Introduction: Of all the people around, I am (perhaps) one of the least suited to undertake such a project; I mean, combining Final Fantasy 7's storyline with Final Fantasy 8's characters? To be honest, I think that in order to wrap the story up – ever – is going to take some good years of my life. Square's greatest games (in the general belief) combined.

It's almost too good to be true, isn't it?

I have to admit I'm practically scared of doing this. It's gigantic, not only as work; by writing this story I am practically going to novelize FF7. But I have something good to push me forward; envy. I mean, by doing this, I could do something that two of the best Final Fantasy writers have approached and, yet, not wrapped up. I can understand it, really, with Daz Shier having dropped his writing hobbies and Peptuck focusing on his other – great – stories. Yet, I don't do this as an attempt to overshadow their work (I can't, even if I wanted to), or take attention off of them (again, futile attempts). Especially not with more words than actions. This can be seen as some sort of tribute and personal affair. I want to do this. I want to write such an epic story.

There is not much else to say, I'm afraid. I just want to write this, make it happen, you know? Sure, sounds ambitious, even pompous, but then again… People write in order to be read, right?

Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy 7 or Final Fantasy 8. The original idea of 'transferring' characters of own game to the other originally belongs to Daz Shier and Peptuck. Rights to use this idea have been given. Meaning, don't get on my back, if you may.

The Planet, compared to what humanity calls the universe, is merely a nuisance. A necessity. An addition to an already heavy complex of countless rocks showered with flora and fauna. Yet, the Planet is a strange world of science and everyday miracles. Not a soul is actually known to be aware of all the Planet's secrets, yet not a single day passes that people look up and wonder what there is beyond, or what it was that caused a chain of events that brought the Planet to what it is or even why it is. Generic questions that serve no purposes than help people ponder of what if and how come and why.

Generic questions with no easy answers tend to agitate. Thus, people record; record and then listen to what has been recorded and try to make sense of every fine detail and every little pebble that falls in the river, hoping to change its flow.

Confused? I know you are.

Perhaps confusion was what made people such as Herodotus sit down and write. Record. Call it what you will, it still happened. Perhaps, just perhaps, it was not confusion as to the actual facts, but the need to tell a story; to tell a story as it was… Or how it could have been.

Where was I? Ah, the Planet. For all its beauty compared to the other barren rocks flying endlessly around a star, the Planet sure does have quite a story. The first sentient population that inhabited the Planet disappeared two thousand years ago, leaving behind mere traces of a civilization called Cetra.

Cetra… People from an other world that drifted into space. That is why we can guess that in their own strange language Cetra could mean "from beyond the stars". Of course, it could still mean "Kick me" or "Hey man, what's up with the outfit", but that would be ridiculous and not too wise.

Now, now, don't take that look, kind reader. After all, the story that is about to be unfolded has not yet started. A drama like no else is about to begin, and all that is to blame is the afore-mentioned pebble actually being able to change the river's flow. Now sit back and allow me to continue.

The Cetra disappeared from the face of the Planet for reasons unknown two thousand years ago. In those years from then to now a new race emerged, known as humanity. Curious creatures, they managed not to get extinct and continue living till now; somewhere in between they managed to develop tremendous cities and discovered new means of energy. Energy dubbed as Mako.

Much like the Promethean fire, Mako is something quite potent in right and wrong hands likewise; that is the reason a new arc in the Planet's life is about to be written. That is the reason higher forces are shifting to take a closer look, much like you are right now.

If only you could be less of a spectator and more of a meddler. But, like me, reader, you are a spectator. Thus, all I can do is bid you farewell, and hope that you at least salvage some joyful hours from this story you are about to witness…

Crossing Over

By Sizdothyx

The metropolis of Midgar was spreading vastly on the face of the planet, feasting on its soil like a festering wound. Despite its ugliness and metallic tentacles tearing perfect nature apart in all their basking glory, Midgar's citizens considered it to be the world's only miracle. Perhaps they should have made a double take before they even placed that thought in their subconscious mind, for life and its beauty is the only miracle there is, but as a really important figure once said: "Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Midgar was divided in sections; sections that were lit by lamps, blazing neon lights and dim red ones that were synonyms to pleasure. The blocks of flats and big time-small time industries illuminated the streets, preventing the blackness of the night from consuming them, and the capital shook with noise with every passing second. The inhabitants of the 'glorious' city roamed up and down either doing their earnest jobs, like the occasional office worker, or spending their lives doing nothing. Cars sped, carrying their passengers around, spreading their fumes in quantities greater than even the much needed oxygen.

Midgar reached up toward the sky, the corpse of a long dead God, rotting with fumes and smog from the eight power plants that decorated the city's walls, much like guard towers to a castle. Midgar housed the headquarters of Shinra Inc., the international corporation that governed over the world's market entirely. Wether it was weapons, the precious fuel Mako, or money and economics in general, Shinra Inc. ruled with an iron fist policy. It was not just market for the corporal colossus though; Shinra Inc. was also directly involved with politics, whether Midgar's or a smaller town's made no difference. President Shinra, the man who had brought his company on the top of the world could not care less.

All in all, Midgar was the perfect way to express Shinra Inc.; The incarnation of man turning upon man, walking on corpses and using the living as canon fodder. The city's existence was a plague, since the power plants drained nature's power and turned it into energy for their own twisted purposes.

Midgar. The largest city turned prison to men's hopes and dreams. The city of Miracles.

Cold. She thought, cursing the dark street from which she chose to pass through. It was not the clichéd fact of how dangerous such a street was and how she had no business being there that bothered her; it was that it was so damn cold during nightfall. No matter. She clutched her basket, one full with flowers, closer to her chest. She needed to sell a good amount of those, if not for the necessity of doing so, then to fulfill her own standards.

She finally saw the busy streets of Sector Two unfolding just thirty feet away from her. Perhaps the eagerness to sell her beautiful flowers, coupled with the comfort of being around people, would make her forget of the things that plagued her. But first, to warm up.

She kneeled next to one of the public fireplaces that the Shinra Company had strategically built in various parts of the city, parts like the one she was at currently. Despite the fact that they were deep in springtime, the lack of the sun's light made the city of Midgar unnaturally cold.

"Much better." She grinned cozily, warmth enveloping her, all-surrounding and beautiful. The Mako-fueled fireplaces might have been sparse, but no one could deny their being useful. She stood there for five good minutes, allowing the affection of the fire to reside and got up, taking a deep breath as she did so.

"Hyne," she whispered as she dropped her gaze at the busy street in front of her, "let it all go well."

She took a deep breath and walked forward, blending with the crowd of Sector Two, perhaps the most civil and least rotten part of the – somewhat – proud city of Midgar.

Hitting the breaks of a train equaled a lot of hissing noises along with the arrival of the afore-mentioned train to its destination.

The blue suited guard looked up from his booth and yawned, happy that his helmet covered him. In his opinion, getting paid to sleep was the best thing that had happened to him, but, admittedly, it would do him no good if a superior officer caught him while on his 'zzz' time. He chuckled at the insider joke he shared with the guys back at sector Six during their pub time before getting up from his seat and joining the other three guards on the occurring shift change.

He nodded at his peers as they waited for the train doors to open. Soon he'd be home so that he could go to his pillow and…

The pleasant daydreaming of his was cut off by the train's side door's forceful opening to reveal a brown-clad figure casually aiming a powerful, solid-looking double-barreled shotgun at his face.

A push of the trigger and the man's dreams of sleep were shattered alongside his helmet and cranium and splattered on his comrades in the form of brain matter. The guards, surprised, turned their attention to where used to be a head before the body collapsed like a puppet with cut strings. They returned their gaze to the attacker in a drunken stupor, their brains denying that the sticky substance on them used to be human, and took in the man's image.

Black fingerless gloves adorned the man's hands. A black cowboy hat sat proudly on his head, from which hung a long, loose ponytail of brown color and same colored hair of shorter length which framed his face. A large, brown trench coat went with his equally colored pants and boots, and a blue t-shirt fell down his torso beneath the coat, decorating his body with a different color. One of his hands always directing the shotgun at the guards, the other tipped the cowboy hat upwards twice, perhaps in recognition of the decapitation event. Thus, a smooth nose, an almost childish grin and large blue eyes were revealed. "Hiya, fellas." He greeted casually from inside the cabin where he still stood, and that seemed to spurn the guards into motion.

The left foremost guard stood still, his right hand racing to grab his handgun. The cowboy's hand raced him with tremendous ease, his experienced fingers pressing on the trigger accurately before the poor man could even upholster his weapon. He gasped as the speeding pellets entered his body, shredding delicate tissues and heart muscle, effectively killing him on the spot. With a gasp, the guard fell to the ground, never to rise again.

The second guard was the one with the most combat prowess. However, as his defense class tutor had told him, "In actual combat you must spend each second with precision. You can't be a sitting duck for no reason and for no one!" So it could be mathematically calculated that as he still stood there doing nothing, he would easily get shot. Indeed, as the cowboy whirled on his heel, the shotgun's empty shells being discarded for two new ones as deadly as their predecessors, he knew he was done for. All he could do was witness the strange man as he rose again, surged his weapon forward and pressed the trigger twice. The first shot got him in the groin, the force somehow pulling his lower regions backwards, and the rest of his body following suit. The cowboy was merciful enough to spend his next shot on him as well, so as the guard felt gravity losing its grip on him and sending him airborne, a shotgun blast to the head crashed him to oblivion and onto the floor, nothing more than a pitiful corpse.

The third guard had had enough by the time his first ally had fallen. Dangerous amounts of adrenaline pumping through his system, he ran as far away from both the train station and the gunman as he could; three solid meters.

There was a sound of clipping, like scissors cutting through air, and the guard fell on the floor, gasping on the impact. There was a second attacker! Run! His mind ordered him, and he in turn ordered all four of his limbs to do so as well, to no avail. He couldn't feel his legs. Panic now screaming at high octaves inside him, he turned back to see… and gasped in horror.

He was clearly cut in half, his blood and intestines sprayed on the floor like some sort of twisted cake from hell. In his mad dash away from the gunman, he had failed to see the dark figure which jumped from the train's top at him. A dark figure that held some sort of a long blade. A long blade which stilled dripped blood. His own blood. Failing to produce a scream, he saw that the figure had left him for dead anyway; in haze somehow similar to being high, he raised his gloved hand to his helmet, where resided a built-in radio, and managed to do one last thing.

"Backup." He managed to wheeze. "Call backup."

The figure turned, instantly detecting the distressed voice's owner, and used his 'long blade' to attack the guard once again, this time making sure that the poor bastard was dead. He rose from where he had thrust his weapon, and turned to look at the gunman, who had left his gaze fall on the swordsman under a raised eyebrow. "Not bad." The shooter called, and the man nodded in response.

The second attacker had dark blue eyes that seemed to be locked up in a constant furious look and long disheveled brown hair that fell around his head, a few lone locks falling next to his eyes. His face was thin from age, and his attire resembled his seventeen years. He wore a short black sleeveless jacket with white comfortable fur around the shoulders and neckline, which allowed his battle scarred arms and front torso to show. Underneath he wore a white muscle shirt, and below followed black cargo pants and a trio of red belts, two of which were crossed above his groin. Gloves and steel-toed boots consisting of black leather were on his hands and feet. His 'long blade', as it was recognized by the guard, was in fact a rare melee weapon called the Gunblade.

The Gunblades were somewhat of an experiment of Shinra Inc., since they were a bizarre (yet working), exotic amalgam of a revolver and a sword. Two and a half feet long, it caught up with the damage other, longer blades caused due to an ingenious technique using actual 'bullets' which charged the blade with kinetic energy; once charged, a Gunblade was powerful enough to cut through a concrete wall with but one swing of the weapon. There were various models of the alien 'sword', and the man was happy enough to possess the first one to be published – a version worth of being called 'the Revolver'. Its handle resembled, obviously, a magnum-type handgun, while the rest of it was a steel blade. On it was inscribed the visage of a crouching lion before the attack, and from the end of its handle hung a chain, where one could see a crafted lion's head. The same one the figure had hanging from his neck as some sort of medallion.

"No time for praising, there's more on the way. Go on, I'll cover you." Said the Gunblade wielder, and the gunman grinned with a personal joke.

"You got that right. Zone, Watts, Xu, let's go!"

At his call, three more people emerged from the supply train which they had hijacked earlier that evening. The first was a dark haired and somewhat chubby individual dressed mostly in blue. He was clutching his belly, complaining about that "stomach thing o'his" as he run towards the inside of the perimeter. He carried a handgun in his hands and another one was holstered in his belt. Presumably, he was Zone.

The second one was a long haired blonde hippie who wore army pants, a yellow jacket and a beanie. Once he saw the man with the Gunblade and what he had done with the guard, he snapped in attention and saluted him, aptly calling him "Sir!" despite the fact that he looked older. He then ran after Zone. He had a combat knife, but didn't seem like being able to use it in actual battle. As he ran in long strides, he ducked in front of a fallen Shinra guard and grabbed one of the submachine guns they used, figuring that it would help later on. Having seen him earlier, the Gunblade user recognized him as Watts.

The third person was a she, a cute one to boot. She had hazel nut brown hair of neck length, and wore a beret, a black sweater, and blue jeans. She was equipped with a submachine gun, and she carried herself with a grace that many soldiers (like the ones the gunman and the Gunblade wielder had killed mere seconds away) never mustered. She nodded in affirmation and ran after the guys. She was Xu.

Not sooner had they moved, the gunman was already following them. "Good luck!" He tossed behind his shoulder, and then he was gone, leaving the Gunblade wielder alone. He leaned his neck to the left, hearing two short snapping sounds and then dashed forward as the guards' room opened up, revealing two more sentries.

Standard procedure for Shinra Inc. guards was calling "Freeze!" as they pointed their guns at the assailant and then, depending on the situation, shooting or moving in for the arrest. Neither of the newly arrived guards had time to do either. They registered the man standing twenty feet away, his left arm gripping a Gunblade and his right one in front of his face, as if he was concentrating. The same hand that he tossed forward with a rush of light enveloping it, causing a wave of fire to conjure and engulf the guard to the front in a swift scorching grandeur, while the second one's chest greeted the Revolver to the hilt, the Gunblade wielder having crossed the distance between them before the immolated guard even hit the ground. The leather clad man waited one second, then another, and finally it was there; a cough full of blood, a sign of death and release from this world. His assailants were both dead; time to move on.

Before the man's bloody drool could even leave his mouth, the Gunblade wielder had already pulled his weapon out of the hired guard and ran to follow the others, allowing the man to collapse under his own weight, his life snuffed as a candle in a storm.

The five met up in a dark corridor with no lights; the entrance to the reactor perimeter. The female one was kneeling in front of a wrecked keypad and attempting to hack into the mainframe through it. The cowboy was smiling earnestly at the woman's tight bottom and red lingerie showed in the way she stooped. "Yep, that's right, honey, just keep going that way. You know all this electronic jazz like your back pocket."

The leather clad man rolled his eyes, where the cowboy's were fixated on one place and one place only. "It's done." He reported, hoping to lure him away from his reverie, and it worked.

"Oh, cool. Listen, I don't think you've met with the guys now, so here goes. The dark haired guy is Zone, this" he pointed with his free hand "is Watts, and the cutie buns here is Xu. Sorry, I didn't catch your name…" He said to the man with an apologetic smile.

"Squall Leonheart, Alpha Rank SeeD."

Watts exclaimed "Sir!" again, while Zone whistled in appreciation.

"A SeeD? Aren't they the bad guys, working with Shinra and all?" Said Xu, job to do momentarily forgotten.

"Yeah, but this one isn't, Xu. Now do your magic and let us through?" The cowboy said.

"Wow, never thought I'd see a SeeD in flesh and live to tell the tale!" Zone chuckled. "Cool to meet you man. It's nice to have you in Avalanche."

Squall was quick to disregard him. "I'm not here to chit chat, but do a job." He said coldly, his Revolver still at hand, dripping blood. Zone was truly intimidated, despite Squall being seven good years younger than him. "How long until you unlock the door, Miss?"

Xu was already turning, door behind her opening. "Not much at all." She replied, smiling. She turned at the cowboy, anger suddenly flaring as she followed his gaze. "Irvine Kinneas, were you staring at my ass?" She growled, and 'Irvine' moved his hands in defense.

"Just a little, baby." He said with a voice torn between being apologetic or proud, so he decided to avert the matter. "Job to do, Xu; we'll discuss this later."

"You bet your ass we will." She stomped away.

Squall stood impassive at their display, so when Irvine turned to look at him he could have passed as a statue. "Well, she has a nice ass," the cowboy admitted/protested, before motioning for both of them to move on. "C'mon, big guy, you and I are going to the core of this thing. As you heard, I'm Kinneas Irvine, and I am two things; a sharpshooter and an honest person."

Squall glared at him through dark locks.

"What I mean is this… SeeDs are regarded as Shinra scum and usually attacked on sight. I've made an exception for you, man; don't make me regret it." That clarified, Irvine turned and started running to the others, leaving the top rank SeeD alone with his arrogant response.


"It's them." The thin, tall man pointed with a gloved hand at one of the security cameras, clarifying the intruders for his superior to see.

The shorter, powerfully built man nodded from where he stood. "The rebels."

"Do we proceed?" The tall man asked, and was horrified to see the ecstasy in his superior officer's eyes.

"Yes. They are still…" The other one grinned sadistically, revealing a toothy maw. "…Only children." He secured his own weapons and turned to leave the room, his grin evolving into laughter, causing his subordinate to join in with nervous chuckles.

The four of them were running, passing storerooms and containers, all crumpled together in an annoying labyrinth. Squall followed the rest of the group from above, jumping from roof to roof in order to prevent ambushes; Shinra could have simple guards-per-hour at the Mako reactor entrance but the rest of it was fully automated. Machinery programmed to kill anyone without authorization, robots with only one algorithm, and that being one of sadistically killing… The rumors – along with the guard the group had captured the previous night – said it all.

Despite their mad dash, Irvine paused to enter a surveillance room and decorate it with shrapnel from the single grenade he tossed inside. Despite hurrying to the reactor in order to destroy it and hit prime time, it would do them no good for their faces to be seen. He paused, peeking out from the wall he chose as cover, and saw that the one person inside the room was already dead from the explosion. He nodded grimly and ran after the others, sprinting around the complex, his blue eyes darting around cautiously.

Finally, they were able to see it; a part of Midgar's clutch around the city – the Mako reactor. It was protruding from the ground unappealingly, blocking the starry sky from being seen. A hollow giant consisting of cement metal and Mako… Irvine's clutch on his weapon tightened, and he paused strategically to address his comrades. To them, it was one was to oppose the rich and defend the poor. To Squall, who looked at them with obvious distaste – jeopardizing the mission like that? – it was his objective and way to get money.

"Alright guys, this is it." Irvine started, turning to look Zone, Watts and Xu in the eyes. "We've done a long road, but we're finally here. Believe me when I say that all of us, together, are going to make this work; we're gonna kick Shinra butt!" He raised the hand holding his shotgun in a valorous pose, and the rest of the rebellion group joined him in the same way. They remained that way for less than five seconds, when Irvine looked at one of the few remaining obstacles to fulfilling their objectives. A door leading into a T-shaped bridge, which with turn lead to the reactor itself. "Alright Xu, I want you to hack that keypad so that-"

Irvine's instructions were cut off from Squall, who had clearly lost the little tolerance he had for Irvine's idealisms. With a sudden move none of the Avalanche members foresaw, he thrust his Gunblade inside the keypad securing the door and pressed the trigger, the metallic substance reacting explosively to the sudden gush of energy. The doors hissed open right away, and Squall pulled his weapon back and went forward. "Move!" He called as his strides turned to sprinting, the iron on his boots clanging softly against the metal forming the bridge. Irvine and the rest stirred out of their fantasy, and followed straight behind him.

The route directly opposite of them, one leading to yet another closed door, was planned to be their road to escape. Zone ran towards it, securing it, while the others ran to the right and into the reactor. Squall waited in the T shaped junction for them to finally move according to plan, before following suit; his Gunblade seemed to be dripping even more blood than it was minutes ago due to its last minute invocation, and Zone could not help but gulp in fixation. What sort of a killing machine had they awakened in the face of Squall?

The four of them met in front of a sealed gate after passing empty offices and long corridors. Watts was on his knee, working furiously with the panel in order to open it prematurely. "I see you've decided to join us." Irvine said with a grin. "Say, is this your first time in a Mako reactor?"

"Yes." Came the harsh reply, and that was it. Irvine raised an eyebrow in irritation, but decided to let the matter drop. It was none of his business if this Squall person did not want to get attached with them now, was it? Still, he felt like he had to explain himself to Squall. So, after allowing his shotgun to rest on his shoulder, he asked again.

"Squall; do you know why we're doing this?" The cowboy asked. Squall's answer came in a harsh glare before shifting his eyes towards Watts work on the panel. Irvine felt anger boil up inside him, and he realized that Xu had stirred closer to him in obvious concern. The two of them could always bicker due to sexual tension but they always backed up each other. The gunman sighed. He really ought to have briefed Squall on the group's intentions.

"Listen, Squall; Mako is just a fancy name for the Planet's energy. What Shinra's doing is drain all that energy up, man!" As he spoke, Irvine felt his confidence rise once more. "The ground around Midgar can only be compared as a barren wasteland, and it's all due to those damn reactors! Soon, the whole planet will be in such a state – unless we stop it."

Irvine looked at Xu and patted her on the shoulder, a confident smile on his own lips. That smile disappeared when he saw Squall. He was leaning against the wall, eyes focused on his weapon, inspecting it for possible damage. That did it to Irvine, who lost the grip on his temper.

"Are you even listening?" He asked angrily, and Squall turned to look back with anger easily matching his own, if not overpowering it.

"Are you done yet?" He asked in response, surprising the rebels with the coldness in his tone. "I don't care about it, damn it! Simple as that. What the hell do you want me to say about other people's problems?"

"Squall," Xu tried, hoping that she could pass through to him, "we don't want you to say anything. We just want you to listen."

"Then go talk to a wall and leave me alone; I'll have none of it."

As Irvine seemed to snap, Watts intervened. "There you go, sir. Open." With an unexpected sound of cogs turning, the gates opened up.

"Good man." Irvine said, patting the timid man on the shoulder. His anger had passed completely, the anticipation getting the best of him. "Me, Squall and Xu will move on forward. Make sure we don't get locked between an explosion and a door now."


They moved in the room, which was filled with delicate colorful machinery, and stood in front of the only elevator going down, to the reactor's core. "Good kid," Irvine explained, "but a little fixed on playing soldier. Something to do with his parents dying in the Wutai wars."

The elevator reached their level, and the woman was in first, followed by the two others. The elevator hummed again, and they started their descend towards the reactor core. "You know, Squall, this may or may not seem like child's play for you," Irvine announced with a deadpan tone, "but to us it's serious. The reactors are draining up the Planet's energy. They take and take and never give up; soon, the Planet will erode under its own weight, unless we do something about it." His grip on his shotgun tightened. "You know, take matters in our own hands. That's why rebel groups like the Midgar Owls or our own, Avalanche, are formed; to prevent the planet from dying. No more reactors means kaput to Shinra Inc.'s depletion."

Squall looked at Irvine from where he had leaned on the wall. From his side, the cowboy looked much like Watts; just another kid playing toy soldier. Does he even know what he is really getting into? Creating new reactors is easy for the world's greatest company. They have assassins, soldiers, and the media at their side. All you have, he thought, his look hardening, is a double-barreled shotgun and a good man attitude. Idiot. Seeing that Irvine was honest about what he said, Squall kept his mouth strategically shut and did not say anything. Instead, he nodded as the lift's door opened. He really saw forward to blowing the damn place apart and getting his payment, so that he could be on his way.

Unsheathing his Gunblade, Squall moved forward, the other two following close. Comparing this side of the plant with high above, this one was less delicate but much more heavily working; pipes and machines were everywhere, giving the whole place a heavy industrial feel. Descending ladders and moving machines moved through the various levels of the reactor. The trio found themselves moving through the wires and pipes, stealthily reaching their destination; the reactor's heart. Xu waited at the ladder that had allowed them to reach the lowest level, the one with the pumping machines and the Mako itself, while the two males moved forward, Irvine's weapon constantly shifting in order to accommodate possible threats.

All around them were pipes, climbing in and out of the Mako. Pipes of every possible length and width, which seemed to pump with green liquid. They were walking in a straight bridge made of steel; it was thirty feet wide and more than a hundred ones long. Below them, not far away enough for comfort was the greatest amount of Mako they had ever seen; it stretched out to cover the entire room's foundation, and was enhanced enough through alterations and modifications that it glowed. In fact, it was the only source of illumination in the room, and yet the light it emanated linger out up to the reactor's top.

Mako could be easily changed to serve every single purpose one could imagine; down there, however, was Mako as it was before the important alterations, straight from the 'harvesting'; and yet, the stench it produced was enough for any simple man to not faint dead away. Bad meat left out in a sunny day. A man embracing with death. Rotting garbage. None of those already unpleasant smells could even hope to compare to the vile, sheer stench that Mako produced. But where the smell was unpleasant, the sight was splendidly phantasmagoric. A pool of constantly swirling lights, a vista like nothing else. The raw energy below was semi liquid and even from thirty feet up, Irvine could feel it as it annoyed his very own core.

"Here, Squall; set the bomb. I'll cover you." Irvine directed, giving the ex-SeeD a heavily wired plastic explosive. Squall nodded and moved forward. Setting the timer at twenty minutes, Squall attached it on the machinery's side with a sticky sound. He then moved back to where Irvine was sniping when Xu's scream echoed around the halls.

"Xu!" Irvine howled back, and Squall grabbed his shoulder, frowning at the lack of discipline the gunman seemed to always display.

"They're coming." The ex-SeeD warned. "Be on the lookout."

Weapons on the ready, clock ticking, they waited. No way to deactivate their own bomb prematurely, they waited and hoped that whoever had attacked Xu was going to show up. No sooner than a minute had passed, when Irvine started tapping his foot. "Damn, this is nerve-wracking. Squall, we must hurry and get Xu; they might hurt her!"

Squall shook his head. "No. They know we're aware of their presence. They will use Xu as a human shield while setting a trap. They'll be going with the standard procedure and try to corner us." He deadpanned.

"Exactly!" Echoed a cocky voice from the other side of the bridge, and two figures emerged from the shadows; both were dressed in Shinra Inc.'s commanding officers' uniforms. The first one had a powerful build and wore a crimson suit, proving him to be a lieutenant of their private army, and had assaulting bracers attached. They were another of Shinra Inc.'s infamous devices, since they were both inconspicuous and deadly; they seemed like round pieces of steel but in reality they had three barrels, each of which shot with submachine gun speeds. He was pointing one at Xu's head while the other one was turning from Squall to Irvine and back, making sure they'd stay put. The other officer had a blue uniform on and was much thinner than his ally, and sported a sword. They both had cybernetic helmets equipped, devices which not only offered them protection, but also gave them thermal and night vision, as well as targeting aide.

"You're both under arrest under the jurisdiction of Shinra Inc., you little twerps! You might've been lucky and attacked the reactor on a robotic guard maintenance day, but that doesn't mean that we two and good enough to take a bunch of brats like you down!" The crimson clad officer cursed, as he grinned confidently. "Now lay your weapons down and pray that we don't 'accidentally' shoot you!"

Squall decided it was time to play his cards right. "How good are you with your shotgun?" He whispered.

"The best." Came the reply, and the ex-SeeD nodded.

"Alright. Don't shoot." Squall called to the guards, turning the attention to him. The superior officer smiled cruelly, his grip around Xu's neck tightening in order to prove that he was not playing. She moaned in pain, but as she looked back up, she saw Squall tap the side of his weapon with his fingers. She tried inspecting that curious show of nervousness from the ex-SeeD only to realize that he had allowed three fingers to rest before tapping again. Two fingers.

"You don't have any right to be making demands, not when we have your friend." Said the officer, and the other guard nodded. "So do us both a favor and pull the safeties back on, before dropping the weapons down, or else the bitch's going down." Irvine nodded and lowered his weapon.

"Ok, ok! Don't do it!" He cried. "Here, I'm disabling it!" A mechanic sound erupted from the shotgun as Irvine pulled a mechanism in front of the trigger part.

One finger.

"Now!" Squall cried, and Irvine's weapon shot both forward and at the crimson guard's head. The force of the blast, along with Xu ducking at the most suited time was all that saved her, since the guard literally flew three good feet above the steel ground before falling hard on his back, dazed but alive, his helmet permanently ruined.

"Wedge!" He managed to yell, anger taking its toll. "Kill these bastards!"

Xu was unarmed, so she ran away from Wedge, the guard in blue, and near Squall, who dashed forward to attack.

Sword and Gunblade clashed in between, sending a ringing sound through the air. The weapons were locked in furious battle… But Squall's legs were not. His right knee shot up towards Wedge's groin, where it got him directly. All's fair in war. Wedge fell on the ground, his hands now clutching his private parts, his sword discarded.

The other guard had risen, only for his face to meet up with Irvine's shotgun. Irvine was thoroughly pissed off as he led the crimson clad man to the edge of the bridge, far enough that his back was leaning against the protective railings. "Wh-what are you doing?!" The guard cried, whose nametag wrote 'Sgt. Biggs.'

"You dare threaten my friend with death!" Irvine growled, raising his shotgun to point accusatory on Biggs' face.

"No, kid, listen to me! It was a way to force you into surrendering! We never meant to hurt her!" Irvine's look did not change, so Biggs chose to express himself. "This is madness!" Biggs cried, his heel having reached the end of the bridge and hanging above the Mako. He was losing his footing, and he was insanely nervous about it.

"Madness?" Irvine asked innocently, before his visage turned to that of white hot rage; "This is AVALANCHE, bitch!" He then promptly kicked Biggs into the Mako, dooming him. The ex-SeeD's Revolver had immediately struck at Wedge's neck, wounding him fatally. In middle air, the sergeant reached out for the railing, or for the bridge itself, or for a pipe, or for anything as he fell directly into the Mako. Just the sheer touch of the liquid was enough to make Biggs come back to the surface screaming as he literally dissolved, his flesh chirping as the Mako invaded its every pore. Finally, it was in his lungs, and his screams finally stopped. Irvine only stared, and it was Xu's cry that brought Irvine out of his stupor.

"Only fifteen minutes left!" She cried as she ran past him. "Irvine, hurry!"

He nodded in affirmation and the trio ran.


The elevator dinged open and the three of them dashed out of it, straight at Watts. "All done, sir?" The boy asked, to which Irvine only responded with "Move!" They had already lost precious time finding their way through the pipes back up.


"Zone, the door! Open it!" Zone was squatting down, clutching his belly.

"Ow, ow, ow." He complained, turning his head at them, before turning serious. "It's no use, guys! My keycard is not working!"


"What?!" Irvine cried incredulously. "You mean that you've been doing nothing all this time? Dude, we're gonna be killed!" His cool façade switching places with hysteria, he started shifting his gaze from one person to another.

Xu approached the keypad. "Give me the keycard. It's got to work."


"Zone! For the love of Hyne! This isn't the keycard I gave you!"



Squall hurried forward and slammed his Gunblade through the keypad, pressing the trigger once, then twice. Shrapnel of what used to be delicate machinery scattered to the ground, and the door hummed halfway open.


Curious what imminent death can cause people to do. All of them were past the door, Xu even smiling appreciatively at Squall, who nodded back.


Squall had just passed when he felt the shaking of the very building. "Run!" He called forward, and the Avalanche members complied with the best of their abilities.

Shaking, sound wave, blast, fire, blast wave. The order which bombs explode in. You feel it, you suddenly go deaf, you are blasted away, then burned, then blasted away once more, killing you instantly, or scattering your charred bones away.

Squall squelched the morbid thoughts and ran as fast as he could remember his feet carrying him. The end of the tunnel was there suddenly, and they were out in the open air. "Scatter!" Irvine called, and they did.

As they spread around the sod they had arrived at (the reactor's back entrance), bright flames followed them suit, before they finally died along. Zone was on the ground, gasping for air, his physique denying him to go any further. Watts had leaned on a wall's debris and chuckled, the experience much better than he thought it would ever be. Xu had leaned forward, sweat on her brow and hands on her knees, regaining her composure. Irvine cried in success, and Squall seemed like he had never even moved from his spot, his Gunblade sheathed and his attitude cool.

"We made it! How do you like them apples, Shinra?!" Irvine cried in exuberance, and the others joined him in a happy yell of triumph. The party crasher was Squall, who gave them one look and then turned his attention elsewhere.

"We need to move." He called, and Irvine nodded as he holstered his shotgun in an inside pocket of his coat.

"Good call." He could hear the sirens despite the ringing in his ears. "Spread out! We move at the train station!" The Avalanche members were gone as soon as he finished his call, so he turned to the SeeD. "You'll get paid once we get to Sector Seven, of course."

"Whatever." Squall deadpanned, and ran away from the crime scene, not once looking back. For him, it was another job well done.

Author's Thoughts: Yeah, I know. You must be squinting, going "what the hell, man?" or deciding on reading this just to give me another chance. So here are my thoughts on character comments.

I, much like Darren and Peptuck, faced the same dilemma: who do I change Biggs, Wedge and Jessie with? Like them, I just could not see any other choice. So here it is, they are (once more) changed with Zone, Watts and Xu (the latter of which I find to have written out of character, but let's face it; neither she nor Irvine is SeeDs in this story).

Now, as for Barret… I just can't see Zell leading Avalanche. Of all of them, he's even more playful and "immature" (some times) than Selphie! I just can't see him taking care of the Avalanche guys AND a little orphaned girl. I just can't. Irvine, on the other hand, with his "ladies' man" attitude and "philosophy" suits him much better. Don't get me wrong; over Irvine and Zell, I prefer the martial artist. It's just a matter of preference and personal view. As for that hitting on Xu, well, I don't know where that came from, but I don't put it past him.

Anyway… To our protagonist. In case you did not notice, I have given Squall the sleeveless version of his jacket, as introduced in Kingdom Hearts. To answer your yet unspoken question, no, he does not have his scar yet; no I did not forget to add it in his description. :P

Finally, on the Matrix/300 "quotes"… I just had to use them. Sorry if I offended anyone by defiling their favorite movies or whatever, so I'll just say this; I'll be seen using many more quotes from movies, as well as action scenes, obvious ones or not. Take that as a last minute disclaimer.

Alright, I think I've wrapped everything up. Next chapter, you see 'Aeris', 'Tifa', and most probably Squall's descend to the slums, if you catch my drift.

Later. Sizdothyx out.