Appointment With Destiny Chapter 17
Aeris was a quick learner. By midday, Sephiroth was so pleased with her riding skills, he decided to start on her training.
"First you need your weapon," he said. He pulled the staff out of the holder on Serena's back.
"This is just a stick," said Aeris, taking it from his hands. "Am I supposed to beat things to death with it?"
"It came to you in the battle on your world," said Sephiroth, "And it followed you here. It's come to each Cetra in every battle. It's your weapon and you have to learn to use it."
"What makes you think it's a weapon?" she asked.
"It has materia slots," he said, pointing them out to her, "And materia. This weapon is called a Guard Stick. As you get better handling yourself in a fight, I'll buy you a something stronger."
"What kinds of materia is this?"
"This is lightening materia," he answered. Sephiroth unfastened a bag from his belt. "I would have given you this earlier but I haven't had a chance."
Aeris took the black bracelet from his hand. "What's this?"
"It's a Carbon Bangle," he said. "In basic training you would start off with a Bronze Bangle, but I'm jumping you ahead to a Carbon Bangle because it has more materia slots and better defense then the bronze."
"That's okay with me," said Aeris. "What types of materia are these?"
"Cure, Ice and the red one is a summon materia," replied Sephiroth. "In this case you have a Choco/Mog summon."
"You'll find out soon enough." Sephiroth looked over her shoulder. "Here comes your first fight."
Aeris turned around, saw what was coming and screamed. She ran behind Sephiroth.
"What is that thing?"
"It's a Hypogif," he said calmly. "You'd better start attacking him. He looks hungry."
"Me?!" Aeris looked at the approaching monster and dug her nails into Sephiroth's arms. "What am I supposed to do against THAT?"
"Why don't you try your lightening materia?"
"You haven't told me what to do!" The monster was getting closer. "Sephiroth do something!"
He pried her hands free and pulled her around in front of him.
"Concentrate on your lightening materia and think of where you want the bolt to go," he said.
The monster stopped a few feet away and roared at them. Aeris tried to run but Sephiroth held her firmly in place.
"Don't run from him," he said. "He'll only run you down and kill you. Use your materia."
"I can't!" she wailed. The monster took another step toward them. "Sephiroth, do something!"
"I am," he said in that maddingly calm voice. "Hold out your staff in both hands and concentrate on your lightening materia."
"You'd better," he told her. "It's getting ready to charge."
"Any minute now," he added.
"Won't it get you too?" she asked.
"No." Sephiroth leaned close to her ear and whispered, "I can put a shield around myself. You don't know how to do that yet. That means it will get you and not me."
Aeris' temper went into the red zone as the monster charged. Without thinking, she held out her staff and let go of it. It hovered in the air as she clasped her hands together, drew them back toward her head, then threw them toward the Hypogif. A bolt of lightening appeared in the sky above the monster and zapped it with a thunderous crackle. Aeris took her staff again as the monster howled and backed away.
"That's it," said Sephiroth, "Hit him again!"
Aeris wanted to snap at him but the monster charged again. The anger she felt toward Sephiroth was directed at her aggressor. She held out her staff and let it hover while she repeated the motion with her hands. The bolt knocked the monster off its feet. It jumped up shaking its head and snarled. It lowered its head and Aeris saw a flash. At the same instant, Sephiroth grabbed her around the waist and leaped to one side holding her close. Something passed them on the right.
"It's trying to cast Silence on you," he explained. "That will keep you from using magic. Hit it before it attacks again."
Before his startled eyes, instead of using her materia, Aeris rushed forward and began beating the monster viciously with her staff. It turned and twisted, trying to protect its head from her blows.
"What are you doing?" he shouted in horror. "Get away from that thing!"
Aeris was too busy raining blows on the Hypogif. Sephiroth rushed toward her pulling his masamune as he came. Before he could reach her, Aeris leaped back and held her staff out once more. She let go, raised her hands higher than before and thrust them toward the monster. Instead of using lightening this time, she sent an ice spell right into its face. The monster squealed in pain. Sephiroth stopped in surprise as Aeris grabbed her staff and started beating the monster again.
The Hypogif couldn't take any more abuse. It turned tail and ran. Aeris sent a lighting spell after it. The monster howled as the bolt struck its rump and ran faster. Aeris lowered her staff and placed a hand over her heart panting for breath. Sephiroth put his weapon back into its sheath and approached her with a dazed look on his face.
"I'm impressed," he said. "Maybe I won't have to teach you anything. You did pretty good by yourself."
He reached out to hug her but Aeris jumped away from him.
"Don't touch me!" she snapped. "You were going to protect yourself and let that thing get me! Some teacher you are! Some husband!"
She stalked away from him fuming.
Sephiroth looked after her, then followed.
"I wouldn't really have let it get you," he said.
She snorted and kept walking.
"That's an old trick we use in SOLDIER," he said. "It's used to make a nervous recruit fight back. Didn't it work on you? You were scared you know."
Aeris stopped walking turned around. There was doubt in her eyes but Sephiroth didn't look as if though he was making fun of her.
"Truth?" she asked.
"Truth." he answered.
Aeris sighed and the anger vanished from her face. "I did it, didn't I?"
"Yes you did," he said, taking her in his arms at last. "Whatever possessed you to beat that creature that way? That wasn't very smart of you."
"I wasn't beating the monster," Aeris' face turned red. "I was beating you."
Sephiroth let go and stepped away from her. He raised an eyebrow.
"Well . . . you made me mad," she said.
He stared at her.
"Well," she said defensively. "He made me mad too, but he was fair game!"
"Hmm," Sephiroth gave Aeris a speculative look. "There's quite a temper hidden under those innocent green eyes."
Aeris flushed a deeper shade of red.
"Maybe I'd better make sure there's a monster around when I know I'm going to make you mad at me," he said. "And congratulations. You do have powers because you just used magic. Only those with exceptional mental powers can use materia. Most people are born with a little. Some are born with a lot. A rare few have extraordinary powers. You're one of those. Some day you'll be able to use all the powers you were born with."
Aeris started to say something, but she stopped and leaned to one side to look around him.
"What are those?"
Sephiroth turned around.
"Spirals," he said. "They travel in groups of two or more."
"Are they dangerous?"
He gave her a look. "They're monsters Aeris."
"Let me put it this way,"Sephiroth folded his arms. "You'll be very sorry if one touches you."
In answer to her question, one of the Spirals rolled into a ball and flew at them, hissing at it came. Startled Aeris screamed and tried to step back, but she stumbled and fell on the ground. The Spiral swerved away from Sephiroth and came straight for her. Aeris screamed.
Sephiroth drew his masamune and swung it toward the monster. Aeris ducked and covered her head. The blade sliced through the whirling creature, sending two halves flying in opposite directions. Some of its bodily fluid splashed on Aeris.
"Yech!" she cried leaping to her feet, brushing at her clothes.
Blade in hand, Sephiroth frowned at her. "You don't have time for that."
She gave him a blank look.
"Pick up, you staff," he ordered. "That creature didn't come alone."
Aeris turned her attention toward the second monster. It was shuffling forward again. Quickly she grabbed her staff and sent a lighting spell at the Spiral. It hissed and kept coming. She tried an ice spell. The creature rolled into a ball and charged. Sephiroth pushed Aeris to one side and jumped in the other direction. The monster passed between them. It rolled a few yards away, then unwound and hissed at them again.
"My spells didn't work!" cried Aeris. "I tried lightening and ice. They didn't work!"
"Sometimes you have to soften them up first." Sephiroth moved away from her. "Now you can try your Choco/Mog summon."
"What do I do?" asked Aeris.
"The same thing you did before," he said. "Concentrate. The summon will do the rest. Just think "Deathblow.""
The Spiral was curling up again. Aeris held out her staff.
She felt a change. Her body felt as though it was fading away, yet she could still see everything around her. A huge golden chocobo seemed to appear immediately in front of her. There was a tiny creature on its back. Aeris recognized the creature as mog from a picture at Elmyra's house.
Head down the Choco/Mog charged as the Spiral rushed toward Aeris again. They met in a terrific crash. The Spiral went rolling in the opposite direction and flopped on the ground stunned. The little mog was thrown from the chocobo's back. Dazed, it sat on the ground. The chocobo picked the Mog up in its beak and vanished.
"Wow!" Aeris' face was glowing. "Did you see that?"
"I saw it," answered Sephiroth dryly. "Keep your attention on the Spiral please."
The Spiral was trying to curl into a ball again. Aeris hit it with a lightening spell. It unwound and hissed at her. She zapped it again. Sephiroth put his masamune away and flicked one hand in the creatures direction. The monster was bathed with a greenish glow. Aeris' mouth dropped open. Sephiroth used a comet spell next. The monster flared up in a blaze of fire and vanished. Sephiroth walked over to the area where the monster died and looked in the grass. He picked up something and came back to Aeris.
"Eat this" he said.
Aeris found herself staring at something that looked like a brown gel capsule.
"Something you get from these creatures if you destroy them right," answered Sephiroth. "It's called Guard Source."
"THIS came out of THAT creature?" Aeris turned slightly green. "And you want me to eat it? Why?"
"It will increase your vitality," he said. "You'll be stronger when you're fighting."
Aeris looked at the monster Sephiroth cut in half.
"He didn't drop one of these."
"You have to kill them correctly to get it," said Sephiroth. "Eat this so we can go on."
Aeris gave him a wan look. "Couldn't I just get my vitality from spinach?"
Sephiroth didn't look amused.
"You're the one who wanted to learn to fight," he said. "Eat it or let's go home and forget the whole thing."
"You know what that reminds me of?" said Aeris. "A bug egg. To be more specific, a roach egg. Now that I think about it, that Spiral kind of looks like a giant bug too. Is it?"
"Fine," said Sephiroth, closing his hand over the strange brown object. "Don't eat it."
He turned around and drew back his arm.
"What are you doing?" asked Aeris.
"I'm throwing it away. We're going home."
"NO!" Aeris grabbed his arm. "Don't!"
He looked at her.
"I'll eat it."
Sephiroth held it out again. Aeris took it. She looked at it glumly, then brightened.
"I can't swallow it without water," she said. "Let's take it home and I'll swallow it later!"
Sephiroth reached under his cape and pulled out a canteen.
Aeris looked at the canteen and paled.
"Every good SOLDIER carries one," he said.
She stared at the brown capsule again. "What if I throw it up?"
"We'll go home."
He folded his arms and looked at her.
Aeris sighed. "I'm going to get sick. Then you'll be sorry you made me do this."
"I'll take care of you if you get sick," he said. "Swallow it."
"Give me the canteen."
Sephiroth opened it and held it out to her.
Aeris stared a the capsule for a moment, then popped it into her mouth. She snatched the canteen out of Sephiroth's hand and took a few gulps of water, before she lowered it again.
"Yech! I swallowed a bug egg," she said, making a face. "I can't believe I swallowed a bug's egg!"
She turned on him.
That's what it was, wasn't it?" she said accusingly. "It was just a nasty old bug egg and you made me eat it!"
"How do you feel?"
"Like I swallowed a bug egg!" Aeris was angry again. "I can't believe you tricked me into . . . "
A strange feeling came over her.
"What's happening to me?"
Heat and energy were flowing through her body. Aeris felt as if she could run a mile or two at full speed and not even pant for breath. She looked at Sephiroth in alarm.
"I told you it would raise your vitality," he said. "You're slightly more energetic than you were before. Each time you kill a Spiral correctly, you'll either harvest its vitality in Guard Source, an X-potion or Hi-Potion."
"What are those?"
"You'll learn in time."
Aeris felt charged and ready to go.
"Are you going to let me fight something else?" she asked.
"If you want to," he answered.
"I want to," she said. "I feel like I could wrestle a bear!"
"Is that one of the creatures from you world?"
"Then the bears on your old world are safe tonight."
* * * * *
A week went by before Scarlet asked for another meeting with the President and Rufus.
"I know how we can get rid of AVALANCHE once and for all," she said.
"And how is that?" asked Rufus.
"My sources tell me, AVALANCHE is still hiding out in Sector 7, but they don't know where. The 7th Heaven is still empty and boarded up. I sent people into the building to look for clues. All they found was a secret elevator built into the pinball machine platform, that lowers into a basement we didn't know about."
"If AVALANCHE isn't using that building anymore, what good does that information do us?" asked Rufus impatiently. "You might have found something useful to tell us about."
"Oh but I have," insisted Scarlet. "AVALANCHE is operating somewhere nearby, because Tifa, Barret and Cloud have been spotted from time to time in the area."
"But you don't know where they're hiding!" Rufus turned to his father. "Let me throw her out so we can get back to business."
"Wait!" Scarlet walked up to the President's desk and leaned forward, the material of her dress straining to hold in her bosom. "We can get rid of the whole group no matter where they are."
The President dragged his eyes away from her chest. He took his cigar out his mouth and laid it in an ashtray.
Satisfied with his attention, Scarlet straightened up. "If we blow up the pillar that supports the plate over Sector Seven, we can crush AVALANCHE literally, once and for all."
The President and Rufus looked at each other, then stared at her.
Scarlet's smile wavered. "Unless you feel that is too extreme a measure, of course."
The President stood up. "I love it."
Rufus looked surprised. "Father?"
"I'll be rid of them once and for all," said President Shinra. "Get the Turks in here. I've got job for them."
Scarlet leaned forward and picked up his phone. She winked at the President as she punched in Tseng's number.
* * * * * *
Cloud was sharing kisses with Tifa when the phone rang. They ignored it. It rang again. And again.
"Damn it!" Barret charged into the room. "Knock off that crap and answer the damn phone!"
Cloud and Tifa pulled apart blushing. Cloud picked up the phone.
"What is it?" he asked.
He listened for a while. Tifa watched his face turn pale.
Barret noticed the change in Cloud's voice.
"Are you sure?"
"What's going on?" asked Barret.
Cloud ignored him. He was gripping the phone so hard, his knuckles were white.
Cloud hung up the phone. His face looked grim.
"Jessie heard from our contact in the Shinra building," he said. "The President is sending the Turks to blow up the support pillar over this sector."
Tifa turned white. "WHAT?"
"That's insane!" Barret was several shades paler too.
"He'll kill everyone in town!" said Tifa. "What is he thinking?"
"Why is he doing this?" Barret was shaking all over. "What is he trying to prove?"
"He's trying to prove he can wipe out AVALANCHE," said Cloud. "To get us, he's going to kill everyone who lives here."
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