Premonitions II-C: Crisis Core

BY : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 702
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, it any characters therin. I am not making any money here.

Chapter 45: Becoming a Hero

Zack and Cloud made it to Junon, where they immediately checked into an inn and stayed there until dark. After that, Zack quietly carried Cloud out of Junon, making his way through the Mythril Mine to Kalm. By the time they arrived there, it was night again. Zack found them another inn to stay at; troops around Midgar were more active during the night than during the day.

Cloud was still largely unresponsive, and Zack was wondering if he would ever be the same again. He tried everything under the sun to get him to talk, even mentioning that he needed to see Tifa again, but to no avail.

In the morning, Zack hitched a ride in the back of a pickup truck that was heading straight for Midgar. He had offered the driver a decent sum, and the driver simply pointed to the back of the truck.

"Get your asses in," he ordered.

"Looks like this is the final stretch," Zack said to Cloud with a smile. "We'll be in Midgar before dark."

Aerith, he thought, here I come.

MEANWHILE...

One hundred armed Shinra troopers stood at attention on the top floor balcony of the Shinra Building, just outside of the president's office.

Rufus was handing out pictures of Zack; the poor target had learned something he shouldn't have.

"I need a hundred of you because he's dangerous," President Shinra announced. "Everyone, take a good look at the flyer. Remember his black, spikey hair. Remember his blue, mako eyes."

He allowed a few moments for the troopers to scan the pictures. They needed to know exactly what he looked like.

"Shoot to kill," he ordered. "You all understand?"

All hundred troopers nodded in unison.

Ten helicopters then arrived, taking ten troops each.

MEANWHILE...

More drama was unfolding on another helipad in the city.

"Cissnei!" shouted Tseng as she approached the helicopter. "The army's mobilizing. Find the targets before they do."

"Understood," Cissnei agreed. "The army won't be as subtle."

She then turned and went for the helicopter.

It's a race against time, she thought. I really hate this job, but if I can save Zack, maybe my time here would be worthwhile.

"I want them alive, you hear me?" he commanded. "You're going to save Zack's life."

"Of course!" she agreed as she turned around once more. "I haven't even told him my real name."

"You like this guy?" Tseng asked.

"Not in that way," she dismissed.

"I guess you're still not over that Tobin guy," Tseng said.

"I guess you've been looking through some keyholes," Cissnei retorted, annoyed.

"Help them, Cissnei," Tseng pleaded. "I have letters for Zack. Eighty-eight of them."

Cissnei, still annoyed at Tseng's prying, simply waved to him without looking back.

SOMEWHERE ELSE...

The pickup truck continued down the dirt road as Zack began to become impatient.

"Yo! Old guy!" he called. "We at Midgar yet?"

"Shaddap!" the driver snapped. "You're lucky I even gave you a ride!"

Zack sat down and turned to Cloud.

"What're you gonna do once we get to Midgar?" he asked.

Sure enough, Cloud was still a vegetable.

"I know what I'm gonna do," Zack announced. "I got a place I can crash for a while...no wait, the mother lives there, too. Guess that's out."

Cloud softly groaned.

"Yep," Zack continued, "gotta change my plans! No matter what I do, I need some money first." He then took a look at Cloud. "Hey, wanna start a business? But what could we do?"

Cloud was silent.

"Hey, Cloud," Zack began, "think there's anything I'd be good at?"

Cloud was still silent.

"Hey old guy!" Zack then called. "What do you think I'd be good at?"

"What're you yappin' about?" shouted the driver. "You're still young, ain't ya? Young folks should try everything! You gotta pay your dues while you're young. Go out and look for what you really want."

"Try everything," Zack said aloud. "That's easy for him to say."

Zack then started doing his first squats in four years, but, as his muscles had atrophied, it started to burn quickly.

"Hey!" he shouted. "Of course! I got a lot of brains and skill that other guys don't! That settles it! I'm gonna become a mercenary! Yeah! Thanks pops!"

"Hey!" yelled the driver. "Didn't you even hear a word I said?"

"Listen," Zack continued. "I'm gonna become a mercenary and that's that. Boring stuff, dangerous stuff, anything for money. I'm gonna be rich! So, Cloud? What are you gonna do?"

"No, wait!" the driver protested. "You got it all wrong!"

Cloud almost looked as if he was upset.

"Just kidding," Zack assured him as he sat down. "I won't leave you hanging like that. We're friends, right? Mercenaries, Cloud. That's what you and me are gonna be. Understand, Cloud?"

Cloud, as usual, said nothing.

MEANWHILE...

Still another helicopter flew through the skies outside of Midgar.

"They can't be serious," Reno muttered from the cockpit. "There's no way we're gonna find two needles in a haystack this size."

Rude gave him a look.

"There's no mission that's impossible for the-"

"Turks, yeah, yeah," Reno interjected.

"Also," Rude continued, "Tseng apparently has something to give him."

"Who," asked Reno, "the target?"

Rude nodded.

"So we're couriers now," Reno sighed. "Delivering packages to fugitives, huh?"

"Reno, Rude, status!" called Cissnei over the intercom.

"We got nothing," Reno answered.

"You?" inquired Rude.

"Likewise," Cissnei replied. "I'm heading to Point 235. You two take Point 120."

"Roger," acknowledged Rude.

"All right," said Reno. "Let's get going."

NEARBY...

The truck, having served its purpose, took off, leaving Zack and Cloud less than a couple of miles from Midgar's borders.

I know exactly where I'll get in, Zack thought. There's an enterance right by the church. I'll take Cloud straight to Aerith's house. She'll see him, I'll explain everything, and, hopefully, she'll understand.

And yet, it seems quiet here. Maybe too quiet.

Zack, realizing that something was wrong, hid Cloud safely behind a couple of rocks. He smiled, and seemed to pat him on the head.

Cloud, obviously, didn't say anything.

Zack then started down the path, heading for a nearby clearing.

What he didn't see was Cloud raising his hand and reaching for Zack.

He was starting to recover!

Maybe I can tell Tifa today, I thought. She'll be so happy to know where he is. I'll make sure she and Cloud get together.

And I'll make sure Aerith and Zack get together, too. She was his first. I can't get in the way.

But all of that changed when Zack got to the clearing.

There were a hundred, count them, a hundred troopers there, each well-armed. A couple of choppers hovered nearby.

If that was me, I would be scared shitless. But Zack just shook his head.

"Boy oh boy," he sighed. "The price of freedom is steep."

With a grin of confidence, Zack drew his sword, and put his head to it.

"Embrace your dreams," he said to himself. "And, whatever happens, protect your honor as SOLDIER! Come and get it!"

With that, he charged the troopers.

They immediately opened fire. Zack kept running from one end to the other, rolling and dodging the gunfire.

Damn, he's slick, I thought.

The armor he was wearing provided some protection, but it wouldn't last forever. It could only take so much damage, and there were a hundred troopers.

Then, one of the troopers ran out of ammo. He charged Zack with his empty machine gun, only to get himself killed.

99.

Zack continued to run, role, and dodge.

98.

97.

Whenever a trooper came too close, Zack killed him with his sword. He was taking a defensive strategy.

90.

89.

Why was he doing it? Cloud depended on him for protection. I never knew Zack was that protective of his friends.

71.

70.

I wanted to help him. But I had no weapons whatsoever. Plus, I needed to make sure Cloud would be okay.

50.

49.

Zack stood his ground. He had wiped out half of the legion already. He cast Thundaga on one of the helicopters, causing it to crash, taking out twenty troopers with it.

29.

He then proceeded to cast whatever magic he could on the troopers.

Fira.

Thundara.

20.

19.

And then, I noticed: Zack was slowing down. He was becoming tired, but he knew he didn't have the luxury of stopping. His life, and Cloud's, depended on it.

5.

4.

There was now only one helicopter, and three troopers left.

The helicopter flew away, and then began to turn a hundred and eighty degrees.

Zack, exhausted, but still determined, aimed his index finger at the pursuing helicopter.

He cast Thundaga.

A spark sputtered from his finger.

He was out of AP.

The helicopter opened fire, putting bullets into Zack's arms, legs, and his chest.

As the three troopers approached him, he raised his sword. He was still determined to fight.

And then, with a cry, Zack fell to the ground.

The first trooper to reach Zack wasted no time. He cocked his gun, pointed it at Zack's chest, and pulled the trigger.

I closed my eyes; I could no longer bear to watch.

"What do you want to do with him?" I heard the trooper say.

"Forget it," another one replied. "Just leave him."

Moments later, the troopers were gone, along with the helicopter.

Slowly, I opened my eyes.

Rain began to fall as I scanned the fallen Zack. There were bullet holes in his armor. There was blood in his mouth. Both his arms and his legs had gunshot wounds. He was struggling to breathe.

I knew he wouldn't live much longer.

Zack weakly turned his head, and realized that the troopers had been referring to Cloud; he had crawled to his side.

"Zack," Cloud began.

Zack grimaced; he was struggling to speak. The left side of his face was all bloodied, and he was trying to force himself to remain conscious.

Now you finally start talking, I thought.

"For the...both of us..." Zack finally uttered.

"Both of us?" Cloud asked.

"That's right," Zack softly replied. "You're gonna...you're gonna..."

Summoning his strength, Zack pulled Cloud in, attempting to hug him good-bye, but instead ending up pressing his head against his bloodied chest.

"Live," Zack finished. "You'll be...my living legacy."

Zack's arm then fell to the ground.

Cloud solemnly raised his now-blood-stained head.

Zack's eyes fluttered, indicating that he was still alive.

And, with his last ounce of strength, Zack gripped his buster sword, and slowly handed it to his friend.

"My honor, my dreams," uttered Zack, "they're yours now."

"I'm your living legacy," said Cloud as he accepted the sword.

Smiling, Zack slowly closed his eyes.

And his chest rose no more.

Cloud, realizing what had just been lost, began to cry, and let out a scream in his grief.

And then, the rain stopped.

"Embrace your dreams," Cloud remembered Zack saying. "If you want to be a hero, you need to have dreams."

"Thank you," Cloud said to the fallen Zack. "I won't forget."

He slowly stood up.

"Good night, Zack," Cloud said before turning towards Midgar and began to walk towards his destination.

Zack, from his point of view, perceived Angeal descending from a light above.

That girl, he thought, she said that the sky frightened her. But that looks so...liberating.

Angeal drew closer. He was smiling, and Zack smiled back.

Those wings...I want them too.

Zack raised his hand, and Angeal gently clutched it.

Moments later, Zack no longer felt the ground below him. He was ascending. The pain was fading away. Joy was flowing through him instead.

Up. Up. Up he went.

It feels...good.

He then thought of Cloud.

If you see Aerith, say hi for me.

Higher and higher.

A cloud was approaching. Zack found it welcoming. It drew closer and closer, and before he knew it, he passed through.

Angeal gently set Zack down on the cloud, and smiled at him.

Zack could feel that the cloud had a solid surface. The pain was gone. His wounds were gone. Even his old scars were gone.

"Where am I?" Zack asked.

"You're in Heaven," Angeal replied. "Of course."

Zack looked around. There was a cloudy field as far as the eye could see.

"Wow," he said.

"So I'm sure you must have some questions," Angeal began. "After all, this is where we spend eternity."

Zack didn't know how his first question came to mind, but he blurted it out anyway.

"Is there sex in Heaven?" he asked.

"That was your first question?" Angeal replied in surprise.

"It was the first thing that came to mind," Zack admitted sheepishly.

"Yes," Angeal finally answered. "There is sex in Heaven. Anything else?"

Zack looked around. All he saw was endless, cloudy fields.

"Where's my grandma?" he asked. "Where's Gehrig?" He paused, and scanned the area once more. "Where's the Big Guy?"

"Whoa!" Angeal exclaimed. "Slow down there. I've never even told you what else is allowed here."

"What's that?" Zack asked.

"Materia!" Angeal replied with a grin as he suddenly cast Lightning on Zack.

"Ow!" Zack exclaimed. "So there'a pain here?"

"Don't be a spoilsport!" laughed Angeal before casting Lightning again, striking Zack.

"Seriously!" Zack exclaimed. "Cut it out!"

"Come on, Zack," Angeal implored. "You can make it." He then cast Lightning again.

"Stop! Please!" Zack pleaded.

"Come on, Zack!" Angeal laughed as he zapped him again.

After that final jolt, he no longer saw Angeal. He no longer saw any cloudy fields. Instead, he saw Cissnei bearing down on him, with defibrillator electrodes in her hands. Once again, he felt the ground. Once again, he felt the pain. He was suddenly back in the living world.

"Come on, Zack!" she shouted for the third time as she charged the device once again.

"Hold on!" I commanded. "He's back!"

Cissnei looked Zack in the eyes.

So did I.

Zack coughed. His eyes fluttered.

He was alive! I couldn't believe my eyes.

"Y-you brought him back?!" I exclaimed.

"Not for long if we don't get him to the Spring," Cissnei warned.

"The Spring?" I asked.

"Let's get him on the chopper," Cissnei commanded. "I'll explain on the way."

She picked Zack up by his arms, and I picked him up by his feet. We carried him, gently but quickly, to the helicopter, and loaded him in the back.

"All right," Cissnei said. "Off to McDougal Island."

She turned to the cockpit, and prepared to embark.

"Don't you dare!" shouted an unpleasant voice.

We both turned to see a convertible pulling up to us. Scarlett and Heidegger we in the back.

"He's killed!" Heidegger shouted.

"No he's not!" Cissnei insisted. "I got his heart going again. But he'll die if I don't get him fixed up."

"Good," Scarlett said as she got out of the convertible and walked up to Cissnei. "Now, we're two steps away from a win-win situation. One, you give me the keys to that helicopter. Two, I don't fire you."

"What do you mean 'good?'" Cissnei demanded.

"Zack Fair knows something he shouldn't know," Scarlett explained.

"I'm sorry," Cissnei apologized, "but I can't let him die like that."

Scarlet grunted.

"This has gone too far," she declared. "I'm giving you one last chance. The keys, now!"

Cissnei suddenly smirked.

She didn't give her the keys.

Instead, she kneed Scarlet in the...um...beeeeeep.

Scarlet grabbed her crotch and fell to the ground.

Heidegger immediately got out of the car and ran over to the fallen Scarlet, who was growling and cursing on the ground.

Cissnei grinned.

Now was our chance.

"Scarlet," Cissnei began, "I quit."

With that, she ran back to the helicopter and climbed into the cockpit, slamming the door shut behind her. She then lifted the helicopter off the ground, and off we went.

"We have to get Zack squared away," Cissnei began as she set a course for McDougal Island. "But once that's done, you owe me a big hug for all that time apart. Got it, best friend?"

I nodded with a smile.

Basically, what had happened was this: Cissnei arrived by helicopter right after Zack's heart stopped beating. If figured there was no sense in remaining cloaked, so I de-cloaked and explained the whole situation to her.

Zack was damn lucky Cissnei knew how to use a defibrillator.

Now he had a fighting chance.

Quite a surprise, huh?

I'll bet you didn't see that coming.

MEANWHILE...

Cloud, meanwhile, had not only made it to Midgar, but had also traveled through the slums of Sectors Five and Six before arriving at the Sector Seven Station.

There, having not fully healed yet, collapsed.

He lay there, propped up against a lamppost for two hours before anyone bothered to talk to him.

"What's the matter?" asked the station master.

Cloud simply groaned.

"Poor kid," the station master sighed, and went off.

Another couple of hours went by.

Cloud continued to lay there, wondering where to go next. He had no companionship of any kind. He had nobody to welcome him anywhere. He had no home to go to.

And then, a ray of hope appeared at the entrance to the station.

I won't mention any names. Let's just say she was nineteen years old, wore a white crop tank and black mini-skirt, and was my own flesh and blood.

"Are you all right?" she asked.

Cloud scanned her for a moment. Then he recognized her.

"Tifa?" he asked as he rose to his feet.

And suddenly, he no longer felt despair. He felt as if he was at home.

"Tifa!" he exclaimed again.

She was confused at first. Then, she recognized him as well. And, suddenly, a wave of joy rushed through her as well.

"Oh, Cloud!" she exclaimed happily.

"That's right," he said. "I'm Cloud."

"Is it really you, Cloud?" she asked in amazement. "I never thought I'd find you here!"

"Yeah, it's been a while," he said.

Tifa badly wanted to hug him, but she knew he didn't like hugs.

And then, she noticed that he was ailing.

"What happened to you?" she asked. "You don't look well."

"Yeah?" he asked. "It's nothing. I'm okay."

Tifa turned around for a moment.

Unknown to her, he suddenly clutched his head, but he quickly stopped.

"How long has it been?" she asked.

"Five years," he replied.

Five years? Tifa thought. No, it's been seven. He must be delirious.

"What is it?" Cloud asked.

Tifa gave a warm, welcoming look.

"It's really been a long time," she said.

And then, Cloud collapsed to the ground.

"Cloud!" Tifa exclaimed as she ran to his aid.

Upon examining him, Tifa realized that he had passed out from exhaustion.

"It looks like you've been through a lot," she said. "But don't worry. I'll take care of you."

With that, Tifa picked up the exhausted Cloud, and carried him to his new home.



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