THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 

Regret

By Calis Cheah
calisc@hotmail.com

Prologue:
Old Memories

" I do not know
Who you are
What your name may be
I'āve only watched you from afa..."

I still remember the first time I saw him. He was beautiful if the term could truly be applied to a man. Smartly cut black hair that shined with the gleam of a ravenās wing and eyes so light a gray that they appeared silver. I was waiting at the main lobby in the Shinra Building, reporting for my first day of work when he walked by.

A tall, lean man dressed in the dark navy suit that soon I was to learn the official uniform of the special Shinra agents known as the Turks. Surprising, the severe color only served to enhance his fine features, drawing my attention to him more firmly. He strolled across the hallway, seemingly heedless of the world around him but I was sure that little escaped him. He felt my glance and paused so ever briefly, looking at my direction. Embarrassed to be caught like a staring teenager, I quickly lowered my head, hoping that he could not tell I was the one.

"Professor Lucrecia? Iām sorry to keep you waiting. Security has just cleared your documents; I will take you to the Science Division now. Follow me, please."

"Oh! Thank you!"

I flushed a little, startled out of my reverie by the receptionistās voice. I would be deeply mortified if the woman thought I was acting like an old maid, mooning over the first attractive man I saw. Then again, it was exceedingly rare to see a handsome man in my line of work so why should I stop myself from looking my fill when I had a chance?

A small smile touched my lips as I picked up my briefcase and hurried after the receptionist. As I stepped into one of the huge glass lifts, I could not resist the impulse to turn and see if the man was still around. Much to my disappointment, he was already gone.

 

Chapter One:
Beneath The Ice

" Aeons you slept,
Deep in ice embedded.
Until the day
We woke you once again· "

"Professor Gast, Iāve just received another warning that a blizzard is approaching. I think it would be a good idea to call it a day and get back to base camp." I could barely get the words out with my teeth chattering from the cold.

"Yes, we better get back. My hands are starting to lose their sense of feeling. Lucrecia, letās pack up and go before the storm breaks. Itāll be our deaths if we are caught out here." Gast turned away from the glacier he was studying with oblivious reluctance.

I motioned our two escorts over and hurried to stow away our equipment. I pitied the two men unfortunate to be out with us, as they had to stand around in the cold and guard the two of us from any danger. It did not help at all that the temperature plunged sharply today. The first snowfall hit us as we were piling into the snowmobile. I could not see anything at all; there was only stark whiteness all around us and the icy wind that howled like a banshee foretelling the visit of Death.

There was no way in which I could tell where we were going; I could only put my faith in the technology vested in the machine in which we were travelling. I wondered if we would perish out here, in this land of snow and ice far away from the world. Perhaps dying in this vast wintry landscape would be better than drawing oneās last breath in dark, polluted Midgar where one never saw the color of the sky. The Northern Continent was a beautiful place, belonging solely to Nature, untouched by man, and untouched by Shinra. This was the only place where the aurora could be seen and the shifting rainbow colors across the sky never failed to lift my spirits every cold morning.

"Are you alright, Lucrecia? You are usually not so quiet. Is anything wrong?" Gastās voice was full of concern.

That was the one quality that endeared the kindly professor to all. He truly cared for the people around him regardless of who they might be. While I admired him for this, I could not decide if it was more of an asset or a liability.

"Itās nothing, Iām just a little tired. I stayed up last night, finishing a report." I forced my stiff lips into a reassuring smile.

"I think you work too hard. Do take care of yourself, I wouldnāt want to lose such an able assistant."

"Thank you, Professor. Iāll take care."


It had been almost a year since I joined Shinraās Science Division as a biologist. While young women my age should be enjoying an active social life, I never had the inclination to widen my social circle and meet more people besides those I worked with. Most of the men I came across, even though there were not many, were shallow individuals who only pretended interest in me and my work. Science was my passion; it had always been since the time I was a child. I was satisfied as long as I had my work and it was work that brought me to the Northern Continent. I came along with Professor Gast to survey the area surrounding the giant crater on this frigid, forbidding land and found the "thing" that changed my life forever.

Chapter Two:
The Forgotten One

" Survivor and destroyer
Of a forgotten time and age.
Your hunger remains unabated
Your existence, desolation unceasing..."

The storm blew itself out during the night and the morning dawned peacefully. Looking at the unchanging white horizon, the blizzard seemed not to have left any trace of its fury. We only suffered a minor loss of a supply tent ripped away by the raging winds. Its contents were only buried and after some digging, recovered. In a way I was glad because if we lost the supplies, the expedition would have to be cut short. Even though the temperature was extreme, I was strangely reluctant to leave this place.

After the supplies had been secured, we set out once again for our last location. Gast was anxious to get back to the glacier and collect some core samples. Our primary purpose was to study the crater but the climate and the huge glaciers hampered our progress, making it extremely difficult to get close enough. We soon shifted our focus to studying the glaciers instead.

"Lucrecia? Can you give me a hand here?" Gast called out.

"Hold on a second, Iāll be right over," I answered as I picked out the equipment needed.

The two of us worked diligently, using pen-lasers to cut away clips from the gigantic block of ice. For once, we were grateful for the freezing temperature for it ensured the chips from melting. Samples from different glaciers were carefully tagged and labeled to facilitate analysis, the batch from the glacier we were presently working on was tagged as "G5". I carefully put the G5 batch away and moved on to take samples from another block of ice. The whole process continued until the cold forced us back to base camp again.


My eyes were too dry from an entire evening spend poring over the microscope, scrutinizing each and every sample. There was only one more batch to go and I wanted to finish studying them before I retired for the night. I returned my rapidly dwindling concentration to the latest sample at hand; recording down what I saw when I was interrupted by Professor Gast who was working at the next table.

"Lucrecia! Look at this and tell me Iām not dreaming!" I had never heard the professor so excited before.

I looked into his microscope and I could not speak.

There were cells embedded inside the piece of ice.

Cells of a living organism.

Throughout the remainder of the night, we worked none stop examining all the core samples from the entire G5 batch. They all contained the same kind of cells that pulsed with a strange biorhythm. A biorhythm that none of us had ever seen before. Yet, its structure was vaguely humanlike.

"Could it be? Could it really be· that I have found one of them?"

I did not understand what Gast was saying at that moment but in time I would know everything there was to know and know everything too late to change the choices that I made.

Intrigued and eager, we immediately sent reports back to Midgar, requesting for heavier equipment to retrieve the whole organism. Within the space of two days, we had our answer. With the necessary machines, the recovery work was a breeze. I could barely contain my excitement, it was the discovery of a lifetime and I wanted to start studying this living entity the moment I set foot in Midgar.

We had found an Ancient.

Chapter Three:
The Fated Beginning

" An angel with silver eyes,
Fell into my life.
I could have tasted heaven
Yet I chose to step into hel..."

Three months had gone by without my notice. The laboratories were my life. Nothing mattered more to me than Jenova. The honor of the naming was Gast and he christened the Ancient after his late wife. There was so much to learn and discover about this forgotten race. It was an uphill battle to separate the myths from the facts from the scant records that were available. In a sense, Jenova became an obsession. Every waking moment I had was devoted to research, I wanted to know everything about the Cetra, the name the Ancients called themselves. Never in my wildest dreams did I expecting him to come crashing into my world or more accurately, me to crash into his.


"Now where is that book again? I thought it was supposed to be here somewhere," I mumbled to myself absently as my eyes roamed shelf after shelf.

I simply could not comprehend why the blasted book was missing. No one would read the book; much less take anything from this forgotten section provided that people actually knew it existed in the first place. Sequestered in a musty little corner room on the 62nd floor, which was entirely the level for the Science Research Library, with its door semi- blocked by a shelf was the section devoted to the Cetra.

I had no idea how long it has been since someone used the little room so I was surprised when the door could be opened without any difficulty. I thought the hinges would have been terribly rusted by now but the door swung opened without so much as a squeak. I was further amazed to discover that the whole place showed little trace of dust. It was as if time had frozen and preserved everything as it was years ago.

"No, itās not here. Hmmm·. Maybe Professor Gast took it? Guess Iāll have to ask him for it then." I sighed with disappointment.

I was turning to leave when I thought I saw a shadow moved. Startled, I reared my head and glanced into a pair of cool gray eyes. I could not move nor could I look away. Yet there he was, so nonchalant, perched on the high window ledge with his profile half in shadow from the evening sun, gazing down at me. I had forgotten all about him, the man I saw in the lobby so long ago. Flustered and unsure of myself, I did not know what to say and the moment stretched into silence.

"Hello."

His voice was a rich, deep baritone and it brought me back to reality.

"Oh hello! Sorry to have disturbed you. Iām just about to leave." Never having been caught in this kind of situation before, the only thought I had in my mind to flee.

"Wait· Itās all right. I presume you are looking for this?" He reached out, holding the very book I wanted.

I fought an inner battle. Half of me wanted desperately to escape while the other half wanted just as desperately to step closer and take the book from his outstretched hand. Feeling my unease, he smiled tentatively and made my decision for me. I crossed the distance between us and received the book. Finally remembering my manners, I introduced myself.

"Iām Lucrecia."

"Lucrecia? Assistant to Professor Gast? Iāve read your journals. They are very well written."

"Oh, thank you. What I have in those scientific articles are only purely my personal views. Many may not agree totally." I smiled, pleasantly surprised that he actually knew about me.

"Iām Vincent Valentine, a Turk."

"Vincent Valentine·I heard about you." It was the truth, I have been in Shinra long enough to know all about the covert operations that Turks are highly proficient at.

"Sorry, " he apologized, expecting that I would not want anything to do with a professional assassin.

"Donāt be. Itās no crime to be an adept at your job. Science is practically my life. " I spoke understandingly.

"I would really like to talk to you regarding your works. Would you be free tomorrow at this time?"

"Let me see· Iāll be in the labs in the morning· Yes, Iām free."

"Good. Iāll meet you at the Staff Lounge on the 61st floor then."

"Good-bye, Lucrecia."

"See you tomorrow, Vincent."


That was how everything started. An affair without an end and a love that should never have begun.

Chapter Four
To Love Someone

" Must pain be felt

If one is to love?
Must tears then fall
When it all turns to hate? "

We saw each other almost every day after that except during the times Vincent was away on an assignment. Without realizing it, our little meetings and discussions became a source of joy in my otherwise mundane existence. I was slowly starting to contemplate that could be more in my life than science. It was so easy to talk to him about anything; he was such a good listener. Vincent paid careful attention to everything I had to say and while his responses were usually succinct, they were always full of insight. Very soon, our topics progressed from work to more personal matters.

Bit by bit I learned about his past and discovered that lying beneath the stoic demeanor was a sensitive soul. I had to admit to myself; I was becoming hopelessly drawn to Vincent. His infrequent smiles were like the rays of sunlight that could never penetrate through the dark smoky atmosphere that shrouded the entire city of Midgar. No man had ever made me feel this way, basking in the warm of his smiles, I could almost believe that I was a beautiful, attractive woman.

I had fallen for him.

It was so natural, the way I felt about Vincent but I did not dare to let him know. It was all too new and foreign a concept for me to understand. I was in love and I had never been in love before. I did not dare dream that Vincent could feel the same way about me. I was so dull; all I knew about was science. I was not even remotely pretty with a face that was so forgettable. How could such a handsome man possibly care for me in that way?

Vincent proved me wrong.


"Iāve got to go now. Still have a report to write."

I said it so casually yet inside I was so filled with reluctance. I wished desperately that I could only stay a little while longer and enjoy his company. I was about to push back my chair when Vincent suddenly caught hold of my hand. Confused and disconcerted, I glanced at his face and was struck silent by the look in his eyes. Like silver mirrors, I saw myself reflected inside. I once thought Vincentās eyes were so cold yet now they seemed to burn. Burn with a pale flame that warmed my heart. His voice was so gentle when he spoke.

"Stay with me, just a little longer?"

I hesitated, unable to answer. There were still doubts at the back of my mind but a sudden impulse made me took this chance. Looking once more at the silent entreaty in those light gray orbs, I nodded my head.

That night, Vincent took me out of Midgar on a drive. I did not know where we were going but there was little need to know. All that matters was that I was with him. Leaving the perpetually polluted darkness that was Midgar behind, the landscape flowed by, everything rendered into a blur by the speed of the land cruiser which we traveled in. It was a while before we finally stopped.

"Come," Vincent offered his hand to help me down.

Taking his hand, I stepped into another world. We were standing all alone in the midst of a vast open plain. I could not tell where it all begun and where it ended. It was a living emerald sea that met the sable sky, a tapestry woven with only the colors black and green. The full serene moon shone down, high up from the heavens, cleansing the world with its gentle light, a benediction. For the first time, I could see the stars that speckled the boundless night like tiny diamonds.

The night wind blew across the plain, caressing my face with my wind-tossed chestnut tresses. I opened my arms, abandoning all my cares to indulge in the unconditional freedom that was offered and like a guileless child, I laughed delightedly. Vincent watched me all this while, taking quiet pleasure in my joy.

"Itās beautiful out here. So pure and untouched." Wonder filled my voice.

"Yes, thatās why I wanted you to see it."

He was so close; the words fell like a breath in my ear. Ever so slowly, his arms encircle me from behind, drawing me into his tender, inescapable embrace. There was not a single word between us yet it was all so clear. Holding me under the glowing moonlight, he gave me the most precious gift I would ever receive.

His heart·

His love.

 

Chapter Five
Fragile Heart

" My heart is a shard of glass,
Brittle and fragile.
Broken with ease
Into a million pieces· "

My life was complete.

I had everything, my cherished work and Vincentās love. I viewed life through a rosy glow, nothing could go wrong. We meet even more frequently, spending every spare moment in each otherās company. I missed Vincent terribly whenever he had to travel away on his missions and never was he far from my thoughts. However, I was hesitant about announcing our relationship to the world. It was bliss being with him yet something I could not name troubled me. Vincent accepted this without any questions and for that I loved him even more.

So to everybody at Shinra, we put up the appearance that we were merely friends. Our intimate moments were stolen in the deep of night, out in the grasslands far away from Midgar where no one knew who we are. It was beneath starry night sky, surrounded by nature when we first knew each other as man and woman. Vincent was a gentle lover, giving me all, heart and soul but it was me who held back time and again. He never blamed me nor demanded anything from me but it only started to make me feel more and more guilty.

I felt as if I was cheating him because I could not return his love with the same intensity. Tried as hard as I might but there was a barrier between us that I could not breach. I only realized much later that I could have broken that obstacle easily had I dared to but I was afraid. I was frightened of the changes that Vincentās love had wrought on me. I was metamorphosing into a person that I did not recognize. A person that displayed her emotions openly, who laughed and smile. A complete opposite from the shy wallflower that was content to hide behind the shell that was her work. Everything happened too fast, unlike the ironbound rules of science, emotions followed entirely different principles that I did not understand. Swept away by the maelstrom that sprung from my confusion, I was lost. Vincent could sense that something was wrong but I refused to talk to him about it. My foolish pride believed that I could ultimately find the answer that would make all the wrongs right again.

Unwittingly, our relationship hanged in a status quo and we begun to have small arguments, mostly sparked off by me. Yet always he was the one who apologized but that only added fuel to the fire that was my anger. My work was not going well with problems hampering the progress of the Jenova project which we had code-named "Promised Land" and it affected me. I knew I hurt Vincent whenever we quarrel and in turn that hurt myself. Waves of guilt engulfed me to see the worried concern in his eyes. In fact sometimes, I started to feel like a bird trapped in a cage that was too small.

It was during this turbulent time when she appeared.


I made my way towards Professor Gastās office, with a stack of reports in my arms. Gast had announced earlier today that another scientist would be joining the "Promised Land" project. His name was Hojo and I must admit after reading through some of his articles that he thinking was unconventional and sometimes even strange. However, he may be the one who could inject some fresh insights to spur the project on. Preoccupied, I strolled through the open door to Gastās cluttered office without knocking, as was my habit.

"Professor, these are the reports you wanted·" I trailed off, realizing belatedly that he was not alone.

"Lucrecia! Just the person I wanted to see. Come, I have someone to introduce you to. Ash, this is my most able assistant, Lucrecia and Lucrecia meet Ash." I could hear the pride in Gastās voice.

Ash Silvestri, 1st Company Commander of SENTINEL, the elite group of soldiers that Shinra employed before the creation of SOLDIER. I heard so much about her, both from Professor Gast and from rumors and gossips and she was everything I was not. Confident, poised, Ash possessed an unconscious lithe grace that flowed into all her movements. She had something about her, a presence that was almost tangible that I could feel. Ash shook my limp hand and greeted me with a smile that lighted up her dazzling azure eyes.

Standing beside her, I had never felt so aware of my own appearance. Long raven hair so dark that it shone with indigo highlights matched with sapphire eyes, Ash was a magnificent hawk and I was the common sparrow. The inferiority complex I thought I had buried long ago came surging back with revenge. From that moment forth, a seed that had lain dormant, germinated in my heart. Nurtured by my envy, it grew day by day and borne me the bitter fruit known as jealousy.

 

Chapter Six
A Womanās Jealouys

" I burned with jealousy,
A wound that never heals.
Self-inflicted pain,
A punishment without end..."

As usual, I headed towards the table we had shared for almost two years. By now, people should have guessed that we were more than casual friends but no one asked so I was contend to keep it that way. I had my first glimpse of Hojo and he struck me as a highly intelligence individual, someone who I would enjoy working with.

I rounded a corner and stopped dead in my tracks, unable to believe what I saw. Vincent was not only talking but was smiling at the person sitting directly across to him. The sight hit me almost like a physical blow because the person was none other than Ash and compounding the fact that Vincent never treated any one else in that same manner, I drew the obvious conclusion that she was definitely more than a colleague. They made such a striking couple, two beautiful people that belonged together naturally. By rights I should be storming my way over to demand an explanation as to what was going on but sadly, I felt like the interloper instead.

I was about to crept away when Ash noticed me and called out. Unable to back out of this gracefully, I summon the last of my crumbling pride and made my way over. Talk was strained despite repeated attempts by Vincent to draw me into the conversation, I did not want her company and I made it plain by giving short clipped answers to her questions. Embarrassed to be caught between us, Ash excused herself pleading duty. Finally, we were alone but a cold silence had settled around us.

I was reticent; my pride would not allow me to ask the question that was echoing in my head and I did not have to because Vincent gave me the answer to my unspoken question. Ash and he were childhood friends that had grew up together in Shinra and being an only child, Vincent regarded Ash as the younger sister he never had. Younger sister? I was not convinced, call it a womanās intuition, I somehow just knew that it was not so innocent. Sitting next to him in silence, I suddenly realized that there was too much that we did not know about each other. Vincent was so near, yet at that moment he was like a virtual stranger.

"Itās getting late and I still have things to do." I got up abruptly.

"Lucrecia?"

I heard the confusion in his voice but choose to ignore it. There was nothing more to say and my gait did not falter as I walked away.


By my own hand, I started the cold war between us. Vincent waited for me to meet him on the 61st floor without fail but I stood him up time and again without any explanations. I refused to answer his calls and whenever he tried to see me, I used work as an excuse. I thought that spending time away from each other would help me puzzle out our relationship. I was listening to my head; not my heart and perceptibly, I began to convince myself that loving Vincent was a big mistake.

Strengthening this train of thought was the fact that I spend close to a year working together on the "Promised Land" with Hojo. The presence of another man brought the differences between Vincent and me out in glaring contrast. There was nothing we shared in common. His knowledge in my field was limited and while his comments were insightful, they could not compare to those that Hojo put forward in our discussions. It was Hojo who came up with the brilliant idea to reconstruct Jenova by cell regeneration.

Being with Hojo, I did not have doubts about my accomplishments and myself but when I with Vincent, I was not sure anymore. In the world of science, I was a gifted professor yet when I ventured into his world, I became insecure and vulnerable. In order to be with Vincent, I felt that I had to change and I was frightened and not prepared for such a sacrifice.

While Vincent may think of Ash as a sister, I could discern that she did not however think of him as a brother in return. I had seen the way she looked at him and it was the look of a woman in love. Increasingly, Ash was filling in my absence. I watched them sometimes and while it hurt, I still thought that it was better for us this way.

 

Chapter Seven
Heart of Stone

" What if I never feel again,
My heart beating no more,
Vanishing warmth, once living
Now stone cold·"


"Lucrecia, weāll be departing for Nibelheim tonight at 11.00P.M. sharp. Have you got all the materials needed? We wonāt be coming back to Midgar for quite some time," Gast asked.

"Everything ready, Professor. By the way, besides Hojo, you and me, who else will be going to Nibelheim with us?"

"No one except for a Turk. President Shinra classified this project as top secret. The lesser people involved the better." Hojo remarked absently as he studied the latest progress report on Jenova.

A Turk? I prayed that he was not the one. It would be impossible to avoid him if we were at Nibelheim. No place for me to hide away and I were not ready to tell Vincent that I wanted to end our relationship. I finally knew what it was to feel like being caught between a rock and a hard place. My mind keep repeating, telling me to let go and be with Hojo yet my heart could not bear the thought of never seeing him again. It was driving me insane.

"I believe you already know our Turk companion, heās called Vincent· Iām afraid I canāt remember his last name," Hojo had to mention his name.

"Vincent Valentine·" I said with a sinking heart.

 


I endured the journey to Nibelheim in silence. Hojo sat with me but as usual he was engrossed in a science journal. Vincent was opposite me and I knew he wanted to talk so I was grateful when Gast started asking questions about his job, keeping him occupied. I did not want to be so near Vincent, until I could sort out my internal turmoil, I wanted to stay as far away as I possibly can. Yet as much as I needed to shut him away from my sight, my eyes betrayed me. I could not refrain from stealing glances at him. This was my one last chance to engrave his image into my mind; a memory that would be buried deep in time.

It took us about three hours to reach Nibelheim. I could not believe my eyes as I watched the night sky. The stars were so much more brilliant, illuminating the darkness like tiny lamps to guide the lost. Looking at them I could not help but recall what we shared not so long ago.

"Lucrecia·" Vincent spoke softly as he helped me down from the helicopter.

"Yes? Mr. Valentine." My voice was cold, cutting him off.

He turned away without saying another word. This was what I wanted him to do but why did my heart feel like as if someone had just slashed it? Resolvedly, I told myself over and over again, soon there would be no pain, everything including him would fade away given enough time. Yes, it would all dim and wane.

There was no time to waste on contemplating what was to become of Vincent and me. I was in Nibelheim for the sake of Jenova, the achievement of my life; I would not allow anything to distract me. Given the best of what technology had to offer, the laboratory was even better than what Midgar had, no expenses had been spared. Cell regeneration was a slow and dangerous process, every step had to be planned and executed with extreme caution, we could not risk losing the last Cetra due to carelessness. Cut off from the world in the basement of the Nibelheim mansion, I was myself once again: Lucrecia, professor of microbiology, and not a jealous, insecure woman.

Yet once night fell and work stopped, I was back where I started, like a Cinderella without the trappings of a fairy godmotherās magic. My story had no fairy tale ending, no living happily ever after with my prince. I had to say goodbye and say it soon but I could not find the words to say. Like a serpent that bit its tail, I was on the circle of self-destruction, slowly devouring myself. Maybe it was an answer to my unspoken prayer or maybe it was a curse, I was given a reason I needed to sever my ties with Vincent.

Chapter Eight
Renouncement
(Part One)

" We came to the end,
Now we say goodbye.
We once had love,
Yet all that remains is loss..."

It unfolded like a well-rehearsed play, all the events fitting together so seamlessly. I did not know whether it was destiny or fate, what I would say and do seemed to be long determined. All we had to do was to act out our roles on the stage and say the lines that would give the play its name ö "Renouncement".

 

Scene One: The Proposal

Setting: Basement Laboratory

Actors: Hojo and Lucrecia

He was looking up at what was in the holding chamber with an expression on his face that was almost akin to reverence. Encased in metal and glass was a woman, a woman that could not possibly exist. She was perfection, her beauty flawless and empyreal. Her lips was curved in an enigmatic smile that made me wondered what was the last thought on her mind before she was buried under tons of ice.

Jenova· Ancient· To me she was Eve, the first woman created according to a forgotten religion. But the longer I looked at her features; she was more, much more than a mere human. Jenovaās body was not yet fully reconstructed; her face and torso were human enough but the rest of her· words failed me. Eyes closed, she seemed asleep, her face peaceful yet something disquieted me. Jenovaās beauty was like that of an angelās, however, instead of light, there was a shadow about her. My thoughts took a fanciful turn; maybe she was a fallen angel, condemned to a prison of ice for some unspeakable sin.

"Sheās everything I thought she would be, so beautiful," I sighed in appreciation.

"Mhnnmm· yes, that she is," Hojo answered distractedly, so deeply was he enthralled by her.

"Hojo? About your proposal· I need more time to consider·"

"Fine, but remember I want an answer before we leave for Midgar."

I went to search for the answer, leaving behind him, staring upon Jenova in rapt fascination.

 

Scene Two: The Resolution

Setting: Nibelheim Town Square

Actors: Lucrecia, Vincent and Ash

My heart was bleak, a reflection of the cold, craggy mountains that surrounded this backwater town. We would never have chosen this place except for the presence of the Mako reactor on Mount Nibel. A large amount of energy was needed for the regeneration process and no other place offered both the seclusion and the power. Even though, it has been almost a full year since we moved here from Midgar, I did not enjoy our stay in Nibelheim. During the day, the whole town was perpetually shrouded in haze, making everything gray and dismal. If the sun ever choose to shine upon this piece of earth, I never knew, sequestered away as I often was beneath the ground.

I disliked the night because of the stars. Being so far north, the sky seemed so near that all I had to do was to reach out and I could close my hand around the shining novas. If only I could pluck them from the night, leaving everything in darkness so that they would not make me recall the things I wish to forget. A wintry wind blew, scattering scraps of paper and stirring up the dust. I shivered, wrapping my coat more tightly around me to ward out the chill. It was very late and the streets were deserted, all the town folk most probably asleep in warm beds.

I needed to be alone, that was why I was out here in the cold. What would my answer to Hojoās proposal be? The question was spinning around in my head when I thought I heard voices. I stopped and glanced around to get my bearings. Preoccupied, my roving has taken me to the town square where the water clock was situated. I listened for a moment but there was only silence. Dismissing it as my imagination, I was about to move when I heard the voices once again. They belonged to two people, a man and a woman. Trying not to intrude and ruin the mood for a pair of lovers, I stepped back into the shadows.

"Vincent, I canāt tell you how glad I am to find you here."

Vincent?! The name rooted me to the ground. I could not imagine him on a rendezvous. It had to be a coincidence.

My hopes were dashed when I caught sight of the lovers as they made their way up to the water clock. The moon shone full on their faces and there could be no error. It was Vincent and ·Ash. How I wish I were blind so that I would not have to see their intimacy. I questioned how she knew to find him in Nibelheim and the reason for her being here and I was rewarded. Sitting side by side on the old water clock, Ash handed Vincent an exquisitely wrapped package.

"Happy Birthday, Vince." Her smile was full of love.

Today was his birthday and I had forgotten all about it. Forgotten·the bits and pieces about him.

There was nothing left for me to hold on to. Vincent was no longer mine, my plan had worked, I had driven away into the arms of another woman. I crept away, my head bent in defeat. Swallowed by the shadows of the deserted streets, I wished them happiness as the tears rolled unheeded down my face, streaking my cheeks with the mark of my misery.

 

Chapter Nine

Renouncement (Part Two)

" With my own hands
I severed the ties that once bind
Two hearts, two soul
Devastating us together· "

Scene Three: The Finale

Setting: Basement Laboratory

Actors: Gast, Hojo and Lucrecia

"Brain wave activity registered from Jenova is getting stronger, this is simply amazing," Gast could not help exclaiming excitedly.

"President Shinra will be delighted to hear about our progress and now that everything has stabilized, we can return to Midgar." He carried on exuberantly.

Return to Midgar where a new chapter of my life would begin, where I would put all the past behind. There was neither sorrow nor joy but a resigned feeling. Our love started too fast and ended too soon, such a bittersweet and poignant relationship. I had left Vincent a note, asking to meet me near the square at dusk. It was time to say farewell.

"Well, Iāll see to the preparation for our journey back then," Gast gave a jaunty wave as he left the room, whistling the strain of an old tune.

Now that we were alone, Hojo turned his attention away from Jenova to me. I would have said that I was flattered because ever since Jenova was reconstructed, Hojo had only eyes for her inhuman beauty. Sometimes, I could have sworn that the looks he gave were almost like that of a man for his lover.

"Iāve been a patient man, Lucrecia. What is your answer?" Hojo did not bother to conceal his irritation.

"You will have your answer this evening, I promise. Iāll see you at the entrance to the square."

"Dare I hope that I wonāt be disappointed?" His voice was filled with sarcasm, which he directed fully at my retreating back.

-----Scene Change-----

Setting: Nibelheim Town Square

Actors: Hojo, Lucrecia and Vincent

"Well? So what will it be?" Hojo grabbed my arms with enough force to bruise, his eyes aglow with fevered intensity. There was not one single gentle pane in that thin sharp-featured face so near my own.

"The answer is yes, Hojo. I will marry you and give you my aid on that experiment." My voice was toneless.

"Good, at least this will not be wasted." His smile was more of a derisive grin as he fished out a plain platinum ring from a pocket.

It hurt when Hojo forced the band onto my rigid, resisting finger. I stared at the small, gleaming circle of metal that I now wore. This was to be the manacle that would chain me to the very depths of hell. Having gained what he wanted, Hojo left me standing alone, hurrying back to his precious Jenova. A peal of deranged laughter escaped from my throat. I could not control myself, laughing and crying at the same time. If only I was truly mad, it would have been such an easy way out. What a travesty, to wed a man I did not love and to forsake the one who I did.

I dashed the tears from my face in an attempt to conceal my distraught. Vincent would be here soon and speaking of the devil, he appeared just as I managed to get my composure under control. He looked fine, happy in fact with almost a glow on his face. Probably, the aftermath of having spending the previous night with Ash, I wondered for a moment if he had made love to her as he once did me. But it did not matter any more, from today on; we were strangers living separate lives. What he would do, whom he would love, was no longer of my concern.

"Lucrecia, Iāve missed you." The words were heavy with feeling.

"Hello Vincent, itās been a long time." I kept my voice emotionless, detached.

"Had a good time with Ash yesterday?" The question was asked nonchalantly. If he was surprised, he did not show it.

"Yes, she especially detoured on her way back to Midgar so that she could give me this." Vincent reached into his jacket and withdrew Ashās gift.

It was a silver revolver, beautifully tooled with exquisite workmanship. Such a weapon was not commonly available; Ash must have gone through considerable trouble to get it made. It was a gift of love and it fitted Vincent perfectly just as the woman who gave it to him; fitted him the way I never could.

"So nice of her·" I sighed.

"Whatās wrong? You sound unhappy. What has happened? Tell me, Lucrecia."

Vincent caught my limp, nerveless hand, his face full of concern. I pulled away, unable to bear this gentle cruelty. As I wrench my hand from his grasp, Hojoās ring caught a ray of the dying sun, a flash that Vincent could not fail to see. His eyes widened in confusion.

"Itās over. Everythingās over between us. Iām going to marry Hojo·"

"No·it canāt be! I know there are problems between us but surely we can work them out. No! Lucrecia, you canāt marry Hojo! You donāt love him!" Vincent shook his head violently in denial.

"Itās you I donāt love anymore, Vincent. Staying together will only make things more miserable. You already have Ash so let me go. Let me be free."

I had passed the point of no return, all my bridges burned. My own condemnation I proclaimed. I left him, a lone broken figure in the gathering twilight, without a backward glance.

"Goodbye, Vincent."

Epilogue:
Remorse

" Loneliness a life time long,
All I have is gone.
Remorse through each night and day
Since I gave your love away· "

Goodbye.

A word that was so final, no second chance for atonement, why then did I agree to Hojoās plan? The answer was because of my selfishness. I wanted a child that belonged to me wholly. A child that I could love, who would love me back in return without any conditions. Someone that would love me regardless of what I was, who I was.

Hojo knew all about this secret desire and played me for the fool that I were. I was a convenient tool that was discarded once I had outlived his purpose. Gast found out too late to stop him from injecting Jenova cells into me and the baby I had already conceived by then. He could have put a stop to it but I guessed his scientistās thirst for knowledge overwhelmed his conscience to let the experiment continue. The temptation of being able to create another Ancient was too great an opportunity to miss. Sacrifices had to be made in the name of science and the unforgiven sinner that I am, I made my son the innocent lamb.

I named him Sephiroth from the word "seraph" which bore the meaning archangel. My son, my angel that was taken from me right after his birth before I could even see his face. He was apart of me, torn so brutally away. I had lost everything: my love, my son, and my life. I wanted to die and I tried to kill myself but the Jenova cells within me denied me even this. Hojo enjoyed watching my suicide attempts, it amused him to see how fast my body would regenerate after each try. He tormented me with the account of how he altered Vincentās genetic structure, warping him into a beast beneath a humanās guise. Hojo was truly a maniac, a sadist that reaped pleasure from the sufferings of others.

Through the Jenova cells that linked us, I could feel my son, Sephiroth but I was not strong enough to fight the parasitoid and use this bond to reach him. I sensed his despair as he discovered the twisted truth about himself. I could not comfort my son but watch him helplessly as he fell ever deeper into darkness. How he would hate me if he knew who I was. The woman who willingly ruined his life at the very beginning.

I had no right to his mother. From what Hojo chose to relate, Ash had been a better mother to Sephiroth then I would ever be but off course according to him it was not right for that gentle relationship to continue. My worst fears were realized when Hojo brought Ash to see me. Her eyes were vacant, unseeing and it shocked me to see this happening on the beautiful, vibrant woman I once knew. He had tampered her mind, leeching away her memories. So many lives lay to waste because of what I had done. Nothing would stand against him and his goal. The words he said burned themselves into my mind.

"Wasnāt she your rival for Vincentās affections? You should thank me, you know, for destroying her mind. Because of my genius, all memories of him have been destroyed. Arenāt you happy to hear that? She was too involved with our sonās life and as his father I canāt allow this to go on. Donāt you agree? Hahahhhaaahaaaa·."

His laughter echoed through my prison, slowly subsiding into silence, leaving only me and my regret.

 

Under the stars,
Beneath the night,
The song we once sang,
A love I used to have.

You held me safe,
Secure in your warm embrace.
Together we flew,
To a heaven I once knew,

Transient beauty,
Gone too soon.
I forsaken your heart,
Left you alone.

Now my loss,
My sins to pay,
Cursed to hell
Far from grace, I fell.

By my choice,
I doomed my child.
Now as I wait for death,
I had nothing but my regret.

~ Regret



Authorās Notes

The title for this story is so reflective, I was close to regretting writing this fic because it was so hard to continue at some places. Anyway, itās with a big sigh of relief that this story is finally done. It was not very clear from the game about the actual relationship between Vincent and Lucrecia. I believed that she did love him (thatās what this whole thing is about!) but this is only my own personal view. I did not really bother to consider the timing of events so if there are mistakes, I apologize. For those who do not know Ash, she is a character created from my first fic "Broken Angel".

Anyway, I truly regret to say that this may very well be my last Final Fantasy VII fanfic. My fascination with the game is almost totally gone plus the fact Iām really pressed for time. I would really like to thank everyone who has read my stuff and taken the time to email me. I truly appreciated it and it was great getting to know some of you.

I not stopping writing though, just taking a break and moving on. Iāll be back once I find another great game to fire up my imagination. Thanks again for the support.

Sincerely,
Calis
9/9/98

 

Completed FFVII works

1. Broken Angel ö A piece of Sephirothās forgotten childhood

2. Loveless? ö Vincentās second chance

3. Sword Soul ö Sephiroth and Masamune

4. Regret ö Lucreciaās reasons

5. A collection of FFVII poems (Yet to be posted) ö an ode to Sephiroth Vincent and Aerith.

6. Living A Dream ö Zackās story

Frankly speaking, this is not finished yet and Iām still not sure whether Iāll continue it. So far there are six chapters, any one interested in helping me out? ^_^

Disclaimer:

Square reserves the copyright to all Final Fantasy VII characters. All other materials and characters are copyrighted to me, please email me for permission before using them.

Send your comments and questions to calisc@hotmail.com Replies are guaranteed!

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