"Aris?" grunted a voice from not far away, "So that is his name? What do you want?"
They looked up, stood on some steps, looking down at Aris was Professor Hojo herself, crinklier and uglier close up. Her dark hair was pushed back into a ponytail that ended between her shoulder blades. The white lab coat she was still wearing had splashes of dark red and black all over it, something they did not see when looking down.
Angry, Cloude replied, "We're taking Aris back!"
Hojo looked down at her feet, a small smile on her lips, "Outsiders" she said, "There are so many frivolous things in this world" she glanced up when the trio ran over to her, weapons ready. "Are you going to kill me?" she smirked, eyebrow raised, "Oh, I don't think you should. The equipment here is very delicate. Without me, who could operate it, hhmm?"
Reminding herself that Aris was in a container that Hojo probably built, if they killed the woman, they might not be able to get Aris out. Placing her sword back onto her back, Cloude looked away. Aris, who was now pressed against the glass of his imprisonment, hands and nose pressed against it, watched earnestly.
"That's right" Hojo smiled as Bernie lowered her gunarm, "I recommend you think things out logically before you make any rash decisions" she looked to the roof where there was a camera and speaker phone and said loud and clear, "Bring in the Specimen"
A whirring sound could be heard coming from inside the glass container. They watched as Aris unglued himself away from the glass and slowly turned around. The middle of the floor opened up and something was rising from it. Pressing himself as far as he could, Aris watched with wide eyes as the red animal from the floor below rose into the container. It growled, raised its alight tail high in the air and crouched low as if it were to pounce on the man. Horrified, Aris turned around and pounded the glass walls furiously. "Help!" he yelled as the animal flexed its claws.
Cloude, Bernie and Trey ran over to the container, trying to open the door or break through the glass. Cloude turned to Hojo and hissed, "What the hell do you think you are doing?"
Hojo chuckled. "Lending a helping hand to an endangered species. Both of them are on the brink of extinction. If I don't help, all these animals will disappear"
"Animal?" Trey snapped, turning away from the container, "That's awful. Aris is a human being!"
"Can't we do anything?" Cloude yelped.
"Hold back" Bernie snarled, going over to the door and aiming at it.
"STOP!" Hojo cried.
Bernie fired relentlessly at the door. Aris ran as far away from it as he could, the animal inside watching his every move. Suddenly, the lights around the container intensified into a blinding white light, covering the two occupants inside. Hojo screamed and pushed Bernie aside and pressed against the glass.
"No" she yelled, "What do you think you are doing? My precious specimens!"
Suddenly the door slid open and something red streaked out, slamming into Hojo and knocking her flying on her back, the red animal pressed hard onto the old woman's body and had its jaws clamped around her neck. Cloude ran inside the container, grabbing Aris's arm as his eyes were tight shut. She flung him out where he slammed into Trey who caught him. Before she left the container, the lights dimmed and another whirring sound could be heard. Cloude turned around, wondering if something else would come out from the floor, but when nothing did, she slowly backed away.
"What is it, Cloude?" Trey asked, who was helping Aris to his feet.
Grunting, Hojo pushed the red animal from off of her. "This is no ordinary specimen that is arriving" she croaked, getting up," This is a rather ferocious specimen"
"The thing that will be here soon is rather strong" the animal said, making them all jump. "I'll help you all out"
"I-it talked!" Trey gasped.
"I'll talk as much as you want later, Mr" it said. Its voice female, kinda similar to a wise old woman's.
Suddenly, the lift inside began moving; something was coming up, the thing that the animal mentioned. Cloude ran out of the container and spoke to the group.
"We'll take care of it" she said, "Somebody needs to take care of Aris, get him somewhere safe"
"I'll do it" Trey said who still had hold of the weak man, "You can count on me"
Nodding, both men left the centre of the room and went to the side so that Trey could heal the older man, having to drag him the whole way. Cloude turned to the animal.
"What's your name?"
"Hojo has named me Red Thirteen" she said, "A name that has no meaning whatsoever to me, so call me what you wish"
"Red it is then" Bernie said as the lift showed them a monsters head that had come from it. It had long, hook like arms, no eyes, its face just a giant mouth with long, pointed teeth and spikes on its back. It roared as it appeared.
Before it even had chance to move, Cloude fired up her Materia and sent a bolt of lightning firing down onto it. The monster shuddered, growling as it moved over to them, climbing its way out of the container. It raised one of its arms, one that was bigger than the other, and swiped at them, hitting Bernie in the chest.
"Damn it's strong" she growled as she rubbed her front where she had been struck.
Red then launched herself at the creature, sinking her teeth deep into its bigger arm, black blood trickling from the little puncture holes she had created. The beast roared and moved its arm in a violent slashing motion, causing Red to lose grip and let go. Bernie fired bullets at the creature just as a warm feeling went up Cloude's arms from her sword. Unlike before, this feeling was different. Trusting herself, she ran forwards and in an X motion, slashed the animal across its chest, the X sinking deep into the animals skin and leaving a mark. Just after the X was deeply burned into flesh, a weak flash of white surrounded it, telling them that Bernie had once again summoned her Ice Materia but not being good at it. Red attacked again, using her teeth to bite everywhere she could reach, her slim body like a red dart. Then, a fireball appeared at the end of Bernie's gunarm, and realising what was about to happen as the ball grew bigger and brighter, Cloude called Red away, not wanting her to be hit as well. Not needing to be told twice, Red jumped over to them just as the fireball was catapulted from Bernie's gun and slammed right into the beasts open mouth, the fire ball firing out of the back of its head. It stood there, immobile for a few moments before t keeled over to the side, black ooze issuing everywhere, and lay dead on the floor, its muscles twitching.
"What was that?" Bernie yelped, wiping her brow.
"Another specimen" Red replied, "When you opened the door to the container, you must have hit something by mistake that made it come here. It was a few good floors below us"
"Whatever it is" Cloude replied, nudging the creature's unmoving arm with her foot, "It's dead now"
Aris and Trey walked over, Aris being fully healed and Trey a little upset that he couldn't have joined in the fight.
"Are you feeling ok now?" Cloude asked.
"He seems all right . . . in many ways" Trey replied, glaring at Red who grimaced.
"Hey, I have a right to choose, too. I don't like two legged things"
"What are you?" Bernie asked.
Red turned her one good eye to the black woman who then realised that her question might not have been tactful, but Red did not seem bothered, "An informed question" she said lightly, "But difficult to answer. I am what you see"
Rolling her eyes, wanting to say that the answer given did not answer her question, Bernie looked at the rest of the group, but all were looking at Red who then said, "You must have many questions, but first, let us get out of here. I'll lead the way" she then looked mournfully up at Aris who was hiding a little behind Trey. "I'm sorry for what happened back there" she said, "I was merely acting to throw Hojo off guard . . . I would have caused you no harm"
"Th-that's alright" Aris replied, a little braver now, "I understand"
Impatient, Bernie stamped her foot, "Now that we've got Aris, isn't it about time that we left this building? Let's get the hell outta here!"
"Yeah" Cloude agreed, "But, we'll have to split up in two groups. All five of us together will be easily noticed. I'll head one group and Trey-"
"Hey" Bernie interrupted, "I am still the head of AVALANCHE! A puny thing like you should stop giving orders. I'll head the next group" she turned to Red and pointed, "You. I still don't trust ya. You're coming with me" she turned to the guys, "You go with blondie. We'll meet at the sixtieth floor"
"Don't be late" Red murmured as both ran over to a set of stairs the other side of the room, leaving down them.
Rubbing the back of his head, Aris handed out a yellow Materia ball to Cloude, "I stole this from the Turk who was holding me" he said, "I think it's an Enemy Skill Materia"
"Keep it" Cloude replied, "You don't have any on you do you?"
Nodding, Aris popped the yellow ball into his bangle and straightened up, "Lead the way" he grinned. Running the same way at Bernie and Red, they came to some steps that told them led to the next floor. On the steps, a lone card lay forgotten. Trey picked it up.
"Floor sixty-eight" he said, "Hojo must have dropped it when she scarpered during your fight with that monster. I was going to go after her, but she was gone by the time I realised she was running for it"
"We don't need sixty-eight" Cloude said, running down, "We're done here"
"Keep hold of it just in case" Aris said as Trey slipped the card into his back pocket. Running down the steps and onto the floor below, they ran over to the lift, knowing it would take them down to floor sixty.
"And we're doing going anywhere near those stairs" Trey hissed as they waited for the doors to open.
"No" Cloude replied, "If Hojo has ran for it, she has probably told people we're here. We'll use the lift to go down to the ground floor. No point staying quiet now"
The door opened and they went inside, the view of Midgar below them. The doors closed but soon were opened again. Looking at the newcomer, they all froze when they saw what suit she was wearing. Turk.
This woman was black and had short, dark hair in a pixie like cut. They couldn't see her eyes as they were hidden behind a pair of dark sunglasses. Her ears were covered in piercings and she didn't smile or frown when she saw them.
"Hey!" Cloude snarled, "What is this?"
The Turk pointed up and said in a smooth, monotone voice, "Would you press 'up' please?"
"Must be a trap" Trey growled, balling his hands into fists.
The black Turk stepped aside, and with the lift doors still wide open, Tenzin, the Turk leader who had taken Aris in the first place walked inside, hands clamped behind her back, no emotion on her wise face.
"Must have been a real thrill for you all" she hissed, "Sneaking into here. Did you enjoy it?"
They were cornered. In the tight space of the lift, they couldn't defend themselves when Tenzin and the black Turk over powered them and tied their hands behind their backs with thick ropes that burned into their skin. Cloude growled as Tenzin grabbed her sword from her back.
"Big weapon" she said as the other Turk used her card so make the lift go up, "I remember something similar to this"
Furious, Cloude turned away, not wanting to admit defeat. With his hands tied up, Trey was just as helpless as any of them and Aris couldn't even summon his staff, (not like it would help much if he could).
When the lift stopped, they came to a hallway that was long and thin. Rena the Turk from the church was stood there, waiting for them, her EMR on her shoulder, ready to use it if anyone stepped out of line. She smirked at the captives.
"Me and Rita will take them from here boss" she grinned, "They can't do much damage"
"Very well" Tenzin nodded, grabbing Aris's forearm and leading him in another direction. "Take them two to the President"
"Righto boss" Rena sneered as Tenzin left them, Aris protesting the whole way. Smirking, Rena stepped up close to Cloude, matched in height. "Not so tough without your little knife, are you?" she gloated, giving her a little prob in the ribs with the EMR, luckily it was not turned on. "You're just a weak, little-"
But what Cloude was, they did not hear, as Cloude spat into Rena's face, the spittle hitting her in one of her aqua coloured eyes. Wiping it away furiously, she charged the rod up and raised it above her head.
"How dare you!" she screeched. And she was about to slam the EMR down onto the blonde with as much strength as she could, but the black Turk named Rita grabbed the redhead by the wrist.
"No" she said, "We're to take them to the President, not to harm them"
Defeated, Rena lowered her arm, glaring daggers at a now smug Cloude. Following orders, Rita grabbed Trey, and Rena – with more forced than needed – grabbed Cloude, and together, they went down the corridor and up some steps and into a large, metal like office, large windows showing the city of Midgar behind a large desk where the President sat. He watched as his two employees arrived with their captives and put them in front of him, his chin resting on his linked fingers. Rena and Rita left without a word, but soon came back with two other beings. Bernie with her arms also tied and Red whose legs were tied to one another, loose enough so that she could walk but tight enough that she could not run or jump. As they stood next to Trey, Cloude glanced at the President who smirked and stood up from his chair.