A/N: Just a Plot Bunny I had floating around.
Before him, a stretch of road led into the horizon. A lone gray pickup truck looked as if it was a speeding bump on the highway. Though, as of late, everything blended together in a colorless mass.
No one noticed that the days were getting shorter. It happened during the fall months, nothing appeared out of the ordinary. At least, at first. The nights eventually became longer, while the days lasted only for a short time.
Cloud Strife remembers the day when the sun didn't rise.
In retrospect, everyone should have seen it coming. Stronger, more terrifying fiends soon appeared, making travel at night nearly impossible. The daylight kept them at bay, but the world was now under a sheet of eternal darkness.
It was no longer safe to travel away from cities where the light kept the beasts away. The people have taken to calling them daemons, their attributes earning them such a name.
Even in the endless night, deliveries still had to be made. Though he did not like to admit it, the new threat of terrifyingly powerful daemons caused Cloud to abandon his bike for any out of town trips. While faster, he was exposed. The sturdy pickup truck had brilliant, bright headlights, as well as cab and flood lights installed up top. Light kept the daemons away.
He recognized parts of the new monsters. The daemons seemed to be mutated from existing wildlife and fiends. The creatures seemed to crawl out of the Northern Crater and spread. Some in the group believe it to be Sephiroth's doing. More of the population blames the Shin-Ra Electric Company, who seemed to benefit the most. Once again, they provided the electricity that powered the people's safe havens. Others believed that it was the company's shady scientific practices that caused the daemonic mutations in the first place.
Cloud doubted it.
Even Shin-Ra can't stop the sun from rising.
The darkness was too subtle. There was a way for people to find safety if they stayed in the light. People were able to fight back against encroaching daemons. Sephiroth was silent.
This time, Cloud let the One-Winged Angel off the hook.
The radio played silently, giving reports of daemon sightings and safe havens. He made a mental note on what towns to stop in for fuel. The blonde was prepared. He had multiple gas cans in the back of his truck so he could make it to the next town. Before the darkness, gas stations were far and few between. Now it was more so.
Aside from the radio, there was the clanking of the metal from the Buster Sword and Fusion Blades. Cloud didn't want to take any chances, even bringing high level and summon materia along. Perhaps, he thought, that including Shiva, Bahamut ZERO, and Knights of the Round was a bit excessive. Though, he'd rather be over armed than underprepared.
Better safe than sorry.
The drive was long and dark. Cloud saw a shape up the road, but quickly recognized it as an abandoned gas station. He glanced at his gas meter, satisfied with the level it was at. Cloud looked back to the road, only to notice the figure of a man now standing at the station. The lights shone directly on him, causing the stranger to shield his eyes. It was clear that the man was not a daemon.
Cloud stopped the truck and rolled down the passenger's window.
"It's not safe here."
The man simply nodded in agreement. "Room for one more?"
Cloud paused, then nodded in agreement. He unlocked the door, inviting the stranger inside. The door closed and the lock clicked as the window rolled up.
The blonde inspected the older man. He had graying hair and beard, dark, intricate clothing, and a cane. The swordsman noticed the glint of a silver hair piece on the side of the man's head. Cloud was sure the man was old enough to be his father. His eyes seemed kind, if not concerned, though now, everyone was concerned about one thing or another.
"Now, what brings you out here?" The older man spoke with a tone of authority.
Cloud was thrown aback. "Shouldn't I be asking you that?"
The man chuckled. "Perhaps you are right."
The two became silent for a while. The radio signal died long ago, making the rhythmic clinging of Cloud's swords the only source of noise.
"My son." The man broke the silence.
"Hm?" Cloud glanced over at the man. "Your son?"
He nodded. "I'm waiting for him. Everyone is." The man looked out the window at the passing scenery, dotted with the occasional daemon. "His comrades too."
"You won't have much luck at an abandoned gas station." Cloud simply retorted.
The elder chuckled. "You and my son would get along, as well as his friends." He looked at Cloud. "Yes, I could see you as part of their brotherhood."
Cloud hummed in response.
"Soon he and his comrades will return." A pause. "Someone just needs to…" The man stopped, trying to find the proper words. "Open the path, so to speak."
Cloud muttered something under his breath.
The man shook his head. "I suppose this all sounds like crazy talk to you."
Cloud glanced over and nodded apologetically. "Sorry."
It grew silent, once again the only sound coming from clanking metal.
"A warrior, I see." The man looked back to the swords behind the two.
Cloud shrugged. "You could say that, yeah."
"I can sense it. You could say that I have a bit of a knack for these things." The man smiled slightly. "I've seen you fight. Not only do your skills excel, but so does your passion and heart."
The blonde turned towards the man. "How do you…" His voice trailed off. "I can't say I've seen you around."
A knowing smile was on the man's face.
From his robes, the man slowly pulled a short curved blade and placed it on his lap. Cloud side eyed the man, suddenly cautious.
"Have you ever heard any fairy tales as a child?" The man looked at Cloud, hands relaxed over the blade.
"Do they involve an old man with an oversized knife?"
Shaking his head and smiling, the man spoke. "If you recall, there was one about twelve kings of old, from a bygone era."
Cloud nodded. "Yeah, they're based on gods and summons from materia." He knew that much. The stories of Shiva were most familiar, due to his mountain home. "Though, I thought they were knights, not kings."
He shook his head. "Long ago, there was a line of kings. Early on, one king had a brother. While at first he was pure of heart, he soon fell to daemonic influence and had to be cast out." The man paused. "The fallen prince then swore revenge upon his brother's line."
Cloud shrugged, listening to the man's story, if not because of the lack of radio.
"Years passed, and the prince realized he was cursed with immortality. Soon his dark heart grew black with resentment and hatred. Using the daemonic curse upon him, he spread that hatred and darkness across the planet." A pause. "Similar to how your Sephiroth spread his stigma."
Cloud quickly turned to the stranger. "How do you—"
"Therefore," he interrupted, continuing his tale. "The man became a scourge of our star. A black stain that soon grew, blocking out the light and throwing the world into darkness and ruin."
Cloud regarded the man with caution and suspicion. "Then let me guess, something happened and everyone lived happily ever after."
"My son and his friends would know the ending better than anyone."
"Though now, they need the help of someone who is familiar with the world around him. So much has changed since we've last met." The man looked at Cloud expectantly.
"I figured as much. As one who's had destiny thrust upon him before, it's reasonable to just want to settle down."
Cloud raised an eyebrow.
"Though I have a feeling, a hunch, that you will cross paths with my son and his comrades." He looked at the blade in his lap. "And with that of the Star Scourge as well." He placed the blade on the center console. "I can tell that you have the makings of a Glaive."
"A what now?" Cloud eyed the blade.
"A protector. The kings of old would lend them his power, and they would use it to protect the Crown City and those within." The man nudged the blade closer to Cloud. "They say that if you throw this blade, or any weapon infused with the power of kings, and you visualize yourself holding it, you will warp to its location."
The swordsman let out a laugh of disbelief and shook his head. He noticed his gas tank hovering just above the halfway point. Cloud pulled over by an abandoned complex to fill up on gas. Midgar was a short drive away. Hopefully he'd be home by dinner.
The man hopped out of the truck, grabbing the blade. He walked over to Cloud and presented it to him. "I'll let you borrow this, that is until we meet again."
Cloud raised an eyebrow, mildly annoyed at the man for slowing him down. It wasn't safe.
"Aren't you curious?"
The blonde glanced at the older man. "About what?"
"About the blade, or even my name."
That got Cloud's attention. While this man seemed to know about him, Cloud knew nothing about the man. "Then what's your name?"
The man smiled. "Only if you agree to test out my theory with the blade."
Cloud sighed. "Alright, fine. I'll throw the blade."
"And visualize yourself there, holding it." The man quickly added.
Another sigh. "That too." The sooner Cloud got this over with, the sooner he could go home.
Again, the man smiled. "Regis."
"Regis?" The name seemed oddly fitting for the older man, though Cloud couldn't put a finger on why.
Regis nodded. "I know it was destiny that brought us together. May you walk tall throughout your journey."
Cloud nodded his head in a confused thanks. Regis was odd, but he supposed he could oblige the man. He picked out a spot on the wall illuminated by the truck's headlights a few yards away. Cloud pointed the blade to the area, looking to Regis for the okay. He nodded in approval and Cloud sighed.
Throw the blade and imagine you're there. Seems simple enough.
Cloud quickly tossed the blade into wall and pictured himself with it.
A loud ethereal sound echoed in Cloud's ears as sparks dissipated into thin air. He looked forward, the wall of the building only inches from his nose, and his hand gripping the handle of the blade. He let out a sound of surprise, jerking back from the wall and pulling the blade out in the process. Cloud fell sloppily onto the ground. He opened his mouth to speak and turned around, only to see that Regis was nowhere in sight. The blonde quickly looked around, finding no sign of the man. He shook his head in disbelief, being forced to give up his search as a large daemon started to emerge from the ground.
Cloud quickly hopped into his truck and headed to Midgar. He placed the mysterious blade on the center console, wondering how he was going to explain the events that just transpired. The radio played quietly as it did before, continuing on with updates about the surrounding area. Cloud drove until he saw the familiar lights of Midgar, letting out a sigh of relief. He made his way to Seventh Heaven, looking forward to being home.
The truck pulled up to the bar, and Cloud noticed there was a small group of people inside. Placing the blade safely against his belt, and Fusion Sword again his back, he parked and walked inside.
There were three men dressed in what appeared to be dark uniforms, while the fourth seemed to wear something a little more elaborate. He assumed that he was the leader or one in charge. Cloud glanced over to Tifa, who seemed unfazed by the uniformed men.
"Cloud!" Tifa waved at him from the bar. "Good timing, these guys were wanting detailed information about the area outside the city. I figured you'd be the best to ask."
Cloud looked curiously at the group. Something about them… Has he seen them before?
The leader nodded his head. "Thanks in advance, really appreciate it." He held out his hand. "Name's Noctis."
The blonde shook his hand. "Cloud."