Jessie (jess0matickilla) wrote in murderandcreate,

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I'll be way down the silver road, I'll go where the moon has it lit up...

Tifa wasn't sure how long they had been driving... it MUST have been at least 20 hours, non-stop.  The relaxing, constant barotone purr of the engine and the comfortable, worn-in feel of the driver's seat wasn't helping her at all - her hands, relaxed on the wheel, slipped now and again, her eyes dropping closed then snapping open in a few seconds of sharp alertness, then gradually sinking back to the gauzy thickness of her exhausted state, repeated how many times she wasn't sure...

  She sat in a loose hunch over the steering wheel, staring out of the windshield... it was either night or early morning.  Which, she wasn't sure, but driving out here in the countryside was too silent, too relaxed, too peacfeul.  The beautiful, huge silver moon, the picturesque mountain ranges, and the grasslands, made a bit soggy by the rising water to the west...

OK, that was it.

"Clu..." Ahem.  "Cloud."  She slurs, resting a hand on the stick shift and pulling the truck to a gradual stop.

"Your map... how far is Cosmo from here?  We're about..."  She takes this time to peer out the side window, past him, the sights not readily absorbed into her tired mind.
"At the end of the mountain ranges.  And we're almost out of fuel.  You said there was an outpost around...?"

She can't resist leaning her elbow on the wheel, and placing her head in her hand, as if to strike a listening pose.  Then, her head starts to slip, bobbing back up with new awakeness.  "HMmm?" 
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I have to stop him....he's gone mad. But what am I going to do against Sephiroth. He'd kill me in one swipe...but...Tifa. I have to protect her....

Cloud awakens to the sounds of Tifa's voice with a start, running his hand through his sweat dampened hair as he takes a look out the window.

"Well, we still got a bit of driving to do before we get to Cosmo. That fuel depot's only a few miles from here."

He leans over her, brushing against her unintentionally to look at the gas gauge, and having realized it, a blush colors his cheeks.

"Sorry....umm...yeah, we'll be able to make it there, but it'll be cutting it close, assuming there's even gas still there."

He reaches forward, moving a stray lock of her her behind her ear, his eyes concerned.

She's beautiful....

"Why don't you let me drive for a bit, you look beat. Climb in the bed and get some rest if ya want. I promise I won't put a scratch on her."
Not even noticing the unintentional touch on her chest, she nods, and mumbles a weak "Mmm" in agreement with his plan, already swiftly drifitng in her sitting position. As he tucks the hair behind her ear, a small smile curls her mouth, and she leans her head in the direction of his hand.

"I'm OK, really..." She says, and punctuates this with a yawn. "I don't have to... mmmn..."
Cloud looks at her and smiles, amused. The poor thing was exhausted. Good thing, though. She drove a little too slow for his liking, now he'd get to flex the engine on this heap and see what it could do. He opened his door, stepping out into the cool night air, and made his way around the truck to the driver's side, his combat boots crunching the dirt and small rocks underfoot.

We've got get moving again. These roads aren't safe. Especially at night...

Cloud pulled the handle for the driver's door, swinging it open, and gently pulled Tifa from the seat and into his arms, carrying her around to the back of the truck. Seemingly without effort, he lifted her into the bed of the truck, pulling one of her bags under her head for a pillow, and stood there smiling at her as she slept peacefully.

Such a hard life, yet she's always so damned optimistic. How does she do it? Maybe she could teach you a few things, Cloud...

Suddenly, his thoughts are interrupted by the staccato of rapid fire shots being hurtled their way, the bullets cutting through the air with high-pitched shrieks. A few of them riddle into the side of the truck, the rest pass harmlessly over Cloud's head, but he knew the next burst wouldn't miss.

He snapped his head around, taking a quick scan, the only notable place for an ambush was a small clump of trees to their right, about 20 feet away. That had to be it. Reaching frantically into the bed of the truck, he snatched up the Buster Sword, taking off in the direction of the trees in a charge, yelling at the top of his lungs.

"TIFA!!!!!!!!!! We got company!"

By the time Cloud reaches her, Tifa is already pretty much dead to the world. He hoists her easily, causing her head to bob against his shoulder, and both hands find their way to her stomach, resting there. She's placed gently into the hard metal bed of the truck, afforded her duffel bag for a pillow.

Suddenly, she's awoken with a snap, a series of loud pops and the multiple *CLANG*ing noises rocking the truck on which she rests... bolting immediately to a sitting position, her first reaction is to instinctively dive over the side of the bed, hitting the solid hardpan with a loud "thump" and rolling across her shoulder and back to rest on one foot and a knee in a crouched position. She hastily looks around, her eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness... then, she spots Cloud's bright blonde hair, streaking towards the forest.

Bandits?! She thinks, keeping low and breaking into a slow run - she takes Cloud's lead, and flanks to the left, arching around the small patch of trees and hoping to sneak up on the opposite side... careful, she begins to step silently, more slowly towards the forest, hopeful that Cloud's display will provide a distraction. All traces of exhaustion temporarily erased with the rush of adrenaline, she waits, heart thudding in her chest, staring at the dense foliage now only feet away, and kneels, patient... they didn't see her, yet, or they would have hastily riddled her with holes like they did her poor truck. They were obviously horrible shots to miss a sleeping woman and an otherwise stationary man, out in the open. She would wait until the opportunity presented itself...
Whoever these guys are, this is the LAST thing I need right now. Ahh, it's gonna be a long trip...

As Cloud charges forward, the machine guns open up again, and he subconciously counts the muzzle flashes. Five of them, but there could be more without guns, or not firing yet.

He brung his sword up in front of him, turning it's massive blade sideways as an ad hoc shield. He could feel bullets slamming into the steel, hearing the whine as they ricocheted off into the night.

That was a little too close for comfort...

Seeing a nearby stump, he plants his right foot onto it, using the momentum to propel himself upwards, pulling his sword behind his back, and aiming for the nearest muzzle flash. As he reaches the apex of his jump, he spots one of his attackers and descends rapidly, bringing the sword up and over his head. The night air is pierced with a resounding metal-on-metal sound as the Buster Sword slices through one of the men's guns, cleaving it in two.

Cloud lands in a crouch, his sword planted in the ground now. before the man has time to react, Cloud whips the sword around in a wheeling motion, slicing clean through him, and brings it into a fighting stance right as the bandit slides into two halves.

Cloud takes a moment to take stock of his situation, seeing the other four men now turning in his direction, the muzzles of their weapons trained on him.

Four to one....not bad odds...
Tense, ready to jump into motion at any time, Tifa waits until Cloud begins his attack on one of the faceless "bandits" - until he launches himself into the air - to reach out with sudden ferocity and snatch one of the men just a few feet from her by the red bandanna he wears tied in a loose sailor's knot around his neck. She grabs the garment with such fierceness and yanks back so hard that she almost loses him, the fabric nearly giving way with a loud ripping noise, but the momentum created from such causes him to trip forward, gun almost lost, and into her grasp. Grabbing him by the more sturdy material of the lapel of his beaten leather jacket, she wheels him around in a circle, swinging the both of them to the right in a violent arc and momentarily out of vision's range of the rest of the battle...

Stepping forward, to his side, the much smaller Tifa makes quick work of slamming her knee into the back of one of the man's, causing him to topple backward. Nearly regaining his bearings, she has a very close call as he levels his machine gun upward at the vicinity of her head. More angry than threatened, just split-seconds before he can volley off the shots, she swings her free arm in a short, curt arc and hits the gun away with the backs of her knuckles, the metal bending with a loud, protesting *creak* and flying from his hand to clatter to the dirt... his now-frightened eyes meet hers, and he begins to stammer...

"I-I wasn't going to--"

Yanking his weight upwards with the hand that still holds his lapel, she suspends him just long enough to slide her other leg into position, bent under his neck... as this is accomplished, she drops him, bringing that same arm upwards, balling the hand into a fist, and then down, raising her knee with brutal intent at the same time, crushing his throat inbetween the hard angle of her elbow and the solid hardness of her leg. Blood begins to bubble from his mouth and he rattles for breath, and suddenly disconcerted, she hesitates before pushing his dying body to the ground below, off of her leg.

Those other ones... She thinks,
If they hurt him, I'll...
One of the men turns at the sound of his comrade being battered by Tifa, and that's all the distraction that Cloud needs. Lunging forwards, he plants the sword into the ground, holding it with his left hand. With his right hand, he grabs the distracted bandit by the back of the head and forces his face forward to collide with the flat of the blade, breaking the man's nose and possibly knocking him unconcious. Quickly, he pulls the man's limp body in front of him and falls backwards as the other two men open fire with their guns, their bullets tearing into their partner's body, now being used a a human shield by Cloud.

As he hits the ground, he quickly takes stock of the situation, the dead man still on top of him.

Maybe I should play dead here for a way I can get to my sword without them slaughtering me....Just hope Tifa can at least distract one...where in the Hell is she, anyway?

The other two bandits begin to advance on Cloud, their guns levelled and ready.
With the violent beat of rapid-fire shots and the thump of bodies falling to the ground - it sounded like two - Tifa's first reaction is to fear the worst. Immediately launching herself over the body of the man on the ground before her, she takes off, heedless into the thicket, thrusting one leg to the side to stop herself, causing her body to slide on the wet pine needles and having to right herself before she trips and loses her balance. There's... noone? Where'd they go?

The speed with which the man behind grabs her causes her breath to catch in her throat, a choked gargle escaping as her trachea is suddenly compressed by his arm, caught in a massively tight headlock.
"That's as far as you go," He says breathlessly, gun held skyward, beside his head. He squeezes tighter. He smells of old leather, unbathed flesh and gunpowder.
"Not so smart now, are ya? Huh?" Opening her eyes, squeezed shut from the tears and the redness from loss of breath, she sees before her - Cloud's buster sword. Did they...?

"Get off," She squeaks, fighting as best she can against his leverage. Her feet are held inches above the ground, and kicking her feet is doing no good...

He lowers his mouth to her ear. "Make me."

Drawing in one final, tortured breath, she plants both hands on the forearm holding her throat. Straining her arms, she curls her stomach, bringing her legs up in the air, together, as high as she can... then suddenly, she swings them downward and bends at the waist with all her might, her feet hitting the ground with two individual "thud"s - one out far in front of her, and one supporting her weight. The downward force - as well as her behind hitting hard against his stomach - causes him to be bent over as well, along with her body... grabbing hard onto the arm she already has in her grasp, she quickly reaches up and back, clamping her fingers in his open mouth as he grunts - her thumb under his chin, and fingers digging hard into the soft pallate at the bottom of his mouth. With all the strength in her arms and her upper body, and his momentum, she hauls him up and over in a modified shoulder-throw. Sending him flailing into the buried Buster Sword with his own burly weight to blame for the force with which he hits the razor edge, cleaving his right arm and side damn near off. Starting at the base of his side, the stationary sword doesn't give an inch - he hits and slides down it's length, leaving a deep crimson smear across much of it's surface, landing, nearly severed at it's base. Still.

She looks around, alert.
Where's the other...?
Cloud rolls the dead body from on top of him, bringing himself into a crouch, and looks around. The sounds of the forest had grown eerily quiet, but it didn't help Cloud, who's ears were still ringing from all the gunfire. Looking immediately to his left, he saw his Buster Sword still planted in the ground, with a very dead man nearly sliced in two. Tifa was standing not far away, and didn't look injured.

Well, that's a blessing. But I'm only counting 4 bodies here...where's the oth-..

His train of thought is cut off as he feels the muzzle of a gun against his head, pressing hard. Well, if anything could be said for these bandits, they were sneaky. And damned good at it.

Now, let's just hope they aren't as smart or fast as they are stealthy...

Kicking his left leg out and planting his hands on the ground, he pivots on his right knee. His spinning foot sweep catches the bandit off-guard, catching him right behind the knees. The man falls backwards, but Cloud is on him, knowing he won't get a second chance. He finishes his spin, now facing the falling man, and lunges forward, simultaneously slamming his left shoulder into the man's stomach and wrapping his arms around him. He lets his forward momentum carry him on a path to a nearby pine tree.

The bandit pounds against Cloud's back, but it's a wasted effort. Cloud reaches the tree, shoulder-spearing his opponent back-first into the tree trunk with full force. The air shoots from the man's lungs in a blast, and Cloud hears a few of bandit's ribs break. Using the split-second pause, Cloud suddenly twists his body, still holding the man, and arhes his back slightly. He brings the bandit up, then slams him down like a sack of potatos, the modified spine-buster doing it's job of knocking the bandit unconcious.

Cloud stands over the body of the fallen highwayman, arms hanging at his sides, his breathing starting to come hard now. He looks over in Tifa's direction, and a smile crosses the corner of his mouth. Giving her a thumbs up gesture, he asks "Are you okay? Just like old times, huh?"
With a look of nauseous hesitation, Tifa starts to gingerly attempt to wipe the spatters of blood off of her face and arms with the middle and ring finger of her right hand. She only really succeeds in creating larger smears of lighter colors, but doesn't seem to notice. She returns Cloud's large smile and returns his thumbs up, quickly thereafter noticing her strapless shirt has been drug down to nearly embarrassing altitudes, and grasps it by the upper elastic, yanking it back upward and taking the time to adjust it.

"Y-yeah," She says, taking a large, awkward, gangly step over the fallen man's body before her. She stops on the other side, turns, and places both hands on the handle of the sword still buried in the ground - with a brief fight, yanking the handle back and forth as to create a loose groove in the earth, she pulls it from the ground, it's weight causing her to stumble back a few steps.
Wow... this is heavier than I thought She thinks, genuinely suprised, suddenly reminded of the ease with which he spins such a weapon around during battle, That's... kind of scary.

Holding the handle at her chest with both hands, the point of the blade left to dangle inches above the earth, she takes more of the huge steps over to Cloud, and lets it fall at his feet, sinking into the dirt again with a loud metallic shriek.
"Here," She says breathlessly... "Just in case."

Her arms burning, free of the weight, she takes a critical look around in the night, eyes squinted. Almost subconciously she gathers her hair into a ponytail and ties it quickly, then returns her hands to her hips.
"I can't see anything." Tifa states, "Do you want me to go steer her next to the pump when you find it?"
"Well, it should be about another mile or so down the road. I want to check the truck and make sure nothing major got hit."

Cloud reaches out, grasping the hilt of the Buster Sword, and with no effort pulls it free of the ground.

I never realized how heavy this thing actually is. Then again, not everyone has Mako in their body like me.

He slings the sword into it's place on his back, two hooks fit into his leather suspenders meant to hold it's massive weight in place. Crouching down, he picks up one of the discarded sub-machine guns, a Shinra "Intimidator" 10mm. He checks the magazine, nods, and fits it back in place.

"This might come in handy later on. I must be getting rusty, those bandits almost nailed me."

Cloud begins to stride back toward the truck, the gun held ready in case of another attack.

"Okay, sounds good." Tifa nods, and then gestures to the gun, "You might want to teach me how to use that one of these days. I hope it doesn't come to that, but... I'd rather know and not have to, you know?"

She follows him back to the truck, and once again climbs into the bed, leaning over the side to assess the damage.
"She doesn't look too bad," she thinks aloud, before sitting back against her duffel bag. "I'll keep watch while you check her out."
"All right. Here, it's already loaded and ready. Just squeeze the trigger if you need to use it."

Cloud hands her the gun, then makes his way to the front of the truck. Reaching under the hood, he pulls on a latch and it springs open. He lifts the hood with a loud screeching sound, the rusty metal having not been moved in ages.

"Jeez....well...we didn't take any damage to the engine, but I'm surprised this thing is running at all. Looks like the oil hasn't been changed in forever, and this fanbelt is about to snap. Maybe we can find parts at the depot, and I'll get a chance to do some repairs on this heap."

He shuts the hood with a resounding *CLUNK*, dusting his hands off as he walks around the trunk and climbs into the driver's seat, shutting the door behind him.

"You ready to roll back there?"
Accepting the gun, Tifa takes a moment to give it a quick look over. She didn't like guns very much, and this one was particularly intimidating.

With noone in sight, she sets it down beside her, and crosses her arms, keeping a watchful eye. For about three minutes.

As Cloud rounds the hood and gets into the driver's seat, and yells back for her, there's no response but silence - and a small, whining (but definitely female) snore. Her head rests half against the glass of the back window, her chin tucked under, eyes closed. That last burst of adrenaline probabl depleted her last natural reserves of energy..
"I'll take that as a yes, then"

Cloud adjusts the seat and rearview mirror, taking a glance behind him to the sleeping Tifa, then to the Buster Sword now propped in the passenger seat.

Poor thing....let her get her sleep. Got a feeling we're both gonna need it.

Cloud starts the truck up on the first try, then pops the clutch and puts the truck into gear. He accelerates off into the night, the truck disappearing over a small rise....

****10 Minutes Later....****

Cloud rolls the truck to a stop, it's heavy treaded tired crunching on the gravel of the road leading into the depot. A large chainlink fence topped by razor-wire surrounds the compound.
Inside is what appears to be a delapidated service station, it's roog sagging. Out front of it is a bright red vending machine, along with a set of 4 gasoline pumps, heavily rusted. Also in the compound is a beat up fuel truck, along with what appears to be two huge steel reservoirs. Painted on their sides are "Caution: Explosive" and "No smoking" signs, along with the Shinra Inc. logo.

Currently, the big gate in front of them was open, and the guard shack beside the entrance was empty. No signs of life from the compound.

Cloud reached back, tapping the glass window with his knuckles.

"Hey Tifa...we're might wanna wake up."

Only 10 minutes into a much-needed deep, peaceful sleep, Tifa is rudely awakened by Cloud's knuckles rapping on the opposite side of the glass on which her head is lilted. Raising her head, squinting in a foggy moment or two of post-slumber confusion, she looks back through the glass for a few seconds, trying to register what's going on, then raises a hand to her forehead. She lazily slams a hand on the gun's handle, and pulls it with as she slides on her bottom to the end of the truck bed and hops off, almost tripping over her own feet. Placing a hand on her lower back again she leans back, her vertebrae cracking loudly, and she turns her head to the side.

"Must've slepwrong..." She slurs, eyes still squinted.
There she waits for his lead, still half-asleep on her feet, but quickly regaining her bearing as the cool night air soothes her throbbing head...
Cloud climbs out of the truck, pulling his sword along with him. His booted feet kick up dust from the gravel as he makes his way towards the front of the truck, his sword propped on his right shoulder.

"I say we check this place out before we pull in the truck. We don't want to run into the middle of a trap and lose it. I'll check out the service station, you head over to those reservoir tanks. There should be a read-out panel on the bottom to tell if any fuel is left in them. And if not, maybe there's some in that old fuel truck, which I'm guessing we could cannibalize for parts as well. Then again, everything here is likely to be bobby-trapped, so be careful."

Cloud steps past the guard shack and through the gate, bearing towards the delapidated service station.

(OOC: Sorry. Couldn't help it.)


12 years ago


12 years ago

Cloud makes his way across the gravel lot, past the rusting service pumps, the stench of gasoline and motor oil heavy in the air.

Hope there's not a leak in here. That could make this trip VERY short....

He steps up the old wooden stairs, which make defiant creaking noises, and notes that the windows appear to be busted out, and there are tell-tale bullet holes throughout the front wall.

These look like high caliber rounds. Hope whoever was here shooting the place up isn't here still. At least the maniac didn't blow the tanks.

Peering through the window cautiously, Cloud doesn't see anyone inside. He says through the broken glass, "Anyone in here?"

Not getting a reply, he moves to the door. It's made of sturdy wood, an "Authorized Personel Only" sign still bolted to the top.

Authorized my ass....

With a grunt, Cloud kicks the door from it's frame, Buster Sword held at the ready. The wooden door slams onto the ground in front of him, kicking up a cloud of paperwork. Inside, it appears to be a small office. There is a desk with an overturned office chair, on top of which is a half-finished, very old donut and a pile of papers. In the corner is a shelf holding an array of labeled binders and books. Another shelf against the far wall holds various sized boxes of parts, and a rack is beside the door holding hazardous material gear and a ShinRa soldier's field jacket.

Damn....whatever happened here, it must have been messy. Guess I can search those boxes over there for parts. Gotta be something to fit that rolling scrap-heap we got out there....

Cloud begins to make his way towards the shelf, when suddenly, he realizes something is wrong. An overturned monitor he didn't notice earlier lay beneath the desk, and a message was flashing on it's screen.

Emergency! Emergency! Intruders Detected. Stage 2 Intrusion. Robot Sentry Activated. Trmination Orders authorized...

"Tifa! Tifa! We got trouble!," Cloud yells, running for the door. Outside, a loud mechanical grinding noise can be heard.
As Cloud yells for her, Tifa is already on her way, running as fast as she can away from the small silos, gun in hand...

"You don't have to tell me!!" She yells, skidding to a stop. "There's blood EVERYWHERE over there, and--"
Her setence is cut short by a loud "BANG". The ground shakes violently, and she seeks balance against the side of the old house... the mechanical whirring and chugging becomes louder, and she gives Cloud a last frightened look, before swallowing hard, and narrowing her eyes into the distance in an attempt to see just what it was that was coming for them...

He was right. This was going to be a long trip.


12 years ago

Geez that thing is fast.....

Cloud makes a dash from the service station towards Tifa, Buster Sword in one hand, the other frantically digging through his belt pouch.

Way things are going, I doubt this'll work. Hell, this probably won't even slow it down, but it's worth a shot...

Finally, his hand closes upon what's needed, a walnut sized piece of polished gemstone. He pulls it out quickly, shoving it into the bottom slot on his Buster Sword with a *CLICK*. Cloud feels the familiar tingling sensation that comes from the Lightning materia, but it feels different now....weaker, perhaps. He hoped that wasn't the case.

He skids to a stop on the gravel about five feet from Tifa, holding his weapon at the ready, and looks the monstrosity up and down.

"Tifa, give me an idea of what we're dealing with here!"

Staring in shock at the mechanical monster racing towards them, Tifa has to break her gaze away from it's large form as Cloud starts barking commands. She gives him a hesitant nod, before quickly backing up a few feet and placing a hand over the wrist of one of her bracers - a faint, yellow light of the support materia begins to stutter to life, rising up between her fingers. She trains her eyes on the giant machine, the warmth of the small glass orb set in her wristwear becoming pronounced...

Please, work... She inwardly pleads.


12 years ago

As the robot skids to a halt, Cloud instinctively steps in front of Tifa, Buster Sword held up defensively. His eyes quicly scan over the robot, but to him, without the assistance of the Scan materia, no part of it looks weak.

And from the sight of those rockets and cannons, if that thing shoots the reservoirs or the tanks, we're gonna be toast. Best thing I figure is to close the distance so it can't bring those weapons to bear, and buy Tifa some time to come up with something. Then again, it does have those giant blades all over it....Ah well, better blades than missles...

Cloud moves in on the robot, dashing around to it's right side, then slashes toward it's leg/knee region. It's not so much a debilitating strike, one meant more to test the thing's reflexes and the toughness of it's armor.

Cloud's sword skims across the leg joint, making sparks explode from the sheer force of the blow. There is, of course, a weaker area where cables form the knee - one sword swipe won't be enough, though, this thing's been built for defense after all.

In retaliation the machine swings one of it's great arms backwards at the running Cloud, elbow blade making an ominous whistling noise as it closes the gap.
Cloud catches the movement of the arm in the corner of his field of vision, but with him still recovering from his initial sword swing, he's in no position to put up a proper defense.

This is going to hurt....

Bringing the Buster Sword up into the best defensive position he can manage at the spur of the moment, he places the flat of the blade between himself and the robot's incoming attack. The metal collides with his blade, catching the brunt of the blow and most likely saving him from what would have been a fatal strike, but the blow still hits Cloud like a freight train.

His body flies upwards and away in an arc, before he gravity brings him back down to collide with one of the rusty gas pumps. His momentum carries him through the metal of the pump, tearing it from the ground, and uncerimoniously depositing him at the front of the service station, his back against the wall, Buster Sword lying a few feet away from him.

I was right.....that DID hurt....
As Cloud is tossed across the blood-spattered ground from the force of the Guard Robot's blow, and plows through the metallic cylindrical gas pump, Tifa's gaze is torn away from the readout, she watches his form in horror... the yellow fades from her field of vision, the magic quickly dissapating into the air like golden steam from it's armoured body as her concentration is broken and the spell vanishes.

Oh no... Oh my G--

Her breathing quickens, and she looks back at the robot, suddenly faced with two stark, dark realities: one, Cloud may be severely injured (or worse)... and two, she was alone with a huge mechanical... thing. A very mean, very strong mechanical thing. With no magic. And her fists. And a machine gun. Granted, she could use it, but... she had no idea was running through this thing, and the last thing she wanted was an explosion in a place like this.

Alright... this is it, I guess... She expels a short snort of air outward through her mouth, and, gun in hand, runs as fast as she can to the front of the robot, keeping as much space as she can between them... she glances over in Cloud's direction, but can't see him through the darkness and distance.

"HEY!! Hey, UGLY!!" She yells, waving her free arm in a particularly embarrassing ploy for the machine's attention - she stops, and leans back, her weight on one leg partially bent, tense ready to move at any moment. She hopes to distract it's attention long enough for Cloud to return to battle... and if not,

I guess I'll just have to take it out myself, if possible... She thinks, not sure if she alone can complete such a hefty task that even Cloud Strife himself wasn't able to. There had to be a weakness, somewhere...


12 years ago

Cloud shook the dizziness from his head, then stood shakily to his feet, his right hand braced against the service station for support.

Anyone get the number to that truck that hit me?....

Crouching down, he grasped the hilt of the Buster Sword in his gloved hand, it's tempered steel a comfort to him. He cast his gaze in Tifa's direction, then to the giant robot paused in it's tracks.

What in the hell is it doing? Hopefully not arming those missles...

From above him, he hears a whirring sound. he looks up to see a wall mounted security camera pan over to face Tifa, and the robot begins to move again.

Ah, so that's your ticket, huh? Let's how how you like this...

Grasping the sword in both hands, held vertically, he thrusts the blade upwards at the undefended camera, tearing it from it's mounting in a shower of sparks.

Maybe that'll buy us a little time....but I doubt it.

"Tifa! Stay out of sight of the security cameras, that's how it's seeing you!"

Gripping the sword resolutely, he charges forward towards the robot for a second attack.
With characteristic courage and disregard for her own mortality, Tifa does not retreat away from the blades... in fact, she does just the opposite. As the XN-800 begins to move towards her, slowly at first, she leans forward and takes off towards the monstrosity - machine gun still grasped tightly in her left hand, as the blades descend upon her she uses the forward momentum and leaps with all the strength in her legs, throwing her small body through the rapidly closing gap between she and the elbow blades... as she passes between the two sheaths of metal that are in fact probably larger than her, she brings her arms in close, tucking her head down momentarily to avoid any unwanted contact with the robot's limbs... with a sudden downward heave of her upper torso, she sends her body into a front somersault, landing halphazardly in the space between it's legs, planting the heels of her boots into the gravel as she forces herself to skid to a stop. One heel slips forward on the small pebbles, and she has to quickly find the ground with her right hand before she falls completely, legs darting out from underneath her.

It's about at this time the Cloud yells something to her - what, she's not sure, the intoxicating blend of adrenaline and blood pumping against her ears blocking out all outside sound momentarily. He was alright, and that was very good news, but they had to act quick if they were going to survive this.
Rising to a standing position, she waves with the gun towards the vicinity of the truck in a hurried fashion, and yells as loud as she can, each symbol dramatically enunciated so to better traverse the distance between them,
"FILL - UP - THE - TANK!!!!!"

With this, she turns to (what she hopes is still) the back of the XN-800, and wheels backward. Levelling the alien contraption in her hand, she thinks, Just pull the trigger, huh... taking a second to glance over the dented, scratched carapace of the gun before placing one hand under her fist for support, and continuing to back away... with an amatuer reaction to the loud sound of the actual discharge of bullets, she swings her head to the side and squeezes her eyes closed, firing a rapid string of ammunition at what is roughly the vicinty of the bare cables in the back of the XN-800's knee joint.
Fill up the tank? What the hell is she planning to....uh oh, I think I know

Stopping in his tracks, Cloud abandons his attack, dashing back now towards the pick up truck.

"You're gonna have to hold that damned thing off, Tifa! If it hits one of these tanks, we're Barbeque!"

As he reaches the old truck, Cloud pitches his Buster Sword into the bed, then quickly jumps into the cab and slams the door shut, thankful he left the engine running. Stomping his combat boot down hard onto the steel pedal, the truck accelerates with a lurch, and Cloud swings it in next to the pumps.

Please don't let that things shoot any missles, please...

He flings the door open and jumps out, running towards the pumps on the opposite side of the truck, and does a quick check.

Good, they're still on.....gotta move fast, though

He hurriedly unscrews the gas cap, taking the fuel nozzle in his other hand, all the while frantically watching in Tifa's direction.

"Tifa, don't shoot those damned tanks!!!!!!!!"

He plunges the nozzle of the fuel hose into the truck's gas tank, and squeeze down the trigger, relieved when he feels fuel begin to spray from it and into the tank. This was going to take awhile. Would Tifa be all right?

The force of the bullets discharging from the rifle is staggering, and the spray goes wide. Holes appear in everything both on and off the robot, creating little 'ping' noises, forming a path more commonly seen in survival horror movies - a few bullets pierce the robot's steel carapace, warping the metal and damaging the delicate machinery inside, but the small joint already attacked by Cloud doesn't recieve much more punishment. The XN-800 whips around, following the line of sight of the remaining security camera with an almost malevolent posture.

The twin cannons on the shoulders begin to hum and glow faintly, no doubt collecting power.

(OOC: What's the smell? Is it... could it be... possibly... gas?)


12 years ago

Finally, Clod risks a glance inside the truck to the gas guage.

Three quarters, that's enough for now. Not worth dying for a full tank...

Cloud leaps into the cab, shifting the truck into gear as he slams down the gas pedal and whips the wheel hard to the left. The tires send up a spray of gravel as the truck fishtails, then rights itself.

This is gonna be close...

Cloud pulls up evenly behind the robot, then swerves to the right, pulling in front of it. Looking to his left, he sees Tifa running beside him.

"Tifa!!!!!!! Jump in the bed! We're outta here!"

He throttles the truck up, pulling himself in front of Tifa now, waiting for her to jump into the back.

Please make it...please make it.....I can't lose another one....
As Cloud is frantically trying to collect Tifa, the ominous cannons continue their charging, gathering from the air what looks like particles of light. The robot braces itself, ignoring the swerving truck playing about it's heels. The humming is louder now, like a jet taking off. The gas pump handles rattle in their stands.

And then without warning the massive power is released! There is a flash of intense light that is momentarily blinding, and a bitter heat washes over the compound. The light pours from the cannons, creating deep furrows in the ground as the robot aligns itself and it's deadly arsenal with the moving targets.

Wind that is more power backlash than air whips through the grounds, unsettling pieces of metal and throwing them around like toys, creating sharp secondary missiles. Everything smells of ozone, and gas.


12 years ago

Cloud sees Tifa make her jump in the rearview window, along with the deadly twin beams tracking the course of the truck. Giving her a few seconds, he decides she has to be in the truck, when suddenly the window shatters inward, spraying glass into the cab.

What the....

His question is quickly answered as the unconcious Tifa follows through the window and into the cab, bleeding from many small wounds. Surprised, Cloud accidentally whips the wheel hard to the left. The edge of one of the laser beams clips the back end of the truck, taking off the bumper and the tailgate as easy aa a hot knife through butter.

She better be allright, you damned bucket of bolts, or you are gonna....wait a minute....bolts...Bolt! I still have that Lighting materia in the back...gotta hold this thing off long enough until I can get to it...

Cloud guns the engine, pulling ahead of the robot, then pulls up on the emergency brake and cuts the wheel hard. The ensuing manuever, known as a bootlegger's turn, ends with Cloud's truck now facing the robot. He slams down on the gas, rapidly popping the clutch to get the truck up to speed, bearing straight down on the attack robot in an attempt to either ram it, or get it to chicken out so he can drive past it.
The searing beam of light continues to follow the truck, a seemingly endless barrage of power. Larger items begin to fly around the compound, destroying animate and inanimate items alike. Multiple tanks are wrenched from their casings, spraying filthy black gas into the air with great force.

It's just too much for the laws of physics to handle. The heat is too great, and sources of fire entirely too numerous.

The worst case scenario comes true. With a frightening WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM the majority of the compound erupts into flames, immediately growing to oppressive heat. The fire surrounds both the truck and the robot, licking up the latter's carapace and kicking in the robot's survival mechanism - the shoulder cannons shut off, robbing the gas station of the light so brilliant that even with the air on fire it looks now dark by comparison.

The damage is done, though. The robot screeches to a halt as the security camera melts in it's very casings, providing an interesting sight as the fire greedily begins to consume the behemoth's shell.

(OOC: I'm sorry for the wait!! I hope you didn't think I'd abandoned you! :D)
((OOC: Nope, not a problem :) ))

Ah, hell......

Cloud ducks down just as a huge piece of shrapnel shatters the front window, scattering in across him and Tifa. He can feel the intense heat of the flames, and peers cautiously up over the dashboard to see the robot is now unmoving.

The damned thing's not gonna move, gotta get outta here...

Looking over to his right, he spots the chain-link fence for the perimeter of the depot, and swerves the truck on a path towards it.

Just hope we get far enough away from the blast radius....Hang on, Tifa...

The front of the truck rams the fence, it's speed more than enough to take it through the chain link. The broken metal scrapes over the top of the truck in a high pitched squeal, and then they are free and clear, at least for the time being. Cloud continues to accelerate to a short distance away, and then slams down the gas pedal, the truck coming to a halt. Looking down, and taking a deep breath, he pulls Tifa up into a sitting position on the truck seat.

"Tifa....Tifa...we're clear....You okay? Wake up..."

What if she doesn't wake up, what then? Death seems to follow wherever you go, Cloud Strife.

He brushes back a strand of hair from her right eye, his left hand resting on her cheek.
As Cloud reaches down and begins to pull Tifa upward, one of her hands finds it's way in a clumsy, weak grope onto his elbow. She's still alive, obviously, and is regaining conciousness. She shifts the wrong way, her injured shoulder brushing against the truck's passenger seat upholstery, and lets out a small, strangled sound that is caught somewhere between being a gasp and a moan. It seems to be slumped a little lower then it would normally be, and is starting to show signs of slight bruising.

"I... I'mkay," she mumbles, her voice low, and shakes her head in the slow, deliberate fashion in which someone would say "no", before raising her slumped head and blinking 4 or 5 times, her dilated pupils searching the general vicinity of Cloud's face, which appears to her as a gradually focusing field of peach and beige, hyponated with a bright blue-green almost unbearable to look at in her state.
She shakes her head again, a little more strongly this time, narrows her eyes and swallows. The swimming colours begin to mesh together to weave solid images, and the ringing in her ears begins to die down...
"What happened...?"
"The robot blew the damn tanks, and the depot caught on fire. I think I got us far enough away, so we're safe now. I just...jeez, look at your shoulder....That looks nasty."

Cloud searches her face with his bright-blue eyes, trying to determine if she is in shock or not.

"The truck loooks like it might still run, but we're gonna have problems with it, I can already tell. And I'm going to have to reset that shoulder of yours."
Tifa nods, her body language still slightly disoriented. "Good," she says, "I was afraid that thing was going to cut our little adventure short..."
She looks around the inside of the cab. Her vision is now fine if a little fuzzy around the edges,
"At least she still run--"

Suddenly, another deep, stabbing muscular pain from her injured shoulder. Gritting her teeth, she grips the bicep with one hand, and looks back up at Cloud... her eyes are normal once again, and the gauzy haze of momentary shock seems to have completely faded. A single dull pulsing ache expands and retracts inside a spot just inside her forehead, but otherwise, she's a little burnt and a little cut but fine.
"Just.." she turns, so her afflicted side is facing him a little bit more. She bows her head and stares resolutely at the dashboard. Swallows once. "Do it quick."
Gonna have to distract her, easiest way...

Cloud takes the hand from the injured arm in his own, holding it firmly, and rests his other hand on her shoulder, looking at her softly.

"Tifa, you know I would never will-"

Suddenly, he pushes her arm up and inward, hearing the bone pop into place, and quickly throws up his hands to ward off any sudden attacks from her.

"Sorry,'s always easier if you aren't paying attention. Now..."

Cloud digs around in his belt pouch, finally producing a small emerald stone, and holds it in his hand, looking at her.

"I've got this restore Materia here, I doubt I could do anything major, but we should be able to kill some of that pain, and get rid of some of those scrapes and scratches...."

Closing his fingers around it, he shuts his eyes, concentrating intently. At first, it seems nothing is going to happen, and sweat begins to bead on Cloud's forehead, when finally, small green trails of magical energy flow from his hand, seeming to envelop Tifa's body.

As she watches, her wounds begin to close up, and the ache in her shoulder subsides somewhat. A warm, radiant glow fills her body, seeming to make everything feel whole and healthy. And then suddenly, it stops. Cloud tilts his head back, his breathing now very hard, and sweat is pouring down his forehead. He looks over at her and smiles.

"Ho..Hope you f...feel better. That was...a little r...rough."

No, that almost KILLED you, you idiot. You should know better than to mess with that materia in the state the Planet is in now

"So...what's next?"
Indeed, the healing green glow does close up her small scrapes and scratches, the deeper laserations, and leaves the bare, searing ache of her head and newly-replaced shoulder joint only minute inkling of what was, seconds before, a pain so intense she thought she may faint... taken by suprise, she looks to Cloud, who is weakened himself for a few seconds, but quickly regains his healthy complexion.

He turns to her, and no quicker than the three words escape his lips do Tifa's fist slam against them, mashing them back against his teeth with a "thwok". The punch twists her torso towards him, keeling her off balance with the weight of her quickly extended arm - emitting a comedically uncharacteristic and utterly girly shriek, she crashes against him and topples over the gap between the seats. The force sends him falling backwards, her landing atop him and pinning his chest to the driver's seat with her weight. She accidentally clonks her poor, bruised forehead on his metallic shoulderpad.

"Unf.." she grunts, planting one hand astride his torso, pulling herself up over him. Stifling a bit of a sarcastic laugh,
"Wait until I'm ready next time, spikey." she chides.
"Right, I'll have to remember that...."

Cloud smiles, rubbing at his lips, then gently pushes her off him and back into her seat. He then pulls himself upright, taking a look around, and shifts the truck into gear.

"Well, guess we're off to Cosmo now. Just hope this bucket of rust holds together for us. And I sure hope Cosmo Canyon is still there...."