Summer has been lazy but eventful but this chapter was the hardest to write. I had to watch the movie again and work on the fight scenes. I hope I did okay.

I own nothing save for my character and the others are owned by their respective creators.

Onward.

To Dig into a Wound

"Stop fidgeting!"

Skye grimaced as Rachel continued cleaning the wound. They had removed his shirt and coat, both being cleaned as a tank replaced his shirt for a little while. "Just give me a cure spell and then we can get to work on helping those kids-oww! Damn it!" he shouted.

Rachel continued on but when Skye moved away, she smacked his head.

"Dyaas, she's abusing the patient!" Skye whined out.

"You aren't being very patient, Skye." Dyaas answered from the door.

"Because there are more than twenty kids out there, alone and with a weird, pansy looking ass-damn it, woman!" Skye shouted again as the alcohol continued cleaning the wound and making it sting.

"Skye. You got shot. In the shoulder." Rachel said as she began to wipe up the rest of the blood. "The bullet is still in there. So you shut up and let me do my job before I knock you out the old fashion way."

Skye groaned and glared, getting up to give a sarcastic response out of frustration. "What is tha-" Dyaas flinched when Rachel punched him in the forehead and he fell back on the bed, unconscious. Dyaas could not help but snicker.

"That's the old fashioned way, dumbass."

Dyaas laughed. "Don't kill him now, Ra. We need him alive."

"I am promising nothing."

Dyaas then came to the next room where Ravu was watching over Leah, who was asleep on her stomach, her coat hung up. She couldn't sleep on her back or risk her back in immense pain the following morning.

"She doing better?"

Ravu looked back and made no move to say anything.

"I feel like crap." Leah said as she kept her eyes closed and only moved her arms to the pillow, trying to get comfortable.

Dyaas sighed. "You did just get stunned severely. Not to mention three pews fell on your back and head. In all things, you should feel like crap." he said.

"Dyaas, you aren't helping." Leah groaned out.

"Then you stop complaining." Ravu said.

"Last I checked, I wasn't complaining. I was answering a question." Leah said back, still refusing to open her eyes.

"What happened, Leah?" Dyaas asked.

"Which part? The part where I got my ass kicked or the part where I kicked ass?" Leah asked.

Ravu rolled her eyes. "The one where you got your ass kicked."

Leah nodded before turning toward them so they could hear her talk. "We were checking on Aerith's flowers, it seemed peaceful. Marlene found Cloud's blankets on the left side of the flowers. There were some bandages too…used." Leah said. "They were from Geostigma."

"So he has it, too." Dyaas murmured.

"We found a chest of materia as well. Yuffie's." Leah added. "I expect she gave the chest to Cloud to watch over while he was there."

"You done with the specifics yet?" Ravu asked.

"If you stop complaining…maybe." Leah said as she rolled over again. "Then he came in…"

"Go over to Leah, Marlene." Tifa muttered as she got her fighting gloves out of her pocket. Marlene, still clutching the used bandage, ran over to me. We hid behind a pillar in a corner of the church, away from the fight.

There was something in that guy's eyes and I knew right then, he was a Remnant. He did not want to play, at least, not in the traditional sense. He planned on killing all of us. Marlene and I watched Tifa strike first, her fist and his gauntlet in a lock as she aimed for his face. It landed and she punched him in the chest and gut, pushing him back. He glanced up just in time for Tifa to deliver a kick to his face. It landed but right after, he pulled his gauntlet up right to her face and I saw a surge of magic, maybe thunder related but it threw Tifa all the way to the back wall.

"Damn it...what's a Remnant doing here?"

"Tifa!" I pulled the girl back behind the pillar and she huddled against me, scared but I would not let her watch the fight. I remember closing my own eyes in fear. To tell the truth, I was just as scared as she was.

"You okay, Leah?" Marlene whispered to me but she could not hide her fear. I had to nod and smile, give some show that I was not afraid. I heard the same crack from before and it was close by. I used a Reflega but it shattered almost immediately. It took another three tries before Tifa kicked the Remnant away from us.

Marlene and I could hear the sounds of their struggle and the electrical shocks and debris were draining my magic strength. Minutes passed when suddenly, a crash was heard and the sounds stopped. I hesitantly let go of Marlene and glanced around the pillar. "Wait here." I told her before standing and walking out. I felt relief when I saw Tifa standing victoriously, the Remnant lifeless under some broken pews. "Thank God…" I gestured to Marlene. "Its okay now."

"Is he gone?" Marlene asked as she slooked out but once she saw the man lifeless, she rose up and a smile was on her face. She ran over to Tifa and embraced her.

I was glad but I didn't think it was completely over. "We should get out of here before-"

You know that annoying ring tone Idiko refused to change on his phone and played it every morning just to piss us off in the morning? For once, I wished it was just Idiko but no, it was the Remnant's cell phone.

And he answered it.

The Remnant threw off the pew that was covering him as if it wasn't even there. After receiving a beating from Tifa, literally, he was unaffected.

"Marlene." My harsh whisper was heard but Marlene did not come over. "Tifa, be careful."

The Remnant flipped open his phone. I tried to listen on who was on the other line but even in that silent church, I could not hear anything remotely helpful. We only got one side of the conversation.

"She's not here." He says. 'She'? He could have meant Jenova but there's another possibility too. "I'm not crying!" I had a silent snicker there. Remnants were always such babies with mother complexes. "No, I got it." His green eyes looked over to us. "I'll bring the girl."

"Why do you want Marlene?" I shouted.

"Its nothing to you, kid." He replied as he pocketed his phone and stepped towards us. "Now, where were we?" His gauntlet clicked again and I saw the same sparks from before. Suddenly, he threw a pew at us, Marlene ducking behind Tifa as I did the same. I brought my head up and saw he had disappeared and fearing for Marlene's safety, I flicked my wrist for a reflect spell to wrap around her.

I should have done the same for Tifa. The Remnant hit her with his gauntlet, right in front of Marlene, who was as terrified as I was. Right as Tifa fell, I lunged for Marlene and rolled off to the side, away from the Remnant who only grabbed Tifa again, pinned her to a pillar and sent the electric stun through Tifa again.

"Tifa!"

I knew it was bad. The one direct hit Tifa received from the back made her helpless as she fell on the flowers, unable to move. Marlene tried to run over but I stopped her, hiding her behind me. He said he'd bring the girl, and by his eyes I knew that meant Marlene.

"Just run!"

I didn't take Tifa's suggestion seriously. And right now, I wish I did. Tifa collapsed and now he was looking to me. I looked for a weapon, finding a discarded sword of Cloud's in the church. Using a keyblade here would draw the Geo-heartless and other shadows. We were too close to the outer rim of the city so a sword was enough.

I grabbed the sword and held it out in front of myself and Marlene. "You want to play, too?"

"Marlene, run back home and don't look back."

"But-" I just gave her a warning glare and she listened, reluctantly. Just in time too because that was when the bastard attacked.

He charged with his gauntlet sparking with magic at my left shoulder and I brought the sword to deflect the blow, sidestepping to take a swing at his own shoulder. He caught it and tried another head on blow which I backed up to avoid. But that was a distraction. He used his speed to try and grab Marlene while she was running towards the crack in the wall. I used my own speed and tackled him away, holding him down. "Go!" My tackle had left me without my sword and if this guy found a way to break my hold, I'd need to be ready to dodge.

"Thunder-"

I lost my hold and dodge rolled away, flicking my wrist for my own thunder spell. He dodged but my spell hit the side of the church, making a bit of the ruins fall on the opening Marlene just vanished into.

I smirked as I used a magnet spell to recall the sword into my grip. "Only way out is through me, Remnant." I told him, standing between the columns of pews and between him and the oak doors.

He seem surprised that I knew what he was. "How do you know that?" he asked.

I didn't tell him anything, save this. "Guess your mom's keeping a few too many secrets. Can't be helped, considering you just failed in your mission." I got him enraged and he showed it.

By throwing a stone block at my face.

I leapt to avoid the blow, and flipped down with a lightning strike. "Thor Bolt!" A I crashed the sword on his arm, his gauntlet surged to life, sending out a pulse that sent me back. I landed back on the wooden floor, grudgingly. I was hoping to short circuit his weapon but that hope was quickly dashed. His weapon was surging with more magic, my attack possibly strengthening it.

He disappeared, almost too fast for even me to handle. He came up behind me but I blocked by spinning my sword into a reverse grip. But this block was straining my arm and back. I conjured up another fira and threw it behind me but he zipped away again. I will tell you right now that this guy was fast to watch but even faster when his target was you. I felt a blow to my side, shocking me severely before I felt another one at my leg. I managed to block a few more blows but the other half was getting direct hits. I couldn't keep up with my entire body electrocuted. He seemed to stop and I knew he was going in for a much larger attack than the last. I managed to spread my wings and get above to dodge the attack.

He kept speeding around, probably gaining enough momentum to take me out of the sky. For a Remnant, he wasn't as dumb and mindless as he looked.

I couldn't attack from above and get an accurate shot so I went with the next best thing.

I passed my hand over the sword and then spun the sword in a circle, golden light following it with every swing. "Astral Barrage!" My star spell sent out daggers of light, crashing down on every standing thing in the church, save the flowers. I had to have gotten him with that blast so once the dust settled, I landed on the ground, looking for the Remnant and withdrawing my wings.

"Nice light show, kid." I turned around, seeing his cat like eyes through the dust. "But it wasn't good enough."

I thought he was fast but he was extremely fast, faster than any of us because the most I had done was add a layer of dust to his figure, not a single burnt mark on him.

"D-Damn you! How'd you get so fast?" I shouted, stunned as he approached me. Instead of answering, he sent his gauntlet, crackling, right at me. I blocked with my sword but when it shocked, my sword broke. It could not handle my spell and broke because of it.

'Damn you, Cloud! I thought you took care of your swords!' I had to curse the blonde there. I threw the handle at the Remnant which was tossed aside and I somersaulted to the left side to get some range. He went to finish me off but something hit his head, a green marble. I glanced at the thrower with fear.

"Marlene, get out!"

That was the second mistake. Not only was this guy fast, he was strong too. Before I could even get to get to Marlene, he had picked up one of the pews and he crashed it down on my back.

The pain was unbearable. I think I blacked out from it because when I looked up, that damn Remnant had Marlene over his shoulder, unconscious and walking out with her.

I had to save her. I just had to.

"Where the hell are you…" I asked, climbing out of the wreckage as my own body trembled from the searing pain spreading from my back. "…taking her?"

He looked back at me but I could barely hear his words or see his face.

"None of your business, kid."

He moved to leave and my strength was at the limit but I made one final try. I swear I had the human version of a turbo boost right then, then gain you might call it an adrenalin rush, my strength was renewed and I lunged for the gunblade in his holster, grabbing it and dodging rolling to get right behind him so when he turned, I could get a clear shot at his heart. I pulled the trigger-

BANG!

-and I collapsed into darkness.

"…I think he may have used his stupid gauntlet of his. I probably got electrocuted and that made me collapse." Leah said, finishing her story there. By this time, others had gotten to the doorway and listened to the recap of Marlene's kidnapping and found the kidnapper similar in appearance to the other guy. "I was out like a clichéd light. I didn't even sense Cloud when he came in and from what those Turks said, it was at least four hours from the time he left to the time his bike had cooled down."

"And when you did wake up, you gave Reno a broken nose and knocked Rude out." Dyaas said, earning a laugh from the two female Brokens.

"I was trusting my instinct but I apologize." Leah said as she sunk deeper into the pillow. "Not as sorry for not protecting Marlene better."

"You did what you could. Just be glad you're alive cause we are." Dyaas said, putting a hand on her shoulder and squeezing lightly. He was the brother to all of them and he did not act like it because he was it. "You just get some rest, we'll handle the rescue mission."

Leah smirked before relaxing, taking that order with complete obedience. "Just come back alive, that goes the same for the eavesdroppers out there."

Dyaas chuckled as he removed his hand and gestured for Ravu to follow. The blue hair gave her friend one more look before leaving the room, closing the door as lightly as she could.

"How could she know we were here?" Sora asked, having stood outside with everyone else save Skye, Cloud, and Tifa who were sleeping. "She had her eyes closed."

"You're a loud breather." Dyaas answered. "Anyway, we should head downstairs and let these guys rest. You three did close the bar tonight, right?"

Aerith, Kairi and Maxy nodded. "Yes, no one will be coming tonight and we double locked the door." Kairi said, pointing to herself and Maxy for the locking part. "No one's coming in."

"Good, we need some secrecy right now." Dyaas added as they made their way to the bar, the teens taking booths, chairs, and chairs, filing the place up easily. "Who knows who might be listening."

"If you're worried about turncoat Turks, then we should throw Reno and Rude out now." Jason said as he sat down next to Ravu in a booth, Xergg across from them.

"But they were the ones who brought Cloud, Tifa, and Leah back here." Sora injected, sitting at a table with Kairi, Rachel and Riku. "Why couldn't we trust them?"

"Because their loyalty is to the Shinra President, not us." Nexius said from his stool. "Or what's left on Shinra that is."

"Think of the Turks as Shinra's elite investigators." Dyaas said. "The old Shinra Corporation had two division of forces: the SOLDEIRs and the Turks. One was the brawn, the other was the brains. Because of Shinra's excessive use of the Planet's Mako, groups like Avalanche tried to discourage their use through violence. As such, they needed a force to prevent their corporation from collapsing. Any Turks still alive are still loyal to the last president, Rufus Shinra."

"That still doesn't explain how we can't trust them when he was the one who gave us this info in the first place." Sora said, a slight frustration in his voice.

"Rufus may have told us and sent us help, but he's a former CEO. That and he's supposed to be dead." Idiko said. "We don't trust him."

"We should find out where he stands on this before we make any accusations." Mickey said, getting a somewhat bitter chuckle from Nexius.

"Should have said that five years ago."

"Nexius, now is not the time." Dyaas said, getting a glare from the keybearer. "We can handle grudge matches later. Right now, we have about twenty orphans kidnapped by three Jenova Remnants and their safety should be our main concern. Does everyone understand that."

Dyaas did not wait for a confirmation; he just continued on. "From what we know, they were taken to the Forgotten City which is north of here. We'd have to catch a chopper and then walk or drive there." he said as he pointed to a map on the wall., tracing the path they would have to take. "Should take us until midnight or later to reach it."

"Who's going then?" Maxy asked from her seat on the wall. "I wanna go."

"Not all of us can go." Xergg said. "What if they come back here? Geo-heartless are scaling the perimeter of Edge as we speak. Midgar is overrun by them. We can't leave the city defenseless."

"We'll spilt up then, simple." Rachel said.

"But what about those Turks?" Riku asked. "Didn't we not assume they couldn't be trusted?"

"What if one of us goes to them?" Goofy suggested. "Like be a Turk?"

Dyaas nodded. "I could." he volunteered. "During our time as…apprentices…I had to do an investigation into the Turks. I went into the program as a recruit. It won't be hard to join them. Just get me the uniform and a gun and I'll be fine."

"Do you think those two will allow it?" Donald asked.

"They'll have to…if they value their paychecks." Dyaas said with a smirk, his golden eyes flashing as he held out an arm, blocking the doorway from Reno to go through. "You don't mind if I tag along…right, Reno?"

Reno shook his head but there was fear in his eyes. "No more favors, D-man. I hate owing people."

Dyaas chuckled. "Considering how many times I owned you at poker, you could say…well…that I own you."

"You've got an hour, Dyaas. One hour." Reno warned, released from his prison as he hurriedly stepped out, nearly tripping through the door since it was locked. The Turk started shaking the door, threatening to break it off when he couldn't open it. Muttering a string of curses, he heard a snicker that made him stop. He looked back at all the confused or amused eyes before removing his hand from the door handle. "Fine, we can stick around."

"Hoped you would." Dyaas got a look for that but he looked around the room before pointing to a few of them. "Xergg, Rachel, Nexius, you three are going to the Forgotten City."

"What? It's cold up north." Nexius said.

"Pack a blanket." Jason said.

"If I'm going, so are you, JT." Jason shrugged and looked over at Mickey who nodded. "Might as well. Your brother is going with them."

"What about us, your majesty?" Kairi asked.

"Sora, Riku, do you mind going with them?" Mickey asked.

"Not at all." Sora replied. "But how are we going to get there? I don't want to walk through what sounds like the snow."

"You said we could drive, Dyaas?" Riku's comment made the others hopeful that they wouldn't be walking cold for long.

"Who can drive a motorcycle?"

Dyaas' answer got most of the Brokens, Jason and Riku. Sora looked over at Riku, somewhat shocked and apparently, so was Kairi. "When did you learn how to drive a motorcycle, Riku?" Kairi asked.

"Yeah, I broke your dirt bike in the fifth grade before you even got to ride it." Sora said.

"I still haven't forgiven you for that." Riku replied, his best friend paling while he chuckled. "I learned while I working with Ansem the Wise. And there is no way in hell I'm letting you drive anything that has an engine."

"Same goes with these two…and you, nearly forgot." Dyaas said, pointing at Maxy and Rachel, his index finger then passing over to Nexius after some thought. "Though you're driving skills on cars is to be admired, they are not the same."

Nexius just gave him the finger, making the Brokens laugh.

"One problem…how do we get more bikes?" Rachel injected. "We've only got Cloud's Fenrir and he'll be pissed if we took it."

"Which is why I'm going with you."

Cloud only gave them all a curt nod which most received and gave in return but Sora was the one who stood up, glad to see his friend was alright. "It's good to see you, Cloud, but are you sure? You seemed pretty pale when they brought you in."

"I'll be fine, Sora." Cloud said, Sora feeling not quite sure. "So…you're here too?"

"Yeah, these Geo-heartless attacked Radiant Garden. The King said their source is here. And these Remnant guys might be behind them too." Sora replied.

"Not might. They are behind them." Cloud said. "When I was driving through the wasteland, two of them attacked me and they had those Geo-heartless with them."

"Then that just means we'll have to take them down together." Sora said, earning either a small smile or a shake of the head. It was just like the Keyblade Master to reply in such a way and arguing against never worked. Even Cloud knew that.

"Telling to stay back won't work on you." Cloud said. "Reno, do you have a chopper and vehicles ready?"

"Yeah, yeah. I could check but those brats locked the doors on me." Reno got no sympathy or pity from the blonde.

"Go ahead and follow them. I'll come around in my Fenrir." He got a nod from Sora and headed for another door behind the bar. As he left, Aerith stepped in his path.

"You're going…even though you're about to break." Aerith said givinga sad but hopeful smile. "That's a good sign."

Cloud blinked before looking away.

"So, do you know why you're going?" Aerith asked as she leaned to get a better look of Cloud's face but he only avoided her looks, like always.

"…" Cloud did not say anything. Aerith sighed and stood back up. "Dilly dally, shilly shally." She said, Cloud looking back up, having heard those same words not a few minutes ago from Tifa. "Come back, alright?"

Cloud gave a slow nod before passing by the flower girl and into the garage.

The Brokens stood up and headed out, getting some remarks for them to not get killed and give them a beating for those not present.

"Be careful, all of you." Kairi said as the teens wandered up to the door. "Seriously, cause I'm not saying that just to get on your good side."

While the four Brokens looked stunned or alarmed, Sora and Riku gave a wave and comforting look. "We will, Kai, don't you worry about us." Sora said.

"Yeah, I'll watch this idiot's back." Riku said as the door was unlocked and they filed outside.

"No, I'll watch your back, Riku!" Sora shouted, erupting into an argument. Rachel was the last one to leave and she gave the red head princess a glare.

"Stop flirting with my brother, red."

Kairi went just as red as her dreaded nickname designated from her hair. "W-What? I was only trying to wish you all luck! Not flirting!" Rachel left before she could finish her sentence, making Kairi even more frustrated. "Gosh, why does she have to be so accusing?"

"She's an overprotective sibling." Ravu said. "Who would not be? Her brother is the Keyblade Master of this generation and is possibly being manipulated into believing she has committed a horrid crime. Rachel doesn't trust any of you."

"But we told you on the trip here that we aren't sure what's going on." Donald said.

"All the more reason to not trust any of you." Ravu replied, crossing her arms as she sunk into the booth seat. "Manipulation could be done directly or indirectly. There is no one we can trust…it's a sad, sad truth."

"…I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize for something you didn't do." Idiko said as he began moving behind the bar. "That only makes you look more guilty."

Kairi looked down at her lap, Mickey sighing at the bitter and grudge feel in the room.

"Anyway, the night is still early and we're all hungry." Idiko said. "Let's make something to eat. Those guys will be hungry when they get back if they aren't already."

Maxy immediately jumped off her stool. "I can bake a cake!"

"Like hell you're working the oven, icicle." Ravu said as she got up. "You might just put Donald in it thinking he was the cake."

"WHAT?"

"Aww…you're so mean, Ravu." Maxy said as she faked crying. "All of you, stop staring and start helping. Three teens can't cook for almost thirty people."

Mickey stepped over first. "What can we do to help?"

XxXxXxXxX

"We've got some mild turbulence coming up." called Rude from the captain's chair in the Shinra company's military helicopter. Reno sat beside him, looking behind at the crew standing or sitting in the cargo hold. "Geez, why would that guy choose a bunch of kids? Cloud I kinda get but-"

"Shut it. They'll get the job done." Rude said, making Reno silent save for a few muttering grumbles under his breath.

On one side was Sora, Riku, Jason, and Cloud, strapped into their seats with headphones on. Across was Xergg, Nexius, and Rachel in the same circumstance and separating them were four motorcycles, Cloud's Fenrir the current coveted vehicle since his was the best functioning and he got to ride in alone. Dyaas stood at the end, head tilted down as a soft snore could be heard from the Eldest Broken.

"Hey, Riku, right?"

Riku glanced at Xergg who had asked the question. "Last I checked, that was my name." Riku replied.

"Good, tell me, you said you worked for Ansem. Ansem the Wise or Ansem the Heartless?" Xergg's inquiry confused the two islanders but he replied honestly.

"Ansem the Wise. But, how did you know about Heartless Ansem?" Riku asked.

"Rumors circulate. Leah stuck around Traverse Town and told us about you and your friends during your first adventure." Xergg replied. "That and Rachel as well as Idiko were part of the refugees who relocated to Traverse Town. They saw the downfall of Pride Lands and the Land of Dragons personally."

"You guys weren't very discrete." Nexius added.

Sora just gave a look for them to stop down grading him. "We didn't need to sneak around." he countered.

"Back to the first question, why do you want to know?" Riku asked, ending an argument before it could have started.

Xergg just gave a solemn smile. "Ansem the Wise was a part of the congregation, a very respected individual. Dyaas knew him while he lived in Radiant Garden before its fall. They were neighbors. After its fall and his apprentice turning on him and taking his name, we gave up his possible help in clearing our names. But now that the truth has been revealed, we want to seek his help again. Is he still alive?"

Riku nearly gulped as Sora did the same, remembering Ansem's sacrifice. They did not wish to say he was dead but that explosion did make him disappear and it left nothing behind. Disappearing without a trace could very well mean death.

"We…don't know." Sora replied.

"He disappeared in an explosion on the World that Never Was. He was trying to convert Kingdom Hearts into data." Riku explained. "It didn't work and he realized it in the end, letting the device explode and he disappeared along with it. The odds say he's dead but…"

"Well, what does your heart tell you?" Rachel asked. "It's kind of a keybearer mantra. When in doubt, look to your heart." she gave a small confident chuckle. "I say the old man's alive."

The two islanders looked to each other before nodding. "I say he's alive too. And I bet he's going to help you guys out." Sora said.

"Man, does anything get you down?" Xergg asked, laughing lightly.

"Uh…yeah?" Sora said, thinking back to when he was last not feeling the best.

"Don't worry about it. A little optimism is good…unlike mister pessimistic over there." Xergg thumbed over to Nexius who glared.

"You're a royal pain in the ass." Nexius said. He glanced at Jason who was laughing at his brother's insult and insulted him next as he grabbed a blanket. "You're an even bigger royal pain in the ass."

It was Xergg's turn to laugh and soon everyone was laughing. It only got louder when Rachel started fighting for the blanket Nexius had taken. The only one not laughing was Cloud.

"Cloud, you okay?" Cloud glanced at Sora with half-lidded eyes.

Cloud just nodded. "Yeah…"

Sora leaned back in his seat, not believing his friend's words.

"We're landing. Might as well mount up." Rude said through the communication link. "We'll be landing three miles outside of the Forgotten City. You'll have to drive due north from there."

The unbuckling of seat straps was heard as they removed the headphones. All of them gave a slight stumble, either from sleeping limbs or from turbulence, as they made their way to the vehicles. Cloud got on his Fenrir, Riku and Sora on another, Rachel and Nexius, and the two Thomas' on the last one. A quick rev from each said that each bike was working and ready to drive out once the hatch opened.

The helicopter jerked once, Dyaas awakening from his sleep. He yawned and stretched, one hand going to the hatch switch. He grabbed it and glanced down at the seven warriors. "Come back alive and kick some ass."

Dyaas pulled down the switch and the locks were undone as the hatch opened, making a ramp that allowed them to ride on down. Though they were still ten feet above the ground, the four vehicles sped out one at a time and hit the ground with ease, bouncing once from impact before leaving a clean trail in the virgin soil.

Dyaas watched until they disappeared into the white illuminated trees of the forest, dust kicked up from their tires just now falling back from where it came. Dyaas had a concerned smile as he closed the hatch and unbuckled from his former seat. Once the hatch was closed did they began to rise back into the sky.

He reached the entrance to the cockpit. "You got an extra uniform, Turks?"

Rude pointed back to the small medical cabinet just on the edge of the cockpit and the cargo hold. "Should fit. But we only have a pistol for you. Nothing fancy." he said as Dyaas opened the medical cabinet and pulled out the uniform, finding the gun on the second shelf.

"Like I'd expect anything less from the now destroyed Shinra Corporation." Dyaas said, loading the weapon. "Where are we headed to?"

"Edge."

XxXxXxXxX

Staying about five yards apart, the caravan of warriors being led by the ex-SOLDIER turned delivery boy, sped past the glowing vegetation, green shrubs and puddles from the last rainfall swayed or ripped by their speed. There was only one clear path that was large enough for their vehicles to get past without making their own paths and hurting their rides. Also, they didn't want to give away their position and the bikes were loud enough.

"Its so quiet." Sora muttered.

"Better hope it stays that way." Rachel said from the bike behind his.

"I wouldn't. Means these guys are trained to be assassins." Nexius replied. "Fast, unconventional weapons, black leather jumpsuits…sounds like a couple of assassins to me."

"From what those Turks have told us, these guys could have been trained to be assassins. Secret experiments caused all of this." Riku said, braking slightly as they slid around on the path.

"If that's the case then why use the heartless?" Jason asked. "And why strike now?"

No one answered because no one truly knew why.

"Guys, we might want to slow down." Riku said, his speed going down quite a bit. He had noticed Cloud had slowed down in front over the last hundred yards. "I think we're going to stop soon."

Sora looked over Riku's shoulder. The wind rushing past was not as quick and the sound of their engines not as loud either. Cloud had looked tense the entire trip an now he looked too relaxed. A change like that was odd.

"Cloud?" Sora saw no change from Cloud so he shouted a little louder. "Cloud!"

"Ow! Damn it, Sora, that was ear!"

Sora only shouted louder, not aware he was injuring his best friend. "Cloud!" Riku had to keep the motorcycle steady unlike last time where the shock made him nearly run into a tree. 'Do you want me to crash, Sora?'

This time, Cloud did respond. His wrist twitched on the handle and his back stiffened, looking behind. Sora caught his eye and it looked like he had just been awoken from a dream. "You okay, Cloud?"

"…Yes, I'm fi-"

"Cloud, watch out!"

Cloud looked forward as the sound of the fired bullet reached his ears. He moved left to avoid being hit as the others went left or right, missing the bullet and being forced to break apart their formation.

Mud splattered Rachel's motorcycle as her and Nexius drove through a puddle to avoid getting hit. "Damn, this is still half a mile from the Forgotten City!" she hissed out, Nexius keyblade forming in his hand.

"An ambush." Xergg muttered as weapons began to form, Cloud's bike compartment opening as he grabbed two swords. "They knew we were coming even before we touched down." Xergg muttered as their opponents came into view. The two silver haired men from the church and the city, another man in between them. He walked forward, a sword in his left hand and with his right, he looked as though he was calling something. Where they were expecting a spell, most likely thunder, figures dropped from the trees, obscuring the path.

And it was their emotionless, green eyes that made them panic.

Cloud saw the light hit their eyes and he swerved out of the way, rolling away as his bike was stopped by the Remnant from the church. His move had completely surprised the others as they swerved but not as clean as Cloud had. Riku braked and turned right, him and Sora jumping off as the motorbike crashed into a tree as they dodge rolled away, keyblades coming into their grips. Rachel had the unfortunate scenario of her bike going through a very large puddle. Their bike hydroplaned and continued sliding and the front wheel turned left and hit a rock in the puddle that toppled the bike with enough force to knock Rachel and Nexius off, the first falling into the nearby stream while Nexius had to grab onto a nearby tree branch to not meet the same face. Xergg and Jason were the lucky ones. They had been the farthest away and had a longer time to react and since everyone moved out of the way, they braked and swerved right to hit a nearby tree, getting off and rushing towards Cloud who was just now getting up.

"I'm glad you could make it!" The man said, his eyes holding an amused glint but not without some malicious intent.

"I only came for the kids." Cloud responded, getting to a knee as the man circled him.

"See this man? He's our big brother! But alas…" The man knew the teens were closing in on them, hell bent on helping Cloud so he placed his sword at Cloud's neck, forcing them to stop.

"I hate it when they give us that look." Sora muttered.

"Don't push it." Jason said. "He wants to taunt us into attacking."

"And he's got the kids as a shield, the coward." Nexius said as he lifted himself into the tree.

The man gave a chuckle of satisfaction that he had immobilized the four males from doing anything to attack him or save their friend. "…in our happy flock…" the man's amusement turned into a hateful glare, Cloud responding with his own. Sora noticed the glare was just like the ones Cloud would give to Sephiroth.

"…he's what you call a black sheep."

The amusement came back and he moved his sword away just as a voice ripped through the silence of the trees.

"Cloud!"

Marlene's voice gave Cloud an opening to strike the man from behind. He easily flipped to dodge the blow and landed beside his comrades again.

"Move, now!"

Sora and Riku sidestepped as the two Thomas siblings sent out a double thundaga spell straight at the Remnants. Sora and Riku rushed them while the dirt had been kicked up from the explosion. Their keyblades met two weapons, a gunblade and the gauntlet Leah had warned them about.

Seeing as their attacks were being blocked, they pushed them back several feet and got in a battle position, ready to strike or defend.

"Before me and my pals kick your butts, you got any names?" Sora half asked and half threatened.

The one from the city pointed his gunblade at Sora but it was the third man that answered. "Yazoo, Loz, and Kadaj." The third man gestured with his hand. "Not that it matters."

"That's what they all say." Xergg replied.

"Dark Fira!" Riku sent out the blue fire ball at Yazoo, the Remnant shooting right through the magic, canceling it in a flurry of blue. That small cover made them pick opponents.

"I've got Kadaj." Cloud said as he gripped his sword.

"Wait Cloud!" Sora's yell did nothing to stop the blonde and instead had to bring his keyblade to block the bullets coming at him. "Reflect!" The shield came around the keyblade bearer and once the shield went down, he sent out a fira of his own. Yazoo dodged it and pulled the trigger, Riku coming from behind and swinging his keyblade to deflect the bullets.

"I guess we've got this guy." Riku muttered as Yazoo gave them a sneer.

Jason's eyes were darting back and fourth, trying to get a lock on Loz who was charging him and his brother. The question for them was from which angle. The Thomas' even doubted lightning could strike this guy.

"Reflect!" Xergg shouted but his close call pushed him back into his brother, wincing as the shock he got from Loz's gauntlet rose up his blade arm, effectively stunning him. "He's faster than we thought."

"No, he's faster than what we were told." Jason added, eyes darting around again. Dust was kicked up, twigs snapped as Loz continued circling them like a hyperactive lion. They saw flashes of his form but with the white trees, it made him all the more harder to look for. "Would a large scale attack work?"

"No. Leah already tried that." Xergg replied. "Track him."

"Not going to do us much good." Jason added. "But it'll have to."

Xergg and Jason's conversation ended and Jason swung his keyblade to the left with as much force as he could. Loz moved to Xergg, gauntlet crackling but Xergg did the exact same thing. His keyblade met Loz's gauntlet but instead of locking weapons, Loz was forced back. Jason spun on his heel and slashed down, Loz taking out his extra gunblade to block the keyblade. In Jason free hand, he gathered up some lightning magic and threw it under the locked blades into Loz's chest, the explosion sending the Remnant through a tree.

Afar off near the stream, Rachel was rising up, drenched but that made her scenario all the more favorable. In the trees was Nexius and he nodded to the girl as she began her spell.

Cloud's position was not the best since around him were all the kidnapped children, watching him exchange blades with Kadaj. He was distracted his First sword was more likely to hit one of them than Kadaj's double katana.

Cloud brought his sword around over his left shoulder and brought it down on Kadaj who crouched and brought his sword against the other blade, effectively canceling the blow and pushing Cloud back a few feet. Cloud had barely anytime to gain his footing when Kadaj began swinging his sword horizontally, rapidly enough to force Cloud into a retreat.

Nexius chose that time to drop in, falling head first with his keyblade pointed towards the ground, the teeth caught both blades and while Kadaj had to find a way to unlock his two blades, Cloud unhooked one of his swords from his buster sword and used his left hand to deliver a thrust at point blank. However, Nexius had flipped away at that moment behind Kadaj and Kadaj stepped back, somewhat awkwardly. Nexius took that chance to slash down on Kadaj's neck only for the Remnant for dodge so Nexius spun on his heel so he could redirect his blade around him and into Kadaj's side. Kadaj blocked and crouched from Cloud's scissoring blades.

"Do it now, Ra!"

With Kadaj trapped by two blades, his own blade compromised, and having to kneel, he was in the best predicament for Rachel's spell.

The former islander had conjured up a large wall of water, sparkling drops like sapphires falling back towards the water from where it came. Rachel held up her Rainbow Chocobo and then pointed it at Kadaj, his eyes widening.

"Watera Art: Tsunami!" Rachel shouted as the tsunami, although small, headed for the three. Cloud and Nexius just had to wait until the last possible moment to shield themselves from the water.

Suddenly, Cloud and Nexius moved away as three bullets grazed their shoulders. Sora had dodged Yazoo's attack when he should have blocked, the end of the attack not for him but for Cloud and Nexius. The bullets would have gone through their arms had the sound of the gunshots had not overpowered the sound of the water. In that spilt second of freedom, Kadaj's sword glowed green and black and he rose up to slash down at the tsunami. It spilt apart and began to crash down into the forest.

Rachel hurried to rectify her mistake but Kadaj sped through the rip in the water and forced her to cancel her spell and instead block his weapon. "Cloud, the kids!" she shouted.

Cloud and Nexius slashed through two rows of trees and with an easy kick sent the trees down in front of the kids, the water crashing into the white bark instead of the kids. The most they got was a drizzle of fresh water.

"We need to get these kids away. They're distracting us and narrowing our maneuvers." Nexius said. "As much as I'd like to kick some ass, I'll handle getting them out of here. You focus on Kadaj and leave Denzel and the others to myself and Rachel."

Cloud gave a nod. "I appreciate it."

"Don't be until we've succeeded." Nexius said as he conjured up a dark fira at the end of his keyblade. He set five of them out, rapid fire, at Kadaj's back and earned three blows before the Remnant moved out of the way. Rachel was about to go after Kadaj when Cloud did that for her.

"Rachel, come on, babysitting!" Nexius shouted.

Rachel was not at all happy with her new mission but it could not be helped. She ran through the water and jumped over the trees with Nexius to reach the kids. "Okay you guys, listen up, we're getting you all out of here so stay close and don't panic." she told them.

Nexius noticed their blank stares. "I don't think they'll panic, Rachel." he said as he found Denzel, Marlene clutching his arm. She seemed to be the only one coherent.

"Are you alright Marlene?" Rachel asked.

"Y-Yes but Denzel-the others-I don't know what's happened to them!" Marlene chocked out, trying to not cry. "They all drank from a lake nearby and now…now they won't even talk to me!"

"Calm down, Marlene." Rachel told the girl. "Alright, all of you, gather over here!"

Nexius knelt to Denzel's eye level, his golden eyes looking for some trace of Denzel than the marionette standing before him. With his head lowered, the Broken could not see his eyes. Nexius reached for his forehead to pull up his bangs, flinching as the cold, green, cat like eyes stared back at him.

'Just like Cloud…' He thought, removing his hand as a gunshot was heard followed by two swords clashing and the sound of magic being cast. It was enough to bring Nexius to the matter at hand. "Rachel, can you get them moving a little bit faster?"

"I'm trying Nexy, but they're not moving an inch." Rachel said as she tried to drag one kid over. "Its as if they've fallen into a trance."

"A trance." Nexius stood up and looked at all the kids, dread for their current condition entering his mind. "That's a good word for it. We'll guard them instead until you an conjure up a large warp spell."

"Warp? That's advanced magic." Rachel said. "And with our condition, you know we can't control that kind of power."

"Try it anyway. We've got no other choice." Nexius told her, Rachel paling but she gave a defeated look.

"I-I'll try."

XxXxXxXxX

Sora was thrown off course by his combo being backfired by Loz's well aimed blow with his gauntlet. He grabbed onto a tree branch before hoisting himself up. He caught his breath before dropping his head down to dodge a bullet.

"This is not looking good for any of us." Sora muttered, his keyblade hanging off the tree.

Riku jumped to the left to dodge Loz's swing but his move also put him wide open for Yazoo to shoot. Lost Twilight spun into view as it acted as a shield, giving Riku enough time to land and dodge roll away. "Thanks Xergg!"

"Thunder!" Xergg was giving a grin in recognition of his thanks when Loz had come up behind and threatened to shock him again. If it had not been for Jason, Xergg would have been electrocuted severely.

"Tha-"

"Don't. Reason you got distracted." Jason scolded. Xergg would have rolled his eyes had it not been the seriousness of this situation. He recalled his keyblade and glanced up at Sora who was now standing on the tree branch. Riku was surrounded by Yazoo and Loz, dodging bullets but taking almost all of Loz's punches.

"Sora, take them out when I give you the signal!" Xergg shouted as his other keyblade began to glow with a dark light.

Sora looked down. "What's the signal?"

Xergg finished charging his blade and he slammed it into the tree Sora was stuck in. "This!" The tree shuddered for a moment before tumbling down towards the three fighters. Sora stumbled at first but grabbed the same branch he was been thrown onto, keyblade up above his head.

Riku had parried Yazoo's gunblade as he blocked the next strike from Loz, having to be quick because he only used one keyblade. His hold nearly broke when Yazoo struck down on the locked weapons but he kept strong, knowing if he moved, one of them could shoot him at point blank. The sound of breaking bark was heard and Riku glanced up before taking his keyblade out of the lock and jumped away, throwing a Dark Fira at the two Remnants, temporarily blinding them. The tree divided the enemy from the hero and allowed another hero to bring his legendary weapon upon the evil doers.

Sora leapt off the falling tree just before it fell, making such a loud sound that it rung over the sounds of weapons clashing and the blue fire from Riku's magic only increased the possibility Sora did not take the Remnants out. Xergg threw his keyblade into a strike raid and Jason struck it with a thundaga, sending the spiraling, electric keyblade into the dust covered fray.

"Cover me." Xergg said as he rushed in, a few feet behind his thrown keyblade, his remaining held with two hands.

Sora had crashed his keyblade into Loz's gauntlet first but pushed himself off and flipped to dodge the bullet from Yazoo's gunblade. Once he was on the ground, he slashed onto Loz's shoulder, the Remnant moving in a flurry of light as Yazoo took the next strike from Sora. With his keyblade stuck with another, Loz had an opportunity to strike from behind.

Had it not been for Xergg slamming his keyblade into Loz's side, Sora would be a crumbling mess, but the Broken's save was far from done. His spinning keyblade crashed into Yazoo from the opposite side, freeing Sora as both Remnants were now separated once again. And they would not be given time to recover.

Jason swung his keyblade in a heavy arc to send Xergg's flying keyblade back towards Yazoo who leaned back to avoid it and Sora then swung his keyblade into Yazoo's gut, his moment of complete shock added by the islander's well aimed punch to his chin. Jason then took the opening and grabbed Yazoo's wrist and sent an electric jolt through the Remnant. Tightening his hold, he swung Yazoo around twice before throwing him into Sora thrust followed by an explosion spell that threw Yazoo even further from Loz.

Xergg reached behind and grabbed his returning keyblade, using its momentum to turn on his heel and swing it into Loz's right arm which was unprotected. Loz pulled his gauntlet back, intending to punch Xergg in the gut when Riku twisted under his raised arm and used the end of his weapon to hit him in the gut instead. Loz stepped back out of shock as Riku grabbed his elbow, moving in front so Loz was pinned from both sides. He could not reach for his secondary weapon and his gauntlet could not strike anyone without hurting himself. Xergg took his other keyblade that wasn't holding Loz and slammed it into his stomach as Riku crouched to avoid the blow and then stuck out his leg to trip Loz onto his behind.

Xergg pointed his keyblade at his face while he fell, the keyblade poised to spilt his face apart only for something to clamp down on his keyblade and push him back out of sheer force and surprise.

"Of all the damn times-"

Riku, momentarily loosening his hold, brought his keyblade around the cut down the intruder that nearly pushed Xergg to the ground, the geo-heartless cut in two. "A geo-heartless, here?"

"That's right!" Xergg stepped back three time to regain his footing and Riku tried to slash down his keyblade onto Loz but the man was much too fast and his window of escape had been open since Riku had released his hold. "Damn it! Of course they would be behind this."

"They're Remnants." Xergg said as he and Riku formed a two man wall between Loz and Yazoo as Geo Heartless began to join their fight as well. "I think its more of a shock we didn't think they'd bring them into this battle beforehand. This means they're getting desperate."

'If they are, they don't seem like it.' Riku thought as he glanced at the geo-heartless beginning to circle them, Loz regaining a fighting stance. All he could do was hold up his keyblade and fight.

The Geo-Heartless had not just entered Riku's and Xergg's fight but they rudely invited themselves into the others as cruel observers. It was not just the enemy or the trance stricken kids they had to worry about, the Geo-heartless were just as dangerous if not more.

XxXxXxXxX

Nexius sidestepped as one tried to stab its tail and then cut it off, a Dark Firaga burning it to a crisp. While it was an easy kill, the others would not be so easy.

"I can barely make a stand." Nexius muttered as he spun on his heel and slashed, using the momentum to cut down two more geo-heartless that had struck from his side. While defending the kids which were scattered around him and the geo heartless coming through from every angle, Nexius could not use long range magic or powerful techniques because they took up a large area and this narrow field was not enough room without hurting the kids.

"Rachel, you've got that warp ready?" Nexius shouted as one geo-heartless surprised him by lunging after another had fallen, latching onto his keyblade. Nexius kicked it away before slashing down at it, cleaving its head right off.

"I'm trying but-" Rachel was using more Reflect spells than the one she was supposed to be casting. Kids were being moved without remorse by the geo-heartless, bruises and cuts showing up. "-but they're making it difficult! I can't concentrate with all these interruptions!"

"Rachel…" Marlene flinched as another Geo-heartless hit the strong shield Rachel had conjured up.

"It'll be alright, Marlene, just you wait." Rachel took a few deep breaths as she readied for the next attacker.

Nexius moved through a few of the kids to get to Rachel and Marlene. He jumped over one, slashing down at one in mid air and landing in front of the two girls. "I'll defend Marlene, you worry about the warp."

"Changing plans again-"

"Stop stalling and do it, Ra!" Nexius shouted, not liking her hesitation about charging an advanced spell since it was making his job of defending even more frustrating.

Rachel gave a grim nod and stabbed her keyblade into the ground and began charging up the spell. Even with her eyes closed, she could sense Nexius moving to the right and slashing a geo-heartless away from her and Marlene. Nexius threw out five Dark Firas, pointing his keyblade between Marlene's head and Rachel's and shoot out a gravity spell that held down a few more geo-heartless. Sending a thunder spell, he used his keyblade to crush the skull of another, punching into the neck of another coming for Marlene's head. Three more attacked Rachel head on but Nexius move in and held his keyblade with two hands, slashing horizontally to sending them into a nearby tree.

"Nexius!"

Nexius had left Marlene open for assault but before he could slam the Geo-Heartless away, a projectile burrowed through its skull, making it fall dead in front of Marlene.

"What in the world-"

"Nexius, the spell is-" Rachel stopped when her shoulder was grabbed, her concentration taken away as was the magic to power the spell. Several more gun shots were heard as the Geo-heartless strength around them quickly vanished. She nearly screamed but a low voice told her, "Don't. Unless you want us all killed."

Rachel nodded, pale with fear as the red cloaked man with black hair and crimson eyes looked to Nexius. "These children are too far gone. If you get Marlene and yourselves out, I will get your friends."

Nexius gave a grim nod, knowing he had no other choice. "Fine. Better be quick, they're running on empty."

The man gave a grim nod.

XxXxXxXxX

Jason used a thunder spell to hold back the geo heartless, adding a gravity spell to hold down what was not destroyed while Sora exchanged blades with Yazoo. Sora sidestepped as their blades came free again and slashed down, missing the Remnant and instead hitting the ground. Yazoo stepped right on the keyblade like a ramp and flipped over Sora, pointing his gunblade at his head. Jason brought his keyblade down onto Yazoo's gunblade, the shot hitting the ground as Sora turned around to counter as Jason was kicked away. His counter missed and Yazoo began to retreat as Geo-heartless took the two keybearers.

"We can't let him join up with Loz!" Sora shouted as he charged to Geo-heartless with Jason, beheading the two with ease and a follow up with a thunder would have made their path clear had not Yazoo been twenty feet away and his aim was precise and deadly. To step forward meant taking a lethal blow and with the distance between the two keybearers and the Remnant and the Geo-heartless hiding in the trees, they would probably be dead or injured just making it half way.

"Damn it. He's stopped and we can't get to him." Jason muttered as he and Sora continued blacking while using a free hand to cast magic, Reflect and Firas, on the Geo-heartless behind them.

"He's got to run out of bullets sometimes, right?" Sora asked hopefully as he ducked as a bullet sung over his head.

"Not if he's using Materia or magic. We might as well be spectators." Jason replied, trying to redirect the bullets back at Yazoo with little luck. Magic reserves were being stressed as was physical strength.

Suddenly, the ground began to shake and Yazoo stopped shooting. Sora would have taken that opening had it not been for the smirk rising to his face. And the reason was the stone wave coming right at them, towering over the trees. It was only getting bigger and they were standing on a trail that was wide with nothing to stop its advance.

Sora tried to send a fire spell at Yazoo, hoping to finish him before dealing with the new problem. Yazoo flipped to avoid the fire balls and while he sailed over the earth wave, he kept shooting, keeping them in one position.

"Sora, with me!" Jason told him as they stood side to side and raised their keyblades, lightning and fire beginning to coat the blades' edge. "On three."

"One…two…three!"

Keyblades were brought down to the earth as the two energy blades crackling with thunder or burning with fire charged the earth wave with ferocity. They met in an explosion that toppled the trees as dirt and stone fell harmlessly to the ground.

"Watch out!"

The dirt from the explosion had blinded them temporarily and the magic attack had taken a lot out of their reserves added with the strain they had already taken. And that left them wide open. Loz rushed in and punched Jason in the gut, the impact of electricity sending him a few feet away, nearly going to a knee in surprise and pain. Sora barely registered what had happened as Yazoo pushed off his partner's gauntlet to finish off the Disney Knight. However, he had enough combat instinct strengthened by team work drove Sora to Jason's side and bring up a strong reflect spell. Yazoo was caught off guard and Sora slammed his keyblade into the Remnant.

Jason managed to get up and saw Xergg and Riku use a double thunder to stop Loz from going after the other two again. Once they met up, it was clear that they were tired and strained.

"We need to end this now. Cloud's not doing too well with Kadaj and this is only hurting us the longer they draw this out." Xergg told them before patting his brother's shoulder, Jason just giving him a thumbs up.

"Separating them did nothing." Riku added. "And this forest is too narrow and they're agile."

"We need to get somewhere wide open. The heartless can't distract us or the kids." Jason said. "Where are they right now?"

"In the trees." Sora said as he looked up, knowing they were just waiting to strike. "Hey…why don't we use the trees."

"If we can get them way up there, Jason and I can use the same spell we used in the desert outside of Edge." Xergg suggested. "You two get them up in the air and we'll handle the rest."

Sora and Riku only responded by heading up the first tree and finding the two Remnants. "Hey, bastard!" Sora shouted to Loz as he stood on a tree branch.

"We were looking for you two." Riku added as he cornered the other Remnant.

Without another taunt, Riku and Sora lunged for the Remnants and weapons met with another clang. Jason and Xergg headed up another set of trees, watching as Sora and Riku continued climbing the trees as they forced Loz and Yazoo to climb. Once they were at the top of the trees, the Thomas' keyblades began to crack with lightning magic.

"Send them up!"

"Aeroga!" the burst of wind from Sora's keyblade added with a thrust sent Loz into the air above the forest.

"Dark Fira!" Riku's own spell made Yazoo lose his balance and a well aimed kick sent him alongside Loz, in a perfect position to be struck by lightning.

Jason and Xergg threw their keyblades into a strike raid and they clashed right above Loz and Yazoo. "Thundaga!" The thunder crash from the two keyblade from impact sent out an explosive force that made the four keybearers jump towards the ground to retreat from the shock. Even as they hit the ground, the electric shock was still felt moving through the roots of the trees.

After a few seconds, two bodies fell to the earth in burning, crackling heaps. "You two aren't related to Zeus by any chance?" Sora asked as he stood up, grabbing Riku's arm to pull himself up.

Xergg and Jason stumbled as they stood up, picking up their keyblades. "Believe me when I say 'no'. This isn't over yet."

Cloud had been forced into a constant retreat and now he had separated his sword into two, guarding and block Kadaj's swift strikes. Cloud was forced into a tree where he put his swords back together and lunged from above. Kadaj sneer made Cloud flinch mid flight. In that moment, Kadaj aimed his slash and threw Cloud back. Pulling behind, Kadaj kept his barrage of swift strikes that kept Cloud in the air and unable to counter. Cloud's strength failed and the next strike pushed Cloud farther away and towards the ground. Kadaj took that opportunity to strike from above and it was happening too fast for the keybearers to save their friend.

"Fight back, damn it!" Sora shouted when a gunshot rang out. Out of instinct, the keybearers stopped and looked behind but the gunshot had come from in front. It had tossed Kadaj's blow to miss Cloud and allow the blonde to hit the ground in a heap. To add more to their confusion was the almost floating red cape that floated down to Cloud and covered him.

"Wh-What the hell is that?" Sora asked.

"A ghost-" The distraction cut Riku off when another set of gunshots rang from the crimson cape, Kadaj being forced back and blocking strikes. The four keybearers rushed forward to help but something gave an jolt from behind that made them all take a knee.

"Stupid kids." Yazoo's voice came from behind as Sora looked back right into the barrel of his gunblade.

Bang!

The gunblade was thrown out of his hands and the crimson cape rose up from the ground. Yazoo and Loz were forced back just like Kadaj was and the cape fell upon the four keybearers. "Wait! What's going on?" Their sight went red and they disappeared from the Remnant's sight. The crimson cape moved back and forth on the ground before taking to the skies like a shape shifter.

Kadaj's only response was a frustrated grunt.

XxXxXxXxX

Nursing wounds and assessing their losses was not something Sora liked to do or prepared for after any fight. Twice had the enemy succeeded and twice had they been injured. The entire mission was a bust.

"See? I knew I'd be no help." Cloud muttered, sitting down in the dirt, holding his sleeved wrist.

"We were overpowered and distracted. You weren't the only one at fault here." Jason said as he leaned against a tree.

"Had those heartless hadn't shown up and they not brainwashed the kids, we wouldn't have been distracted." Xergg said from his sitting position on a stump.

"Vincent, what do you know about this?" Cloud asked the red cloaked man that had saved them all from the heartless and the Remnants.

"Thanks for the save by the way…" Sora said, looking to the man. "…Vincent, right?"

Vincent merely gave the islander a curt nod before answering Cloud's question. "I come here often."

"Perfect place for a vampire like you." Xergg muttered under his breath so only Jason could hear him. It took a lot to not laugh and instead turned into a covered snort. One look from the man made Jason regret his reaction, planning to embarrass his brother on a later date.

"I've seen what Kadaj's group is doing." Without warning, Vincent knelt beside Cloud and grabbed his sleeved arm, the man wincing in more pain than a bruise could have caused.

It was recalled then that Leah had told them they had found bandages with Geostigma marks. "That's where you're your Geostigma is…" Riku concluded for everyone else.

"The stigma…it's a symptom of alien matter infesting the body, the body tries to eliminate it and overcompensates." Cloud let go of a breath he hadn't realized he was holding as Vincent rose up, passed Riku and stood by the same tree Jason was leaning against. "Inside our bodies is a current, like the life stream. It is that current that fights off any malevolent intruders."

"What do you mean by 'intruder'." Cloud asked.

"Wait…we're not intruders to the Planet's life stream, right?" Sora asked.

"No WEAPONS are going to come after us. We're keybearers; we're exceptions to the World Order." Jason replied.

"What's a WEAPON?" Sora asked.

"The Planet's scary ass white blood cells to you, Sora." Xergg replied.

"The Sephiroth Gene, Jenova's memetic legacy, call it what you want." Vincent said once the keybearers were done with their small talk. Though his tone was calm and even, anyone could tell Vincent did not like to be interrupted by off worlders.

"So when Kadaj says he's looking for 'Mother'…"

Vincent nodded. "Heaven's Dark Harbinger, the Calamity…Jenova. If they wanted to, they could recreate Sephiroth."

"Which is bad." Sora said. "I got that much and I've fought the guy. Twice. The others already said the one I fought isn't the real thing. I'd hate to see and fight the real Sephiroth."

"Pray you never do and I'm not speaking from experience." Xergg said as he passed a look to Cloud. "You've seen what his very memory has done to your friends. The memory made real makes the open wound even deeper."

"Then…that's what the Remnants are doing? Trying to bring back Sephiroth?" Riku asked.

"It took them years to make one Jenova Remnant." Vincent said. "Years more for it to mature and grow. Kadaj and his group is moving faster and they don't have the resources or the mind to do what Hojo did."

"Kadaj…what is he then?" Cloud said, more to himself than anyone.

"…I'd rather not know."

"I agree with you there." Sora added when the rustle of the grass made them stand and nearly call upon their keyblades, even with the aftereffects of their fight still sore on their bodies.

"An ambush?" Riku suggested.

"They would do something that low-"

"Don't shoot, maim or cut!" Nexius' shout came from the foliage as Marlene emerged first, followed by the other two Brokens. The group immediately relaxed and allowed fatigue to overwhelm them again.

"Rachel, you're alright?" Sora asked.

His sister nodded but it was clear in her eyes that she was guilty and tired. "Yeah, I'm just sorry we could only save Marlene." she said, passing her eyes the girl nearly crying in Cloud's embrace.

"You did what you could. None of them were hurt so we still have a chance." Jason said.

"Cloud! Denzel-Tifa! And Leah-"

Cloud interrupted the distressed child. "Tifa and Leah are alright."

"I want to talk to them!" Marlene demanded, Cloud not arguing as he reached for his cell phone. When he stopped, not finding his phone, he shook his head. 'Must have fallen during the fight.' Marlene understood and looked to Vincent.

"May I?"

Vincent just showed the only thing on his belt was his Cerberus holster, no phone visible. "You don't have a phone?" Marlene's cry of shock brought some snickers. Did the kid honestly believe everyone had a cell phone.

"Do you see this vampire with a cell phone?" Nexius asked. "He'd block every call made to it."

"Enough…" Cloud said as he stood up. "Vincent, can you bring Marlene to Tifa I'm going to find Rufus and get a few answers-"

"I can't do that."

Cloud turned right back to Vincent's cold reply. "But I-"

"Forget it Cloud! Why don't you ever pay any attention to us!" Marlene's shout and her retreat to Rachel's side created mixed reactions. Some were giving Cloud a disappointed look, other were looking to Marlene in shock as they tried to register what the quiet girl had just said, and others were tense with an uneasiness of what to say.

"…family spat?"

Nexius got a smack from Rachel for that. "What the hell? As if none of you have had a family spat! Especially you two-"

"Don't even…"

"…finish that."

Jason and Xergg, respectively, had hissed out those four words with so much hate, Sora thought twice than asking what was behind it. Instead, he tried to end the conversation there. "Cloud, we should head back to Edge. Dyaas can get us these answers but we should regroup." Sora stood up straight. "Kadaj and his gang might be heading back there as we speak."

"You don't understand, Sora, Marlene…" Cloud gave a sad look to the hidden girl. "Marlene…please, just give us some time. There's a battle to be fought but it not as simple as just fighting. Do you understand. Do you understand?"

"No I don't!"

Marlene's defiance was childish but it was the same thought running through the others' heads and it was something Cloud needed to hear.

"Cloud, are you sure this is just about fighting?" Vincent only put fuel on the fire.

Cloud looked stunned as his mind began reeling in thoughts. After a few minutes, only the sound of the nearby stream and air being switched out, he asked, "Are sins ever forgiven?"

"…I've never tried." Vincent answered through the tense silence of the question. The Brokens had been put down for sins and have never been forgiven, Riku still found redemption far away, so it was not one of the best questions one wanted to answer when it was something they desperately desired.

"You mean…" Cloud was only stunned again when the words began to click in his head. "…never tried?"

"You can always be forgiven." Sora said. "If you made a mistake in the past, then learn from it. The past is over and done with, gone. The most you could do is learn and make sure you don't do it again in the future. But you have to make an effort or else you'll never learn."

Sora's words made all the Brokens give glances to the other, some getting eye contact and seeing either pity, hope, or something in between. Riku sighed but smiled, grateful to have an optimistic friend.

Cloud nodded. "Marlene, let's go."

Marlene, glad to hear the determined rather than sulk tone in the blonde's voice, emerged from behind Rachel and rushed over to Cloud. He looked to Vincent, eyes narrowed. "Well I'm going to try." he said, turning around. "I'll phone in the verdict." He made the sign of a phone up to his ear before dropping his hand and holding Marlene's hand as they walked towards his bike.

"Wait for us Cloud." Sora said. "We're not letting you fight them alone. Right guys?"

"Are you talking to us?" Nexius asked.

Sora raised an eyebrow but gave an honest nod. "Uh yeah. Why wouldn't I be?"

"Wow, you are dense." Xergg said with a chuckle as he rose up from his stump. Sora gave a frown but then went blank when Xergg patted his shoulder as he walked by. "But you've got a good heart."

Sora grinned as Xergg headed off, following Cloud.

"C'mon guys, it'll take us all night and day to get back to Edge." Xergg called.

"All night and day?" Rachel said with a groan. "We won't get a chance to rest."

"And Kadaj's group is probably half way there by now." Jason added as he pushed off his tree.

"Better get moving then." Vincent said as he left in another direction.

"Don't remind me." Rachel said with another groan.

Sora just gave a sheepish chuckle but the scenario only got worse when they found Rachel's bike had been totaled.

"This is all YOUR fault." the islander hissed out at Nexius.

Nexius gave a stunned look. "I wasn't even driving, blame this on your curse and not mine."

XxXxXxXxX

The morning sun rolled into the half closed blinds of the Seventh Heaven bar, most of the occupants still asleep while others were still waking up. The sound of running water and the hum of the fridge were the only things heard within the still darkened room.

Leah sat in a booth farthest to the wall as she glanced through the blinds with little interest. It was only seven in the morning and the streets were still somewhat vacant which meant the alleys were not much better.

Ravu yawned as she exited the main hallway, arms up as she stretched. "What a night…slept like a log." Ravu cracked her neck twice before glancing at Leah who had yet to acknowledge her presence. "Girl, did you at least sleep?"

Leah didn't respond and Ravu just took it as a silent 'little'. "Anyone else up?"

"Idiko went to go grab some food before Aerith wakes up. He's been gone for the past hour." Leah replied, Ravu sitting down across from her.

She noticed the red and gold cell phone on the table, the clock on it blinking. "Any news?"

"No."

Ravu frowned. "…I feel it too." Leah glanced over at her friend, sadness evident. "You feel an attachment to all those kids, because, like them and myself, you were orphaned too." Leah gave a sigh as Ravu continued. "You don't want them to think they were abandoned as well."

Leah leaned back into the booth and looked back outside. "No one should have to feel that once…much less twice."

"Much less thrice?" Ravu asked, knowing that feeling just as well.

"Can we talk about something else, please? I was hoping to have a pleasant morning and was hoping you'd wake up at your usual one in the afternoon." Leah said, hand holding her head.

"I have my days, miss-my-morning-starts-at-whenever-I-damn-well-feel-like-it-but-mostly-two-in-the-afternoon." Ravu countered.

Leah smirked playfully before the door was thrown open, nearly throwing it off its hinges. Ravu stood up as the others began to rush downstairs, hoping friends had returned.

"Guys, you've got to-"

"Did you get the food, Idiko?" Maxy asked as she rubbed her eyes and yawned, making her way to the near panicked teen.

"This isn't the time to worry about you're stomach-"

"We can worry about your panic attacks later, give me the damn food." Maxy said, grabbing the brown paper bag and the cup holders as she headed to a table, taking out its contents.

Leah gave Maxy a disappointed look while Ravu sighed. "Go ahead, Iddy. What happened? Did you see our friends and they're hurt?"

Though it was the most likely occurrence, Kairi could not help but get worried and gasp, sleepiness escaping at the mere thought. Idiko was still pale but he shook his head making her calm down at that small amount of good news.

"Worse." Then it all went to dread. "Kadaj's gang is back, in the center of the city. The public and police have them surrounded."

"Then why are you so pale?" Ravu asked.

Idiko gulped. "They're using the kids as a shield as they dig for Jenova's Head."

Hearts skipped a beat, eyes widened, and the sound of a coffee being dropped only added to the amount of shock and unease that came over them. It was bad enough that they were looking for Jenova's Head. They already got a call from Dyaas that it was hidden well. But it was another for them to be using the kids as a shield, making the possibility of an attack dangerous. In addition, it meant their friends failed at saving them.

"…what now?" Kairi weakly asked.

Aerith closed her eyes, hiding the worry for the children and her friends as Tifa gave a grim nod. "We find a way around them and finish what Cloud and the others began." Tifa said.

Fear stricken looks turned into determination still strained by worry, in themselves and in their friends.

Leah glanced out the window again. "Then we better get started."

XxXxXxXxX

That has got to the be the longest fight scene I have ever written. Any tips would be helpful. I've got that motorcycle chase up next on my list.

Read and Review please and see you soon!