Chapter 2 – Familiar Faces, Different Fates
The five members of the group AVALANCHE sat around in an abandoned house listening to the radio for news on their latest work.
"The Mako Reactor 1 of Midgar was bombed earlier this evening," the radio crackled with sound. "Shinra Company has released information that it was a terrorist act meant to strike fear into the law-abiding citizens of Midgar. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the-". The radio was quickly turned off upon confirmation.
"Well done, everyone," said the leader of the motley crew. Hayner and Pence threw each other high-fives while Sora cheered.
"Alright, we're gonna split up and meet back at the Heaven in an hour. Don't dawdle at Wall Market," he looked at Pence and Hayner, "or at Naminé's Church," he looked at Olette. I don't want to worry about you squirts anymore than I have to tonight." He gave them a smirk.
"Yes sir," replied the three teens unenthusiastically before making their way out of the building. The blond-haired man turned to Sora and tousled the younger teen's hair, much to Sora's annoyance.
"I guess you're stuck with me," he said with a grin. "Unless you'd like to get lost."
Sora made a face that made Cloud laugh. "No thanks," he replied. "I think I'll stick with you."
The two then left the building and made their way into a plaza, where pandemonium reigned as people ran past each other in panic.
The only person who didn't seem affected by the panic was a blond-haired girl wearing a grayish white dress carrying a flower basket in one hand and a sketch book in the other. Her calmness and pale complexion was a stark contrast to the smoggy blackness that was Midgar. A man bumped into her and she nearly fell over if it wasn't for the timely arrival of Cloud and Sora.
"Oof," she said. "Oh, thank you." She turned around and bowed in thanks. When she stood back up, Sora goggled at the familiar face with shock.
"Naminé?" he asked. The blond-haired girl looked at him oddly.
"Do I know you?" she asked.
"Uh, no. Sorry, you just looked like someone I knew," he said sheepishly.
"You better head on home," Cloud said. "It isn't safe here."
"Of course," she smiled peacefully. She then pulled out a yellow lily from her basket. "Here, a flower for your trouble."
"It was no trouble," said Sora, a slight frown on his face.
"It was nice to meet you." The blond-haired girl then left the two men to themselves as she made her way back home.
The blond-haired man turned his attention to the younger lad. "You know her from somewhere?"
"You wouldn't believe even if I told you," Sora said.
"Hmm, guess it'll be a long story. Tell me about it sometimes later. Let's just concentrate on getting back to Sector Seven."
"Sector Seven?" Sora asked as he scratched his head.
"It's where my friend's Tifa's restaurant is located," replied Cloud. "You remember where it is, don't you?"
Sora scratched his head and shook his head nervously.
"Hmm," hummed the blond-haired man out loud. "Something must've happened when you fell asleep on that train."
"Tell me about it," grumbled Sora. The pair had walked onto an empty cobblestone street overlooking the train tracks. In the direction they were heading were two Shinra MPs.
"Uh oh," said Sora. The pair turned around to try to look inconspicuous, but it was too late.
"Hey, you two, stop right there!" shouted one of the MPs. The two members of AVALANCHE disregarded the command and began running back the way they came, but in their way were three MPs.
"Halt!" commanded yet another MP.
"This way," said Cloud as they turned to their right down another street. Unfortunately for them, another patrol of MPs stood in their way. The two men soon found themselves cornered on the empty street.
"Oh, give me a break," growled Sora. The ground underneath them began to shake and they could hear a train approaching.
"Well, we'd love to stay and chat," said Cloud with a grin as he neared the edge of the street overlooking the tunnel. Sora grinned as well, following Cloud's lead.
"But we've got a train to catch," he ended for Cloud. Without another moment to spare, the two jumped onto the train and waved farewell to the furious MPs, who were trying to shoot at them as they sped away.
"Hey!" shouted Sora. "That's not very nice!" He then proceeded to blow a raspberry at the blue-uniformed men, even though he was sure that they wouldn't be able to see it.
Cloud laughed heartedly. "Come on. Let's get inside before someone else sees us."
The two men then opened up the hatch door on top of one of the train carts and jumped in, surprising the other AVALANCE members who were also aboard the train.
"Where have you guys been!?" asked Olette incredulously. "We were getting worried!"
The blond-haired man grinned haughtily and sat down on one of the crates within the train car. Sora sat down on the dirty ground in a plop and leaned against the metal wall to relax. He watched as Olette approached him with a handkerchief.
"Kairi forgot to give this to you before you left," she said. "Your face is kind of dirty." She chuckled softly. Sora blushed slightly and scratched the back of his head.
"Oh, thanks," he replied, accepting the handkerchief. He wiped his grimy face and refolded the soft handkerchief, placing it in one of the pockets of his red baggy shorts.
"Let's head back to the passenger cars before someone on the train decides to check up on the cargo cars," suggested Pence. "I heard the conductors have been really edgy since the breaking news report."
"Yeah, we don't want to get caught, would we now?" said Hayner with a grin. He then made his way through the boxes and opened the sliding door that led to the passenger car. He looked into the window at the occupants of the car to search for any Shinra conductors.
"The coast is clear," he said as he waved at them. The group of miscreants then made their way into the almost empty passenger car and sat down. Pence had made his way to a computer console at the opposite end of the car and had started tinkering with it. Olette stood next to him, watching him work on the console then looked up at Sora.
"Sora, come look at this," she said. The Keyblade master made his way over to the two AVALANCHE members. He looked upon the black computer screen and saw a series of dots and lines that resembled a three dimensional blueprint of some sort.
"What's this?" he asked, looking upon the screen with confusion.
"It's the structural blueprint of Midgar," answered Pence. "See the blue flashing dot? That's us traveling on the railways that lead to the station at Sector Eight."
"And we just came from here," said Olette as she pointed at a green looking structure towards the top of the screen. "And these," she pointed at various red flashing dots on the screen, "are security check points Shinra had installed to catch criminals like us," she whispered with a grin.
"Speaking of which," said Cloud as red light flashed through the train car. An alarm siren shrilled as the train passed by the security checkpoint. After some ten seconds, the light stopped flashing and the alarm fell silent.
"Man, I can't wait to get back to the Heaven," said Hayner as he threw his dirty-blond haired head back, slumping on the seat. "I'm starving!"
"I thought that was Pence's line," replied Olette with a giggle.
"Hey, I resent that!" said the chubby teen with a huff. Sora could only grin at the scene.
Soon, the train slowed to a stop at Sector Eight station.
"Last stop of the night," the conductor shouted over the loudspeaker. "This is the last stop of the night, Sector Eight station."
"C'mon," said Cloud as they stepped off of the train. Sora looked about him at the decrepit platform and saw a few wives and friends greeting their loved ones happily with hugs and kisses. Yet, despite the heartwarming scenes, he noticed a severe lack of people out at the time of day. Undoubtedly it was because of the time of the day; after all, it had been night when they started their mission.
The group slowly made their way through the slums to Sector Seven. Sora was disheartened at the sight of the rundown buildings made of metal sheets without proper windows and doors. The only building that was even remotely decent was a rather lively place with a neon sign over the swinging doors that said "Seventh Heaven". Faint music, chatter, and laughter could be heard from the bar, but that was not meant to last for long.
Sora made his way toward the makeshift headquarters of AVALANCHE and watched as Hayner, Pence, and Olette quickly ran into the bar. Cloud entered through the swinging doors shortly after and soon after that, a throng of drunken men and women exited the bar cheerfully. In a blinded window, Sora could see a red-haired girl turning the sign from open to closed.
The brown-haired boy entered the small homey bar and saw Cloud conversing with a black-haired woman wearing a white tank top and a pair of black shorts. Her left foot was in a cast and was propped up on a small wooden stool next to the only dining table in the room. The three other teens who were at the mission were already helping themselves to the meager food that had been laid out on the dining table. The red-haired girl that he had seen earlier was behind the bar drying a shot glass.
"Sora!" she exclaimed upon seeing him. She was about to put down her work when the black-haired woman shook her head.
"Kairi, finish the cleaning. Then spend time with your boyfriend," she teased.
Kairi blushed a deep crimson red and sputtered, "He-he's not my boyfriend!"
Tifa grinned mischievously while Cloud snorted humorously. Sora's own face was slightly tinted with red. The fragile flower was left forgotten in his hand as he tried to hide his embarrassment.
"How was the mission?" asked Tifa quietly.
"It went well," replied Cloud, equally quietly.
"We saw on the news," said Kairi as she finished wiping down the countertop. "Shinra's making a statement in half an hour."
"Good," replied the blond-haired man. "I'll be downstairs."
"I'll go with you," said Tifa as she hesitantly stood up, only to stumble into Cloud's arms when her sprained foot couldn't hold the weight. Both Olette and Kairi giggled softly as their surrogate older sister blushed with embarrassment.
"Don't strain yourself, Tifa," said Cloud.
"Sorry," she replied softly. The blond-haired man then helped Tifa over to a metal platform and the makeshift elevator carried them down to the basement. Hayner, Pence, and Olette finished their meals shortly after and leaped down into the basement to join Cloud and Tifa. Sora had no doubt that it was for the next mission.
The squeak of a faucet turning off caught Sora's attention and he looked back upon the red-haired girl that seemed so familiar yet so unknown to him. She stepped from behind the counter and smiled at him. The brown-haired teen noted for the first time that she wore a white tank top bordered with lavender complemented with a lavender miniskirt. The entire outfit was completed with a purple choker, a pair of purple armbands, and a pair of yellow wristbands. He reddened upon realization that he was staring at the girl.
Kairi giggled softly at her friend's behavior and gasped when she saw a yellow flower in Sora's hand.
"Sora, is that a flower?" she asked hesitantly.
"Huh?" the boy replied lamely and then looked down at the forgotten flower. "Oh! Yes, it's a flower." He scratched the back of his head with his free hand nervously and held the flower out to Kairi.
Sora nodded with a smile and watched as Kairi's gentle hands took the fragile flower from him. She smiled happily back at him and his smile only grew wider.
"Thank you, Sora."
"You're welcome, Kairi." An awkward silence fell over the two as Sora watched Kairi look at the flower.
"You better get downstairs," Kairi said softly.
"A-ah…" replied Sora. Without another word, the brown-haired teen jumped down into the basement, leaving Kairi to her thoughts.
Disclaimer: Both Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts do not belong to me. If I did… well, this wouldn't be a fanfic then would it? Haha.