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CH 10: From Bad to Worse

The green winds twirled about furiously, changing direction in such a harmonious pattern it seemed that even nature could revert to a more docile state when Sephiroth was nearby.

But it wasn't Sephiroth who was controlling it, Cloud knew. It was the Planet. It was gathering spirit energy, if ever so slowly, to heal it's giant wound.

And at the edge of the wound, the gigantic crater, stood Cloud and several of his friends and allies. The scouting party consisted of six heroes, half from another time.

"So both Sigma and Sephiroth are in the center?" Mega Man X asked.

"They must be. I can sense Sephiroth is near." Cloud confirmed.

Long ago, Cloud was forcefully injected with Jenova's cells, a procedure that would forever link him with his adversary. But in doing so he gained valuable attributes in the process; peak human fitness and superior strength to name a couple.

But there was a serious side effect. Those who were injected with Jenova's cell's bore the wrath of "Jenova's Reunion", a process that would eventually reunite The body of the otherworldy evil. Simply put, those who were effected had an undesirable and unavoidable feeling of being drawn to somewhere. And at their final destination awaited death.

But Cloud had managed to overcome it. He hadn't truly understood it, but he now used that power as a homing signal. And the beacon was Sephiroth, who was injected with Jenova while he was still in the womb.

"Let's go." Cloud said.

***********************************

"Cloud is near. I must summon Meteor now."

Sephiroth's words may well have been jibberish, for Sigma chose not to hear them.

He had fasioned himself a throne of sorts using his beam sabre, and was now sitting in it as if he was an emperor. He was staring at the the Black Materia he held in his right hand, ever so cautious not to break it, but willing to if Sephiroth did not do as he was told.

"Give it to me."

Sigma didn't hear those words as well, but he did notice the edge of Sephiroth's masamune hanging just below his chin.

"I will not repeat myself."

"Put your little toy away. You've pulled it on me several times before and each time you fail to reach your intended goal. Does that make any sense to you? It should. So shut up an wait." Sigma said.

Sephiroth reluctantly put away his masamune again. He was justified in believing that Sigma could destroy his dreams of godhood on a whim. He dared not transgress that line.

It would appear that he would have to wait after all.

*****************************

"All right....Now!" Cloud shouted.

Upon his instruction, Tifa ran to the other side of the wind barrier just as it was changing direction. The previous barriers were much easier to cross than this one, due to the slower speeds; Tifa hoped that this was the final one.

"We have to be getting close to the center." Blaze said.

"Get ready for anything." Zero cautioned.

The six of them advanced further, each with their weapons drawn and ready for combat. X, Zero, and Blaze went first, because of their greater strength and defense. If there was a frontal attack, it would probably be repelled.

Right behind the reploids were Cloud, Tifa, and Elena. Their skills with materia and magic would come in handy for both offense and defense.

But a battle was not in the cards. Sephiroth had another idea.

There was a flash of light and in an instant the scenery changed to that of a burning Nibelheim.

"This...is Nibelheim!" Elena confusingly said.

"It's an illusion that Sephiroth made up. He's trying to get to us." Cloud said.

"Seems real enough..." Tifa said, gazing at the image of her home being torched endlessly in the moment.

"Say, where are the others?" Elena asked, always observant.

Cloud studied the area and found no trace of his futuristic comrades.

"Sephiroth! I know what you're trying to do! Show yourself!" Cloud yelled.

Almost immediately a solid projection of Sephiroth appeared in another flash of light.

"I know the truth about what Hojo did to me and many others....You can't control me as if I'm some emotionless puppet. Not anymore, at least." Cloud said with confidence.

"I can't? Then why is it that you seek me in the first place?" Sephiroth said with the rare smile on his face.

"I want to stop you and put an end to all of this!" Cloud said, reasurring himself in the process.

"Or so you think. But that is what I have given you. " Sephiroth said.

"What are you talking about?" Cloud said.

"Didn't you ever ask yourself why you were so insistant in removing the Black Materia in the first place?"

"Cloud..." Elena murmered.

"It was my influence. And it was that very same influence that led you here to witness my ascension into Godhood."

"No...." Cloud said.

"W-Why? Why go to all the trouble?" Elena remarked.

"...I have my reasons." Sephiroth said as a blinding white light engulfed the area.

************************

"Where are we?" Blaze asked.

Zero, X, and Blaze were standing in front of an entrance to a cave. The sounds of battle carried on from within, and there were hunters strewn about, injured or worse. There was something hauntingly familiar about the scene.

"What's going on?" X asked.

"I recognize these guys. They were in Gamma's unit. ....But they were all killed by a renegade maverick....This doesn't make any sense." Blaze said.

The three turned to hear a familiar voice amidst the chaos.

"Where's the maverick that wiped out Gamma's Unit?" Sigma said.

"Sigma...." X said.

"This is an illusion. Sigma's trying to confuse us." Zero said.

They continued to watch as Sigma entered the cave.

"I heard about this incident when I was a hunter. Gamma and his men were sent to take down a rogue maverick, and ended up paying the ultimate price. But why is Sigma showing us this?" Blaze said.

The scenery switched to that of the interior of the cave, lined with old machinery.

"Stop...Sigma." Zero said furiously.

"Why? Don't you think you think your friends deserve to know the truth?" Sigma's voice echoed throughout the cave.

Sigma stepped out of the shadows dressed in his maverick hunter uniform. He stood there, grinning as if he knew a hidious secret. And he did.

"What do you mean?" X said.

"Blaze, you are familiar with this event, right?" Sigma said.

Blaze kept silent.

"Than can you tell me what happened to the rogue maverick?"

"...Your report stated that it was brought back to headquarters and dismantled." Blaze said.

"Ahh, I'm sorry. That was a fib on my part. You see, it was studied and reprogrammed, but never dismantled." Sigma continued.

"Why not?" Blaze asked.

"...Because I noticed a particular emblem on it's forehead while we were fighting. I thought it would become a great asset to the hunters once it was repaired, rather than becoming a pile of scrap. And when I made my move against the humans, I assumed he would join me. But he didn't." Sigma said.

"Sigma...who was that maverick?" X asked.

"Heh heh heh....Let me show you."

The scene resumed again and Sigma, the hunter, glanced around to find his adversary. I wasn't too hard though, seeing as an evil laugh led him in the right direction.

Everone recognized him immidiately.

"It's...Zero..." Blaze said.

"Zero, you were a maverick?" X gasped.

Zero was silent.

"Ahh, but it goes much deeper than that, X. Look a his forehead, and learn the real truth." Sigma bellowed.

The battle between the Maverick Hunter Commander and the rogue maverick froze in place like a person would pause a VCR. As indicated, X found the symbol Sigma was talking about.

"Dr. Wily...Zero...a Wilybot?" X said, confused as ever.

"I'm sorry, X. I couldn't tell you the truth." Zero said.

"Damn. no wonder you kept your past a secret." Blaze said.

"I'm sorry you had to find out like this, X. This is way beyond my control." Zero said.

X turned away and said nothing. His best friend was a maverick, created by Wily, no less. Was it all a charade? Or was Zero really sincere?

"Don't blame X, Zero. After all, it must have been horrific news." Sigma said smugly.

"Sigma...I have to ask you...Why? Why do this? What is your goal?" Zero demanded.

"My goal...is the same as it always was. You. I want you to join me. It's your destiny."

Those words rang throughout Zero's ears as a white light enveloped the area.

**************************

"It's wonderful, isn't it?" Scarlet said.

"Magnificent. This obviously must be the place father was searching for."

"Yes, yes. The crater is filled with Mako energy, and the center is a treasure trove of materia. Be that as it may, it is still not this fictional 'Promised Land' you seek." Hojo murmered.

"It's that kind of dullness that make you a second-rate scientist." Rufus said.

He was about to follow up on that statement when he noticed an odd-looking formation cut into the materia walls.

"Someone's been here, and fairly recently unless I miss my guess." Rufus deducted.

As soon as those words were spoken a split-second flash of light erupted around them, revealng six heroes all confused as to how that trick was accomplished.

"Where did you all come from?" Hojo inqueried.

"Don't know." Zero replied.

"You guys better get outta here and leave things to us while you still can." Cloud said.

"Hrmph. I don't know what you mean." Rufus spat out.

"If you value your pitiful existance, human, than you should heed those words."

Sigma was clinging to what looked like tree branches, high above those who could do anything to stop him. All of the people below him suddenly jerked their heads up to match a face with the voice. All except X, who was still distrought over the revelation of Zero's dark past.

"Sephiroth, do your thing." Sigma said, placing the black materia within the cocoon Sephiroth rested in.

The planet suddenly shuddered beneath their feet. The materia walls cracked with pressure. Ancient eyes opened within the wall as a thundering growl was released.

"Weapon...So it does exsist." Hojo mumbled.

"Everybody out! Now!" Zero yelled.

No one disagreed as they headed for the Highwind.

The next series of events were a blur at best to X. He, along with the others, boarded the Highwind and took off at top speed. As soon as they were airborne, X and a few others raced up to the deck to see what was going on.

Five gigantic creatures emerged from the abysmal crater and shrieked loud enough to shatter every plate of glass on the planet.

One of them blasted by the Highwind with such force that the resulting shockwave created heavy turbulence for the mighty aircraft.

But it was that very shake-up that caused X to loose his balance. He slammed his head against the railing and was knocked out cold.

Meteor had been summoned.

The weapons were released.

Essentially, all hell had broken loose.

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