[Shattered] Dreams 34

Chapter Thirty-Four: Attack of the Sahuagin

Grey eyes fluttered open, almost forcing themselves shut at the invasion of bright sunlight. The ex-Turk glanced around the room, finding that a warm weight was still settled on his right side, making his arm nearly numb and that he was really feeling the need for a shower. He was both sticky and sweaty from both of their previous excursions.

Vincent grimaced only slightly as he struggled to extricate himself from the tangle of sheets and Cid. They had fallen asleep after their early morning round of sex and arguing, but it seemed only for a short time. He risked a glance at the clock, only an hour or so had passed.

The pilot grunted as he moved, waking up almost immediately. This time his eyes were clear rather than sleep confused as they settled on the ex-Turk that was trying to rise from the bed.

“What time is it?”

The gunman stretched mildly as he rose from the bed, pulling off his jeans from the floor and slipping into them, foregoing underwear for the time being. He zipped them up, not bothering with the button as he planned on diving into a shower as soon as possible.

“Still relatively early for you,” he answered as he moved to the window, pulling back the curtains a little so he could look out.

The pilot turned over and peered at the clock, groaning slightly at the time. “That wouldn’t stop Mr. President from calling me for a pick up. Thinks I’m a damn one-man transport service,” he complained, but his tone was affectionate. He just liked to grumble for the sake of complaining.

It was pretty outside, another beautiful May day on Gaia. He could see nothing outside the window except grassy plains and a fence that had once housed the Tiny Bronco. He idly wondered what had happened to the plane turned boat after the Meteor incident as his mind registered what the pilot had said.

“Rufus?” he questioned as Cid had referred to Mr. President.

The blond sat up in the bed, scratching his head as he peered around the room for his clothing, finally spotting a pair of jeans thrown over the end post of the bed.

“Nah, that fucker’s dead,” responded Cid. “Reeve’s head man now with Archer helping him.” He paused before adding in a much lowered voice, “And getting on my damn nerves as well,” he muttered.

The pilot snagged his jeans, throwing them on before collapsing backwards onto the bed, seriously contemplating going back to sleep but not sure if he was willing to let the gunman out of his sight for even a minute. He was beginning to wonder if he could convince the early riser to return to sleep with him.

“Archer?” questioned the ex-Turk, half-turning from the window to raise an eyebrow at the pilot. “Who’s Archer?”

No sooner had the words left his mouth then did a shadow pass over the window. Frowning, Vincent returned his attentions to the window, only to have his eyes widen in surprise as a figure leapt through the aperture, shattering the glass and slamming into him. He was knocked backwards into the far wall as the stench of rotten fish filled his senses.

Cid’s eyes widened in surprise and a small bit of fear as the creature slammed his lover into a wall. He automatically reached for the spear that should have been at his bed side but wasn’t because he hadn’t slept in his room last night. He cursed his misfortune as another two of the strange monsters leapt in the window, eyes locked solely on Vincent.

The monsters were covered in green and yellow scales, most of them knobbed and coated in little spikes. They were huge, nearly twice the ex-Turk’s size, and had the form of a lizard, though intelligence to a certain extent was somewhere behind those eyes. They walked on two feet and wore light silver armor over their weak areas.

The lizard creature, which had slammed Vincent into the wall, hissed angrily and reared back a sharply clawed hand, intent on ending his life. At the last moment, the ex-Turk twisted away and dove for the Hell Fire, hanging from his holster in a nearby chair. He gritted his teeth against the fiery pain that raced through his back. Four long claw marks began to bleed freely.

His fingers just managed to wrap around the grip of the shotgun when a taloned hand wrapped around his leg and pulled. He twisted over on his back, ignoring the searing pain as he did so, and quickly fired the Hell Fire at the lizard creature that was trying to make a leap for his head. He was pulled across the floor, leaving a bloody smear behind him as he did so. The ex-Turk growled and struggled to free his foot, kicking violently at his assailant.

“Cid! Get out of here!” yelled the gunman, cocking the shotgun and firing at the lizard so that it would release his foot. “They’re only after me!”

Ice crackled through the air, slowing down the third lizard, which hadn’t yet attacked. Vincent struggled to his feet, having trouble keeping all three monsters in his sight. He nimbly dodged a tail whip attack and fired back, missing when the creature moved so quickly in a short amount of space that he hardly saw it.

He did not see when one tried to creep up on him from behind, not until the pilot let out a battle yell and dove at it, knocking both man and beast into the dresser with a crash. The mirror shattered, scattering glass everywhere.

“Are you out of your damn mind?” growled Cid rhetorically as he attempted to pummel the knobby beast. His knuckles were nearly bloody with the effort as the creatures scales were practically hard as rock. “I’m not leaving ya to fight them alone!”

The pilot cried out in sudden pain as an errant claw caught him across the arm, slicing into his forearm leaving three jagged marks that bled freely.

“Stubborn bastard!” hissed the ex-Turk in response. His hand came out, throwing an Ice spell at the lizard that was wrestling with the pilot. He cocked the Hell Fire and fired again, driving back another advancing creature before darting forward and grabbing the pilot, pulling him away from his enemy.

The two men stumbled towards the door, the three creatures eyeing them with bloodlust. Vincent grabbed a hold of the pilot’s shoulder and shoved him towards the door, idly throwing out another Ice spell as he did so. It succeeded in slowing down the lizards, even if it didn’t stop them. He could feel himself tiring, however, using too many spells in a short span of time not really something he was used to doing.

“Go get your spear!” the gunman ordered, giving him another hearty shove.

The pilot shook his head stubbornly, standing his ground. “I already told ya once, Vince, you’re not leaving on your own again.”

Vincent opened his mouth to reply when he was distracted by the angry snarl of the lizard monster. They were preparing to snap. He made a quick decision, knowing the stubbornness of his lover. In a movement borne of near desperation, he shoved the pilot out the door, pulling it shut behind him and throwing the lock. The blond immediately started pounding on the door, which Vincent ignored as he grimly took stock of the situation.

As the three creatures glared at him hungrily, one making a bold move forward, which Vincent promptly shot and persuaded otherwise. The ex-Turk knew he had to get them away from the house. He didn’t want it to get destroyed or accidentally harm the pregnant Shera. The last thing he wanted was for another innocent life to get ruined in the protection of his.

His eyes darted over to the now completely ruined window, knowing that beyond the back yard of the two-story home was open field. He would have to contend with the lesser beasts out there as well but figured they would see the monstrous and powerful creatures chasing him and would stay well away. Also, he would have to make sure he didn’t cut himself further on the jagged glass.

Grimacing at his lack of clothing with no time to pull on anything further, Vincent made a dive for the window. He jumped on the bed and scurried across it. As he did so he cast one of his last reserves in the form of another Ice spell and shot the Hell Fire, the gun fiercely recoiling in his grasp.

Bullet and icicle struck in the same moment, clearing him a path. He dove for the window, twisting his body around as he fell so that he could fire the shotgun at another of the creatures, hopefully slowing them down.

He artfully maneuvered his body so that he landed on his feet, the soles slightly stinging as one unshod foot stubbed into a rock. He bit back the grimace and struggled to gain his footing as he took off running, heading for the vast emptiness of the green plains.

His back throbbed angrily with the effort as he could feel the wetness from the blood dripping down and into his pants. Oh well, he would have to buy another pair.

Vincent heard growling and risked a glance over his shoulder as he saw the three creatures leap out of the Alexander house and follow after him, choosing to run on all fours rather than bipedal. The ex-Turk swore and sped up his pace as well he could, finding it difficult to maintain purchase with no shoes.

“Goddamit, Erebus!” cursed the gunman. “Where the hell are you when I need you?”

Cid gave up on banging on the door when the room beyond suddenly fell silent… a quiet that instantly made him worry. He heard the sound of a gunshot outside the house and knew that Vincent was no longer in the room. He didn’t even want to contemplate what the gunman had done from a two-story window to get outside. Growling angrily more at himself than anyone else, he darted from the locked door into his room, grabbing up his spear as quickly as he could.

He dashed into the hallway, intent on heading for the stairs when he ran into the nearby brick wall-like thing that went by the name of Rude Alexander. The dark-skinned man looked down at him from his superior height, a question on his face. For the moment, Cid was surprised by Rude’s very lack of sunglasses. He could plainly see deep brown eyes that were actually quite attractive.

“What the hell is going on?” an obviously feminine voice questioned from behind the very tall former Turk. Cid peered around Rude, seeing Shera standing there looking very angry. He supposed she had every right to be. The fighting probably woke her up.

Cid shook his head, moving quickly passed the happily every married couple. “No time for talkin’!” he muttered, making for the stairs. “Vince’s in trouble.”

He heard the sound of footsteps behind him despite his rapid pace and knew that they were following. “I’ll come with you,” Rude explained, his deep voice nearly reverberating in the small alcove that housed the stairs.

The pilot nodded in answer, automatically reaching for cigarettes, which he did not have, and cursing violently when he realized he did not. He tightened his grip on his spear before vaulting off the bottom step and heading for the front door, Rude on his heels. Shera was also following, albeit at a much slower and labored pace. She wouldn’t be fighting, however.

At the main door however, Rude paused, frowning as he shook his head. Hearing a lack of heavy footsteps, Cid turned and regarded the former Turk with a questioning raise of his brow.

“What?”

(It is time you caused me by my true name, snow child,) came a voice that had become quite familiar to the bald man. He hadn’t really been ignoring it, more or less trying to understand before he came out and spoke anything aloud to anyone else.

The voice had always identified herself as Shiva and claimed that he needed to understand her, to learn her true nature so that he might know her and his real power. It wasn’t something that made much sense to him, but he wasn’t about to wander around and ask questions about the voice in his mind. The last thing he needed was for some crazed scientist to get their hands on him. No fucking way.

‘True name’ he questioned internally. ‘What is there but what I know?’

He swore that a breath of cold air flashed across his mind as his skin goosebumped. The voice was trying to tell him something without being able to give it up verbally, but what he couldn’t figure. He looked up to find Cid regarding him with a confused expression and then remembered that the pilot had asked him what was wrong.

“A cold chill raced up my spine,” he explained quickly, then shook his head. “Never mind, let us just go.” He accentuated his point by gesturing towards the door. He didn’t want Shera to worry either.

The pilot looked at him strangely before nodding in answer and moving past him for the doorway, skin of his bared arm brushing across the taller man’s for the briefest of instants. He let out a startled cry and looked at Rude in wonderment.

“Your skin is like ice!” the blond man exclaimed.

Rude made for the door, quickly grabbing his fighting gloves from the box near the doorway and a few globes of materia he kept on hand. “That is not important right now.”

He cast a look over his shoulder towards his wife. She merely nodded in acknowledgement, absentmindedly rubbing her belly as she mouthed, ‘I love you’. He returned the gesture, deep meaning behind his eyes, now sufficiently covered by his restored sunglasses.

“Right,” agreed the pilot. “Vince needs us.”

Gasping for breath, Vincent kept up the pace, his feet pounding across the ground almost painfully. He had enough in him for one last cast… perhaps enough bullets to fire maybe three more times. But after that, he would have to use teeth and nail if he wanted to live.

He was strongly annoyed with his anima for disappearing at such a crucial time. The annoying demi-god had picked the worst moment to suddenly decide to be absent.

Vincent heard a snarl and dodged almost instinctively, ducking his head to avoid a claw slash from one of the creatures. They were right on his tail now, significantly faster than he and his lagging strength. It was only his nimble feet and random pattern that was keeping him from being a pile of mangled flesh.

Vincent threw out his last Ice reserve, managing to slow down one of the three and causing it to be left behind. He would use that to his advantage and found somewhere within him a bit of strength, urging himself into a burst of speed.

That is until one of the monsters decided to try and take a flying leap at him. He caught the movement out of the corner of his eye and waited until the last moment before he dove to the ground and rolled out of the way.

The creature, which he still had yet to identify, sailed ridiculously over the spot where he once was, quickly regaining its balance as it pivoted nicely and landing on its feet. Its claws dug into the dirt as it righted its direction and kept up the chase. Vincent had already rolled onto his feet, wincing as dirt and grass got into the wounds on his back, and pushed himself back into his running position.

He brought up the gun that was quickly becoming heavier and heavier in his grasp. It had been awhile since he had been forced to run for his life, and he had gotten sorely out of shape. Not that his body was really built for long distance running or stamina. He was a long range fighter, gun and all; the last thing he needed was endurance. Agility and intelligence was more his forte rather than strength.

For only the barest hint of a moment, he missed the strength and power afforded to him by the cursed demons. But that thought was ground down as quickly as it came. He would rather die than face their inclusion into his body once more.

One of the creatures darted in front of him, distracting him from his internal musings. He quickly sidestepped, changing his flight plan. The monster was not perturbed, performing another of its quick jumps in space so that it was running nearly beside him. It swung out with sharp claws, forcing Vincent to fire one of his remaining bullets to maintain distance.

The fiery shot grazed off the monsters bony shoulder and skittered away, his aim hampered by erratic movements and the creature’s agility, which was not unlike his own. The monster seemed unfazed by the attack and snarled angrily, yellowish eyes snapping with ire.

Vincent had a sick feeling in his stomach… that unless he got some help and soon, Balaam might be getting his powers back rather quickly. He absolutely hated to ask for help but knew now was not the time to be full of pride.

He brought up the Hell Fire, preparing to fire one more of the bullets as he half-turned, changing his direction for what had to be the thousandth time. He cast a look over his shoulder, instantly marking where all the creatures were. The one he had frozen was loping madly up the plains, quickly catching up. He was flanked on either side by the remaining two. Eventually, he would run out of strength.

The gunman returned his attentions to the path in front of him, eyes widening seconds before he ran into a black cloaked shape, nearly barreling it over in the process. He knew on sight who the mysterious figure was and fought to keep his feet even as he nearly lost his grip on the Hell Fire.

“You called?” The demi-god smirked, his voice instantly familiar. It was Erebus. The damned anima decided to show up at the most convenient for him moment. His hand came out, and he steadied his animus even as the other called his superbly sharp scythe into being.

“Bastard!” growled the ex-Turk angrily, wincing as every muscle protested the sudden stop in moving, and his back screamed in agony. He was healing far slower than before the battle with Sephiroth but still faster than most humans. He had a vague feeling it had something to do with the loss of the demons but was still certain their absence was a good thing.

“Where the hell have you been?” the gunman demanded, eyeing his anima critically. He was nearly heaving for breath as every muscle in his body screamed for him to lie down and not move again for perhaps another thirty years if he was lucky. His feet were crying out the same thing.

The demi-god chuckled aloud, swinging his scythe in a wide arc to ward off the three creatures that were now circling them, eyeing with murderous intent. They didn’t know this new foe, however, and were taking their time in attacking. Stupid creatures they were not.

“You’ve been around your pilot too long already,” teased the demi-god before he grasped his cloak and swirled it around them, casting one of his more powerful magic spells as he did so.

Darkness fell around the brightly lit plains, obscuring the vision of the lizard creatures and making it difficult for them to attack. They growled in anger, and Vincent could hear them padding about restlessly, trying to discern where to find their prey.

“Gods! Your back looks to be in shreds!” exclaimed the demi-god, finally noticing the tired and haggard state of his animus as Vincent swayed on his feet, struggling to remain standing.

The ex-Turk shook his head. “Too much blood,” he gasped out before grabbing his head with his one free hand, the scarred left.

Before Erebus could respond, however, another male voice distracted both men, causing them to look up in surprise.

“Ishvara! Turn them to dust!” the deeply masculine voice ordered. Vincent gaped as Rude and Cid ran up to them, unaffected by the darkness and the creatures clear in their sight.

However, he was even more surprised by what happened next.

The sky darkened, a different effect than what Erebus had cast. A patch of ice began to appear on the plains, spreading out from a central source and coating the green grass in a bluish, thick batch of frozen water. Suddenly, several large shards of ice burst from the center, growing tall and majestic, sparkling in air.

Within the clear ice was a woman, as beautiful as she was mysterious. She had long intricately woven blue-black hair and wore little save a few scraps of strategically placed frost. Jewelry bedecked her hands and ankles, as well as her hair and elf-like ears. Angular features were highlighted by what might have been makeup, but it was impossible to tell.

Simply put, she was beautiful, elegant. Not only that, she appeared to be sleeping.

But only for a moment.

Her eyes snapped open, a brilliant and glowing blue. The ice shattered around her, shards going in all directions but melting before they did any damage. She brought up her arms in an arcane gesture, the temperature instantly dropping below freezing around her as she turned to face the three lizard creatures, a small but delicate frown forming on her angelic face.

She held out a hand, aiming the palm towards one monster. A ball of energy began to form over her palm, coalescing rather quickly given the situation. Seconds later it formed a freezing wind, blowing fiercely on the unfortunate beast. The lizard was almost instantly encased in an enormous block of gathered ice.

A smirk crossed the lovely lady’s face seconds before she half-turned from the creature, elegantly snapping her fingers in a careless motion. Instantaneously, the glacier surrounding the lizard shattered into countless pieces, freezing it in place and slicing easily through the knobbed scales. The monster screeched in pain, forced to its hands and knees as its blood ran freely and its limbs fell from its trunk.

She twisted her wrist once more as a shard of ice came flying from seemingly nowhere, imbedding itself in the weakened monster’s chest. It collapsed to the ground, flopping weakly before giving in to the call of death. Slowly, the body began to dissolve as enemy and friend alike gaped in astonishment.

Vincent glanced at his anima. “She is even more dramatic than you are, not mention easier on the eyes,” murmured the ex-Turk almost teasingly as he turned surprised eyes towards the demi-god. Vincent pain momentarily forgotten, he gritted his teeth as another wave of agony passed through him, but he hid it carefully so his anima wouldn’t notice.

Erebus raised an eyebrow in irritation before stalking towards one of the two remaining creatures, both already trembling in fear. While the elegant blue-haired beauty disposed of the second monster in an almost absurdly easy and playful manner, Erebus made certain to kill the third in a spectacular way.

He waved his hands in an arcane gesture, binding the creature with chains popped up from the earth and restraining it. The metal links began to bind around the monster, slowly tightening inwards as its bones broke one by one. It was an agonizingly painful way for something to die, but it was deserved giving the painful slash marks on the ex-Turk’s back.

Vincent shook his head at his anima’s theatrics, nearly fainting with the dizziness caused by that action. His knees buckled beneath him, and they threatened to collapse. He would have met the ground personally had Cid not appeared at his side, grabbing him before he could fall.

The blond was appalled by the sheer look of haggardness and exhaustion in his lover’s face and the jagged marks along his back. Vincent would have more scars to add to his already unfortunate collection.

He was more surprised, however, by the fact that they weren’t closing up at a faster rate. He knew how quickly the ex-Turk should have been healing, and it wasn’t even coming close. He dared a look down the way they had ran, knowing what he would find but dreading it. Sure enough, there was a slight blood trail, coming entirely from the back of the gunman in his arms. It made his stomach churn with unfortunate thoughts.

“Why the hell aren’t ya healin’ faster?” questioned the pilot as he pulled the ex-Turk into his arms and held him close. “I don’t have a cure on me. Only offensive stuff…”

A shadow fell over the duo moments before the skull-like face of Erebus appeared. Apparently, the monsters had been sufficiently taken care of. The sound of footsteps alerted the pilot to the approach of Rude and the blue-haired angel as well.

“Here,” said Erebus, grabbing the bottom of his already tattered cloak in his hand and ripping it easily. He handed the scrap to the pilot. “Use this until we can get him back to the house.”

“I can slow down the bleeding but not heal him,” added in the ice queen, looking down on the dark-haired man with something akin to pity. “It is not one of my gifts,” she finished softly, her voice as enchanting as the rest of her.

The blond nearly gaped at the two demi-deities, still surprised by their very appearances. “Who? What… the fuck are you?” he questioned as he took the scrap of cloth from the demi-god.

“Erebus,” answered Vincent in a somewhat weak voice. He half-angled his body so that he could look his lover in the eye. “My anima…”

Cid furrowed his brow in confusion as he struggled to bind the wounds that were nearly the entire length of the ex-Turk’s back. He sighed aloud. “First Yuffie and Nanaki… now you and Rude.” He eyed the two demi-deities. “You’re Shiva, I get that. But you?”

The blue-haired demi-goddess laughed aloud. “Ishvara is my real name, pilot. And, yes, Rude is my animus. I have only just now gotten to speak to him.” She put a hand to her forehead as she considered. “In fact, I do believe he is the one to have my summon materia.”

As she spoke, she moved towards the ex-Turk who was leaning heavily on his lover, one hand wrapped around the pilot’s waist. She moved around to his back, lightly fanning her fingers over the wind, causing a light brush of cold air to ghost across his skin. A small layer of ice coated the wound, sealing it for a short amount of time.

The dark-cloaked demi-god shook his head as he eyed his anima with concern. The wounds were indeed healing quite slowly even with the mako still coursing through Vincent’s veins. They needed to get him to a Restorative materia before they got infected and his blood subsequently poisoned.

“I am Hades or more precisely… Erebus,” he explained.

Cid frowned, half in confusion, half in irritation. “What the fuck is going on?” he asked rhetorically, speaking of things in general.

Erebus waved a hand of dismissal. “Never mind that now. We have to get Vincent back to the house.”

“I believe I have a mid-level Cure somewhere,” added in Rude, speaking for the first time since the end of the battle.

The pilot nodded in response, ignored the dark-haired man’s protestations and swept the taller man into his arms. He wasn’t exactly a strong man but neither was Vincent exactly heavy, especially barely dressed.

“Goddammit Cid, I am not an invalid,” hissed the gunman.

The pilot raised a brow as their eclectic group made their way the fair distance back towards the once Highwind now Alexander home. “Oh, I should put you back on your bleeding feet then?”

Vincent winced at the reminder of his throbbing feet. “Your arm is bleeding, too,” he argued in return.

“It’s only a flesh wound,” countered the pilot. “Now shuddap and let me carry you.”

The gunman considered opening his mouth and arguing in return but refrained from doing so. He was actually beginning to feel a little dizzy, and the pain in his back was reaching near astronomical proportions. As much of a stab to his pride as it was to be carried, he allowed the pilot to do so just that one time. However, that didn’t stop him from shooting a poisonous glare to his anima, who was currently snickering at him in his predicament.

A short time later found the group of demi-deities and humans standing outside the Alexander home, Shera frowning at them in a look of both concern and disapproval. Her gaze softened, however, when she caught the injured ex-Turk lying within his lover’s arms.

She immediately pushed open the front door wider, guiding the eclectic group inside. Her eyes widened slightly at the sight of the demi-deities, many questions on her lips, but she put them aside in favor of waiting for a more proper time.

The beautiful blue-eyed woman was what shocked her most, especially the barely-there clothing that she wore, and who in the world had true ice-tinged skin?

Shera had the feeling that things were about to get even stranger than she had anticipated.

Everyone was ushered into the living room, where Vincent was deposited gently on the couch as everyone else settled themselves in other locations. Shera bustled off to make some tea as Rude disappeared in search of the mid-level Cure he was certain he kept somewhere on hand.

“What were those damn things?” questioned Cid, eyeing the demi-deities as they made themselves at home in the living room that had once belonged to him. He was tempted to reach for a cigarette; he knew he had a pack in his jeans pocket, but at a glance from the gunman that idea was squashed.

Feh, he was whipped already.

“The Sahuagin,” Shiva answered, her voice light and airy, much like the winter wind, though it had a soft ringing quality to it as well. Her blue eyes took in everything around her as she made herself comfortable on a high-backed chair.

Erebus was standing beside the unlit fireplace, his face furrowed in contemplation. “It’s hard to explain what exactly the Sahuagin are, as they are neither monster nor demi-god nor animal. They just… are if that makes any sense.”

“Not a damned bit,” muttered the pilot as he sat down on the edge of the couch, where Vincent was lying on his stomach, trying not to move. The wounds looked absolutely horrible, nearly linear with the scars from Chaos’ wings and stretching almost the entire length of his back.

The ex-Turk shook his head. “Never mind what they were. Are there more?”

Erebus frowned. “I don’t believe so, but I can’t be positive. Their origins are somewhat… unknown.”

“What great help you all are.” The pilot snorted sarcastically. He was starting to get testy… lack of nicotine could do that to a man.

It was then that Shera came into the room, carrying a few empty tea cups and a tea pot. She shot the blond man a look as she set the tray down on the table. “Have you lost your damn mind?” she snapped. “Quit being rude.”

Erebus had to cover his face, trying to rein in his laughter as Cid turned red, glaring angrily at a woman he now considered like his sister. Even the ex-Turk had to hide the slight smile that was tugging at the corner of his mouth.

The sound of a continuously ringing phone disturbed their laughter as Rude appeared in the living room, Cure materia and bandages in one hand and a PHS in the other.

“I had to break down the door,” he explained shortly, depositing the annoying object into the blond’s hands. “But answer that damned thing.” With that said, he turned his attentions to casting the Cure spell on the prone Vincent, while Cid pressed the button to activate the phone.

“Highwind,” he answered crisply, glaring at everyone in the room as they had been having fun at his expense.

“Cid,” came Reeve’s easily recognized voice. “Busy?”

The pilot sighed, running an irritated hand through his now somewhat spiky locks. “Somewhat.”

“If it’s nothing important, we need to get to Midgar. Everyone does, I mean. Call Nanaki and Yuffie and pick them up. We all need to get together again. We’ve been ignoring what’s been going on in Gaia for far too long. We might be the only ones who can do anything about the war that’s soon going to break out.”

Cid exchanged glances with Vincent, who was struggling to sit up as he aided Rude in wrapping the bandages around his chest and back. The cure materia helped to seal the wounds, but it would be better to wrap them until he could heal fully, lest they break open again. The gunman nodded in response to Cid’s unasked question, having heard Reeve’s request and agreeing heartily.

“Alright, Reeve. We’ll be there in a few hours. Highwind, out.” Without waiting for a response and knowing the President didn’t expect one, he ended the call.

“Well, folks, there’s no way around it,” he explained, eyeing everyone gathered in the living room. “Time to save the world.”

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