He wished that he could say that everything was prepared. He wished that he could say that he was ready for the upcoming confrontation. He wished he wasn’t fighting this alone for once in his life.
No, he was a ready as he could ever be, and he would fight to protect those that he cared for. He would make it on time, and he would hopefully be able to negotiate some form of release. He had little to offer in exchange, save possibly the child General back at 7th Heaven, but he wasn’t about to give that little point up just yet. He was not a man to gamble too much with lives anyway, especially if the reasons were selfish, so he would hopeful find a way to settle this upcoming battle with as little bloodshed as possible.
Dayshorne would take care of things while he was gone, and Tifa was not left in the dark either. Cabbage was safe too. He had made all the arrangements that he could to keep people informed and readily available to call into action with him if the need arose. As it was, he wasn’t sure what to expect, but he knew that, at least, Tifa would come to his aid if he made the call. Dayshorne probably would as well, but he already owed the man enough as it was.
Sprinting across the plains to the meeting point was easy once he managed to get transportation. He didn’t dare take Fenrir as he knew it would probably be damaged in a fight, and he didn’t want to risk that as the terms weren’t known except for coming alone and unarmed. Fenrir also generally meant that he was armed, so he took slower, more difficult methods to get where he wanted: chocobo.
The bird under him was not one he was terribly familiar with, but he knew it was part of the wild herd. After catching it, it had only taken a few false starts to get the bird racing towards his destination. It wasn’t used to his commands, but the bird followed them with the best of its relatively untrained ability, and he knew that he was probably being followed by other members of the herd jealous of the attention the one under him was getting. It didn’t matter so long as this one lasted long enough to get himself to the forest in the north.
The sword on his back made him uneasy, and he knew he would have to be rid of it before he walked into whatever arrangements had been made. The chocobo would have to carry it for him until he could get it back after negotiations. He had brought some rope to secure the weapon, but he didn’t feel all that safe running across monster-infested plains without a weapon. He could only hope that they stayed away from him and didn’t slow his progress, even if he seemed generally avoided but such creatures now.
He sighed heavily and spurred the yellow chocobo on, glancing over to the horizon to take note that it was lightening, meaning he had only a limited amount of time to get to where he needed to be. He hated this rush, yet it was one he remembered when hunting Sephiroth. It had a certain distant familiarness to it, and he couldn’t decide whether it was good or bad just yet… but he was more leaning towards bad.
Why had they taken Zahna and ordered him there? He had never faced an encounter where someone close to him had simply been stolen away to, what it vaguely appeared, act as ransom to draw him out. He could only hope that Zahna was uninjured and being treated fairly, or he may just need his weapon to beat some sense in Kadaj on the proper way to treat a female.
It was probably just Jenova’s idea, anyway. He was certain that he would be massively outnumbered, and he mentally tallied who would probably be there if any exchange was made. Kadaj and Jenova for sure, and he thought that Loz would show up as well. Sephiroth would most likely be there to put pressure on him and possibly try to manipulate him to agree to terms. Yazoo may have been there, but he hadn’t seen the man in a long time, and Karina was really anyone’s guess. Either way, he was still outnumbered and at the disadvantage. They were not odds that he liked the prospect of at all.
Gritting his teeth, he spotted the small woods that he thought was the meeting place, and he forced his mind to focus on the task at hand. The problems he was having at home where irrelevant for now, and he needed his strength to get Zahna back and take her safely back to Midgar.
He pulled the chocobo to a stop outside of the forest and wheeled the bird around before he dismounted, whistling softly to calm the animal again. He stay a moment just petting the chocobo before unsheathing his sword and laying it across the bird’s back, using some rope to fasten it as securely as possible there. The chocobo watched him curiously and he tied his materia bangle as well, not taking any form of protecting himself into this battle.
Checking himself over quickly, Cloud nodded and turned towards the forest. It didn’t look so bad yet, and he would do best to check the area out to make sure that all was in place for this little meeting to happen. He began to move silently into the first trees before he was forced to stop at a soft weebling and crunching footsteps following him. He turned his head to find his weapon-ladened chocobo peering at him and stepping over to him again.
“You go back to the herd. I’ll find you later, alright?” He pet the bird’s crest and turned again, only taking another step to find himself still followed. “No… you have to go the other way.”
The chocobo weebled and nibbled on his spaulder, and he suddenly waved his hands into the air, stomping a foot and growling. The bird immediately jumped around and ran away a short distance, and he moved to chase, sending the bird off sprinting the way that it had come. He knew it would return to the herd, but for now, his weapon and materia were safe.
Turning back to the woods, he breathed a heavy sigh and slipped into the trees, ready to face whatever lay ahead of him.