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[A train rushes along the monorail road at a huge speed. On the roof of this train stands a blonde young man with a huge sword behind his back. The train slows down sharply at the end station. Two guards walk out of the guard post. They split up to examine the train. Suddenly, the first guard groans quietly in the distance and the second guard goes to check on him. A man and a woman run up to him and knock him out. A large black man wearing sunglasses named Barret comes out on the platform.]

Barret: Get down here, merc.

[The young man jumps on a platform.]

Chapter 1: The Destruction of Mako Reactor 1Edit

[Two more guards are coming out on the platform.]

Security Officer: Halt!

Security Officer 2: Who goes there!?

Barret: You're up.

[The young mercenary sighs and takes out his huge sword.]

Security Officer: You're coming with us.

Cloud: Don't think so.

[He's quick to deal with the guards.]

Cloud: Not bad.

Security Officer: Who in the hell—!? Hands where I can see 'em!

[Barret and the others are running away.]

Jessie: Have fun!

[Cloud goes into battle.]

Security Officer: Freeze! Move and we shoot!

Cloud: Go ahead.

Security Officer: Holy shit! Drop the weapon!

Biggs: You got this!

Wedge: Yeah, what he said!

Security Officer: You're coming with us!

Cloud: Can't get surrounded.

Cloud: Try harder. Nope.

[He defeats another batch of guards.]

Jessie: So what's SOLDIER boy's deal? Is he one of us now? He's got balls, this, uh... Uh… what was his name again?

Biggs: Cloud. Cloud Strife.

Jessie: Right.

Biggs: And he isn't a SOLDIER anymore. Still, he's a professional unlike the rest of us. I'm glad to have him.

Cloud: This is a onetime gig. When it's done, we're done.

Wedge: You'll keep us safe… right, Cloud? Wow, they've almost got the door. C'mon, nobody'd do something this crazy just for money. They may not think you're a true believer, but you know what I think?

Cloud: Not interested.

Barret: Wedge! (to Cloud) You'd better be worth the money, merc. Every last gil.

[Cloud protects the group by destroying security guards.]

Security Officer: Get him, boy!

Cloud: Guess you're first.

Security Officer: Hey!

Cloud: Looks like you're next.

Security Officer: I found one!

Wedge: Hey, Cloud! Elevator's over there! Catch up soon!

Biggs: This way! Not so fast. We've got company.

Security Officer: There's one! Get him!

Barret: You know what to do—now go!

Wedge: See you later!

Jessie: C'mon, Cloud!

Barret: Pick up the pace!

[They're running into reactor number one.]

Barret: SOLDIERs may attack on command, but I hear they make good guard dogs too. Bet you've seen a few reactors. So how do we get to the bridge above mako storage? Ain't holding out on me, are you? Stamp scared to bite the hand that fed him? Or is he a loyal little doggy!? Have it your way, mutt. We can do this with you, or we can do this without you.

Cloud: Different reactor, different layout. Depends when it was built. Never seen one like this, but I'll manage.

Barret: I'm watching you.

Jessie: Don't you worry. Biggs'll have the door open soon.

Biggs: In three, two... Damn, I'm good!

Security Officer: Who's there!? Door!

[They lock the door behind Cloud, separating him from the rest of the group.]

Barret: W-wait!

Security Officer: It's over!

Cloud: That's my line.

Security Officer: He's alone! We can take him! Make it rain!

Cloud: You've got this.

[Cloud defeats the arrogant guards, while Wedge reopens the door.]

Jessie: We're back!

Cloud: Then let's move.

Jessie: He always knows just what to say!

Barret: Cut it out!

Biggs: I got this place covered.

Barret: Simmer down, hotshot.

Jessie: It's a good thing I know someone who can get us the passcodes. Pity no one else at command will talk to us, but what can you do? And we're good!

Biggs: Careful in there. Well, what're you waiting for?

Barret: Security's only gonna get tighter, so be ready. We can't afford any more mistakes.

Jessie: Looks like the elevator's on another floor. Mind pushing that button? So… you know Tifa, right? It's not really my business, but are you guys close?

[Cloud flinches and remembers events from his past.]

Tifa: Cloud! Are you ignoring me!?

Cloud: Tifa and I...

[They're getting in the elevator. Barret pushes Cloud away and gets in first. Meanwhile, at the security post, some people are monitoring the elevator through security cameras...]

Heidegger: These sewer rats appear to call themselves Avalanche, sir. We are currently investigating whether they belong to the same group that made the attempt on your life. Rest assured, our inquiries will not take much longer.

Barret: (speaking a bit too loud) This pump's sole purpose is to drain the planet dry. While you sleep, while you eat, while you shit it's here, sucking up mako. It doesn't rest and it doesn't care! You do realize what mako is, don't you? Mako is the lifeblood of our world. The planet bleeds green like you and me bleed red. The hell you think's gonna happen when it's all gone, huh!? Answer me! You gonna stand there and pretend you can't hear the planet crying out in pain? I know you can!

Cloud: You really hear that?

Barret: Damn straight I do!

Cloud: Get help.

Barret: Say that again!

Cloud: I'd worry less about the planet and more about the next five seconds. Save the screaming for later...

Barret: Our lives are on the line now. You listening, merc? One false move... (he shoots his handgun to the camera) And that happens!

Jessie: Well, so much for having Cloud do all the fighting. There are some places a sword just can't reach... Just… bear with him for me, would you?

Cloud: Should've asked for more money.

[He notices an automatic turret and prepares for battle when Barret Wallace suddenly decides to join him.]

Barret: Gonna throw your sword at 'em? Let the man with the gun go to work! These tin cans ain't got nothing on me! Now for the real show! Do your job, 'merc! Shut up and move over.

[They win and the group goes down a few floors below.]

Jessie: Look what we have here.

Cloud: A laser security system... Great.

Jessie: Those things'll hurt more than your pride if you're careless. They'll cut you down to size and then some. ...But I'm guessing you've done this kind of thing before.

Cloud: Yeah. Figure out the timing of the lasers. Then make a move when they cycle off.

Jessie: Exactly! I'll go first. Nothing like a little danger to get the blood pumping!

Cloud: Hey!

Jessie: Just keep those baby blues of yours on me!

[Cloud catches the moment and passes the lasers.]

Jessie: Huh. He's a natural! Not too shabby. You're doing good, SOLDIER! Okay, let's see what's up next! ...And it's more of the same. Come on, then. Pretty easy, right? Nice job, Cloud! Like a walk in the park, huh? Not a scratch! Now on to the objective! Look.

[The way to the far door is blocked by a funny robot that looks like a barrel on legs.]

Jessie: They don't call those things sweepers for nothing. They can wipe out a whole squad in seconds.

Cloud: Not if you wipe the floor with them first.

Barret: Hah! We can take this hunk of junk!

Cloud: That "hunk of junk" is a heavy weapons platform. "If we rush in… we die.

Barret: Is that right?

Cloud: Need to hit it with magic. That should give us an opening.

Barret: Hey! It stopped moving!

Cloud: Let's pin it down! Give it all you've got!

Barret: Of course, it just had to get back up.

Cloud: So we knock it down again. No time to complain.

Barret: Now's our chance! Go!

Barret: Don't need to tell me twice! I'm gonna enjoy this!

Jessie: And that's that!

[They defeat the robot.]

Barret: What are you, twenty-something?

Cloud: First.

Barret: Huh?

Cloud: SOLDIER: First Class. Doesn't go into the twenties.

Barret: The hell you talking about? I mean your age, not your goddamn rank!

Cloud: I, uh…

Barret: Though, for all I know, a SOLDIER's rank could be the same as his age... Mm-hmm. Guess that'd make you a one-year-old, huh? Live and learn!

[They go out into a massive hangar.]

Jessie: That's our target. The reactor core. Gotta set the bomb at the bottom. Let's get down there.

Barret: Goddamn... I can practically taste the mako in here... Hurry it up! My heart's pounding like a jackhammer!

Cloud: Scared, huh?

Barret: Hah! More like excited. I've been dreaming about this for years!

Jessie: Heads up, boys—the end's in sight. I leave the rest in your capable hands. Good luck! Aw, you're choosing me over the reactor? That's sweet, but I'll wait my turn. Go blow her mind. Go on. Shoo. Not that way! Down the ladder, dummy!

Barret: You think, if we fell in, we'd sink right down to the bottom? To the planet's core? No, the pump would suck us back up.

Cloud: No, the pump would suck us back up.

Barret: How comforting. Yeah, let's do this... Let's do this!

[They're coming up to the reactor itself.]

Barret: All right. Let's see if little Stamp really can bite the hand that feeds... Go on. Do the honors. Prove to me you're the man Tifa says you are. That you're one of us.

Cloud: Never said I was. I'm just here for the paycheck.

Barret: Then do the damn job!

[Cloud comes to the reactor, but then he gets a bad headache.]

Barret: What's wrong?

Cloud: I'm fine. What about the timer?

Barret: Your call, merc.

[Cloud has to choose - twenty minutes or thirty minutes. He chose twenty.]

Barret: Pretty cocky, ain'tcha?

[Cloud doesn't have time to run the timer like someone or something flying into the hangar. For some reason, Barret sees it as a betrayal attempt and is pointing his gun at Cloud.]

Barret: You double-crossing—

Cloud: Heads up!

Barret: What in the hell!?

[A creepy red robot scorpion jumps on the platform. The terrorists are forced into battle.]

Barret: Hey! How the hell do we fight this thing?

Cloud: It's got reinforced armor plating but the internals can be overloaded. Lightning magic.

Barret: No other option, huh.

[He attacks with electricity.]

Barret: Hell yeah! You see the damage that did!?

Cloud: Keep it up!

Barret: Gotta win this one for the planet. The hell is that!?

Cloud: A barrier? Never seen this defense system before...

Barret: Thought you were the expert!

Cloud: So what's your brilliant plan, genius?

Barret: It's my time to shine!

Cloud: Or go down in flames... Bingo. Focus on that core!

Barret: Oh, now he remembers. Don't keep me waiting in suspense next time! Huh!? It didn't work!? If we don't change it up soon, this thing's gonna kill us both!

Cloud: Less talking, more shooting!

Barret: How 'bout less lip from you!?

Cloud: Dammit. Now! Hit it hard and fast!

Barret: Ohhh, you're in for it now!

Cloud: Just. Shoot. Gotta heal up.

Barret: Damn pain in the ass...

Cloud: Watch the tail! You don't want to be hit by that laser!

Barret: Huh!? So, whadda we do!?

Cloud: Don't get hit! Take cover behind that debris!

Barret: Now! Get in there and do some damage!

Barret: Sure could use a break... Can keep going if I heal up... Hey, it's doing that thing again!

Cloud: Find cover and hunker down!

Barret: Again and again and again! Now! Get in there and do some damage! Been a while since I had to go all out... Aw, hell, what's it doing now!?

Cloud: An auto-repair unit? Dammit—we gotta take it out quick or we're screwed!

Barret: Oh, I am way ahead of you, merc! When I get my chance, I'm gonna blow this bastard the hell up! And that's a promise!

Cloud: Don't let up!

Barret: Shit! The bomb!

Announcement: Twenty minutes until detonation.

[They defeat the scorpion robot and it falls off the platform.]

Barret: Hah, you hear that? Damn thing showed you how it's done!

Cloud: Come on, we've gotta move.

Barret: Wedge should be covering our way out! Go, go, go!

[Barrett runs away and Cloud runs after him. He only has 20 minutes to get out. The hangar starts to collapse and a piece falls on Jessie. Cloud runs up to her and frees her.]

Cloud: You okay?

Jessie: Do I look okay!? Help a girl out, would ya!? My hero!

Barret: Hey! We'll link up over there! Look after Jessie!

Jessie: Come this way! This route should lead us straight to Barret! Probably! I think I see an exit. Come on! Don't look back! Let's go, let's go, let's go! We're running out of time!

Cloud: Shut up and climb. You’re not helping.

Jessie: Sorry, it just—It keeps me focused! I’ll freak out if I don't talk!

Cloud: Have it your way.

[They're being attacked by some flying flowers.]

Jessie: Barret—

Barret: I’ll got you covered. Find us a way outta here!

Jessie: But then—

Barret: Don't worry, I'll be fine! I've got SOLDIER boy with me!

Cloud: Ex-SOLDIER boy.

Security Officer: They're here! Take 'em down!

Barret: We don't have time for this shit! The clock's ticking!

Cloud: Cool it. Five seconds is all we need.

Barret: Let's go! The others are waiting! Gotta get the hell outta here ASAP...

[They're being attacked by a funny robot again.]

Barret: Ugh! This is all we need!

Cloud: You got that right.

Barret: Heads up! We got a whole lotta company!

Cloud: No shit.

Barret: Whoa! Ain't you a feisty one!

Cloud: Like a rook seeing his first action.

[In the last seconds, a squad runs into an elevator. Meanwhile, a man on the control panel nods to his subordinate.]

Heidegger: Sir.

[He presses the button on his smartphone.]

Barret: (nervously) Come on… come on, come on, come on!

[He looks back at Cloud and sees that he keeps his cool and he is overcome with shame. They're coming out of the elevator.]

Jessie: Door's open!

Biggs: Bada-bing bada-boom-bam!

Jessie: We don't have a lot of time here! Pick up the pace, people!

Wedge: Over here! This way!

[Jessie's getting another piece of debris on her head.]

Cloud: Can you walk?

Jessie: If I couldn't believe me, you'd be the first to know.

Cloud: I'll take that as a yes.

[On the bridge on which they run, a pipe falls, separating the terrorists.]

Jessie: Cloud!

[But as it turns out, it's no problem for trained Cloud. He jumps off part of the bridge and get to the other side.]

Jessie: Okay, that was pretty cool. All right. Come on!

[People on the street watching the reactor explode. How much trouble the people of this city would suffer through I can only guess.]

Chapter 2: Fateful EncountersEdit

Barret: Looks like we made it. And with nothing but a few scratches to show—

[A small earthquake occurs.]

Barret: Think you might've overdone it?

Jessie: I followed the instructions to the letter. Maybe it triggered a reaction with the mako?

Barret: Well, let's hope this city's still in one piece.

Biggs: But the planet's what matters, right?

[And another one...]

Biggs: I mean… this must've helped some.

Jessie: After all that, it'd better have. Anyway, let's get going. We in Sector 8?

Wedge: That'd be just down there!

Barret: All right, then. Lead the way.

Wedge: You got it! Watch out for live wires. They're everywhere.

Biggs: Ugh, the air in here reeks. Can't wait to get out in the open! Man, what is that? I've never smelled anything so foul. Aw, it's me. Gotta do something about that, and soon.

Wedge: I felt that one in my guts...

Biggs: They just keep on coming.

Barret: We need to get out of this place.

Jessie: Was it the mako density? The primary explosive? The blasting agent?

Biggs: Hey, we can figure that out later.

Wedge: I'm running on empty here...

Barret: You can refuel at the base.

Wedge: Next time, I'll have to bring a little pick-me-up.

Jessie: How much farther do we have to go?

Wedge: Not far! That's about as good a place as any.

Jessie: Stand back then. I'll set the bomb.

Barret: Can't wait to see you, Marlene.

Biggs: Can't wait to take a hot shower.

Jessie: She's good to go. Fire in the hole!

Biggs: You sure told those doors.

Jessie: Let that be a lesson to anything that gets in my way!

[Our young terrorists are getting to the city where they're already being hunted.]

Announcement: Attention all citizens. Attention all citizens. This is an alert from the Shinra Emergency Operations Center. Unidentified intruders have detonated a bomb inside Mako Reactor 1. Multiple explosions have been confirmed, as well as ongoing fires. In response, a disaster warning has been issued in Sectors 1 and 8. Structures in the area are at high risk of collapse, rendering the entire sector hazardous.

Jessie: No... No way.

Biggs: This couldn't have been us… could it?

Wedge: But what if it was...?

Cloud: What's done is done.

Barret: Merc's right. It ain't pretty, but we can't stop now. This was just the first reactor. And the planet won't be safe till we get the rest.

Biggs: Yeah... We always knew this was gonna get messy.

Wedge: And this is only the beginning...

Barret: Y'all gotta look at the bigger picture here. Nothing worth fighting for was ever won without sacrifice. Though you may not be crying out, I know you're in pain-just like the planet. But it's okay, 'cause I'm here for you! To help take the load off your shoulders! Your fears... Your worries... Your concerns... And yes, your fees... Whatever your problem, I got you.

Biggs: So, what's our next move, boss?

Barret: That's easy enough! We get our asses home!

[The group disbanded.]

Barrat: We'll split up and shoot for the last train home. Regroup in the freight car. Got it?

Wedge: Later then!

Cloud: Hey. I'd like my money now.

Barret: You can have it—once we're back at base.

Jessie: Yoo-hoo. I don't need to tell you what this is, right?

Cloud: Of course not. It's healing materia.

Jessie: You can have it. For saving my life.

Cloud: Just doing my job. Nothing more.

Jessie: Yeah, yeah… Fact is, I’m lucky you were there.

Cloud: Survival can be a matter of luck or skill. And you can't rely on luck.

Jessie: Words to live by!

Cloud: Yeah, well… thanks.

Jessie: You do know how to use it, right?

Cloud: You do know what I was, right?

Jessie: Okay! I was only trying to help. Oh—before I forget, here's a little something extra, for being so brave. That really was the ride of a lifetime... Well, see you on the train! Cloud! Up here! Look up!' said look up! Careful up here! This could collapse at any moment! If you want up, you'll have to use those stairs!

[Cloud is walking around town looking for the station. On the way he hears moans, powerless anger and cries for help. ]

Topside Resident: If you really want to get to the station, you can always climb those stairs. Try picking your way across the rubble…

Cloud: Station's intact. What the...?

[He keeps walking to the station and notices a burning house with people left behind. At first it seems that he has finally been overwhelmed by his conscience and now he runs to their aid, but instead he notices a tall man with long hair of silver. He follows the man who looks like a fruit of a sick imagination, moving on from the burning house...]

Cloud: How...!? He couldn't be... But then... The hell...? You're not real... You're... dead!

Sephiroth: I am?

Cloud: I killed you with my own—

Sephiroth: Oh, you need not remind me. It was the crowning moment of our time together. But that was then, and this is now. I have a favor to ask. Our beloved planet is dying. Slowly. Silently Painfully. Can you bear to see the planet suffer.... Cloud?

Cloud: Mom... Mom...

Sephiroth: Were the planet to die, so many things would be lost. Your hometown burns so bright... The sound of her voice pleading for me to spare you. The shiver of her flesh yielding to cold steel. That which binds us together would be no more. And would be loath to live in such a world. Which is why I must ask you this one favor. Don't worry. It's a simple thing. Run, Cloud... Run away. You have to leave... You have to live.

Cloud: You bastard!

[He attacks the man, but he disappears. His voice keeps sounding in Cloud's head. ]

Sephiroth: Good, Cloud. Very good. Hold on to that hatred.

Cloud: I'm seeing things. Fumes from all the mako, maybe. All right. You got this.

[He keeps going to the station.]

Topside Resident: Sure, we could try the alley, but is getting to the station really worth breaking our necks over?

Topside Resident 2: Yes, because we won't.

Cloud: Man... What a mess. Security's everywhere...

[He notices a girl on the street who seems to have had too many illegal substances. She tries to fight off invisible demons. The same guy shows up.]

Sephiroth: You are too weak to save anyone. Not even yourself.

[Cloud grabs his head. It is not clear whether these events are happening in reality, or whether they are again a figment of his sick imagination.]

Flower Peddler: Are you okay!? Hey... Are you okay?

Cloud: I’m fine.

Flower Peddler: Here. This is for you.

Cloud: A flower?

Flower Peddler: That's right. It's a gift. You know, for scaring those things away.

Cloud: What things?

Flower Peddler: Never mind. Think of it as a memento.

Cloud: Just my luck...

Flower Peddler: I heard that, you know.

Cloud: How much?

Flower Peddler: Well, that depends on the customer. In your case... It's on the house. Lovers used to give these when they were reunited...

Cloud: Look, I'm involved in things. Dangerous things.

Flower Peddler: Oh, I'm sure you are. So?

Cloud: So keep your distance.

Flower Peddler: Wait you think someone's out to get you? Is that what you're all worked up about? Relax. No one's going to attack you. I promise,

Cloud: Hey, a mako reactor just blew. You shouldn't be out here trying to sell off—

[Flower girl starts fighting demons in her head again. She's probably having a seizure. Why don't you call 911 or just walk away like you did with that burning house?]

Flower Peddler: Help me!

[She grabbed his hand, dragging him into her nightmare world.]

Flower Peddler: What are they?

[Cloud swings off ghosts. At this moment, the military approaches him in order to cool off a mad teenager waving a huge piece of steel. Although they may have just followed the terrorists who blew up the reactor...]

Security Officer: Drop your weapon!

Cloud: Are you blind...?

Flower Peddler: You know you're right!

[The brave flower girl is running away.]

Cloud: Wha-Wait!

Flower Peddler: Nice meeting you!

Security Officer: Sword on the ground! Right now!

Security Officer: There he is! You're not going anywhere!

Security Officer: HQ, this is Sector 8 Unit 4. We have eyes on the target! We need backup. I repeat: this is 8-4 requesting immediate backup!

Cloud: Don't wanna stick around here.

Security Officer: Get 'em!

Security Officer: Just give it up! Don't run!

Security Officer: Box him in! Box him in! There's nowhere to run!

Security Officer: Don't let him escape!

Security Officer: Give up!

Security Officer: There's no way out.

Security Officer: Move in!

Cloud: So much for the direct route. Find another way... Use the rooftops, maybe... But the rooftops look clear.

Security Officer: Over there!

Security Officer: Open fire! Shoot to kill!

Cloud: Close call. It's all or nothing now...

Security Officer: Don't underestimate him!

Security Officer: I see him!

Security Officer: I have eyes on target. You're mine now.

Security Officer: Target spotted! Moving to intercept! Get the bastard!

Security Officer: He's here!

Security Officer: Not so fast!

[Two military cars are blocking the road.]

Security Officer: End of the line, punk!

Security Officer: I'm gonna enjoy this!

Security Officer: HQ, this is Sector 8 Unit 2. Target is surrounded. Moving to secure.

Security Officer: Wait! I know that—

[Cloud kills the nearest soldier and jumps onto a passing train under fire from a dozen automatic rifles without any problems. Moreover, the train turns out to be exactly where the rest of the group is.]

Wedge: Guess Cloud won't be joining us after all...

Biggs: No need to assume the worst. I'm sure he's fine. You saw him in action, didn't you? Guy's a SOLDIER. Goddamn one-man army.

Jessie: Mmm, you think he's a keeper?

[There's someone knocking on the car door. Of course it's Cloud.]

Barret: On my go. Ugh, you had me worried for a minute… What the hell you been up to? Huh!?

Cloud: Giving Public Security the runaround, that's what.

[So the military he killed was Public Security… interesting.]

Cloud: Had to draw them away from the station somehow.

Jessie: Nicely done.

Biggs: (to Barret) Well can't argue with results, huh?

Cloud: Wait. Got a question for you all.

Barret: What?

Cloud: Ever been attacked by an invisible enemy?

[Everyone looks at him like he's a moron.]

Cloud: Wearing robes. Came and went like the wind.

Biggs: Thought they were invisible...

Cloud: They were—at first. Only saw them after she grabbed me...

Jessie: A new Shinra weapon, maybe?

Barret: Hah! More like a panic-induced hallucination!

Cloud: Never mind. Forget I said anything.

Barret: Suit yourself. C'mon, let's move up.

Wedge: Lotta people here...

Jessie: And in the freight car, too...

Biggs: ‘Cause of the evacuation order, maybe?

Barret: Lucky us. We've got a crowd to hide in. Head for the front of the train and hold there.

Wedge: Ugh, so cramped... Man, everyone's on edge.

Cloud: Of course they are.

Wedge: Hey, Cloud, I, um...

Cloud: If you're about to "unburden" yourself don't.

Wedge: Yeesh... You don't make it easy...

Biggs: Hey, got a sec? You're uh...holding up pretty well, huh? Even after what we saw at the station and all over Sector 8?

Cloud: I'm a SOLDIER.

Biggs: Well… my hands are still shaking.

Cloud: You get used to it.

Biggs: Something to look forward to... Or maybe not.

Jessie: Little help, Cloud? Please? I can't stop thinking about it. The bomb I made shouldn't have produced an explosion that big. It doesn't make any sense...

Cloud: The explosion triggered a reaction with the mako. You said so yourself.

Jessie: That was my first guess but shouldn't a reactor have, fail-safes to prevent that kinda thing? You mentioned "invisible enemies" back there, right?

Cloud: Right.

Jessie: Hmm... No. I'm just looking for excuses for something that was clearly my own fault. Gotta own up to it if I'm gonna learn from this and move on. Thanks, Cloud. You're a good listener.

Shinra Employee: What kind of maniacs would go so far as to bomb a reactor?

Shinra Middle Manager: They've yet to announce it publicly, but I heard it was Avalanche's doing.

Shinra Employee: Really? Aren't they the terrorists who tried to kill the president? Is there nothing they won't do?

Barret: Hey! Quit talking out your ass. Everyone knows Avalanche only cares about saving the planet.

Shinra Middle Manager: J-just who do you think you are?

Barret: A law-abiding concerned citizen.

Shinra Employee: "Law-abiding"? Really?

Shinra Employee: Don't antagonize him!

Barret: In my humble opinion, that explosion was a message—a message to the bastards bleeding our planet dry. Think they got it? Heard it loud and clear? Y'all's masters?

Shinra Middle Manager: We will not submit to intimidation or violence! But work together for peace and prosperity! That is how civilized people change the world!

Shinra Employee: That's right! That is the Shinra creed!

Barret: Hmph. Them's fighting words.

Shinra Middle Manager: It's what we believe. We all have to follow our conscience, don't we?

Shinra Employee: We should go.

Shinra Middle Manager: Right...

Barret: You hear that suit? Shinra creed my ass. We're the good guys, dammit...

Wedge: They'd probably kill us if they knew we were the ones responsible...

Biggs: Well, I get it if you can't relate... Shower might help. A long, hot one.

Jessie: Let's get this out of the way... Personally, I find visual aids make the dull stuff a lot more bearable. If it helps, think of it as an initiation rite.

Cloud: How many times do I have to tell you people. I'm not—

Jessie: There's such a thing as playing too hard to get. So, here we've got a wireframe model of the great city of Midgar. Complete with massive steel plates suspended three hundred meters above ground level... Atop which stands a shining beacon of civilization. The whole system is sustained by the mako reactors, which feed the insatiable appetites of the public.

Announcement: The train will be passing through an ID checkpoint shortly.

Jessie: This here is the train's route. As you can see, it'll take us around this main pillar. Look—we're about halfway through it now. They’ve set up a checkpoint here to scan the IDs of all, passengers heading in and out. Date of birth, residential status, criminal history... All that and more is automatically cross-referenced in their databases. Public Security wouldn't have it any other way. Heads up. Don't worry. Our IDs are impeccable. What'd I tell you? Have a little faith. Won't be long till we reach the bottom. Relax.

Barret: Take a good look. It's because of that great big pizza in the sky that people down there gotta struggle to survive. Shinra sucks up mako while the soil turns to dust, the air fills with smog, and the flowers die.

Cloud: Then leave and don't look back. That's what's always worked for me.

Barret: Hmph! Well, that's all well and good if you're only out for yourself. But the folks down there don't have the luxury of choice, you know?

Cloud: Like this train, I suppose... There's only one way it can go...

Chapter 3: Home Sweet SlumEdit

[Train arrives at the station. Passengers cheerfully run out of the train and hug their children, rejoicing that they have escaped from the hell our terrorists have arranged.]

Barret: Hot damn, we are good!

Wedge: Bombs detonated: one. Members lost: zero!

Biggs: And one step closer to a brighter future!

Jessie: Hell yeah!

[Hell it is.]

Barret: Guys! Lower your voices, huh? People are listening. Now get some R&R. You've earned it. Just be ready for the next mission, alright?

[Happy with their work, the squad members are scattering around.]

Barret: (to Cloud) See you soon. At Seventh Heaven? You know, where Tifa works? Don't keep her waiting. She'll worry. (from afar) Not long now, honey! Daddy's almost home!

[Cloud descends from the platform and enters the city. He meets a young man looking at the poster of our terrorist group.]

Undercity Resident: Hah. "Mako is the lifeblood of the planet"? The hell it is.
Goddamn eco-warriors with their dumbass posters. I tear 'em down and they're back up inside of an hour! Like I've got nothing better to do... I mean, look at all that steelwork... You're trying to tell me that's not progress?

[Cloud seems to think a piece of metal is flying into his head. ]

Undercity Resident: What the - You okay, buddy? Mako junkie, huh? Figures...

[Case closed! Cloud is being attacked by invisible enemies again.]

Cloud: You again…

[After dealing with his demons, Cloud approaches the terrorist base. There's a girl and a little girl sitting on the porch.]

Tifa: Marlene!

Marlene: Daddy! You're home!

Barret: That's right, angel, I am!

Tifa: Welcome back!

Barret: Have you been a good girl?

Marlene: Yeah, I've been helping Tifa.

Barret: Oh, you did, did you? Well, well...

Tifa: (to Cloud) You made it. (looking at the flower) Where'd you get that? I can't remember the last time I saw a real one.

[Cloud gives a flower to Tifa.]

Tifa: How sweet. When did you get so thoughtful?

Cloud: A guy can change. Has been five years.

Tifa: Huh?

Cloud: I need to talk to Barret.

Tifa: Right. Come on in.

Marlene: Daddy, the mako place blew up. Everyone on TV's talking about it.

Barret: Don't you worry about all that silliness. Daddy's here, and he's not going anywhere tonight. Now turn that thing off and let's get you to bed, huh?

[Marlene looks at Cloud, gets scared and runs away.]

Barret: Hey! The hell you think you're doing scaring my daughter like that!?

Marlene: Daddy says never talk to strangers.

Barret: That's right, honey, I do say that. What a good girl you are, remembering Daddy's lessons. You know what else good girls do? They go to bed on time. C'mon.

Marlene: But I'm not tired! I wanna talk some more, Daddy...

Barret: Mmm... Alright but just this once!

Tifa: So, then! What can I get you?

Cloud: My money. I'm still waiting on it.

Tifa: Ah... Right... About that... We should talk. Outside.

Marlene: Um, Daddy...did the people who died all return to the planet?

Barret: Of course. Let that be a lesson to you.

[Cloud goes out on the porch.]

Tifa: Before we get onto money... There's an empty apartment in a place just down the road. It's nothing fancy, but... I was thinking you could stay there for now. The landlady's a big friend of the cause, so you wouldn't even have to pay rent! Sound good?

Cloud: Sure does. Thanks.

Tifa: Follow me then! How was it up on the plate?

Cloud: It was… chaotic.

Tifa: Sorry for dragging you into all this. It was wrong of me to put you in danger like that. I promise I won't do it again.

Cloud: Danger's part of the job. Don't worry about me.

Tifa: I’ll try not to.

Cloud: Always happy to help stick it to Shinra.

Tifa: So, you make nice with everyone?

Cloud: Much as I could, all things considered. Maybe not, enough for them.

Tifa: Good. You had me worried. You're not exactly a people person.

Cloud: I'll give you that.

Tifa: I saw Sector 8 on the news... It was like a war zone...

Cloud: The news is just another Shinra mouthpiece. They'll spread whatever lies Shinra tells 'em to.

Tifa: So… lit wasn't that bad?

Cloud: ...It was.

Tifa: Oh. Right And here we are. Good ol' Stargazer Heights. You're on the second floor. Room 201 here is where I sleep. Don't have time for much else, what with Seventh Heaven and all. Not even time to decorate. Here's your room. 202. Don't worry, I already told the landlady about you,

Cloud: You did?

Tifa: Yes? Ohhh, I mean I told her I had a friend looking for a place to stay. Was that too much?

Cloud: No. It's fine. And this?

Tifa: That one's, uh... know what, it's getting late. I'll introduce you tomorrow. It's a little bare, but should be enough to get you through the night. If you want anything else, we can always get it

Cloud: There is one thing. My money. You guys owe me two thousand, remember?

Tifa: I do, and we'd love to settle up, especially since this was your first job for us, but...

[500 gil obtained.]

Cloud: That's it?

Tifa: Sorry. We spent the rest preparing for the mission. That really is it. But not for long! I'm collecting money for filters tomorrow, so I can pay you after.

Cloud: And you're sure about that?

Tifa: Of course… as long as you help, that is. Wait... Then I'd have to pay you for that too. Never mind.

Cloud: No, two thousand's enough. That's what we agreed on, so that'll be the price. With what you gave me, that leaves fifteen hundred.

Tifa: You're the best! I'll see you bright and early at the bar, then. Thanks again for everything. Sleep tight!

[She leaves. Cloud takes off his huge sword and goes to bed. In the middle of the night he hears a strange sound from his neighbour's apartment and jumps out of bed, ready for battle.]

Cloud: Guess it's time for introductions. Hey. You okay in there? Coming in.

[When he walks into a room, a glitch about a man with gray hair is visiting him again. Cloud tries to get his sword, but doesn't take into account that he's standing in a doorway and this huge swing just won't fit there.]

Tifa: Cloud! Stop!

Cloud: Get back inside! (to his glitch) Get off me!

???: Reunion… Reunion...

[Cloud is waking up.]

Tifa: What are you doing to Marco? This is his apartment. He's got a few problems, but he's not a bad guy. The landlady asked me to check on him now and then to make sure he's okay. May I ask you to do the same?

Cloud: Sure...

[In the morning, Cloud goes out for a walk.]

???: Well, now. You must be Cloud. I'm Marle, your landlady. So how'd you like the place?
You from up on high?

Cloud: I've been around.

Marle: I'll bet. No matter. All kinds come through with all kinds of reasons. If you ever need an ear to bend, I'll lend you mine, Can be about anything—even Tifa.

Cloud: What's she to you?

Marle: The granddaughter I never had. And if you hurt her, I'll take it out of your hide. You hear me?

Cloud: Loud and clear.

Marle: Good! Now you'd best get a move on to Seventh Heaven! She's got a head start on you and then some. Come on, quit lollygagging and go to Seventh Heaven already!

Tifa: Morning!

Cloud: Hey.

Tifa: Just so you know, Marlene's still asleep. Let's get down to business, shall we? These water filters won't replace themselves. Although, the next batch probably could, if Jessie put her mind to it. Most every home in the area has one. Folks love 'em 'cause they practically eliminate the rotten-egg smell. Honestly, they make us more money than this place, And it's easy money too. We bring new filters, collect the old ones, and get paid. What?

[Cloud is moaning like he's hung over. Maybe he's actually taking drugs?]

Cloud: Gimme a break. I'm not a salesman. I'm a SOLDIER.

Tifa: Which is why no one will refuse to pay. What do you say? Please?

Cloud: Let's get this over with.

Tifa: Great. And while we're at it, I'll give you the grand tour. Go ahead and keep whatever we collect. Seeing as you didn't bring any luggage, I'm guessing there's snuff you need to buy.

Cloud: Thanks.

Tifa: And don't worry. We'll pay you the difference after. Barret's out making his rounds too.

Cloud: As long as I get it all today.

[Tifa and Cloud are wandering around town. There's a lot of people walking around. There's a lot of small shops open here and there.]

Tifa: Hey, there. Here to change out your water filter.

Item Store Owner: Tifa baby, how you doing? Been waiting for you to—Wait. Who's he?

Tifa: Cloud's in charge of collections. He'll take your money.

Item Store Owner: Sounds like a pretty sweet gig! If you ever need, someone to fill in, I'm your man.

Cloud: In your dreams, maybe.

[The owner looks pretty much gay.]

Item Store Owner: Huh?

Tifa: Cloud! Uh… since we're here, maybe we should do a little shopping?

Cloud: Suppose I could take a look.

Item Store Owner: Thanks! If you're ever in the market for anything else, drop on
by. Especially if Tifa's with you.

Tifa: We'll see you around, okay? And let us know when your filter next needs changing! (to Cloud) He's a regular. Stock up here and he might throw in a freebie or two.

Cloud: For you maybe...

Tifa: Well... You could try being a little nicer.

Cloud: To get free shit? Not my style.

Tifa: Our next stop is Stargazer Heights. Landlady's a client.

Cloud: Just met her.

Tifa: Then you know what to expect. Remember: she's a good friend of Avalanche, so be nice. Please. Hey, Marle! Got some filters for you.

Marle: Tifa! My dear, dear girl! ...Oh. What's he doing here?

Cloud: Working.

Tifa: Be nice! Cloud's helping me with collections.

Marle: You'd better take care of her!

Tifa: I'm pretty good at taking care of myself, you know.

Marle: That I do. Still, better him than you. No charm, no wit. Big sword… but no skills.

Cloud: I've got skills.

Tifa: Be nice!

Cloud: I'm doing my best...

Marle: You're looking awfully glum. Are you getting enough sleep? A good long rest'll cure anything, I tell you.

Tifa: A tried-and-true lesson for life on the ground floor, am I right?

Marle: That you are. Now your money.

Tifa: Thanks, Marle. You take care of yourself.

Marle: Don't do anything I wouldn't do!

Tifa: Marle's great. She helped get me set up back in the day.

Cloud: You… been here a while now?

Tifa: Five years, give or take... But never mind that! We've gotta get you your money! Last stop is the weapon store.

Weapons Vendor: Hey! That last filter didn't do shit!

Tifa: We're so sorry about that. Hopefully this one will work better...

Weapons Vendor: Save your excuses and get out!

Tifa: All right. If you could just settle your bill, we'll be on our way.

Weapons Vendor: The hell? You charging me for your busted-ass goods?

Tifa: My associate handles payment disputes...

Weapons Vendor: Think you can mosey up in here and have it your way?

Cloud: Pretty please.

[First terrorism, then threats and extortion. That's great.]

Tifa: Thank you very much! Seeing as we're done with our rounds, and you've got a small fortune now, why not take a gander at the weapons?

Cloud: Well… when will Barret be back with the rest?

Tifa: Before we open up tonight. It'll be a while yet, So...what do you wanna do?

Cloud: Don't really know...

Tifa: In that case, I've got a suggestion. Wanna hear it? If you're serious about becoming a merc, then you're going to need to start making connections. "It's not what you know, but who you know," y'know?

Cloud: Hmph. Another lesson for life on the ground floor?

Tifa: Yep. Connections get you jobs, jobs build your rep, and more rep gets you better connections...

Cloud: How do I start?

Tifa: Hmm...why not help out the neighborhood watch? They're mostly volunteers, but you'll get to know people.

Cloud: Yeah, okay.

Tifa: Didn't see anybody at the office, so let's head up top. Huh, didn't know you were holding down the fort.

Wedge: Oh, hey, Cloud. Looking to join the neighborhood watch?

Cloud: That depends. What does this neighborhood watch do?

Biggs: Umm… lots of stuff, really. But our top priority is taking care of any beasts that wander into town. That and teaching the locals how to defend themselves.

Wedge: Like they say: "The only one who'll look out for you is you."

Tifa: Cloud's a great fighter, but only we know that. If no one knows him, no one'll hire him. Though he joined the watch, he could get his name out there.

Wedge: That would work for everybody!

Biggs: Truth be told, we could really use your help. We can't pay you in gil, but we'll work something out. For example... Aha, what about your sword? I could mod it for you.

Cloud: No thanks. It's fine just the way it is.

Biggs: You some kind of a purist? I know I'd never pass up a chance to improve my gear. C'mon… at least let me show you how it's done.

[Cloud mods his huge hunk of metal.]

Biggs: All set? Needless to say, you'll have to try it out to appreciate the difference.

Cloud: Thanks!

Biggs: We'll do you one better—spread the word to everyone, who'll listen about the new merc in town.

Tifa: Between him and Wedge, there isn't anyone they don't know.

Wedge: I'll march through the streets singing your praises even on an empty stomach!

Cloud: So… where are these monsters?

Biggs: Scrap Boulevard. Good hunting.

Tifa: Hey, Cloud. I'll come with.

Cloud: No, I've got this.

Tifa: But… you don't know the way, do you?

Cloud: Lead on.

Tifa: Sure thing. I know these streets better than anyone. Scrap Boulevard is out west. Past the barricades supposed to keep the monsters out. Anyway, we should prepare, just in case. Here's Scrap Boulevard.

Cloud: I can see why monsters'd feel right at home.

Tifa: Hm. And the more we pile up, the more they show up. And there's our first challenger! Show me what you got, Cloud! Wow... So that's what a SOLDIER looks like in action.

Cloud: This was just a warm-up.

Tifa: I'll bet. Let's keep at it!You're good at this! Charging in like it was nothing...

Cloud: You too. It's a little surprising.

Tifa: Well, I've been here five years now. “If you don't look out for yourself, no one else will.” By the way that's one's gonna be on the test.

Cloud: This a lesson?

Tifa: Gotta learn if you're gonna stick around. Okay, let's wrap this up... Alright. I think that might be the last of them.

Cloud: They won't stay gone for long...

Tifa: Of course not. Even so, folks'll be grateful for the peace and quiet in the meantime. A win's a win, you know?

Cloud: True.

Tifa: Trust me—it'll do wonders for your rep. Right, let's go check in with Biggs and Wedge.

[Cloud tries to walk in the weapon store, but he gets a warm welcome.]

Weapons Vendor: Huh? I ain't got nothing for a punk-ass bitch like you! Get on outta here!

[He's going back to base.]

Biggs: Back already?

Tifa: Got every last one too. Now the slums should be safe.

Wedge: You guys are machines!

Biggs: Good job. Meanwhile, we told everyone we could about you.

Cloud: So I heard. I've gotta ask though. What did you tell them?

Tifa: It's alright. All you gotta do is keep up the good work. It'll pay off soon enough, I promise.

Biggs: How's the sword, by the way?

Cloud: Good.

Biggs: Glad to hear it. Seems like the perfect fit for you.

Cloud: Yeah. We've been through a lot—

Tifa: You okay?

Cloud: I’m fine.

Tifa: Been meaning to ask... After you left the village...

Cloud: It's a long story.

Tifa: I've got time! Why don't you tell me all about it while we try to rustle up some more work for you?

Wedge: That sounds great! I'll come too!

Biggs: Oh no you won't. Run along now, you two. Go on.

Tifa: Sorry. Maybe next time.

Wedge: No fair!

Biggs: Think about it for a second. They haven't seen each other in years. You'd be a third wheel!

Tifa: Hey, before we get back to it, why don't you check out the weapons?

Cloud: No need.

Tifa: C'mon, the dealer's probably heard all about you by now. Might treat you better.

Cloud: I dunno about that...

[They're going back to the weapon store where Cloud was extorting money by threatening bodily harm.]

Weapons Vendor: Hold up. Heard there's a merc that'll take on any monster. You the man?

Tifa: Word spreads fast around here.

Cloud: What if I am?

Weapons Vendor: Sorry 'bout before. I get antsy when business is slow. Man in your line of work needs weapons, no? Why not, try that one on for size? Yours on the house. Badass like you rocking my weapons is good advertising. Think about it.

Cloud: Fine.
Weapons Vendor: Or if you wanna take a look at something else...

Cloud: Just a look.

Weapons Vendor: Don't be a stranger.

Tifa: Since you've got yourself a new weapon, let's see if we can't put it to good use. Come on. Let's go chat up Wymer.

Cloud: Who?

Tira: The guy who tracks all the requests that come to the watch. You never know—could toss some work your way.

Cloud: Where's he at?

Tifa: Oh, he should be back at the office by now.

[They'll go to the street vendor on the street corner. His appearance brings back memories of Guy Ritchie's movies, which is cool.]

Wymer: Hey there, Tifa! You need a helping hand?

Tifa: Actually, I wanted to introduce you to an old friend of mine. This is Cloud. He's a merc.

Wymer: Hah, you don't say! Well, we're always on the lookout for experienced fighters to help us deal with the bigger critters.

Cloud: I'll take on anything. For the right price, that is.

Wymer: Experienced and cocky, huh? If it's a challenge you want, I might have a few good ones. Your clients can fill you in on the details. Prove yourself with these jobs, and I'll see if I can't find you some more.

Cloud: Thanks.

???: Candidate detected. Performing physical analysis... Sizable weapon, excellent cardiovascular health and impressive lung capacity. Perfectly balanced muscle and bone structure. An optimal candidate! My name is Chadley. I'm an intern for Shinra's Research and Development Division. I hope you'll be interested in helping me with my research. Please accept this as a down payment. I would like you to set that Assess materia in your equipment and use it to gather intelligence in battle. This data will help me to develop new types of materia.

Cloud: I'm not interested in working for Shinra.

Chadley: You should know that I work actively to undermine Shinra's efforts. I'm sure you of all people can appreciate the tremendous power of materia as well as how it might be wielded against your corporate enemies. And if you later decide that I am not worthy of your trust, you can do what you do best.

Cloud: I will hold you to that.

Chadley Excellent! Then we shall work together so long as you deem fit. Once you've completed your task, please return and report to me. Please set the orb of Assess materia to your equipment, and use it to gather battle intel.

Wymer: You'll never want for work around here if you prove yourself useful.

[Tifa and Cloud leave and meet a little girl in the street.]

Betty: Oh, hey there! Uhh, is Marlene with you?

Tifa: No.

Betty: Oh, okay. I was kinda hoping she could help me find my friends.

Tifa: I know someone who can help you. This guy right here.

Betty: Really!? Okay! Lemme tell you all about them. They have long arms and legs. And they're a little skinny. They like places where there's food. And nice people who give them treats when they ask! And small spaces! Oh, yeah, and they're all cats!

Cloud: I'm looking for cats?

Betty: They're friendly, so if you call them, they'll come running. All three of them! Find my friends. Please! They love crowded places, like the road to the station. A lot of people stop to play with them there.

Tifa: Wait. Did you hear that just now? I think one of Betty's cats might be nearby. Ah! That was definitely a cat! I wonder if it's one of Betty's. I swear I just heard a cat. It's gotta be around here somewhere...

Undercity Resident: I'm trying to get a cat to come out. lt snatched one of my pastries and scurried in there. Will you be a dear and lend me a hand?

[When Cloud finds all the cats, he tries to pet one of them. It hisses and runs away.]

Cloud: This sucks. Ugh, screw this.

[Cloud and Tifa decide to go back to Betty.]

Betty: What? They ran away? So… I'm never gonna see them again?

[However, all three cats materialize from the thin air and approach her.]

Betty: You guys! You came back! They said that a scary man was chasing them! Thank you!

Tifa: That went well. Could be you've found your calling.

Cloud: Eh. Was alright I guess.

Tifa: Think of each job as an opportunity—not to make money, but to build connections.

Cloud: "It's not what you know, but who."

Tifa: You remembered.

Cloud: Had a patient teacher.

Tifa: Maybe not so patient next time.

Cloud: Hoo boy.

Tifa: Oh, Barret should've finished collecting his share of the money by now, so what do you wanna do? Head back to the bar?

[Cloud's going to the monsters' dump to collect some data for Shinra's employee.]

Cloud: There. That should be enough intel for the kid.

Chadley: Cloud. You were the first to gather the data I requested. Here is the rest of your payment. I have developed new materia. Would you like to see it? I plan to develop more materia in the future. Together, we can harness enough power to take down Shinra. I'll keep preparing more battle intel reports, which I hope you will assist me in completing.

Item Store Owner: Hey there, Tifa, welcome back! And you. The new merc in town looking for work, right?

Cloud: Yeah.

Item Store Owner In that case, maybe you could do something about the doomrats? Them and their wererat buddies have been tearing up town, looking for food and whatnot. Got into the store and made one hell of a mess, let me tell you. Oh you think that's funny, do you? Don't lie. I saw you crack a smile. Well, do the job and you can laugh it up for all I care. Anyway...they're probably nesting in the outskirts. Now I've heard a wererat in pain'll call its friends for help. And the whole rat pack'll come running, just like that.

Cloud: I don't see any "doomrats" around...

Tifa: Hmm, what do you think? Should we wait? You know, this might be a waste of time. Let's head back to the store and touch base for now.

Undercity Resident: The leader of the rat pack is the worst of 'em all. The loudest, most obnoxious squeaking... Johnny liked to mimic it until we told him to cut that shit out.

Junk Dealer: Hello, hello! Oho, what do we have here? I'm guessing you're that merc I've heard so much about. You're not here to shop, are you? People were right. You look like you can handle yourself. So some drakes've made themselves at home in the abandoned Talagger factory. Can't have that kind of trouble around here. My regulars will do anything to get their hands on the scrap in there, and if they run into those drakes, they could get hurt.

Cloud: I'll handle it.

Junk Dealer: Much obliged, sir! Head on over to the old Talagger factory and talk to Narjin. He's the watchman guarding the entrance. Good luck! I'm counting on ya, my friend! Narjin's the one with all the details. You'll find him outside the old Talagger factory. Don't forget to stock up before you go!

Item Store Owner: Well? Rats too much to handle? I'm just messing with you. I heard you took out some wererats, which is nice and all, but the job was to wipe out the doomrats. No biggie—get back out there and finish the job and, we're good. Don't look so glum. It's only a matter of time till they show. You'll get 'em this time for sure!

[Clous manages to find these unfortunate rats and hit them with his sword a few times.]

Item Store Owner: Finally managed to get those doomrats, huh? Thanks guys you're the greatest! Was so dead in here I thought I might have to close up shop for good. Hey—got an idea. Hear me out. If the guy who took care of the town's rat problem told everybody where he liked to shop... Well? Whaddya say? I’ll make it worth your while, of course. Give you some incentive. Talk you up to Wymer and my customers and anybody else who'll listen. You'll be swimming in work before you know it!

Cloud: Yeah, sure.

Item Store Owner: Okay then! That's what I like to hear! Seventh Heaven, the new merc in town, and my little store! I can see it now! We're gonna clean up!

[They leave the store and on their way to Wymer they see a huge crowd of citizens.]

Tifa: Something's wrong. Let's check it out.

Narjin: Factory's off-limits. Drakes have been spotted inside. Huh? Wait a minute. Tifa? Don't tell me you're here to take care of those things. Are you? In that case, be my guest! We believe there's at least two groups lurking somewhere inside the factory. Find and cull 'em all.

[Cloud walks into the factory and gets rid of monsters there.]

Junk Dealer: Got rid of those drakes in the factory, did ya? What a relief! I can't wait to give my regulars the good news! You're the real deal all right. Keep it up, and I can see you going far as a merc in this town. I've worked with my fair share over the years, so believe me when I say that I know what I'm talking about. Anyway you're needed over at the pillar. Apparently another flying bastard's stirring up trouble. Bet you can't get enough of this, eh?

Cloud: Well...

Junk Dealer: No, I get it. If you're good at something, might as well make it your living. May not know you, but I know a man who's found his calling when I see one. Keep at it! I switch out my stock every so often, so drop by when you're in the neighborhood, huh?

Tifa: I'll bet a lot of people are talking about you right now. "There's this amazing merc who can handle anything!"

Cloud: Nothing I've done around here has been all that special though.

Tifa: Oh, so you want more of a challenge, huh?

Junk Dealer: Welcome! I'm always getting in new stuff to keep up with the latest trends. You won't be disappointed! Always a pleasure. Oh you look into that other gig, yet? If you're planning to, might wanna buy some extra supplies first.

Undercity Resident: I'm guessing you're the merc who dealt with those damn rats? That wasn't me who put in the request, but as a resident of Culvert Street, I appreciate what you did.
ward yard.

[Finally our terrorists go to the crowd in the square. As it turned out, they gathered at the house of one Johnny, who was captured by the military.]

Johnny: Stay away from me!

[The military works quickly and efficiently - they put him on the ground, tie his hands and blindfold him for some reason.]

Johnny: Get off me, assholes! I didn't do shit!

Security Officer: Shut it, punk!

Johnny: Or what!? Screw you!

Tifa: What's going on?

Undercity Resident: "Somebody" went and stole some blasting agent from Shinra warehouse.
So Public Security started asking questions, and you know how Johnny gets...

Undercity Resident: It's because of the reactor bombing, I bet. I could be wrong... But something tells me they're not gonna settle for just roughing him up this time.

Tifa: We've gotta save him, Cloud!

Cloud: Is he Avalanche?

Tifa: No. He doesn't really know what we do… but he has his suspicions. He's a talker. Actually, you know what… maybe I should go alone.

Cloud: I'm coming.

Tifa: Uh… are you sure?

Cloud: It's the least I can do. Lead on.

Tifa: Thanks. Come on!

[They're going on a chase.]

Johnny: What the hell, man!? You trying to break my arm!? Dragging me through the street like this is—ow—cruel and unusual punishment!

Tifa: Come on. Let's get a closer look.

Security Officer: Model citizens don't steal blasting agent! So why don't you tell me why your ID popped when we were going over the warehouse logs!?

Johnny: Huh? You've got it all wrong! I've never gone anywhere near a Shinra warehouse! Unless it was Jessie... She jacked my ID!

Security Officer: Your ID was never logged, dumbass. It would've never gotten you inside a Shinra installation in the first place! But don't you worry we'll take all the time we need to help you get your story straight.

Tifa: I’ll swear, all he had to do was keep his mouth shut.

Cloud: Yep.

Tifa: Anyway, you distract the officers, and I'll… figure something out.

Cloud: Let him go.

Security Officer: Who're you? The cavalry?

Johnny: Is that who I think it is!? Aw, hell yeah! You guys really came to save me! Ava—

Security Officer: Hey! The hell you think you're doing!?

Tifa: Here we go...

[They're going into battle with the military. Fists and iron against machine guns - the outcome is obvious. Our terrorists are winning.]

Tifa: Grab Johnny so we can get outta here,

Cloud: Alright.

Tifa: Wh-what now?

Cloud: He's a talker.

[He takes out his sword. Finally, the problems began to be solved in accordance with the given characters personalities.]

Johnny: Huh!? You're not gonna... Hold up! Wait! Don't—don't do it, man!

Cloud: You wanna live, then get the hell out of town.

Johnny: Y-y-you got it, boss! You ain't never gonna see my face again, I swear!

[He runs off to wash his pants.]

Cloud: Are you sure about this? It's a big risk.

Tifa: I know, but… it's fine.

Cloud: And them?

Tifa: No more... Cloud... You're scaring me. We need to go before they wake up. ...I'm worried about Johnny.

Cloud: I'm more worried about us. We gotta go, right?

Tifa: Right...

Cloud: What? It's just… you've really changed.

Cloud: How?

Tifa: I suppose it's… yeah. Your eyes, They used to be less...

Cloud: It's the mako. SOLDIER, remember?

Tifa: ...I remember. So what do you wanna do now? Head back to the bar? Or do you wanna tackle another job or two?

[Cloud doesn't answer and they go on until they meet a jaunty black girl arguing with the military.]

Gwen: Tifa! You won't believe this! A cerulean drake flew in from the train graveyard, but these two clowns refuse to get off their butts and do anything about it! Hey... Is that...? It is you! The new merc! Then maybe you can help us out? The drake is in the old Talagger factory over there, but to reach it you'll need to get ahold of a watch security key. You should be able to find one inside one of the crates forget which. Just smash 'em all.

[Cloud and Tifa go to the factory to kick monsters.]

Tifa: That the key?

Cloud: Yeah.

[They're going back to Gwen.]

Gwen: And there he is! I knew you were the right man for the job! There's no denying you're the real deal! Not like these idiots, with their excuses. Rather have one of you than twenty of them!

Cloud: They're just doing their jobs. Can't expect them to be at your beck and call.

Gwen: What exactly is it you're trying to say, merc?

Cloud: You need people who can follow order's too.

Gwen: I see now. Heard you were ex-Shinra. Guess I shouldn't be surprised you'd go to bat for your old buddies. Me, I'm just looking out for my people. All there is to it. Hell with you. We can take care of this town ourselves! No more mercs or Shinra—we'll build up the watch and kick you all out!

[Cloud decides to return to street vendor Wymer.]

Wymer: A certain shopkeeper told me you paid him a visit. Thanks for helping him out. Just so happens there's another job I'd like to offer you, now that I know you can handle yourself in a fight. We've got a real killer on the loose, you see. A rabid catch dog. Maybe you heard people talking about it? Shinra mutt gone feral. Last sighting was in Scrap Boulevard. Think you're up to it?

Cloud: I'll handle it.

Wymer: You're a lifesaver! Doubt anyone else around here stands a chance! Go get em, bud.

Chadley: I have to tell you that I am grateful for all of your help thus far. I've done it. I've developed a new materia! I look forward to receiving all of your future, battle intel submissions.

[Cloud goes to the dumpster and defeats the creepy thing.]

Cloud: Dammit.

Wymer: Hey! Over here! Tifa! Hey, Cloud! I drove the hound into the area up ahead. He's pissed, so make sure you're ready. Took care of the dog, did ya? Phew! We owe you one.

Cloud: Gotta say, I've never seen a Shinra breed like that before. Out of curiosity, when exactly did it show up?

Wymer: Oh, today. The first reports came in just this morning. Uh… why do you ask? Wait a minute... There's this crazy story about a Shinra research lab hidden right beneath our feet—under the slums.

Cloud: Huh. Really...? That's news to me.

Wymer: And here I thought you might know something I don't! Well, I guess not.

Cloud: It's a big organization. I'm sure there's lots of secrets I don't know.

Wymer: Yeah, fair enough. You got the bastard. That's good enough for me.

Tifa: Okay then! That's another solid gig in the books! You know the whole town is really impressed with what you've done. Keep it up and you'll have enough work to keep you fed for a lifetime!

Cloud: All thanks to you.

Tifa: And don't you forget it!

Cloud: So where do we get paid? The shop or something?

Tifa: Yeah, but why don't we head back to the apartments first? Take a quick breather.

Cloud: Which lesson was that again...?

Tifa: Lesson one. Got it? Anyway, let's go!

Marle: Huh? Someone's back awful early. Not that I mind! Would you two be dears and swap your filters out for me? I left them in your rooms.

Tifa: Sure thing!

Marle: Not so fast, you. Do me a favor. She needs a friend, a real friend.

Cloud: ...We're already friends.

Marle: So when she talks, are you really listening? Thinking about her and her feelings?
Or are you just going through the motions? Go on.

Tifa: Let's take care of this real quick, okay?

Cloud: Sure.

Tifa: Come over when you're done.

[Cloud changes the filter in an apartment, and walks into the apartment next door where Tifa is doing the same thing.]

Tifa: Gimme one sec. I'll be done in a bit. Finally! So. After you left the village.

Cloud: Hm?

Tifa: I let you off the hook before. Back at the hall. But not this time.

Cloud: Well, when we were kids… everybody wanted to be a SOLDIER, right?

Tifa: Yeah, I remember they were on the news every day during the war.

Cloud: Thing is, by the time I finally made it in, they didn't need heroes anymore. It was nothing like what we'd dreamt of. It was just… working for Shinra. Just...

Tifa: I'm sorry. I know it's a touchy subject.

Cloud: Not exactly small talk. Especially with someone you haven't seen in a while.

Tifa: I get it. Still, it's kinda funny. Us going our separate ways, thinking that must be it... that we'd never meet again and then here of all places we do. You know what? We should totally celebrate! Let's dress up and hit the town!

Cloud: Really?

Tifa: I mean, why not? It'll be fun!

Cloud: Do you even have fancy clothes?

Tifa: Not like fancy fancy, but I'll figure something out! What do you think would suit me, huh?

[Cloud has to choose between a mature, sporty or exotic outfit.]

Cloud: Something exotic?

Tifa: Uhhh… really? Then again, if we're making an effort... Be sure to pick an outfit that goes with mine, okay? This is gonna be so much fun, you'll see!

Cloud: Yeah… maybe.

Tifa: And on that happy note, I think it's time we headed back to the bar. C'mon!

Cloud: Uh, you don't need a break?

Tifa: Honestly, I'm feeling pretty good. Marle isn't always right you know. Hey, Marle. We took care of the filters, so we're gonna head back to the bar now.

Marle: Take care you two! ...Oh? You're looking pretty chipper!

Tifa: Uh… I don't feel that different.

Marle: Must be my imagination then. Anyway! Keep your wits about you, merc! A token of my appreciation. Be good to her.

[Cloud takes the necklace and goes to the store.]

Item Store Owner: Keepin' your nose to the grindstone, huh? I've got just the thing for a go-getter like you!

Tifa: And here we are. You must be tired.

Cloud: Same as you, I guess.

Tifa: Could use a little something to take the edge off, right? How about a refreshing cocktail made by yours truly that you can sit back and savor? Yeah, I'm feeling it a bit too. Hey... Do you think you'll stick around a little longer?

Cloud: Maybe. Work for a minute, build up some savings...

Tifa: I see. So, what'll it be? Wanna head back out for a little while?

Cloud: Yeah, why not.

Tifa: Well? You wanna head inside?

Cloud: Yeah.

[They enter the base of the eco-terrorists. Barret and his daughter come up from a secret bunker like they have their own bat cave.]

Tifa: We're back!

Marlene: Did you… have fun?

Tifa: Lotsa fun.

Barret: Hey—need y'all downstairs.

Tifa: Uh… right now? Then the plan is....?

Barret: Marlene, wanna go wait for Jessie out front?

Marlene: Okay!

Tifa: Looks like we're officially on for tomorrow night, then. Gotta go over the details with the others.

Cloud: Before you do, about my pay—

Barret: You'll get your money! So sit down and shut up until we're finished. Double time, Tifa.

[He goes down to the secret bunker.]

Tifa: I'm really sorry… but it shouldn't take much longer. In the meantime... Grab a seat.

[He sits at the bar and Tifa stands at the counter.]

Tifa: What'll it be?

Cloud: I dunno… something hard and bitter.

[She's pouring him a glass of something but I'll assume it's whiskey cocktail.]

Tifa: Well? Most people would say something sweet right about now.

Cloud: I'm sure they would.

Tifa: Ahh, but you're a more discerning customer, aren't you? In which case... Our house special: the Cosmo Canyon.

[This red cocktail looks like Bloody Mary.]

Cloud: Beautiful.

Tifa: I gotta go. Enjoy.

[She goes down to the secret bunker. Jessie enters the base.]

Jessie: Hey! You see the news? “The reactor bombing was the work of the eco extremist group 'Avalanche.'” Public enemy number one! Gets your heart racing, doesn't it?

[She seems very happy about it.]

Jessie: They don't know our faces, so we're in the clear for now, but we'll wanna capitalize on this momentum. Speaking of which, you coming on the next one?

Cloud: For the right price.

Jessie: Oh, you can bet I'll be pushing hard for a raise! Tifa'll be joining us too, but I dunno... Even a blind man can see her heart's not in it. She was never on board with the bombings, so if it comes down to do or die... If I've got to put my life in someone else's hands... Then… I'd rather that someone was a professional. Like you.

[She goes down to the secret bunker. Cloud's playing with the glass.]

Cloud: Could still kill some time. The real deal, huh? What was up with that girl anyway?

[He finishes his cocktail and then walks around the bar, playing darts and looking at signs on the walls. After a while, Tifa comes back.]

Cloud: I heard you're having second thoughts.

Tifa: I know we have to think big if we're going to make a difference. But not like this. I feel trapped.

Cloud: If it feels wrong, don't do it.

[The rest of the group goes upstairs, too.]

Tifa: Guess that's that, then.

Cloud: What, they kick you out?

Tifa: We agreed to disagree. So you want another drink?

Barret: Tifa! Time to celebrate! Break out all the good stuff!

Tifa: Oh. Sure.

Barret: (to Cloud) We won't be needing you for this next job. Feel free to look for work elsewhere.

Cloud: Fine by me. That's how I like it. No contract, no obligation.

[Barret puts an envelope with money on the bar.]

Barret: Figured you'd say that. Here—the rest of your payment, along with a little extra for your exemplary service. And thus concludes our business. And thus concludes our business. Gonna have to ask you to leave now. This here's a private affair.

Jessie: Sorry, I tried. We talked it over, but...in the end... We didn't want to put so much on you. This is our fight.

Biggs: Jessie, what's the holdup?

Jessie: Be right there! No hard feelings, huh?

Cloud: It's fine.

Jessie: Let's talk more after I'm done here, okay?

Cloud: Really, it's fine.

Wedge: C'mon, Jessie! I'm dying here!

Jessie: I'll catch you later. Sorry to keep you thirsty boys waiting!

[They toast the success of the operation by shouting out the name of their terrorist organization.]

Tifa: Don't take this the wrong way, but right now I need to spend time with the gang. Sorry, you were saying?

Barret: When the job's done, we're done. Your words! Okay what were we talking about?

Jessie: We were all pushing real hard for you, you know. So, where'd we leave off?

[Cloud leaves the bar and sees a group of young people.]

Cloud: What's up with them?

Hoodlum: Hey brother! You from around the way?

Cloud: I guess.

Hoodlum: Know a big man with a big gun strapped to his right arm? Heard he's set up shop somewhere in the neighborhood.

Cloud: That depends...

Hoodlum: Clever. Smell an opportunity to make some scratch, do ya?

Cloud: Five hundred.

Hoodlum: Two hundred.

Cloud: Mm, three.

Hoodlum: Whatever, man. Let's find somewhere quiet to talk. Walk with me.

[While they're walking down the street, a young bastard is mocking passers-by.]

Hoodlum: Got something to say!? You lookin' at me? Move it! I said move!

Hoodlum 2: Look at all these assholes starin' at us.

Hoodlum 3: This shithole's got nothing on Wall Market—am I right? Word of advice, blondie. Don't piss off my friend here, or you'll be real sorry.

Hoodlum 2: Unless you've got some kinda death wish then be my guest.

Hoodlum 3: After you, brother... And don't worry backstabbin' type—most days...

[They're going out to the dump.]

Hoodlum Spill it. You know where the bastard's hiding, don't you?

Cloud: I told you before... That depends.

Hoodlum: Oh yeah? You wasting my time!?

Cloud: Shinra's time, you mean?

Hoodlum: (pulling out a knife) Shinra knows better than to stick its nose in my boss's business.

Cloud: Like I give a shit.

[He pulls out his sword and starts chopping.]

Cloud: Big man with a big gun for an arm, right!?

Hoodlum: Uh... Hey… it's...

Cloud: Why do you want him?

Hoodlum: Just a grunt following orders, you know? Nobody tells me shit. Lemme walk away. Please!

[Cloud kills all the scumbags.]

Cloud: So, if they weren't Shinra, then... Not my problem. Lesson one for life on the ground floor... Get some rest.

[He goes back to his room, which he rents. Next to the faith is Jessie.]

Jessie: Welcome home, honey! Took your sweet time.

[Cloud is freaking out about these words...]

Jessie: Psych. Are you gonna let me in so we can talk in private? Guess I'll get right to the point, then.

[She pulls out a red glowing ball.]

Cloud: What've you got there?

Jessie: An apology. For not getting you on the mission. Or not. What do you think it is?

Cloud: A proposition.

Jessie: Nailed it in one. Gonna have to ask you to keep all this a secret from the others, though. It's a personal matter something I need to sort out tonight.

Cloud: Tonight?

Jessie: Tonight. You and me, together. I want you to come with me to the Sector 7 plate. I'll give you the details on the way.

Cloud: That's fine by me... But don't you have a pretty big day ahead of you?

Jessie: I do, but... If I don't deal with this now, it's only gonna get harder... Anyway... I can count on you, can't I?

[She throws Cloud the ball. It turns out to be Ifrit.]

Jessie: A down payment. Doubt we'll be back before morning—‘case you were planning on traveling light. Make sure you've got everything you need before we leave. I'll wait here. You all set?

Cloud: Yeah.

Jessie: Awesome. Meet me at the station after dark. Don't be late!

Cloud: It's… just another job...

Chapter 4: Mad DashEdit

[Evening. Cloud and Jessie approach the station when their old friends on motorcycles suddenly approach them.]

Biggs: Tough break. They changed the times. Last train's already left. Which is why we borrowed these bikes. Need a lift to the plate?

Jessie: How did you guess...?

Wedge: Easy, you've been acting weird. Like, talking about one thing when you're obviously thinking about something else.

Biggs: Yeah, and don't get me started on all that pep.

Jessie: All right, I'll give you that—but how did you know wanted to head topside? Was I talking in my sleep? What else did I say!?

Wedge: No. We just figured you wanted to see your parents. That's all.

Biggs: Nailed it, huh?

Jessie: Yup. Right on the head.

Biggs: So—seeing as we don’t have any family of our own... How about you let us be part of yours for a bit? You know, spread the wealth.

Jessie: Are your parents still around?

Cloud: No.

Jessie: Okay, then. Guess you're all invited! Here's to awkward family reunions!

Biggs & Wedge: Yeah!

Jessie: I take it you boys have your brand-spanking-new IDs?

Biggs & Wedge: Yes, ma'am!

Jessie: Then let's lay down some rubber!

Biggs: Crank that throttle!

Wedge: Okay, you got it!

[They get on motorcycles, start the motors and leave. Cloud and Jessie are on one and Wedge and Biggs are on the other.]

Jessie: You hear me?

Cloud: Yeah.

Jessie: Just so you know, I'm not going plateside for the reason they think I am. Look you saw the way the reactor went up. It was huge, right?

Cloud: Because of all the mako. Isn't that what you said?

Jessie: Yeah… that was wishful thinking. Deep down, I know it was my fault. I used a more powerful fasting agent than the directions called for It had nothing to do with the mako.

Cloud: Let's say you're right. So what?

Jessie: I'm planning on using a weaker blasting agent this time. But… since I can't get in touch with my supplier, our only option is to loot a warehouse owned by Shinra.

Cloud: Shinra? Good luck with that.

Jessie: With your help, we won't need luck. ID scan! Ready!?

Biggs: So far so good!

Jessie: Alright, here comes the hard part!

Biggs: And that is?

Jessie: The fake IDs may have held up, but from this point on, if we get pinged by a scan...

Cloud: They'll come for us.

Jessie: Yeah, what he said.

Biggs: Oh, man!

Wedge: Just like that!?

Jessie: No need to worry. We've got Cloud, remember? Hey, you do know how to drive, right?

Cloud: SOLDIERs get mandatory training.

Jessie: Well then! You gonna take my breath away? Make my head spin with your amazing skills?

Cloud: Don't blame me if ya get sick,

Jessie: Right… We've got company!

Cloud: Someone's having fun.

Jessie: How could I not!? "Pursued by villains, a young couple thrust together by fate race through the neon streaked night..."

Cloud: Get off!

Jessie: Oh! My hero!

Biggs: Straight to lethal force!?

Jessie: What, so you'd just pull over if they asked nicely?

Biggs: Eh... You've got a point.

Jessie: See!? So don't go holding back now!

Jessie: That some super-secret technique? You got a fancy name for it?

Cloud: Of course not.

Biggs: More of ‘em!?

Jessie: Think we've bitten off more than we can chew! Whadda we do!?

Cloud: Shut up!

Mobile Unit Officer: Targets sighted. Moving to intercept.

[Cloud pulls out his giant sword and begins to chop soldiers with it as he races through the tunnel at mad speed.]

Biggs: Got more company!

Cloud: A-team’s here.

Jessie: Uhh, I don't like the sound of that!

Wedge: We're not screwed, are we!?

Jessie: Heads up drones!

Biggs: One thing after another.... C'mon Wedge, gun it!

Wedge: I am gunning it!

Cloud: We're good.

Biggs: Nothing about this is good!

Cloud: You got me.

Biggs: Fair enough! Alright then, do your thing!

[Some guy with long blond hair is gonna watch the chase. He whistles and sends Jessie an air kiss – at least I hope it was for Jessie...]

Mobile Unit Officer: SOLDIER en route. HQ's saying he's less than a few minutes out.

Mobile Unit Officer: Copy.

Mobile Unit Officer: You think it's "him"?

Mobile Unit Officer: Probably. All the more reason to finish this quick. Don't need that kind of trouble.

Biggs: That's an ex-SOLDIER for ya. Next to him, we look like kids on trikes.

Jessie: You're damn right you do!

Biggs: You're part of that "we" too, you know.

Wedge: We made it!

Biggs: Woo-hoo! Topside!

Cloud: Keep going till we hit the station?

Jessie: No, head straight for the warehouse. Our magical ride is almost at an end...

Biggs: Why ya talking like we're not here?

Jessie: Because you're not!

Biggs: Clearly we are! Not over yet!

Cloud:! Little help!?

Mobile Unit Officer: Time's up. Break off before he shows!

Mobile Unit Officer: Copy!

[The same blonde man who was standing on the road appears. He rushes a red car that looks more like a rocket and does a bunch of nonsense tricks trying to show how cool he is.]

Jessie: What's going on? Who's that?

Cloud: A SOLDIER.

???: Well, hello!

Biggs: Who's this!?

??? "Too quick for the eye, you cross him, you die!" Now... Mind if I cut in? Splendid! I've been looking for a new dance partner! Private party, huh? That's fine. I'll settle for a race, then. Just one.

Cloud: You talking to me?

???: I most certainly am.

Cloud: Then no!

???: Ah, so terribly sorry! Your words fail to reach my ears, sluggish and slow as they are!

Jessie: What's this guy's deal!?

???: The lady's curiosity has been piqued! My name is Roche, but you may address me by the more accurate appellation: Speed Demon!

Jessie: Heard that, huh!?

Roche: My ears are attuned to the feminine voice!

Jessie: This guy is the worst.

Roche: Yes. Yes! This is the contest I've been waiting for!

Roche: Fascinating...

Jessie: What is he up to now?

Cloud: Same shit. Being a dumbass.

Roche: Not bad. You have promise, and an abiding affection for your mouth. But! One cannot simply ride one's bike! Nay! One must unlock its true potential and become one with the machine! Like this!

Jessie: You might wanna try using those brakes of yours!

Cloud: Had enough?

Roche: Don't be absurd. As if I could ever grow tired of your company! Naughty, naughty! Until one of our flames is forever extinguished, our dance will never end! Burn for me! Come on! Let's push it past the redline!

Cloud: Jessie, take over.

[He jumps on Roche's motorcycle and cuts his engine, then comes back.]

Roche: Well, well, well! I do believe this round is yours. Maybe next time we can keep it just between the two of us.

Cloud: Maybe.

Roche: Until we meet again, my friend!

Biggs: We did it!

Wedge: Go team!

Jessie: Don't get too excited. Reinforcements are hot on our trail. You failed the test.

Cloud: What test?

Jessie: Driving.

Cloud: I'm great at driving.

Jessie: Hah! Great at scaring your passengers more like...

Cloud: Not used to having any.

Jessie: Maybe you should just let me drive.

Cloud: Nope.

Jessie: Guess I'll take one for the team and be your back warmer again. Aw, would you look at that... It's the end of the ride.

[They drive up to the city and jump off motorcycles.]

Jessie: We'll go on foot from here. Don't wanna draw too much attention to ourselves.

Wedge: Hey, did these things leave a mark?

Biggs: They got you pretty good.

Wedge: Aw...and I'm running on fumes...

Jessie: Don't worry, we'll top you up soon enough. Now let's roll. The residential area's just beyond this gate. Mind doing the honors? You've got an arm on ya! Here we are—the employee housing district. Where they put you when your parents work for Shinra. While their reactors were slowly killing the planet, we were living the good life...

Wedge: C'mere... Aw, no dice... Someone's playing hard to get.

Biggs: Folks here must be living off three or four times what I do.

Jessie: Figures. Still leaves the lights on every night for the girl who only comes home once every other blue moon. Mom's an old-fashioned type like that.

Wedge: Think she'll make us pizza? Her "Midgar Special"?

Biggs: She's quite the cook. Quick to whip up finger-lickin' food even if you drop by in the dead of night.

Jessie: And she loves guests who ask for seconds or thirds. Okay, let's head in. Cloud—you know what to do. Why don't you wait around the corner over there?

Cloud: Ah. Okay.

Wedge: It's a shame you won't get to try the Midgar Special. You would've really liked it.

[Cloud stands around the corner and jets the others. He remembers what Jessie told him.]

Jessie: (in Cloud’s head) With your help, we won't need luck. You'll take on just about any job, right? Well, I need you to rob my house. Think you can do that for me? Go in through the back door when the coast is clear. The signal will be obvious.

Cloud: Once the lights come on, it's go time. Time to go.

[He walks quietly into the house.]

Jessie: (in Cloud’s head) Inside, you'll find a room with two doors. Don't take the one in front of you. You want the room on the right. That's where you'll find it. We'll be chatting Mom up in the kitchen, so don't even bother being quiet. There's no way she'll ever hear you. Dad'll be in there, but it's okay.

[Jessie's Dad's lying on the bed-- it looks like he's in a coma. He's connected to a variety of medical equipment. Apparently, he's got serious health problems.]

Jessie: (in Cloud’s head) I need you to grab his Shinra ID card. And yeah, know I should do it myself, but... but I honestly don't think I'm up to it. Just do this for me, okay?

[Cloud is searching the room for an ID. He finds a letter.]

Cloud: What's this?

Jessie: "Dear Mom and Dad, Sorry for not getting in touch sooner, but... I'm working at the Gold Saucer as an actress now. It wasn't easy, and I had a lot of help from people along the way... but I managed to land a starring role. Enclosed are two tickets to my play. Looking forward to seeing you both there."

Cloud: Jessie Raspberry as… the Princess?

Jessie: (in Cloud’s head) My dad... he was a maintenance supervisor at the reactor.

[Cloud takes the ID out of Jassie’s Dad’s uniform pocket.]

Cloud: (to Jessie’s Dad) Thanks.

[He sees some documents on the desk...]

Cloud: C'mon, there's no time for this.

[He's coming out of the house.]

Cloud: Mission accomplished.

[We're switching to Jessie, who's distracting her mother during the theft. She sits at the dinner table with Wedge and Biggs and lies about her line of work.]

Jessie's Mom: When are you going to give up on the Gold Saucer? How long has it been since you even performed?

Wedge: A lot of people really rely on Jessie.

Jessie's Mom: As a stagehand though, right? You can be one of those anywhere. So why not come home and get a job at the Sector 8 theater?

Jessie: Uhhh, I'll think about it. You know, I'd really love to stay and chat, but we gotta go.

Jessie's Mom: So soon!

Jessie: Yeah, well, we hadn't even planned on dropping by. But Wedge wanted some of your famous pizza.

Wedge: (eating) So good!

Jessie's Mom: Sure I can't tempt you with some more?

Wedge: Maybe just a couple slices, Missus R.

Biggs: & Jessie: Wedge!

Wedge: Hey! I'm… I'm doing it for you guys! You don't want me going to work on an empty stomach.

Jessie: (in Cloud’s head) I'm planning on using a weaker blasting agent this time. Since I can't get in touch with my supplier, our only option is to loot a warehouse owned by Shinra.

[Jesse, Wedge and Biggs leave the house and go outside.]

Jessie: Hey there.

Cloud: This it?

Jessie: Now comes the hard part. I'm gonna use this to sneak into the 7-6 Annex.

Biggs: All right, let's get to it.

Jessie: Sorry, but you're staying outside. Only I know what to steal from where, so it's gotta be me who goes in.

Biggs: So… we came all this way just to eat pizza!?

Jessie: You think I'd let you off that easy? You're gonna earn every slice helping Cloud, Just do the thing where you draw everyone's attention away, like you did at my parents'. What's the word again? Maybe I'm more nervous than I thought.

Cloud: Diversion.

Jessie: Yeah, that! Nice one, military man.

Wedge: So what does this mean we're gonna ask some Shinra folks out to dinner?

Biggs: You know damn well what she means. While you're inside, we make sure the guards are focused on the outside. Yeah?

Jessie: Exactly. Couldn't've put it any better. When you see a flare go up, that's your cue. Rush the front gates and make for the warehouse plaza. The more hell you raise, the more time you buy me.

Biggs: You're gonna run this guy into the ground, aren'tcha? How much time do you think you’ll need?

Cloud: How much time do you think you'll need?

Jessie: Not too much. I'll be in and out. I'll send up another flare when I'm done. We rendezvous in the vacant lot up ahead.

Biggs: Hold on. How are we supposed to get back to the slums? Wait for the first train?

Jessie: No, I wanna be back before that. Don't worry, I have something worked out. Now, let's get this done.

Biggs: Well, that diversion's not gonna create itself. Jessie's dad was in there, right?

Cloud: Yeah.

Biggs: Mako poisoning. Happened while Jessie was doing a show at the Gold Saucer Ah, but what do you care?

Cloud: No, I wanna hear it.

Biggs: Jessie always wanted to be an actress. Worked her ass off for years until finally she caught a break. Top billing. Parents were thrilled. And then… right before opening night...

Wedge: Her dad had an accident.

Biggs: Collapsed from overwork… and in the worst possible, place. Mako storage. Lay there half a day before someone found him. Been like that ever since. No change whatsoever. That's what got her into planetology, and led her to seek out Avalanche. How far we've come...

Wedge: Jessie's got a theory about it. Thinks her dad's spirit is stuck now—between his body and the heart of the planet. So if we don't shut down the reactors soon….

Biggs: He'll get caught up in the flow and… poof. What's so funny?

Cloud: Just that I understand how you feel. Unlike most of the time.

Biggs: I see... Mako's the essence of life itself. Of memory and hope. It's not something you burn in a reactor just to keep the lights on. Hell no. Oh—don't tell Jessie about this little chat, okay? When she gets pissed, she gets punchy.

Cloud: Well... No promises.

Wedge: He's serious, Cloud! She'll beat the shit out of us!

Cloud: Not my problem.

Biggs: This guy!

Wedge: Hey! It's the lot Jessie was talking about. We rendezvous here when we've got what we came for.

Biggs: Gotta stay hidden—wait for the signal.

Wedge: It's so quiet...

Biggs: Just need to get past this gate.

Cloud: Wait. Where are the guards?

[The security guard at the checkpoint is lying dead on the floor of his workplace.]

Biggs: Looks like someone beat us here.

Wedge: And I don't think it was Jessie.

Biggs: This had better not get in the way of our plans...

Cloud: It won't.

Biggs: Don't see anyone. What the hell happened?

Wedge: Hey, man, the plaza's that way. Warehouses are further in. Jessie's supposed to be circling around from the back, right...?

Biggs: No need for us to rush. Let's scout it out first.

Cloud: I can handle this solo.

Biggs: What, you're trying to keep us out of it now? Don't be a jackass.

Wedge: We're in this together!

Cloud: Don't expect me to save you.

Biggs: If you need to check your gear, now's the time. Give the word when you're good to go.

Wedge: You can use that vending machine over there to stock up!

Biggs: Guess there's a training center too. Could go a few rounds before the main event.

Wedge: Man! I get really hungry when I'm nervous! When you leave something at home, or just need a bite to eat, vending machines can be real lifesavers!

Biggs: Remind me—you've got summoning materia, don't you? There's no better way to deal with big groups. You'd be crazy not to equip it. Hope I've got everything I need myself... Gun, spare mags. Other than that… uh...

Wedge: Whenever you're ready, just let us know, Cloud!

Biggs: So. Ya all set? Okay. Let's go over the plan one last time. You start things off by cutting loose where everyone can see you.

Wedge: And us?

Biggs: We're the backup.

Biggs: First, we climb high enough to get a vantage point—

[Cloud sees something and remembers his past.]

Tifa: Heya. So… what did you wanna talk about?

Cloud: When spring comes, I'm leaving town and going to Midgar.

Tifa: Should've figured. All the guys are leaving.

Cloud: B-but I'm not like them. I'm not going just to look for work. I'm gonna be a SOLDIER. The best of the best. Like Sephiroth.

Tifa: The great war hero, huh? Mm... Isn't it pretty hard to become a SOLDIER?

Cloud: Yeah. So I won't be back for a long time.

Tifa: Guess not. Think you'll be in the papers? Just… promise me one thing. When we're older, and you're a famous SOLDIER… if I'm ever trapped or in trouble... Promise you'll come and save me.

Cloud: Huh?

Tifa: That's what heroes do. They save people. Please? Just once. Come on, promise me!

Cloud: Fine. I promise.

[After that, he remembers a recent conversation with Tifa at the bar.]

Cloud: I heard you're having second thoughts.

Tifa: I know we have to think big if we're going to make a difference… but not like this. I feel trapped.

[Cloud clenches his fist and wakes up. He sees a firework in the air.]

Wedge: That's the signal!

Biggs: All according to plan.

Cloud: Let's go.

Biggs: Right!

Security Officer: I don't see any intruders. Maybe they went home. Hey! Over there! T-target sighted! Light him up!

[Cloud takes off his giant sword and the battle begins.]

Cloud: Give up?

Security Officer: K-kill the bastard!

Security Officer: They're up there too! We've spotted more intruders. Send backup.

Security Officer: Dammit! There's just too many of them!

Biggs: Oh, you gotta be shitting me. Gimme a bit more time and I got you.

Security Officer: Give it up!

Biggs: Goodbye! And good riddance.

Elite Shock Trooper: Don't let them escape!

Wedge: And down she goes!

Biggs: Look at us amateurs putting in the work.

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