Chapter 6: Deadly Duo
The streets of Midgar were no longer the slums they once were. Once upon a time, the streets of the Slums overshadowed by a giant 'pizza' in the sky. The night sky became open after Meteor, and the people of the city were able to see the stars and moon that everyone seemed to have forgotten existed. That is, the survivors were able to. For a place as technologically advanced as Midgar once was, the streets were almost eerily peaceful in sector 7. In the midst of the night, no one dared to step into the open air. Why? With such a history as Midgar's of terrorist activity and apocalyptic crisis, no one ever wanted to leave their house. Therefore, the streets were normally quite peaceful.
However, that night was anything but one of those peaceful nights.
Dozens of cars and motorcycles sped down the streets, heading to the locals’ favorite bar “7th Heaven”. The bar was the only constant refuge for those wanting to escape their daily lives. However, this time, it would be the opposite for Tifa and Elena. 7th Heaven was their gunpoint for the night.
The duo created an impromptu escape plan, but they weren’t alone as they escaped from the bar. In the sky, a helicopter flew overhead, and some patrol bots followed behind the mini-army of Turks within a select few of the vehicles..
That's an exaggeration. There were actually only about five Turks.
But behind the stampede of vehicles.. The Behemoth of them all trudged, rolled, and terrorized it’s merry way down the street, hoping to catch two maidens as its prey.
Although it was unconventional, Tifa and Elena rushed their panicked selves through the sewers of New Midgar. They had said their quick farewells to Reno and Rude, but they weren’t able to say anything to their customers. They didn’t want ShinRa to have any other leads as to where they went and how they escaped.
It seems they should be worrying more about how they were supposed to get out of Midgar, though. “From the paths we already took, I’m guessing we should be in Sector 5 right now,” Elena stated, head tilted up in searching her immediate vicinity for a passage or manhole to the surface. Sector 5’s abandoned church was near the closest exit of Midgar, so if they could just make it that far, they’d be able to manage at least to Kalm.
Tifa glanced about their current area, trying to formulate a plan to first, get out of the sewer and second, sneak out of Midgar unnoticed. Even though the situation was dire and it was important for the two of them to escape safely, Tifa couldn’t help but feel the thrill and rush of excitement from escaping like this. It was as if they were prisoners of war sneaking out of the POW camp. It reminded her vaguely of the missions from SOLDIER that she would lead.. The sense of purpose and survival that coursed through her veins and the quick, spontaneous thinking she had to maintain. She felt the same rush and adrenaline, the same sense of responsibility and command that she knew so well.
“There’s a manhole over here!” Elena called from a few meters away. The blonde began to climb the ladder to open it, but..
This time, the pounding and vibrations weren’t coming from their heads, thank goodness. It was an external pulsation, and it was faint, but it was definite. Normal people probably wouldn’t have been able to feel it, but Elena and Tifa weren’t exactly normal people, were they?
They were coming.
Elena stepped down from that first rung and looked at Tifa seriously, “What should we do?” Elena was never a leader; she was always so indecisive and unable to be in control. She could never allow herself to have the lives of others placed in her hands like Tifa could. Tifa knew how to handle situations, and that’s one of the things Elena admired about the woman.
The look on Elena’s face was once again of the SOLDIER under the order of her commanding officer, prepared to battle frontline at a moment’s notice for her leader.
Tifa shut her eyes and listened to the rumblings above them, “The big one we heard has a couple of little patrol bots with it.. And a bunch more trailing behind.. There doesn’t seem to be any people unless they’re inside the machines, and Sector 5 must have been cleared out to capture us..” Tifa mused, her heightened senses allowing her to analyze the ground above them. In order to escape from Midgar, they had to go through this sector, “They knew we’d come here because it’s the closest exit without having to cross at least three sectors..”
Tifa knew it wasn’t time to reflect on what they did wrong, so she shook her head and refocused on the situation. They had to somehow get out of the manhole and past the patrol bots undetected, but how were they supposed to manage that?
“Hold on..” Elena said, narrowing her eyes at the manhole as she listened as well, “Doesn’t it sound like they’ve surrounded this manhole?” A patrol bot was right above them and two others were behind it, with many more coming. Could they have known where they were?
Elena reviewed her memory for the files of the robots that she dealt with in ShinRa.. Which of them could have known where they were without vision sensors?
“They must have used the X6 series with heat sensors..!” Elena came to the realization, “They know we’re down here!” If the robots knew they were there, that would mean reinforcements were going to come soon.. Come to think of it, the robots could have easily blasted through the ground and caught them. Well, they wouldn’t because that would be destroying Midgar streets more, causing for repairs, which costs money.. And they probably didn’t want to kill Elena and Tifa.. The robots wanted to capture them, and if they failed, the Turks and others would come for them as well.
Tifa’s eyes opened and she stared up at the manhole as well, “Damn it!” So much for sneaking out of there unnoticed.. The only way they could get out now was to fight their way through and hope they get out before even more reinforcements come!
First thoughts, both of them exiting through the same spot may prove to be a disadvantage. One of them had to find another manhole, plus if they had heat sensors, then some of the robots might follow and spread out the fighting a little bit..
Second thoughts, “Hey, Elena, are you still a good fighter?”
Elena stared at the girl in disbelief. Tifa really thought they could fight through all of those robots single-handedly?
Third thoughts.. Then again, why couldn’t they? They had done it many times before! Even after SOLDIER, they were still going up against countless machinery in battle during Meteor!
Still, Elena usually had Reno and Rude fighting by her side.. But, it didn’t mean she doubted her skills at all! She knew she could have taken those robots on! Well, maybe not alone.. And not all of them..
..Well, Tifa was there with her! They could have a little contest between who beat more robots! Yeah! It’s not that she was scared of fighting alone..! Elena was a strong, independent Turk. And Ex-SOLDIER! It was just.. Reassuring. You know, that Tifa was with her. It was reassuring to know that Tifa would be fighting by her side.
So summoning all of her confidence and pulling out her Ice Baton, her basic Turk elemental weapon (One of the items she never leaves the house without), Elena grinned at Tifa. Elena didn't know where the company got the Batons, but they were basically mastered Ice Materia embedded or something into the Mythril. Anyways, she knew what was coming next. There was a time she could have taken on thirty of these robots at once.. A few like this would be nothing! “You should know that I’m better than you now, Lockhart.” She stated with a challenging tone.
Tifa grinned when she saw the air of confidence in Elena and she pulled her fighting gloves from her pocket, “We’ll see about that, rookie.” Now Tifa was excited about busting up some ShinRa robots.. But strategy comes before primal robot-bloodlust, “Find another manhole, first.. There should be one down a little further. I’ll come up through here and act as a main decoy and you attack from behind. Only a few of them would follow your heat signal.”
Elena nodded, knowing it was best to follow Tifa’s orders. She made her way further into the corridor, checking her equipment as she approached the next manhole. Though she couldn’t see Tifa from where she was, she could hear and sense if the girl had gone up to begin fighting.
Sure, the majority of the robots had stayed to guard Tifa’s exit, but many also followed Elena to the new one..
Elena patiently waited for a signal, her eyes shut as she clutched onto the second rung of the ladder from the exit..
“Come and get me, you ShinRa bastards!”
There it is! Elena grabbed hold of the top rung and swung herself upside down, planting her feet on the roof to kick the manhole open. She landed on one of the robots and used her elemental weapon to freeze it instantly. She stood on top of it for a second, her arms crossed assertively and a smirk of self-assurance on her face. ‘Gotta look cool, even if there’s no one really watching.’
It was a strange, sudden surge of power and confidence that she never really realized she had as a Turk. Even when fighting with Rude and Reno, she didn’t feel nearly as strong as she did when she was fighting beside Tifa. So being with Tifa and remembering the training they went through in SOLDIER probably gave that power to her.
Before the frozen patrol bot could thaw, she stomped down on it hard and caused it to shatter into millions of bits under her feet. Now that the situation came up where she had to fight more robots, Elena couldn’t help but wish she had Reno’s Lightning Baton.. Still, ice had its many uses as well.
“Ice 2!” Elena called as she cast the spell onto the ground in front of some of the oncoming robots. Many of them slipped and failed to reach her, so she focused on those that were between her, Tifa and the exit of Midgar. That exit which, ironically, was blocked by the biggest machine of them all, appropriately named, “Behemoth”. It was more like a tank than anything, and the side had the word ‘Behemoth’ painted on.. One would think ShinRa would try to make it a little more inconspicuous.
Tifa, on the other hand, seemed to be enjoying herself more than one would expect when fighting for your life. She had a fire burning in her eyes; A passion for battle that she hadn’t forgotten, but needed to revive from its peaceful lifestyle. She was starting to take out robots in two or three hits!
A quick combo. Boom. Spinning hook kick. Crash.
All the while, Tifa was avoiding the bullets and blades that were swinging in her direction. Tifa was definitely in the zone. The fighter felt a rhythm, flowing in the way she moved and the beat she kept her hits, and if anyone were to watch her consistently, they would believe that she was dancing. She truly made martial arts an art.
Elena similarly captured the beauty of the way magic was supposed to be used. She didn’t only use magic, though. She also utilized her own physical enhancements to her advantage, embedding her physical hits with magical assistance. The blonde was like poetry in motion, her ice magic creating an icy blue-grey spiral around her as she spun and cast. She was dancing and reminiscing with her instincts, moving as a deadly reincarnation of the ice queen, Shiva.
Soon, both of the heroines met in the middle once again. They stood back to back proudly, a land of ice on Elena’s side and a land of broken, spark-filled robot debris on Tifa’s. They were prepared. They were more than prepared to take on the rest of the machinery, this time fighting as joined souls.
The beauty and grace of their attacks interlaced as they fought. The pair was a breathtaking duo that blended and moved as one, none ever contradicting the other. Two maidens bound by a fate that none could attempt to sever. An identical alternative to the legendary Noir, two women who held bloodstained hands and carried the burden of death on their shoulders. They were inseparable, they were destined.. They were definitely meant for each other.
Truly, it was a sight to behold, watching Elena and Tifa fight together. It was as if they were dancing an intricate, choreographed dance of destruction. They were beautiful in every aspect, and both even wore smiles of concentrated nostalgic peace on their faces, as any couple would wear when dancing with their one true love. Their attacks were a display of physical and magical power, ice trails floating in the air as fists and feet cut through to connect.
After about a dozen more robots were destroyed effectively, all there was left remaining (until ShinRa sent in more) was the Behemoth.
The Ex-SOLDIERs prepared for the encounter, but the tank remained static, refusing to clear the way for the two to sneak out of Midgar. Instead, a compartment on the roof of the monstrosity opened. A silver and black robot, shaped as a female humanoid SOLDIER leaped out, flipping and landing right in front of the beastly tank with a strange, robotic fluidity. If it weren’t so obviously metal, it would have almost looked like a riding suit for motorcyclists. The way it was designed and built so sleekly, one couldn’t help but wonder if ShinRa created it for battle or for display.
Elena’s eyes narrowed in questioning as she stared at the machine, “That robot..” She had never remembered studying the files of the private files of every single robot, since she only really needed to know the ones she dealt with. This humanoid machine, though, seemed vaguely familiar.
SOLDIER X5. It was the robot that gave Elena that scar! A new, upgraded model, obviously, but it was the same design and build. The only difference was that now, rather than being shaped like a mech or some version of the Hulk, it had the slender, petite build of a female.. This was going to be a fun battle for the blonde.
The robot dashed forward, its arm transforming into a blade as it thrust towards the pair. Tifa and Elena didn’t hesitate to jump aside, avoiding the blade smoothly, but that was what the druid anticipated. It flipped forward onto a one-handed handstand, balancing itself perfectly as it aimed its feet in the respective direction of each woman. Concealed weaponry in the feet of the robot aimed and fired bullets at Elena and Tifa, catching them off guard and narrowly grazing both of their shoulders.
Tifa grasped her own shoulder for a second, the sting of the cut shocking her back into reality. She knew that she had to concentrate, yet relax. She had to react quickly, yet think rationally and not be taken by surprise like she just was! If she had her materia.. Things would have been a lot easier! ‘I’d kill for a Haste or a Summon right about now..’
Elena bit down the pain from the sudden bullet, knowing it was amateur of her to even get hit by it. In the corner of her eye, she saw Tifa wince and the fire for revenge in Elena’s eyes burned even more brightly. No one dares hurt Tifa! Not now, not ever! She knew Tifa would be all right, but it still pissed her off.
Elena decided to be the one to make the first move this time. She cast ice on the ground to make a path towards the robot, then jumped towards the path, landing on one of the damaged robots and using it as a makeshift ice-board to surf along the surface. Once she got close enough, the X5 began its attack as well, starting a dash towards the oncoming blonde.
Tifa, however, was approaching the robot from the side taking the non-frozen path so she wouldn’t have to worry about slipping. She had to estimate the exact time and location Elena and the robot would make contact at the speed they were going and the ice factor. Tifa sped to that point, full speed even lacking her Haste materia.
The blonde flipped off of the board and barely avoided the slice from the blade. While she was upside down and airborne above the robot, she managed to reach her hands out and grab hold of its head firmly with a prepared, highly concentrated Ice 3 spell. Instantly, she froze the head as she held onto it in the air. She only had a second to perform the move and soon, Tifa came in from the side with all of her momentum, jumped and did a flying side kick on the SOLDIER imitation. The result from having its frozen head held in place and a kick of that much power delivered from the side was certain doom for the robot as its body was swiftly removed from its head.
Rather than a flurry of sparks emitting from the top of the robot’s headless form.. Blood, tainted black and red, spilled from the android.
Tifa stared, eyes wide with surprise as she watched the body, which she thought was fully robotic, bleed like a human would.
Elena held the frozen head for a moment staring with disbelief, but quickly dropped it once she saw the blood from where the neck should have been. It shattered upon contact with the ground unintentionally, but the confusion was still fresh in Elena’s eyes. “..Blood?” What could this mean? All of the other robots were completely metal with no biological parts at all! Even the previous X5 prototypes were completely robotic. Elena remembered this well from when she was still in SOLDIER. She had destroyed one in battle, after all, and she clearly recalled there not being any blood whatsoever from the robot.
The two of them stood silently for a moment, confusion and disturbance warping their minds.
“Bravo, you two. Looks like even a combination of biological and mechanical technology couldn’t defeat the Prodigies.” A voice echoed, supposedly from inside of the tank.
Both Tifa and Elena turned to the Behemoth, eyes narrowed and in their fighting stances. Looks like there was an actual person inside the tank as well. The fact that the two had unintentionally and unknowingly killed the person inside the X5 was now in the back of their minds, but after going through their whole lives witnessing death and destruction from their own hands, it didn’t affect them nearly as much as it would have before they joined SOLDIER.
“As you may have guessed, there was an actual human inside of that robot,” The voice continued, an obvious smirk on the person’s face according to their tone, “You see, after you proved you were not loyal to ShinRa, it was a great loss for SOLDIER.” The voice was feminine, but the person didn’t even bother to leave the confines of the Behemoth, probably for fear of immediate death or something similar. “We were forced to erase your memories, but we kept you in Midgar for close observation in case we could use you again in the future.”
Tifa grit her teeth and she could feel her fingers tighten her fist. This woman made them sound like pawns! As if they could control them with a switch or command at any time! ShinRa.. Ugh.. She hated them so much.. But she knew she had to stay calm.. They wouldn’t be able to penetrate that tank with just fists and ice. Plus, what was more important was getting out of there as soon as they could.
Elena seemed more curious about what the woman was saying, and though she kept her weapon at ready, she still questioned her, “Who are you? Why did ShinRa erase our memories?”
“Who I am is not important, and that information is confidential, Elena.” The woman let out an almost sadistic laugh, one that reminded both Tifa and Elena of another certain mad scientist who was named Hojo. “ShinRa tried everything they could to recreate another like you two, but only resulted in failure after failure. You could even say that how Sephiroth was to the Jenova cells are what you two are with the Eva cells. Eva cells were injected into women, but their side effects were..” A hesitation from the voice, possibly to think of the proper word to use in the situation, “I suppose you could say they were, ‘Frequent’ and in often cases, ‘Disturbing’.. You two were the only ones who passed those tests without any side-effects.”
Tifa suddenly felt disturbed. This woman, whom she didn’t know, was comparing her to Sephiroth, the madman who tried to destroy the world. Sephiroth was one of the reasons she came to hate ShinRa so passionately. He was the reason for all of Cloud’s turmoil and caused all of them so much misery. Comparing her to such a person wouldn’t exactly sway her to join ShinRa again. What she was more worried about was the robot they just decimated. Frequent and disturbing side effects.. Tifa couldn’t help but shudder at the thought of how many more women were back at the labs, going through what this headless android had to go through. It was a real person, but was it just some random kidnapping on the street? Were the people voluntary? Would Marlene and Denzel go through the same thing if they weren’t fast enough? How many times have they tried to create SOLDIERs like them anyways? “So what we just killed..”
“Bingo! That woman, number 114, was a failed experiment. It must have been an honor for her to die at the hands of the Prodigies, but it’s not like her brain could even comprehend an honor, or even anything, anymore after all of her injections and treatments. She was merely a puppet. A near-lifeless mannequin who had no other reason to live than to serve ShinRa.” The mysterious woman’s voice sounded so vaguely familiar, but neither Elena nor Tifa could quite put their finger on who she was. Still, she had no right to take healthy women, inject stuff into them to make them vegetables, then call them puppets and send them to their own demise!
“You monsters..!” Elena growled, her hand gripping her weapon as she prepared an attack.
The voice laughed again, a sickeningly heartfelt laugh, considering the situation, “Don’t be so hasty, now! None of them would have had to go through what they did if you two just stayed with ShinRa.” The woman was toying with them, “Now just be good girls and come back to HQ with us, then those other women won’t have to suffer anymore, right?” Actually, all of them knew that ShinRa, being as greedy and power hungry as they were, would still have tried to create more female SOLDIERs, and even if Tifa and Elena went back with them, they wouldn’t stop their tests. Both of them stood their ground, not making any movement to let the woman believe they were even considering the idea.
The mystery woman let out another of those disgustingly haughty, boisterous laughs.
“I didn’t think so.. Too bad, though. I guess it was worth a shot!” Both Tifa and Elena swore that if that woman laughed that manic laugh again, she’d sorely wish she hadn’t. Because there would definitely be a foot lodged into her throat before she could even finish laughing, whether it would be Tifa’s or Elena’s foot depends on who’s faster. “But I digress, ladies.. The cavalry has come!”
Tifa and Elena turned to see an army of motorcycles and machines racing towards them. “..Fuck.” Tifa then scowled at the fact that they both let the woman talk for so long as to buy time for the reinforcements to arrive. They should have at least tried to get past the tank.
Elena shook her head, not believing they were going to get captured so easily, “Tch.. Dammit! What are we supposed to do now?” Now that there were hundreds of other machines and people to fight, it would be that much harder trying to get past the tank!
Tifa looked on, believing there was hope even in the most seemingly hopeless situations, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking..!” From the way it looks.. They might have to fight them off again. But with the amount of energy they used on the first battle, she didn’t know how long they would last against an army like that.
Just then, a black and blue airship, which was designed more like a jet fighter (or the “Celsius”), flew overhead from outside of Midgar. It looked well prepared for battle and speedy as well, with a smooth, aerodynamic build and some visible artillery. There were most likely hidden missiles and other things hidden inside, but this was no time for analyzing! Whoever built this ship was definitely talented in technology and weaponry.
It sped over the army, placing bombs and other explosives on some of the bulkier looking parts of it. The two fighters stared in disbelief, wondering if this jet was on their side or not..
Once the pilot knew for sure that the army was held off for the few minutes they needed, a rope ladder dropped down from the vessel and a girl’s voice called out to them, “Tifa! Long time no see!”
Tifa gasped, her eyes wider than saucers as she stared up at the jet. “That voice.. No.. It couldn’t be..” But who else could it have been? Still.. Tifa was there when she died..
Elena, however, had already begun climbing. Their little prayers of hope had been answered by some anomaly in a jet fighter! “Tifa, what’s wrong? Let’s get going!” It was obvious that this person had some kind of beef against ShinRa and they knew Tifa, so any enemy of ShinRa was a friend of theirs!
Tifa soon followed up the ladder, almost suspiciously, after Elena. This person.. That voice that she recognized so clearly.. She couldn’t believe it. She wouldn’t believe it until she saw the pilot with her own two eyes.
“You’re not getting away this time, my Prodigies!” The voice from the Behemoth called. The tank aimed its guns towards the jet and fired, hoping to delay its departure. The bullets hit some parts of the metallic hull of the jet, but it didn’t do much more than that. It was clearly built to last in battle, and the two who were climbing the rope ladder just had to hope the bullets didn’t hit them or the ropes.
Once Tifa had finally made it into the airship after the blonde, narrowly avoiding a couple of last gunshots from the Behemoth, the hatch closed and the fighter quickly took off towards the exit of Midgar. However, it didn’t look like the Behemoth was quite finished yet. Out of what seemed to be the mouth of the beast, a missile launched, zooming its way through the air and towards the airship.
However, since the pilot had excellent maneuvering skills, she managed to dodge the missile long enough for it to fly into the ocean and do no harm to anyone.
Once they were in the clear, Elena collapsed onto her back with a relieved sigh onto the metal floor, laughing with an almost silly grin on her face, “We made it, Tifa!” Now that they escaped from that close call, Elena felt a great sense of pride and luck in the fact that they avoided death once again!
Tifa smiled as she leaned against the metal wall, laughing a little as well, “That was a close one..” She felt more exhausted than anything, but the brunette pulled herself onto her feet. There was still something troubling her in the back of her mind. Who saved them..? Was it the person she suspected? She had to find out.. Still, she knew it couldn’t be..
However, first thing’s first. She walked over and stood in front of Elena and held out her hand with a warm smile on her face, “Another victory, right?”
Elena opened her eyes, then looked up at Tifa with a similar smile on her face. She took the hand and stood up with her assistance, softly saying, “Yeah, another victory.” It was such a nostalgic feeling, fighting alongside her old commanding officer again.. Even after such a long time apart, their connection and bond with each other still remained perfect, and it showed in the way they moved with each other on the battlefield.
Once Elena was standing, Tifa still didn’t let go of her hand. It wasn’t a big gesture, but she wanted to somehow show that the feelings she recalled from SOLDIER hadn’t disappeared with her memories. So they walked, hand in hand towards the cockpit to meet the person who saved them from certain doom.
The door slid open at the press of a button and the pilot’s chair was still turned around towards the controls, there was a head of brown hair tied back into a somewhat messy ponytail.. The pilot set the plane on cruise control, and then she turned the chair around. The girl was smiling widely as she saw the two women standing there, “Hey, Tif. How’ve you been?”
Tifa stared in disbelief, shaking her head as she fought back the tears threatening to well up in her eyes. “Jessie..?” It couldn’t be.. It was just her imagination.. Jessie died in Midgar when the pillar holding the plate for sector 7 was destroyed! Biggs and Wedge died too! Barret nearly had a breakdown and they had to go save Aeris..! With a bit of an iffy feeling, Tifa wondered if Jessie felt hostile towards the other original members of AVALANCHE such as Barret and Cloud because they never looked to see if they were alive.. Well it wasn’t like they could.. And with a pillar and explosion so close, one would assume they were dead anyways.
“The one and only!” Jessie replied, saluting the two of them with a wink, “Can’t get rid of me that easily.”