Title of Story: Meet Me in Midgar
Author Name/Pename: Mattie
Short Summary: Aeris is saved by a mysterious girl who seems to have many more connections to the group then they know.
I rested my chin on my knee. She still didn’t move. She was kneeling there, with hands clasped, deep in prayer. However bored I was, I did not take my eyes off of her, save for the moments I heard a sound coming from elsewhere. She looked delicate and peaceful down there. She rivaled the pristine waters and glow of the gazebo for which was more entrancing. A slight wind tussled her hair slightly. She didn’t flinch.
I deliberately chose this spot. I could easily see the whole area and had a clear view of her as well. I was high above the balcony, crouched on a small ledge. She couldn’t see I was there and I could see if anyone else was. The balcony was dilapidated, yet the beauty of what it once had been still remained. It was like a stain on its white collar that could not be bleached. Huge parts of it had broken off and fallen into the water below, creating stepping-stones to the gazebo. The stairs were worn down by age and fallen debris. It had taken her quite a bit of effort to traverse the trail to where she remained praying for days now.
I scanned the area and saw them come in. Why did she trust them? That one with the spiky hair knocked her unconscious. It was so hard to remain invisible then. Cloud was his name. He’d been telling a whole mess of lies for quite some time. My background check proved to be fruitful in other ways, as well. I understood we had a link. He seemed to truly care for her, though, and so did I.
I fought back my suspicions as I watched them hike the same route I’d watched Aeris use days before. It was Cloud and those two AVALANCHE members with him. How father had been right about AVALANCHE! It wasn’t about saving the planet; it was all about hurting Shin-Ra. It didn’t bother me too much. Even though my whole existence depended on Shin-Ra, I wouldn’t cry if it were destroyed. I wasn’t aggressively trying to kill it, though.
Barrett-- the man with the gun-arm—I’d heard rumors of his existence. After everything that happened at Gold Saucer, I was amazed to find there were actually two men with gun-arms. He may have nothing but contempt for Shin-Ra, but I could see a good heart in him. He was a bit of a misguided soul, if you ask me. He hated Shin-Ra for what it did to his family and hometown. His hometown hated him because of what Shin-Ra had done. There was no way he could win, so he lashed out at the devil—Mephistopheles in the form of President Shinra. He was a muscular man and was adept at fighting. His gun-arm could certainly dole out a great deal of damage. He could have become a great asset to Shin-Ra Corp. had he not become one its top enemies. His senses were dulled by his hatred, though. He was easy to rile but slow to react to quick movement. I was sure to remember that…just in case.
The girl, Tifa, was quite a fighter. She was very adept in martial arts. Something Shin-Ra soldiers lacked. They could tote a gun all day but if it came down to hand-to-hand combat they were totally inept. Even the Turks had few good fist-fighters. Rude was something to look out for but he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Tifa was something different. Not only was she skilled, but she was also smart. She knew when to fight and what technique to use. She was not “kill first, ask questions later” as Barrett was. She evened him out. I always thought they would make quite a nice couple together, had she not been so enthralled with Cloud.
That spiky headed kid was quite a character. He fought with enormous strength and had the glow of mako in his eyes. My background check provided me with many answers and yet, it raised many more questions. There was no record of what happened to him after the massacre at Nibelheim until he popped up with AVALANCHE. He was a mystery to me.
I’d been watching this group for so long I’d noticed my growing affection for each of them. I tried to fight it but couldn’t seem to shake my fondness of them. I started my mission with immense concern for Aeris’ welfare and, now, I was beginning to grow concern for the rest of this rag-tag group of dissidents. I couldn’t discern whether they were merely using this quest for Sephiroth as a means to get to and hurt Shin-Ra or if they had forgotten their original cause and really were trying to save mankind from total destruction. I couldn’t be sure if they were formerly AVALANCHE or if AVALANCHE and its dictums still coursed through their veins. I knew only time would tell.
They neared the water and Cloud told the other two to wait. Even from my high vantage point, I could sense Tifa’s dismay. I’d always had a knack for reading people. It was obvious Cloud hadn’t because he still had no clue Tifa had a burning desire for him within her. Perhaps he was blinded by his love for Aeris? I hoped so. Aeris seemed to care for him deeply. Once again, Cloud appeared to be shrouded in mystery.
He jumped from stone to stone across the water. His pace quickened with each jump. Cloud was eager to see Aeris and I wondered if his presence would cause her to stir. Since I had surveyed the same scene for over two days, I was ready for a change, or at least some movement. I even wondered if she had died and I hadn’t noticed.
When Cloud reached the outermost ring of the gazebo, he paused and grabbed his head. I’d seen this before! I was more alert now. Instead of being relaxed, I crouched ready to pounce. He slowly approached Aeris as she kneeled silently at the front of the gazebo. When he unsheathed his sword, I quickly glanced at his companions. If they were in on this, they were as dead as he was. Just as Cloud was about to strike, Barrett pounced on him and berated him, “What the hell is wrong with you, fool? You trying to kill her or something? You don’t make no sense, boy. No sense at all.”
I burned with anger, but I let it settle. As long as she wasn’t hurt, I did not have to act. I heard a rustle from above me. When I looked in the direction it came from, I saw Sephiroth. I was shocked I hadn’t sensed his presence before. My disappointment in myself I knew would have to wait because just as I noticed him, Sephiroth leapt down toward the gazebo, sword drawn.
I had learned to fear his sword as it had killed many more than I was willing to admit to myself. I had no time to remember this fear when I, too, leapt toward the gazebo. My footing had been slightly compromised due to gravel but I still had a good, strong jump. As I saw myself nearing Sephiroth, I frantically grabbed the long dagger I kept on the side of my calf. The force of our collision stunned Sephiroth for a moment. I had successfully knocked him away from the gazebo. Now that I had saved Aeris’ life, I knew I had to start thinking of how to save my own.
We grappled for a few moments until we hit the water with a painful splash. I attempted to untangle my limbs from his as we sank further into the icy water. I sheathed my dagger to allow myself more mobility. For one fleeting moment, our eyes locked and I saw the most powerful anger and hatred. His anger could not, however, hide the helplessness and dementia that was buried deep within him. Just then, his cape wrapped around my face. I could not see—and worst still—I had scarce little time left; I couldn’t hold my breath for too much longer. I blindly grabbed for anything. One hand found its way to his long hair and the other to the hilt of his sword, which he was able to keep hold of somehow. A power struggle over who would control his sword ensued. I used all of my failing strength to try to seize control. Finally, after pulling his hair repeatedly, his grip slacked and I was able to thrust it toward him. As his cape flowed away from my face I noticed a red tint to the water. I’d hurt Sephiroth! I was amazed at my own feat. Distracted by my thoughts, I didn’t notice Sephiroth take back control of his sword and slash blindly at me.
I felt a flash of light course through my eyes and I watched as what was once red-tinted water became a murky crimson pool. As I drifted deeper and deeper into the water, I saw Sephiroth disappear—not without giving me an evil look. As my vision began to fade, I saw that damned spiky haired weirdo swimming toward me and lifting me up toward the surface. He laid me on the gazebo and asked, “Who are you?”
“Fiona.” was my gasping reply.