THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 

Broken Angel

by Calis Cheah


Chapter I
Nibelheim Mako Reactor,
Jenova Chamber

For the first time, I looked upon the being that was my mother. Emotionless features of cold steel, yet I knew what lay beyond that facade. A mother who reached for her child.

"Jenova, Mother, how I have waited to see you, to know you. Soon, we will become one. Be patient, Mother, be patient, it will not be long now," I smiled.

"Mother, how do you feel? You must have been lonely, being here all by yourself. It's all over now, I have returned and I will never leave you alone again. You and I are the only Ancients left. This world belongs to us, no one else can take it away. We shall reclaim what was once ours. Together, we shall begin a new era!"

"Come, let us leave this place and begin what should have begun long ago," I murmur quietly to the mask of frigid, hard, unfeeling metal. "Zack?"

"Why? Why Sephiroth? What have the people of Nibelheim done to deserve this? You were my mentor, why?" Zack shook with barely suppressed rage and pain.

"Why? The answer is simple. They stood in my way. They sought to keep me apart from my mother. All who opposes me have to die as will you if you try to stop me." I answered indifferently.

Gripping his sword, Zack faced me with grim determination. He looked so pathetic that I almost pitied him. Almost.

"Do you really think you're good enough to take me on?" I raised a skeptical brow.

Zack charged, wielding his Buster Sword in a strike, which I parried with ease. Spinning into a riposte swiftly, I could see that there was no way Zack could avoid Masamune. Steel met flesh as my blade pierced his armour. With no remorse, I drew Masamune free. Blood, bright crimson, sprayed from the wound I had inflicted.

"Fool! You could have lived, I could have spared you, Zack. Now, join those poor souls of Nibelheim!"

Zack was staggering, his face twisted with anguish. His eyes pleaded with me but too late, mercy had died the day I found the truth. My next blow blasted Zack out of the chamber. I knew with wicked gratification, he would not survive.

I returned to Jenova, caressing her face of steel lingeringly and reverently. Finally, with obvious relish, I grasped it in my hands. A violent wrench, I tore away the shroud that concealed my mother. Shards of glass and fluid cascaded onto the floor as I shattered the holding chamber. Wielding Masamune, I decapitated Jenova with one clean stroke. So intense was I that I failed to register another presence. Unaware of imminent danger, I bend to recover Jenova's head.

"Sephiroth! Give me back my mother, my whole town!"

"Aaah!" A sharp burst of pain tore through me.

"Cloud?!" Did my eyes fool me? A lowly escort guard attacked me?

In disbelief, I reeled and slumped against the shattered glass chamber. Thinking the deed was done and acting like the coward that he is, Cloud fled. I stood with the aid of Masamune, pausing only to pick up Jenova's head, I followed. Making my way down the stairs unsteadily, I stopped and glared at Cloud who was tending Tifa, the young woman I wounded earlier.

"It was only luck. Don't you dare get cocky, I am not one to be ridiculed a second time." Without a second glance, I left the pod room, clutching Jenova's head under my arm.

I was crossing the metal bridge when Cloud yelled my name. Eyes narrowed with hate, I stopped. Gripping Masamune tightly, I waited for him to get close enough. Only his death can appease my wrath, I spun around suddenly, impaling Cloud upon my blade. Fully expecting him to die, I was stunned when he seized Masamune in a death grip. With a strength born of desperation, Cloud swung with all his might, flinging me off the bridge. Never in my widest imagination, had I foreseen this happening.

Plunging into the unknown depths of the Mako reactor, I screamed in unholy ire.

"No! This is not true! You cannot hurt me, Cloud! I am the Legendary Sephiroth! No one can best me, not even Death! I am the finest Soldier this world has ever known. I will not die! I will not die......!"

Chapter II
The Lifestream

Darkness. Absolute stillness.

Silence.

Like a child sleeping in its mother's womb. An all encompassing peace and a cherished quietness. There was only night, with no beginning and no end. A void of purest black where no light ever shines. I drifted, reluctant to wake, trying to grasp the vanishing wisps of a dream. However, like the morning mist dissipating upon the rising of the sun, they eluded me. Ever so slowly, I opened my eyes yet there was nothing. No horizons, no daylight, no life.

I was alone.

"Where am I?" I questioned. Unbidden scenes of what happened in the Mako reactor in Mt. Nibel flashed across my mind.

"Is this Death's domain? Have I finally submitted to your cold embrace?" I uttered softly.

"Come and goad then! Have you not won a victory?"

Fury surged inside me, filling me with the urge to rend things apart, to destroy. With effort, I reined in this impulsion. Shaking my head to clear unwanted thoughts, I begun to ponder, contemplate.

"No... no... wait, you did not win. Do you not see? You have fallen. Yes... fallen... fallen so low as to resort to such machinations. You dare not stand against me, don't you? You fear me!"

My laughter rang out contemptuously, echoing in the silence. It died gradually, waning like a pale dying moon. Glancing beyond the darkness, I waited for an answer. The moment passed into eternity.

Time does not exist here.

Perceptibly, a glow caught my eye, a glint of light against the infinite night. Intrigued, I started forward, impelled by a strange desire to be closer. As I drew nearer and nearer, it grew into a white star. Blazing brighter and brighter, it burned with a clear, unblemished flame. I reached out my hand, seeking to touch, heedless that this fire might consume me whole.

Closing my hands round the nimbus, I was surprised to feel no heat but a gentle warmth. It pulsed with life and as I grazed into its depths in contemplation, the light engulfed me.

I watched random images from my past as they unfolded before me. All the punishing training I had willingly undertaken to become a SOLDIER, to become the best. The intense satisfaction on my face as I first held Masamune in my hands. It was the one thing that belonged to me wholly and utterly, attuned only for me. Some brief scenes of previous missions I had performed throughout my career. Without warning, an image flashed before my eyes, blinding me.

When I recovered my sight, I was surrounded by darkness again. Releasing a cry of frustration, I reached out with my hands, trying to touch, to hold something. I was astonished when I felt a presence touched my outstretched palms. The presence grew stronger, encompassing me.

It was as if an angel has enfolded me with its wings, I felt so safe, so sheltered, feelings I had thought forgotten. Emotions long suppressed, threaten to overwhelm me. I shut my eyes, abandoning the present, following where they lead. Within me, just like a ship in uncharted waters, I stumbled blind to discover, buried so deep in my heart and mind, so deep that even I had no recollection, memories that I believed had died.

A face. A name. A voice which once called to me.

I remembered...

I remembered love.

Chapter III
Shinra Barracks

"This sorry affair with Wutai would have ended sooner if those suits send us over in the first place. Two whole regiment of guards were lost, counting the casualties and the injured. What a senseless waste," Kale Dawson, 2nd Company Commander of SENTINEL, remarked to his companion, snuffing out his cigarette snub impatiently with his heel.

"Regardless that I'm the head of SENTINEL, a direct order from President Shinra has to be followed. Did you think that I enjoyed escorting him around those Mako reactors?" Ash Silvestri, 1st Company Commander, shook her head at her fellow officer.

On reflection, Wutai had declared itself free of Shinra control, starting a revolt for independence. Shinra dismissed it as a joke until a whole regiment of guards sent to control the situation failed to return. More units were sent but unfamiliar with the terrain, many fell to the guerrilla tactics of the rebel fighters. Having made such a mistake by underestimating the Wutai forces, an embarrassed Heidegger in an attempt to remedy the situation, had ordered SENTINEL, the corporation's elite group of professional soldiers to take over the Wutai affair.

"Say, I've been wondering how you knew about the back trails and caves. The resistance wouldn't have been smashed so fast if not for your plans. They sure don't call you the best for nothing, Ash," Kale said as they walked across the parade ground to the officer's quarters.

Returning the salutes given by the recruits undergoing training, Ash paused for a while before answering.

"When you know an enemy as well as you know yourself, it's hard to lose any battle. Always seek out information on your enemy, no matter how trivial it may be. A small dagger can still maim if not kill."

"Yeah, but the fact is that we don't have maps on those trials so you haven't answer my question," A loud crash accentuated the question, as Kale kicked in the door to his quarters after it failed to open to his battered key card.

Cursing and swearing, Kale lugged his bags through the doorway. Placing a few more kicks to the already mangled door, he made such a dreadful din that he almost missed the ghost of a reply.

"Wutai was my hometown..."

Dumbfounded, Kale charged out into the corridor only to see her gradually fading out of his sight as she climbed up the stairs to her own quarters. A solitary figure in midnight blue.

"What a dumb ass I am, should've known by the way she replied," Kale sank heavily onto his bunk, which protested with a loud creak.

Now that he finally had time to sit down and think, Kale realised that was very little he knew about his senior officer. Ash has always been friendly and approachable, enjoying a good rapport with her comrades. Yet at the same time, she was as deep and unfathomable as the sea. She was a very private person, often seen alone rather than in company. What Kale knew was common knowledge: Her father was head of military operations before Hiedegger and that she entered the Shinra army at a young age. Being a woman and a young and beautiful one at that, earning the respect of grown men was almost an impossible thing. However, Ash had proven herself with her fine analytical mind and her astounding skill with her blade, Chi Tsuki, Blood Moon. It had not came as a surprise when she was promoted as head of SENTINEL at the age of only eighteen.

"She's a beautiful enigma with that long hair the colour of a raven's wing and those sapphire eyes that a man could literally drown in. Boy, if only she weren't my superior...Bah! What the hell! I'm wishful thinking again. Better get some sleep, fatigue's driving my wits into forbidden territory," With a grunt, Kale hit his pillow and promptly feel asleep, snoring loud enough to disturb the whole ground floor.

Chapter IV
Shinra Building

Ash stepped out of President Shinra's office, releasing a pent-up breath. She did not know why she bothered to give a report in person when the president was obviously not paying much attention. As usual, he had just nodded his head absently and congratulated her for a job well done. Thinking that a stroll would relax her nerves, Ash decided to walk down to the Science Division. It's been a long time since she paid Professor Gast a visit.

Ash made her way through the maze of small offices and testing labs silently. Those scientists, who saw her, greeted her with smiles or a wave before returning to their work. She was no stranger here for all knew that she had a long-standing friendship with the gifted professor. After manoeuvring her way round a few corners, Ash finally reached Gast's cluttered office. The door was open as usual and she was about to step in when she noticed that the professor was speaking softly to a child.

A wistful smile touched her lips, as she recalled that he had spoken in that same gentle way to her so many years ago. Reluctant to intrude, Ash was about to withdraw quietly when a clear, piping voice halted her.

"Professor Gast, you have a visitor."

The professor turned around, his face breaking into the familiar smile she knew so well. Deep in her heart, Ash had always felt that Gast was more of a father to her than her real father ever was. Her father had never cared for anything except his career and he was so disgusted when he knew that his wife borne him a daughter instead of the son he had been hoping for. Trying to win his affections, Ash had devoted all her life to the military but he never acknowledged her achievements. Even when he laid on his deathbed, the glaze he gave her was not one of pride but of disappointment. Banishing these melancholy thoughts, Ash stepped forward to be enveloped in a warmth embrace.

"It's been ages, Ash, I've missed you. I'm so glad to see that you're alright."

"I've missed you too, Prof." Simple words but they carried true feelings.

"I know I've said this incessant times but I still think you'll make a better scientist than a soldier. At least then I could stop worrying over you." Unable to meet the professor's concerned eyes, Ash looked away.

"We've been through this before, Prof. I know that you care but it's too late to change anything now. Where are your manners, Prof, aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?" Unwilling to say more, she diverted Gast's attention.

"Oh my, I'm really getting absentminded. Ash, meet my young friend, Sephiroth." Gast turned back and tenderly pushed the child forward.

On a closer look, Gast's young friend was a little boy whose age, Ash guessed to be around three. He was shy, facing her with his hands behind his back and eyes downcast. Ash glanced at Professor Gast who shook his head silently, without any words being said, an understanding was passed. The child was one of the many children of Shinra personnel, left in the care of the corporation. Those who were more fortunate, knew their parents and enjoyed brief visits but then there are those who did not even know their parent's names or were abandoned, which Ash suspected was more probable for this young boy. Having experienced the taste of such lonely childhood, her heart filled with pity and remembered pain. She walked forward and kneeled so that she could meet the child's eyes. Reaching out a hand, Ash introduced herself.

"Hello Sephiroth, I am Ash."

A pair of aquamarine eyes met sapphire and she was lost in their depths. Without fully comprehending how or why, she sensed and felt a loneliness and a need for affection that cut her to the bone. Ash instinctively wanted to hold him in her arms, to give whatever comfort she could but she resisted the urge for fear of frightening Sephiroth. Instead, she smiled encouragingly, holding out her hand to him.

His small hand reached out tentatively, a little unsure of himself. Intuition told him that he could trust her and Sephiroth made up his mind, placing his hand in hers. The moment their hands touched, Time stopped. Like two lost souls who have found each other in darkness, a bond was forged in that instance. A bond so strong, broken only by Death.

Chapter V
The Lifestream

Seven years, she spent with me. Seven years, an eternity to some but to me it was too short, a diminutive grain in the hourglass of Time. Ash was more than a mentor and friend, she was the mother I never had. She was the one who declared December 25th as my birthday. I still remember what she said when she discovered no official date was listed in my files. In fact, Ash could not find out anything about me other than the name of my mother, Jenova.

"It doesn't matter, Sephiroth. From this day forth, December 25th shall be your birthday and I promised you that regardless of whether I am away on a mission, I'll always make it back to celebrate with you." She had crossed her heart, swearing it as a vow to me.

The other children, who used to tease and taunt me mercilessly because of my lack of a parentage, changed their attitude when they found out my close relationship with Ash. As the head of SENTINEL, she had gained a formidable reputation. Everybody wanted to be associated with her. They offered friendship and acceptance if I would introduce them but I shunned their advances. Hypocrites, they deserve nothing but my contempt. With Professor Gast and Ash, I did not need any more friends. They were the two most important people in my life. Both taught valuable lessons, which aided me, much. Gast imparted his scientific knowledge while Ash schooled me in swordplay. Without her guidance, I would not have been such an adept with Masamune.

Professor Gast left Shinra when I was six, leaving Hojo in charge of the Science Division. I never liked the man, he always gave me the creeps especially when I caught him watching me with a speculative gleam in his eyes. I used to think with a child's overactive imagination that Hojo would use me for some ghastly experiments if he managed to get his claws on me. In order to stay on the safe side, I avoided Hojo like the plague. I missed the kindly professor and waited ever so eagerly for his letters, which came once a month. As a special present for my seventh birthday, Ash took me to visit Professor Gast in Snowy Village. We spent a very memorable week with him and his wife, Ifalna. That was the only time when I felt how it was like to have a family. We left with the assurance to return next year.

Yet within one short year, the professor departed this world. I was shattered when Ash broke the news to me. I was too young to comprehend the brevity of Life and the abruptness in which Death could strike. I lapsed into a state of denial, unable to deal with such cruel fate.

"Why? He was fine when we saw him. He can't be dead! He can't be dead! It's all a mistake!"

Ash did not say anything, she just held me as I cried myself to sleep on her shoulder. Throughout the entire period I needed to get over Professor Gast's death, Ash was always there for me. She smoothed away my tears and rocked me to sleep through the long nights when I woke, crying for the professor. On one of these nights, she made me another promise to stay by my side always, come what may. She was all I had left, she cannot leave me, I would not allow it.

To keep my mind off this unfortunate incident, Ash started teaching me military tactics and strategies. What begun as a diversion became a full growth passion. I surprised Ash with my appetite for learning and ability to grasp abstract concepts. I was proud, knowing that I had already surpassed the achievements of the trainees undergoing the same discipline

I was ten years old when I revealed my aspiration: I was going to be a soldier. There was nothing else I would rather be. When I was younger, I wanted to be a soldier, as it would grant me the respect I craved but now I was doing it out of a genuine love for soldiering. Understanding the impetuousness of youth, Ash laid a hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eye.

"I understand but I want you to wait for three more years. Regulations stipulate that the youngest recruit has to be at least thirteen. If by then, you still feel the same way, I will personally sponsor you into the army. There's no turning back once you're committed so no regrets. You hear me."

I heard her and agreed to be patient but the person who sponsored me in the end was not Ash. She broke her promises. She left on a mission and never returned. I was utterly devastated. I waited and waited but she never came back. She never came back to me.

Chapter VI
Wutai

"I swear it was a ghost!"

"No! No! No! It's a demon! A monster!"

More shouts and wails split the air as the villagers gave voice to their fears. The three escort guards, trying to calm the terrified villagers, became more flustered as the situation slipped more and more out of their control.

"Get a hold on yourselves! Everything's going to all right. No more lives will be lost. Be it ghost or demon, we'll take care of it!" A voice rang with authority.

The crowd parted to let two figures through. Both were young men who looked scarcely a day past sixteen. The villagers eyed the two young men with apprehension. So they were members of the new elite fighting corps, SOLDIER who had replaced the now defunct SENTINEL. This new breed of soldiers was created by exposure to Mako radiation energy which increased both strength and intelligence. It was rumoured that SOLDIER resulted as an attempt by Shinra to replicate the abilities of the extinct Cetra or Ancients. Many of the villagers were sceptical but they needed help and as the saying goes: a desperate man has no choices.

I knew they doubted our abilities, it was unavoidable, as we were the first unit of SOLDIER Shinra produced and had yet to prove ourselves in active service. Two of us had been sent to investigate the recent spate of mysterious murders that plagued Wutai. The killings seemed random and illogical without any pattern. Young, old, male, female, fell victim. The only common links were that they had all been killed by a single stroke with an extremely sharp bladed weapon and that all the killings took place near or on the Dachao statue mountains. Another intriguing point was the disappearance of livestock. The animals simply vanished without a trace. The villagers had assumed it to be the work of a wolf or fox but I had a suspicion that the animals had been taken by the killer for sustenance.

"If it weren't common knowledge that only you can wield that sword of yours, I would have named you the number one suspect, Sephiroth," my companion, Cain said grimly.

"The wounds are all caused by a weapon similar to Masamune."

Having examined the bodies myself, I agreed with his assessment. The killer was no demon nor beast but a master swordsman.

"All murders occurred near or on the Dachao, there is a high possibility that our killer is hiding in one of those many caves on the mountain. The question is why were the villagers killed? Did they discover something the killer wish hidden?"

"Death needs no reason, Cain. However, you do have a point. Furthermore, according to the coroner's reports, the time of deaths were estimated to be around the witching hour. Since our killer has a nocturnal nature, daybreak will be the best time to begin our hunt. It's too late to start today, nightfall's approaching. Why don't you see to our accommodation while I try to get more useful information from the villagers?" I suggested.

"I doubt you'll get anymore than some old legend. They are the most superstitious people I ever met. Good luck!" Cain threw the remark over his shoulder as he sauntered off.

I did not talk to the villagers, it was just an excuse to sent Cain off and I was glad none of them approached me. I wanted to be alone. This was Ash's birthplace, a place I heard so much about as a child sitting on her lap in the twilight. I had always wished that I could see Wutai through her eyes, which had a distant, faraway look, whenever she spoke of her hometown. Now, I glazed upon Wutai with my own eyes and it was as picturesque as she described. Dusk had arrived, the setting sun slowly withdrawing into the horizon, an eternal orb of fire. Glowing with defiance as it reluctantly relinquished its hold on day to the approaching night.

Closing my eyes, I tried to remember the way Ash had held me in her arms, the way she whispered her stories by my ears. I still felt her loss keenly, six years had not lessened the pain. I never told her now much she meant to me and now I would never had the chance. I could feel a dull throbbing ache emanating from the depths of my heart. I was grateful when Cain's shout dispersed my reverie, bringing me back to reality. As I headed to whatever accommodation Cain had managed to find, the sky was filled with stars that shone like tears amidst the vast darkness.

Night had fallen.

Chapter VII
Dachao Mountains

We set off at daybreak, not wanting to waste a single moment. Sunrise was as magnificent as sunset but I paid scant notice, there was a mission to accomplish. Our search started systematically from the base of the Dachao mountains, working our way up. All caves and caverns were searched meticulously, leaving no stone unturned as we scrutinised every area for possible tracks of our elusive killer. No guide dared to accompany us, a crudely drawn map was all we relied on. As we went higher up the mountains, the map lost all usefulness. The main trail branched out into smaller, narrower paths that snaked off in various directions, with the need to cover more ground, we split company. Five of us headed down a different path, with the order to holler if anything was discovered.

My chosen trail wound and twisted its way through the mountains like a serpent. I trudged on relentlessly, determined to find and stop this murderer. It was not out of a sense of duty, I owed nothing to the people of Wutai. I was intrigued by the skill, the level of mastery with a blade, this unseen opponent possessed. It had became personal, I wanted this challenge, being a perfect opportunity to test myself.

I was near the summit when I met Cain whose path had converged with mine. Together, we continued on until we reached a fork. I took the left trail while Cain went right. It was not long before my trail led me to a dead-end. I paused to relish the panoramic view granted by the altitude and the feel of the wind against my face. A cry, swiftly choked off, shattered my peaceful interlude. It was Cain and I knew with a grim premonition, he was dead. I adjusted my grip on Masamune as I hastened to meet his killer.

A black silhouette stood outlined by the setting sun, a personification of Death. Cain's bloody body lay a few feet away, fear and surprise frozen on his face. I approached warily, ready for any sudden moves. I studied my unknown adversary. Shrouded in a black cloak that flapped like the midnight wings of a raven in the wind, his face was concealed beneath the folds of a long scarf. I caught his eyes, dark blue eyes that were vacant, like a still, dark pool, revealing nothing. Without a word, he raised his sword. A gleaming, sable blade that I have not seen in six years.

"Chi Tsuki?! Impossible!" My mind reeled with the implications.

Chi Tsuki, her sword, Ash's sword. My eyes narrowed with suspicion and rage. I raised my own Masamune both in acknowledgement and warning. Who was he? How is he connected to Ash's disappearance? Why did he have her sword? The thoughts tumbled in my head. Before I could articulate them, my adversary made the first move.

Steel met steel with a resounding clash as two blades met. I disengaged first, spinning full circle to attack with a slash. He twisted, defecting Masamune and countered with a thrust. I caught the weapon with my sword, locking the blades hilt to hilt in a move that brought us face to face. His eyes were cold, emotionless, a visage of impassivity. I knew I had to control my anger and keep a cool head. Unbridled rage aid against lesser opponents but was folly when faced with one equally skilled. He heaved suddenly, throwing me back.

I went with the move, needing the distance to regain inner equilibrium. He attacked swiftly, his blade wailing a song of death. I met him with a sequence that was designed both to defend and attack. I was shocked when my opponent launched into a series of moves expressly conceived to break my sequence. He executed all the right manoeuvres foiling my offensive routine again and again but I matched him, deterring his attacks.

Under the brilliant moonlight, we fought on long into the night without either gaining any advantage. We moved like partners in a dance, a deadly fatal dance. Yet a familiar sense haunted me, a sense of dejavu. I could not shake the feeling that my opponent somehow knew me but committed to the battle, I focused all my concentration on defeating him. I sweep Masamune in a series of feints in an attempt to lure him into making a mistake. He countered them easily, slapping my blade aside. We withdrew and stood apart, regarding each other. I was starting to feel exhaustion. I knew that the next time we engage it will be the end.

I took a gamble and charged with Masamune in a thrust. I fully expect him to spin away out of my sword's path. My eyes widened with surprise as my blade met not the hard resistance of steel but the soft resistance of flesh. Masamune sank through his abdomen to the hilt. I drew my sword free with a sickening wrench. Blood still warm spattered upon my face as I looked up into my opponent's face and glanced into a pair of sapphire eyes I knew so well.

"Sep...hi...roth.." A voice, her voice. "Ash.... Ash," I touched her face, unable to believe my eyes.

"Sep..hiroth, I'm.. so ..glad ..it was.. you. I ...wanted to ...die. Now, I can ....leave..in peace."

"No! No! You must live now that I've found you. Come, I'll get you down, there will be help at the village."

"No..listen to me. There... is..no..time. I..have..so ..much to ..tell you but.. so little..time. In..that..cave..a journal...you must...read it." A cough wrecked her body, her blood vivid against her snow- white face, speckled her lips.

"Don't say anymore. You'll live, you promised me. Don't leave me again," I cried wretchedly; holding her lifeless hand to my lips.

"I've ..always....wanted to ..watch...the sunrise..here with you. Hold me closer...I'm..cold..so..cold."

I hugged her closer to me, her face against mine. Her breath was getting softer. Her eyes were brimming with love and unshed tears. I wiped them away with a gentle hand, kissing her cold brow. Ash reached out a hand, weakly cupping my face. She smiled and closed her eyes forever, her hand fell away limply. Clutching her lifeless body, I howled my anguish into the night.

A howl of grief which the mountains echoed on and on.

Epilogue
The Lifestream

She died by my hand, the only person I ever loved. I sat with her through the night, watching the sunrise together. It was her wish yet I was ashamed that I could only fulfil it after her death. I lay her to rest in the cave that had been her sanctuary, sealing it after retrieving her journal. From its entries, I pieced together a picture of what happened after she left me.

Ash accomplished her mission without a hitch and was going to return. However, she took a side trip to Nibelheim, a place she visited every year in remembrance of her friend Vincent, a Turk who went MIA on an escort mission ten years ago. It was not clear what happened in the Shinra mansion but it seemed that she discovered something and was wounded before she lost consciousness.

The entries became increasing confusing with full pages of illegible scrawls and gibberish. Ash was losing her mind, slipping from one lucid moment into insanity the next. In one of her saner moments she wrote that she was held at a scientific facility and some kind of experiment was performed on her. Who did it and why, she did not know. Her thoughts and memories were fragmenting. She escaped one day and came to Wutai guided by her instincts. She lived, losing her grip on reality day by day.

Her last entry written in her final lucid moment was directed to me. Ash had too many regrets, having led a life bound by another's rules. She wanted me to be free, to live as I will. She gave me choices and decisions she left to me. I remembered her speech to me nine years ago.

No regrets.

My destiny would be wrought by my own hands.

It was time for the Reunion to begin.

"Love, touched only once,
Joy, a fleeing chance.

Sorrow, a thorn clung fast,
Grief, an eternity to last.

Destiny, a quip of fate,
Life, abound with hate.

Fallen angel, broken dreams,
A lost soul amidst the Lifestream.

My tears fall, a gentle rain,
How I long to ease your pain.

Broken angel, haunt me still,
Always, shall I hear your will."


Personal thoughts / comments:

Chapter One:
I based this entirely on the game. Originally, the last part of the dialogue was supposed to start the whole story but it didn't make much sense so I included the whole Jenova scenario. My thanks to Kouryuu for feeding me information regarding the sequence of events. Wish I could kill Clod off!! He is a COWARD!! (Sorry but I can't stand the fact that he stab Seph in the back.)

Chapter Two:
My imagination rules here!! Basically, it happens all inside Sephiroth's sub-consciousness, in his mind.

Chapter Three:
An introduction to the character created especially for this fanfic. This chapter serves to give Ash more depth.

Chapter Four:
More background to Ash and facilitates the meeting between Ash and Sephiroth. It also conveniently ties up the relationship between Gast and Seph.

Chapter Five:
Back to Seph's mind. December 25th, Christmas as you all know is the day Jesus was born. Sephiroth wanted to be a god (see the connection?) and since no one knows when his birthday is, I took the liberty to choose one. I had a little problem figuring out the time frame. Again, thanks go to Kouryuu's time line which aided me tremendously. About the bit with Hojo (me no like him!!), the irony is that even before Sephiroth's birth, Hojo had already subjected him to his experiments. So sad, makes me want to cry, thinking about it.

Chapter Six:
A prelude to Chapter Seven, setting the place for the final confrontation between Ash and Seph.

Chapter Seven:
This is the longest chapter. I had trouble with the fighting part. Hmmm, really reminds me of some RG Veda scenes. The ending was inevitable. As much as it pains me, I have to kill off Ash. It would be great if she can just go to sleep like Vincent but that'll screw up the ending. I mean if Ash was there all the time for Sephiroth, he wouldn't turn out the way he did, would he?

Epilogue:
Some people may be confused regarding what really happened to Ash. It goes like this: Ash loved Vincent secretly, she never told him but treated him as a friend because she knew how he felt towards Lucrecia. She tried to find him after he went MIA but was deterred by Shinra red-tape ( cover up operations, again). She goes to Nibelheim in remembrance of Vincent ( she wouldn't be there if Vincent didn't mean a lot to her), discovered the library and found out the truth about Jenova and Hojo's Reunion Theory. Ash was trying to free Vince ( remember that safe?) when she was ambushed by Hojo. Hojo kept an eye on her because of her relationship with Seph and the fact that she had tried to probe into Seph's background and Vince's disappearance. He decided that she knew too much so in gruesome parody to the man she loves, Hojo tampered with her mind instead. For three years, she was kept in a facility for Hojo to use for his experiments. Ash escaped but by that time, her mind was already damaged, memories disintegrating. Huh, I wanted to put this whole thing into the main story but it wouldn't work. If Sephiroth knew Hojo was the one who hurt Ash, you think Hojo'll still be alive?

Finally,

Last but not least, my most sincere thanks goes to Kouryuu and Bishonen no Miko who helped me greatly by both reading this whole thing first and giving their comments and suggestions. You people are FANTASTIC!!!!

Any comments and suggestions are welcomed!

Please mail me at calisc@hotmail.com

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