"Yo!" exclaimed Barret somewhat cheerfully. "This your first time in a reactor?"
"No. After all, I did work for Shinra, y'know."
Barret pointed towards the depth of the reactor which was glowing an eerie green colour.
"The planet's full of Mako Energy," he said. "People here use it every day. It's the life source of the planet. But Shinra keeps suckin' the blood out with these machines."
"I'm not here for a lecture," said Cloud impatiently. "Let's just hurry."
"That's it!" huffs Barret. "You're comin' with me from now on!"
The two unlikely comrades travelled through the reactor. Cloud was undeterred by how vast the reactor was but Barret seemed to be mesmerised by the pools of green liquid that lay at its depths. Cloud didn't understand how people could get transfixed over such things, especially in the middle of a mission. In Cloud's mind, it was best to just focus on the job you were supposed to be doing.
Cloud and Barret met Jessie and the scrawny guy deeper inside the reactor, standing next to a locked door. They appeared smug.
"Biggs and I got the code for this door," she said.
Biggs grinned and then started jamming the number pad with his fingers.
The team headed through the unlocked door and into another corridor. Cloud sighed at the sight of another locked door, but he knew all along that it wasn't going to be easy. He just hoped the geeks in the party knew how to unlock this door too.
"Think how many of our people risked their lives, just for this code…" said Biggs egotistically. Cloud was indifferent to him before. Now, it was plain dislike. He was very annoying.
"Code deciphered," said Jessie.
Cloud, Barret and Jessie continued on into the bowels of the reactor, while Biggs stayed at the door to keep guard. Cloud was quite thankful for it. They eventually came to an elevator and stepped inside.
"Push that button over there!" said Jessie, pointing to a shiny button on the far wall.
Cloud pushed the button and the elevator whirred into life.
"Little by little the reactors'll drain out all the life. And that'll be that," said Barret with a hint of disgust rising into his throat.
"It's not my problem" replied Cloud coldly.
"The planet's dyin', Cloud!"
Not caring about Barret's feelings or the welfare of the planet, Cloud replied, "The only thing I care about is finishin' this job before security and the Roboguards come."
Barret looked at Cloud, his dark eyes full of anger. He grimaced, turned away, and shook. Cloud wondered what his damn problem was. Whatever it was, he certainly wasn't going to try and make amends. He came here to do a job, and that was what he was going to do.
The elevator came to a sudden stop and everyone got out. Jessie stayed by the elevator to make sure no one else tried to use it, while Cloud and Barret entered the deepest part of the reactor, the core.
"When we blow this place, this ain't gonna be nothin' more than a hunka junk," said Barret. He looked at Cloud and said, "Cloud, you set the bomb."
"Shouldn't you do it?"
"Jus' do it! I gotta watch to make sure you don't pull nothin'."
"Fine, be my guest."
Cloud walked towards the bomb when he suddenly felt very faint. He gripped his head with his hands as an eerie voice drifted through his ears.
"Watch out! This isn't just a reactor!" it shouted.
"…What's wrong?" asked Barret.
"What's wrong, Cloud? Hurry it up!" Barret boomed.
"Yeah, sorry," Cloud replied, unsure as to what had just happened.
Cloud walked to the end of the walkway and looked at the bomb. It was a tricky mechanism for a newbie, but would be a piece of cake for someone like him. He had done things like this many times before, but not as a terrorist. However, he felt no different now than when he was in SOLDIER. He crossed wires and pushed buttons. The bomb had been set. An alarm began to sound and red lights flashed all around them.
"Heads up, here they come!" yelled Barret as he threw his gun arm into the air and adopted a fighting stance.
Cloud whirled around when he heard a huge thunderous roar from behind him. Heading towards them was a huge metal scorpion. The creature was copper coloured and about five times the size of Barret. Its tail rose into the air and shook and then it advanced; it scuttled down the walkway at breakneck speed. Barret emitted a war cry and shot the beast with his gatling gun, but the Guard Scorpion unleashed its own attack from its enormous tail, knocking them both to the ground.
"Better to attack… when its tail is down!" Barret yelled as he massaged his right arm. Cloud noticed that there was a gash across it where the scorpion's laser had struck. The tail buzzed and vibrated and Cloud braced himself for another attack, but instead the tail lowered, giving Cloud an opportunity to strike it.
He conjured a bolt spell and aimed it at the Guard Scorpion's metal body. It screeched as the lightning tore across its metal shell, cracking it in places. Then the body exploded into a thousand pieces, shrapnel flying through the air and some parts missing Cloud by mere inches.
"Come on, let's get out of here!" Cloud shouted as he helped Barret to his feet.
They hurried through the lower bowels of the Mako reactor, the sirens cutting into the air and making them all too aware that time was not on their side. They met up with Jessie.
"You all right?" he asked her. She was sitting on the grated floor and looked worried and a little bit hurt.
"My leg got stuck," she said.
Cloud quickly knelt down by her side and encouraged her to twist her foot while he tried to pry the rungs open. It wasted a lot of time, but Cloud wasn't going to leave the reactor and willingly leave his comrades here, no matter how much they annoyed him. Finally, Jessie was freed.
They pressed on and met Biggs further up.
"Let's go!" he yelled, and tapped in the numbers for the coded door.
"Code deciphered," stated Jessie.
Cloud shook his head. Did they really need to say that every time they opened a coded door? There was no time to dwell on it. Time was running out, and fast.
They ran through the door.
"Alright, be careful," Jessie told them as they made their way to the other coded door. Biggs jammed the numbers into the pad and finished it off with a "Code deciphered."
Cloud shook his head. They met with Wedge on the bridge and ran towards the exit with only a minute to spare. From behind him, Cloud heard Jessie scream. Turning around, he was shocked to see that she had fallen from the bridge and was hanging on for dear life with her fingers. He ran over to her and pulled her back up and then they darted from the Mako reactor just as the detonator struck zero.
The air vibrated with sound and heat as the reactor exploded behind them. Cloud took one last glance back and saw that the entire area was alight. There was another bang that knocked him off his feet. He cried out, picked himself off the ground, and ran.