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Chapter XV: Another Side

Sarlix and Xymgrel stepped out of their portal and appeared in a dreary alleyway in the middle of a huge metropolis. The two of them pulled their hoods over their heads and walked onto the streets. They instantly caught the attentions of many civilians. It wasn’t an everyday thing to see two mysterious people dressed in an all-black trench coat. Sarlix and Xymgrel had to behave absolutely normal, so to not attract too much attention. However, their presence did attract a great deal of attention from one blonde-haired man standing by a bar.

Cloud spun around and went back into the bar. He turned to look for the two mysterious people again for a brief moment before walking to the bar’s front desk.

“Tifa, I think there’s going to be some trouble around here,” he said quietly without distracting the guests.

Tifa was washing the dishes and serving drinks at the same time. She took the money and bid a paying customer farewell and returned to the sink.

“I’ll close up soon,” she said, without asking Cloud what the trouble was. “Go find everyone else.”

Everyone else meant Aerith, Yuffie, Cid, Barrett Wallace, and Vincent Valentine. The city of Midgar was experiencing an abnormally high rate of crime and unexplainable problems. So when Cloud said there was going to be trouble, Tifa was not surprised.

The spiky-haired blonde warrior stepped out into the garage behind the bar and retrieved his motorbike. In a few seconds, he sped off onto the streets of Midgar. His first destination is the Sector Five Church, where Aerith spends most of her time. Following that, he will travel to the nearby town of Wutai, where Yuffie lives. Unfortunately, Cloud does not know the exact locations where Cid, Barrett, and Vincent may be residing in. He would make some calls, but he rarely or actually, never calls, nor does he ever pick up his phone to answer others. Nonetheless, he accelerated his bike and drove hastily on.

Less than a mile away from Cloud, Sarlix and Xymgrel decided to do some sightseeing. They stopped by a monument in the center of the city and admired it.

“What exactly are we supposed to do here?” Xymgrel asked. He was not paying attention to Maleficent from before.

“Beats me,” Sarlix muttered. Even though she knows what she is supposed to do, she had little to no motivation to do so.

The two Nobodies wandered around aimlessly, bored and uninterested. They noticed the civilians getting out of their way whenever they stepped too close. There was fear in the air, and Sarlix and Xymgrel could sense it.

“What’s up with these people? Are we really that scary?” Sarlix muttered again.

Xymgrel looked around. There was nothing else around them…

Suddenly fleeting shadows started to descend from a few buildings, each of the masses forming two yellow eyes and long antennas. In a short time, chaos and disorder was all that existed in the center of Midgar as civilians ran in every direction with Neoshadow Heartless creeping among them. Xymgrel spat on the ground. Both Sarlix and he were the only humanoid figures in the entire center who were standing still instead of running amok.

“Heartless,” Xymgrel began. “Wonder if Maleficent is here?”

“Who knows? But if she is, then we better get to work,” Sarlix suggested. “Anyway, we’re supposed to be trying to convert some super-warriors in this city into Heartless and Nobodies. Another erratic plan from good ol’ Maleficent.”

“I doubt we’ll be able to accomplish something like that.” Xymgrel stated.

“You scared, buddy?” Sarlix ridiculed.

“Not really. But if these warriors are indeed that powerful, converting them may be one heck of a hassle.”

“True,” Sarlix said in full agreement. “Still, let’s go find these guys first.”

They sank into the ground through a black puddle and vanished. The Neoshadows continued to swarm and wreak havoc around the town. However, none of the Heartless touched a single civilian. All they did was climb, leap, and crawl all over the place, occasionally hissing and scratching the air. Not that the civilians cared though; every one of them only felt fear and continued to run for shelter.

Tifa finally put up the “closed” sign on the front of the bar’s door. The panicked screaming, however, was not unnoticeable. Tifa looked out to see the swarming Heartless and shook her head in dismay. She hurried back into the bar and dashed upstairs. Opening the door to one room, she poked her head to greet the faces of two young children.

“Marlene, Denzel. You two stay in here and don’t go anywhere else, okay?” she whispered.

Denzel, who was a little more daring, asked in a whining tone, “But why?”

“Don’t ask me anything now, Denzel. You and Marlene just stay here until I get back, got it?”

“Okay…” Marlene and Denzel said unhappily in unison.

Tifa, satisfied, shut the door and ran back downstairs and out the bar. From her back pockets she drew two black leather gloves and quickly pulled them both over her tow hands. She stopped in front of the first Neoshadow.

Tifa stared angrily at the creature. “How did you all get here?” she yelled at the Neoshadow, not caring whether or not the Heartless could respond. “Go back to where you came from!”

Tifa immediately started to beat the stuffing out of the victimized Neoshadow, which dissipated into the air in a matter of moments. Tifa then charged into the remaining crowds of civilians and started thrashing at every single Heartless she encountered. Her years of refined martial arts skills proved to be overkill for the Neoshadows. One by one, each Neoshadow was bested and disposed. Eventually, the continuously decreasing number of Heartless retreated into the darkness and out of the center of the city. Tifa patted her gloves and cleaned off her skirt. She took out her phone and dialed the bar’s number.

“Hello?” Marlene’s voice sounded.

“Hey, Marlene. It’s Tifa. You and Denzel take care of yourself for a little while, okay? I’ll be back before you know it.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’ve some things I have to attend to?”

“And where’s Cloud?” Marlene inquired.

“?He’s got some things to attend to, too. Stay out of trouble, all right?”

“Okay…” Marlene said and she hung up.

Tifa sighed.

“Now to find Cloud and the others.”

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Sarlix and Xymgrel appeared in what seemed to be a secluded area, being that they saw nothing but open space and some scattered trees. The grass was faded yellow, which was the cause of the dry atmosphere in the area. Xymgrel stepped into the openness and looked around. Nothing. For miles and miles.

Sarlix pulled her hood off her head and took a deep breath. She knelt down to the ground and pulled up some grass.

“This world is huge. We were in a giant metropolis at one time and now we’re in the middle of a cast plain. How are we supposed to find anything here?” she complained.

Xymgrel looked around. “Look there,” he said, pointing to a cliff.

An oversized sword was placed with its point stuck in the ground. The blade appeared rusted and antique, but the edges were razor sharp. The two Nobodies strolled by it for examination. Sarlix tried to lift it, but its weight was immense. Xymgrel then tried, faring no better than staggering once he pulled the sword out of the ground.

“Who carries such a thing!” Xymgrel roared. “Who’s crazy enough to wield such an unrealistic weapon?” He tried swinging it, but the momentum of the sword was much too great for Xymgrel to handle.

“Yo, that’s Cloud’s weapon! Drop it!” someone yelled.

Sarlix quickly pulled her hood over her head and both Xymgrel and she looked up. A grand aircraft hovered above them, its engines droning and its propellers spinning furiously yet smoothly. There were two people on board, a bulky, overly muscular, dark-skinned man and a grumpy looking blonde man with goggles, who was piloting the ship.

“You want trouble, fools?” the muscular man yelled. “If you do, brace yourselves! If not, I strongly suggest you put that sword back!”

“And who might you be?” Xymgrel asked loudly over the rumbling of the ship’s engines.

“Drop the weapon, you bastard!” the man roared. After a few seconds without any movement from Xymgrel, the man pointed a mechanical arm at Xymgrel and fired a barrage of bullets.

Xymgrel dropped the weapon and dodged to the side. Sarlix leapt far off the cliff and made a landing on the vast plains.

“Now if you would be so kind as to plug that sword back in its original spot, you will save yourself a lot of trouble,” the man yelled again.

“And what exactly are you? The patrol squad?” Xymgrel yelled back. “You’re a little fat and old to be a patrol officer don’t you think?”

Furious, the man leapt off the ship, with the pilot shouting numerous objections. He made a heavy landing in front of Xymgrel with his mechanical gun arm pointed at Xymgrel’s face.

“Excuse me, what did you say?” he sneered.

“Barrett, what do you think you’re doing?” the pilot roared from above. “Get the hell back up here, you idiot!”

“Shut up, Cid! You know me well enough that I don’t let no damn wanderer think he’s better than me!”

Cid could be heard grumbling and waving his arms in protest. Barrett smirked and turned back to Xymgrel and cocked his gun.

“Where were we? Oh yes. I’m about to shoot your face off.”

“Huh. Sure. As if I’ll stand here and let you do that. Let’s go, Sarlix,” Xymgrel said quietly, almost in a mocking tone.

Before Barrett could fire a single round of bullets at Xymgrel, both Nobodies sank into the ground and vanished before Cid and he.

“What the hell?” Barrett yelled. “Cid did you see that!”

Cid sighed and remembered. Eh, I forgot he wasn’t there before. “Come back up here, and I’ll tell you all about those kinds of people.”

His phone started ringing.

“Cid here,” he said.

“Hey, Cid, it’s Aerith. Cloud wants to know where you are. He said there’s some sort of trouble going on around us.”

“Yeah, trouble, right. I’ve noticed it?”

A great thud sounded on the ship’s deck.

“What was that?” Aerith asked.

“That was Barrett…”

“Oh good, Cloud wanted to know where Barrett was too. Umm, where exactly are you guys?”

“Midgar Plains. Get everyone else to meet here. The closest spot by the edge of the city, alright?”

“I got it,” Aerith responded and hung up.

Barrett, massaging his mechanical arm, approached Cid. He leaned against the banister on one side of the ship and stared into the sky.

“So who were those guys? They ain’t normal people.”

“You got that right,” Cid muttered.

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Back in the Radiant Garden, the party (Sora, Kairi, Donald, Goofy, and Mickey) made their way into the marketplace, which was full of life with much more activity than Sora would have expected. The marketplace used to be very empty, with only a few small shops open for business. However, now there were more shops open than Sora could count and there were hundred and hundreds of townspeople roaming and attending to their own schedules.

“Donald, Goofy, and I will be going to Merlin’s. Feel free to explore or come with us,” Mickey began saying. “You do remember where Merlin’s house is, do you, Sora?”

“I sure do. Down in the first borough, umm, and a little further inside, there’s a small house…”

“Good enough. Well, we’ll be goin’ now,” Mickey said as Donald, Goofy, and he turned and disappeared into the bustling crowds.

So it was just Sora and Kairi in the middle of the Radiant Garden’s central marketplace. Even though he spent a great deal of time here, Sora unexpectedly felt like a tourist. True, he had never seen so many new shops and people around the place before. All of a sudden, the world seemed… like a normal world. The town was definitely refurnished and did look spruced up as Mickey mentioned.

“Wow, I can’t really seem to recall this place,” Kairi said.

“It looks nice, doesn’t it?” Sora commented. “I kinda wish I was born here.”

Kairi laughed and wondered out loud. “No, I think I’d still prefer a life of tropical, island paradise over a city life.”

“That’s because you’ve never gotten used to the city life, Kairi.”

“That’s true…” Kairi decided. She paused. She wanted to do something that will hopefully relieve her and Sora’s stress. Anything that will occupy their minds for a good while will do.

“Hey, Sora, let’s go look around!” Kairi suddenly suggested.

“Umm, okay?” Sora said as Kairi grabbed his hand and yanked him into the crowds.

The two of them rushed through the crowds, visiting random shops and attractions, finally acting like normal teenagers who spend their time outdoors for nothing more than carefree leisure. For the time being, “Heartless” and “Nobodies” meant nothing more than just words.

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