Standard Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy, Green Lantern, or any of their related characters and concepts. This is a work of fan fiction.
"Courage To Change The Things You Can"
Chapter 23: "No Emerson, No Lake, Too Much Palmer"
"Oooo… Are you prepared to face the lukewarm wrath of a dangerously obese corporate executive? Yeah… You can probably handle this one yourself…" –Prima's Unofficial Strategy Guide, commenting on the Palmer Boss Fight.
I've included the above quote for a reason. Having played the game many times, I was expecting our battle with Palmer to be a pushover. I wasn't entirely right. Don't get me wrong here now, I'm not planning to tell you that Palmer was actually a difficult opponent. It's just… Do you know that old saying that 'It's a poor carpenter that blames his tools'? Palmer wasn't that big of a threat, but it was his own incompetence that did him in. His weapon, that funky mako gun, was an entirely different story.
What I'm saying is, in the hands of someone who actually knew how to use it, that gun could have easily ended us. Even the handful of near-misses Palmer managed to get hurt like direct hits from tier-three spells, and I shudder to think what would've happened if he'd actually hit anyone dead-on…
In any event, we followed Palmer down the back hallway of Cid's home and through the door to the yard where the plane was kept. Palmer proved surprisingly fast for such a large man; he was already attempting to climb into the cockpit, though his mass was slowing the climb. Cloud and Barrett rushed forward and grabbed ahold of Palmer's legs, trying to pull him down, but the man had a death-grip on the plane and even with their extra weight he hung on tenaciously.
As Cloud and Barrett pulled down, Palmer kept trying to pull up. He grabbed for whatever hand holds he could find. One of them was, of course, the main ignition switch. The engine started running, propellers whirling dangerously close to both Palmer and our friends.
Wondering what to do, I stood watching the spectacle. Suddenly, something flew past my head, and it took a moment to realize what it was. One of Yuffie's shurikens. The metal star struck home, and Palmer screamed loudly, letting go of the plane and falling. Cloud and Barrett jumped out of the way, and Palmer pulled the shuriken from his rear and faced us. "Alright then!" he exclaimed. "If that's how you wanna do this!" He pulled the gun and took a shot at Yuffie, who dodged it easily.
"Naah nah!" The little ninja shouted back. "And you can keep the star too… I don't want it back after where it hit you!"
Now even angrier than before, Palmer fired off a number of shots, all of which went far astray of any of his actual targets, though one managed to fry the television antenna off Cid's roof. The damaged aerial tilted over but didn't fall.
Having taken cover behind a stone fence row, we peered over the top to where Palmer stood in front of the plane. "I'm open to suggestions." Cloud said.
"This guy's a gimp." Yuffie said. "He'll never actually hit any of us, let's just rush him."
"Too risky." Vincent countered, "Though I do agree with your assessment of the man's battle competence."
"We need that plane." Red said. "Whatever we do, it is imperative that the aircraft not sustain damage."
"Maybe a few of us should distract Palmer away from the plane while the rest of us sneak around and slip away with it." Tifa said.
I nodded, hoping that just maybe we could prevent the plane from losing it's airworthiness. "Good. But can anyone here actually fly a plane?"
"I can laddie." Cait said. "I'm programmed with vehicle control data. Of course, moggie here won't fit in the cockpit…"
"Come with me." Vincent said. "We'll slip around, get aboard, then you can direct me in what to do."
"And the rest of us?" Yuffie asked.
"The rest of us play chicken with big-boy." Barrett told her. He then leapt into the open and took a shot at Palmer, running for another place of cover as he went. Palmer responded to the taunt, allowing Aeris and Red to cast attack spells. Both chose Bolt 2. Palmer shrieked as the spells struck, then took aim and fired again. Aeris ducked down in the clear, but Red was almost hit. His fur was smoldering as I knelt down over him.
"Are you okay?"
"A cure would be appreciated, but he technically missed." Red answered.
While Aeris healed Red, I turned my attention back to Palmer. The bolt spells hadn't hurt him as badly as I would have thought, though what little hair he had was on-end. The man laughed, making a rude gesture, and started to turn back to the plane…
=== Begin Third-Person P.O.V. – Vincent ===
Vincent crept the long way around the battle, slipping through bushes, around homes, behind fences and through a drainage culvert. A former Turk, enhanced by Hojo's experimentation, he was the absolute master of this kind of stealth. Ordinarily, no human being alive would have had the slightest chance of detecting his movements. Of course, ordinarily he wouldn't have been attempting to sneak about in the company of a robotic cat with a giant white moogle. Vincent counted himself lucky that Palmer was so clueless. With Cait in tow, no one else could've missed what was happening.
Not that it was Cait's fault. The cat did everything right, but there's only so much you can do when you are as big as the moogle. In any event, the duo managed to make their way around to the far side of the plane and slip in without being noticed. They hid in the bushes waiting for a chance to make the final rush to the plane.
As they waited, Cait whispered "Are you sure you can do this lad? Airplanes are complicated machines after all."
"Do we have a choice?" Vincent replied. "Besides, I had a few basic piloting lessons in my Turk days. Thirty years ago, but I doubt the controls have changed all that much."
"I hope you're right laddie." Cait said. "Then again, even if you can't fly the plane, we'll still be inside it ready to chase Palmer out if he makes it aboard."
Vincent grinned slightly. "Yeah. There is that." At a sudden sound of metal, Vincent looked up to the roof of Cid's house. The damaged antenna tilted a little further, but still didn't break off. He looked back to the fight. "Let's go."
Vincent ran to the open hatch and boarded the plane, Cait following close behind. As they reached the cramped cockpit, he saw that Cait really wouldn't have been able to fit. Slumping into the pilot's seat, he examined the controls. "I was right. Not too different from what I remember, though not exactly the same either. Okay, walk me through it…"
===Resume First-Person P.O.V. ===
I noticed Vincent and Cait beyond the plane as Palmer started to turn back that way, and knew that even he couldn't fail to notice the cat. I needed to do something, and fast. At that moment, Tifa was by my side. "Any ideas?" She asked.
"You trust me?"
"Guess so. Why?"
I whispered my idea to her. She nodded in agreement, and I moved out of cover. Seeing me, Palmer turned back and took aim. I began to walk in a slow circle, facing Palmer who turned to keep me in sight. He fired three times, but in every case he was aiming at where I had been rather than where I was going. A quarter-circle around placed us in a position that had Palmer facing away from both Vincent and the rest of our team.
I risked a quick glance towards where Vincent was, confident Palmer was too oblivious to notice. Ex-Turk and cat were both boarding the plane. Drawing my sword, a fell into a combat stance but didn't advance. No point, since all I had to do was keep the man distracted.
We faced each other for over a minute, and it looked like the distraction might work perfectly. Then, from out of the plane, came the sound of Cait shouting loudly "NO! Not that one! No!" Palmer swung to face the plane, as the left propeller spun faster and the plane started to turn in an arc, taking the prop directly towards him. Palmer ducked faster than I would have thought a man of his size could, rolled under the prop, and returned to his feet. He took aim at the cockpit.
At this, I rushed in hoping to catch Palmer off guard. Tifa did the same. Palmer swung the gun around to shoot at her, but she ducked under the shot and threw a might punch directly at his stomach. Now, I don't want to disgust anyone, but have you ever seen that guy in X-men who is so fat you can't hit him because you'll get stuck? Yeah, it was like that. Tifa stared incredulous at her hand, then up at Palmer who laughed. Cloud jumped in from the sidelines and pulled her free, both of the falling to the ground.
Palmer made yet another rude gesture, obscene, actually, then took aim. Even he couldn't have missed at such a close range. Everyone else moved to stop him, but there wasn't anything any of us could have done in such a short time…
=== Begin Third-Person P.O.V. – Cid ===
"Now hold on jus' one damned minute!" Cid shouted as Rufus walked away. "Shinra may've paid for that plane originally, but I bought it from you fair an' square! Paid in damned full you little snit!"
Rufus stopped and looked back over his shoulder. "Perhaps… Not that it matters. You may consider this Eminent Domain. The Bronco is mine again, and will remain so for as long as I have need of it. After that, if I happen to be in a generous mood, I may return it."
Rufus walked away, satisfied that he had won. The guards advanced on Cid, guns at the ready. None opened fire; Rufus had, after all, ordered them to release Cid once he was gone. Looking at the guards, Cid tossed aside his cigarette and, laughing, produced an object from under his jacket. He held out his right hand and shook twice. The mystery object instantly extended into a full sized Lance.
Rufus' unfortunate guards never knew what hit them. In an instant, Cid was in the thick of the group, swinging and thrusting the lance, cutting down the guards. Only one even managed to get a shot off, and it ricocheted off of the metal spear-point of the lance harming no one.
In the aftermath, Cid stood alone, surrounded by fallen guards. He lit a fresh cigarette, then looked in the direction Rufus had gone. "Time ta' give junior the damned whuppin' he's got comin' to him…" Cid grumbled under his breath. Cid stalked off after Rufus, who had gone to wait for Palmer at the Shanghai Inn. Before he reached the inn, though, Cid was stopped by Shera.
"Captain!" She exclaimed pulling on his jacket, "Captain, President Shinra needs to wait! There's a bigger problem!"
Cid laughed a short, curt laugh. "Bigger problem? You mean Palmer? Yeah, he's big alright. Don't worry Shera, I'll get his butt too, drinkin' all my damn tea uninvited like always… Rufus is first though. Little snit was gonna take the Bronco!"
"No!" Shera insisted. "That's what I'm trying to tell you! Palmer is trying to steal the plane for Rufus!"
"What!? Ahh, no matter. That blubbery fool'll never even get the engine started."
Even as Cid said those words, he heard the all too familiar sound of the Tiny Bronco's engines starting up. "Son of a…!" He shouted, and ran towards home leaving Shera behind…
=== Resume First-Person P.O.V. ===
It looked hopeless. Palmer had Cloud and Tifa squarely in his sights, and no one was close enough to do anything about it in time. Then, with a loud snap, the damaged antenna broke off from Cid's roof and fell towards the ground. As this happened, Vincent was trying and still failing to regain control of the plane. The Bronco swung back around, just missing the back wall of the house. The antenna fell directly into the propellers. An ear-splitting shriek of metal on metal filled the air, and shrapnel flew in all directions.
At least two pieces of the metal hit Palmer. One tore through the Mako Gun, disabling it. The other knocked the executive in the back of the head, sending him to the ground. I thought he would be unconscious after such a blow, but Palmer pulled himself back to his feet.
"That's enough for me!" Palmer shouted. "But you'll regret this when I send in the guards!" He made yet another rude gesture, then ran, vaulting the picket fence more easily than seemed possible for him, and ran into the streets. The semi-truck was, of course, more than a match for him.
"Oof!" Yuffie exclaimed, cringing as Palmer went flying. "That had to hurt… At least I hope so."
"Never mind Palmer." Red answered her. "We have a bigger concern!"
Everyone turned. The Bronco was living up to it's name, bucking about in random directions. From within came the sounds of an argument between Vincent and Cait:
"You said to turn the dial to fifteen-thirty!"
"Not that dial! The other one!"
"Which other one!? Saying 'the other one' doesn't help much when there are a dozen other dials!"
"The red one! On the top row!"
"There are FOUR red dials on the top row!"
"There are? Oh dear…"
"You said you could fly!"
"I guess I was over-confident. Sorry Laddie."
"We'd better go help." Cloud said.
"Do we have to?" I asked. "This argument is the most entertainment I've had in months."
"Let's just go." Cloud said shaking his head.
Together, we rushed to the plane and, carefully, darted between the propellers to the hatch. Climbing aboard we found Cait attempting to force his way into the co-pilot's seat. "You're not gonna fit!" Cloud shouted to him. "Let me in there!"
Cait relented and Cloud took the seat. Together, he and Vincent managed to stop the plane from spinning in circles, but now it was moving forward, and picking up speed quickly. We felt the wheels trying to leave the ground, but no one knew where the brakes were.
From behind, audible even over the engines, came the sound of loud cursing as Cid ran to catch up. "Hey! Hey! Stop! Stop that damned plane! Thieves! That's my damned plane!" He caught up just as we lifted off, but didn't reach the hatch. Instead, Cid was clinging to the outside.
Vincent grabbed the controls and managed to make a wide turn. As we passed back over the town, the left engine (The one whose propeller had shredded the antenna) began making a frightening sound, and we could hear gunshots. At least two bullets found their mark, and combined with the damage already taken the engines began to give out.
Suddenly, Cid appeared outside the cockpit window, looking down from over the top, cussing loudly. "Ditch!" Cid screamed once he stopped cursing. "Ditch in the water! It's our best chance!"
Vincent nodded and worked the controls as best he could, managing a controlled crash in the sea several miles from shore. "Now what?" Barrett wondered. "Do we sink?"
"Hell no!" Cid answered, finally coming in through the hatch. "I built this beauty to float. We'll be fine while I try to make repairs."
Cid stared at all of us, and Tifa said "We're sorry about what happened. We didn't mean to steal your plane, it's just that…"
Cutting her off, Cid said "Aw hell, I know that. Damned Palmer 'n Rufus are the thieves. Point of fact is, I'm glad ya'all kept her away from them, even if she did get banged up a little."
"So… What do we do now?" Yuffie asked.
Cid answered "You stay put. I'll get the engines fixed, and then you can figure out where to go from there. There's food and tea in the back compartment. So sit down, eat yer fill, and stay outta my hair 'til I'm done!" Cid stormed out the hatch, and no one had the nerve to follow him…