ONE BORN OF A DRAGON -- by Kharivas
Part 2: A Calamity From the Skies

BACKGROUND INFO: Final Fantasy VII's foul-mouthed airship pilot has finally learned his family heritage, and it was a whole hell of a lot more than he had bargained for! Now knowing that he is the only son of FF4's Kain Highwind himself, Cid must make the decision of a lifetime and choose his path.

"You were not prepared to hear this," Nanaki observed. "I can sense your uncertainty. You refuse to take up your father's glorious profession; you even seem to be refusing his very relation to you. I told you earlier that I was unsure of Kain Highwind's true relation -- or lack thereof -- to yourself, yet it cannot be a simple coincidence. The two of you have a certain cosmetic similarity in that your manes are both a dull yellow in hue. You both wield the traditional weapon of the Dragon Warriors, the spear. Most notable of all is that you both share the family name of Highwind."

Cid took a long, defiant drag from his half-smoked cigarette. "You just don't get it, dog." He tossed the butt away and stomped it out with a vengeful boot. "Even if Kain is my daddy, why should I follow in his damned footsteps and become a Dragoon?"

Red XIII hesitated. For this he simply had no answer -- almost all of his knowledge was based upon what his wise old Grandfather had taught him. After a moment of awkward silence, he replied. "You already have the skills for it. In your Limit Breaks, more often than not, you can jump to a great height and come down on your enemies with the fury of your lance. The Clan of Dragon Warriors had a similar technique. They--"

"Goddamnit!" Cid barked, startling Nanaki and stopping him in mid-sentence. "I KNOW what Dragoons do and I KNOW what I do! They're two different things -- and I will NOT become a @#$%&*# Dragoon unless the Lifestream freezes over! Do I make myself clear!?"

Nanaki meekly backed away. "Yes, Cid. You make yourself quite clear. Every soul follows its own path, now you follow your own."

"Damn straight," the pilot replied triumphantly. "And don't you @#$%&*# forget it!"

Days passed, many awkward days. During that time, Cid returned his (allegedly feline) brother-in-arms to his home Cosmo Canyon and had no further contact with any one of the heroes he had grown to know so well. Cid kept totally to himself; the only words spoken of him were rumors.

Finally seeking the answers he feared most, Cid piloted his beloved airship into the God-forsaken crater which had almost been the utter destruction of it. Therein lay the Lifestream and all of its spirits. He hoped to squeeze some information out of them or something.

Stepping out of the Highwind, he found himself once again in the Northern Crater, venturing down into its deepest reaches, into the very core of the Planet itself. The Lifestream flowed all around him as if he were submerged in some eerie river of souls. From its steady flow came one figure, humanoid in appearance, yet mostly covering its body in armor that looked strangely draconic. Whoever it was, it had immediately become apparent to Cid that this was not a living man, but a deceased spirit who had escaped from the Flow of Life to address him. The question was, simply, why the spirit had done so.

The soul spoke in a deep, gritty voice. "Are you Cid Highwind?"

"Yeah," Cid answered. "Who the @#$% wants to know?"

The armored figure before him seemed to ignore his profanities entirely. "You are the one I was looking for. What would you do, Cid, if you were told that you were the only one capable of saving the world from an unspeakable evil?"

"What kind of @#$%&*# question is that!?" Cid spat. "I don't care what you say or who you are, I'm never gonna be the ONLY one who can save the damn world."

"What if you lost the Highwind? How would you pursue that evil?"

"Who are you and what're you trying to sell me, for God's @#$%&*# sake! Spit it out already!"

"I am Kain Highwind. You must decide to save the Planet -- for this time, the Planet itself will not be able to aid you."

This had caught Cid's attention. "Decide? Decide WHAT?" Kain's ghastly form faded away and merged once again with the Lifestream. "Hey! Come back here you bastard! I ain't done with you yet!!" Nothing happened. After waiting silently for the spirit to return to him -- without success -- Cid heaved a long, exhausted sigh. "Damn it to hell."

All around him, the constant motion of the Planet's Mako energy seemed to slow gradually. Cid cautiously ascended back to the Highwind, peering down into the abyss, only to see that the Planet's life force had seemingly become a motionless solid -- and it was expanding rapidly, consuming everything with which it came into contact. The old pilot strongly considered getting in the Highwind and moving the hell out, but he knew it would take too long to start it up. He had no choice -- he ran, looking over his shoulder, helplessly watching as his little baby was consumed by the condensed Mako.

He had no idea what had just happened, yet for some unknown reason, his words to Nanaki -- which he had only spoken earlier that day -- lingered in his mind.

"I will NOT become a @#$%&*# Dragoon unless the Lifestream freezes over", he had said. He hadn't meant it in a literal way at all, yet the irony of the actual occurence was remarkable.

"I'm just having a GREAT DAY," he grumbled.

Time passed -- a day, to be exact. Cid had taken shelter in the Icicle Inn, yet he knew he could not stay there for long. He would have to return to his friends somehow. "Friends?" he wondered, stepping outside of the house in which he'd found a place to sleep, oblivious at the same time of the tail directly under his foot.

A crimson animal growled vengefully and whipped its body around to snap at the human. This was before the two recognized one another. "Cid..!! Thank Jenova I found you!" The creature would have let out a relieved sigh, yet at the same time he was far too panicked to do so. "Meteor has returned! Grandpa told me before he died that this would happen, but until now I wasn't sure if I should believe it."

Cid scratched his chin. "So that's what happened, huh.. I knew something weird was going on. The Lifestream has actually frozen over -- it even swallowed up the Highwind, and that can't just be from a 'natural' cause." Red XIII nodded. The pilot lit a cigarette, drew in a sharp breath, and let out two simple phrases. "Get me out of here -- we're going to Wutai."

"Wutai?" Nanaki arched a brow. "Why would you want to go there?"

"That was where we found the Dragoon Lance," Highwind replied matter-of-factly. "And then there was that fire nobody could put out. I'm itchin' to know what's actually behind that fire.. and if I didn't know better I'd say it was more Dragoon stuff for me to use."

"You mean you're..." Red XIII looked up. "You ARE going to become a Dragoon, then? Live up to your family name? Save the Planet?"

"Yeah," Cid answered. "That's the plan anyway."

"Somehow I foresaw that," Nanaki said dryly. "Well, then, if the Highwind is gone, we can still reach Wutai using the Tiny Bronco. Cloud and I left it just outside of Bone Village."

"Cloud? You let that crazy @#$% pilot the Bronco? What, do you have a death wish?"

"Well, no. But it is quite hard to pilot that thing myself. Now come with me -- Cloud is waiting for us in the Forgotten Capitol, I think."

"Uh.. Wait." Cid shook his head. "How the @#$% did you find me here, anyway?"

"Trial and error. We've been looking for you since you left me back at Cosmo Canyon. I called Cloud on the PHS and told him to bring me the Tiny Bronco so we could look for you. Now come on, we're taking you to Wutai."

Cid and Nanaki traveled through the snow back to the City of the Ancients. Both felt a chill go through their bodies as they entered the resting place of what had once been the last Cetra, yet neither of the two ever said a word as they traversed back through the Capitol. At the end of the path, they finally met up once again with their third party member. Nanaki saved Cid the trouble of explaining everything..

"...Wutai. Alright then, let's go." Cloud shrugged nonchalantly and led the two back through Bone Village and to the Tiny Bronco.

Cid was aghast. "What the @#$% did you do to it!?"

"We repaired it," Cloud answered. "Try it."

They stepped into the plane, starting up its engine and whatnot, and the Bronco did indeed begin to hover above the ground. "Hot damn!!" Cid laughed. "It's flyin'!!"

"Now," Red XIII proudly said, "let us go to Wutai."

Cid piloted the Tiny Bronco toward the continent of Wutai, uttering a triumphant "Hell yeah!"