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By Calis Cheah
" Forgotten in this watery grave,
It was waiting.
Waiting ever so patiently.
It did not care how much time had passed because time held no meaning. Eons had gone by but its edge was still as sharp as the day it was forged. It recalled the moment of its existence at the hands of a master swordsmith.
Born from ultimate despair, created for solely for death and destruction. It had gotten drunk on the taste of blood in an age of war, following its creator and wielder into countless battles. Becoming feared and dreaded wherever its presence was felt. Known by the name of Masamune, it grew stronger and stronger with each death it delivered. Too late did its master realize that no longer was he in control. Having lost everything he held dear, his hate had vested his creation with a vengeful spirit. Masamune had become a sentient blade with a will of its own, driving its wielder ever closer to the verge of madness.
Masamune felt a brief flash of anger as it remembered how its creator had sought to destroy it by thrusting it into the furnace of its birth but he was not strong enough to stand against Masamune's seductive call. Yet now it lay forgotten by the world in a cavern that time had long sunk beneath the ocean since the days when Masamune saw the sun. Taken to this place by its master who ended his life with his creation's keen edge. The swordsmith always knew without a shadow of a doubt that many would seek his blade for its destructive power. He traveled far, concealing his whereabouts, searching for a place to be his grave as well as a place to hide the demon he gave life to.
Masamune stirred, something had roused it from century long sleep. It sensed an emotion akin to anticipation. Having spent the past and present, standing among what had become bleached white bones, it had learned patience if nothing else.
" Leave the ignorant to dream
"Heideger, how are the recovery operations going on? It has almost been one month since the carrier craft crashed, " President Shinra did not bother to mask the annoyance in his voice. He was clearly displeased.
"Errr... My men are already on it, Sir. There is uhmm... some problem unfortunately. " The stout, scar-faced Head of Military stammered uncomfortably, unable to meet the President's eyes.
"Problem? What do you mean by problem? You do know what the craft was transporting. The refining equipment must be in Gongaga and installed two months before if the new Mako reactor is to be fully functional at its official opening on the 29th of January. " A mighty frown ceased President Shinra's face as he grounded his cigar out in an overflowing ash tray.
"My dear Heideger, I'm sure you remember that the 29th is the founding anniversary of Shinra Corporation. Now it would really be a shame if the reactor cannot be go on-line on the same day after all the announcements, not to mention very embarrassing. " Scarlet smirked openly, goading at the expense of Heideger.
Damn bitch! Heideger thought furiously. It was an open fact that they hated each other, never missing any opportunity to make each other look bad in front of the President. So she thought him a fool but he would prove her wrong even if he have to pull SOLDIER back from the revolts stirred up by Avalanche in the slum sectors. The group was an embedded thorn in Heideger's flesh.
"Deal with it. I don't care what you do, Heideger. See to it that the equipment reaches Gongaga or you'll answer for the consequences. Now leave." President Shinra dismissed him with the thinly-veiled threat.
Heideger stormed out of the President's Office in a foul mood, wishing he could get his hands on Scarlet and throttled her to death. Nothing would make him happier if that were the case. It did not improve his dark disposition to hear her loud, coarse laughter even beyond the thick closed doors. Without a doubt, Scarlet was again mocking him behind his back. Clenching his fists in impotent anger, Heideger snapped his order to his aide.
"I want the best unit of SOLDIER out with the next submarine. See to it!"
" Into uncharted depths, I ventured.
"Approaching crash site, shutting down main engines."
An ominous silence reigned as the ever-present background whine of the motors died. The interior of the submarine was bathed in red light, casting many bloody shadows on the cold steel walls. In the dim, Sephiroth opened his eyes and for a moment thought he had woken up in hell. His fellow SOLDIER was still dozing. There was no time to rest, the two of them had reported directly from the slums for the briefing and were sent out immediately. They were the elite, stronger and more intelligent than a normal soldier, after having been exposed to Mako energy. It was a trial that not many survived but still there was a limit to their endurance.
"Sir, please get ready, this is as far as we will take you. We can't go any closer for fear of drawing out the creature. All the best, Sir!"
Sephiroth did not answer.
His attention was on the darkness that lay beyond. No one had fully explored the ocean's vast depths, unearthing its secrets. His thoughts shifted to the mission at hand. The first recovery sub's crew unprepared had disturbed something while trying to excavate the equipment from the wreckage. The last record on the black box was a mixture of screams of absolute terror and babbling about a monster. No one survived.
This was the problem that plagued Heideger and now Sephiroth and his partner had to deal with it. His orders were precise: find the creature and dispatch it so that the machinery can be recovered and shipped to its final destination. Sephiroth turned away from the view the pothole offered and checked his materia and weapon before nudging his partner, Devin, awake.
"Prepare yourself, we are disembarking in 5 minutes."
" Deep in your lair, you waited
The creature opened one azure eye once bright but now dulled by age. It was old, ancient even among its long-lived kind. Its beautiful emerald scales had long lost their iridescent shine with the passage of time. Indeed, time had no regard for any living being, be they great or small. Everything felt time's touch sooner or later.
Old it may be but it still remembers the name given to it by people long fallen into dust. Zerdarken, the name of the great sea dragon who ruled the oceans, the origin of consternation and devastation. It used to terrorize all that dared venture into its domain, sinking and destroying vessels with its icy breath and the weapons bestowed by nature. Finally, tired of this game it played with the puny humans, Zerdarken returned to the ocean's depths. Its exploits soon forgotten.
The dragon slept a lot due to its great age and it knew the time of its passing was soon. Zerdarken had chosen the cavern long ago to be its home and ultimately its final resting-place. The cavern was a huge hollow subterranean grotto with a natural lagoon and a wide expanse of dry land, just ideal for keeping the serpent's treasures. It was also in this place that the mighty creature discovered a treasure, a sword with a soul, another addition to its hoard.
Zerdarken raised its great horned head and shifted its immense body restlessly. Its slumber had first been broken by the crash of the carrier plane and subsequently by the first recovery submarine. The monster's anger at been wakened had not abated even though it had gained a new bauble and now it sensed another disturbance. It did not help that the sword was emitting a strange humming sound that was giving Zerdarken a terrible headache. It slowly submerged under the blue-green water and waited as a spider waits for the fly.
" Deep in the bowels of the sea,
The entire tail section had been ripped away from the impact of the crash leaving the aircraft in two pieces like a broken toy plane. They entered the plane wreck with utmost caution, ready for any unpleasant surprises. Unable to use any form of light to see, Sephiroth and Devin could only depend on what their infrared goggles showed. They swam through the dark hull like silent ghosts, combing every corner thoroughly. Yet there was no sight of any creature living or dead. To complicate matters more, the equipment they were sent to find was missing.
"Something's not right. It's entirely too quiet, " Devin's voice crackled eerily through the intercom.
"Wait, I want to take a closer look at this section." Sephiroth ran a hand over a series of long deep marks engraved on the metal skeleton.
The marks were almost human-sized and they looked to be made by claws. Extremely sharp claws that slashed across the steel like a knife through hot butter. From the size of the claw marks, Devin was not sure he wanted to think about what lay ahead. What sort of creature were they up against?
"It's a good bet whatever left those, made off with the equipment. So any ideas as to what are we going to do now? There's nothing more here and I don't think we have enough oxygen in our tanks to wait around for the creature to show." Devin looked questioningly at Sephiroth.
"I noticed a cavern when we were approaching the wreck. It's highly possible that it may just be the lair of what we are looking for. I'm checking it out."
"I'll go with you."
As they headed towards the cavern opening that yawned before them like a hungry, gaping maw, Sephiroth heard a humming sound. At first, he dismissed it as the noise from the intercom but as they made their way deeper into the caliginous passage, it grew increasingly louder.
"Devin, did you hear some kind of humming noise?" Sephiroth paused for a moment to ask.
"What noise? I only heard you loud and clear."
"Must be some problem with the intercom unit. Let's go on."
They continued through the tunnel and discovered that the water depth was decreasing. It was not long before Devin found land beneath his feet. Both readied the blades strapped to their backs and proceeded warily out of the water. The sound was getting louder, more urgent. Yet it was not harsh on Sephiroth's ears, instead there was almost a persuasive quality to it. It seemed as if something was calling him, drawing him deeper into this forgotten place.
"Sephiroth, do you think it's safe to light a flare? I can't see a bloody thing. If we've got to fight, I'll rather see what the hell I'm fighting." Devin checked the materia on his scimitar again with a hint of nervousness.
"Light one, I want to see what's in here myself."
It only took a moment to light the flare and illuminate the pitch darkness. Nothing could have prepared them for the sight that met their eyes. Piles of glittering gold and heaps of precious stones that sparkled with hidden fire littered the sandy floor. Devin could not help gaping, what he was seeing was something out of a legend. Sephiroth's keen eyes sported the piece of equipment they were sent to retrieve and at the same time, he found the source of the call.
A sword stood impaled on a pile of bleached white bones, the leather wrapped around the grip long rotten away. Yet there was not a speck of rust on the gleaming blade, light shimmering off its shiny edge like water. It spoke to him with a silent voice, soft, persuasive and sibilant, one word.
" Master, wield me well,
The time had come.
Zerdarken rose with an earth-shattering roar that thundered across the cavern. They would take its treasures, the great beast thought furiously. It opened its massive jaws, drawing air into its lungs.
The two men stood paralyzed momentarily by the frightening splendor of the mighty dragon breaking out of the water. Truly, the creature was a thing of beauty, never had they seen such magnificence and strength. The fury in the azure eyes however broke the trance Sephiroth had fallen into. Shouting a warning, he reflexively dove to the side before a cone of unspeakable cold blasted where he stood.
Jolted into action, Devin took cover behind a pile of gems and retaliated with a series of fireballs. Zerdarken bellowed with pain as the flames scorned its side, blowing off pieces of emerald scales. Whipping its powerful neck, the dragon breathed another freezing blast Devin could not avoid in time. He screamed as the cold burned his legs.
Intent on finishing off its immobilized prey, Zerdarken ignored Sephiroth, moving out of the water entirely on its fins tipped with razor-sharp claws. It was a mistake on the beast's part, its immerse bulk was too ponderous on land rendering it unable to react swiftly. Devin was down but not out of action. Together with Sephiroth, they blasted the dragon alternatively with fire called forth from their materia.
Zerdarken had lived through many battles though and was far from finished. Its long tail circled over its scaly back like a serpent and struck home, slamming Sephiroth against unyielding hard stone, sending his sword flying. There was a sharp crack of bone as he fell, his consciousness almost slipping away. They were losing, their spells depleted. The dragon was wounded, some of its hard protective scales broken away to expose the pale vulnerable flesh beneath. Yet with Devin incapacitated, Sephiroth would not stand a chance against the monster alone in a melee without a weapon.
It was then he heard the voice again.
"Master... I am here..."
Instinctively, Sephiroth reached out and grasped the blade. In that instant, a name flashed across his mind: Masamune. He heard a mental cry of triumph as Masamune awaken fully once more. This was the man, it had been waiting for a whole millenium, the man worthy for it to call Master. They were one, mind and soul, heralds of death and desolation as destiny had foreordained.
"Cover me!" Sephiroth shouted as he hurled his fire materia over to Devin.
Without any hesitation, Sephiroth executed an overhead slash against the exposed dragon flesh. What he had not expected was the annihilative power of the sword in his hands. The cut frayed right to the bone, almost severing the great wrym into two. Zerdarken keened with pain, its horned head snaked towards Sephiroth, ready to breathe an icy death when a fireball seared its eyes. Hate consumed the dragon; it had never felt such agony. Blinded but its senses were still superior, Zerdarken easily marked out Sephiroth's position and lunged, seeking to crush the human between its jaws.
Holding Masamune straight out in front of him, Sephiroth faced the beast without fear. The sword was vibrating; he could feel the unspeakable power within the length of steel. Composed, he braced himself, launching into a twirl at the last second, barely evading the terrible maws. Foiled, Zerdarken sought to rear its head when raw agony tore its windpipe. Great gobs of dragon blood splattered liberally, dying Sephiroth's silver hair red as he thrust Masamune to the hilt into the base of Zerdarken's jugular with all his strength.
The mighty wrym was dying, the immense body thrashing violently in its death throes. Sephiroth lost his grip on Masamune as he was thrown clear as Zerdarken lurched away. Gradually, the sea dragon moved no more. Sephiroth drew a ragged breath as he struggled onto his feet, his body telling quite plainly that he suffered from at least two broken ribs. Staggering, he inched his way over to the gigantic carcass, withdrawing the blade cleanly. Not a single drop of blood marred the shiny edge.
It was strange but Sephiroth felt as if he had found a part of himself, a part that he never knew he had lost. He spoke the sword's name aloud in wonder as he ran his hand over the blade lightly, marveling at the artistry of its creator. He was interrupted by a weak cry.
"Sephiroth? Help me, I can't felt my legs..."
Sephiroth stumbled over to Devin's side and checked his condition. He was all right except for the fact that he would most probably never walk again. After making sure that Devin's intercom unit was working, Sephiroth contacted the waiting submarine crew.
Born from the earth,
This story was supposed to be short but I guess I got a little carried away. A special word of thanks goes to Shadow492 who suggest the whole idea of how Sephiroth got Masamune.
This fanfic is also dedicated to Kouryuu who has waited a long, long time for it to be completed. Sorry!
Last of all, a big thank you to all the people out there who likes the stuff I write. I'll continue to bring you more good stories. Now that's a promise!
Any questions or comments? Please drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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