El Septímo Capítulo de la fabula El Conejo
(The Seventh Chapter of the story El Conejo)
He opened his eyes and looked around… his current surroundings looked so empty… and everything was black… even the ground where he lay. Slowly sitting up, he clutched his head. He felt so confused. "Where… am I?" he thought silently before he decided to stand up and explore on his own.
"What's there to explore anyway? There's nothing in here but black! Maybe I've been tricked by Rufus…" he thought silently… he stopped walking and gasped slightly as his blue eyes widened in shock. "WHAT IF IT'S POISON THAT HE MADE ME DRINK?" he cried out.
He became frantic, poking himself to see if anything hurts, trying to determine if he was dizzy or if he felt like vomiting… but he felt pretty normal. "Oh no… what if I'm already dead? Maybe that's what he meant when he said I could see Aerith…" he said. "Oooh… that's it, I'm going back there to haunt the wits out of his cute little bunny body!" he muttered to himself.
He stopped talking to himself when in the darkness, he heard muffled sentences from afar.
Cloud tried to determine which direction the voice was coming from. "Is it… her?" he thought happily to himself.
But he stopped as he got closer when he realized that the voice was male.
"… What the?" he said.
The voice was clearer now. "Hey! Who's there?"
"Who are you!" Cloud said, running over to the voice.
The voice stopped. Then, lights flickered on. Cloud blinked in confusion as he realized that the reason it was so dark there was because nobody turned on the lights.
And he realized that he was facing his old friend, Zack.
"… Cloud?" Zack asked, befuddled. "How could you die this early?"
He couldn't respond properly. He pointed one (accusing) finger at him and stammered, "Z… Zack!"
Zack tilted his head. "Oh, wait. I don't think you're dead, Cloud," he said.
Cloud blinked. "How come? I thought Rufus poisoned me…"
The spiky black haired man went over to him to compare hands. "See? I'm transparent. You're not. He heh!" he pointed out.
Cloud was dumbfounded.
Zack laughed joyfully. "Heheh. So, what are you doing in this kind of place if it's not yet your time? Astral projection or something or maybe you suffered a little accident like getting hit by Tifa and knocked-out cold or something?" he asked.
Cloud felt so numb as he looked at his surroundings, then back to him, "I'm… looking for… someone." He admitted.
"Who? Maybe I could help," Zack told him with a kind smile on his face.
Cloud was just silent. He looked grumpily at Zack.
"Hey… don't look at me like that… Oh, I get it! You're lookin' for Aerith, right?"
Cloud looked even grumpier.
Zack held up his hands. "Don't be so jealous, man. You know, it's not like I'm still in-love with her or anything like that… After all you guys have been through, I just plain got over it…"
Cloud frowned. "I'm not convinced. If that's true, it's either you like somebody else or you've turned homosexual. So which one is it? HMMM?" he said, giving Zack a challenging look.
Zack just stared unbelievably at him, "I knew you had a sick mind." He muttered.
Cloud just smiled at him. "So, could you help me?" he asked.
"After what you told me? No." Zack told him before turning away. Cloud frowned at him and went after him, "Hey!" he called out.
"I was just kidding back there, Zack!" Cloud yelled after him.
"Didn't sound like it," Zack muttered.
"Well you got affected! It means it's true!" Cloud pointed out.
"That's it! You just drew the line! I ain't helping ya anymore!" Zack told him before rushing off.
"Don't tell me you're gay? And you like Sephiroth?" Cloud asked.
"So the rumors from waaaay back in Soldier were true, huh?" Cloud asked, meaning to piss him off for some reason he could not understand.
Zack turned back to him. "Okay, stop that now. I can help you with Aerith if you'll just stop it with the gay rumors coz they ain't true." He said.
Cloud eyed him blankly. "Where is she?" he asked, sensing that something was wrong.
"Well, I don't know… the Lifestream's such a large place… but I've seen her once or twice around here somewhere… and she'd usually run away from me and from everybody else! I can't understand it!" Zack explained.
Cloud looked around for once. Indeed, the Lifestream was a large place… most of the people who died on the face of the Planet were there.
"Oh no! It's almost impossible to find her in this crowded place! And only 100 hours…! Wait a second," he thought to himself as he got a timer out of his pocket. "99 hours, 23 minutes to go…" he mumbled.
"Huh?" Zack said.
"I have to go… I won't be here too long…" Cloud said, running off.
"Excuse me, have you seen a girl named Aerith?" Cloud asked to about the hundredth dead person he's met in the Lifestream.
The man shook his head. "Haven't heard of her. What's she look like?"
Cloud sighed tiredly. And for the 100th time, he said, "Brown hair in braids, green eyes… wears pink… OH WHAT THE HELL!" he stomped angrily and just walked away, about to lose hope. He wanted to cry already because he was so worried that he was running out of time and once he does, he might not be able to wake up anymore. He kept on walking, eyeing each of the spirits roaming around there… but none of them resembled her. He also thought about his own mother, thinking if he could see her there…
"Well, well, well! If it isn't little Cloudy Stifekins!" a familiar man's voice said.
Cloud twitched and he felt goosebumps all over his body. "Uh-oh…" he turned around and saw a familiar-looking man, although he could not remember his name and who he was. "Do I know you?" he asked.
Before the man could answer, another man appeared from behind him. "There you are, Lockheart!"
Cloud gasped. "President ShinRa!" he exclaimed.
President ShinRa eyed him rather surprisingly, "What the hell are you doing in here?" he demanded angrily.
"I…" Cloud regained his sense of mind and frankly said, "May I ask you the same question, Sir? You should be in hell!"
President ShinRa just frowned at him. "You, boy, are still so disrespectful! If my Turks were here, I'd give you to them so that they can kill you!" he snapped impatiently, but Mister Lockheart stepped forward, "Hey, you're not to do anything bad to this boy!" he warned.
"And who are you to say that?" President ShinRa answered back rather arrogantly.
"Will you men stop fighting already? You're making all the spirits look at you!" Ifalna told them as she rushed into the scene.
Cloud stared unbelievably at the woman who just arrived. She resembled so much of Aerith… but he knew it was not her.
President ShinRa snorted and turned back to Cloud, "I know who this damn boy is! He was once from SOLDIER! And he joined the rebels and did so much damage to my company!" he announced for everybody else to hear.
"Like we don't know that," Ifalna told him before heading over to Cloud and held his hand gently, "I'm so sorry, young man. He's really very cranky." She told him.
"You… you can hold me?" Cloud asked, surprised that Ifalna could hold him like she was not a spirit at all.
"She's a Cetra, that's why." Mister Lockheart pointed out.
Cloud's eyes widened. "C…Cetra?" he asked.
Ifalna stared strangely at him. "Are you alright, young man? You don't look so well," she began.
Another man appeared and he eyed Cloud from top to bottom. "I have a feeling that… you don't exactly belong here, boy," he said.
Zack finally located them. "There you are, Cloud!" he told him.
Cloud did not turn around and just kept on staring at Ifalna, then at Mister Lockheart as he approached. "I'm Mister Lockheart, Tifa's dad. Remember me?" he asked.
Quick flashes returned to Cloud's consciousness. "Oh… yes… I remember now…" he said softly with a slight smile on his face.
"And I'm Professor Gast. This is my wife, Ifalna. What is your name?" the other man asked.
"C…Cloud Strife." Cloud replied.
Zack approached him and whispered, "They are Aerith's parents."
Cloud turned to face him and stared at him in disbelief. "What?" he asked in awe.
Tifa was looking outside, watching the snow falling to the ground. "I wonder if we can go outside and play in the snow as rabbits…" she told Rufus.
"Don't be ridiculous. We're going to freeze outside!" Rufus snapped at her.
"I don't think so. You guys have thick fur." Red XIII said.
"We can't leave Cloud here. We have to guard him… otherwise, if he doesn't wake up, we'll remain rabbits forever!" Rufus insisted.
"And I'm hearing those words straight from President Rufus's mouth. I'm so impressed that you care for Cloud!" Tifa said airily.
"I should. Our future, right now, is in his hands." He replied.
"What if he doesn't wake up anymore?" she asked.
"You'll remain rabbits forever," Red XIII told them.
"I won't allow that to happen." Rufus muttered.
"But you can't predict…" Tifa began.
"You're going to be like animals," Red XIII told them, interrupting Tifa.
"No way!" Rufus snapped.
"I… I can't let that happen!" Tifa said in shock.
Rufus thought for a while before hopping off the window ledge down to the floor, "Hmf! Well then maybe we should get the damn revival potion for ourselves just in case Cloud doesn't wake up anymore!" he said before hopping towards the door. Tifa followed after him, "Rufus, it's dangerous! Hojo might do something to us; he almost killed me a while ago!" she told him.
"We have no other choice. We have to do this ourselves." Rufus told her.
She thought for a while with a worried look in her eyes. "Well… It's going to be tough, since Junon's a bit far and we can't snowboard as rabbits… and it'll be tough to hitch a ride at some train or chopper…"
"But it's easy to become road-kill if we take the highway, so I think we'll just have to walk… or hop." Rufus pointed out before hopping up onto the doorknob, clutching it tightly against his small body and his front and hind legs making an effort to twist it…
Tifa watched quietly as he was finally able to open the door.
"I can't believe you two are working together. Especially you, Tifa. I thought you hated ShinRa so much?" Red XIII asked with an amused look on his face.
Rufus just got onto the floor again and turned to Tifa. "Let's go, Tifa." He said, deciding to ignore Red XIII's remark regarding Tifa's feelings for him.
Tifa stared at Rufus for a few moments before deciding to come along. "We'll be back here," she told Red XIII.
Red XIII sighed. "Just hurry and be careful." He said as he went over to the door and closed it once the two had gone out.
Rufus and Tifa began their journey to Midgar even though they both have no idea how to get into the next ship or the next plane.
"Do you have any other ideas?" Tifa asked as they watched the last ship to Midgar sail away from the port.
Rufus turned his gaze to the direction of the airport. "We're going to have a hard time. If we're dogs, it would be easier. But we're rabbits." He muttered.
"Can't we squeeze ourselves inside one of the suitcases or packages there or something?" she asked.
"Ugh! Me, squeezing into those suitcases? I don't think so. I get claustrophobic…" he muttered.
She rolled her eyes, "Ooh. A weakness! So Rufus ShinRa is claustrophobic!" she said joyfully with a hint of sarcasm in her tone before leading the way towards the airport. "You won't. I'm here. We can do this! Remember, we're working together now if we want to be human again!" she told him, but she stopped in her tracks when breathed in some strange scent.
Rufus began to sniff the air too. "You know, being a rabbit really altered my sense of smell… I'm beginning to detect something… another animal…" he muttered quite nervously. Suddenly, a big dark shadow loomed over the two of them from behind.
"Eeps!" Tifa freaked out. She and Rufus slowly turned around and they almost died of a heart-attack when they realized that it was Sephiroth carrying a black bunny rabbit with a red bandanna around its head.
Sephiroth eyed the two rabbits on the ground. "Hmm… this one looks familiar…" he let go of his Vinny bunny and picked up the Ruffy bunny. "You're supposed to be Vinny's mate, right?" he asked.
The Ruffy bunny instantly shook its tiny quivering head.
Sephiroth raised an eyebrow. "Oh well… I wonder where Cloud is. I have to talk to him about mating Vinny with his Lucrecia bunny so that they could produce offspring and then I could breed them and sell them…" he muttered before letting go of the Ruffy bunny.
"You came all the way here for that?" Rufus demanded from Vincent.
Vincent just twitched his nose. "He can't stop thinking about mating." He told Rufus.
"Vincent, you're here!" Tifa approached him.
Vincent eyed Tifa in shock. "T…Tifa?" he asked.
"Long story." She muttered miserably.
"C'mon, Vinny. Let's go." Sephiroth was about to grab Vinny Bunny but it hopped away from him, going behind Ruffy Bunny and Tiffy Bunny.
"What now?" Sephiroth asked, his facial expression softening, wondering what his rabbit could want this time.
"Well… here goes…" Vincent told his bunny companions before he began to hop continuously… and they all realized that he was spelling out something on the snow.
Sephiroth squinted, straining to read. "…Hojo?" he asked.
His rabbit nodded.
Sephiroth frowned and stepped forward, staring at the name with scorn.
"Good job, Vincent." Rufus told him.
"Something has to be done. If nobody else can help us, maybe he can." Vincent replied.
"Sounds like desperation to me…" Tifa said with a singsong voice.
"Why, do you have any other ideas?" Rufus demanded with an annoyed tone.
She just wriggled her nose. "It's just that I still don't like Sephiroth." She told them.
"Well… he's got a lovable side..." Vincent began with an unsure tone, recalling everything that happened during the past few weeks that he had been with Sephiroth.
"Don't go defending him. I'm not going to become convinced." She muttered miserably while eyeing Sephiroth with a hateful stare.
Sephiroth turned to the Tiffy Bunny. "I don't think your friend likes me, Vinny." He told the Vinny Bunny.
Vincent hopped towards Sephiroth and pointed at the name that he had written on the ground.
Sephiroth clenched his fists. "Hmf… I'm sure that bastard scientist did something bad to you and your bunny friends, huh?" he asked scornfully.
The three rabbits nodded their heads, much to Sephiroth's surprise. Then, they scurried a few meters away from him when they saw his green eyes reflecting too much rage as he growled in anger. "ARGH! That bastard is really going to pay! How dare he hurt the only thing I love the most!" he snapped violently.
"Gee… he's really serious!" Tifa said with an amused tone.
"Alright. Here goes. Everything according to plan…" Vincent told his companions.
Sephiroth picked up the three rabbits. "Come on, we'll go to that evil scientist and I'll finish him once and for all so that he cannot harm any more of your kind!" he announced victoriously.
"This sounds promising…" Rufus remarked to Tifa and Vincent.
"At least we wouldn't have a hard time traveling now…" Tifa said with a pleasant tone.
"Why? Were you planning to go somewhere?" Vincent asked.
"We were planning to go to Hojo and get the reverse potion ourselves." She replied.
"Why not enlist Cloud's help?" he asked.
"He just drank the revival potion and is currently asleep." Rufus explained.
"Oh. I see… how do you think he's doing now?" Vincent asked with a concerned tone.
"I just hope he finds Aerith before his time is up." Tifa said with a worried look in her eyes.
"He will find Aerith. He should. I wouldn't want to sound like I betrayed him or something…" Rufus muttered.
Tifa and Vincent turned to him. "You're saying something?" the former asked.
Rufus shook his head as his ears drooped a little. "No, don't mind me. I was just thinking out loud…" he fibbed.