Chapter 9 – Then I Cried, Now I Roar

Two days had passed by, and Tiffa was finally feeling relaxed. She was the only human in the house as of now, and Cait Sith was curled up near the fireplace in the sitting aria. "It's good to finally be home." she said as she sat by herself. From the backyard, she heard a scratch and a yip, Red XIII wanted back in. "Alright, alright, I'm coming." she called out as she lifted herself from the chair. The moment she opened the back door, the active little pup zipped on through the door with a loud, "Thank you!" Tiffa could almost hear the pots and pans that would have sounded from a cartoon when he turned the corner. What she did hear was the sound of a cat meowing at the end. "Red XIII, I was trying to take a nap!" Cait Sith called out. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" the little fox shouted as he was chased back into her view by the cat. Tiffa placed her hand to her mouth and chuckled a little, "Don't kill him Cait Sith, he's just a cub." she called out, and Cait Sith calmly walked into the room seconds later with a scowl on his face, "Well that cub needs to calm down somehow." he said and lifted himself onto his back paws. Mako seemed to just pour out of him as it circled him in a mist, changing his body into an upright figure, causing a red cape to appear around his neck and a crown to appear on his head. White cloves covered his paws as the toes stretched into fingers and a pair of brown boots seemed to just move out of the fur on his hind legs. His eyes closed themselves into an upwards arch, and he seemed to grow just slightly to be about as high as her knees. "That kid is driving me up a wall." he told her. "Well what am I supposed to do about that?" she asked, crossing her arms in a huff. "Take him on a walk or something, I don't care just get him out of my fur." Cait Sith said angrily, and turned to stomp out of the door. Tiffa puffed out her cheeks, and lowered her voice to an angry whisper, "Well you're no help." she said and turned to find Red XIII peeking his head around the corner with his ears pinned against his head. She thought he looked so cute, so she sighed and picked up the fox cub, "I guess it's time for a walk." she said. "Do I really have to wear that itchy collar?" he asked.

Most fox's were color blind, thanks to the Mako, Red XIII was not. He hated the collar that Tiffa had picked out for him, he knew the bright blue collar clashed terribly with his red fur, and he was pretty sure some of the local dogs and cats laughed at him for it. "I know you hate the collar Red XIII, but like I said before, it was the last one they had in your size." Tiffa told him, nearly reading his thoughts. "Then go back and get a new one!" he said, "A red or black one." "Not a chance, not until this one wears out or gets too small for you." Tiffa responded. "Why are you so stingy?" he asked. "Cause I can't just hop on down to the store and get you everything you want. Remember when you scared the clerk by asking if you could by everything?" Tiffa asked. "She got used to me." Red XIII argued. "Yah, after a week of freaking out." Tiffa countered, "I had to bring you to her every day until she calmed down." "Now she likes me though, it all worked out." Red XIII said in his defense. Tiffa sighed loudly, and knelt down to unhook his leash from his collar. "Leave it on." she ordered, and left to go sit down on a nearby bench. Red XIII finally realized where he was, a nearby park where everyone knew about his vocal abilities. He perked up considerably and dashed into the playground, where his friends, little children, were playing. Almost an hour passed by as he played with the children, their parents comfortable with him around as they too have gotten to know of him, almost all of them. One in particular seemed stand-off-ish, and none of her friends recognized him. He wore black shades and a black button up suit. His black hair slicked back into a tail with only a single lock of bangs hanging out in front. He just simply stood there, watching. "Red, Time to go!" Tiffa called out, and stood up from the bench. The little fox bounced out of the play fort in the middle of the grounds, and ran up to her, turning his head to shout, "See you guys later!" to the children that waved goodbye to him. Just as he reached Tiffa, a loud howl could be heard, the sound was not like any animal any of them had heard before. So when a pack of three black dog-like creature with metallic spines poking out from their backs and tails, everyone panicked, except the new guy. The dogs sniffed around a little, before turning right to Tiffa and Red XIII. "Oh snap!" he said and let the Mako swirl around him, causing him to grow and change into his larger self with the scared eye. Suddenly the man they didn't recognize reached behind himself, and pulled out a gun, firing a Red Mako dart into Red XIII shoulder. The now large pup, winced a bit and used his teeth to remove the dart completely. "Target has been hit, let the dogs have him." the mysterious man sad into his wrist, and turned to walk away. Tiffa instantly Mako Shifted, and lifted her fists into up to her chin as the creatures began to charge at them. "Run!" she screamed as she drop kicked one in the head, and jabbed another. Red XIII instead stayed put and bit the third in the neck before throwing it away. "I said RUN." she yelled again, "Find a Mako Pool, and absorb it, just get going!" "Bu…" he tried to argue, but was quickly interrupted, "I'll watch your back, just get moving and don't die on me, ok?" Tiffa nearly growled. Red hesitated as the two she knocked down began to get back up, but eventually nodded and turned to run. The man then began to run after him, only to catch Tiffa's powerful punch to his jaw, "Not my puppy you're not!" she said and threw another punch. The man continued to dodge each one of them, with no time to actually counter attack.

Red ran throughout the streets, weaving in and out of alley ways and leaping over back walls, trying to find what he was looking for, and evading the three dogs that just kept chasing him. He didn't realize however that he was shrinking, his size just melting away as he ran. He came face to face with a large fence, one he decided to try to jump over. He was shocked when he only made it half way and slammed right into the metallic links, before hitting his side against the ground. He stood up without a complaint, and shook off his pain, 'What the…' he thought to himself and glanced at the fence angrily. He wanted to say, "Stupid fence." but it came out as little high pitched barks and a little growl. He stopped in surprise as he realized the extent of Red Mako. He could no longer talk. 'I've got to get to a Mako Pool and fast.' he told himself, happy that at least his mind was still there. "Aw, don't you look just precious?" he heard from above him. When the pup looked up, he found the red clothed Genesis crouched like a ninja on the fence. Genesis then jumped down, grabbed Red XIII under the belly, and leapt over the fence. "We should get you to a Mako Pool quickly, wouldn't want someone as cute as you just dying on me." Red looked up cautiously to Genesis, "And this collar defiantly brings out your eyes." the man said, and Red narrowed his eyes. Suddenly they both heard growls from in front of them, Genesis looked up with a smile, "I thought I smelt something bad." he said and jumped into the air, making his way towards a large curved wall and fence. Genesis set the pup down gently, and extended his sword out in front of him, "Tzang! Good to see you.!" he said as he turned the tip to a dark shadowy alley, "What's MH3's interest in this pup?" Red XIII remembered the man that emerged as the strange man that shot him with the dart, as well as the man that fought against Tiffa trying to capture him. "You know that's classified Genesis." Tzang responded and pulled put a jet black hand gun that he pointed at the red clad man. Red XIII backed away slowly, ducking behind the man and sneaking under the gate of the Mako Pool's fence. Believing he was home free, he darted for the pool of green liquid, only to be tackled and bitten by one of the large dogs that had been chasing him before. Shaking him wildly, the dog then let go and tossed him away from the liquid. Red XIII landed hard against the concrete, stunned only momentarily, he lifted himself from the ground and was attacked again. Grabbed by the tail and swung in wide circles, the pup was thrown against the fence, and landed again on the ground. 'Ugh, gotta…get to the Mako.' he thought to himself, and was rammed in the side by a third dog. By now, Red XIII was bleeding, not only on his back but also from his lips and side. One of his paws hurt as if it were broken, and he could barely open one of his eyes. 'They're purposefully keeping me away.' he thought, and alerted himself to one of the dogs getting ready to lunge at him. He tried to duck to the left, and was quickly stopped when his collar got snagged on one of the curved spikes. The sharp edge sliced through it easily, but it still slowed him down, and he was easily tackled by another one of the dog creatures. He tumbled to the side, skidding across the ground and leaving a small trail of his own blood as he came to a halt.

He could feel his heart as it beat within his chest, the speed and power of each thump was so much more than he remembered ever feeling before. Again he stood up, and jumped backward just in time to dodge another tackle from one of the monsters, his cheek sliced open when it came into contact with the blade. As soon as the dog was past him, he darted forward again, not caring that the animal slid at all, and booked it as fast as he could towards the Mako Pool. His ears twitched at the sound of a growl, and he stopped dead in his tracks and curled into a ball as the second one sailed over him. He quickly rolled to the side as the jaws of the third came down, trying to grab him by the back again, and he spun around, slamming his long nails into the eye of his attacker. The dog then howled in pain as Red then turned and ran the rest of the way toward the Pool. He thought he could make it; he was almost there when again one of the creatures slammed their head into his side. Again, inches away, he slid to a stop, blood trailing him the whole way. Red XIII then turned his one open eyes to the sky, looking up at the moon and the stars, 'It's been a long time.' he thought to himself, 'Mom, Dad? Are you proud of me?' and allowed his eye to close completely.

The three dogs stalked up to him, sniffing and poking him with their noses. When he didn't move the one sniffed him again, and nodded to the others. They turned around, walking away from the scene and made their way to where Genesis and Tzang were still fighting. Tzang turned his head as he fired his gun, each of his bullets easily deflected by Genesis' sword. "I win." he said with a smile, "Looks like the Red Mako is ready for production after all." As soon as the bullets stopped coming, Genesis lowered his sword, and smiled at the man, "You government stooges only know how to see with your eyes." he said, "But if you want proof, just watch." and turned to the fallen pup.

'Mom?' Red XIII asked inside his own head. Suddenly he could feel the warmth of light surround him and a man's smooth suave voice speak out to him, "I've always been proud of you my pup, but are you proud of yourself?" the familiar voice asked. 'Dad?' he asked. When the voice remained silent, he continued, 'I…no, not like this.' he said, 'I want to see my friends, Cloud, Barret, and Tiffa…' suddenly a vision of Tiffa ran through his head, how she picked him up and threw him in the air just so she could catch him, the times she played hide and seek with him, and all the times she let him snooze on her lap when she could have easily let Cait Sith do so. 'Tiffa will be sad.' he said and a single tear fell from his eye. "Don't let her be sad, go to her, and live some more." the voice said and Red slowly opened his eye. Struggling, he lifted himself to his three good feet. Tzang watched in awe as the little pup fought off death a second and much more desperate time. The tree dogs stopped and turned around slowly, seeing the small fox puppy standing on three legs as he slowly made his way to his only salvation. "Way to go kid." Genesis said, his pride swelling up. "Damnit!" the Tzang said and lifted his gun

Red XIII stopped at the edge of the Mako Pool, and looked down, 'Here goes.' the pup told himself, and just tipped into the green liquid, just as a single shot ricocheted off of the concrete right where he stood. With week kicks, he swam to the middle of the pool, feeling the liquid seep into his wounds as he went. The level of the Mako sank quickly as he swam, somehow staying behind him the whole time. Red found his strength return to him, his one damaged leg quickly fix itself so that he could use it to swim, his eye now healed so that he could open it, and his sides stopped hurting. He picked up speed, paddling to the center of the pool, the Mako speeding up as the Mako absorbed into him. He found his paws touch the floor of the pool as he neared the center, so he walked the rest of the way. The Mako stopped its decent about at about the top of his paws. The howl of the three dogs tore him away from his revere, and he turned to see them as they jumped over the edge of the dry Mako Pool, and he quickly scowled. The Mako that surrounded him changed him, turning himself back into the large cat with a flaming tail, "I'm back, and I'm better than ever." he said, and howled to the sky himself. The three dogs stopped in fear as the area around them went black, and a red ball of fire seemed to gather in front of the howling creature, right before he lowered his head and opened his mouth. The ball of flames burst into a beam of energy as the three of them were caught on the blast. The attack also dug its way through the concrete of the pool, traveling almost half a mile before it dissipated. Tzang lowered his gun in a frightened awe, and Genesis turned from the scene, "You see Tzang, you may have laid a trap, making a deal with the Mako Pool guards and using your dogs, but that pup's spirit just proved how much stronger courage is that your cowardice." he said, "You lost." With those last words, he jumped into the air, disappearing again over the tops of the buildings. "RED!" Tzang heard the sound of Tiffa's voice call out, "RED XIII, WERE ARE YOU?!" he slipped into the shadows just as the fox pup jumped out of the Mako Pool fence with his ripped collar in his mouth. He stopped and turned his head to the man and growled, "RED XIII, PLEASE ANSWER ME!" Tiffa called out. Red turned his head to look to where her voice came from, and glanced back at the man in the shadows. The look he gave Tzang told him that he was lucky Tiffa was still calling for him, and the cub turned around to run off.

Tiffa had been wandering around the thickest part of town for a while. Worried and anxious, she put her hands to her mouth to call out again, "RED, PLEASE!" Tiffa called out with tears in her eyes, "Don't be hurt." she finished as she lowered her voice. "I'm not." she heard from next to her, and she jumped t the familiar voice. There at her feet with his ripped collar, sat Red XIII, his tail curled around him as much as the bushy thing could, and his ears down on top of his head. "RED!" she finally said happily, and reached down to pick him up and hug him. "You're ok, you're ok!" she cried. "I'm sorry." he said and did his best to hug her back, "I didn't mean to make you worry." "It's ok," she said, her tears streaming down her cheeks, "I'm just glad you're alive." Red turned and jumped out of her arms, back down to the ground, and picked up his collar, placing it at her feet, "I tore my collar." he said in shame. "Well, I'll just have to get you a new one." she said, and picked him up again. She started walking in the direction of the park so that she could get her bearings again, "Can you get me one just like my old one?" he asked. Tiffa looked to him, as he placed his head against her shoulder, and promptly fell asleep. She didn't know what had changed his mind; she would have asked too if he hadn't fallen asleep.

In the white world, the real Red XIII, the one named Nanaki, stood looking down at his at the pup with a smile on his face, "So what made you decide to intervene?" he heard Cloud's voice ask. The blond man with spiky hair walked up to him, stopping when he was next to the large beast, "He reminds me of my own children." Nanaki said as he smiled. The large cat turned his head away from the warrior, spying a pair of little creatures just like him, playing with the girl in pink, "I just had to let him know, his parents were always proud of him." he said. Cloud chuckled a little, "Yah," he said, "I guess these replacements, are kinda like our children. We just can't help but be proud of them." With that, Cloud stood back up and walked away, moving towards the woman in pink. Nanaki smiled gently, as he watched the two of them talk, the warrior was right, Nanaki did feel like the new Red XIII's father in a way, and he couldn't help but feel a father's pride in the little fox cub.