Barret - Chapter 3

This content is the third chapter of the Case of Barret.


Rocket Town was once the base for the Shinra Electric Power Company’s space program. The engineers had eventually settled down there, turning it into a bustling village.

When Barret arrived in the town, he saw children playing. Some were the same age as Marlene. His eyes lit up immediately.
“What you kids playin’?” he asked. The children looked up, their eyes slowly taking in the sight. “How ‘bout you let an old guy join in?”
The children bolted. Barret clicked his tongue and looked at his right hand.
“Just gotta put up with this till my hand’s done.”
“You’re scary even without the gun,” someone called out from behind him.
“Wait a minute, you’re—“ He couldn’t put a name to the face.
“I doubt you’d remember me. I’m from the Highwind crew.” The Highwind was the name of the airship Barret and the others wound up boarding during their journey to save the planet.
“Oh, I gotcha. Well, thanks for helpin’ out back then.”
“You’re very welcome.”
Barret wasted no time in asking the man to take him to Cid. As they walked, he heard a dull metal pounding.
“Break time’s over, y’know. We better get a move on.”
“Whatcha all up to?”
“What do you think? This is where Cid’s gang comes home to roost, after all.”
“An airship?”
“See for yourself!”
Past the long line of houses, a large area opened up, and Barret could see an enormous airship—yeah, just like the old Highwind!—under construction.
“Well, shit! Wouldja lookit that.”
The airship was girdled by a crude scaffold. On top of the scaffold—which didn’t look like it would earn any applause for its safety precautions—worked about twenty townsfolk. All Barret could hear was the shrill retort from the metal armor plating being hammered into place. The airship looked all but finished.
“Hey, she’s all done!”
“Yeah, but just the trimmings. Take a gander.” The man pointed to an empty engine bay. “It’s because we can’t use mako anymore. The engine is gonna take some time.”
From out of nowhere came the earth-shaking crash of an explosion. Barret panicked and hit the dirt.
“Cap’n’s over there,” laughed the old comrade, pointing to a garage behind the airship.

Inside the garage, a single engine that looked like it would fit an airship sat upon a massive workbench.
Several men peered at it from a safe distance, and all of them wore goggles. Again, the sound of an explosion. Barret flinched. One of the men shucked off his goggles and ran up to the engine.
“Sonufabitch!”
Cid leaned in to examine the engine, gnashing his teeth as if he were about to tear off a piece.
“Goddamn piecea shit! I’m gonna flatten you into last week’s scrap!”
Barret grinned. He hadn’t heard such foul language in ages. He ain’t changed one bit, this one. Cid sauntered over to Barret, spouting profanity with every step.
Barret greeted Cid with a laugh. “Talk like that and God’s gonna get on your case!”
“God? You haul his ass down here,” snapped Cid, not missing a beat. “I gotta have words with him.”


The two quickly filled each other in on recent events.
“I left Marlene with Tifa. Since she’s taken to her and all.”
“Good for you. Whole world’s clappin’ you on the back. So Cloud’s with Tifa?”
“Yeah. Tifa opened a bar, just like the old days. Cloud was helpin’ out, but it sounds like he’s got his own business keepin’ him tied up now. A delivery service.”
“Cloud? Run a business?”
“You can bet it’s Tifa kickin’ his ass into shape.”
“I see. In the end, it’s the women wear the pants.”
“How’s Shera?”
“Meh, she’s about the same,” dodged Cid.
After that he steered the conversation away by talking about how Red XIII kept dropping by, how Yuffie was teaching the wushu fighting style to the kids of Wutai, and how Vincent had stayed completely out of touch.

“So whatcha need? I’m a busy man.”
“You’re buildin’ an airship, right?”
“That I am.”
“Would you let me help out?”
“You? What’s a tenderfoot like you gonna do?”
Normally Barret would offer an enraged retort, but he let it bounce off and told Cid about what he’d been through.
“If you had an airship, man, you’d have all kinds of saved lives on your hands. Like folk with the stigma. If they found a cure somewhere, you could bring ‘em there in a flash. You could even fly guys in from all over the place who could treat it. Deliver loads of food. Anything people needed to live, ya know?”
“Well, now, you like to lay it all out.” Cid brought his face closer to Barret’s. “We’re talking about using mako. Mako! You know how much mako energy it takes to make one short hop with an airship?”
“Hell no. But listen.” Barret recounted what he’d been thinking about on his way there. Just can’t be greedy. Use mako and you shorten the planet’s life. True enough. But I’m not talkin’ enough to change things down the line. Just a little. The planet oughta forgive us takin’ just what we need to stay alive.
Cid’s reaction: “Hooey. What happened to AVALANCHE's leader?”
Barret had nothing to say to that. As far as coming to terms with his past, he thought he’d had his own answer. But now that someone was calling him on it, he searched for the right words. The gloom took over deep inside, and he raised his right arm. He was ready to open fire, then realized he was indoors and stopped short. But he did scream.
“Grrraaaaaahhh!”
Everyone in the room turned to stare at Barret.
“Sorry. Uhh, as you were,” he said to the people around him, faking his best smile. Then he hung his head, searching for the words to explain himself. Instead of words, tableaus from his past sprung to mind. That way-too-serious look on Biggs', Wedge's, and Jessie's faces. C’mon, say something. Go on, guys, blame me.
He shook his head as if to shoo the three figures away, then glanced up. Cid looked blurry.
“What the hell’s with you? Cid asked, surprised.
“Cid, you gotta tell me. I dunno what to do. My past’s like a minefield full of mistakes. But there had to have been things that were right. But what, which of ‘em was right? Which was wrong? Which me am I supposed to be from now on? No, I wanna change. Am I not allowed, ‘cause of my past? Huh? Am I supposed to keep this gun stuck on my arm, scarin’ kids? Is that how I make up for my sins? I don’t know anymore. Help me, Cid… What am I supposed to do?”
And in the end, Barret did open fire at the ceiling, tearing several holes in it. Cid looked up at the ceiling and said:
“Well, for starters, you can fix that.”


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