Yes, I'm still alive. Ish. XD My apologies for the delays.

This chapter is definitely one of the rated M ones, for lots of violence-y stuff.


Songs for Inspiration:

Session by Linkin Park

Reclusion by Anberlin


Nasty Midgar dirt covers my entire body, and it's not just from my earlier charming desert stroll, either. Add to that a good old mix of screaming people, roaring engines, and explosives beginning to rain down on the city, along with good old panic. And a certain creepy, already ticked-off gunslinger suddenly losing his marbles, destroying random shit in sight, including innocent civilians.

What a great way to start the morning.

That is, if I had gotten any real sleep to begin with.

Oh, you want me to back up? Hah, well let's rewind...

***A few minutes ago***

Once Valentine had completed his rather dry telephone communication session, he only vaguely spared me a glance over his shoulder before beginning the trek back through the desert towards the dusty sillouette of the heavily polluted city before us. I would have complained aloud at the unfairness of walking in my current exhausted and emotionally frenzied state, but for three things. One, our previous disagreement did not highly encourage me to provoke worse from the turbulent man than the sore arm I already possessed. Two, he was moving at such a quick pace that I doubt he would have even pretended to notice hearing me voice said protests.

Third, I saw something gold glimmer in his eyes for a moment, and felt a mental connection-type cringe.

So I ran after his long-legged gait as fast as I could.

Though, of course, I couldn't help but hiss a few lovely and very friendly words through gritted teeth (note the sarcasm) as various healing deep bruises that once were small wounds protested.

Wait woah! That's kinda cool!

I paused mid-jog, breathing a quiet chuckle as I admired the human body's ability to heal set in fast forward. I once had a teacher who, although her sanity may have been largely questionable, did have her heart in the right place and gave us all a piece of advice I've stuck to embracing all these years: "No matter what catastrophes or bad times might hit you, just focus on the one positive thing around you, and your heart can carry on. Focusing on the negative won't help you out any, so why bother?"

Hm. Well, it was kinda fascinating to my inner science geek to note my arm's progress, so I turned it over, back and forth, a small grin forming on my dirt-covered face, wondering even why I hadn't really looked before.

It took me a moment to register that Mr. Red-Caped-Grouch was staring back at me, an eyebrow raised, having not heard my footsteps following faithfully behind.

I dropped my arm quickly, and ducked my head down with my shoulders in a blush as though afraid of being caught doing something stupid.

This time, he waited for me to pass by him, which set me more than on edge, afraid of being mowed over by his quick pace.

For the rest of the trek back, though, things continued quite uneventfully, minus my appalled groan at how it was growing more and more daylight. Until we had reached about fifteen minutes worth into the city, at least.

A dull, low whirring in the distance.

I ignored it, merely taking in the dull gray buildings around me that I had failed to notice when I left originally, and wondering how anyone could tell where on Earth - oh, sorry, is it Gaia? that they were going without getting lost, since everything looked the same - dull ...and gray...but then Vincent's almost inaudible footsteps paused. I glanced behind me to see his brow knit in concentration, looking up, morning breeze blowing his long dark tresses and cape around elegantly...

Ah crap, why do I still have such a thing for the hottie who looked like he'd kill me this morning?

"Get down!"

I made an intelligent, questioning grunt, but was soon tackled sideways into the darker alley by a heavy object.

Not twenty meters from where we had stood seconds before, there was a flash of blinding light, and a thunderous, painful roar in my ears, causing me to shriek and clap my hands over my ears.

"Stay put here, and don't move unless I tell you," the deep voice was alot closer sounding than before - ah, so he was the heavy object that smashed into me - the metal crate here would have been much more painful.

A shrill whistle drowned out my response, before the earth rumbled and shook violently beneath my rear -

The low whirring had grown much louder, and the previously still morning was now quite suddenly buzzing with the fearful cries and shouts of hundreds of people pouring out of buildings - it was getting hard to hear myself shout.

"ARE YOU CRAZY?"

But as swiftly as Valentine had knocked me out of harm's way, he'd disappeared.

Of course.

Although my mind was screaming at me, Run, run you idiot! when the next round of exploding whistlers was fired down I immediately ducked under the metal crate, feeling every shot's impact upon the tremulous, angry ground.

Luckily for my unquenchable curiousity (and that undeniable need to breathe) there was a small hinged flap on one side I could use as a peephole.

****

As soon as the gunslinger had decided the odd girl was in a relatively safer location, he sprung into action, swiftly dodging the helicopter fire whenever it ventured too close, and fired a few rounds of Cerberus in defense at the hovering aircraft.

It appeared that there were multiple Shinra-marked aircrafts, searching for someone or...something, perhaps an escaped specimen, from the amount of show the government was putting on at the moment. They also did not seem very perturbed about killing a few screaming and panicked civilians in their hunt.

Hn.

Although he did not particularly care for the fate of this woman, his hatred for the idea of any creature being subjugated under Shinra's immoral medical professionals was enough to encourage the gunslinger to stop them.

Vincent quickly ran along the pavement towards the nearest building, sidestepping a few close call shots - (hmph, it appeared as though they might have switched targets now. So be it.) and used the inertia to propel up the side of it and into the air with a backflip, sending a few well-aimed rounds at the cockpits of the two nearest vessels, before landing with ease in a bent-kneed squat.

-Bang-

One lucky shot from another pilot somehow struck the ever alert man in the back, knocking him a good distance before a wall got in the way, eliciting a groan from the gunslinger, who crumpled into fetal position. Although a normal human would certainly be dead or on the way in minutes, the enhancements from Hojo's work certainly had their benefits, and the less than holy blood in his veins surely would keep him alive, although the pain was certainly difficult to bear.

Vincent felt the Ancient one Chaos forcefully try to take over, and winced at the addition of demonic-inflicted pain in chest and headache from pushing mentally back, stumbling to his feet with determination, although there was a slight twinge of confusion as to why the rain of fire had not pursued him further-

Then the woman called Jennifer screamed.

Shit.

Again his most powerful demon snarled and seemed to twist from his insides, his breath was staggering, and his vision was beginning to grow hazy -

As a last resort, sensing another demonic presence stir, Vincent shifted the control over to whatever was the lesser of two evils, hoping it would be the slightly more humane lycanthrope Galian Beast, and succumbed to the darkness.

****

When the giant echoes of destruction had started to grow a bit relatively quieter, I knew that they had gone past my alley hiding place and were cruising another area. What WAS all of that about? It couldn't be me, right? I'm not that scary or much of a threat....or at least, that's what I wanted to hope.

I bit my lip and thunked my head against the side of the metal crate repeatedly, vaguely registering that the masses of bodies that had been rushing by in delirious hysteria had increased as the bombs did. Odd. I would have thought most idiots would have cleared out by now.

...Then again, I'm here.

What the hell AM I doing here still?

Right, Valentine told me to, and he's probably leading the air turrets away from the populace.

.....

-Boomboomboomboomboom-

.....

-Kaboombaboomboom-

.....

Out of an old habit, I started biting my nails. It's utterly frightening to know that at any moment your life could just end, but that you won't know if or when it will happen.

I considered for just a moment the notion of using demonic protection, then shuddered and immediately shoved the idea far into the back of my head. I did not want to be responsible for the deaths of the innocent people rushing around on the mainstreet. A vivid image flashed in my mind quite suddenly of human bodies shredded just like the chocobos this morning...

I think I'm gonna be sick...

-KaBoomBOOMBOOM-

I screamed as a round shot just a little too close to the alley and knocked me and my metal box protection flying.

OHMYGODOHMYGOD

Just run, just run, find 7th Heaven, ignore the fact that they are freaking COPTERS and -

I barely noticed my usual lack of agility had been much improved, and almost attributed it to just adrenaline in my panic. The sudden ceasefire was what caught me off guard. I checked a glance over my shoulder only to gape stupidly in fear.

There was a red streaming aura around Vincent's almost lifeless-looking body on the ground across the street.

Even though I'd seen it in the Dirge of Cerberus cutscenes many times before, it was completely different to view it firsthand. Not as in the "ooh cool" way, but the "Woah, woah, what the hell is that, cold terror prickling your spine" way.

In moments, a taller figure appeared, still wearing a shredded remainder of the former being's cape, but now possessing a deathly mask, with slits for glowing red eyes, (not just the irises) to peer through, and shrieked an evil scream-cackle, revving up a chainsaw longer than the arm holding it.

At that, my mouth finally let out a scream.

Half-slitted ruby irises glanced in my direction, then it noticed all of the other human flesh nearby that had frozen in terror.

Fire opened again from above, as though the helicopters wanted to restate that their presence should be held in more fear than the zombie-pyscho-horror that was greedily slicing apart at the nearest individuals, especially leaping at bold men wearing suits yielding guns or electro sticks to dice off their limbs.

Civilians were getting caught in crossfire, and now I really really wanted to hide under that metal crate again.

By some chance of fate, I happened to come across Vincent's abandoned cell phone lying on the ground, twenty feet from my current hiding place.

Flipping it open with cold and trembling hands, I searched down the contacts list and was able to contact Cloud for backup/HELP. Never had I been so relieved to hear that guy's voice.

Just when I blabbed that I knew that Vincent's particular demon was called "Hellmasker", I noticed that the helicopters had all but vanished in the past few minutes, as though they had given up a lost cause? No, probably going for backup against the unexpected fiend. There were still a good twenty Turks about on the ground. I was about to relay this message in a nervous tremor of sorts, when a blade was pressed against my throat, and a hand reached from behind me to press "End" on the cell phone.

"Sorry miss, but this migh' be my on'y chance outta 'ere alive," a nasty breath from a high male voice said into my ear.

Slowly he scuffle-dragged me, blade still at the neck, a bit closer towards the being that used to be Vincent.

I squirmed a little with a squeak when I realized his plan, but the knife just was pushed a bit more against my throat in retaliation.

I felt tears running down my face - I had a terrifying phobia of sharp objects, but that chainsaw by far was the most ungodly and horrifying sharp THING i had seen in my life. Walking around mangled, red-leaking flesh didn't really help. I swallowed and refused to look down at the gruesome ground.

"'Ey you!" the gross guy behind me hollered over Hellmasker's devilish cackles - it was hunched over, currently making fillet out of one of the Suit Killers, but turned to look over it's shoulder at the shout.

"D-don't move, or Ah'll cut 'er open! Ya hear, da gal's a hostage! S-stop! D-don't come any closer!"

+Vhwhiiirrrrrrrrrrrrr+

Hellmasker had risen to full height, making odd noises I deemed chuckles, and slowly stalked closer the entire time the guy spoke. I would have felt sorry for him, if he hadn't used me as the bait, and for the fact that I had to be between them.

At the last second, the Turk had decided to use the throwing knife on the opponent, and not waste the energy on the obviously not important enough human sacrifice, but to no avail. He and I both realized the same thing too late - that was armor on his upper torso, and the bullets hadn't even pierced it. The fancy throwing knife hadn't had a chance.

There was a sickening crunch mid-whirr as the man's bones were cracked apart by the blood-covered chainsaw - although I was currently more afraid for my own life, I still hoped the creep was dead before the bones were shredded. A hand went flying over my head, detached from it's body, the major artery spitting unneeded life source on my skin as it passed. I didn't care anymore, as long as I didn't end up like that-

CRAPDEADEND

My eyes wildly darted about for an exit route before I came to the conclusion that there was none, and that I was trapped in an alley with a gleaming, blood-hungry demon blocking the entrance.

I slid into a sitting position weakly, hugging my knees, and quickly made frantic prayers, just to cover myself.

Closer, with the right arm hanging loosely and the left upraised, weapon at ready.

Definitely not the red eyes I was hoping to look into.

There's a stress pang triggered in my chest, and I instantly realize it was a natural one, not Chaos. I panic and start to plead that Chaos will do something, but there's no answer, as though I'm merely talking to myself so I try out loud-

"CHAOS DAMMIT HELP ME!"

Again emptiness inside - but now the chainsaw has stopped whirring, and the demon lowers it to his side, staring down at me. If the creature could have facial expressions, I'm not sure what it would be right now, but I'm willing to bet confusion.

-shthuck-

A long piece of sharp metal suddenly appears from the middle of his chest, causing me to scream again (not that this an unusual occurrence today) and the being to stare stupidly down at its abdomen, before falling face first to the ground, not an arm's breadth away from my wide eyed, trembling body.

I stared at the body for a full ten seconds or so in dumb shock, partly making sure that it was not going to move, before drifting my eyes slowly upward to see the tired form of the blond haired once self-claimed ex-soldier standing there.

His Mako blue eyes seemed to glow in the dark of the alley, and even though I had always joked with my friends that I thought Cloud was a do-do brain and annoying, I certainly found him to be the most wonderful thing to look at in this moment. Damn, Tifa was lucky. But blonde is still definitely not my type, sadly.

"Jennifer, can you hear me?"

"...whut?"

"You've been in a state of shock, the others should be able to carry you home in a bit - Tifa and I took care of the rest of those Turks, she's healing some civilians right now. I'm going to take Vincent back on Fenrir."

Dumbly, and with a twinge of guilt at having momentarily forgotten that the thing that had attacked me used to be Vincent, I managed, "He's...not dead....right?"

Cloud shook his blonde spikes, appearing disgusted with himself, and slowly bent down to carefully remove his sword from Hellmasker's apparently not-so-impenetrable chest armor.

A dull red glow after the weapon was removed, and the form seemed to shrink down to size, and became that of an unconscious gunslinger, with yet another rip in the already-shredded cape now added.

I stared for the longest time at the man in front of me, then timidly walked around his body over to the swordsman, before bursting into sobs and hugging Cloud tightly.

I felt a tap on my shoulder, and looked face-to-face with a forlorn Yuffie.

"Is it...true? The Turks did this?" She whispered with fear, looking between me, Cloud delicately lifting up the broken body of Vincent, and the mess of holes in the city littered with bodies.

I nodded weakly, and remembered vaguely that there had been an "almost relationship" between her and a certain red-haired guyfriend.

Her face immediately scrunched up, I was unsure if she was about to yell her head off, but instead she grabbed me in a much needed relief hug, and we both attempted to comfort each other, tears running for different reasons.

Over her shoulder, I noticed Cloud looked like he had wanted to scold Yuffie originally for showing up, but changed his mind in resignation.

After a bit of time had passed, (I'm not entirely sure how long - I believe we both started to doze from lack of sleep and exhaustion,) Tifa gently rubbed my shoulder to wake me up, and we silently walked back as a small group to the bar, which apparently was only a few blocks away, after all of that.

Somehow, we got upstairs, and I was led to some bed to fall asleep in, and I think Marlene might have given me a drink before I completely fell asleep, but I'm not sure.

All I know is, for once, I slept.


A/N: So next time will be at least either Amelia or Shannon, but I'm probably gonna have both of em in the next chapter. :D And I'm starting second semester in less than a week, yay! XD

It would be awesome if people left reviews, I know I dont update often but they are all read and very appreciated. :)