The scent of sweet flowers permeated the air and it was so sweet and so foreign that it was like it could only be from a dream.
Cloud awoke with a gasp and sat up straight. His heart beating at a quick pace he looked around to see where the hell he was. The result was quite unexpected. He had fallen asleep at the Seventh Heaven after a hard day’s work. At least that is what he thought. Instead of a simple bedroom made of wood and smelling like pine and industrial industry, that was replaced with a white walled room with red carpet and the strong smell of salt water.
“Where the hell am I?”
A light groan from nearby got his attention, and from there Cloud turned his head for yet another surprise. Lying on the bed next to him, her head resting on a fluffy white pillow was his childhood friend Tifa Lockhart. The brunette slowly sat up and stretched her arms over her head.
"What a nap," she said with a yawn. Her eyes opened and focused. The first thing she saw was Cloud. "OH? Hey Cloud. Sleep well?"
Seemingly oblivious to what was going on Cloud only looked around. Only after Tifa did the same did she realize the elephant in the room.
"Uh...this isn’t the bar..."
Cloud got up off the bed, his protective instincts kicking in. "Definitely not."
The room was large, lacking in furniture save for a grandfather clock in a far corner and a small circular table in the center of the room. The carpet was crimson red and the walls were pale white. Three doors were found by Cloud as he went around the space. One led to a bathroom, one was locked but after taking a glance through the keyhole saw it led to a hallway. He'd check that out when he could. The last was a pair of glass doors that led out to a balcony.
It was after he opened the balcony doors that Cloud got the shock of his life. He was immediately hit by a wave of warm tropical air and bright sunlight. The sound of the ocean filled his ears. Taking a step out onto the balcony the former SOLDIER saw nothing but ocean and white sand beaches that stretch for miles. A tropical jungle went inland and the heat struck him as extreme.
"No way we're in Edge anymore..."
"The hell is this?"
Tifa had joined him on the balcony and she was just as confused as he was. Nothing they could see was familiar. That left them more confused, as well as concerned.
"Costa del Sol?"
Cloud shook his head. "I don't think so." There was no way this was the resort coastal town. It was too...pure. No tourists, no presence of industry, nor any evidence of promotions. The place was a tropical paradise.
Though that conclusion was satisfying to a lot of people in a situation like this, Tifa was restlessly trying to come up with other solutions. "Okay so it’s not Sol, but the other question is how did we get here? I laid down to take a nap and--"
"Woke up here. I did the same thing," Cloud said sheepishly, remembering that he and Tifa had laid down to rest. In the same bed. Together. It's what couples did, he reminded himself, nothing to be ashamed about. Still, that didn’t address the obvious problem.
Tifa peered up into Cloud's eyes, searching for an answer but he was unable to give her one.
What was going to happen next?
A soft double ding from a bell was heard. At first Cloud thought it came from the grandfather clock, but he was soon corrected as a light hearted voice spoke over an intercom system.
Tifa was now even more confused, "Is that...a moogle?"
Cloud didn’t respond to her, instead he listened intently to the voice.
"Would all guests in the resort please proceed to the lobby? Mr. Mog would like to talk to all at once, kupo. There are arrows on the wall that will lead you right to the lobby, kupo!"
The call ended and Tifa crossed her arms over her chest. "Well, I guess we might as well go. Get some answers if we can?"
Cloud couldn’t help but agree. "And if we don’t?"
The woman raised a tightly closed fist and a playful smile, "Then I will have to get persuasive."
This caused a smirk to form on Cloud's face. He knew she was kidding. Tifa would never hurt someone unless she had to in terms of defense. "Then we better get going."
The door that lad outside was no longer locked, as if by magic, and they went outside into a red carpet hallway. Doors lined the hall on both sides, all with Roman numerals on silver plates under the peek holes.
Easily over a dozen doors could be seen. How many people were here with them? How many were against their will?"
Hopefully they would find an answer soon.
Cloud saw a blue arrow pointing in the direction they needed to go and started walking down that way. Tifa followed behind, and with each pass of a door she saw the numbers. They didn’t go in any particular order. The first door they passed was labeled XII, followed by IX, II, V, and XIV. Who could these doors be holding?
The next door they passed made them stop as it opened suddenly. Both Cloud and Tifa reflexively got in defensive stances. When the door fully opened a tall man in a black jacket was standing in the frame.
Smoothed short blonde hair was on his head and he was almost too tall for the door. He saw the two and a bright smile came over his once sullen face. "Oh...hey guys."
His voice was familiar to Tifa, but she couldn’t quite remember who he was. She lowered her fists.
Cloud on the other hand knew who it was, "Snow Villiers."
"Yup, in the flesh," said the newcomer.
"Wait, you're Snow? The same one who fought on Spiritus' side?"
"Against my will, but yeah. I'd rather not think about that."
Cloud knew the story about Snow from Lightning, but only that he wasn’t a bad guy. A bit annoying, but not someone who would be considered an enemy. "Why are you here?"
"I was gonna ask you the same question," said Snow before sighing. "But I think we will figure that out once we get to the lobby, eh?"
Tifa nodded. Least they agreed on that.
"Snow? Is someone at the door?"
The voice that got Tifa's ears to perk up came from in Snow's room. She didn’t have to wait long to see who it came from.
A girl who was physically shorter than Snow by a mile came from behind him. She had long pink hair tied in a tail on one side and wore a white blouse and red pleaded skirt. She appeared to be in her early twenties. She was radiant when she smiled.
"Hey, babe, as you can see we got company," said Snow with affection towards the new arrival.
"Oh? Friends of yours?"
"From the war I told you about, yeah," he replied.
"A friend of Snow's is a friend of mine. I'm Serah Farron, nice to meet you," said the girl.
Cloud let the introduction slide. He didn’t feel like this was the best time to socialize. "So Snow. Any clue what's going on?"
The taller man shrugged his shoulders, "Not a damn thing. Serah and I were just getting used to our room before they told us to head to the lobby. Speaking of which, we should head there." He asked Serah if she was ready and she replied that she was before stepping out into the hallway.
“Well, shall we see what the fuss is about?”