The Final Fantasy Pt. 2byIMRIOTSTAR©
Chapter 1: Need More Gil
Cloud needed money but he was tired of fighting for it. His competitors were pathetically skilled street fighters with or without weapons. The money was good and fast, the only reason he had stuck to it. There weren't many fit jobs in Midgar and so Cloud kept fighting.
"Bam!" The strong man fell on his back with a clap on the pavement.
Another winning, another fight, and Cloud collected his Gil. Most of the crowd dispersed except for a small clan of children. Some kids ran up to him and asked the same questions the young always ask.
"Where'd ya learn how to fight, mister?" Asked one small child, just barely over Cloud's padded knee.
Another, not even allowing Cloud to answer, interjected, "Isn't your sword heavy? Why, it's even taller than you!"
Cloud smiled, everyone who had the courage to ask that question did. "It's not that heavy, I exercise everyday and I've gotten used to it by now."
A third, chubby child, asked, "Why are holes in your sword, sir?"
"To put Materia in. Do you know what Materia is?"
All the children laughed and the youngest spoke for all, "Everyone knows what Materia is! It's magic!"
Cloud smirked to himself, "Close enough."
"Why don't you have Materia in the holes then?" Asked the confused chubby child.
Before McCloud could answer, the small boy said, "Because it's too much gil, you dummy!"
McCloud finished counting his winnings. There was only 350 Gil, 150 less than last time. Cloud had been fighting in sector four for a while and people stopped betting against him.
"Hey ringleader!" Cloud shouted to the stout man counting his profits on top an empty barrel. "I want the rest of my money."
"You've got your money, now go before I tell my crew to make you go!" The ringleader's crew looked at Cloud; worried they would taste a sample of the fighting they'd seen so much of.
"I don't know if you should depend on your crew for that."
"What?" The ringleader turned his head to his men and sensed their freight. "Humph, I'll give you fifty gil more and then I'll ask you to stay out of my face, forever."
Cloud walked a few feet closer to the ringleader, ground his teeth and barely audibly said, "Make it a hundred and I'll take my leave."
The ringleader pursed his lips and became flush from neck to brow. "Here is your hundred gil, now get out, I warn you!"
Cloud turned and left with his three little companions following behind jumping and hollering at how tuff Cloud was and what a great fighter he is. All the time, they could hear the ringleader cursing at his crew for being so cowardly.
Up and down alleyways and streets the three youngsters followed the fighter through sector four until they ended up at a small diner at the corner of an unpopular gloomy street.
Cloud sat himself on an empty stool and waited to be served. There were two empty seats near Cloud, one on the left and another on the right. The smallest child, whose name was Brandon, climbed onto the stool to Cloud's right and then looked up at Cloud in awe, smiling the whole time with a ridiculously wide grin. The other two children fought over the other seat but Richard, the plump one, won over and laughed a childish laugh.
"What are you going to eat, Cloud?" Asked Richard.
"Oh, I don't know maybe a chicken sandwich and some fries."
"Mmm, that sounds good," said Brian, the child who had lost the seat battle.
"Meat and potatoes is a heap better than a chicken sandwich, why don't you get that cloud?" Bellowed Richard.
"A chicken sandwich would be lighter on my stomach."
An old waiter came over to the counter and asked, "What can I getcha?" He eyed Cloud's sword with momentary interest and then turned his attention to his pad. "Drinks first."
"I'll have a pint, give these kids some juice. Do you all like berry juice?"
The children were ecstatic, "Yeah Cloud, that's great! We love berry juice. Thanks Cloud!"
"Three berry juices'."
"And to eat?"
"Three chicken sandwiches with fries, one plate of beef and potatoes."
"Mashed or whole?" Asked the waiter.
"Mashed please! Cried Richard."
"Add some dinner rolls with that. That's all."
"Alright, that'll be fifty gil.
Cloud handed the money to the waiter.
"I'll be back with your food right now."
"Wow, thanks Cloud, you're a real nice guy," said Brandon while spinning around on his stool.
"That's ok, I've got some money that'll last me for a bit. Food is one of the best things you can spend your money on."
"Are you going to buy some Materia with your money, Cloud?" Richard asked wide-eyed.
"Don't get dull Materia, Cloud!" Warned Brandon.
"You're dull, Brandon! You've never even seen Materia."
"So! You've never either!"
"It doesn't matter, I don't have enough to buy any Materia anyways."
The waiter came with their drinks and set them on the counter. " 'Ere you go. Drink up."
The youngsters drank their juice happily as Cloud gulped down a mouthful of ale. The drink shaved a shred of gloom hanging over Cloud's head and then he took another mouthful. "Why are you kids still out? My mother would beat me if I'd be out this late at your age."
"It's only a couple of hours pass dusk! We're always out at this time," said Brandon.
"Besides, there's plenty of Shinra around," added Brain.
"Yeah, but all they have is stupid batons. They don't have swords like Cloud!" Brain ended his comparison with a ball of laughter.
The waiter came with their food and then left to serve the other customers. The kids stopped talking and dove into their meals. Cloud stared at his glass of ale, thinking about the future.
The patrons spoke loudly, talking about present things and present cares, blinded toward forthcoming worries and concerns. Though Cloud lost most of his hunger he ate so not to be hungry later. They all concentrated on their food and stopped talking until they were finished.
"That was great Cloud! Thanks for the food!" Brandon joyfully decreed.
"Really Cloud, those were the best potatoes I've had in a long time, thanks!" Richard was nodding.
"I wish I had some Materia on me Cloud, I'd give it to you, really!" Brain said wishfully.
"I'll be fine. Do you know what I like to do when I've eaten a good meal?"
The children looked curiously at one another.
"After a good meal, I like to sleep a fine nap and so should you, it's late now."
Brandon rubbed his eyes at the mention of sleep. "I am getting tired, what about you guys?"
Richard and Brain agreed, "Yeah."
"Have good dreams young men." Cloud said and then started to walk down a dark street; he could hear the youngsters calling out to him.
"We hope to see you again, Cloud!"
"Have a good night, Cloud!"
"See you later, Cloud!"
There was 400 gil left in his pocket. A room for the night, at the cheapest, would be thirty gil. Finding a cheap room for the night was the smallest problem in Cloud's mind. Bigger and better things waited for him but he didn't know where or when. Destiny burned in his bones but without a trail.
As Cloud walked the nearly empty streets he could hear the footsteps of approaching feet. By the sounds of the shuffling there were two people. The steps were brisk and heavy. Shinra guards.
From around a building a couple of Shinras appeared, carrying their batons and boisterously walking the ill lit street. Cloud could barely make out their green uniforms and heavy black boots but he could tell they were Shinra. To avoid trouble Cloud crossed the road, the soldiers noticed and eyed him. They wouldn't dare make trouble in such small numbers, not while armed with his sword. They kept on and didn't say anything. Cloud was too weary for battle; he needed good rest.
Two blocks ahead a glowing sign flickered on and off. A place to sleep! Good. I'm so tired now. Thoughts about the future would have to wait; Cloud made his way to the neon sign.
The door to enter was wide open and Cloud walked to the front desk. A bald fat man was sitting down on a chair looking at a monitor connected to the building's wall. The monitor was tuned to an informant program and the economy was being discussed. The bald man ignored Cloud and stood grimacing at the program.
The volume wasn't high but Cloud could still hear what was being said.
"…Rations of power have been short due to lack of Materia in the region. New mines are opening in different territories but some worry not soon enough to stifle rising prices of energy..."
Cloud didn't bother to listen to the rest. The informant programs always brought the same news anyhow. Prices go up, up, and the number of jobs go down, down.
"How much for a room?"
The man looked on at the program for a moment longer and then turned to Cloud. His head waved back in surprise at Cloud's weapon. "How do you carry that thing, huh?"
"Special metal. Light as a feather. How much for a room?"
"Um, forty five gil."
"I'll give you thirty."
The man thought about it for a second and then said, "Fine." He pulled a key from behind the front desk and handed it to Cloud. "Be out by midday tomorrow."
Cloud left the front desk to retire to his room. As he walked upstairs to room twenty-seven he could hear other people in their rooms. Some people were screaming, others cursing, a few were singing, drunkenly.
When he reached his room he unlocked the door and entered quickly and then locked the door securely. He laid his sword on the floor alongside the bed where he could get it if he needed it. Cloud noticed that if the sword were a few more feet longer it would be as long as the bed. After turning the lights off, Cloud rested on the soft mattress. Those kids were funny. They sure knew a lot about Materia it seemed. I wish that I could have at least a Dull Materia in my sword. I can't even put a decent piece of Materia in my sword! … That's it! … If I do anything from this point on it'll be to put some good Materia in my sword, from there I'll worry about something else…anything else but for now. I have to have a goal. … I need something to concentrate on, besides my poverty. Cloud closed his eyes and the comfortableness of the mattress drew him closer to slumber. Things will turn out well, tomorrow.
On most nights, Cloud dreamt about battle, the ultimate battle. It would be brutal yet satisfying, ultimate. Towards the end of the dream, Cloud would stand atop a huge building, raise his sword into the air and scream his victory to the clouds.
And then, Cloud was in room twenty-seven of a cheap motel. Birds perched on a window seal and sang their songs of chirp. A new day has come for me to accomplish my heart's desire. What do I desire to accomplish this day? The rising sun sent its rays into the musty room and they bounced off the shiny metal of the large sword. A sparkle? My wonderful sword, Buster. Ah…Materia, I have to get Materia. I only know one way to get money for Materia, fighting. Cloud got out of bed and watched the birds fly away. The day was definitely an inspiring one. Dark golden light poured into every dark crevice of Midgar, transforming it into a happy place for the moment. Cloud took a deep breath of the morning air and began to do his exercises.
A short time after dawn Cloud left the ugly motel and searched the streets for a fruit vendor. Fruit in Midgar was reserved for the person of wealthier faculties. Mostly, a fruit vendor could be found near train stations (There were many stations in all of the seven sectors of Midgar). As Cloud walked to the nearest station, he paid little attention to the two classes of people that passed his way. The Lower cast of residents were dressed shabbily and didn't seem to be headed toward anywhere in a hurry. The Middle cast was better presented in materials of a better quality and they appeared to be a bit happier over their fortunate welfare. The highest cast didn't take public trains and didn't walk the roads of the other two classes. Most people didn't see them or have an idea of their daily routines and such. That was the way of Midgar daily life.
Still, children played in the streets, boys and girls chassed each other during games of freeze tag. Older folks complained of the younger generations lack of respect and responsibility and men and women still fell in love and got married together. The majority of people even under very stressful conditions tune out the life that they could have had and settle for the life they do have. Some individuals in Midgar could not do such a thing and Cloud was one of them.
Another block and Cloud would reach the station where the fruit vendor undoubtedly would be selling his expensive food. People were already gathering in the city and making their way to work, if they were fortunate enough to have employment. Women and Men walked towards the train stations, to work in other sectors where there were jobs available.
Cloud looked on in semi-fascination. I couldn't do that. They're either strong or I'm weak because I could never work my life away for someone else's benefit! All this wretchedness makes me tire of Midgar. If it wasn't for the money I'd be gone.
"Today, I have apples and I have oranges, the best! Get them while you can because they'll be gone by lunch!"
The fruit vendor had a small stand less than twenty feet from a train boarding for sector five.
"If you have the money for it I have wild grapes, only the sweetest of them!"
"Give me two oranges, a banana, and two apples."
The vendor incredulously responded, "Sixty gil, do you have it?"
"Sixty gil is too much, I'll give you fifty."
"You don't even have that! Stop wasting my time with your games!"
"Apples, oranges, wild grapes I have it all, come…"
"Here," Cloud placed the money on the vendor's small stand. "I pick the fruit."
"Oh… sure, anything you say sir, here, let me open it for you." The vendor opened a small door on the side of the stand and showed the fresh fruit lying on a cold bed of ice. "Take your pick, they're all good."
"Do you have a bag for me, vendor?"
"Of course I do," the vendor handed Cloud a paper bag for his fruit. "If you get hungry later I'll still probably have some fruit." The vendor's lips spread into a wide friendly smile. "I'm here until dusk, after that I won't be back until morning."
"I'll be leaving sector four today."
The vendor's smile went away and he started yelling out again, "Fresh delicious fruit, on sale! Good prices for great fruit! You want it; I've got it! Fresh fruit!"
Cloud walked away while eating the banana. The fruit was chilled, delicious, on lookers drooled as they watched Cloud gobble his bag of fruit. The food was terrific but the juice had made Cloud thirsty and his hands were sticky.
Not to far away a small boy was drawing on the sidewalk with a little piece of red brick.
"Boy, come over here."
The child looked up; wiped his pants and then ran over to Cloud.
"Would you like to make a couple of gil?"
The small boy enthusiastically said yes, "Yes, sir, what do I have to do?"
"Tell me where you live."
"I live a few houses down, sir."
Cloud and the small boy walked to the house.
"This is my house!" The boy was pointing with a finger covered in red chalk.
The house was shabby, the windows dusty and the small yard kept untidily.
"Get me some water and a wet rag and I'll give you two gil."
"Alright! Yes sir!" The boy scampered off into the house and returned with a large cup and wet rag. "Is this good, sir?"
"Yes, very good. What is your name?"
"Bobby! My father's name is Bob! I'm Bobby Willams the second! What's your name, sir?"
"My name is Cloud Strife." Cloud drank the whole cup of water and scrubbed his hands with the rag. "Ah, that's good."
"Wow Cloud, that's the biggest sword I've ever seen? Are you a soldier?"
"I used to be."
The kid's face lit up.
Then Cloud said, "Do you know where there's a Materia shop around here? I'll give you another gil if you tell me."
Cloud lightly frowned and smiled. "Yes, four gil."
"Wow, hmm… well, there's a shop in the market place but that's sort of far."
"Which market place?"
"Figaro market place on Figaro Road."
Figaro was more than ten miles away but there were trains that could be taken there.
"Do you know of any others?"
"Umm… There's a small shop on York St…. but I heard their Materia is dull… unless you don't care. Do you care?"
"I want Ultimate Materia."
The small boys eyes grew wide again.
"The best," said the child.
Cloud fished in his pockets and then counted the gil in front of the boy. "Here you go Bobby Willams the second, four gil.
"Wowie, Thank you Mr. Strife! I'll save it up for something nice. Have a good day, Mr. Strife!" With that said the little boy skipped down the street, perhaps to boast about his earnings to friends.
Cloud looked on at the boy and then contemplated on his next destination. York St. was closer but Cloud wanted Ultimate Materia, neither Dull nor Bright Materia would suffice. A few miles ahead was a train headed towards Figaro, Cloud would go there. The few miles to the station took only a short time since Cloud was eager to lay his eyes on the powerful Materia. He pondered on what type of Materia he would get.
There were all sorts of Materia, small, large, round, square, light, dark, weak and strong. Many types of Materia were sold, fire, ice, poison, electrical, all deadly in the wrong hands. Generally, Materia was categorized into three levels, Dull, Bright, and Ultimate. Like the name, a dull Materia gave off a murky glow; Bright Materia shone enough light to survey a darkened room. Ultimate Materia was ultra powerful as well as expensive and rare. Left on the skin Ultimate Materia could cause a nasty burn to a person. People carried Ultimate Materia in special pouches that had to be changed every couple of years or the Materia would eventually burn through, however, not many people even carried around any form of Materia.
The train station was smaller than the one Cloud had just left; it was an inner city train and it boarded less passengers. The whistle to the train blew for people to start boarding. A man in a red coat and gray slacks opened the first doors. "Have your gil ready, one gil to ride the train."
Cloud had his gil ready; all inner-city trains charged only one gil to ride.
The man with the red coat was the conductor. "Thank you, sir, please enter."
Cloud walked in and moved to the back of the car. He set buster (the name of his sword) against the window and sat on the adjoining seat. A dozen or more people entered the car and then the door was closed. A couple of more cars were opened and a couple more dozen boarded and then the train's whistle blew its final call.
"All aboard!" Screamed the conductor.
Some moments passed and then the train jumped with a start and slowly inched its way forward. There were some people still running to the train station, late arrivers, but the train was already moving. One man threw his hat to the ground and stomped his feet in frustration. Cloud smiled at the man and the man just stared at Cloud and then scooped up his hat and then turned and walked away. It wouldn't take long now, Figaro was losing distance and so was the Materia.
I wonder how much it is? Five thousand gil? Eight thousand gil? Maybe less? I'll get fire Materia. Maybe I should get ice. Electrical Materia is nice too. How much do I have? Cloud counted his gil; he had 305 gil left.
The train entered the subway and stood underground for most of the way. A maze of lights and the bump of tracks at perfect intervals made the ride a dreary one. Cloud was happy when the ride was over and he was at his destination. He was the first passenger to leave the car. None of the others patrons stood too close to Cloud for fear of accidentally hitting him and inciting his anger. Cloud didn't mind; he liked to be left alone.