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Ch 12: Scattered Heroes

"Okay, remind me again Slash. How did I end up getting stuck with this job?" Aurie mused.

"Oh, c'mon. Years from now you'll look back at this and laugh." Slash said.

"Laugh at what? This ridiculous sailor outfit I'm wearing?" Aurie joked.

"At least your disguise fits. Mine is at least four sizes too small." Slash said, trying to move around in his restricted Guard uniform.

Amidst the chaos of the Weapon attack, the two hunters had infiltrated the pathway to the underwater reactor. Cait Sith told them that Huge Materia would be there, and Avalanche needed to obtain it before the Shinra had a chance to use it.

In fact, that was the plan for Ft. Condor and Corel as well. The Hunters would split into teams and infiltrate the reactors. Once inside, getting the huge materia should be a piece of cake.

However, no one counted on comfort.

"We should be going now." Vincent said.

Vincent had come along too, and was dressed like a Turk once again. Only this time around he cleverly concealed his scarred body and face. He swore he would never put it on again, but it somehow felt good.

"Yeah, but don't we look a little wierd? I mean, come on. A Turk, a guard, and a sailor. That doesn't exactly look right." Slash said.

"......This sailor reported something unusual near the reactor. I'm checking it out, you're my backup, and she's leading the way. Any faults in that story?" Vincent explained.

"It's fine by me." Slash replied.

"......Well then Auroran, lead the way." Vincent said.

Aurie grinned from ear to ear. She was in charge, and Vincent called her 'Auroran'.

This day was just getting better and better.

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

"What a dump." Turbine said.

"Watch yo' mouth! This may look lika dump to you, but to them, It's home." Barret said.

"Sorry..." Turbine whimpered.

Barret, Turbine, and Red XIII were dropped off in the Corel area just twenty-four hours ago. It took an entire day to reach their destination, but it was necessary.

"We haven't much time. Let's get to the reactor before the Shinra do." Red spoke.

"Luckily, speed is my specialty." Turbine said, pointing to the thrusters on his shoulders.

"That's jes' fine n' dandy for you, but what about us? Barret said.

"No prob. I'll just go on ahead. See you at the reactor!"

"Wait! No! We have to do this together..." Red said.

But it was too late. The impulsive Turbine had already shot off like a bullet, leaving a thin trail of dust in his wake.

"Shi-... He's gonna get himself killed." Barret said, shaking his head.

"And us as well..." Red sighed.

The two Avalanche members left Corel, and began to follow their reckless ally to the reactor.

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

"This might be th' easiest thing I ever did." Cait Sith mused.

He, Proton, and Airblaster stood at the base of Ft. Condor. Since the Shinra were preoccupied at the moment, getting the huge materia out would be simple.

"That Condor is truly a sight to behold..." Proton muttered.

"Wish you brought your camera, eh?" 'Blaster quipped.

Proton raised his left eyebrow and stared at his teammate. He then sighed and started walking toward the rope that led to the inside of the mountain.

"What's with him?" Cait asked.

"I dunno. He's always like that." 'Blaster replied.

"Oh. Sounds a lot like Vince. Yeah, I know what it's like." Cait said, shrugging.

The two odd-looking heroes proceded to the aforementioned rope and began to climb up.

It was too bad that neither of them saw the battlelion of shinra soldiers marching towards the fort.

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

"We're glad you came, Elena." Aeris said.

"Yeah, well...It's not like I had a choice." Elena replied.

"You did what you needed to do. All in all, I'm glad you're with us." Cloud said.

The heroes that remained aboard the Highwind now sat around the conference table in the operations room. Cloud stood at the head, and Aeris and Elena sat across from one another. Tifa stood right behind Aeris' chair. Cid was laying back in his chair, and had put his feet up on the table. Blaze was sitting across from him with his arms crossed. Yuffie was standing in the corner of the room, looking somewhat green. And X stood at the other end of the table, directly across from Cloud. But still, there was one person missing.

"Um, Cloud....Where's Zero?" X asked.

Cloud paced about for a few seconds before answering.

"I don't know. After we arrived at Junon, Zero just took off. The shinra guards tried to stop him, but they were no match. We haven't seen him since." Cloud replied.

"Oh..." X said.

"Hey, all we're doing right now is waiting for our teams to contact us, right? Well, I say we should go look for him. It wouldn't hurt." Blaze said.

"That's easy enough to say, but Zero could be anywhere." Tifa said.

"Point taken. But we have to find him. He's our ally and our friend. We owe it to him." Cloud said sternly.

"Yeah...Thanks, Cloud." X said.

"Okay, so it's agreed. Now what?" Blaze said.

"I haven't the slightest idea. But maybe X might." Cloud said.

"What do you mean?" X asked.

"Well, you know him better than anyone else. Any ideas?" Cloud replied.

"Uh, to tell you the truth, he's never done anything like this before." X said.

"Which leads me to believe he's not himself." Cloud pondered.

"Uh, what?" Cid said with a dumb look on his face.

"I think I know what you're talking about. When Zero gave Sigma the black materia, it wasn't by choice." Aeris said.

"Sigma must be manipulating him. That's what's causing those 'visions' of his, I bet." Blaze said, adding to the theory.

"Maybe..." Aeris began.

She looked up to Tifa, as if to say,'Should I tell them?' Tifa replied with a nod of comfort, and Aeris started again.

"...Ever since I met Cloud, I too had visions. Most of the time they occurred in my dreams. Some were so frightening that I..."

She shuddered. It was painful to recall, no doubt. For a few moments, she couldn't talk. Tifa was there as she had always had been, though, and encouraged her to go on.

She explained in great detail every preminition she experienced ever since bumping into Cloud that fateful day. The strange part, however, was the fact that not once did she see her friends from the future.

"What caused your visions in the first place?" X asked.

"I believe it was the planet. It was trying to show me what would happen if I failed. Apparently, I did." Aeris explained.

"What does it have to with Zero, though?" Yuffie asked, insensitive as usual.

"Perhaps the planet is doing the same to him." Cloud said.

"Waitaminute. Let me get this straight. If we're right, then Zero is being guided by the planet to perform a certain task. On top of that, Sigma is trying his damnedest to manipulate Zero himself. He must really be confused right now." Blaze explained.

"That's one hell of a theory." Elena said.

"Which leads us back to square one. Where would he go?" Cloud said.

"Great. We're going around in f^&%)#g circles now." Cid spat.

Cloud pulled out his chair and sat down. He stared blankly into the wooden table, deep in thought. Finding Zero would obviously take a while.

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

"Damn you! Speak to me!" Sigma yelled.

Sephiroth, now removed from his cocoon, continued ignoring Sigma's ranting. He silently sat in Sigma's 'throne', pondering the pros and cons of putting Sigma out of his misery. Finally, he spoke.

"You." Sephiroth said.

"What?"

"You are no longer needed. Your original purpose was to deliver the black materia to my hands, which you eventually did. Therefore, your services are no longer required." Sephiroth said coldly.

"So what are you gonna do? Kill me? That's a laugh. Your weapon has already been proven useless." Sigma grunted.

Sephiroth slowly stood up from the throne and pulled his masamune from the sheath in the wall from which it was imbedded. The materia lining the handle shined greatly.

"There is more than one way to dispose of you." Sephiroth said with a grin.

Suddenly the ground beneath Sigma began to shake. It got violent enough to shake off a limb. As it subdued, Sigma felt the air around him growing colder. He was quickly covered in a sheet of ice and impaled with many razor-sharp icicles. He was thawed out, though, when a huge fireball surrounded him and torched his circuits. As if that wasn't enough, a powerful bolt of lightning shot down from the heavens and nearly finished him off.

But Sigma wasn't done yet. He staggered up to Sephiroth with an evil grin on his face.

"Is...that...the best...you could do?" He laughed.

"No. It isn't." Sephiroth said.

In one quick, smooth motion, Sephiroth swung the masamune around with incredible power and beheaded Sigma. The body slumped to the floor, motionless. The head dropped to the ground and rolled a few feet before stopping. However, Sigma's vocalizers were still functional.

"It...do...esn't matter if....you...des...troy this body. I...will re....turn with....a stron...ger...bo..dy and it...will be your....head....roll...ing...on..gound next....time we ...meet..." Sigma gasped as his systems shut down.

"I think not." Sephiroth said as he jabbed his masamune through the head.

It sparked and crackled for a few minutes, then was silent. Sephiroth pulled the head off his sword and tossed it aside like last week's garbage.

"Ha ha haa..."

It was a pity Sigma never realized he was twenty thousand years in the past, otherwise his final words might have proved truthful.

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