Characters, things, events, and places in this story are based on Squaresoft's Final Fantasy VII. Sue me.
DISCLAIMER: Some semi-graphically described scenes of human explosion in the story. It is, at worst, PG-13. Read at your own discretion.
Author's note: This is the final installment in my Jenova Trilogy. Hence, it is strongly recommended to the reader that he/she read the previous two installments - "Cid Gainsborough" is #1, "Friends" is #2 - before continuing on to this story. Do send me feedback on how you liked my trilogy at Sonic90127@aol.com.
Joe Bergman paced about outside the rather large - at least, the largest he had ever seen - hospital. He looked up at it. Its thatched roof was surely magnificent, and it was only one of a few buildings he had ever come across that had sheets of metal AND metal rods combined with its wooden walls. It was surely a triumph of technology amidst the all-too familiar forest background.
A nurse opened the door and said, "Mr. Bergman, your wife is demanding your presence." He nodded excitedly and rushed over to the operating/treatment/delivery room. Cold, wet cloths were being put on his wife Polly's forehead as she lay on the oak slab. Several doctors and nurses were comforting her and helping her breathe as one elder doctor tinkered with a very rusty machine, sporting a cracked screen and none of what must have been its original support; it was being held up by another wood platform.
"Wow! Is that...." Joe inquired. The elder doctor pointed to the wires leading to Polly's chest and said, "Yes. It's a machine. It measures her heartbeat. Now, Mr. Bergman, may I suggest a focusing of your attentions?" Joe quickly turned to his pained wife and knelt by her side and began to give her support with the others.
A nurse, having put Polly in the correct position, said, "Okay, we're going to start the final push here. Ready, Mrs. Bergman?" She got a strange form of nod and counted down, "3....2.....1....PUSH!"
Polly began to push as Joe laid his hand on her stomach, as if to aid in the birth. Suddenly, he felt his hand being pushed upward. By the stomach. He removed his hand quickly as the others in the room began to notice it as well. Polly began screaming in horrific bursts, as if the pain would increase with each growth of the abdomen. Everyone began backing away from her in fear, but Joe started towards her slowly.
Joe muttered, "This....is not possible."
Polly looked up at her husband in utter fear and horror. Joe said nothing more, but stroked her hair, then kissed her.
At that point, the swelling stomach, now four times as bulgy as it previously was, popped. Polly's remains and Joe were violently thrown to the back of the hut, where Joe hit a sheet of metal and broke his skullcap. Others were impaled by shrapnel that were previously bones from Polly. The room was full of death.
With the exception, however, of one new life. A young man, at 21, stood there in a purple uniform that emblazoned SOLDIER on its shoulder. He was thin but moderately muscular with blue eyes and a spiky blond hairdo. It was Cloud Strife.
He looked down at his stomach. Coming out of his uniform was the remnants of an umbilical cord. He pulled it out without saying a word and began walking out of the thatched hospital, towards the forest. One lucky nurse, who had hidden herself behind the now-totaled heartrate machine, ran up behind him and said, "Wait!! Who are you?! What have you done?!?"
Cloud, without looking back, chanted, "I must go......I have someone to see......"
Later that day...
A small leaf fell down to the stoop of the general food store near the New Kalm entrance as the shopkeep walked out to sweep it off. Autumn was just beginning and he knew that the days would be getting colder and shorter. In other words, his slump period, as no fruits were in proper season; he had to grow them all himself, with the help of his family.
As he swept, a figure approached from his left. Catching a glimpse from the side of his eye, he turned to see Rebecca coming towards him, wearing her best - and most flattering - house dress. She smiled as he caught notice of her, prompting him to smile back. "Well, well, if it isn't my favorite customer!"
"It probably isn't. No reason I should be anyone's favorite customer," she playfully responded, beginning to look over the peaches in the large fruit display outside the hut.
"Nonsense, Becca, my dear," he said as he put his broom aside. "No one frequents my business place more often than you or Adrian. How is he?"
She felt at a specific peach. "Oh, the ol' windbag's doing fine. He's currently prepping up a piece of machinery he found in the nearby ruins. He's just a little hungry, that's all. And the icebox is pretty empty."
The shopkeep beamed in his friendly manner, hiding the fact that his eyes had diverted down to her chest. Yeah, she was married, he thought, but damn...what a body. If he were only ten years younger, adultery on both their parts wouldn't even have registered in his mind before going for her.
She took three peaches and said, "If you could add the prices on this up for me, that'll be all." He took the fruit and went back inside the hut. Rebecca turned towards the entrance to the town and looked up at the surrounding forest area. "All this beauty," she muttered. "I wonder when it will finally go to waste....he's got to show himself sometime..." Lowering her gaze to the entranceway itself, she caught sight of something in the distance. Squinting a little, she looked at the approaching figure. The highly familiar approaching figure. "My, my, my...how interesting..."
At that second, a sharp pain occurred in her neck, causing her to almost bang into the fruit display. Recovering quickly, but still holding her neck, she muttered, "Oh, bloody hell." The shopkeep came back out with the fruit saying, "That's going to be 3 silvers, Becca."
Rebecca looked back at the entrance. The figure was gone. Turning back, she said while removing the rocks, "Oh, of course. Here you go. See you later!" She headed off back towards her abode, preparing to reveal some major news to her "partner"...
Adrian gave a quick blow over the equipment he was using. It was an old gas can, which he had configured into a blow torch after about 3 months of work. After it began releasing gas properly, he ignited the stream and resumed his work on the other piece of equipment in front of him: a lie detector. Clearly a relic from a Bisgaard police station, the lie detector was a big surprise for Adrian to find, and also quite a welcome one. Now he'd be able to keep some real tabs on Rebecca.
A small knock came from the front door, followed by Rebecca calling out, "You called, honey? I'm home."
"Oh, please, 'Becca'. You wouldn't have the personable skills to acquire a 'honey' if you were Sephiroth and every girl you met was chanting Reunion," Adrian scoffed. "Now c'mere. I've got something to test on you."
She sashayed into the room and placed the three peaches down on the table beside them. Sitting down and crossing her legs, she watched Adrian make the final adjustments on his machine. He ran his hand through his grayed hair, then he took two wires with suction cups on each end and headed over to Rebecca. "Okay, I'm going to need to put one of these on your back and one right over your heart."
"Getting personal, hmm?" she smugly inquired.
"Hey, everybody else thinks we're married. Now show me some skin." Adrian helped unzip her back area and put one cup there, then reached down the front of her dress and put one on her left breast. Sitting down again, he said, "Okay, for a test question.....I obviously can't use something like 'What's your name?'...I need something with one answer. Okay, what are you sitting in?"
"A chair," she curtly responded. The lie detector noted the statement as true.
Adrian smiled. "Good. It works. Alright then, let's use this thing for what it's really for. Did something happen while you were out?"
"No." The lie detector went off.
Adrian glared at Rebecca. "Well, well, well. Do you know something I don't know?"
Rebecca grinned evilly. "Oh, nobody knows more than you." The lie detector went off again.
"Alright, spill it." Adrian sat back and waited for the truth.
Rebecca reached into the parts of her dress and removed the suction cups. After that, she switched the crossing of her legs and said, "Very well. I saw someone today."
Adrian furrowed his brow. "That can't be all there is to it."
"Someone we know. From a long time ago."
Adrian's eyes widened. "That's more like it. Who? Is it Cloud?"
"Nope." Rebecca toyed with her nails.
"It's not Sephiroth, is it? You want the lie detector again?"
Rebecca swung the suction cup wire playfully. "Oh, why not? I think you like it. Gives you a reason to get under my clothes."
Adrian snarled. "You wish you had a way to get under your own clothes."
Rebecca put the wire down. "Fine. You want to know who I saw? Might be a surprise."
"Aeris. You saw Aeris," said a fatigued voice from the front door. Both of them turned to see Aeris at the door. She looked virtually identical to the original Aeris of over 1500 years ago, but there were some subtle differences in face and body shape. However, the hair, eyes, skin tone, and so forth were exactly the same. She wore an outfit very similar to the one of so long ago, but it looked like a good effort by someone trying to recreate an outfit without actually having the real articles of clothing. And, with all, she brandished a metal battle rod.
The other thing about her was the fact that her standing was more like slumping, hunched in the doorway. She wasn't wounded; she was extremely tired, as if she'd been travelling at top speed for some time. After weakly smiling, she dropped down to the floor and laid there, face down.
"What the~!" Adrian cried out, rushing out of his chair over to their visitor. Rebecca sat back and smiled. "Told you it'd be a surprise."
Adrian poured the hot water into the mug and set the homemade tea bag in it. "Alright now, be careful; it's hot." He walked the cup over to Aeris, who was sitting at the dining table with a peach, which she was proceeding to devour in as few bites as possible.
"Thanks, Bugen," she said as she took the cup and started repeatedly dunking the bag.
Adrian sat down and massaged his creased face. "Wow. I mean....wow. How did you...come back?"
Aeris chuckled. "C'mon, Bugen. Are you trying to tell me you haven't noticed for the last couple of times?" Upon Adrian's blank stare, she pit the peach down. "I've 'been back' every time Cloud has reincarnated. As.....what were those names again.....oh yeah! Amanda and Amy."
Adrian sat back in his chair. "That is absolutely mind-boggling. How?"
"I'm not completely sure why I'm able to do what I've done," Aeris replied. "But what I know is that, after my original death, I've been semi-sentinent while in the Lifestream. I've acted upon this truth about three times previously. First was about 1500 years ago, when the White Materia failed to work."
"You mean," Adrian offered, "when the Lifestream itself rose out of the Planet and stopped Meteor."
Aeris nodded. "Right. The other two times have been Amanda and Amy. I suppose that, now that you know they were me, you're wondering why the math on when I would be born is off."
Adrian gave a small laugh. "Yeah."
"I was able to manipulate the Lifestream to allow me to be born at the right times, so I'd be the right age when Cloud was the right age. I wasn't 84 when Cid arrived in Rocket City, but I wasn't 2, either. And I birthed myself just a couple of months after David was born, which was premature to my proper time. And each time, my own sentinence would not come back; my sentinence wasn't even that much in control of the birthing. It seemed more like instinct."
Adrian listened more intently as Aeris continued, "Each time, I myself would not come back, but almost everything about me would. This time, I once again was birthed on what seems like instinct, and my name was Amber. Maybe I just look like an 'A' name. So I grew to - I'm guessing here, and I'll tell you why - about 21ish when I must have come to the restored Temple of the Ancients. I eventually came upon a place where the Lifestream was leaking into the Temple, and I must have made contact with it; my original sentinence - me - came out of the Lifestream and into this body. I didn't know where or who I was until I looked at the tag on her clothes with her name. I had some shiny rocks, which I'm guessing is the new currency because I bought food and these clothes with them, and made my way here."
After a pause, Adrian asked, "How'd you know to come here?"
"I've been watching you, Bugen. You and Cloud are the only people I've been able to keep track of."
Adrian, utterly flabbergasted, got up and slowly walked over to the two remaining peaches. Grabbing one and taking a bite, he chewed slowly, as if he were trying to savor both the taste of the fruit and the revelations he just heard. He walked back and sat again, saying, "I......really don't know what to say."
Aeris sipped her tea. "Well, let me give you a hint. What is with the world? Things seem to be of less technology than what existed 1500 years ago! That defies most forms of common sense, you know. And, along with that, you're married? This could require quite an explanation."
On that, Adrian looked over to the closed door of Rebecca's room, where he knew she was changing clothes. Looking back, he said, "That's almost as good a story as yours. But here goes. What must have happened in the past 500 years since David's time was a nuclear war of some sort. We suspect it happened 300 years ago. The irony is in all of our efforts to save the Planet and its people from Sephiroth......that the people ended up almost destroying the Planet anyway.
"So the Planet reverted back to its original state in a mass effort to heal itself. That's why there is so much forestry around. The survivors of the nuclear war were the ones who were against it; everyone who warred died. These people weren't very pro-technology, so they raised their children to be more naturalistic. Even with that, you can see that humans are connected to machinery, as buildings as using more and more metal in their walls. This town doesn't have that much, but there is the ruin of Bisgaard nearby."
"I heard about that. You're an archaeologist?" Aeris inquired.
"Read that on my plaque on the door, huh? Yeah, it was the natural thing for me to become, since I wanted to know what happened to the Planet, and we always need tools for the battle, whenever that may be."
"Why 'whenever that may be'?"
Adrian shook his head. "Well, you can guess by looking at my face. I'm 55, and neither Cloud nor Sephiroth have come back. And I don't know when they will. The Planet cannot tell me; since its start to heal itself, I have been unable to communicate with the Planet. I'm flying blind into this one."
Aeris gasped. "That *is* a problem." She thought about that for a bit, then said, "What about Rebecca? She knew me. If she's not Cloud or Sephiroth, who is she?"
Adrian chuckled. "I don't know if you'll be calling 'Rebecca' a girl for long. That's Hojo."
Aeris' jaw dropped. "She's HOJO?! You're living with Hojo?!?"
"It's kind of a funny story, and if it didn't involve an evil scientist who caused this whole mess, I'd probably tell it like an anecdote. When I was 35, I got an archaeology job from a rich guy who wanted his newly-bought property searched for relics or fossils. He hired me and a biochemical expert - Rebecca. I was rather infatuated with her, and I even took her on a couple of dates. I....well....we spent a couple of nights together as well."
Aeris' jaw remained down while Adrian went on, "One night, when she was asleep, I looked through her notes to see if she'd gotten any info I'd missed, and I found her personal journal. Filled with Hojo-type ravings. Realizing she was Hojo, I pretended not to know for the next two days, while we played lovers. When she was asleep, I gassed her and surgically implanted an interesting little gizmo in her neck."
"What was it?" asked Aeris. Adrian grinned. "Well, it's from about 350 years ago, when the world was rather high-tech. It's a leash-less dog leash, where you put a pain-inducer in the pet, or person, and the trigger in the master." He held up his left hand, which had a small button imbedded in the palm. "It runs on body heat, so it'll never run out of juice. It activates either when I press the button or when she strays too far. So, with this in her, I revealed myself and my knowledge of her, and I keep her as my prisoner. It's my way of keeping at least one force of evil from acting. We married to make an excuse for our living together."
Aeris chugged the last of the tea. "That's just plain wild, Bugen. But definitely a good idea. Can't let Hojo loose. But why is she so young? Isn't she also supposed to be 55?"
"That I don't know. She looked 27ish when I met her, and now she seems to be in her early 30s. That's the one mystery."
Aeris licked her peach pit. "Probably won't be the last."
In Gamortio, the capital of the United Towns, the mayor of the loose-power government overlooked his magnificent view from his third-story office. It was recently built, so it smelled ever so slightly of new paint. He looked down upon the general store, the Chocobo Post, the hospital, and various residences.
It's good to be in charge, he mused.
A knock on his door prompted him to stop playing with the straw that hung down from his roof and walk over. Upon opening the door, the mayor found an office worker standing beside a rather perturbed-looking nurse.
"Excuse me, Your Honor, but this woman has just arrived from Junonville. There seems to have been an unsettling accident at the hospital where she works," the office worker said. The nurse sniffed; she'd been crying.
The mayor replied, "Please excuse us. I'll handle this." The worker nodded and walked away while the mayor led the nurse into his office. They both took a seat - him at his desk, her at the chair in front of the desk - and settled before any words were spoken.
"So....tell me...what happened? Well, start with your name, if you could."
The nurse slowly nodded. "My name is Marion, and I....we......a woman named Mrs. Bergman was giving birth today....." She started to tear up again. The mayor handed her his kerchief.
She smiled at the gesture and breathed in deep. "This woman was in the middle of her labor, and as the contractions were getting more violent, her whole stomach began to expand to a humongous size...and then it......"
She paused. "Boom?" the mayor offered. Marion nodded weakly once more. He added, "Spare me the gory details, please. Anything else happen?"
"When I opened my eyes again, nobody else was left alive. But there was this one young man who wasn't even there before. I think.....he's what came from Mrs. Bergman's uterus. He wouldn't even talk to me, but he muttered something to himself and walked off."
She took the hand-made map on his desk and examined it for a minute. "If we were here, then..." She motioned along the map in one direction.
The mayor took the map and traced his line of sight along the direction Marion pointed out. He adjusted his grip on the map to point to the town the young man would be heading with his thumb. "It seems he'd be heading to ~"
He was interrupted by a woman screaming extremely loudly. This was muffled by the brand-new "glass" on his windows, but it was enough to make the both of them come to the window.
Marion wished she hadn't. Various pieces of a person were visible on the ground outside. Just like before. She screamed as well and flew from the room. The mayor watched in stunned silence as a tall man with silvery hair walked out of the hospital. The man had no shirt on, but he at least sported black pants. He looked around and yelled, getting louder as the scream came to a close, "Clou-------d!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
The mayor's thumb hadn't moved, still pointing at New Kalm.
Aeris and Rebecca sat down to Adrian's dinner, while Adrian continued cleaning up in the kitchen. They started eating silently, not particularly acknowledging the other's existence.
Aeris gave herself a chance to look Rebecca over. She was now wearing a tank top and short shorts. Aeris chuckled to herself - she'd always pinned Hojo as the ultimate closet pervert. What would occur if you gave a shameless male pervert a beautiful female form that didn't seem to deteriorate?
Rebecca broke the ice. "I must say, and this isn't even scientific, that your efforts to recreate your original outfit are impressive. I wouldn't have thought that similar garments would exist over 1500 years later than when the original look was in vogue."
Aeris smiled a social smile. "Thank you." Adrian gave a barely audible laugh to the exchange.
Rebecca, catching wind of that, said, "Not like Bugenhagen here. He's always been to fashion what Heidegger was to the bathtub." Adrian grimaced and set his own plate down between the two girls, eating a potato off of Rebecca's plate as he landed.
Aeris was only there for two hours and she'd already determined that she was sitting in the thick of an "odd couple" story. She'd resolved to sit back and watch it happen.
After a while, Aeris had polished off her plate while Adrian and Rebecca were still making it clear how false their marriage was. Ignoring them, she went to the window to see the sunset, or as much of it one could see from inside.
She saw a spiky-haired blond guy in purple.
"CLOUD!" she gasped. Rebecca and Adrian both looked up at the yelp and came to the window, with Adrian moving decidedly faster. Both Adrian and Aeris ran outside, Rebecca tailing them.
Cloud, looking around, didn't see Aeris until she came right up and hugged him. She sniffed. "Ohmigod, Cloud! I...I've missed you so much!"
Cloud broke off from the hug and immediately drew her into a long kiss.
Adrian and Rebecca stopped dead in their tracks. "Whoa..." Rebecca uttered. Adrian scratched his head. "Well, I.....suppose.....that's to be expected..."
Cloud kept kissing Aeris. In fact, he didn't stop until Aeris herself broke off and said, "I take that to mean you missed me, too." Cloud paused for one second, then went right back into kissing her. This time, Aeris really didn't expect it and tried to say, "Cloud! Stop now!" Her message was garbled by the pair of lips on her.
Adrian, sensing something to be wrong, walked up to Cloud and examined him. Rebecca walked up and said, "What?" Adrian mused, "He's in his classic SOLDIER uniform. He looks to be exactly 21. For some reason, he seems to be the same Cloud that bested Sephiroth. Originally."
Rebecca furrowed her brow. "That's strange." "No kidding it's strange," Adrian reposted. "He's supposed to come back in some other form." Adrian then saw that there was a small bump in one of Cloud's pockets. He reached in and pulled out an apple with a couple of bites in it.
Cloud, spying the apple, went "Ooooh!" and grabbed it out of Adrian's hand, eating it at a pleasurely rate.
Aeris gasped for breath. "He's quite a kisser. Just needs brake pads."
Rebecca looked back at the shopkeep she'd bought the peaches from earlier. He was standing over a mess made out of the apple cart, with bitten apples everywhere. He looked confused, but then started to clean up anyway.
She grinned. She knew what was going on with Cloud. Rebecca patted Adrian on the head and said, "I figured it out. The reason Cloud looks the way he does is because this is his ideal form. The form he had when he knew Aeris and fought Sephiroth."
Adrian was puzzled. "But why his ideal form?" Rebecca adjusted her chest in an act of condescension and licked her lips. Adrian was not fazed in any way. "Talk, Hojo."
"I'm just revelling in the fact that your Planet Life Science obviously wasn't enough. You see, Bugen, I studied more than experimental science; I studied psychology. What it seems to me is that Cloud here is not the complete Cloud. This is a physical manifestation of Cloud's id. His wants, desires, et cetera. That's why he's in his ideal form; as a piece of the mind, the id would take the most favorable guise of the self when manifested. And, by the way, the name is Rebecca, honey." She threw her hair back and smiled seductively.
Adrian looked askance at her. "What; you want a victory kiss? Dream on."
Aeris, still a little thrown from the kiss, said, "That's remarkably weird. In fact, now that I've noticed it, I see a pattern here. First Hojo doesn't age properly, and now Cloud only comes back as his id or whatever. You think this might have anything to do with Jenova?"
Adrian shifted his gaze to Cloud, still eating the apple, as he reflected on that prospect. "That could conceivably be it. While Hojo here may have been the moron who set things up for Jenova, it's Jenova herself who's really the evil here. Especially with the Planet distracted with its own healing, Jenova could be planning on some sort of final move."
Adrian and Aeris pondered the implications of that; Rebecca had gone off to flirt with the shopkeep. After a bit, Aeris said, "So what do we do?"
Adrian responded, "There is more to this than we thought." After another pause, he snapped his fingers as a light bulb went off in his head. "Of course! There was one place that was never touched by the nuclear bombs that would also give us access to information within the Planet! Aeris, in fact, it's good you're here; you're probably the only one who can understand it."
Aeris, getting the idea, said, "Are you referring to the City of the Ancients on the northern continent?" Adrian nodded. "Aeris, do you remember why you went there 1500 years ago?"
Aeris rubbed her chin. "To be perfectly honest, there's a hole in my memory about that. I think I was actually being used by the Planet when I went there, so that I would activate the White Materia. I truly don't recall ever having a conscious decision to go there, or my trip to there. All I remember is kneeling in some strange place, having my eyes closed, praying that the White Materia would wake and stop Sephiroth. Then I opened my eyes to look at Cloud, and nothing."
"Your death," Adrian observed. "Your first, anyway. Let's go there and determine what exactly is going on. I have the sinking feeling that something much bigger than what we originally thought was the problem is occuring." He almost started to go get Rebecca when Aeris stopped him.
"How are we going to get there, anyway? I don't think the Highwind is still around." Adrian smiled. "The main mode of transportation is Chocobo nowadays. You know, nice and anti-technological. I have a flock of Gold Chocobos that I use to transport supplies and so forth. We can get anywhere we want to go with them; their speed will take us straight across the water."
Aeris nodded and headed back to the house to get her stuff. Adrian took Cloud's arm and walked with him to get Rebecca.
Sephiroth stood in the middle of the forest, silent as a hawk watching prey. He was looking down at what was seemingly nothing but the ground, but he still gazed upon it with his trademark intensity.
Suddenly, he thrust his arm into the ground below him; it was rock. Actually, it was not rock. Sephiroth had come upon a hidden deposit of steel, which had been sleeping there ever since the nuclear wars. Sephiroth, arm still within the steel, concentrated for a second, then launched himself off of the ground, pulling the the large steel boulder with him. Landing, he accumulated the power within himself - he had stopped needing Materia quite some time ago, excepting the Black variety - and thrust it out of his other arm, melting away most of the steel. He measured his movements very carefully. By the time he was done, he had made for himself an almost perfect copy of the Masamune. Its handle was no longer a comfortable plastic, but now a hard steel; still, it would function well enough.
As he held it up against the sky, a glimmer of sunlight hit the reflective blade and shined into his eyes. It reminded him of his last memory. He started muttering, almost trance-like, "He was surrounded by shiny light. The scrawny little punk was surrounded by an array of light. I was helpless as he started slashing. Over and over and over and over and over......and I bled. *I* bled........and I was dead. And then, for some reason, I was alive..." The muttering trailed off as he lowered his arm, but his lips still moved like he was talking. Sephiroth muttered like a madman.
Suddenly, his ears pricked up, almost canine-like. He'd heard her. She was calling him.
His eyes started flaring in excitement. He hadn't failed her.
Pulling up his blade to the ready, he screamed, "I'm coming.....Mother!" And with that, he ran.
Latching up the Gold Chocobos to the nearest tree, Adrian looked out upon the former Bone Village. Various excavation site remnants were situated among the ground, all of them about a year old at the youngest. None of the original structures from 1500 years ago remained, but the place still smelled of archaeology. For good reason, too, as Adrian well knew.
Aeris, Rebecca, and Cloud, who was following Aeris very closely, came up to Adrian. "So, what's the story here, Bugen?" Aeris inquired.
"Well, this place had continued to be an excavation landmark all the way up to the war, when it was destroyed, but only by firebombs. That's why this is a safe place to be, while much of the eastern shore of the western continent is sheer fallout. The real nuclear action took place there. Anyway, this is where most archaeology, like what I've been doing, starts. All us budding archaeologists needed were some shovels and some brushes and we were able to find enough proper equipment to properly work. Come on; we've got an old city to find again."
They walked through the remains of Bone Village. Cloud, walking with Aeris, suddenly said, "I like your hair....." Upon that, he started rubbing his head against her long strands.
Aeris, having now dealt with this type of stuff during the entire trip, smiled a little. She'd already deduced that an id doesn't lie; that means she had good hair.
The trees around them started to get thicker as they pressed on. The forest they were walking through got more imposing, but strangely not darker. In fact, there was a greenish glow to all the surrounding trunks.
Rebecca furrowed an eyebrow and started taking some notes in a small journal. Adrian, oblivious, said, "I think we're in the Sleeping Forest. 1500 years ago, Cloud needed the Lunar Harp to get through. I......somewhat doubt that we'll be able to find the Lunar Harp if it's already inside."
Suddenly, a movement down near the ground 10 yards away caught Cloud's eye. He came out from behind Aeris and squinted, glaring very sharply at one spot in his surroundings.
A stray Jumping hopped out from behind a tree trunk and looked straight at the group, crinkling his nose and wagging his whiskers.
"Bunny!" Cloud gasped. He left Aeris' side and started sprinting toward the object of his attention. Aeris shouted, "Whoa! Hold it!"
Before her words could take exact form, however, he ran what looked like a gelatin-like rift in the air and disappeared. Adrian almost shouted after him until, about two seconds later, he heard "Bunny!" again behind him. Adrian, Rebecca, and Aeris watched as Cloud kept shouting his mantra while teleporting from one spot to 50 feet back.
"Wow. Now there's a way to make a small forest go on forever," Aeris observed. Adrian afforded himself a small laugh at that and then scratched his chin. "Wait a minute. If that's what happens when one has no Lunar Harp, then how did you get through, Aeris?"
She tapped her head. "Hole in memory, remember?"
A moment passed.
"Oh, that does it," Aeris resigned. She started walking forward to the area where Cloud had been disappearing. Cloud ran by her as she walked, still chanting, "Bunny!" Adrian called out, "Wait a sec! Are you sure about that?"
Aeris looked back with a smirk. "I'm not afraid of teleporting backwards. Are you?" That shut Adrian up.
Stepping up to the area, the disturbances that Cloud had been making appeared and outlined what seemed like an opening big enough for one person to fit through easily. A female voice, somewhat monotone, was heard throughout the air, "You are cleared. Welcome, Aeris."
Aeris took a baby step back in surprise, but then she turned to Adrian and Rebecca and said, "Are you coming, or would you like to just wait for Sephiroth?" As Cloud started running toward the Jumping, which had remained in the same spot as if it was amused by Cloud's actions, Aeris stated loudly, "CLOUD." Cloud averted his eyes to Aeris, causing him to go right back to her hair. She giggled a bit.
Adrian smiled and walked over so he could walk through. Rebecca, however, stayed still. "Look, Bugen, I'm really not interested in your little Ancient games. I'll just go wait by the ~ erk!" She grabbed her neck as Adrian pushed the button on his palm. "No, you won't go wait by the 'erk' or anything else. And keep your journal out of my sight."
Standing close together, the four walked through the outlined area. Adrian pondered, "That was a security system. A Cetra security system." Aeris looked at him as he concluded, "We seriously need to get to the city."
The city loomed over the four travelers. Three paths extended out from the nucleus where they stood. The two side paths led to various little shell-shaped huts composed of rock, from which gentle green glows emitted out of any openings. The middle path - the most imposing - had its contents hidden behind an incredible matrix of leafless white trees, arranged in the shape of what almost seemed like a crater.
Rebecca chuckled. "I never thought I'd be here. The stronghold of the Cetra. Doubtful I would left it standing, had I come here in my prime." Adrian snarled and hit his button for a quick second. "It would do you well to shut up for the remainder of our visit here, Hojo."
Aeris, staring at the trees, uttered, "I.....I think I know where to go. C'mon." With Cloud trailing, she started toward the trees.
Adrian and Rebecca caught up as they entered the thick, pearly forestry to see a white rock formation, spikes protruding and pieces going over each other, with a door sitting in the middle of the area. Aeris shuddered as she looked at the neighboring lagoon. "That is where I entered the Lifestream.....isn't it?" Adrian nodded. "I remember what Cloud originally told me about your death. That is where you were laid to rest."
Aeris kept her distance from the pool as she walked up to the smooth wall of the rock structure. Feeling it, she knelt down and started to dig by the base. Cloud, still with her, gave a confused look for just a moment and then joined her in the process. Adrian called out, "What are you doing?" Aeris looked back at him. "Look at this, Bugen. This thing is bigger than it looks; it's deeply buried in the dirt."
Adrian and Rebecca joined them at the side of the structure. She was right; the wall obviously went much further down. Rebecca muttered, "Odd..." She jotted down something in her journal and hid it quickly.
The four quietly went into the structure through the opening, finding a spiral construction. However, there was an opening in the middle where a crystalline staircase led downward. Cloud, coming upon the stairs, dropped to his knees and started rubbing the first step with his cheek, chanting, "Smooth.........smooth........" Rebecca howled in laughter while Adrian remained adamant. Aeris smiled and said, "Cloud." He popped up and went back to her side.
They started down the staircase, descending into a radiant city, buffered by crystalline walls. As they got closer, Aeris gasped at the sight of the altar where she died. Adrian, squinting, noticed there was still a stain where Aeris lost her life fluids. He decided not to mention it.
As they stepped off the staircase, they found themselves in the middle of a few buildings; the city was not very large. Rebecca, still giggling a bit, said, "What next, oh Planet Life guru?" Adrian, ignoring the sarcasm, replied, "I'm not sure. I don't know where to go for.....anything, really."
Suddenly, three figures rose up out of the floor in front of them. It was the three sisters of the Temple - Jemnezmy, Snow, and Pollensalta. Pollensalta said, "Welcome to the city, Bugenhagen. I see you have come to finalize the deeds."
"I don't understand," Adrian answered. "What do you mean, 'finalize'?"
Pollensalta looked back at her sisters, who nodded. Turning back, she explained, "My sisters and I are.....were the leaders of our people. We are the shadows of three whole Spirit Energies that never became a part of any planet, as we died in the escape."
"Escape from what?" Aeris asked.
"From what resides in those two," Pollensalta replied, pointing at Cloud and Rebecca. "What we called in our language 'Jenova'. In truth, Jenova has no name." Snow and Jemnezmy floated a little and joined, swirling into an image that would change to show whatever Pollensalta would talk of. Pollensalta began to tell their tale.
"We suspect it began on a planet from which its dominant creatures were able to detach and travel through space to other planets. What these creatures would do is land on a planet, spawn, and suck all of the energy out of the planet. They would then destroy the planet, and all of the grown creatures would detach and spread out to more planets. These creatures are the universe's virus. Death never affects them too much, for their planet's Spirit Energy rules has these creatures able to retain all attributes from life to life.
"One such creature landed on our planet. Not the planet we are standing within right now, mind you. We are from another world. On our planet, we were of an advanced culture that remained organic in base and constantly in contact with the planet itself; our Spirit Energy rules allow us to communicate with the planet and do as we will with any Lifestream we are in. Anyway, the creature was more than effective in its goal with our planet. Our planet had fallen, and a spaceship of an obviously organic nature was created to allow as many of our people to escape. It was in the escape, which occured while the destruction occured, where we, the leaders, died. We landed here, our ship's crash creating the display of trees - due to the organic structure. Our survivors met the dominant creatures of this planet - humans - and found that they were compatible enough to breed and thus perpetuate, while diluted, our race."
Aeris swallowed hard. "So, I'm a partial Cetra. That would be why I only barely hear the Planet and have no sentinent control of the Lifestream."
"Correct," Pollensalta replied. "However, we were not the only visitors. Much later, the exact same creature who destroyed our planet happened to land here - the crisis from the sky, or rather, Jenova. Naturally, our people were uninterested in allowing the vile demon to let the same results occur with this planet, so our leader at that time took it upon herself to destroy Jenova right then and there." The image shifted to show a young woman who looked very similar to Aeris. Pollensalta saw her audience's reaction to the similarities and said, "Yes, Aeris, you are descended from her. Unfortunately, she did not survive the encounter; neither did Jenova. Death, however, means little to our people or to Jenova, except that this Planet is full of holes. Many places for the Spirit Energy to leak out exist, and we found during our time here that our energies made Materia. Thus is Materia limited in number; it comes from Cetra, not just anyone.
"After the battle, we devised a plan to stop Jenova from coming back. Since the pure Cetra, of which many still were alive but old, could direct the Lifestream in any manner they desired, they directed Jenova's energy to a leak and created the Black Materia, which they then expanded into the Temple. We, the sisters, then went from helping the Cetra to guarding the Temple. Along with that, they created a failsafe that was supposed to protect the Planet should the Black Materia fall into the wrong hands - they guided their former leader's Spirit Energy into a leak, creating the White Materia. However, they were unable to catch all of Jenova's energy in the leak, and some still managed to be reborn as Jenova; the rebirth was much smaller and weaker. This was after many Cetra gave their lives to try and help the Planet heal the spot where Jenova originally landed, and the company known as Shinra existed; they found the weak evil and gave it to that fool." Pollensalta pointed to Rebecca as the image behind her shifted to a picture of Hojo's original form.
Rebecca's self-important smirk remained unwavering.
Adrian said, "And that brings us back up to 1500 years ago."
"Correct, Bugenhagen. Jenova gains Spirit strength by just existing, and so it was still relatively weak when Hojo started cutting it up and inserting parts of it into other people. Jenova, we think, revised its plan; instead of spawning - which we never gave it the chance to do - it decided that its spawn would be the very inhabitants of the Planet who sported its cells. This is why Jenova desired control of the 'Sephiroth-clones' and took Sephiroth, easily its most powerful semi-spawn, on as a son. Now that the Planet is defenseless, healing itself after the nuclear war, Jenova allowed itself to come out of the Lifestream, where it had been residing for over 1500 years for this moment. The oddities of Hojo's aging process and Cloud's partial personality are due to the fact that Jenova is now taking action, making the Jenova within them active; their strange rebirths are an example of the altering abilities of Jenova."
A small, silent moment passed before they knew that Pollensalta was done. Snow and Jemnezmy came down into their individual forms. Aeris had taken a seat during the monologue, Cloud obviously beside her. Rebecca was scribbling furiously in her journal, which Adrian was oblivious of. His jaw was too busy being open.
Adrian finally worked up the verve to say, "That....is incredible." He thought a little and asked, "Has Sephiroth come back, then?"
Snow and Jemnezmy sighe and reverted back into image form, showing where Sephiroth was headed. Pollensalta nodded. "His birth was similar to Cloud's in that both were born as full-grown adults. Sephiroth's return, however, is more complete; he is, in fact, an exact reincarnation of the same sentinence that died over 1500 years ago."
"And Jenova's returned?" Adrian scoffed. "Well, then we know who he's going to see right now. Then it's our job to go and eliminate both of them."
"That can't be right," Aeris said, finally standing and making herself known. "If we killed them, wouldn't we just be making a small delay? Isn't that just plain pointless?"
Adrian and Aeris looked at each other - Aeris waiting for an answer, Adrian waiting for one to come to him.
Then a voice came from off to the side. Rebecca. "Finally. Somebody said it. It's no use, Bugen. You can't stop Jenova, and you can never stop my son."
"He's hardly your son," Adrian muttered low.
"Doesn't matter," Rebecca quickly rebutted. "Ultimately, as Aeris so perfectly stated, you are just delaying the inevitable.
Pollensalta's eyes flashed. "It is NOT inevitable. There is a way to stop Jenova."
Rebecca sneered. "One word, three letters: How?"
"Remove it from the Planet."
Everybody said, not in unison, "What?" Pollensalta continued, "The most simple solution is to flat out exile Jenova from the boundaries of the Planet altogether. The futuristic world that existed before this time created many rockets for their space exploration goals, located obviously on the western continent's western shore - Rocket City. There is fallout there, but we have several mastered Cure, Heal, and Life materias for you to use; used in conjunction, they should both protect you from the fallout and heal the area of the fallout itself. You can take one of those rockets and literally blow Jenova and Sephiroth off of the Planet."
Adrian stood there dumfounded, but after a few seconds, his open jaw turned into a smile. "We could end the problem for good." Then his smile faded into a frown. "Sephiroth moves fast - especially the real Sephiroth. If he reunites with Jenova, they will not linger long before bringing their brand of destruction to the Planet. We need to stop them. Now."
"And what then?" Aeris added. Adrian furrowed his brow. Aeris clarified, "I mean it - what then? Do you think you could honestly just knock both Jenova and Sephiroth out and drag them to Rocket City without a problem? The fact is that we need to both stop Jenova and Sephiroth now AND have the rocket ready when we beat them. We need to split up."
Suddenly, Cloud surprised everyone - he made a full statement. "I wanna go with Aeris." Aeris turned to him and pecked him on the cheek. He tried to go in for a larger kiss, but she held up her finger in disapproval. Aeris, turning back to Adrian, said, "Then it's decided. I'll go with Cloud to take care of Sephiroth and Jenova. You and Hojo can go get the rocket; be sure to brng it to where that image is showing us."
Pollensalta motioned for Snow and Jemnezmy, who came once again into regular form and brought two shadows out of the ground into pieces of reality. "If you are going to fight Sephiroth, I suggest you take these." Snow handed Aeris a mastered Gravity materia, while Jemnezmy handed Cloud the Ultima Weapon. Pollensalta smiled - the first time they'd ever seen her do that. "Go save us."
"That was a long talk, wasn't it?" Rebecca non sequitered as she and Adrian rode their Gold Chocobos across the ocean surface, leading the whole pack of Chocobos behind them except one - the one carrying Aeris and Cloud in a different direction.
Adrian coughed emphatically. "You're a remarkable bastard, you know that?"
"Nuh-uh. A remarkable bitch. Get it right."
"You're as much a real woman as you are a lounge singer," Adrian seethed. He'd been listening to Rebecca take verbal stabs at the Cetra for the entire trip. He knew that it was simply Hojo's last effort to make any kind of effect on him, since she had the leash in her neck, but it still irritated him to a large degree.
Rebecca grinned evilly. "You seemed to have thought I was a real woman those nights before you knew who I was." That comment got a neck pain for her from Adrian. She sat up again and said, "Don't you think it's about time you removed this thing?"
"I only wish I had an extra one to insert near your head."
"So hostile," Rebecca trailed off.
The speed of the Chocobos was not overestimated; they had already arrived on the continent. Adrian tossed a trio of Materias to Rebecca: Life, Cure, and Heal - a collection he was sporting for himself as well. He said, "Start using them all at the same time. We should be fallout-free."
They activated their Materia, causing a large green half-sphere to enclose them and the Chocobos. As they continued, their remains were clean and unnuclear soil behind them. They eventually reached Rocket City. Heading for the area that did not get effectively bombed, they found various rocket remains before reaching one that seemed to be in its entirety. The rocket floated on its transportable landing pad; this particular one was shorter and fatter than the other rockets, but it looked like it would accomodate Jenova easily.
Adrian went up to the platform, Materia still in use, and toyed with the buttons. After a few seconds, the controls lighted up. "Okay, there's still power."
"Didn't the floating kinda give that away?" Rebecca shot back.
Adrian pointed to several remains who still floated despite the destruction. "The floating is a byproduct of the mineral used to make the platform, doofus. Can't tell whether there's power until you see the controls light up." Adrian turned back to the controls and started working buttons. After a few minutes, Rebecca asked, "Now what are you doing?"
"I'm debugging the system so that we don't need passwords or whatever to work the stupid thing. Ah! There we go." Adrian stepped back and pressed a specific button confidently. The doors opened.
"Not bad, Bugen."
"Anything for the Planet. Get the Chocobos; we'll latch them on." Adrian started working on figuring out the release mechanism to allow it to transport away while Rebecca rode her bird back to the other work-bearing fowl. "Heh....I hope my son takes little time in disposing of the two fools headed his way. That way, he can come and take Bugen out as well."
Within a large cave, a purple entity waited. Jenova. It was twice the size it had been 1500 years ago; its leisure time had given it some girth. All it had to do now was wait, for it had summoned its surrogate son to come and be its puppet.
It didn't wait long. The brooding, intense figure of the shirtless Sephiroth arrived at the front of the cave, sporting his homemade Masamune. Sephiroth, at the sight of his "mother", breathed in heavily and let it out as passionately, ending his breath with a grin. "Hello, mother. It is so good to see you alive and well. I hope you have kept yourself in good fitness."
No answer. Jenova communicated telepathically and contained no abilities of speech.
"That's wonderful. How long has it been since I died?"
"My, my, my, how time does fly when you're dead. What would you have me do?"
"I wish not to fail you, mother, but I'm afraid I don't know where the other brethren in your lifeblood are."
"I can understand why you would be upset. What do we need them for, anyway?"
"We don't need them for that. I can destroy just as well as twelve men."
"Your faith in my skills is awe-inspiring. We shall take this Planet and do with it what we will."
"Other planets?" Sephiroth pondered a bit. "What a marvelous notion! Mother, you astound me. We shall rule the galaxy!"
"Galaxy, universe, whatever."
"Hardly whatever, you pansy-ass mama's boy!" came an angry female voice from behind. Sephiroth turned to see Aeris and Cloud standing there. His grin fade into a serious warrior face. "Cloud......"
Jenova's face altered from the peaceful, emotionless appearance it usually portrayed into one of sheer anger and rage. Suddenly, Aeris was blasted with a psychic message; Jenova was talking to her.
How DARE you come before us so insolently!, Jenova's thoughts read. You Cetra have been nothing but trouble to me ever since I made the rather easy effort of destroying your miserable pebble of a planet! I shall enjoy watching both you and your token savior die at the hand of my ultimate gladiator!
Aeris recovered from the mental shock and said, "Fine then, Jenova. Let's have it out. Now."
Aren't you forgetting something, my dear?, Jenova's thoughts read to her within her mind. I made Cloud his own id on purpose. Sephiroth is the most fierce he's ever been because he is who he originally was, but does Cloud even want to fight? He won't if he doesn't want to; that's the whole point about the id. You're already defeated.
Aeris smiled as Jenova finished off its ramblings. She turned to Cloud and said, "Would you fight him for me?" She pointed at Sephiroth, who was drawn and waiting for Cloud. "Don't kill him, though. Just knock him out."
Cloud's eyes flashed with fire and lunged at Sephiroth, beginning their engagement in a lightning-quick and lightning-brutal swordfight. Aeris and Jenova stood on the sidelines, concentrating on their respective fighters.
Aeris then said, "Here it is, Jenova; full circle. We both died in our original fight when you came to this Planet, and now we're 'battling', but with no danger of physical harm. I'd say we've both learned something."
An astute observation, Jenova replied telepathically. But of no consequence. Sephiroth is and has always been the better fighter. Your man will lose.
"But you forget two things."
What are those?
"Simple, Jenova. First, I saw that sword of Sephiroth's. That's not the original, is it?"
Cloud, hearing this, stopped aiming for Sephiroth himself and instead aimed at the sword. The Ultima Weapon, of a much stronger alloy than that of plain steel, immediately broke through the thin sword, leaving it in several pieces on the ground. Sephiroth, not done yet, worked up his inside magical power and shot energy at Cloud, sending him back toward Aeris. Aeris helped him up and whispered something in his ear. Cloud nodded and got back in the fight.
Jenova once again responded via mind, What is the other one, little girl?
"The other thing is that you have none of these." She pulled out her Gravity materia. Aiming it at Sephiroth, she fired the strongest Gravity blast at him she could manage, leaving him remarkably weak. Cloud then swung at a moderate level of strength and hit the midsection of Sephiroth with the flat side of his sword. The weakened Sephiroth fell to the ground and passed out. Cloud jumped up and down happily while Aeris checked his pulse to ensure there still was one; there was.
Jenova, realizing what had occured, released an unearthly howl and grew out tentacles. It started whipping the tentacles around the cavern, forcing Cloud to grab Aeris and carry her while he jumped about in avoidance.
Aeris, securing her stay in Cloud's arms, raised her arm to release the Gravity shot. As she did, Jenova maneuvered one tentacle to lash the shot away. The shot hit a wall and just made a large indent in the rock. Aeris growled at the defense tactic. Just then, Cloud accidentally stepped on one of the tentacles, causing Jenova to outstretch its tentacles and shiver them in pain while howling.
Noticing that, Aeris took her battle rod, handed it to Cloud, and said, "Those ones!" Looking at the two she was pointing at, Cloud launched both the rod and the Ultima Weapon at those two tentacles while Aeris launched another heavy Gravity shot. This time, the shot hit while the tentacles were outstretched in pain, leaving Jenova super-weak. Cloud grabbed the Ultima Weapon and hit the flat side of the sword across the side of the head of Jenova, causing the creature to slump to the ground - alive, but unconscious. Both Jenova and Sephiroth were out.
Aeris stood still for a bit, then yelled, 'WOO-HOO!!!!" Cloud immediately imitated her: "WOO-HOO!!!!" Cloud, coming up to Aeris, was surprised by her when she gave him a humongous kiss on the lips.
Aeris, coming out of the kiss, said, "Cloud, you really listened to me. That's.....not really what an id does, is it?"
Cloud finally spoke in logic terms. "The fight brought out something in me. It's always been that, when I'm reborn, I carry all my attributes with me; it's just that not all of them show at the same time. As David learned to use Materia, I learned to have an ego again - my adult side."
Aeris sniffed and kissed him again.
The two dragged out the bodies of both Sephiroth and Jenova to the nearby beach. "This is the rendezvous spot," Aeris said. "I hope that they get here in time to blast these suckers off before they wake up again."
"We should be alright," Cloud replied. "I knocked them out pretty good. Particularly Jenova. Still, they're strong opponents and the concussions may not last long. Bugen knows, though; he'll come."
They waited there for ten more minutes, watching the horizon.
Then, they saw those who walked on water. Gold Chocobos. And behind them, they were drawing a large rocket. Aeris and Cloud started making noise and attracting the Chocobo caravan to their position.
Once they arrived, Adrian got down and had a big bear hug with both Cloud and Aeris at the same time. "You guys did it. Incredible. And Cloud, you seem to be back to your old self."
They all laughed. Rebecca stayed on the Chocobo. She was in a tight position. She wanted to go wake her son and her favorite project, and have her side get victorious. But Adrian and everyone were facing her direction; there was no way to get there in time before the leash could be activated by Adrian. This frustration manifested itsself in the usual form. "You three want a room?"
They all shifted their gaze her way and stayed there for a couple of seconds. Then Adrian turned away and guided in the main weight-bearing Chocobos with the rocket. He worked some controls and opened the doors. Cloud picked up Sephiroth and carried him in. Adrian had set up three sets of shackles. They started to shackle Sephiroth to the wall of the rocket.
Just as they were about to put his left arm in, however, Sephiroth's eyes popped open. He used his free arm to punch Adrian away and almost shot Aeris with his magical energy when Cloud said, "I've wanted to do this for a long time. And all that swordfighting doesn't count." He promptly punched Sephiroth across the face and fastened his wrist into the bonds. Adrian, a little dizzied but okay, grabbed two strange metal coverings and put them over Sephiroth's hands. "Magic sealants," he explained to Cloud and Aeris. "Another gift from our futuristic war-mongering friends of the past."
They hurried over and fettered Jenova as quickly as possible, this time with no problems; Jenova was still out. Sephiroth remained silent; this was not the end he had been expecting, and he wanted to see where it would lead.
Aeris wiped the sweat from her brow. "Done. But what's the other set of bonds for?" Adrian motioned over to Rebecca. Rebecca, catching that, gasped and tried to run. She got no farther than 20 feet, when she plopped down on the surf of the beach, holding her neck in constant pain.
Rebecca, grabbed by Adrian and being led to the rocket, started nervously talking. "Bugen, listen, about this going-into-space thing....I mean.....I helped you do this! Don't I, you know, get to count as one of the goodguys?"
Adrian, solemn-faced, handed Rebecca to Cloud while he went over and grabbed Rebecca's journal. He flipped to a recent page and started reading: "The story of the Cetra I have just heard intrigues me, and I am saddened that my original claim of Jenova as an Ancient was mistaken. However, this is to no avail as I have determined that the inhabitants of the Planet are too pathetic to even deserve to continue on living. I think, rather, that this alien creature Jenova should destroy the Planet. Should my son be continuing to carry on in Jenova's tradition from there, then I'd love to be the dear father (or mother, whichever I am) by his side."
Rebecca was white-faced. "Now, now, that's taken out of context. How about all the fun times we've had together? I mean, for crying out loud, we're married!"
Adrian didn't even look up, but just flipped to another page. "Remarkable how idiotic this Bugenhagen is in comparison to my overwhelming genius. People of his kind should be roasted within the caverns of hell for the intelligent to feast upon. His brains should be spooned out with melon scoops and - " Adrian cringed at the next part. " - given to small children as an after-lunch treat. A type of ice cream, one might call it."
Cloud shook the image from his mind. "Well, I think that clinches it for you, Hojo."
"You'll never get away with this," Rebecca responded. Aeris went up to her face and said, "You've got that wrong; that's what we'd be saying if you were to implement any of that gibberish." Aeris almost walked away before remembering something else. She poked Rebecca in the chest and said, "By the way, you acted like quite a slut. And believe me; sluts aren't attractive."
Cloud led the defeated Rebecca up the rocket's plank to the shackles while Adrian called out behind her, "Be glad, Hojo. You're finally having some family time. The father, the son, and the 'mother'. Congrats, you've made one hell of a family."
Rebecca grinned; she'd had a thought. "What about Cloud? He also shares Jenova's cells. Are you telling us that you don't think Cloud could be dangerous?"
There was no answer for a bit.
Aeris then scoffed and said, "That's preposterous. How could Cloud possibly be a threat to us? Answer me that, Mr. Science. Or Mrs. Science. WHATEVER."
"By being the Cloud that gave Sephiroth the Black Materia 1500 years ago," said Adrian, with a shocked stare into nothing. Cloud and Aeris turned to him. Adrian said, "It's true; we can't just have Cloud running about if he's *that* Cloud. Maybe this world would be a better place if Cloud goes off on vigil to follow Jenova."
Aeris shouted, "No! That....that can't be the way it has to be!" Cloud raised a hand to stop her. He started slowly marching toward the spaceship's innards. As he passed Adrian, he gave him a hug. Starting up the plank, Rebecca said, "That's right. We'll have our own little Reunion right here."
Cloud stopped dead in his tracks. "No..." Turning to Adrian and coming back down, he said, "We never heard from the other members of SOLDIER who also had Jenova in them. If they've never been heard from, then I can live peacefully with my Jenova cells as well!"
Sephiroth, having snarled during the entire exchange, let out an earth-shattering roar. The roar did not faze any of the trio outside, but it did wake Jenova.
Adrian gasped and rushed to the controls. He shut the door before any tentacles could get out. A great deal of banging and other noise occured as Adrian fiddled with the controls. Cloud said, "C'mon, Bugen! Lift-off already!"
Adrian replied, "I'm trying to figure this out! Hold on!"
The banging got more obvious.
Adrian pressed a red button. Nothing happened.
The banging created pointy dents all along the rocket exterior. Spraying sounds could be heard; Jenova was clearly using any means possible to escape.
Adrian found a small button labeled "Launch". "You'd think they'd make this easier to find..." he muttered.
The exterior of the rocket started turning brownish. Aeris yelled, "Hurry! They're gonna break loose!"
Adrian pushed the button just as the rocket top started to lose its pointyness. The rocket was truly of a futuristic culture; there was little slow launching time. The rocket just blasted its fuel on bottom and zoomed up into the stratosphere.
The three down on the ground watched the launch behind a Gravity shield. Aeris removed the shield and put away the Materia. Cloud took her by the waist and said, "We're going to live forever. And I think we can enjoy every single moment together." Aeris said, "That's uncharacteristically beautiful of you. You feeling okay?" They laughed a small, intimate laugh together.
Adrian smiled at the scene, then knelt down and patted the dirt. "I hope you're feeling better," he muttered to the ground. "We're finally rid of the 'crisis from the sky'. Keep healing; you deserve one big rest."
6 million years later....
The dark brown-turned rocket, completely covered in those pointy dents and sporting a curved front, sped through space. The fuel had not dwindled for any amount, but that was understandable due to the nature of the transport, which was to make its own fuel; the futuristic society it came from had created an engine that made more energy the longer it ran. This would mean the rocket could go on forever. However, it was headed straight for a small planet; the journey was about to be cut a little short.
As it entered the atmosphere, it became absolutely encased in flame. This made it much easier for the crash it had upon impact to make a very large dent in the planet crust. The fuel, still aiming to work, started to push the rocket deeper and deeper into the planet, almost like it was burrowing further.
The most important witness of this crash stood high over various red mountains, on a castle bridge between two towers. Her reptilian foe lay at her feet and she was still a little tired from the draining battle she had just been in. Yet, seeing the crash could only cause her to react in her native tongue, describing what she had seen...