The lifestream came bursting out of the earth, the swirl of green met with the glossy blue of Holy's shield. As the Highwind rose into the air, it seemed all the world was aglow… the shield flashed, and strengthened, but could not hold meteor back. The destruction continued over Midgar, and all the while Cloud's mind was on only one thing: Vincent and Yuffie.

The two had been sent by Cait Sith to help evacuate the doomed city… he only hoped that they had gotten out in time, but that possibility was looking bleak.

Avalanche stood dumbfounded on the decks of the Highwind. How could this be happening? How could they have failed? Even now, the will of Aeris was succumbing to the will of Jenova, and the lifestream was receding away from the stain of impure black that was spreading from meteor.

The Highwind hovered close enough to watch the terrible destruction, but far enough away not to be consumed by it. Through the galeforce winds, a mighty roar was let loose from behind them, and six heads, human and animalian alike turned around to see what was coming. Two glinting figures, red and green, shot like missiles through the air.

"Emerald and Ruby!" Tifa exclaimed as the weapons careened by, sending the Highwind's wings wobbling dangerously in their wake. Compensating for the blow, Cid lowered the ship towards the ground…

"Marlene!" Barret yelled, and once again everyone turned around in time to see the hulking creatures crash haphazardly through the quaint little town of Kalm on their way to Midgar. They sent entire buildings flying as they skimmed the earth… All of a sudden the man leapt over the rail to the ground a short distance below, and ran off full-tilt through the dark.

"Barret, no!" Tifa screamed, but he was already gone.

"They're stopping meteor!" Cait Sith cried, bouncing up and down and pointing into the distance as the two shining dots swooped up towards the red fire in the sky.

The explosion of the collision at last knocked the battered airship to the ground, and its white-hot shockwave seared over the earth, burning grass and trees, and snapping mountains in half like they were made of soft chocolate. Ruby and Emerald had done nothing…

-

When Cloud opened his eyes, he saw only bodies littered among the wreckage. With a pained groan, he lifted his heavy head off the ground, and gingerly touched his swollen face with a hand. Bringing it up to his eyes, he noticed the fingers bent in funny directions, and only just realized the pain that was coming from them. It was when his thumb chanced to stroke the bridge of his nose that he realized that was broken too. He must look awful right now…

But first thing was first, he carefully lay his crushed hand flat as he could on the ground, and with the uninjured other, firmly pressed down. The result was many cracks and crunches, and the eventual straightening of his crooked fingers, though not without an agonized cry of pain, which, try though he might, the swordsman could not stifle.

"Cloud?" cried weakly from somewhere nearby.

"Tifa!" the response came on instinct. He glanced urgently around and simultaneously checked the rest of himself over, very relieved to find nothing much worse than forming bruises. In an attempt to break his fall, he supposed, he'd landed on, and crushed the hand, and probably smashed his face into the floor. "Where are you?" he called again.

"Under the support beams." she gasped, "I can't move…"

The blonde slowly staggered to his feet, and ran over, following the sound of her voice, "Oh Ifrit, Tifa…" he murmured upon sight of her quite-obviously dislocated knee.

"That bad?" she smiled weakly.

"No… no it's fine." the boy grunted, bracing his good hand and a shoulder under the bent metal of the beam, and just barely pulling it up, "Can you crawl out from underneath?" he asked, the question more a request. She would have to... it was the only way, and he was already holding up the heavy supports.

"I think so…" she gingerly turned around, her gloved hands gripped ahold of the man's boot. She pulled along the ground until she was out of the way enough that Cloud could put his load back down. "Where's everybody else?" she managed, looking up.

Cloud merely shook his head, "I don't kno-"

"Hey, Spiky! You alive?" came a gruff call. Cloud couldn't help but smirk.

"Yeah, I'm here." He replied, turning around to see Cid jogging up towards him. Once the pilot reached the man, one arm shot out to rest on the remnants of the ship's hull, and he practically doubled over to suck in breath.

"You allright?" Tifa squeaked from below, and Cid glanced down and nodded.

"Yeah. Smashed up my ribs pretty good." he explained, "And sprained my wrist." he held up his other hand.

"Same." said Cloud, looking down at his own, "Plus broken fingers."

"And a broken nose." The pilot wryly pointed out, "But before we start comparing battlescars," he glanced nervously around, as if afraid that he might see something unsettling, as if the broken remains of his beloved airship weren't enough. "Where is everyone?"

"Barret hopped ship…" Tifa murmured.

"What about Vin and Yuff?" he asked.

She shook her head, "Haven't shown up yet. I don't think they know where we are…"

"Has anyone seen Nanaki?" Cloud quietly whispered, also looking around.

"I am right here." came a raspy voice, and the wolf came limping over. A long gash had torn down his muscled side, and sharp bits of shrapnel stuck out of his front left paw. "The Cait Sith robot was destroyed." He reported.

"Reeve." Cloud breathed, "Where was he?"

"Kalm… he probably didn't…" Tifa sadly answered, and trailed off to look tearfully up at them all.

Cloud was silent, and at last knelt down beside Nanaki, pulling the metal from the creature's leg, eliciting a growl from his throat.

"Thank you, Cloud." he humbly muttered nonetheless.

"We're going to find them." Cloud said determinedly, his hand slowly rising to grip the hilt of his sword.

"We are in no condition to be going anywhere right now!" came Cid's protest.

"What else can we do?" Cloud snapped back. He was the leader! They were supposed to listen to him, "The Highwind looks like it got stepped on by Bahamut, and haven't you noticed how the night wind is warm?" he looked fiercely between them all, "That's the mako radiation from Midgar, no doubt." He pointed to the hazy green glow on the horizon, flooding the sky from the deep wound in the earth, the energy of meteor, and the lifestream, and the ruined reactors of the city. "Every second we stay here, every second our friends are left stranded over there, we're both being poisoned, slowly dying!"

"So you suggest we go closer? They're not children, Cloud… well, Yuffie is, but she's got Vin to guard her. They're smart, they'll make it out fine."

"We don't know that!"

"Why don't we just call them?"

They both looked down at Tifa, who already had a PHS to her ear.

A few minutes passed in silence, and there was no response from the other side. She tried it twice more, and still nothing, then she looked down, "I can't get through…"

"Highwind, if you and Cloud can run, I will carry Tifa on my back." Nanaki offered, "Kalm is not far, we will check on Barret, Marlene, and Reeve, then proceed towards Midgar for Yuffie and Vincent."

They all looked between one another for a moment, before Cloud nodded, "Allright, Tifa, I'll help you…"

The two clutched arms, and moved with only a slight moan of pain from the woman, before she was situated lightly on top of the wolf.

"Let's go."

-

Kalm was a ghost town. The old-style buildings stood crumbling and blackened from the shockwave and the weapons' blind onslaught. Barret's dead body lay splayed out on the ground not halfway to the town, burned from the force of meteor's hit. They didn't even have time to mourn before continuing onwards… any second wasted was a second that someone else might die… though with the damage done to the man, farther away from the blast than anyone in the town, hope was slim.

No sign of Reeve or Marlene was evident once they got there, though the buildings were difficult to navigate between, now that they were nothing more than vague outlines of foundations. They went to what they thought was the house where Marlene, Elmyra, and Reeve were told to stay, and found, like they found everything else in the town, shattered pieces of nothing larger than the palm of Cloud's hand. They didn't have to go far out after that to see what had happened to Yuffie and Vincent.

The flyer they'd been sent off with lay crumpled like a can on the ground, and the young ninja's body was still beside it. Blood streaked down her paler-than-normal face, and her torso looked flatter than usual, caved in on itself. Despite this, though, she had been neatly and carefully laid out on the ground, her hands folded over her chest as if in prayer, as if there had been someone there to move her. As if there were a survivor. But Vincent was nowhere to be seen.

---

Author's Ending Note Thingy: It seems like my Latin class gives me so many good fanfic ideas… XD anyway, I thought this would be a fun version of the world to work with. Apocalypses are always awesome. Unfortunately, however, this fic will not be updated again until after I have finished playing DOC… and with my workload from school this year, that might actually be quite a while. Oh well, wish me luck!