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A shot was fired, and Reeve cringed at the sound of it. He lifted his arm off his face to see the result.

Reno and Rude stood beside each other, peering at the fat body laying on the ground, a gun in Rude's left hand.

"Well, that was easy." smirked Reno. "Who knew his last words would be 'Ahhhh! I forgot to load it!!!'"

Rude shrugged and bent over the body and took the keycard that had fallen out of his pocket. "At this rate we'll have access to every room in the building." he said.

Reno laughed, and grabbed the collar of Reeve's suit as the scrawny man tried to crawl out the room. "Wait, little buddy. We haven't forgotten about you just yet!"

"Don't kill me!" Reeve protested weakly. Reno sighed. This was pitiful.

"We're not here to kill you, just slap you around. now, are you going to listen to just Rufus' orders, or do you wanna end up like lardo over there?"

Reeve shook his head. "I'll follow my orders, I swear! Honest, I didn't know what Scarlet was up to until it was too late."

"Speaking of which," said Rude, walking over. "What were they planning?"

Reeve sighed defeatedly. "They were going to kill...that brunette, whatever her name is. But make it look like an accident or someone else's fault. Then Scarlet has some spell to make Rufus fall in love with her and make her his bride."

Reno started laughing. "And they thought that would work? Not even a love materia can make Rufus stop shuddering every time she touches him." He dropped Reeve on the hard floor. "I guess we're done here. Let's stop at the bar for a second before he head back to the helicopter."

Reeve sat up, propping himself up by his elbows and rubbing his jaw as he watched the two Turks depart.
* * * * *
"Welcome to the Gold Saucer!" greeted the entrance guard. "Are you by any chance Cloud and his friends?"

"Who told you we were coming?" asked the spiky haired blonde.

The guard shrugged. "Your entrance fee has already been paid by an anonymous source. Please enjoy your stay at the Gold Saucer."

"Who the heck'll do a thing like that?" wondered Barret.

"Cloud!" cried a voice from inside. Cloud looked to see Tifa fly into his arms.

"Tifa? You're alright? What are you doing here?"

She backed out of the hug. "Uhh, President ShinRa took us here-"

"Did he hurt you? Where's Aeris?" interruped Barret. "If he did I swear I'll-"

"Barret, it's okay. Rufus took very good care of us. He even saved Aeris' life last night."

"What!?" said Barret and Cloud in unison.

Tifa nodded, her voice rich with concern. "He took a *bullet* for her. There's a lot I need to tell you about. It's about Sephiroth."

"He took a bullet for some chick? Wow he must really have the hots for her!"

Tifa raised an eyebrow. From behind Barret stepped out a young girl. "Who's that?"

"I am Yuffie," the little girl announced. "Ninja master and the best fighter from Wutai, at your service. You're lucky these two begged me to join you. If it weren't for me they'd be monster supper by now."

Tifa nodded, a skeptic look on her face. "I'm sure you have. Come on, I really need to talk to you guys."
* * * * *
<<Young ShinRa...>>

Rufus' shot open at the sound of a voice. He looked around the room, and realised it was Lifestream as he was alone in the room. He sighed and rubbed his eyes. "You called?"

<<I'm reminding you of the urgency of the situation. The Planet is dying as you're laying around in a bed.>>

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to take a bullet for Aeris," he said scarcastically. "it was an accident."

<<Do not play games with the Lifestream, boy. You have much to learn.>>

"Alright." he said, though he really didn't mean it. "Mind if I ask a few questions?"

<<Ask what you desire to know, boy.>>

"If I remember correctly, Tseng gets sliced up next..."

<<It is fate that the one you speak of dies at the hands of Sephiroth. That is one thing you cannot change.>>

"So you're explaining that I just let him die." He finally sat up in bed and reached for his top.

<<It is time for his energy to return to the Planet. Is this your only question?>>

"Alright, so if Spikes has to die, does Aeris? What is her fate?"

<<Only time will tell. You are not permitted to learn of the future.>>

"Pardon? You just told me Tseng dies. What's another secret?"

<<You're time is up, lad. Until next time.>>

Lifestream's presence faded, and Rufus found himself mumbling. Aeris opened the door and stepped into the room. "Is something wrong Rufus?" she asked. "I heard talking."

"Just going over the plan by myself." he said, and pulled his jacket on.

"Where are you going?" asked Aeris. "Are you sure you're well enough?"

"Yeah," he groaned and winced as he pulled the jacket over his shoulders. "Just...fine..."

The look on her face told him she knew he was lying. "I don't think you should be out of bed so soon..."

Tseng walked in the room. "Sir, AVALANCHE is in the building and they've already attained the key you spoke of."

"Is Reeve on the right track this time?"

"Yes, sir. Rude called and said that they got rid of Scarlet and beat up Reeve...." He trailed off.

"What other trouble did they cause?"

"Palmer had tried to stop them, and they fired back in self defense."

"Wouldn't have stood a chance against Turks anyway." said Elana as she entered the room carrying a big teddy bear. Rufus laughed.

"Did you two have fun playing the games?" Elana and Tseng nodded like little children. Rufus cleared his throat. "Ladies, may I speak to Tseng in private for a minute?" They nodded and left. Tseng looked at the President with curiousity. "So, it seems you've got it pretty bad for Elana..."

"Sir, where are you headed with this?"

"I just wanted you to let Elana know how you feel, before it's too late."

"Before it's too late," said Tseng, not bothering to deny his feelings for the woman. "Is something going to happen?"

"Nothing. But we're on a seriously dangerous mission. It's likely any of us could end up killed. Sephiroth has an unbelievably strong strength. Don't let anything go unresolved before tonight."

Tseng nodded and akwardly left the room. Rufus grabbed his shotgun and walked out the room with it. "Alright, team. Prepare to move out."
* * * * *
"Hey Cait Sith!!!" called Cloud, but it was too late. The cat thing had already tossed the keystone to the helicopter, and a man with short black hair caught it.

Tseng laughed at Cloud and Tifa, who were watching in shock as the helicopter flew off. He backed into the helicopter more and passed the keystone to Rufus. "How did we get an extra copter so soon?"

Rufus shrugged. "I've got everything you could need for an emergency in every city of the Planet. Next stop, the Temple Of The Ancients."

Later, at the Temple Of The Ancients

"I'll go in first to make sure all is clear." said Tseng, Rufus opened his mouth to protest, but remembered what Lifestream had told him.

"Thank you." he said "For always helping me." Tseng gave him a confused look but proceded past the rope bridge and into the Temple, but he didn't return. Instead he cried out in pain and was silenced quickly.

"Tseng!" called Elana and followed, Aeris right behind. Rufus casually followed the two women. Inside, he could see Tseng laying on the floor in a pool of blood.

"I am...still alive," he gasped. Elana knelt beside him and held him in her arms, crying.

She looked up at Rufus. "Aren't you going to do something?"

He tossed a healing materia to her. "It's too late, his injuries are too severe to repair, but you can try."

Desperately, she cast spell after spell, but in time they all could see that Tseng wasn't going to heal. He weakly grabbbed Elana's hand and whispered, "I love you, Elana, I always will." She started to cry and he looked to Rufus and Aeris. "You two were great friends of mine. I was proud to serve you. Please tell Reno and Rude....that...."

"What is it?" asked Aeris, tears streaming down her face.

Tseng tried to speak, but his head fell back and his eyes closed. Elana's sobs broke the silence, and Aeris buried her head into Rufus shoulder. He nearly rolled his eyes. He was going to die eventually, what's the problem?


The President turned to see Tifa, Cloud, Cait Sith, Barret, and their newest member, Yuffie, standing in the doorway. He grinnned. "Ms. Lockheart, it's a pleasure to see you again."

Cloud raised his sword slightly, but Tifa shook her head. He looked at the blonde. "What is going on here?"

"Sephiroth has killed my bodyguard." said Rufus. "But we still need to get the black materia before he does."

Tseng's body dissapeared into thin air, and Aeris put her arm around Elana's shoulder. "His energy has returned to the Planet."

"I'm sick of yer bull. What does dat materia do?" commanded Barret, fists ready if needed.

Rufus flicked a strand of hair from his eyes. "Sephiroth is planning on taking over the world by melding with it. To do that, he'd need to be where a large amount of energy would be. But how would he get that energy? Give the Planet a reason to create all that energy, of course. He plans on using that materia to summon a meteor to crash into our Planet."

"Of course," said Cloud "The Planet would need all that energy to heal itself from Meteor."

"Glad to see all that mako hasn't gone to your brain." smirked Rufus. "Only problem is, the only way to attain the materia, is to be crushed by the Temple."

"Say what?" asked Barret.

"Grab the materia, and the Temple will shrink, crushing you int itty-bitty little pieces. A creative use of the term 'security system', don't you think?"

"But who would be the one to grab the materia?" asked Tifa.

"Why, Cait Sith of course. He's a robot." Cait Sith nodded to Rufus' decision.

"Now who's going into that deathtrap?" asked Barret.

"Well I'm going!" said Cloud. "I'm going to stop Sephiroth once and for all!" Everyone agreed and then decided that Aeris, Barret, Cait Sith, and Elana would join him, while Rufus, Tifa and Yuffie would stay back and wait.

Tifa waited until her friends were out of view before punching Rufus on his weak shoulder. He collasped to the ground and she stood over him. "What, may I ask, was that for?"

"For everything you've ever done. You didn't seem to shocked about Tseng's untimely death, you always know what's going on, spill!"

He rolled over to face her, holding his sore shulder. "Keep coming up with these attacks, and you won't find anyone to answer your questions." Suddenly he looked at her strangely, and she felt intimidated.

"What?" she asked.

He sat up, still looking at her. "I remember you. A few years ago, in that miserable little bar you worked in."

She raised an eyebrow. "What are you talking about?"

He chuckled. "You don't remember, do you? If I heard correctly, your butt was saved by a young girl named Mystria?"

Tifa nearly gasped. "How do you know her?" He grinned and flicked a stray hair back.

"My dear, I've known her much longer than you have, she's my kid sister. I haven't seen her since the day we ran away. In fact if it weren't for me she would've been killed by my father. And in turn if it weren't for her you would've died, isn't that correct?"


"So? I'm trying to explain to you that I'm not my father. There's no need for Rufus beating, understood?"

"I don't care. All ShinRa's are evil as far as I'm concerned-"

"Mystria's a ShinRa member too."

"Fine, all you males. That's not the point. The point is, what the heck are you doing? You know too much for one person."

He sighed. It's probably time to finally tell someone. "It's because I've seen the future."

She sat down a few feet in front of him, a skeptic look upon her face. "Sure you have."

Yuffie decided to join them. "Are they gonna come out soon or what? This place gives me the creeps."

"They'll be out soon enough, child." said Rufus, looking past the rope bridge and up the stairs at the entrance. "Patience is a valuable skill."

"I know the importance of patience," muttered Yuffie.

"Right," nodded Rufus, "What was your occupation again?"

She flushed. "Materia hunter."

He chuckled. "Keep telling yourself that, but it won't come true."

Tifa spoke up. "What are you talking about?"

"Nothing." smirked Rufus. Just then he saw a black figure fly away from the temple. "Well, it appears that Sephiroth's leaving. It shouldn't be long until the others are out."

"How can you tell?" asked Tifa. He shrugged.

"Just a guess."

He was right. In the next two minutes, Cloud and the others had escaped, while Cait Sith aquired the black materia and the Temple shrunk. Cloud, and Tifa went down into the large pit while everyone kept watch and the new Cait Sith showed up.

Then Sephiroth appeared...

A bit later....

"Looks like we're a little late for the party." said Reno as he peered out the helicopter's window. Rude, with his trademark slience, nodded, and landed the machine. Reno popped out and looked down into the pit. What he saw made his stomach churn.

Cloud had just given the Black Materia to the man in a black cape, obviously Sephiroth, and turned around, glaring at Tifa while Sephiroth flew off into the sky. Tifa screamed as Cloud uncontrollably started beating her. "It's Turk time." said Reno and he and Rude clammered down into the pit.

Rude simply grabbed Cloud's collar and lifted him off the ground while Reno pulled Tifa from blondie's painful grasp. She started crying and turned around into Reno's arms while Cloud fainted. Reno smirked and looked at Rude. "What is it with these blonde dudes always passing out? They fond of it or something?"
* * * * *
He opened his eyes and found himself in a forest. The trees were tall and their leaves a beautiful green. The grass below him was a more brighter yet still brilliant green. In front of him lay a pathway where the ground seemed slightly faded.

Suddenly Aeris walked out from a tree on the right. "Rufus, can you hear me?"

Rufus found his own voice. "Yesh, I hear you. I'm sorry for not telling you anything like I promised I would."

She walked out onto the path. "Don't worry about it."

"...I can't help but worry, Aeris..."

She went back behind the tree. "Oh..." She then jumped out from behind a tree on the left and back into the middle. "Then why don't you REALLY worry about it?" She ran a little closer. "And let me handle Sephiroth."

"No, Aeris. I will not let you, I can't..."

She dissapeared and walked out from a closer tree on the right. "And Rufus, you take care of yourself, and make sure Cloud doesn't have another breakdown, okay?" She vanished again and floated down fron the treetops.

He walked up to her. "What is this place?"

She looked up into the sky. "This forest leads to the City of the Ancients...and is called the Sleeping Forest." She returned her gaze ro Rufus. "It is only a matter of time before Sephiroth uses meteor. That's why I'm going to pretoect it. Only a survivor of the Cetra, like me, can do it." She started to walk away a bit, then turned back to him. "The secret is just up here." She shook her head. "At least it should be...I feel it. It feels like I'm being led by something." SHe waved. "Then, I'll be going now. I'll come back when it's all over." Then she turned away and began running.

"No, Aeris, wait! It's too dangerous!" Rufus cried, but it was too late, and he couldn't bring his feet to move. He looked up to see her once more, but she was gone, and a new voice spoke.

"Hmmm......She's thinking of interfering? She's going to be a dificult one."

Sephiroth floated down from the treetops and knelt on the ground. "I must stop that girl soon."
* * * * *
A light flashed, and he opened his eyes.

The forest was gone, replaced by some room and Tifa peering over at him. "Glad to see you're awake."

He sat up and groaned. "Where are we?"

She looked around the room as she spoke. "We're in Gongaga. You fell asleep on the way here, remember?" He nodded, and her expression grew serious. "Aeris' missing. She ran off this morning without our knowing."

He rubbed his eyes. "She's gone."


He grabbed his trenchcoat and winced as he pulled it over his shoulder. "She's gone to stop Sephiroth."

A lump was growing in his throat. Aeris was killed last time she did this, and it's going to happen all over again.

This is the second last chapter! I'm 93.5% (don't quote me on that) positive there's going to be one more chapter. Hope you all enjoyed this and if it'd only take about 45 seconds of your time, would you write a review, pretty please?

And I'm sorry, but I made more references to my other fic, "The Key To Freedom." in here. And this fic kinda spoiled a lot the stuff in it, but you can read it or not if you want to. Just click my name at the top and the fic is on my author page.



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