Square Wars: The Shinra Strikes Back Chapter 3

Still More Training

By WarChild

Cid looked around. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. He has eluded the Shinra in the asteroid field and they are probably racking their brains out trying to find him. The Dark Knight is probably tiring out all of his commanders. The Highwind was hidden in a large asteroid, large enough that scanners can't search through it. It was a good time to do more repairs to the ship.
"Cid, can't you help me with this?" Aeris called. She was struggling with a large crystal. Its energy hummed softly.
"Well, princess, you should do know how to get into a predicament." Cid took the crystal from her and carried to the engine room. In the center of it was the crystal chamber. Cait Sith and Umaro were working on the wiring on the side of the chambers. Red XIII was bringing in tools to the area. As Cid placed the flight crystal into the crystal chamber, he muttered, "This thing better not break on me this time!"
"What about these wires? Half of them are polarized!" mused Cait Sith. The ship suddenly shook, and Umaro had to dive in to catch the flight crystal. "Is it me, or is this piece of rock unstable?" Cait Sith added. Cid got up to shout at Cait Sith.
"You're the one who's unstable! Get back to work!" Aeris walked into the engine room. The ship shook again. Cid had to dive in to catch Aeris. Cait Sith noticed this.
"Hey, Cid! Get back to work! It ain't playtime you know." he mocked. Cid raised his fists.
"I'll give you playtime!" He started chasing Cait Sith. As they chased, Aeris looked at Umaro placing the crystal.
"I think they make a cute couple." she giggled. Umaro responded with a groan. Red XIII walked in only to be cut off by the frantic Cid.
"Don't those two ever stop?" he wondered. The two then froze in their places. "That's not what I meant."

In the asteroid field two Mana Fortresses as well as the Black Omen scour the area for the Highwind. ISFs blast away any asteroids that approached the larger ships. Inside the Black Omen the Dark Knight is speaking to an holographic image of Thanatos.
"I keep telling you, there is no way the Highwind is in that asteroid field. It would have been destroyed by now! Besides what's the point of chasing that ship?"
"You tire my patience, Thanatos. The Highwind is still out there! Does it matter that you know why I want it?" the Dark Knight hissed.
"No sir. We shall continue on." The image bowed then faded. The evil warrior is then approached by Rufus.
"Sir, I got a high priority message from the Emperor Sephiroth. He wants to speak to you immediately."
"Move the Black Omen out of the area, so we can receive a clear transmission." the warrior ordered. Rufus complied, and within minutes the giant spaceship left the asteroid field. The Dark Knight then returned to his chambers. He kneeled on a platform, and a giant holographic image of Sephiroth appeared. "What is it you want, o great Sephiroth?"

The holographic image began to speak. "I have felt a great disturbance in the lifestream."
"So have I." responded the evil warrior.
"We have a new enemy. Cecil Darkheart. If he should choose the path of the Paladin, it could cost us everything!" the image continued.
"He's only a mere boy. And Bugenhagen is no longer. And yet, I have an idea."
"Tell me, my puppet." Sephiroth demanded.
"Let's make him join us. He could be a powerful ally." The image place his sword to the side, and placed his hand to his chin, for he was in deep thought."
"Yes. Yes. He would make a wonderful puppet. The image laughed. Then he pointed his long sword at the Dark Knight. "Go! Find him. Make him embrace the darkness as you have." His transmission ended with a laugh.

Cecil rested on an energy plate. The old man told him to rest there till FuSoYa arrived. Cecil was getting impatient. Why should he rest on the energy plate? He wasn't tired or anything.
"Sir, if you mind me asking, when will your master FuSoYa return?"
"He returns on his own time. Might I ask, you seek him for his wisdom as a Mana Knight. Why do you seek him?" the old man asked.
"Well, maybe mostly because I learned that my brother was a Mana Knight, making me realize my heritage." Cecil answered. The old man paused.
"Your brother was a great man, a great warrior, I might speak. He has done a lot in his time." The old man rushed off. Cecil was now completely confused.
"What do you know of my brother? You don't know who I am!" He gave chase, and followed the old man upstairs. He entered a room of crystals. Eight crystal chambers surrounded the room, with a crystal in each one. The old man was in the center of the room, speaking.

"This boy is trouble. How can I handle him?"
"He will learn. He shall listen." It was Bugenhagen's voice.
"Too impatient, just like his brother." the old man said.
"Wasn't I also impatient? Didn't you gave time with me." Bugenhagen's voice continued.
"But he's reckless. I feel anger in his spirit." the old man replied. Cecil turned to the old man. "You're... you're FuSoYa. But I'm ready. Bugenhagen, tell him I'm ready!"
"But you are a reckless one. The path of the Paladin is a path of honor. Adventure is not in their blood. They do not crave for excitement. But, you do. You must be committed to the things that I'll teach, if you will be willing to learn." FuSoYa pointed his staff at Cecil.
"He has learned. And he will learn more. We all have our surprises." Bugenhagen's voice echoed.
"I'll not fail you. I shall follow." Cecil spoke to the old man.

Back in the Highwind, things got pretty calm. Cid was pretty sure that the Highwind's problems were fixed, so they decided to wait for the Shinra to leave. Aeris was sitting in the cockpit when she saw something flying outside. When she stood up to get a better look she let out a blood-curdling scream.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Cid and the other rushed in to the cockpit.
"#$^#$^ Why did you scream like that?" Cid swore.
"Something's flying out there. It looked like a bat." Aeris responded.
"$#^@^$*%! You telling me this cave is filled with bats?" Cid shouted.
"Oh. I didn't know we came to the Bat Cave." laughed Cait Sith.
"Shut up!" Aeris and Cid told Cait Sith.
"I'm going out there and blowing up their @$$es. These son of a #@%@# will tear this ship apart." Cid grabbed his spear and placed on a gas mask.
"If you're going out there I'm going too." She got out her rod and placed on a gas mask. Umaro placed on a gas mask as well. The three venture outside. Surprisingly, the ground was a little too squishy for an asteroid. "Ewww! Good thing I'm wearing my boots." Aeris retched. Suddenly a swarm of bats surround the three. Cid casted bolt and that knocked a few out. Aeris rammed her rod into a few more. Umaro started running so he can crash into them. Instead he hit a cavern wall. The place suddenly shook and all the bats flew away. Cid was now puzzled.

"How unstable is this piece of @#%@#?" He jammed his spear into the floor. Now the cavern was really shaking. "@#%@#%@#^" he swore, as he managed to get his spear out. "Everybody! Back into the Highwind." he ordered. With great haste everybody returned into the Highwind cockpits, where Cid started up the engines.
"You aren't leaving now, are you? The Shinra are still out there." Aeris pleaded.
"We gotta get out of here and that's final!" The Highwind lifted into the air and started its treacherous journey to the cave opening. What appeared in front of them was the cave opening, lined with stalagmites and stalactites, was closing.
"Ugh! The cave's gonna close on us!" Cait Sith panicked.
"This isn't a cave! This is the Midgar Zolom's space cousin!" Cid replied.
"What?!" everybody else declared, as the Highwind escaped the jaws of the giant snake and headed out for space. The giant Zolom, on the other hand, slithered back into the cave.

In the open plains of the Lunarian moon Cecil, with FuSoYa coaching him, went through obstacle and obstacle, always on the move. As Cecil kept on moving, FuSoYa followed, always talking about the ways of the lifestream.
"Run! Yes. A Mana Knight's strength flows from the lifestream." he encouraged. But he also warned. "But beware of the dark side. Anger...fear...aggression. The dark side of Mana are they. Once accepted, it'll never let go. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, your lifespirit tainted by darkness, just like Bugenhagen's student." Cecil looked at his teacher.
"Dark Knight. Are the powers of evil stronger?" he questioned his teacher.
"No...no...no. But it is quicker and easier to master, and it is more seductive." the teacher quickly answered.
"But how am I to what's good and what's bad?" the eager student asked.
"You will know. When you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Paladin uses the spirits of the lifestream for knowledge and defense, never for attack." He place his staff in from of Cecil, forcing him to stop. "Clear your mind of questions. We shall stop for now." The teacher sat down, back against a rock wall, and placed his stick to the side. The student, however, looked around. He felt a strange aura in the air. He turned around and saw an interesting rock formation. He didn't know why it was interesting. He looked to his teacher for assistance.
"FuSoYa, I feel something in there. It feels odd." FuSoYa picked up his stick and pointed to the rock formation.
"That's, my friend, a place contaminated with evil. You will go in there." Cecil prepared to take his weapons with him. "Don't take those with you." FuSoYa pointed out.

Cecil ignored this and entered the rock formation. Inside was a temple of some sort. A wall of mirrors was on the other side. Cecil saw his reflection of himself in the mirror. Suddenly the image of himself turned to one of the Dark Knight. Then the image suddenly became real, leaving the mirror from which it came from. Cecil lit his Mana Saber, and the image lit his. They swung their sabers at each other, until Cecil cut off the head. Cecil then looked at the head. It looked like the Dark Knight's. Then it blew open. The face behind the helmet was revealed. His own face was in there.

In the Shinra starship the Black Omen various bounty hunters gathered in the large control room. Not only was Slash, Flea, and the Turks was there, but also the Scorpion Army, Ultros, and Sigfried. The Dark Knight briefed them on their mission.
"I want the Highwind captured and the pilot, Cid Highwind, and his special passenger, Princess Aeris, alive. You are free to do anything, as long you don't mutilate..."
"Darn it!" muttered Slash and Sigfried.
"Blast!" said Reno of the Turks.
"blind or squeeze with tentacles..."
"Hey!" injected Ultros.
"Don't tell our boss anything..." mused the two goons of the Scorpion army.
"or burn them."
"Rats." muttered Flea. The Scorpion Army boss raises his hand.
"Excuse me, but, what kinda reward we are expected to receive, for me and my men are hoping for something decent. Something like a planet of our own?"
"Silence!" he told the group of bounty hunters. Rufus stood in front of him.
"Please, before you yell at me, listen to me. Thanatos says he has found the Highwind!"

Like Rufus said, Thanatos' Mana Fortress was chasing down the Highwind as it exited the asteroid field. The Highwind was hit with a volley of lasers as it tried to manuver. Inside Cid frantically tried the hyperspace systems again.
"Please work. Please work. PLEEEAAAASSSSEEEE WOOOOOOOOORK!" he pleaded with the ship as he pressed a few more buttons. Nothing happened.
"What? I thought you said you fixed it." Aeris said.
"I thought I did." Then something was beeping. Cait Sith pointed it out.
"Hey, our rear shields are down. One more hit to the back and we're toast."
"That's it! Time for some evasive maneuvers." He set the ship to attack speed and turned around to face its pursuer.
"You're crazy! If you keep doing crazy thing we're all gonna die!" panicked Cait Sith.
"Why don't you stop trying to tell the future and do something useful for a change?" Aeris reprimanded.
"All right. I will!" Cait Sith started his limit break, Slots.

Outside the craft skimmed through the surface of the Mana Fortress. Inside Thanatos was pretty surprised. "That must be the most craziest pilot I ever seen. Raise the shields." They raised the heavy shield just in time, as another thing appeared behind the Highwind. It was Bahamut ZERO. It charged up its lasers and aimed it at the ship. Everybody braced for the impact of the blast. When the attack was over, Thanatos received frightening news.
"Uh, sir. We lost the Highwind, and the Dark Knight wants an update of the chase." a captain announced. Thanatos looked pale.
"Okay. Get my space chopper. I'm going to tell the Dark Knight in person. In the meantime continue on with the search." he ordered.

Cecil was back to doing exercises. He was now trying to master the spell of float. FuSoYa had Cecil stand on his head. A rock the size of a bowling ball was the target. With great strain he managed to levitate the rock a few inches.
"Feel the lifestream. Yes. Let it help you." FuSoYa told his student. Robo suddenly came in.
"Cecil! Cecil! You better get back to the ship!" Robo blurted, disrupting Cecil's concentration. Cecil fell on his back.
"Concentrate. You must concentrate." FuSoYa reprimanded him. Cecil turned to Robo.
"The ship? What of it?"
"It's best if you see for yourself." Robo let Cecil and FuSoYa to a gaping hole. In it was Cecil's Epoch.
"How did this happen? We'll never get out of here!" Cecil frantically said.
"Never. You always never. You don't believe in yourself do you?" the teacher questioned Cecil.
"A rock is one thing. But getting a ship out of a giant sinkhole is another." He thought his teacher was a bit impossible.
"It's still the same problem, and it requires the same answer." Cecil looked at his teacher.
"Okay, I'll try to do it." Cecil finally said. He faced the hole.
"Don't just try to do it. Just do it!" FuSoYa quipped.
"Isn't that from a Nike commercial?" Robo pondered. Cecil closed his eyes. He pointed his hands to the hole. Slowly and carefully he tried to lift the ship out of the hole. But he felt great strain in his head. He had to let the ship down.

"I can't do it. It's too large for me." he told his teacher.
"Nothing's too large for the lifestream. It should be your ally. And what an ally it is." He points his staff to the ground. "This planet is bounded by lifestream." He moves his staff in the circle. "All life has a spirit that shall be a part of it. Lifestream creates and sustains. It's everywhere." Cecil didn't seem to care. He just walked away. As for FuSoYa, he looked at the hole, closed his eyes, and started to concentrate. The ground started to shake, as FuSoYa levitated the ship out of the hole. Robo was amazed by the sight of this event, as FuSoYa lifted the ship a few more feet in the air and brought it to the ground. Robo chased after Cecil to tell him this.
"Cecil! Come back here!" Cecil returned to the area and couldn't believe his eyes. His ship was now out of the hole, and his teacher, an old man, did it.
"I can't believe it!" he exclaimed.
"That's why you failed." explained the teacher.

Thanatos grasped his neck. "My body! It's breaking up." He then fell to the floor. The Dark Knight looked at the limb body.
"I accept your apology." he coldly stated. A few man was on hand to take Thanatos' body away Rufus then approached Vader.
"Sir, we can't find the Highwind in the area. It's most probable that it has made the jump to lightspeed."
"Well then. Alert the entire fleet throughout the galaxy. Calculate all possible destinations based on their last trajectory!" he commanded.
"As you command my Lord." Rufus answered, and left.

Unbeknownst to all, the Highwind has hidden itself on the underside of Thanatos' Mana Fortress. Inside Cid was congratulating Cait Sith for doing something right.
"Thanks to you Cait Sith, this craft has still eluded the Shinra. The blinding light made a perfect distraction as well as fried many of their sensors."
"Well, I do my best. Does this mean you won't turn me off?" Cait Sith asked.
"Hell, no. I don't want you to ruin anything else." Cid promptly switched off Cait Sith. Aeris turned to the captain.
"So, what do we do now?"
"We are only going to let go of the fortress when it dumps its garbage." Cid started.
"Gee, the Shinra knows how to make a mess." quipped Red XIII.
"Shut up! You see, they would then follow standard procedure and go into hyperspace. Now the question is where are we?" Aeris looked at the radar.
"We seem to be in the Costa Sol system." was her answer.
"The Costa Sol eh? I know that place sound familiar." Cid then proceeded to hit a few more buttons. The screen then confirmed the name's familiarity. "Ah ha! Cloud!"
"Cloud system?"
"No no no. You know who I'm talking about. You see, he has a place in this area. Runs an amusement park he conned out. I know you'll like him. You'll definitely trust him."
"I can't hardly wait." muttered Aeris.
"Of course he does have a girlfriend." Cid added.
"WHAT?" 'Oh no, don't let it be her. Not now!' she thought to herself.
"Of course, he has a friend you might like. Enough of this, let's go!" Umaro removed the Highwind's claw as the garbage came out the Mana Fortress. As the Highwind mingled in the garbage, the Mana Fortress went into hyperspace. The Highwind then blasted to its new destination. But it occupants didn't know that there was another ship in the garbage. The Turk's Gelinka.

Cecil finally seemed to understand his teacher's words. With great skill, he managed to levitate several items, including Robo.
"Yes, Cecil. Concentrate. Let the lifestream flow through you. In time you see images. Various images." FuSoYa encouraged the boy. Cecil concentrated hard. Suddenly he had a vision in his mind, a vision of Cid and Aeris.
"Cid! Aeris! NO!" he declared, and he lost his concentration. All the things that were floating now fell, including Robo.
FuSoYa shook his head. "Can't you concentrate, my boy? Keep focused!" Cecil looked at his teacher, bewildered. "I saw a city in the sky. Bright as gold. My friends, they were hurt."
FuSoYa now seemed astonished. "The future. You see the future."
Now Cecil looked distressed. "What will happen to them?"
FuSoYa focused on the question. "The future is still not written. Many possibilities will occur."
Cecil wasn't satisfied with the answer. "I must reach them. Help them."
"But is it the best thing for you to do? The paths you choose may have dire consequences." FuSoYa questioned the youth. Now Cecil was really worried. What can he do?


Chapter 4

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