Another Chapter is here!
Kazeshuriken: True, true.
AltenativeFutureFan27: Thank you.
Once the allotted time was up, Yuffie stood at the bottom floor of the pagoda once more with her equipment and materia ready—including a replacement arm-guard. This time only Gorky stood opposite her instead of the entirety of the Five, though Shake stood against the left wall in observation. Her companions stood against the right wall to silently support her, along with the pilot and his assistant they brought along.
"My apologies for this, Miss Yuffie," said the venerable elder of the Five Mighty Gods. He inclined his head and gave a slight bow in respect. "Your father has given explicit instructions not to go easy on you."
The young kunoichi pursed her lips for a moment. Then she unfurled the Magic Shuriken and pointed it at him. "Bring it on!"
He elder nodded and the look in his eyes changed, brimming with vigor and power. He took on a battle stance and howled, "POWER CHANGE!"
In a flash, gone was the man. In his place was a blue demon crouched on one knee, wings lax like a cloak draped over his back. He slowly rose to his feet to reveal that he was slightly taller than Yuffie, before spreading his leathery pinions and flapping them to attain lift off the ground.
"I will make this brief." The transformation replaced his normally calm voice with a deep, guttural rumbled deeply as he spoke. "Show me your power!" Then he covered himself with a barrier and dove towards her headfirst, like a missile speeding towards a target.
Yuffie had seen this before. It was Gorky's opener. Befitting his role as the first of the Five Mighty Gods, he went all-out from the very beginning with his full power—going from a blitz into a diving kick at the start to take out those who were unaware.
The moment she saw him pulling in his wings and twisting his body in the air to bring his feet forward, she rolled out of the way. There was a resounding, thunderous crash as he landed where she had once been, making the reinforced floor shake for a pause as his strengthened leg muscles withstood the impact of his own attack. Just as quick, Yuffie was up on her feet and then bounced back with her shuriken in her hand.
She used it like a chakram instead of flinging it, sweeping it around like a blade to cut into his toughened flesh. However, the Barrier spell layering the body of the demon combined with Gorky's martial prowess allowed him to block the strikes with his forearms before he swung his tail around to take her legs from under her. Yuffie saw it coming quick enough to leap up, but it left her open as he delivered side-kick that she narrowly blocked with her arm-guard.
Gorky watched as the impact sent her airborne but she managed to control the fall into a back-roll and then sprung back up onto her feet, pulling out a scroll that she flung and uttering a word of release. The scroll unleashed a flaming blaze that he avoided by leaping up and spreading his wings, using the heat to rise further into the air as it snuffed itself out. Then he called forth darkness and made the air tremble as the gravity around her increased intensely, bringing her to her knees.
"Not good enough." He let the attack run its course as he hovered in the air, arms crossed. "You cannot hope to best your father if you cannot withstand this much, Miss Yuffie. Submit."
Once the Demi 2 spell finished, Yuffie rose to her feet in defiance and ignored the aching in her bones. "Never!"
"So be it!" He prepared to dive again when Yuffie snapped her fingers and a phantasmal clock appeared on the floor beneath her. He crashed down with another dive kick, only to find that she had disappeared. Craning his head around, he abruptly felt her presence behind him and spun around, bringing his arm around to lash out.
Yuffie leapt up, her body and mind quickened through the Haste spell, and brought the Magic Shuriken around as the strike went underneath her. Gorky didn't bother trying to block it as it neared his wings since the defensive barrier covered his entire body like a shell and would mitigate it. She had brought that up with Crimson and they had immediately pegged it as a bad habit that they could exploit.
Trigger the Destruct Materia she borrowed from Crimson, the barrier shattered like glass as the blades of the shuriken cleaved through the leathery pinions. Gorky experienced pain and the lack of wings crippled his mobility, meaning no more diving kicks. Taking the opportunity to strike while she could, Yuffie pressed her empty hand against his body and triggered the Thunder Materia she borrowed as well.
There was a blinding flash and roaring noise as the Bolt 3 spell detonated like dynamite, leaving everyone—Yuffie included—with their ears ringing as they blinked away the spots in their eyes. When they did, they witnessed that Gorky was on his knees.
"Still not enough, Miss Yuffie." He snapped his fingers and a pale, viridian hue swaddled his frame. The bleeding from his wings stopped. Looking carefully, she could see the wings and burns starting to heal themselves—he was using a Regen spell.
"No you don't!" Yuffie activated her Poison Materia and used the Bio 2 spell. The maleficent, sickly green poison manifested as a dense orb the size of a truck right over his head and then fell down. The bane fluid sank into his skin through the pores and the freshly-healing wounds, festering horribly to offset the healing he had granted himself, at the same time blinding him as the acrid liquid mercilessly rotted his eyes.
Agonizing cries overwhelmed their ears as they listened to the elder in his demon form deal with the pain. Yuffie felt guilt upon hearing. She didn't have anything against Gorky under normal circumstances—in fact she kinda liked the old-timer like an uncle—and knew that any damage done to the monster form wouldn't bleed over to his human form. Still, it was unpleasant. "Give up and return to normal if you want to escape the pain!"
"I will not!" He flexed his body and rushed forward. "Your father gave me an order, and I shall fulfill it to the end!"
Yuffie dodged the clumsy strikes with sickening ease. The blinding pain and still-active Haste spell rendered his power useless since it couldn't hit her. It was almost enough to bring her to tears that he was hurting himself.
"Ah, why are you all so damn stubborn!?" A blazing light emanated from her body, anger born of worry over his stubbornness. Intending to end this before he could push himself even further, she sank it into her arms and legs to strengthen them to their limit. "Go down!"
Crossing the distance in the blink of an eye with preternatural speed, putting everything ounce of her strength behind her strike, Yuffie cut him down like Greased Lightning with her large shuriken in hand. The impact struck hard enough that the air around them was displaced by the strike.
Gorky went still for a pregnant pause and then began to evaporate, his demonic body only registering that it had been cut clean in two after the fact. Gone was the monster, leaving only the man to fall to his knees in the aftermath. "Agh…"
He panted, sweat glistening off his face. "You… have proven… your power. I have failed Lord Godo… but I am proud of your growth… Miss Yuffie."
"You lost on purpose to her didn't you, Gorky!" Shake accused heatedly. Yuffie glared at her. She was next.
"She won fair and square." The older man took a deep breath, his chest puffing out as he forced himself up to his feet and pointed to the stairs. "You'd best prepare yourself, Miss Shake."
"I'm not going to go easy on you like he did," the younger girl warned Yuffie before she stormed up the stairs.
Crimson approached Yuffie, deactivating Sense. She couldn't offer help from the sideline, but being able to assess how the battle was going and being able to advise her afterwards was valuable in its own way. "You're upset."
Yuffie's head bobbed slightly and her lips thinned into a frown. "I didn't like hearing him in pain."
"What's effective isn't always pretty or nice," she said. "But in this case, it's necessary. You're fighting alone against veterans. You have to be brutal and efficient to survive, especially given how determined he was."
"I guess…" Yuffie watched as Aerith went over to the old man to ask if he wanted to be healed with one of the spare Restore Materia that Yuffie had stockpiled. He refused on the grounds that it wasn't honorable to ask that and stated he would be fine with a little rest. So stubborn, but then again her father had been a part of that.
She looked down to her hands and felt the nebulous energy within her that preceded her learning both her previous Limit Breaks. It was colorless, undefined, and shapeless. She'd determine what form to give it in the battles to come soon enough.
Tifa looked on as Kunsel pointed at a spot on map of the area. They were currently using one of the rooms at the Gold Saucer's Inn to rest and prepare for taking the Huge Materia in the nearby reactor. To her surprise, Dio had been fine with the fact that his Buggy had been shot-up—something about reminding him of his youth.
"This is our best chance to take the Huge Materia," the former Second-Class said. "I confirmed the shipping schedule and the location of it once more yesterday. We can take it mid-transit here from the train, where the security will be the lightest."
"How can you be sure they'll take the train?" Vincent asked. "A helicopter could be used instead, couldn't it?"
"The airspace around here is lousy with aerial monsters," he said. "Not to mention that the Huge Materia is incredibly dense and plays havoc with mako-based fuel sources when close to the engines. A helicopter will go down in a matter of minutes."
"I don't see why we don't cut through the bullshit, march into the reactor, and then take the damn thing by force," Barret pointed out. "In and out before they know what hit them."
Kunsel tilted his head enough that his mako-colored eyes could be seen over the rim of the shades. "Because then there'll be a repeat with what happened in Old Corel."
Barret bristled at that. "What are you trying to say?"
"Shinra is desperate and they know who you are by now, so do you really think that they wouldn't slaughter the refugees until you gave it up after what happened in Rocket Town?" He pointed out. "Plus, we're right next to the Gold Saucer. I won't bring this kind of trouble to Dio's doorstep after what happened before."
Barret looked as though he wanted to say something harsh and violent, but forced himself to calm down and think. "Okay… let's say you gotta point. What makes this snatch-and-grab so much different?"
"Leaving aside fewer dead bodies, the idea here is that I, Vincent, and Nanaki, will board the train mid-transit and stop it. Once the train has been stopped, I can have phoenix snatch the Huge Materia and cart it off to an escape vehicle I'm procuring. We can then take it to Cosmo Canyon and store it there, sealing it underground from their scanners."
"I've talked with Grandfather about it," Nanaki added. "He has agreed to do so."
"Then what will Barret and I do?" Tifa asked.
"You're going to be a safety-net," he said. "I heard that they've given the train conductor clearance to plow straight through the new Coral establishment in an effort to keep this secretive. They aren't trying to evacuate it, and no one would be the wiser or show concern if people who had been tossed aside from society were abruptly killed. 'If' the media reported it, it either be listed as a traumatic accident or blamed it on AVALANCHE."
It sickened her to her stomach, but it was something they would do when Tifa thought about it. Shinra still controlled the media, and it would be easy to cover it up this far out. Hell, they pulled that off in Midgar easy enough. "So you want us to prevent that?"
He turned to her. "If we cannot stop the train and get the Huge Materia off of it, you're going to destroy the bridge and derail the train. Using your summonings, you can do so in a way that it crashes at the bottom of the mountain and out of the way. Ideally, the Huge Materia will remain intact. If not… well, at least Shinra won't have it."
Aerith leaned against the wall at the top of the pagoda as the rest of the Five Mighty Gods filed in before Yuffie faced off against her father. It was bordering evening now, with the sun slowly setting over the horizon, but the kunoichi had finally reached the top.
Shake had been much easier to deal with than Gorky once her speed was sealed off. She didn't possess many long-range capabilities, being an adorable penguin and all, but she had made the unfortunate mistake of inducing Fury upon Yuffie. Just like with Crimson, she had a lot of rage repressed and Cloud had to hold her back while Aerith cured the condition.
Then was Chekov, who turned into some kind of one-legged, multi-armed… thing. Yuffie had to avoid eye-contact to avoid being paralyzed, allowing Chekov to siphon off her physical strength similar to the ability of the vengeful ghost in Cosmo Canyon. So she literally blinded her.
Last had been Staniv, who used some kind of large flail. The War Cry his monster form unleashed left Yuffie depressed to the point of tears, explaining that it brought up memories that made her sad. It had been jarring to see the normally energetic girl that crestfallen, but she perked back up once Aerith treated her again.
As everyone settled in, a faint whisper reached Aerith's ears from what looked to be a small altar at the back of the room. It was distant enough from what served as the arena to avoid being damaged, at the same time mounted on a platform as if to overlook it. The voice felt like that of Summoning, its tone heavy in age compared to that of a younger summoning like Mog. Unfortunately, it went silent before she could peg which it was as Godo spoke.
"So, you've made it this far," he said, standing opposite his daughter. "You have grown, but it ends here. I'll show you what true power is."
"Save it, you old coot!" Yuffie said, taking on a fighting stance with her Magic Shuriken at the ready. "I'm gonna beat the snot out of you and make you take back everything you said earlier."
"Very well." He shifted his stance and took in a deep breath. "OMNI CHANGE!"
Bright light filled the room before abating, leaving Aerith and the others to look up at what her father had become. He had turned into a three-headed Asura, surpassing the others in terms of sheer-size and power that he exuded. It was easy enough to see how he got the title of the strongest of the Five Mighty Gods.
"Hold nothing back for I will not, Yuffie." His voice bellowed out as three-in-one when he spoke. The red mask of the Beast came to the front and he took a step forward. "Come at me with the intention of ending my life, or you may very well lose yours."
Then he roared as he brought the massive sword down towards her. Yuffie dodged, but the force of the blade swinging down released shockwave. The dome of displaced air swept her up and sent her rolling across the ground.
"Can you feel the weight of my power?" He clasped the two extra hands that held nothing together and slowly pulled them away, revealing a pyramid with an inverted pyramid within it that teemed with caged lightning. It expanded when he pulled them apart entirely and then shot towards Yuffie, sealing her within it. "The might of my magic? Know them and regret your ignorance!"
"That's the same spell that Nanaki and the Materia Keeper used," Aerith noted as she watched Yuffie bracing herself as the tendrils of lightning struck her from every angle within. "I don't know if she can handle it."
"That spell's useless against her," Crimson said confidently, leaning on the wall next to Cloud with her eyes slightly glazed to show Sense was active. True to word, Yuffie had been fine when the spell dissipated, only minor scorches across her skin and smoke wafting from her body to signal she was hurt in the first place. She stood up with a cocky grin. "I gave her the same set-up I had to deal with Reno when she told me about her father's abilities."
"Gonna have to do better than that!" She held out the armlet that contained the Gravity Materia that Aerith had loaned her, linked to the materia that absorbed mental power. Similar to what Kunsel had done in Costa del Sol and Gorky to her, she unleashed a Demi 2 spell. It hammered the Asura and threatened to crush him under his own weight, bringing him to his knees and making him groan.
Yuffie took the opportunity to gloat. "I remembered when Gorky managed to hurt you with this spell during your spar more than the others. Not so mighty now, are you?"
"With him pinned down like that, his size has become a liability," Cloud said as he watched Yuffie glow with a pale blue light, sapping his mental power and adding it to her own. "That takes away his speed and power advantage."
"And because the spell is robbing him of his mental power, his ability to use magic will be hampered as well soon enough," Crimson added. "She can blast him with Bolt 3 once the spell wears off and then get into a position to do them both again and again—until he goes down."
It wasn't very sporting, but it was effective. Yuffie did just that, slamming him with the lightning bolt that forced them to cover their ears as it hit home when the gravity-well dispersed. Aerith was in the middle of blinking away the latest set of spots in her eyes when the deep reverb of gravity intensifying reached her ears again in a greater depth.
Godo, now sporting the mask of the white-faced Cheater, had used a stronger version of the spell that had been used against him. It brought a crashing weight down upon Yuffie herself as he rose to his feet. He then shifted his mask again to that of the Human, and soothed his wounds with the Cure 2 spell.
"That's dirty…" Yuffie groaned as she strained against the Demi 3 spell. Never mind that it was the exact same thing she would have done. It may have been because Aerith was looking in from the outside, but to her Yuffie and her father really were alike.
Either way, when the spell wore off, Yuffie barely had time to get to her feet when she saw that he had gone back to the Beast mask and leapt into the air. He swung the sword while he fell down, using the added momentum to increase the power of the Beast Sword. She barely managed to roll out of the way as the blade came crashing down and another shockwave caught her on the fringes.
"It will take more than simple tricks to best the Omni," he warned his daughter as she wavered back onto her feet. "As I said once before, come at me with intent to kill, or you will perish!"
Then he came after her again to test her might….