2020 is over now? Wow the year really did go by fast. But hey a new chapter is here! So let's get a going!


Ch.17

All six men made their way through the alleyways of Lestallum, following the wondrous scents that filled the air. Eventually they came to a place to eat that was called the Surgate's Beanmine The six of them pushed two tables together and sat down waiting for someone to take their order.

"Aw man this is great!" Zack exclaimed. "Haven't had any good food in so long."

Cloud gave him a quick look and Zack just shrugged. "What? It's true! Plus this is food I've never had before, I'm excited."

Cloud knew that Zack could act carefree and energetic but he wasn't too sure how well that would go around the other guys. He could tell that they were probably a little suspicious of Zack since he did just show up, but he hoped in time that they could come to trust him. It would still just take a little bit for them to get used to Zack… well being himself.

"I suppose that means you must be fairly busy back in your own world?" Ignis asked.

"Uh yeah you could say that," Zack smiled. "Always so much to do and stuff."

"And no one is going to miss the two of you while you are gone?" Gladio then asked. "I've been meaning to ask it before, but since Cloud didn't really have any idea why he was here but you do, what does that mean for the friends you have back home?"

"Oh that? Well," Zack laughed a little. "No one's really going to miss little old me, but for Cloud, I think Aerith may leave a note for the others. She'll find some way to explain the situation."

"And this Aerith…?" Ignis started. "Who is she if I may ask."

Zack started to smile happily this time as he leaned back in his chair. "She's the best girlfriend ever, and to help clear up the situation and she has her ways about connections and stuff. Like there is a goddess in our world, Minvera. Aerith can communicate with her and she said that the gods of your world reached out to ask for help."

Now that got the other four men to really focus on Zack's story. Cloud could see how wide each of their eyes had gotten. "So this does have the Astrals involvement," Ignis replied. "I think that does help clear up some of the matter."

A moment later a server came by to take their orders. Quickly they put down what they wanted from the menu. They ordered their servings of skewers and curry platters and soon enough they were left alone to continue their conversation where they had left off.

"So we got some stuff, but we still don't have the 'why' part," Noctis added. "Why do they think we need help?"

Zack shrugged. "I don't know, Aerith never told me if she knew that part. All we know is that some god or two called out to Minvera and asked for help and that's why Cloud was brought here. Then there's me who just wanted to lend an extra hand."

"Hmm," Gladio grumbled as he leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table. "So this Aerith of yours, she is like the Oracle of your world?"

"Oracle?"

"The Oracle is one who can communicate with the Six. She also has the power to heal those afflicted with the Starscourge," Ignis answered.

"I don't know anything about a Starscourge, but Aerith was a good healer," Cloud answered.

He wasn't all too sure how much he could talk about Aerith. He did know what made her special, but was it really his place to just talk about that stuff? As he thought over how he was going to say it, Zack suddenly cut in for him instead. Honestly it was the better choice as Zack was a natural talker.

"Well I don't think we really have anything like an 'Oracle' but Aerith is a part of a race called the Cetra. I don't think either me or Cloud have the expertise to explain what a Cetra is though. Maybe we can just say it's close enough? There are a lot of other similarities between our worlds anyways."

"I suppose so. Now the next question… Minvera, what is she the goddess of?" Ignis asked.

Zack was the one to answer again. "She's the goddess of the Lifestream."

"Oh yeah!" Prompto finally interjected after being the most quiet of the group. "Cloud, you told us about that before, right?"

"Yeah," Cloud nodded. "I didn't think to mention Minvera though, hadn't crossed my mind."

"Well I think it helps clear up some of our questions," Ignis said before he adjusted his glasses. "I am sure along the way we will have more, I already have a feeling you two may have some of your own, but I think we have spent far too long talking on such serious matters. I think we can take a breath and enjoy our meal."

"Sounds good to me!" Zack cheered as he started into his plate of food, staring with the curry dish.

The group ate up their food, now with some occasional idle chatter from Prompto about King's Knight. Besides that, there weren't a whole lot of other things that they talked about. It gave Cloud plenty of time at least to think to himself again. No matter how much they learned new things, there were always more questions to be had. Then there was still the part that Zack was actually with him. Even though he had time to think it over and eat something, it was still almost too hard to believe over everything else.

Zack was there though. He was sitting right next to him eating away at the rather tasty food that this little place had to offer. It felt like the old days back at Shinra, when the two of them would head out to lunch together and crack jokes or talk about home. Overall bringing back the good, pleasant memories of Zack was welcomed in Cloud's mind.

"Okay you know what," Zack said, standing up once he finished his food. "I told Cloud I had a surprise to show him tomorrow, but I don't think I can wait anymore. So all of you guys get to see it right now!"

"A surprise?" Noctis asked. "What kind of surprise could you have here?"

Zack was grinned widely. "Just come on and see!"

Zack started walking off and turned to see if everyone was going to follow. Cloud gave one look to Zack and then the group. He offered a small shrug. "Let's find out what he wants to show."

After that the five of them followed after Zack, who was heading down the pathways of alleyways in Lestallum. They walked for a bit as Zack continued to navigate and everything they were coming towards an opening from the alleyway. Before they could exit out though, Zack turned around and placed his hands on his hips.

"Okay everyone! You ready to see what surprise I got for Cloud?"

"Yeah! Come on and show us already! You're leaving us really vague and in suspense!" Prompto replied.

"I will admit, I am a slight bit intrigued," Ignis added. "Zack's enthusiasm does make it all the more curious."

"And what about you Cloud," Zack asked as he looked directly at Cloud. "This surprise is for you after all."

"Uh, excited I guess?" Cloud said, giving a small shrug.

"Oh come on, Cloud! You can show a little more emotion than that!"

Cloud couldn't help but let a smile show, Zack's energy and positivity was at it again. "Okay fine, I'm excited. Just get it over already."

"Okay!" Zack stepped into the opening and the group could see that there was a tarp covering something. He moved closer to it and with a dramatic pause he yanked off the tarp and held out his arms in presentation. "Ta da!"

Cloud's eyes widened as he stepped almost couldn't believe what he was staring at, but he knew there was no mistaking his all too familiar motorcycle. "No way, Zack how did you…"

"You think I'd come here unprepared? It was a bit tricky, but we managed to get me and Fenrir here all safely in one piece. Besides it would have gotten a bit cramped in the car anyways so this is a way to make things easier!"

The guys started to come closer, surrounding the motorcycle. Each of them had their own curious or amazed look as they examined the vehicle. Cloud just smiled as he ran his hand over it, happy to see yet another familiar sight in this world.

"Wow!" Prompto said. "So this is your bike, Fenrir?"

"Yup, this is it," Cloud answered.

"Not quite what I expected," Gladio said with a hum. "But looks pretty cool."

Ignis nodded. "Impressive for sure."

"Oh! Cloud! Don't forget to show them the thing."

Noctis raised an eyebrow. "The… thing?"

Cloud smiled as he moved towards the front of the bike. "You guys may want to take a step back."

Once the guys did so, Cloud clicked the secret button by the control panel and the sides of the motorcycle clicked open. There was another set of collective gasps from the guys after that.

"It even has a secret compartment?" Ignis asked.

Noctis was looking at the swords with an impressed expression. "Wow and you have all of these swords stored in there? No wonder stuff like the armiger was new to you."

"Dude! It's like he has his own armiger in the motorcycle!" Prompto interjected.

"You know, I guess you're right."

"So now at least we can have a bit more space in the car again," Gladio grinned. Finally I can stretch out in the back again."

"Yeah but what about Zack?" Prompto asked. "Unless the two of you were going to ride it?"

"Well," Zack started. "I thought that could be a good plan for the most part. I always wanted to get a ride on this anyways. So can we Cloud?"

Cloud had nothing against that. Normally he didn't have anyone else ride with him, seeing as how fast he would normally go. But he could make an expectation for Zack. "Sure, fine by me."

"Aw! I want a ride though on the super fast motorcycle!" Prompto pouted. "I want to see how fast it can really go!"

"Perhaps another time when we are not on an important quest," Ignis replied. "For now we should focus on what we need to get done."

"Yeah I know… it's just so cool," Prompto said with a sigh.

Cloud started to pull out the sword pieces, putting them together. He could see that Noctis was eyeing him again as he did so. "Something else you want to say?"

"No, nothing. I just didn't expect all those swords to fit together like that. It's cool."

"Thanks, it's custom made. I guess I can use this like the other sword? Putting it in the armiger?"

"Yup it works just like before, just concentrate and that's it," Noctis replied before he looked over at Zack. "I guess it would help if you could access it too, since you know, you are coming with us."

"Aw sweet! That's totally easier than having to lug the sword around wherever I go."

Cloud hummed for a moment before he put his Fusion Sword in the armiger and pulled out the sword that was bought for him. "You know Zack, you said you needed a sword right? Why don't you take this one?"

"Sounds like a plan to me," Zack said before taking the sword from Cloud.

After that Noctis granted Zack access to the armiger and once he figured out how to store his weapon they decided it would be best to head back to the Leville for the night. Cloud locked up his motorcycle, still happy to have it back and joined back with the group.

As they walked Zack brushed up against Cloud. "Okay actually, I do have one more surprise, but that one is seriously going to have to wait for tomorrow."

"Just how many surprises could you even bring with you?" Prompto asked as he looked back at the two. "You got a whole freaking motorcycle here with you, what more could there be?"

Zack just smiled, a mischievous glint filled his eyes. "Oh you know, there are just some things that are easier than others. But this other one is a bit more unique."

"And you won't give any more clues I guess?" Cloud asked, knowing what the answer was going to be.

"Well I coooould, but you guys would never guess it. You just have to wait!"

Cloud rolled his eyes before giving Zack a small shove. "Fine, you be that way."

"I'm always that way!"

Cloud chuckled. It almost felt like he was dreaming, having Zack back here with him, but every moment that went by was truly real. He couldn't help but reiterate to himself how happy he actually felt to have his best friend back at his side. He had no idea what would happen when they returned home, if they even could, but he figured he could leave that to be thought about later. All that he needed right now was to focus on the adventure ahead of them, and just what Zack's other special surprise could possibly be.