Chapter 8

I added quite a bit of stuff here, though the monster names are canon. I think.

 

Chapter 8: It’s a Trap!!!

                “Yaah?” Barret asked Cloud as he jumped, snickering.

                “Oh, shut up.” Cloud said tightly. “Look around you, we’re in no position to be making jokes yet.”

                Sheesh! You say one thing… Barret thought. That guy really can’t take a joke huh.

                He was right, though, this was no time for games. He walked quietly behind Cloud and Tifa, checking the rear every so often.

                “Where are we?” Tifa asked, frowning slightly on the slime-covered walls.

                “Midgar underground railway system.” Cloud said. “We’re still near sector 5, we just overshot it a bit.”

                How did Cloud know that? Even the sector area they were in itself! He thought only grunts and low Shin Ra infantry were made to go here…

                “Umm, Cloud, how do you know that?” Tifa asked his unvoiced question.

                Cloud stopped for a moment and frowned, as if trying to remember something. Then-

                “SOLDIER work. I don’t exactly remember but I think we were made to put down a monster infestation here.” Cloud said hesitantly.

                Barret gulped. A friggin’ INFESTATION? Here? And Midgarders just take the trains passing here? Damn, that’s freaky.

                “Don’t worry,” Cloud added, probably from seeing their faces. “It’s been put down now, only a few mutations remain…”

                “Mutations?” Barret asked in a decidedly uncomfortable voice. He wasn’t scared, just… uneasy, that’s all… “What kind?”

                “I dunno, animals, usually?” Cloud said, resuming his pace. “Shin Ra experiments a lot.”

                “Erm, Cloud?” Tifa asked in a voice that could only be afraid. She was looking above them. “Were there scorpions there?”

                “Yeah, Grashtrikes*, we called them.” Cloud said absently, looking for something. “The mutation hives actually consisted mostly of them.”

                Barret saw what Tifa was looking at.

                “Blue-green scorpions?” Barret asked, panic starting to lace his voice. There must be hundreds of those things!

                Cloud stopped.

                “How do you-?” He began then stopped, staring at the ceiling. They were stirring.

                “Whatever you do, don’t turn on your lights.” Cloud said, turning off his own light stick.

                They were plunged in darkness.

                “They can’t see well without light and might sleep again.” Cloud explained, moving faster now.

                Barret grabbed Tifa and followed after the footsteps.

                He was sure he heard a few go down behind him already. But it’ll be all right as long as he-

                “Oh, shit.” Barret swore. He stepped on something.

                Then, the world seemed to explode with scorpions.

                “Run!” Cloud shouted, suddenly encased with a green glow.

                He didn’t need telling twice. He carried Tifa on his back, with her, sending wisps of fire on the scorpions on front of them. Behind him, Cloud was going all out while running backwards, columns of flame incinerating the grashtrikes behind them.

                “Damn bloody scorpions!” Cloud swore as he sent an arc of flame to the jumping scorpions.

                JUMPING?

                “Shit, shit, shit…” Barret muttered like a litany. “There’re too many!”

                “Of course!” Cloud shouted. “We stumbled on a small hive pocket!”  

                “A SMALL hive pocket?” Barret exclaimed, incredulous. “How’d hell did you manage to bring down a whole bloody infestation?”

                “Forget that!” Cloud said. “We’re near the chute! I can block them from there.”

                Barret ran. They lost the monsters for a minute but he could still hear them following.

                “Here!” Cloud said triumphantly as they reached a laser barred doorway.

                “And how” Tifa asked. “exactly is this going to help us? We’re on the other side as well!”

                Cloud pointed at a small chute on the ground.

                “That’s one damn tiny hole!” Barret said, looking down. How was he going to fit here!? “You tellin’ me to squeeze into that to get under the Plate? No, way!”

“Well,” Cloud said scathingly. “You could try the mercies of the grashtrikes. I could kill them all here but the explosions’d probably alert Shin Ra to our presence. So, you with us?”

“Fine.” Barret spat. “But damn, man, that thing gives me the chills! You guys go along first.”

A leader always stays behind!

“Hurry!” Barret said as Tifa was jumping down. They were here! “I can see them aready!”

Ten seconds before they reach him. He held the cover of the chute and prepared to jump. He pointed his new gun-arm at them.

“See ‘ya suckers!” Barret fired then jumped, closing the hatch.

<O><O>

“Rocket Launchers.” Cloud explained. “that’s how we destroyed the infestation before.”

It’s been two minutes since they’d escaped the grashtrikes. He wondered why a SOLDIER like him had to put the infestation down- it was a job for grunts!

They ran faster since the regular rounds for the reactor were only two hours away.

The sooner I finish this, the better. Once we’re done, I’m outta here!

They met up with Jessie and the others who apologized for the train fiasco. It seemed that there were problems on their IDs that Jessie forgot to address…

He went to the elevator with Tifa and Barret, who was still grumbling about the grashtrike incident. Idiot.

Cloud sighed and straightened. He looked at the other two and began.

“We’re in the reactor now. Security here is way tighter because of the insect incident and probably even more since we blew up the Sector 1 reactor yesterday-”

“Hell yeah!” Barret interrupted.

Cloud gave him a piercing look.

“Uh, sorry.” He muttered. “Continue.”

“The rocket launchers used before are now here as security details, always fully armed and fully automated.” He looked at each of them to see if they understood the implications.

“We can’t make it without causing a commotion.” Tifa said.

“We have to get in by stealth since even if we somehow destroy the missiles, the cameras making them automated would show us to Shin Ra and bring reinforcements. We’ll be surrounded in no time.” Barret said with interest, checking their D-map** of the reactor.

Interesting. They were smarter than he thought. Even without him, they could probably pull this off, it would just take longer.

Cloud nodded.

“Why didn’t you tell us this before?” Barret’s eyes narrowed.

“Because the plan was for us to go through here.” Cloud pointed at a spot on the D-map. “From here, there is a line of blind spots that we could follow and the only place we’d be seen is on the reactor itself, from where they wouldn’t be able to stop us anyway and the recordings’d just blow off at the same time as the reactor.”

“I see.” Barret said, still studying the D-map.

The elevator stopped. Cloud pressed close again before the doors’d open. There was a camera right outside, he had to tell them the plan first.

“We’ll go through this room.” Cloud said, pointing at the rest room sign on the D-map. “No cameras inside and the way up to the reactor is clear except for one or two cameras.”

“But how do we get there?” Tifa asked shrewdly. “There’s too many areas from the elevator to there.”

“We go up.” Barret said quietly. “Up the elevator and then the vents until the bathroom.”

This guy… He acted roughly most of the time but when he thinks…

Barret pressed the vent area and the holographic view of the floor zoomed in on the vents.

“The other paths all lead to rooms with cameras and the one leading directly to the reactor core has lasers blocking the way.” Barret continued. “Of course, I’m assuming that’s the plan, Cloud?”

Cloud nodded.

“A thing you need to remember, though, the missile launchers can go into mobile mode.”

Barret’s eyes widened.

“Then how do you propose to get past the two of them remaining on the way?” he asked.

“Bait.” Tifa said. “They won’t fire unless they focus on something identified as an enemy. I’ll run fast enough to distract it and it’ll follow an unidentified movement then you guys take it from behind and take it down before it fires.”

Cloud smiled grimly. If there were more of these guys, they might actually take down Shin Ra.

“Just one thing wrong.” Cloud said. “I’ll be the bait.”

“No.” Tifa argued. “Jessie said the robot focuses on unauthorized weapons first. You’re not fast enough and it’ll attack the second it sees your sword.”

“But, Tifa, the danger-” Cloud interrupted.

“No.” Tifa said calmly.

“I could be-” Barret complained.

“No.” Tifa said. “you’re even slower than Cloud and you have a gun-arm.”

Tifa opened the elevator from above and started going up. Cloud sighed. So much for that.

“Fine.” Cloud said. “Just be careful.”

Tifa looked down on them and said in a dead serious voice:

“I’m always careful.”

<O><O>

Something’s wrong Cloud thought as they raced to the reactor core. The Rocket Launcher didn’t attack or move. It was almost like it was turned off.

Except that the red light blinking said otherwise.

Cloud jumped down the platform to the core area. The other two followed silently.

The only opponents they faced were Blugus*- mutated flying fishes which actually flew. There was even one big Blugu there. Chuse Tanks which were flying seahorses and a few Grashtrikes. No Shin Ra soldiers or weapons. Something was wrong- reactors weren’t just that empty…

“Argh!” Cloud screamed, a blinding pain assaulting his head.

Tifa was kneeling beside a man bloodied. It was her father and he was dead. She was screaming, “Papa…Sephiroth!? Sephiroth did this to you didn’t he!? Sephiroth… SOLDIER… Mako Reactors… Shin Ra… Everything! I hate them all!”

“Cloud?” Tifa’s voice said. “Are you all right?”

“Damn man, get a hold of yourself!” Barret’s voice said.

He opened his eyes. He was lying on the ground, still on the reactor.

“Tifa-” Cloud began.

“Mm?”

He looked at her. She didn’t need reminding about that. He stood up.

“I- nothing. Forget it. Let’s hurry!” Cloud

“All done!” Barret said, going back to them. “Enjoyed your sleep?”

“It was only for a minute!” Tifa scolded.

Cloud shook his head.

“Only an hour ‘til the rounds begin and ten minutes ‘til the reactor blows.” Cloud muttered. “Let’s run!”

They climbed up the ladder and ran to the raised platforms above the reactor.

“What about Jessie and the others?” Tifa asked Barret as they ran.

“They’re already out. I told them to go once I’d set the bomb.” Barret said, holding up his phone.

“Come on…” Cloud said tightly. He had a bad feeling about this… No security bots? Easy access in and out? Something was wrong…

“This way!” Barret yelled as they reached the platforms outside. The winds whipped up Barret’s jacket as they ran across.

“Careful now,” Cloud said. They weren’t very high but it was high enough for them to break their neck if they fell…

The sound of footsteps from the door in front stopped them.

“Shin Ra soldiers?” Barret asked in confusion. “What’s going on!?”

They ran to the other side but soldiers were piling up there as well. Too many for a guard patrol. A helicopter came and hovered in front of the doorway they just went through, blocking all escape paths. A big man in a red suit came out of the chopper and walked. He was a familiar man.

“President… President Shin Ra!?” Barret looked incredulous. “What’s going on here!?”

Cloud put his hand on his sword. This’d be a dangerous battle.

“A trap.” Cloud said grimly. “It was all a trap.”

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