make me help Shinra destroy this planet."
"President Shinra is looking for a source of more power," said Tifa. "He knows this planet's supply of Mako won't last forever. He wants something that will strengthen his position as the ruling power on this planet."
"Shinra has the same idea that Jerin had. They want to use a Cetra to make them more powerful," answered Cloud.
"What makes you think that?"
Cloud glanced at the others before answering. "We sneaked into the Shinra building a month or so before you came to our world. We were hiding in the ventilation shaft above the President's office trying to find out what they knew about us. The President and Rufus were talking about Sephiroth's chances of winning the battle against you. Rufus didn't think Sephiroth had a chance but the President was practically drooling over the ways they could use you to their advantage."
"The President is interested in the portal you came through," said Cloud. "He said if the portal could be opened to allow Jerin's descendants to pass through to the battle and return, it could probably be opened at any time by a Cetra. He said Sephiroth works for Shinra. That means the Cetra could be placed under Shinra control."
Aeris' eyes widened. "They've never tried to control me!"
"They just haven't started yet," said Barret. "You're married to Sephiroth, but you still live under Shrina's roof."
"Sephiroth is probably their greatest weapon," said Jessie quietly. "They can't afford to alienate his loyalty. They'll find a way to get him to do their dirty work for them. He may give them what they want . . . you."
Aeris stood up indignant. "Sephiroth wouldn't do that to me!"
He might if Shinra asks him to. He's very loyal to SOLDIER," said Tifa.
"Stop it!" cried Aeris.
"Look at your clothes Aeris," said Barret. "Think about it. Why did the Turks send those men after you? The Turks don't do their dirt for the hell of it. They get paid for what they do and they work for President Shinra. What are they doing, going after you?"
Aeris wrapped her arms around herself. "I don't know."
The cloth Cloud had wrapped around Aeris' arm slipped away from her wound. Tifa noticed a bright red smear.
"What happened to your arm?" she asked coming forward.
Aeris had almost forgotten about her arm, in the events that followed the second attack. She held it out and looked at it. It was bleeding again.
"One of those men pulled my arms behind my back. I must have cut myself on something sharp he was wearing."
"That's not a scratch," said Barret leaning closer to look. "That's a cut. Did they pull a knife on you?"
Aeris' face paled a bit.
"They cut her with a knife," said Barret and snorted. "I guess they wanted to make sure you were good and scared."
"It worked," said Aeris. "I was afraid for my life."
"Probably with good reason," said Cloud grimly.
"But why not put the knife to her throat?" asked Tifa, examining Aeris arm. "That's what I'd expect a mugger to do."
"I was struggling with them when I felt the cut," said Aeris, remembering. Then they threw me down and started pulling at my clothes. That's when the others came. I thought they came to help me, but they came to help themselves instead."
"I'm just surprised they didn't use their knife more," said Tifa. She caught Aeris' eyes and added, "Not that I wanted them to."
Aeris looked at her arm. "I have to go home now."
"You can't go like that," said Jessie. "Your blouse is torn."
"Come on," said Tifa tugging at Aeris' arm. "Let's get you cleaned up. Jessie can sew your blouse back together."
Aeris followed them into a back room. Cloud, Marlene, Barret and Wedge watched them go.
"She doesn't believe us," said Wedge.
"Tifa will talk to her," said Cloud. "We've got to get her to help us, or at least stand against Shinra or we're going to have serious problems.
* * * * *
Tseng wasn't happy and the look in his piercing dark eyes was making Elena nervous. She wanted to say something comforting, but she had no idea what would sound appropriate under these circumstances. Tseng, was the leader of their group. Slow to anger, he rarely showed emotion. The only way to tell if he was angry was to look into his eyes and see if they had taken on the appearance of smouldering coals. Even then, it was difficult to tell just how angry he was. The answer could come in the form of death or a great deal of pain. As the newest member of the Turks, Elena had never seen Tseng's temper unleashed before, but she'd heard more than enough about it. She decided not to say anything.
The only lead they'd found so far was a half-drunken man who claimed to have seen a girl of Aeris' description running with a blonde man. His instructions had led the Turks in the direction of the 7th Heaven, but the rest of the people on that grimy street were contradicting his story. When Tseng went back to confront the man, he was gone. There was nothing left to do but search the immediate area. They didn't find Aeris, but they did find Bacci and Norl hiding under the rusted body of an old truck.
Rude and Reno dragged them out and held them at gunpoint.
"Where is the girl Bacci?" asked Tseng. "Your orders were to cut her, get the blood and leave her alone!"
"I don't know!" Bacci's eyes were bright with terror. "We were doing what you said and we got jumped!"
"Yeah!" cried Norl. "We had her on the ground, you know, pretending we were going to rape her, but we were going to let her get up and run away so you could save her, honest. These other guys came and took her from us!"
"That's right!" whimpered Bacci. "They killed Stretch! There were too many of them. We were overpowered weren't we Norl? There must have been six or seven of 'em!"
"We found four bodies in the alley," said Tseng. "Who killed them?"
"We don't know," whined Norl. "We ran for our lives!"
Tseng glared at them a moment longer, then sighed.
"Where the blood I asked for?"
Bacci's eyes lit up and he starting patting his pockets. His hopeful expression changed to bewilderment as he patted his pockets again. He looked at Tseng nervously.
"I must have dropped it."
Tseng turned away from him. "Elena, please."
Elena pulled a gun from her shoulder holster and pointed it at straight at Bacci's face.
Bacci's eyes widened and he raised his hands.
"No! No! Don't!" Tears sprang to his eyes. "Please don't!"
She fired. The round passed through his hands before it struck Bacci's forehead. He went down.
Norl's mouth dropped open. He looked at Tseng.
"There were a whole bunch of them!" he cried. "We didn't have a chance! We were just three men!"
Tseng's expression never changed.
"Elena. Again please."
Norl's fearful expression gave way to hate. "You would have killed us anyway!"
Elena took aim.
"That was Sephiroth's bitch and you know it! You would have killed us anyway!" he snarled. "You never intended to pay us you bastard!"
Elena put him down with one shot.
"Very nice," said Tseng. "Now let's find the girl."
* * * * *
Sitting on the edge of a cot, Aeris winced as Tifa poured more antiseptic on the wound.
"Sorry," said Tifa, wiping around the cut with a soft cloth.
"It can't be helped." Aeris turned to watch Jessie sewing up the side of her blouse. I'll have to get rid of that when I get home. I don't want Sephiroth to know what happened to it. I can say I accidently cut myself."
"Forgive me for saying so," said Tifa, "But I'm surprised to hear so much affection in your voice for Sephiroth. I mean, he's the descendant of a man who tried to force one of your relatives to marry him. Nineteen women in your family have fought and won the right to live their own lives. Sephiroth's triumph forced you to leave your world and live in his. How can you have any feelings for a man like that?"
"I've been wondering the same thing," said Jessie. "Doesn't it bother you that you didn't have a choice about your future?"
"It did at first." Aeris sighed. "I even ran away but Sephiroth found me and took me back to Elmyra."
"Really?" Tifa pulled a square shaped bandage strip from a first aid kit. "I didn't know about that."
"I expected Sephiroth to treat me like a slave, but he's really been good to me."
"I can't imagine Sephiroth being good to anyone," said Jessie. She blushed when Aeris raised an eyebrow. "I mean-he's an okay guy, but he always seemed so distant to women."
"Maybe that's because he already knew he was promised to someone else," said Tifa. "Right Aeris?
"That's what he said." Aeris watched Tifa putting away her medical supplies. "I can't imagine Sephiroth turning me over to Shinra. He wouldn't do that to me."
"Then there's a line he won't go beyond," said Jessie, "That's good. I'm warning you though, you'd better watch your step around Hojo or he's liable to get you into his lab and do some of his crazy experiments on you."
Aeris shivered involuntarily.
"Hojo wanted to give me a blood test, to see if my immune system could handle the germs on this world. I wouldn't let him do it."
"Good girl," said Tifa. "Stay away from that nut. He experiments on the troops sometimes. That's why Cloud quit working for Shinra."
"That's not what Sephiroth said."
"I know. Cloud told me," said Tifa. "Maybe Sephiroth doesn't know the truth about Hojo. Hojo put Cloud through some terrible experiments. He finally escaped with Barret's friend Dyne. Unfortunately Dyne was killed outside of Midgar. That's why Barret adopted Marlene."
"President Shinra invited me to dinner not too long ago," said Aeris. "He's always been kind to me, yet you're telling me his company is doing terrible things. This is so hard to absorb."
"President Shinra wants to use your powers and Sephiroth's to make himself absolute ruler of this world."
"He's already President. What more does he want?"
"I don't think you really understand," said Tifa. "President Shinra is the president of his company. Each village here has their own government. The problem is the Shinra company is the only business on this world that supplies electrical power to the rest of us. President Shinra holds that over our heads. He's built a giant empire and an army to do what he wants. He gives special jobs to the Turks."
"What special jobs?"
"They kill people the President doesn't want around," explained Tifa. "Or they make sure people comply with what the President wants. Either way, you may end up dead."
Aeris paled. "The President had Tseng walk me back to my apartment that night. Why would he do that?"
"Probably to give Tseng a chance to look you over."
Aeris paled even more. "The Turks didn't just happen to see me outside the building did they?"
"I doubt it," answered Jessie. "They're probably supposed to keep an eye on you."
"Or worse," added Tifa.
"Why would they let those men attack me?" asked Aeris. "If the President wants to use my powers, why would he let the Turks hurt me? What are they trying to prove?"
"And why, knowing you're Sephiroth's wife?" asked Jessie. "Tseng is a very intelligent man. I never figured he'd want to go up against Sephiroth."
Aeris shivered again. "I want to go home. What am I going to do?"
Tifa touched her on the shoulder.
"Don't worry. My friends and I will help you."
"Here's your blouse," said Jessie handing it to Aeris. "As soon as you're ready, we'll get you back home."
"How?" Aeris looked frightened. "The Turks are out there somewhere. I'm not in a real big hurry to run into them now."
"Get dressed," said Tifa. "We'll think of something."
* * * * *
"What do we do now?" asked Reno. "She must have gone into another sector."
"She's here," said Tseng grimly. "Someone is hiding her."
"How are we supposed to figure out who that is?" Reno scanned area. "Everyone we've met so far says they haven't seen her."
"The only person who said he did has vanished," said Elena. "If we knew where HE was, we'd get somewhere."
"Someone knows him." Tseng walked toward the car. "Reno, drive us back to that house he was near."
Reno took the wheel. The trip to the house in question was short indeed. Reno drove fast. Anyone who didn't get out his path was going under his wheels. The people in Sector Seven were familiar with this trait and cleared the streets when the red haired Turk drove a car in the area. Reno slid to a stop in front of the house they'd seen earlier. The Turks climbed out. Tseng walked up to the door and knocked. A woman holding a small child answered it. Her eyes grew round when she saw who her visitors were.
"There was a man sitting on a box out near the street," said Tseng. "Have you seen him?"
The woman swallowed hard.
"Not since earlier this evening."
"Who is he?" asked Reno.
The woman adjusted the baby in her arms. "I don't know. I see him on the street sometimes but we don't talk."
"We need to talk to him," said Tseng. "Where does he live?"
The woman's eyes grew wider. "I don't know."
"Look lady." Tseng moved closer. "I don't have time to play with you."
"I'm not playing with you sir!" She adjusted the baby again. "I really don't know! He's just a drunk who hangs out on this street from time to time. I never talk to him."
Tseng glanced at Rude. Rude snatched the baby out of the woman's arms.
"What are you doing?" cried the woman. She grabbed for her baby, but Reno shoved her back.
"Get out of my way!" She tried to push past him and he shoved her away again.
"Where's the drunk?" asked Tseng.
"I don't know!" The woman held out her arms to Rude. "Please give me back my baby."
"Just tell us where he lives and we'll go away," said Elena. "Where is he?"
"How should I know?" The woman was crying now. "Please give me back my baby."
The baby started to cry.
"Please!" cried the woman.
"Who is he?" asked Tseng. "Does he live around here?"
"I DON'T KNOW!" The woman moved toward Reno again, but he put up a finger in warning. She stopped. "He's just a neighborhood bum. I mind my own business."
Rude shook the baby. It let out a scream and started wailing with all its might.
The woman made a cry of anguish and threw herself forward. Reno caught her and held her back.
"Squalling babies," said Reno in disgust. "I hate squalling babies! Don't you Rude?"
"They get on my nerves." Rude balanced the baby on one arm and reached for his gun with the other. He put the barrel against the baby's head.
The woman started screaming out loud. No one peeked out of their windows to see what was happening. No crowd gathered around.
"No!" she screamed. "Please no!"
Tseng watched her impassively.
Tears poured down her face. She tried to get past Reno again. He shoved her so hard is time, she fell backwards on the floor. Rolling over quickly she got on her knees and reached toward her child.
"Kill it." Tseng's face was expressionless.
"No!" screamed the woman. She jumped to her feet and pointed into the room behind her. "He's in there. He's in there. He's my brother."
Tseng glanced at Rude. Rude turned his gun barrel skyward and waited.
The woman moved aside. "He hid in my bedroom closet when you knocked. Go look! He's in there!"
Tseng looked at Elena. "Keep her here."
He drew his gun and nodded to Reno. They entered the house.
They found the man just as his sister said they would, in the closet behind a winter coat. Tseng motioned him out with a wave of his gun. He came out trembling.
"My own sister turned me in," he moaned. "She's my own damn sister."
"That's not my problem," said Tseng coldly. "You sent me on a wild goose chase and I don't appreciate it."
"No!" The man started sweating. "I didn't lie! I didn't. I saw them!"
Tseng aimed the gun at his forehead. "You sure about that?"
The man nodded wildly.
"I saw them. A spiky haired blonde man pulling a pretty brown haired girl by the arm. Her arm looked like it was bleeding. They ran past me and went around the corner!"
Tseng stared at him.
"I'm telling the truth damn it!" The man was sweating profusely now. "I wouldn't lie to you Mr. Turk, sir! I know better!"
Tseng didn't say a word.
"There was blood on the girl's arm, I tell you," cried the man. "Her blouse was torn!"
"Who was the man?" asked Tseng. "Have you ever seen him before?"
"I seen him around." The man wiped his forehead with a shaky hand. "I don't know his name though. "He goes to that bar sometimes."
"That Heaven place. A dark haired girl owns it."
"If you're lying to me . . ." Tseng pressed the barrel of his gun right against the man's head.
"I'm not lying! I'm not lying!" Tears streamed down the man's cheeks. "I'm telling you the truth!"
Tseng put his gun away.
"If I have to come back here, you're dead," he said. "If you run, I'll find you."
Reno grinned as he followed Tseng back into the livingroom.
"Give her back the kid," Tseng said as he went out the door.
Rude gave the baby to its grateful mother. She held it close and tried to soothe it out of its crying jag. The Turks climbed back in the black car.
"Let's pay Tifa another call," said Tseng.
The motor roared as the car sped away.
* * * * * *
Cloud and Jessie stood beside Aeris as the train pulled into the station.
"Why would the President send the Turks after me?" asked Aeris. "If he wants my help, this doesn't seem like the way to get it. Don't they think Sephiroth would be angry?"
Cloud shrugged. "Not if he's part of it."
"He wouldn't do that!"
"If you say so."
"You don't like him very much do you?" asked Aeris. "I can see it in your eyes."
"I don't like what he stands for," answered Cloud. "I admired him once, but if he can go on working for Shinra after all they've done, maybe he's not the man I thought he was."
"You said you were friends?"
"Sephiroth, Zack and I hung out quite a bit in the old days." Cloud looked away. "That was before things changed."
"Have you talked to Sephiroth about your feelings toward Shinra?"
"I tried once," he said. "But Sephiroth wasn't exactly listening."
"Here comes the train." Jessie looked at Aeris with concern in her eyes. "Are you sure you'll be safe when you get back?"
"I don't think they'll bother me if I can get back into the building before they do." Aeris wrapped her arms around herself. "I hope Sephiroth calls tonight. I'm going to tell him what happened."
The train slid to a stop.
"I hope you're right about him," said Cloud, guiding her to the door. "There had to be a reason for the Turks doing what they did. I only wish I knew what it was."
They found seats near a door in the third car.
"What about the checkpoints?" asked Aeris. "Won't they know I'm onboard?"
"Oh! That reminds me!" Jessie reached into her pocket and handled Aeris a packet wrapped in foil. "Here's your i.d. card. Don't take it out of the wrapper."
She reached in another pocket and pulled out two more cards. She gave one to Cloud.
"These are the fake i.d. we'll use to fool the checkpoints," she explained.
"What happened my regular i.d card?" asked Aeris.
"You're holding it in your hand," answered Jessie. "But that outer wrapper has another identity encoded on it. If the Turks tap into the checkpoint broadcasts, they won't know you're onboard or read your card as a fake."
"Don't think bad thoughts and maybe we'll be alright," said Aeris.
"It doesn't hurt to be an optimist." Cloud smiled at her.
Aeris noticed again how Cloud's eyes had the same glow as Sephiroth's.
The train left the station in a cloud of smoke.
* * * * *
The Seventh Heaven was dark when the Turks returned. Tseng didn't bother knocking on the door. It flew open from the impact of his foot. Reno aimed high, Tseng aimed low. A crash from the rear, told them Elena and Rude had entered through the back door. Both groups swept through the building and met in the main store room.
"They got away." Reno slid his gun back into the holster. "Now what?"
"They're hiding her," said Elena.
"They're taking her back to Shinra." Tseng frowned. "We have to reach them before they get there."
"You're not thinking about capping Sephiroth's wife are you?" Rude stood with his hands at his sides. "That's not going to go over well with her husband."
"I'm not that stupid." Tseng frowned. "Those fools blew it. Aeris doesn't know we were involved with her "mugging." We can still find her "accidently" and get her back to headquarters. We'll be heroes. Hojo and Scarlet will just have to find another way to get a sample of her blood."
"We'd better get going then," said Reno. "The fastest way to get her home is by vehicle or train. I don't think they have a car. Do you?"
Elena and Rude went out the door followed by Reno, but Tseng hung back.
"What's up Tseng?" Reno turned back, pushing his dark glasses up into his hair.
Tseng smiled. "Just want to leave my calling card."
He went back to the bar and picked up a bottle. He pulled out the cork and sniffed.
He poured the contents all over the tops and sides of the counter, then walked toward the door pouring liquid as he went.
Reno chuckled. "That's mean."
Tseng paused at the door. "I can't help myself. Got any matches?"
"You know I don't smoke." Reno pulled out a gold lighter.
"Nice." Tseng raised an eyebrow.
Reno gave it to him. "Somebody owed me money."
Tseng took the lighter and examined it. "Did he pay you?"
Reno shook his head. "I didn't see any sense in letting a good lighter go to waste."
Tseng shook his head. Flicking the lighter into life, he crouched and touched the flame to the damp floor. The trail of liquid ignited. Fire rushed toward the bar, climbed up the front and spread across the counter. Tseng gave the lighter back to Reno and straightened his clothes.
"Come on, we've got a train to catch."
The wheels squealed as the car pulled off.
Go To Chapter 15
Return To FF7 Fanfic