Categories > Games > Kingdom Hearts > But That Was In Another Country

the night is not beautiful

by spiderflower 5 reviews

Sometimes the good guys don't win against unstoppable odds. Yuffie Kisaragi and the last stand: before Traverse Town, there was the Planet, and before Sora, there was AVALANCHE. Chapter three; the ...

Category: Kingdom Hearts - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters: Cloud, Yuffie - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2005-10-18 - Updated: 2005-10-18 - 4539 words

But That Was In Another Country

once I had my heroes
once I had my dreams
but all of that is changed now:
the truth begins again -
the truth is not that comfortable, no

- moby, "revolver"

iii. - the night is not beautiful

The worst part about the first assault of the Heartless is that not much looks different. In parts of the city, there's fire, but that's only because they want to flush you out for the Shadows as the Big Bodies crack the concrete and hulk past the harbour. There was no aerial assault for Junon, because - but I know that now, and I didn't know that then, and all I knew in the buggy was that the city didn't /look so bad/. A little bit smoky, a little bit crappy, but Junon always looked like that /anyway/. It was just quiet. Only now I know that the worst sign is silence, but -

You know this stuff, you know all this stuff. Here I go.

Okay, then we got a little bit closer and it was like a kind of like an awesome city marathon where the main prize was that you didn't get to get your heart sucked out for an extra five minutes. Of course, you didn't have to get your heart sucked out. Some people were just lying there all fried by the little Heartless in witch hats, ice and lightning and fire, and Reno our capable defensive driver hit a couple dozen corpses and half a ton of debris as we ran through the outskirts of the city. He sure as shit did not want to get near that city. He veered off merrily towards the foothills, Rude all ready with his gun and the window rolled down. We were all awake now, even Marlene, sitting in the back very quietly with dead eyes: she was a good girl.

"Doesn't this hunk of fucking junk fucking go fucking faster fucking fuck fuck fuckettes cheering in a fuck band," Reno said, slightly incoherently but with ten points for usage. We were going so fast already that the ground churned underneath us and trees blurred mesmerizingly in the background. "I fucking hate this /fucking car/."

Tifa scrubbed at her temples with her hair all over. She looked like she had a body headache. "Reno, if you don't mind for the under-sixes - "

"The under-sixes can go work in a fuckin' pedo fuckin' brothel for all I give a damn/, Lockheart, they can have a /fuck parade with fuck bunting/, the suspension in this thing is /shit - "

" - Marlene, don't you listen to jest one word that man is sayin'! Goddamn it, Turk! Shut yo' mouth! - "

" - Marlene, sweetheart, you know that there are some words adults say when they're stressed and this is just one of those situations - "

"I bet you don't kiss your momma with that mouth, Mister," Marlene announced, before Barret could shoot through to the front seat and save her innocence but kill us all in the process. This broke the ice by making Reno laugh so hard that he almost drove us into a patch of scrubland, and then he went back to cursing the car's sexual history, present and probable future.

Barret would beat the back of his seat occasionally, which caused the car to fishtail out of control every so often as Reno's spine got rearranged. Rude would every so often give Reno Looks that were translateable as wifely backseat driving, because then Reno would swear at him instead of the car, and do what felt like fishtailing the buggy deliberately just to show who was on top. It was so painfully early in the morning that the night hadn't been evicted yet; and the only one who looked comfortable was Cloud, who obviously was mentally calculating how long it would take for his Heartless to chew our bodies in the mangled wreckage of the vehicle when it finally crashed. Tifa looked tired. Reno looked drawn. And then there was me, really wanting a juice pack and to hit something, and preferably a pee break while we were all at it. Fun times, fun times.

Cait Sith eventually spluttered to life again with a burst of radio static as our driver molested small bushes: the noise made Marlene give a little scream, which made Reno fishtail again, which made Rude's head bang on the top of the window frame. This made Barret slam his fist into the back of Rude's seat, which caused Tifa to give Barret what was a very skilled Wutaianese burn on his forearm. Anarchy broke out.

"Barret, just /stop it/, you're not helping!"

" - I'm gonna tear your head off and shit down your neck if you keep on goddamn doing that, Wallace - "

"Reno has a problem and this problem is road rage - "

" - your neck too, Kisaragi - "

"Damn it," Reeve's voice crackled through on Cait's radio. "If you don't all shut up right now, I'm going to turn that car around right back to Midgar, so help me God."

We all shut up. There was a faintly impressed silence on the other end of the PHS imbedded in the cat-doll, as if he hadn't actually expected that coming. The President cleared his throat a little, embarrassed, and it was Rude who eventually spoke.

"How you doin', Mr. President?"

"Like shit," crackled Cait's box, tired and rather dejected. That wasn't like Reeve at /all/. He was usually kind of creepily happy-clappy middle-age-crisis. "Administration count of fifty-six in the shelter, we couldn't save anyone else. Elena will start sealing things behind you as you make your way into the tunnel."

How'd our baby girl do?" Reno.

Another cough. "Other than blowing up half the street with grenades and completely wrecking my office? Where did she get that chaingun?"

"Birthday," said Rude, as if that explained everything, while Reno gave little motherly clucking noises as if his small child had taken its first toddling steps. This was /incredibly frightening/. My future assassin group with a better name was going to be sure as hell not be a kind of horrible STD to member sanity.

"I was happier not knowing. Look, can you go any faster?"

"No," Rude said, at the same time as the inevitable "Not unless somebody gets out to fucking push!"

"Where are we being taken to?" asked Cloud.

Short, faintly crackly silence. "Let's just say Shinra government was very paranoid, which works in our favour. Reno, remember that you don't go past the fifth barrier. Look, we'll talk when you're safe - "

"There is no 'safe'," said Cloud.

I didn't really blame Reno for making the kind of irritated sound halfway through clearing his throat and honking his nose. "Look, Strife, it's this or goddamned fuckin' dead - "

"Yeah," said Cloud. "There is 'dead'."

After that we drove in really peppy, positive silence as Reno rounded a hill that turned out not to actually be a hill: as the bald Turk calmly pushed a button that sure as hell hadn't been in the buggy before, part of the hill opened up like a garage door, a huge enormous steel door in the hillside - and we went into a lit-up corridor and it closed behind us with an enormous thud, the lights went out as we went. One enormous barrier, and it closed behind us. Thus. Two. Thud. Three. Thud. Four. Thud. And at the fifth one, as we went along that hastily-sealed gravel road - there was Reeve, waiting by the fifth door, with Elena next to him in a rumpled black-bloodied suit with that enormous chaingun in her hands. Her blonde hair was covered in blood. (At this point she was pretty much the coolest person in the world apart from me.) Reno hit the brakes so hard he almost killed us by ploughing into the next steel door and he and Rude kicked the doors open, skipping over to the blonde hand-in-hand accompanied by violin music and floating petals. (Actually they just walked.)

"God, you're so hot like fire with that, sweetcheeks," Reno said.

"I'm not going out to dinner with you."

"I'm sorry I said you had a laugh like a horse, Ellie-Lennie-Lena."

"Reno. Don't call me tha - hey, I forgot you said that! Now I'm really not going out to dinner with you."

"That's okay, I don't have money anyway and you eat like you're fat. Actually, you are getting a little chubby around the ass area - "

"Hey," I hollered out the window, sliding out while Tifa stretched and unbuckled Marlene and got bags and Cloud slid over Barret's lap to go unlock the boot and there was general buggy-exiting mayhem, "hey/, it's not like /I wouldn't be totally mad hotter if I had it - "

"No, you wouldn't," said Rude.

"Kisaragi, don't make me /laugh/. Like this: Ha! Ha! Ha! You're ugly."

"Sorry, Wutaian," Elena said, not at all apologetically whatsoever/, and began stroking her chaingun in a way that pretty much confirmed /every Turk was deranged/, and I was going to kill Reno for the rest of his life for the former remark. "Baby and I are attached to each other. Baby's my good girl, aren't you, Baby? /Yes, you are - "

"It's stopped being hot now," Reno pointed out, but Elena hit him in the elbow with Baby and he spent the time curled up in Rude's manly arms crying in agony while his bald king of romance caressed his thick crimson hair and whispered sensually to him (actually he just rubbed his arm and said 'fuck' while Rude adjusted his sunglasses).

"Enough horseplay," said His Royal Highness President Combover, who'd been elbow-deep in his other robot self which is kind of like masturbation or incest. Reeve always carried a screwdriver. "You three get what you need, we're continuing with the plan. Strife, Lockheart - we'll be going into the passage, all right? I'll explain once we're less in imminent danger - "

"How come them Turks ain't comin' with us, man?" Barret. He looked less in tender caring for the Turks' health than irritated that they might get to beat and shoot something before he did: this was complicated by the fact that Rude had just punched open a keylock on a nearby cabinet welded into the rock face of the wall, and all three were excitedly packing themselves with ammo, battery packs, guns, and what looked like a flamethrower. "Fuck if I'm lettin' a Turk go 'fore I can get my hands on summa them Heartful bugs or whatever - "

"Barret's got a point," Tifa said, and Barret gave her a take-off-your-clothes look of mindless adoration (I wish I could put something alternate here, but he did). "I think we're experienced enough to join in the fight here, Reeve."

"No, we're not."

" - It's not even been a year so it's not like I've forgotten how to throw a punch - look, Cloud, I'm sorry and I understand, but please would you quit it?" (/Understand?/ Looking back I don't know who she was kidding, unless she had a special Crazy Bitch to Actual Sense dictionary somewhere on her person.)

"If you go out there you're going to die," said Cloud. "If you go out there you will get killed. That's the long of it and that's the short of it. The darkness doesn't care, the darkness doesn't pick and choose... It's not about how much you've done or how much you've fought or who you are. The Heartless will kill you. The Heartless will kill all of us. The Heartless will kill the Turks, and then they'll find their way down here sooner or later, and then we're all going to die."

There was a short silence: even Rude had stopped caressing the thing that looked like a flamethrower. Everyone stared at him. Marlene squirmed a little in her father's arms. Tifa's cheeks were turning flaming red as she practically held her breath and tried to keep it all inside her: and finally, with superhuman effort, all that burst out was "This is why nobody ever picked you for kickball."

Another little helpless silence occurred as she stormed over to lean against the buggy door. Reeve cleared his throat a number of times as I got distracted by looking at Reno with deep and abiding lust (not because it was Reno, but because he was strapping a bandolier of grenades to his chest and I was wondering if he'd swap for a Throw materia or something). "Look, if I could fit you all in the Shinra helicopter, I would, but right now the Turks are ready and you're not/. You need to regroup. They're going to basically be doing recon, don't worry." ("Recon with a flamethrower, yo, motherfucker," said Reno.) "Cloud - uh - is partially right: going out there with no game plan is going to mean imminent death. We just need to secure ourselves and /then go from there. If you'd follow me - no, we'll leave the buggy up here. Rude, oh-six-hundred hours, okay? There's a unit in the helicopter. Seal it behind you. Um, I don't have anything inspiring to say here, so just... Don't die, all right?"

"Take care, Boss," Reno said.

"Look after yourself, Mr. President!"


There was a sort of awkward, quiet knowing as they finally suited themselves up, and checked each other's guns, and packed it to their backs like donkeys and started the slow shimmy up a ladder on the side of the wall that was basically iron staples shoved in the rock. I watched their ascent: and suddenly, Tifa cried out, "Stay safe, you guys, okay?"

"Hey, well, you too, AVALANCHE." Princess Big Gun.

"If I don't, will your tender fingers unbutton my shirt?" King Retard.

"... You too, Tifa." The Duke of Baldness.

"Oooo-/ooooo/, you called her Tiiii-faaaa - "

"... shut /up/."

"Kill a couple for me," I suddenly hollered at them, suddenly and magnanimously fond of them all, Elena and Rude and Reno and their stupid business suits and their stupid group name and the total sex that Reno and Rude would be having later that night as they both seethed in passionate man-jealousy over Rude's attentions to Tifa and Elena, I dunno, held the camera. "Kill a lot for me. I'm totally worth it. Kill like ten million."

"Hey, you dance like you've got ass in your pants, Kisaragi," said Reno -

- and then they were all gone, up into a sliding trapdoor that closed with a final dull clang as we saw the last of the soles of Rude's fashionable shoes, and Reeve was staring after them with a kind of wild and fathomless lost in his eyes: like the Papa Bear who'd lost Goldilocks or something and was never ever about to see the three bowls of organic gluten-free porridge again. Me, I didn't know why anybody would bother worrying about the Turks considering that if buildings fell on them it'd generally just hurt the building and it would cry and maybe sue for damages. They were like cockroaches...

(and we all were)

... and then Robo-prez just pulled a horrible handkerchief out his pocket and mopped his forehead with it, and that was that.

"Let's not waste any more time," he said. "This is the last leg of our journey."

Home, sweet home.

President Shinra may have also been the President of Paranoia, but apparently the idea of hanging out in a bunker in Junon had never inspired him with the instinct to make it non-ugly. Maybe the one in Midgar had flowery wallpaper and nice chairs or something, I don't know. This place was a warren of concrete rooms and the types of horrible beige plastic chairs you get in schools (I just saw them as horrible plastic beige things, anyway, I went to ninja school and you get throwing darts and sneakiness to sit on). There was lots of dingy metallic furniture and computer systems and radios and bare floor. Cloud immediately went around knocking on the walls, saying hello to the insulation goblins or looking for treasure. Anyway, it also had rooms full of really awful retarded bunks - you know, rough brown military blankets, that kind of stuff - and it was more than a little depressing how small a space we filled up. There was, like, a bunk room for every two of us. It was /big/. Big and ugly and cold with dingy lights. It was underground. There was nowhere to run.

"This place makes me want to commit /ritual suicide/," I said.

"Please don't," said El Presidente Tuesti. "I'm sure nobody here wants to make the third incision for you."

"You're funnier as a robot."

I would have elaborated on his general more-attractiveness and charm as a mechanical cat, but there was a sort of human tide that crept out of the rooms at his voice - a dispirited, grey-skinned, dead-eyed and frantic tide, filled with old sweat and old terror, who started up a chorus that stopped us AVALANCHE-ites cold. The refrain went a little bit like this:

"The communications, Mr. President - "

"My father - "

"My brother - "

"My children - "

"My husband - "

"Please," said Reeve, over the hubbub, and when it didn't work quite so well, "Please - "

Thankfully, we had the Human Megaphone, and Barret - Marlene perched on one brawny shoulder - surged up in front of the wave like a big killer wave, waving his arm in a distinctly menacing way. "Hey! Fools! We cain't hear ourselves thinkin'! Shut yo' HELL up!"

They shut their hell up.

"Believe me when I say I am doing all I can," said Catman, with a lot more grace and smoothness than I gave him credit for. I bet he was slipping opium or something on the sidelines. Maybe he should have just worn a t-shirt saying ALL OF YOUR LOVED ONES ARE DEAD, once Cloud had made them up. "As are AVALANCHE. I can't disclose information right now for city security, but we are doing all we can with what staff we have. Please. Anna, would you start rigging up everybody's cellphones to the PHS and computer system, just in case we get messages? Thank you. If you'll excuse me for a few minutes..."

It wasn't really an escape of mutual consent, but considering Barret was still waving his arm threateningly at the posse of vagrants in their business casual and their burnt-off eyebrows, they let us pass. I grabbed Cloud's sleeve in his sad and endless fight to communicate with his lost love, the wall; Reeve lead us down a corridor into a makeshift meeting-room and locked a door behind us. It was thick as a plank. The door, I mean; the room just was small and sucked. Tifa pulled out a chair for Cloud which he absently sat down in and she straightened out his collar and fixed his hair, and touched the tips of his ears, and that she could still feel such tenderness towards him and not snap his horrible little neck was testament to Tifa. Maybe Saint Tifa the Masochistic, I don't know.

"First things first, Prez," I said, and hopped into one of the beige horribles in a cute backwards slide. "My dad. Wutai. Now."

"Uh," - which was the most awkward tardpause in the world. "Well. First things first... Wutai has a complete blackout at the moment, Yuffie, completely dark. We've lost communications, but considering the Da Chao caves, Godo and your people are probably better off than many others... There's the same blackout in Cosmo Canyon, but we have... film. The only recent report we've gotten from anywhere was from the barracks holed up at Condor, who are probably more than used to this type of thing. There are fleas currently in Costa del Sol, we've gotten no word from Nibelheim, they were evacuating Rocket Town, Icicle Town, Gongaga - there's no hope of getting into Midgar, apparently all you can hear are the screams from the slums."

"/Goddamn/," said Barret, and Tifa rubbed her temples. "God-/dayum/. What 'bout Highwind? What's he doin'? Weren't he doin' some kinda shit for you anyway - "

"The rocket, yes," Reeve admitted. "I've had nothing from him or the engineers, either. I was actually meant to go by to see how they were fine-tuning the engines, salvaging the space project... I guess it's all useless now, considering the fleas."

"Heartless," said Cloud, and Barret laid one hefty hand on his arm.

"Strife," he growled, "you're gonna tell us every damn thing yo' messed-up head can think about, understand? You gotta git farther or I'm gonna pound you, goddamnit!"

"Give up the crazy goss, Cloud," I said.

"Please," added Saint Tifa the Masochistic.

"Papa says you are as dumb as a box of hair," offered Marlene, as a kind of afterthought.

Cloud didn't sit. He leant against the wall, stiff and cold; he moved his hand across and rapped the wall again, and listened to the sound, and tilted his head back against the cold stone and closed his eyes in some kind of ecstasy. "They are making their way to open the keyhole," he said, dreamy. "They are making their way... the Darkness has been moving for a while now. The key is... Huh. Makes sense, doesn't it?"


"The Heartless are one," he said. "I and the Heartless and he are one."

"Straight bullshit. We ain't got time to listen to Strife spazzin', Teef - "

"Everything returns to shadows," said Cloud.

"He's the only one apart from Vincent who's got Mako in him, and the Jenova cells. He can probably hear things we can't, Barret. You know he can hear things we can't. You know they messed with his brain!"

This prompted a Domestic. Their voices both went low and mean - well, Barret's version of low and mean, which could still be heard for miles - and they hissed at each other in curt sentences which we could only catch snatches of if we eavesdropped appropriately and I know I did: "Yeah, an' ninety-nine percent of it's jes' on account of him bein' a stupid piece o' - "

" - /Barret/, don't you - "

" - crazy-makin' shithole - "

" - that doesn't mean we can't - "

" - egg-headed moron-foo' - "

"Every heart contains it," said Cloud.

" - just stop it - "

" - stankin', bug-eyed, weepin' - "

" - Barret - "

Reeve, Marlene and I exchanged a Look; I pulled Marlene down from Barret's shoulder when she held her small arms out to me ("Need a bathroom," she said. "You're sure as hell not the only one, kiddoo," sez me) and I pulled her to my hip: she was heavy as hell, so I promptly passed her to Reeve, who suddenly had a piggyback filled with five-year-old and looked perturbed at this. Barret and Tifa didn't notice and continued bitching at each other in furious domestic-fight voices, with clenched fists. Cloud went back to stroking the walls.

It was at this point I pretty much believed we were done for.

The first two days or so were kind of like living in a crazy ghost town where all the zombies were manic depressives. Nobody talked much. They put Tifa in the kitchen and she did amazing things with canned food (she could make corned beef satisfied that it had died for a purpose), but she wasn't talking to Barret at all, and so they went through a pantomime of clenched teeth and Marlene-tell-Tifa or Marlene-tell-your-father which was hilarious for about sixty seconds. We didn't find Cloud at all for hours, which was kind of relaxing, only eventually he turned out to be wedged in this concrete crevice listening to his girlfriend, the wall, and we left him there and Tifa gave him meals so that he wouldn't die and smell up the place. Marls found this horrible old box of board games, so we played Wutaianese Checkers and Shinraopoly (which I always won, and ended up putting awesome-ass hotels on the Shinra Building and the Presidential Park and knifing her for debt).

One of the accountants hung himself on the third day. We actually had to put him in an abandoned freezer room because we couldn't bury him, which was /mad gross/.

On the fifth day, when I had just invented the backwards triple-flip death-defying somersault in the horrible big echoing gym with the bicycles that didn't work, Reeve came to me. (His natty little beard already looked horrible and he was getting radical sideburn growth.)

"Yuffie," he said. "I have a problem."

The problem was actually not that he was madly in love with me and wanted to repopulate the world startin' /now/, which was a good thing, because imagine ninja babies with sideburns. It just does not work. The problem was this: he had fifty crazy staff all crammed into the communications room with their cellphones, waiting for somebody to ring who never would, and he wanted me to sit in there and lock the door and wait for somebody to ring who never would instead as some form of crowd control. Apparently it was a matter of securty blah blah blah blibbety blah, but really I was the only AVALANCHE sap who was bored enough to say yes and Marlene couldn't reach the phones unless she sat on an encyclopedia.

I waited for all of them. I waited for my dad. I waited for somebody's son or nephew or grandparent to phone, or for any poor sap out there in the whole entire world who had Reeve's phonenumber or something, for any sign of yes down there in that horrible oppressive little cavern survival shelter. I gave up about an hour after I took the job, read from a selection of the library (bad romance novels: I chose I'm Having Your Baby... But You're A Turk!), hung upside down from my knees from a ceiling railing, ate a truckload of leftover corned beef sandwiches and flicked over to the good parts in But You're A Turk!, giving various parts to Reno, Rude and Elena (currently Reno was the knocked-up secretary and Elena the rapist ex-boyfriend, leaving Rude the bare-chested hero). Generally I tried to do this all at the same time for variety. One day on the ninth day I opened to one of the later chapters and noted the word 'nipple' ('Wantonly Shirilla arched up to meet Biff's mouth and caress his thigh, wrapped as it was in the grey business casual that made every cell of her ache for him, and he found her nipple through her dress. Her violet eyes flashed with abandon. "I'm so pregnant for you," she moaned.') and suddenly got such a shock that I toppled from the ceiling railing and fell to the office chair with an injurious clatter. There was a reason for this: Cloud's PHS had clicked, and given that low grinding brring brring of warning.

"Cloud Strife? Come in." Click. "Tifa Lockhart? Come in." Click. "Barret Wallace? Come in. Come in." Click. Click. "Yuffie Kisaragi? Come in. - "

By the time he'd gotten to Cait, I'd managed to scrabble to my own PHS, mashing down on the buttons, shrieking in absolute glee through the really-badly-soundproofed walls, echoing off the stone and hollering until I was hoarse and bellowing into the handset and out the door and everywhere. There was only one man in the entire world who could sound terse and morose at the same time.

"Hey! Hey! Guys! IT'S VINCENT!"
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