Final Fantasy VII--Resurrection
Part 2- As the Desert Rose Blooms
Raieyana brushed her blond hair out of her eyes. (I hate wigs, and these contacts are getting painful.) She glanced at Reeve, who looked equally uncomfortable in his new grunge get-up. (No one could recognize that former businessman.) She giggled.
Reeve glared at her. "You look real stupid, too, Raieyana." (Bet you don't feel as stupid as me, though.)
"You're each a laugh riot-and-a-half," said Ishmael, "now don't call each other by names anymore. Ray's wanted, and so are Denmae and I for going AWOL."
They sneaked up towards the airport. "There's no ladder," exclaimed Denmae, "now what?"
Raieyana smiled and climbed up the anchoring rope hand-over-hand.
"Sure," yelled Ishmael, "no one will recognize you if you're doing that!"
She dropped down the ladder. "Hurry up, Ish. You're so slow."
When they were all on deck, Denmae said, "Okay, now who knows how to fly this thing?"
They all looked at Reeve. "Hey," he said, "I've never been on this thing before, either. In person, anyway..."
Raieyana ran to the controls. "Here goes... Denmae, go cut the rope. 1-2-3 takeoff!" The Airship dropped. Now it was hovering less than five feet above the ground.
"Here, I'll do it." Ishmael flew the Airship over Junon and landed at Ft. Condor where the others were waiting.
Vincent saw the Airship hovering over Ft. Condor. "Now to see Lucrecia...get Hope..." he whispered.
Yuffie slapped him on the back of the head. "I owed you one," she said.
He glared at her.
A ladder dropped down before them. Raieyana and Reeve came down, ripping off parts of their disguises. "Where is everyone?" she asked.
Vincent shrugged. "Barret and Cid are at the bar..."
"Go on up, you two," Raieyana said, "we'll get the others when we go to change out of these disguises. These contacts are killing me." And they went inside.
Yuffie crossed her arms and shook her head. "Being on this thing makes me so ill. I don't know why I had to open my big mouth and mention we didn't have the Airship anymore. I'm sooo idiotic. Gawd!" The last yell came as Vincent raised his hand to slap her. Yuffie flew up the ladder and promptly hid in the chocobo stable on the Airship.
When everyone had gotten on the Airship, they resumed the previous conversation about the White materia.
"Well, it's too late to start today. Darn. I know! Let's rest." Yuffie left on this pretense, and everyone ignored her, except for Vincent, who looked oddly aggravated.
"We need to get Holy, and possibly Hope..." Raieyana was saying, when Ruther interrupted her.
"What about the other four?" he asked.
"We should concentrate our efforts on those two, I think," she said.
Barret shook his head. "If there's fourteen of us, we can split into parties of..., umm...(never was too good at dividin'...)"
Raieyana solved his math dilemma. "Four parties of two and two parties of three," she said. "We'll just be too spread out. Together we stand, divided we..."
"...drink," Cid replied, and Vincent, well, slapped him on the back of the head.
"We never really decided how to go about getting the materia, either," Red XIII said.
"For once, Yuffie had a good idea," Tifa said, "I'm tired." She left the deck, followed by Barret, Cloud, Ruther, Denmae, and Cid, who left on various pretenses.
Ishmael said, "Maybe we should split up in more than two parties; time really isn't on our side, Ray." He exited, taking Blane, Ishmael, Red XIII and Vincent with him.
"Aren't you going to leave, too?" Raieyana asked Reeve, turning around and looking at the sky.
Reeve walked over to her. "Do you want me to?" he asked.
She looked worried. "I don't know what to do. They're all expecting me to come up with the answers because I kind of know what Aysta's doing." She sighed. (I wish he'd leave me alone to think.) But it looked like that was not going to happen.
"Do you know why Aysta's doing this?" Reeve asked.
She shook her head. "No...yes...it doesn't matter." She looked at him, and smiled. "I guess it does. Sure, I know, but I don't think anyone else needs to know."
"What?" he asked, confused.
"The reason why Aysta went psycho. Blane and Ish don't even know themselves, and they've been near her in Junon all this time..."
Reeve broke in unexpectedly. "Why do you call Ishmael 'Ish?'"
Raieyana was surprised. (That just came out of the blue.) "I don't know. He calls me Ray because he says Raieyana takes too long to say, so I gave him a nickname."
She glanced at the moon. (It isn't full anymore, so we'll have less light at night.) Raieyana was still of the belief that some evil things lurked out in the dark. Maybe not in closets, but definitely in the wilderness. (At least we're not on the ground.) She shivered, thinking about some of things that could be down there if Aysta had used Mutate.
Reeve looked at her. "Are you cold?" (Maybe I should offer her my jacket.) He had changed back into a business suit.
"No, that's alright," she said, unconsciously moving closer to him. They stood there, watching the night pass by.
Reeve slowly leaned down and kissed Raieyana. Then they both jerked apart as if by reflex. Reeve would have been bright red if it wasn't so dark. "I'm sorry, that was totally uncalled for..." (What were you thinking, Reeve! She's sixteen! That's a ten year difference.) His meaningless apology trailed off into the dark silence.
Raieyana tried to reassure him. "It's okay. Look, it's late. You should go to sleep."
"What about you?" Reeve asked. "You should go to sleep, too." (Because you're only sixteen...) His conscience was not going to let him off the hook, even if Raieyana was.
"I'll be fine," Raieyana was saying, "it's not like I ever get much sleep when I go to bed anyway. Good night." She turned around and looked at him.
"Good night," said Reeve, still embarrassed.
Then he left, and Raieyana was left by herself to think at last. But she only had one thing on her mind. (He's too old for you, Ray. Did you feel when he pulled away? That's when he remembered you were just a kid.) She was still looking to the sky when the sun arose the next morning.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Barret was the first to talk to Raieyana the next morning. (My head feels like hell... Mebbe I should have stopped after the fifth beer...) "Raieyana, I was thinking last night. We really shouldn't go off looking for that materia when we don't really know if Shinra has any of it. Wouldn't want to waste our time. So, it would probably be quicker in the long run if we split up to look for Shinra. We could go in like five groups of three or somethin'. Meet up at Rocket Town in three or four days."
She nodded. "That really is a good idea," she said, "and then we could go look for all the materia, together."
Suprisingly enough, everyone thought that this was a rather good idea. They started splitting up into groups. Something was bothering Reeve, though. (There's only fourteen of us. There'll be one group of two.)
Cid was going with Vincent, so Vincent could keep an eye on him. He was dragging along Yuffie for the same reason, so she could be under his watching eye. They were scoping Wutai, so Yuffie could visit home.
Ruther, Legolas, and Denmae knew each other the best, so they grouped and were going to stay on the continent.
Cloud, Tifa, and Red XIII were going to see if Nibelheim was "still sane," and Barret, Blane, and Ishmael were heading north.
"That leaves you and Reeve, Ray," said Ishmael, "is that okay?" He would have switched groups in an instant if he knew how much the arrangement really bothered her.
"No," she said, "it's okay. Where should we go?"
Barret smiled. "Go to Costa Del Sol. Stay at our villa. Check out Gold Saucer. Give the Shinra manager a vacation."
(Three nights. With him. Alone at a resort. I barely survived one.) Raieyana smiled weakly. "Sure," she said.
"Allright," said Cid, "I'm dropping everyone off."
('There'll never be anyone for me but you, Ray...' Why didn't I go with her?) Ishmael was being troubled by his memories.
"So Barret," asked Blane, "where to?"
Barret shrugged. "Dunno. Guess go to Icicle Inn to look for Shinra. Then go to Rocket Town."
They saw nothing. All in all, it was an uneventful four days excluding the fact that Ishmael and Blane had to carry a drunk Barret back to their hotel room from the bar every night.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Ruther, Denmae, and Legolas were sitting at the tavern in Kalm, when Sgt. Michaels walked in. Denmae shot a disparaging look at Ruther, who had convinced them they didn't need to be hiding.
Sgt. Michaels smiled coldly. "Well, Privates Randolph, Larsen, and Masterson," he said, nodding to Ruther, Denmae, and Legolas in turn. Several other Soldiers walked in. "Handcuff them and bring them back to Headquarters," Sgt. Michaels said.
Denmae tried reverse psychology. "Don't bother. We want you to take us away. In fact, we were sitting here just hoping you'd find us. It wasn't that hard. Maybe we should try again," she said. Two large Soldiers started leading her away.
Legolas shook his head. "Well, that didn't work."
They were flown in a Gelnika from Kalm and imprisoned in the nice, brand-new jail cells of the Shinra building.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Yuffie was arguing with her father. "But Dad," she said, "we still need the materia. In fact, we got to go find more and prevent the latest psycho Shinra president from destroying the world."
Godo wasn't budging. "You told me you were getting me the materia. Now hand it over."
Now Yuffie was really pissed off. (If he isn't just the most stubborn sonofa...) "Unless you want me to whoop your as--, I mean butt, again, you better just let it drop."
"You are NOT going to talk to me like that, young lady! Now..."
Godo was interrupted by Cid. "You know, Mr. Kisaragi, we really do need Yuffie's materia. And Yuffie, of course. (I guess...) We thought you'd understand. But, if you're really tight on funds, Vincent will give you a Master All."
Yuffie looked at Vincent, completely blown away.
He was, needless to say, less than willing to go through with this arrangement. (Well, Wutai is kinda hard up right now. I guess I could always master another one...) Vincent reached in his gun and gave Godo the Master All.
Godo bowed. "That was generous of you, my son."
Yuffie made a face. (Boy am I sick of this Kung-Fu mentor crap!)
He continued. "There are some Turks here. You might find out the information you require. However, I think they are on vacation. They were last seen at Turtles' Paradise."
Cid started to leave. "I've been craving a Turtle Daiquiri for the longest time..."
Vincent shook his head and followed after him.
Yuffie watched them leave, then turned around to face her father. "You know, Dad, it was sooo rude to accept that materia. We are on a battle to save the planet. You told me to use my strength and determination, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda, and you're sitting here all ungrateful, demanding the materia when WE AREN'T DONE YET!" Her voice had risen nearly to a scream.
Vincent was standing in the doorway, amused. "Yuffie, are you coming already?"
Yuffie glared at her father and walked away, muttering. (You'll see if you'll get any respect from me anymore...damn selfish, conceited loser who's been pouting and hiding in this lousy pagoda just because he lost the stupid war. I guess I should repay Vincent. After all, my dad's being unreasonable. Like, it was sooo cool that Vincent gave up the materia, though, just to shut him up. I think I have a Level 3 All in my house. Maybe he'll want that.)
Cid, Vincent, and Yuffie walked into Turtles' Paradise and wound up almost face to face with Elena.
"Outta my way," she blurted. Honestly, she looked kind of frustrated.
"What's wrong with you, bitc--, umm, loser." Yuffie had barely calmed down enough to use that nice little euphemism.
"Not like you would care, but we've located one of the White materia here in Wutai. On Da-Chao, to be exact."
"What the hell, Elena?" Reno had just walked in. "Are you gonna tell them everything, like how Spirit is on Cactus Island?"
Elena stuttered. "Well, umm, but, you just..."
Reno turned pale when he realized what he had just said. "The hell I did Elena, /that was just to throw them off/," he whispered loudly. He looked at Yuffie and laughed nervously. "We'll just be going now, because we're on vacation," he said emphatically. Then they left in a rush.
Cid walked over to the bar. "I'll have one Turtle Daiquiri, extra stren---" Vincent had grabbed him by the collar and jerked him back over to where he and Yuffie were standing. "What was that for---"
Vincent was impatient. "We got to get the materia here, and we've got to get it NOW!"
"Really Vincent, you're such a drag," said Yuffie.
He glared at her.
"What is your problem, Vincent? There is no rush to find or search for this materia, because I know where it is."
Cid and Vincent stared at her.
She looked back and forth between the two of them. "I found it a couple of years ago, while going up to Da-Chao to meditate. I didn't remember until just now. I didn't think it was worth anything, because it was white. So I hid it on a very good spot on the mountain."
Vincent looked at her. "How good of a spot?" he asked.
Yuffie smiled. "I'll just have to show you, won't I?"
Vincent turned away, and blushed. (Why did she look at me like that?)
Cid walked over to the bar. "I'll have one Turtle Daiquiri, to go---"
Vincent grabbed him by the collar, and they headed towards Da-Chao.
They were standing on the highest pinnacle of Da-Chao, right in front of the face of one of the massive figures in the sculpture. "Where do we go from here?" Vincent asked.
Yuffie reached over to the right eyelid, and pushed it up, kind of like a pocket door. Inside of the "socket" of the eye, a White materia orb was fitted. She took out her pocket knife, wedged it against the materia, and pulled it out.
Cid looked extremely amazed. "How did you ever find that hiding spot?"
Yuffie shrugged. "It was a place they used to hide a materia during the war, as a last resort. You're cornered, lead them up here, they're so smug, pull out the hidden summoner, wham, bang, thank you Leviathon--they're gone."
Vincent silently laughed at the way she put it. (I wonder if she knows what she just said? Or maybe I only got that connotation because I'm the one having the problem. I'll just ignore her for awhile.)
She continued. "Of course, it only works once. Element of surprise and all that sort of crap. But the war ended, and the materia was removed, and now you guys and I are the only ones that know of the existence of this exceptionally cool hiding place."
"One would assume so, I guess, if one thought they were alone." Yuffie jumped and whirled around. Rude was standing there, hand outstretched.
She walked over to him. "You shouldn't sneak up on people like that. Geez, man, if you think I'm just gonna, like, hand it over, you are definitely a few eggs short of a dozen, if you know what I mean."
Elena walked over the peak. "If you do, though, kid, we may not have to kill you. We can just leave it at maimed seriously or disabled for life."
Vincent spoke out angrily. "If you challenge us, you will end up being the gimp."
Everyone cracked up, even the Turks.
Vincent put his head in his hands. (That decides it. I've been hanging around Yuffie way too long.)
"Alright kids, the variety show's over." Reno came over the top. "Give us Mercy or you will die a truly painful death."
"Sure," said Yuffie, "I'll give you mercy. I'll count to ten and if you leave I won't--oh, Mercy is the name of the materia." Both sides prepared for battle.
Yuffie opened things up with an Ice-All, Ice-Steal as Well combination. She got a Ziedrich from Rude, another Minerva Band from Elena, and some Electro-Mag rod thingy from Reno, which she promptly threw back. It hit him smack-dab in the middle of his forehead and he was down for the count, for the time-being, that is...
Elena cast Bolt on Yuffie, and Cid got her in the shoulder with the Sepulchre Lance. Vincent shot Rude in the leg. Rude punched Vincent and broke his nose. Blood started spurting out.
Yuffie turned around and glared at Rude. When Doom of the Living was over, he had a severe concussion, several broken limbs, and a jaw that just wouldn't go back into its original position.
Reno, now awake, electrocuted Yuffie with the Electro-Mag rod she was stupid enough to throw back. Cid caught a major artery on Reno's arm with the lance, so the Turks limped away, with Elena in the middle supporting the men.
"Don't you think for a moment we'll forget this," she yelled as they slowly went down Da-Chao.
Vincent cast Cure3 on Yuffie.
"You idiot," she said, sitting up. "You're still bleeding and you cure me? Tell him he's a fool," she said to Cid.
"You're a foo--" began Cid, but Yuffie cut him off.
"Fine, Vincent, I'll cure you." She cast Cure3 and his nose was back into position, completely healed. "Is it okay now?" she asked, concerned, looking him straight in the eye.
Vincent nodded. "It's nine fow...I mean, it's fine now," he stammered.
"Let's get down," said Cid.
Cid was sitting in Turtles' Paradise, finally having his Turtle Daiquiri.
Yuffie was debating whether ir not to give the Level 3 All to Vincent. She walked over to where he was standing, the fountain.
(Reminds me of Lucrecia's waterfall...) he thought.
"Vincent," said Yuffie, "It was real cool how you handled my dad, and gave him your own Master All."
Vincent waved his hand. "It was nothing. Just a material possession. In the end we are all nothing. Just lonely souls in the endlessly flowing Lifestream..."
Yuffie cut off his poetical lament. "I just want to, like, reimburse you for what you did. If anyone should be put out for my dad, it should be me. I'm responsible for what he does. Sometimes I feel like I'm the parent instead of him."
Vincent looked at her, wondering if she was serious or if she had somehow convinced the bartender to give her a drink.
"I want to give you an All. It's not mastered, but then, when it is, you'll get the new one from it, unlike an All that's just mastered and I hand it over and that's it..." Yuffie realized that she was rambling on and on and on, so she wisely shut up. (Gawd, why am I such a friggin' moron? Why can't I seem to say anything remotely intelligent in front of this man?)
Vincent shrugged. "Where is it?" he asked.
"Well," she said, "it's at my house, but I could go get it and bring it to you."
He shook his head. "That's okay. I'll just go with you. There's nothing in this bar to make me want to stay, not even the Turtle Daiquiris."
About an hour later, Cid looked around and noticed Vincent and Yuffie were gone. (They must've gotten, *urp*, sick of me drinkin' and gone to her house to play Turbo Grafx 16 or something.) He staggered to her house, and was just about to go in when he heard some, ahem, odd noises coming from the inside. He peered inside of window. (Isn't he gonna hurt her with that claw, now that she isn't wearing any clothes?) He slowly plodded back to the bar, and drank about 5 more daiquiris to erase the very strange scene from his memory.
Vincent woke up the next morning in Yuffie's bed, in Yuffie's shorts and nothing else. He carefully peeled them off with his one good hand and dressed back in his normal attire. (I don't seem to remember why I put those on, but I do remember putting them on. Oh God, I never wanted this to happen...)
For, of course, Yuffie was also in her bed, right next to where Vincent had been laying. She was covered up with a blanket, but she obviously wasn't wearing her shorts, if that was the only article of clothing missing. She woke up, groaning. (Oh my head... How did I hurt my head?)
Vincent looked at her. "You banged it against the wall, when, right after, umm..."
She closed her eyes and sank back onto the bed. (This has to be the dumbest thing I have ever done...) "Vincent, did I ever even give you that materia?"
Vincent shook his head, acting very sad.
"Ohmygod, I am such an IDIOT!"
They looked at each other, and burst out laughing.
"Uh, Yuffie?" Vincent said, "I think your shorts might be a little stretched out..."
They left, fully clothed, and rather guiltily, I might add, to find Cid. He was passed out at the bar. They shook him awake.
"Well," said Yuffie, "we didn't find out much news, but we have a White materia. Can we go to Rocket Town now?"
Cid shook his head. "Don't-know-my-head-hurts-Shera-hates-it-when-I-drink-where's-my-goddamn-tea?" He followed them, mumbling, back to the Airship, but they would keep him grounded until at least the next day, or the day after, or perhaps even...
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Nibelheim was as lame as ever.
(At least there aren't any Sephiroth clones anymore) Cloud thought.
Red XIII sniffed the air and looked around. "This place always has a strange smell around it," he said.
Tifa sighed and looked around. "If there's going to be anyone anywhere around here, I have 1000 gil on the reactor..."
They headed towards Mt. Nibel. Cloud saw a something shiny on the ground. He picked it up. (A lousy Moogle Energy Bar wrapper.) He threw it back.
Tifa snatched it back off the ground. "Cloud," she said, exasperated, "two things: number one, if there's a wrapper on the ground, some one was here recently. That's a good sign. Number two, for the love of God, don't litter."
Cloud shrugged. "I had forgotten about your new little ecology kick." They continued on to the reactor.
Tifa shivered. (This place gives me the willies.) She looked down and saw the place where her father had died. (And for a good reason, too.)
They walked into the main part of the reactor, and saw Heidegger and Scarlet. Oddly enough, they were arguing over which type of chocobo races better: Black or Wonderful.
"Wonderfuls dash about as well as my dead grandmother," Scarlet was saying.
"Golds are the best of all," said Cloud softly.
They both turned around and looked at the trio as they entered the chamber. Heidegger snorted. "They probably think Jenova's still here."
Scarlet raised an eyebrow. "Not funny. So, what are you rejects doing in here? This reactor, may I remind you, is owned by Shinra, Inc. As the trespassers you are, we are allowed to have you removed--by force." Scarlet and Heidegger prepared for battle.
(Puh-lease!) Tifa cracked a cocky smile and put her hands on her hips. "Maybe if we had any time to spare on you bozos..."
Red XIII said, "We'll forget what you just said if you tell us your purpose here."
Scarlet walked towards him. "Wouldn't you like to know?"
Cloud drew the Lowlellean and pointed it towards Heidegger.
"Well, umm, gee," he muttered.
Scarlet made a motion to move towards Cloud, but Tifa made a threatening gesture. "Allright, allright, enough already," Scarlet said, "we're here to find some lost files of Hojo's. They weren't in the mansion, so we thought they might be sealed in here. Where Jenova used to be."
Heidegger looked ready to bolt. "But this place is creepy, so we're leaving now, okay?"
Cloud let him and Scarlet walk away.
"Why would Hojo's papers be important?" Tifa asked.
Cloud shrugged. "Dunno."
Red XIII said, "Maybe Raieyana knows. She knew everything about the White materia, and she also knows Aysta. Real well, at that."
"Wait a minute," Tifa said, "this means we can't do much of anything until we meet back up in Rocket Town."
Cloud sighed. "I don't want to spend another minute here. No one will know if we get to Rocket Town a day or two early." So they left Nibelheim, relieved, and headed to Rocket Town.
Raieyana had never been to Costa Del Sol before, except on her way somewhere else. (I have never gotten a chance to stay here for an extended period of time. And now I don't want to be here. This is way too difficult.)
Reeve smiled at her. "I haven't seen the villa in person before. We can stop in there first and get rid of our stuff. I remember how we used our collective money to buy this thing. 300,000 gil. Wow!"
Raieyana raised an eyebrow. "Looks like you got ripped off." They walked inside. She shook her head. "Not worth even 150 thousand."
Reeve silently walked to the side door, opened it, and walked out.
Raieyana followed him and gasped at what she saw. "An ocean view...I would pay 300,000 for the view alone."
He walked back into the villa. "Well, I can guarantee you that there aren't any Shinra in the villa. Maybe we should go look for them."
"Okay, Reeve, where do you suggest? The bar, the inn, or the beach? I can tell you one thing, you are not dressed for the beach."
"Hey," he said, "at least I always look pulled-together."
"And I don't?" She turned around, displaying her tasteful outfit of a long-skirted, dark blue dress and silver cardigan. She looked hot, well, to Reeve anyway.
(Gotta stop staring at her like that. But I just can't help myself, damn it.)
"So," said Raieyana, "I'll check the beach and you can check the inn and the bar, if you don't think you'd look too out of place."
Raieyana was reclining in a lounge chair on the beach. She scanned the shore. (No Shinra socialites here. Well, if Reeve doesn't find anyone, assuredly some of the others did. I hope no one found Aysta. That would not be a good thing at this stage of the game.) She saw Reeve walking towards her across the sand.
"Nothing, nothing, and nothing at the shop either. I stopped there because I needed some sunscreen."
(Well, his nose is getting kind of red. But I guess he knows that already.) "Look, Reeve, the sun's going down. We can spend the night here and go to Gold Saucer in the morning."
"Okay," he said, "do you have a Gold Card?"
"Evidently you don't. Should we head over?"
Raieyana got up and they both walked to the villa.
Raieyana was looking around. (Two beds, good sign. In the same room, very bad sign. What to do, what to do...) "I'll sleep on one of the couches in the living room."
"Why?" Reeve asked.
"Well, uh," Raieyana muttered. (I don't want him to know that I'm thinking that he's thinking something when he's not thinking it and I'm just thinking it because I'm the only one with anything of the sort in my head.)
"Just...hey, Raieyana, if you're that uncomfortable, I'll go sleep on a couch." (Can she see it in my eyes? Is it that plain? Can't I just stop wanting her...) Reeve looked at her. (No, just not going to happen.)
"It's okay, Reeve. I'm just...being stupid." She laid down.
He cautiously climbed into the other bed. "I'm going to turn out the light, okay Ray..ana? (I almost called her Ray again because that's what I'm calling her in my head now!) Goodnight." He reached over and shut off the lamp.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Raieyana was dreaming. She knew it, and she couldn't stop it. She'd been having this dream for years, and every once and awhile it would get a little more vivid. This was one of those times. She was standing in a dark cavern. Someone was with her, but there was no problem. (I know him, I trust him, I love him.) She was there for a purpose, but for some reason she was very sad. (I feel it coming, forboding, senselessly stumbling towards me. My destiny.) Her companion stepped in front of her. He raised a sword. (The Evenstar.) She felt the blade go through her chest, and she fell. The man stepped out of the shadows, and for the first time ever, she could see his face. (Reeve...)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Raieyana woke up covered in a cold sweat. (Oh God, no. It can't be.) But every feature of his face stood out in her mind like it did in the dream. She got up and walked over to where Reeve was sleeping. (He couldn't. He doesn't have the face of a killer.) She was trembling. She felt a tear slip down her cheek. (There's no malice in his eyes--there wasn't even any in the dream. Oh, I can't stay in here.) She walked out onto the balcony. She looked at the sky. (No moon. Meteor just made a mess out of everything.) Raieyana looked at the constellation right overhead. (The Judge. Why do you always look so menacing? I've done nothing, nothing. Nothing.) She opened the notebook she had carried out with her. (Translation, translation, where's the report? Ah, here.) She removed a thick booklet from one of its pockets. Jenova: The Offspring Project.
[Day 35: Embryo split into two distinct halves. Both female, oddly, not identical. This may mean something...
Day 68: Female One showing characteristics dominantly of mother. Female Two showing characteristics of neither parent. Of course it is too early in development to categorize either...
Day 218: Female One ready to exit artificial womb. Female Two must be removed in the next day or so...
Post Script: No initial reaction to Jenova. Neither child looks like Sephiroth, although Female One has definitely inherited dominantly from the Ancient's genes. Told Tseng Amine the children were produced from him. Needed to get them away from the lab. I am expecting to see the girls again whenever my Reunion Theory is proved to be accurate...]
(I am so glad Dad told me Aysta was my sister before he died. Now I know for sure.) Raieyana bowed her head. The tears were coming down in a steady stream now. "Aeris could hear her mother, why can't I hear anyone? What, what am I supposed to do?" she whispered.
"Maybe you should tell someone what you know about all this mess."
She turned her head and saw Reeve. "I had a bad dream."
Reeve smiled, sat down next to her, and put his arm around her. "That can't be anything compared to what will happen if Aysta resurrects Sephiroth."
Raieyana sniffed. "I saw my own death. Every dream I've ever had before has come true, like a prophecy, except this one, but it's reoccurred since...a long time ago. It doesn't really matter much. Just shook me up a little. But if you want to know about Aysta...
"We grew up together. She was my cousin. My aunt's daughter. We were just like sisters. But you know that. Little did we know, we really were sisters. But I'm getting ahead of myself. When Hojo told Tseng I was his daughter, he lied. And not only that, Hojo told him Aysta was his daughter, too. Tseng gave Aysta to my aunt because she had lost her husband in the war as it was beginning and she had just had a miscarriage. So then she had a baby to love... He kept me, so Ifalna could raise me if she wanted to. But he never found her, so he had Aula raise me, too.
"When Aysta and I were older, we went to Undor-Hai for training. We learned things about the Ancients, how to translate their language. Then I started following you guys, in Nibelheim. I went to the mansion, and found this." She showed Reeve the report. "I found out who I really was. I didn't know any better, so I brought it to Aysta. She didn't seem to take it that hard. Then. I knew she was trying to get on the good side of Rufus. I didn't know she had started to use mind control on him. I didn't know that her plan to save the planet had changed into a plan for herself. Then everything changed.
"I never told Tseng that I wasn't really his daughter, that Sephiroth was my father. It would have been too much for him. He did tell me that Aysta and I were twins. So I knew she was the second one. I think Aula had her tattoo removed when she was little, but me..." She showed Reeve the blue tattoo "I" on the inside of her right wrist. "That's how I knew the report was about me. We both have Jenova in us, tons of Mako, too. I don't know how Aysta did it, but I almost died trying to avoid the Reunion. Things settled down after Sephiroth was defeated, and then I learned Aysta was the new president. We had translated Ancient texts at Undor-Hai. I never thought she would use them against me..."
Reeve looked at Raieyana. "Mind control? Can you?"
She looked away. "Well, kind of. I have a few times. But it never gave me any satisfaction. Aysta always seemed to enjoy it, getting other people to do things she wanted them to. I guess the combination of Jenova and Ancient produced someone adept at mind control. And the hypnosis we learned at Undor-Hai just makes it that much easier for her."
"Why didn't just tell us all this when you met us?" Reeve asked.
Raieyana looked at him. "Please don't be mad. I just didn't think any of you could have trusted me if you knew I was..." She lowered her voice. "...Sephiroth's child."
Reeve sighed. (How could she be...his daughter? And be like this?) "I understand why you did what you did."
"Do you think anyone else will?" she asked.
Reeve shrugged. "Maybe not. But then, maybe they don't know how hard it is for you." (Look at her, she's so upset. But we only know what Aysta's plan is because of her. She's too good for them to think...)
"Reeve, why wouldn't they understand? Sephiroth killed my mother, he killed Tseng, the man who really was a father to me, and Aysta wants to bring him back. Why would I ever want to..."
Reeve took her hand. "I don't think anyone's going to be that unreasonable," he said.
She shook her head. "But then again, why wouldn't they be unreasonable?"
"Look at me Raieyana, you have done nothing wrong. If they can't accept who you are, then you don't need them."
She sniffed. "I can't do it alone."
"You're not going to be alone." (I won't let you. Never.) He brushed a lock of hair from her face. He kissed her, and this time neither one of them pulled away. (Only sixteen...) Reeve quieted his conscience, and gave into his heart.
Yuffie stunned all by handing over Mercy willingly. "I just can't do anything with it," she said.
Raieyana put it in one of the slots in the Evenstar.
"Just wonder why Shinra needs this report so bad," said Cloud.
"I think Raieyana has it," said Reeve quietly.
"So, why's it so special?"
Raieyana told her whole story, and exhibited her tattoo. They all looked at her in awe, except for Reeve.
"Sephiroth's..." whispered Cloud.
"That's what's wrong with Aysta," Raieyana said.
Barret stood up. "How the hell do you know it's not gonna happen to you!"
She stood up and faced him. "I don't! But I've stayed sane until now, at least."
"Well, what are we going to do about Ruther, Legolas, and Denmae?" Tifa asked.
"What about them?" asked Barret.
"In case you haven't noticed," said Tifa, "they're not here."
"When we were at Icicle Inn, we saw Soldiers looking for AWOLs. I just wouldn't have thought them to be stupid enough to get captured," said Blane.
Ishmael looked at Raieyana. "Denmae is on Aysta's good side, for one thing. She got promoted really fast. She might be able to get off. But that leaves Ruther and Legolas. Now, what to do about that, I don't know. Ray, do you have any ideas?"
"I think Aysta probably has complete control over Denmae now, because you said that they were in close contact."
"So what," Cid said, "are we just going to forget about them? Is Aysta's control so powerful?"
She shook her head. "No, I just think we're not going to get Denmae back at this point." Vincent asked her if she thought Denmae was a spy for Aysta. "I don't know. That might have been what she had in mind when she went with us. But we have to get Legolas and Ruther, before Aysta has a chance to do...anything. She might have had them for nearly four days now."
Cid started walking over to the Highwind. "So where we headed? Junon?"
Raieyana shrugged. "Junon is the best place of any."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"President?" Scarlet walked in to Aysta's office, leading Denmae. "On top of everything else, the Airship has been spotted at Ft. Condor."
Aysta's chair spun around to face her. "Good to know," she said, "now Scarlet, leave my friend here." She smiled at Denmae. "We have some catching up to do."
"Yes'm." Scarlet undid Denmae's handcuffs and left the room.
Aysta's smile had turned cruel. "Now what did you think you were doing, friend, leaving Junon, leaving me? It wasn't a very nice thing to do now, was it?" Her voice was bewitchingly sweet, like poisoned candy.
Denmae looked ashamed. "I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking, Ays--"
"What were you thinking?" Aysta's yell rang through the room. "You went and joined with the enemy. Went AWOL from Soldier. Betrayed not only me, but everyone here in Junon. Did they tell you I was bad, did they tell you I was wrong, did they tell you I was the enemy? Who is your friend? Who has done so much for you? Who have you denied?"
Denmae started to cry. "You, Aysta. I am so horrible, so terrible, no punishment you have could be bad enough."
Aysta reclined in her chair. (Really, mind control is so boring.) "I think you've had punishment enough. As for your two companions, well, they have a little something special in store for them." She pushed a button on the intercom.
"Heidegger? Have you prepared the acid yet? Oh, another two hours? Well, that better be just as long as it takes or...uh-huh, okay, if it's to wait for the stronger stuff, I may be able to understand. But you know my compassion only lasts so long. Unless it is ready pretty damn fast...well, you get the picture. I don't want to be kept waiting any longer than necessary. Hurry, if you know what's good for you."
She looked at Denmae. "You will go down with me and see how I treat traitors that I don't know so well."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Raieyana looked over the edge of the deck of the Airship. She looked at Reeve. "I really don't want to parachute down there."
He hugged her. "Me either. Last time it was a stuffed body. I felt a little more comfortable then. But we can't risk getting caught walking in to Junon, now that our disguised selves are wanted for Airship theft."
Yuffie shrugged. "Anything to get off this Airship!"
Cloud walked over. "Are you guys ready?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," said Raieyana.
He looked over at Barret, Blane, Tifa, and Vincent, who were suiting up. "Remember, don't come down until thirty minutes after we do. We check top half, you check bottom."
Blane glared at him. "If you repeat those orders I've heard a million times already one more time, I swear to God you won't be saying much of anything again."
"Blane!" Raieyana just looked at him. "If you don't want these guys all to jump you, you better just shut your mouth. All right, let's just get this over with." (Since we have absolutely no idea how we're going to infiltrate the Shinra building.)
Ishmael walked over. "Here's all the passwords," he said. "Be careful, Ray."
"I will," she said, and they walked to the railing. "Here goes nothing."
They parachuted down into Upper Junon and landed in front of the weapons shop. They quickly went into an alley to get rid of the parachutes.
"So is that our plan?" Raieyana asked. "Use passwords, hope they work, find our friends, hope Aysta hasn't decided to torture them to a horrific death?"
Yuffie looked at her. "Better be ix-nay on the horrific death part. My stomach still hasn't settled yet. That would not be a good plan."
"Well," Cloud said, "besides that, it's all anyone could come up with. At least we have the passwords. We have Ishmael to thank for that."
"I think," said Reeve, "we should get going now. We have the top half of the building to search, right?"
Cloud nodded. "Yup, the others got the bottom."
(So we got in no problem, right? Why did we take the elevator?) Slowly moving to floor 35, Raieyana was musing in the elevator. (So Aysta, what floor is your torture chamber on? You never used to forgive anyone when you were little, why should than change now? The more the power, the worse the vengeance.) The last sentence repeated through her head like a mantra.
"Floor 35," Reeve joked, "silks and fine linen."
Cloud looked at him. "What was on floor 35 when you worked at Shinra, Reeve?"
"Oh, the Soldiers' quarters..." They were greeted by ten heavily armed guards. "ummm, guess it still is."
Yuffie jumped forward and immediately hit them with Slash-All. One of the Soldiers shot her in the arm. "Owww," she said.
Raieyana promptly started beating that one on the head with her staff.
(That looks pretty funny) Reeve thought. He suddenly found himself one-on-two. (But this is definitely not funny.) He clumsily drew his knives. He twirled them around in a strange pattern. One of the Soldiers stuck a sword in his leg.
Cloud cut off his head.
"Thanks, man," Reeve said.
Cloud shook his head. "Don't thank me yet." He started battling another one.
Yuffie cast Earth2. Two more dead. "Another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust, yeah!" A Soldier hit her on the head with the flat of his sword.
Raieyana pushed a button or her staff. Two star-shaped blades popped out of the ends. She cut off the heads of two more and started after a third. She jumped back as Reeve cast a blast of Fire2, and Soldier-boy went up in a puff of smoke. "Y'know, you could have told me you were gonna do that."
"Sorry, Ray, I was aiming for that one." He pointed to the one who was still beating Yuffie.
Raieyana shrugged and quickly slashed off the heads of the two that had tried to sneak up behind them.
Cloud walked up to the last one, who was still taking out his frustrations on Yuffie, and tapped him on the shoulder. "Hi," he said, the Soldier turned around, and then Cloud cut off his head.
Yuffie groaned. "Cure, anyone?"
Cloud cast White Wind.
Reeve looked at Raieyana. "Ray, you still got a cut, and it's bleeding." He reached up and touched her forehead.
She shrank back. "It's okay."
"I'll just cast Cure."
"Reeve, I'm fine." She headed toward the building directory.
"Well, guys, we have just been battling the force on the defense headquarters floor. According to this, we've knocked out 10 of the 15 officers stationed in this building. Oh yeah, and the jail is the entire 65th floor."
Cloud walked over. "Well, to the elevator."
"Just a sec," called Raieyana, as she attached a bandage from the first aid kit on the wall over the cut on her forehead.
"To floor 65," said Yuffie as they stepped into the elevator.
(36...37...38...why didn't the materia work on me? 43...44..45...why does Reeve look so cute staring at the lighted up numbers like a little kid impatiently waiting for the right floor? 54...55...56...how does my hair look?) Raieyana took out a mirror and checked her face. (Fighting is bad for my complexion.)
They stepped out onto floor 65. Everything was silent.
"Okay," whispered Cloud, "me and Yuffie go left, you guys go right. The ones who find them yell really loud. Got it?"
Raieyana and Reeve nodded.
"See ya guys, then."
Raieyana checked the first three cells on that side of the passageway. (Empty.) (Empty.) (Empty.)
Reeve was checking the other side of the corridor. (empty...empty...empty) "Ray, no one's in these."
"Here either," she said.
"Aww, too bad," a voice said. They both spun around and were face to face with six guards. Only two of them were officers, like the first ten, wearing cute little badges. Two guards reached out and grabbed Raieyana.
"Hey," said Reeve, "let her go."
One of the officers shook his head. "We were watching you guys on the closed-circuit television. We know you're a lame-ass when it comes to fighting and it's her that we need to keep an eye on. Besides, we have a little something special in mind for your friend." He reached over and caressed Raieyana's cheek. His hand moved slowly lower. "Hey, she might come out alive if she cooperates..."
Raieyana shrank back. "Don't touch me!" she said.
Reeve glared at him. "This is your last warning."
The officer walked up to him. "Don't you get it? We know what we want and we know we don't need to be afraid of you."
Reeve got a funny look in his eyes. Suddenly there was a flash of red all around him. The officer's throat was slashed within a second. Three guards rushed towards Reeve, leaving only two holding Raieyana.
She grabbed each of them and slammed their heads together. "Nighty-night," she said.
Meanwhile, Reeve, who had the other three killed, ran over and decapitated the two she had sent to slumber land. Then he calmed down. "What did I do?" he asked.
Raieyana shrugged. "Ummm, proved what a good fighter you are when you stop thinking quite so much?" Then she heard a soft sound. "Shhh," she said.
"Raieyana...over here...it's Ruther...cell B43."
She ran over and broke the padlock with one of the blades on the ends of her staff. Ruther looked pretty bad. He had a messy gash on his arm and one of his eyes had swollen shut.
"Legolas is next door, he's worse...hurry, they're going to do something to us."
She left and was back in about five minutes, supporting an ailing Legolas. "Reeve, go get Cloud and Yuffie. This is bad."
Everyone who had parachuted down was on the 65th floor. Blane looked at his two Soldier buddies. "You guys, we have to get them out of here."
Barret shook his head. "We're gonna go give those fuckin' Shinra what they deserve!"
Tifa tried to calm him down. "Look at them, Barret. You don't think they fed them here, do you? We have to go back with them now. And we better hope it's easy going getting out of here."
Cloud looked at the group. "Elevator?"
Vincent shrugged. "Might as well," he said.
"Wait!" said Yuffie. "What about Den-what's her name?"
Legolas groaned. "They separated us from Denmae right away. I don't know why..."
"Aysta..." Raieyana whispered.
Everyone stared at her.
"What?" she asked.
Blane pushed a button, and opened the doors of the elevator. "Let's get out of here and hope Denmae had an easy time with Aysta," he said.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"They what?" Aysta was this far from killing Heidegger then and there. "Killed twelve of my officers, took the two prisoners, and then left without a struggle? You better hope I'm hearing you wrong..."
Heidegger stuttered. "Aysta, I wasn't even here, Bruce was in charge, and now he's...well anyway, I just was out for dinner, and I come back, and they're all dead...please don't kill me, Aysta!"
(Blithering idiot! But I suppose he can't help it. Well, sweet sister, the showdown will be sooner than expected. And I'll have to use full force and pull out all the stops. And that means Ishmael and Blane, Raieyana. I bet you never thought they would be the ones to betray you. Well, maybe they wouldn't consciously choose to betray you, but then again, free will isn't very fun anyway. But I can't do anything until you find the White materia for me. If you possibly thought I would go get it myself, when I knew you would...well, let's just say this will be interesting.)
"Heidegger, go get Denmae. And some more guards. In fact, beef up security here. I don't want any more incidents like this one. That will be all."
Heidegger got up from his hands and knees. "Sure thing, Aysta."
Aysta glared at him. "I said that will be all."
Heidegger scurried out.
Aysta leaned back with her hands behind her head. (I wonder who will win? The sly sister, or the naive one who'll spend her whole life trying to save other people's just to make up for her father's actions. It's just too bad her life won't last very much longer. This was just starting to get entertaining.)