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Reunion Part 8- Countdown to Eternity (or Solace in Seclusion)
by Quinctia

Chapter 23: Raieyana

Lucrecia is my paternal grandmother, yet I see little or no similarities between us. She looks at me like she knows me well, which I find a little creepy, considering I had never met her before Vincent brought me here...

(The first week was basically one long awkward pause. I swear, I have never felt so uncomfortable in all my life. Vincent said that Lucrecia had experienced something similar to me, but I don't believe that at all. Because you see, Lucrecia's situation was caused by her own free will. She had some idea of what she was getting into before she ever decided to do it. I, however, was forced into this. I had no choice. In fact, it was her past actions that have more bearing on my situation than any of mine. She is the reason I exist, but she is the reason I suffer.)


Today Lucrecia asked me who the father of my baby was. Somehow I don't feel like divulging all the facts surrounding the conception. It's like she's trying to look inside my soul. She's attempting to be empathetic, but it doesn't work. She can't understand me. Even if I tried to explain the situation, I know she'll just look at me like it was my fault. But I'm not like that. I was never like that. I'm not just some whore...

(And I've realized, that's what's been bugging me. I have this guilt, deep inside, because of my confused feelings and Cloud's rape. Am I a whore because I had my kids by Reeve and I'm having another now, with a different father? I know that isn't particularly my fault, but I'm accountable for my actions with Reno, to say the least.)


It took her three weeks, but Lucrecia finally asked me about Yuffie and Vincent's relationship. I don't know if what I told her made her happy or sad. That's because I don't know if she wants Vincent, or if she wants Vincent to be happy. Her whole attitude seemed melancholy, but then again, her mood is always melancholy. If I was her, I'd be melancholy. If I had made the conscious decision to bring a monster into this world...

(Because this wasn't by my choice. I don't think it was even by Cloud's. I don't know. Maybe this had to happen. If only I had a feeling of hope, not dread... If only I hadn't have been praying for a miscarriage from day one... Maybe I could have hope. Now all I have is this terrible foreboding, which maybe I created. Maybe I made a monster by not having faith in the seed of humanity.)


Some days I can feel the strength of this baby as it dwells inside me. I don't doubt that it's alive, or healthy. I try to will some messages into its infant mind. Images of love and peace and hope. Sephiroth never heard his mother's voice, never felt his mother's touch. Maybe that could have saved him.

(That brings the blame back to Hojo. After the birth, it all was out of Lucrecia's hands. Hojo made a monster. And he was proud. He was so proud to call that monster 'son.' The defilement of a man. The destruction of humanity, and he still called Sephiroth 'son.' Would that I have had him for a father... Maybe Tseng's love and devotion were the only things that saved me from insanity...)


Lucrecia, she stares at me writing in here, but I have to record this... My mind has been getting hazy and I have visions...terrible portents...

(I will never again have this state of mind. I want to be able to remember later, how I felt now, because that may give me a clue if there's ever another problem for me down the road...)


Today, Reeve called me on the PHS even though he had promised Reno that he wouldn't. Actually, he didn't seem to feel very badly about it. Apparently, he thinks that his desires are more important than his promises to his friend... But what am I bad-mouthing Reeve for? Later that day, Reno called me, after he had promised Reeve that he wouldn't call me, either. The calls made me feel homesick. I wish I was back in Junon, Undor-Hai...anywhere but here. This cave may be a safe place to hide, but there is no warmth here. One sad, disillusioned woman spent years here, waiting to die. Is this any place for a baby, even this one, to be born?

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Are you feeling okay...Raieyana?"

I looked up, slightly annoyed. "I just..." Another crampy feeling washed over me. "Well, what do you want?"

Lucrecia was peering at me, concerned. "If you get some 'pain' again in about fifteen minutes, that probably means you're in labor. You told me you'd been through this before, so there shouldn't be any problems."

Fifteen minutes, another contraction. "Can you get me the PHS?" I just had to call Reeve. And Reno.

Lucrecia shook her head. "I can't believe you. You're going to be just fine. Maybe you were in a hospital the first time, but..."

I cut her off. "I don't think I was conscious the first time. But that's not the point. I have someone I have to talk to. Just because you don't have anyone left who gives a damn about you doesn't mean that I'm alone in the world." I regretted it the minute I said it. But what she had said, it was condescending. She was treating a child.

Silently, she got the PHS and walked back over to me. She handed it over with a cold glare. I just ignored her.



"Reeve?" My voice was barely above a whisper.

"How's it going..." He paused, probably unsure as how to address me. Hon, Ray, Raieyana...

"I...I'm in labor." My voice wavered. "I'm scared, and I don't want to do it here. The delivery."

"Ray, you know that if it was up to me, you'd be at Junon Medical Center right now."

The contractions were coming closer together now. I knew I was probably sounding like a little girl, but I really didn't care. "I want you to come here."


"You, Reno, Vincent, anyone. I'm scared, Reeve, and I'm here all alone."

"What about Lucrecia?"

"She's worse than a stranger. Because I know that she's partly the reason I'm here right now."

"I'd love to come, but Reno wouldn't let me come alone, and we can't both leave. Hang in there, Ray. As soon as you're well enough, leave the baby with Lucrecia and come here."

"Leave the baby?"

"Remember, safety in separation. It can't be too much longer now, anyway. Keep the faith, all right? I love you."

The PHS clicked in my ear. He had hung up before I could give a response to the last statement. He didn't want to hear it. He was probably right. I was in no state to decide where my love lied. The time had come at last. The culmination had come; it was time for the supernova.


Chapter 24

Reeve paced back and forth in his office. (What do I do? I mean, I should probably tell Reno what's going on right now. I should probably be telling him right now. But does he have any right, any right at all to know what's going on here?) He looked at the PHS, where he had slammed it down in frustration after Raieyana's call. (I should be there, damn it anyway, and it's his fault that I'm not there. He doesn't trust me and he damn well shouldn't. Because I'm willing to do whatever it takes.)

Reno walked into Reeve's office. "Who was on the phone, Reeve?" he asked.

Reeve broke eye contact first. "Ray. She's in labor."

"Shit, man, then what the hell are you waiting for? I gotta get over there, I--"

"Reno, we're both staying here."

"Huh? Are you nuts? She needs somebody right now. I know you wouldn't let me go alone, but--"

Reeve nodded. "And we can't both leave, so we'll both stay. Raieyana's in no danger, she'll just be alone right now. I can't say it's my fault."

"Don't blame me for this."

"Didn't say I did."

"Reeve, you implied. But I can't say that it's my fault you're such a stubborn sonofa... I don't understand why you would want to leave the job now, anyway. You didn't leave the first time, did you? What's different now?"


"Nothing, because if you cared, you'd be breaking the fucking door down trying to get over there. If you thought about her first and yourself second for once, she'd have a hand to hold when she went through it all this time. Well, not me, because you'll have to put a bullet in my brain before you can keep me from going to her. And if you do, you'll really have to explain your actions to her this time. Or maybe she'll eat up your excuses now like she did for the last crime you committed."

"Reno, what are you talking about?"

Reno put on his leather jacket. "I'm leaving. You can stay in this damn city for all the hell I care." He turned to leave and found himself face-to-face with Elena.

"Reeve, Reno," she said, "we have some major problems on our hands. Major problems."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Laida was confused. "I don't understand, Lucas. Why pull the Gens out now and attack Junon?"

Lucas took off his glasses and massaged his temples. "It's simple, Laida. We were getting nowhere holding the Highwind at stalemate. The other group has found nothing of Raieyana Amine. So we go to the head base of the Anti-Shinra coalition, and using our inside information, extract the head guys there, who know where Raieyana is, and who have contact with our enemies on the Airship. Two birds with one stone. Or should I say more, Lavana? If what you say is true..."

"It's absolutely certain, Luke," Lavana assured him, "Raieyana had two children with Reeve Jordan. If the children aren't with him, then they're wherever she is."

"And there is where my plan is so brilliant. I will have everything I want, at very little cost to myself. We saw Junon's defenses during that whole 'fire incident.' Their defenses suck. The Gens will easily plow through them. Here's the greatest part: we have Reno and Reeve give themselves over as prisoners in return for Junon's 'safety.' We occupy Junon, torture the prisoners for information, and we win. It's a win-win situation, because if they refuse, we attack Junon, take them as prisoners, occupy Junon, and torture the prisoners for information. Bottom line: we win."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Cloud stared at the blue-green glow in front of him. (The Lifestream. Here is where I will get all my answers.) He knew he would be able to find some open place between the Lifestream and the surface, here, in the Nibel mountains. He stepped slowly towards it, and he placed his hands cautiously in the flow of the Lifestream. Then he slowly entered.


("Here is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega. All the answers, all the questions are here, though maybe not in the proper order. You seek the answers for your questions, here. Isn't that right, Cloud?"

I doubt that anyone or anything can answer all of my questions. But they all combine into this one... Tell me, why am I the way I am?

"I could explain Hojo's experiments to you again. But that is not what you want to know. You want to know what force has hold of you, and what is it that makes you do these intolerable acts for which you condemn yourself. But why do you condemn yourself?"

Because of the evil things I have done. I...I am ashamed of my actions.

"Someday you will understand that you are not condemned for the things you do that are decided by destiny. I thought that I was very evil, but...I see now that all I did was what I was born to do."

So you are saying I was born to be a criminal?

"No, I am saying you are what you are, and you cannot change that. What happens, will happen and you have little control over the things which destiny has declared for you. I'm not saying that there isn't free will on the path of any person's life. Free will doesn't change the actions; free will reshapes the actions."

I have no control over myself. I do not see where free will comes into play.

"Then I will give you examples. If Sephiroth hadn't killed Aeris, something else would have come into play so she would have died. So she would have fulfilled her destiny. If Raieyana hadn't left me in the Northern cave when it collapsed, if she had taken me with her, something else would have happened to me so I could fulfill my destiny. I don't know if I would have died. Eventually, I probably would have, for this is probably part of my destiny..."

Then, Ishmael, are you saying that...that the things that didn't happen...weren't meant to be? That they never could have happened?

"If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn't... I just don't know."

How come it is that I can talk to you like this, and not Aeris? Bugenhagen said there were exceptions, that not every spirit is assimilated into the Lifestream. And that's why you're here. So is she, is she...

"No, she's not gone. As long as something holds her to the Planet, she is not gone. She's still here."

She's here...

"Yes, Cloud, she's still here. And until you let her go, she'll never be able to go to the Promised Land. Speak with her. Let her be free."

And you're here. Is it because you are held back?

"I wish it were. But this is just simply my destiny. But I will be there, soon. Don't worry about me. Go and talk to Aeris..."


Aeris...I have waited for this for a long time.

"Waited for what?"

To see your face, to hear your voice. It's been such a long time.

"What happiness can this bring you? How can this be what you wanted? I am just a shade of who I was. I can't laugh, I can't cry. You can't touch me. You would barely know who I am, what I am. You didn't want it to be like this. I didn't want it to be like this."

This is better than nothing. Maybe I could never have had what I wanted, so let me have this...

"One more faded memory? Why can't you remember me like I was? Why can't you remember me like I was when I was alive? Why couldn't you just let it be and let it be enough?"

Because it's not enough. I wanted to hold you, to tell you what I never got the chance to. I wanted to give you a second chance. Okay, I'll confess, I did beat up Raieyana seven years ago because I thought if I could get the materia she had, then I had a chance to bring you back. I would have done anything, I still would do anything.

"Even if you had, Cloud, even if you'd brought me back, it wouldn't have been right. It wouldn't have been what you wanted. It would have been something ugly and disfigured."

You would have been alive, Aeris.

"I swear, Cloud, you wouldn't have known who I was. You would have destroyed all of our memories."

Am I destroying them now?

"It hurts me every day to see you in pain. If this helps you, it will make me happy enough. Does that answer your question?"

I will never have peace. I will never be happy with myself. What am I supposed to do? The only hope I ever had was you. Seeing you again. What do I have left now? Last time I tried to remember, I couldn't see your face. It's been over eight years, Aeris. I can't continue anymore like this, without you.

"But he will need you. Sephiroth didn't have a father, and that is what destroyed him."

My child? He would be better not knowing me.

"I do not know if he will know you, but I know you will be the one to save him."

How much can you see?

"I can't see very much of what is to be, but I can look back at my past. And I do know when the time will come, and you can be with me."

Will it be very long?

"No time is a long time compared with eternity. I think the time will come and you might have wanted a little longer. But then everyone wishes that they could have had a little longer."

Even you?

"Especially me."

I understand now. I didn't know that my search for you held you here, away from the Promised Land. I can't forget you, though.

"You don't need to. Just accept my destiny, accept your destiny..."

I will...)

"I will...Aeris, I promise." Cloud awoke on the floor of the cave. He got up and started to return to the Airship. He had a feeling that they wouldn't be stuck in the mountains much longer.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"There you are, Cloud," said Cid, "I was beginning to wonder whether or not we needed to go out and search for you. Where the hell have you been?"

Cloud shrugged. "Nowhere."

Barret shook his fist. "Well, while you were out doing hell knows what, those Gens just picked up their sorry little asses and runned away."

"They've had us hostage here for months, Barret," said Tifa, "even though they ran away, I still wouldn't call their asses sorry or little. But at least we can get away now."

"What is it's a trap?"

"Cloud, it's not a trap. They wouldn't have left after all this time unless they had received other orders. If they'd wanted to trap us, you'd think they would have tried the 'fake retreat' thing before three months had gone by. And remember, they tried to before, about a week after we got here. We can get away and help Vincent and the others in Costa Del Sol. So let's do it."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The voice coming from the helicopter was terse and demanding. "I repeat, if the two citizens Reeve Jordan and Jack Reno allow themselves to be taken into our custody, our forces will leave the Junon area immediately. They will not be harmed in any way. If our gracious offer is refused, we will have no choice but to enter the city and take it by force."

Elena glanced between Reeve and Reno. "I don't think they're bluffing. About fifteen minutes ago, the chief of police called and told me that Reeve's house outside the city had been broken into and completely sacked. But I just don't understand why they'd do all this, now..."

Reeve sighed. "It's plain and simple, Elena. They've gotten nowhere with all their other methods. They've destroyed this city, kidnapped Raieyana, and still they haven't destroyed this company or gotten their hands on Raieyana. They figure we know where she is, and they're right. The whole 'sparing Junon' promise is a ploy to get us to hand ourselves over. And it's a good plot. People should be coming here in an angry mob just about now to demand we hand ourselves over."

"Why? You both were excellent leaders during the fire. These people haven't forgotten the treachery of Shinra. Duh, they know Shinra set the fire six months ago. They won't... What's that noise?" Elena walked over to the window. "People really don't have any loyalty, do they?"

"What do we do now, Jack?"

"What can we do?"

Elena slammed her hand on Reeve's desk. "You two are not seriously considering handing yourselves over to them, are you?"

Reno took her hand. "Elena, don't you understand that either way, they destroy Junon, they destroy Alcor, and they take us hostage? If we go through this charade of surrender, then they'll partially go through their charade of withdrawal. To trick the people here completely."

"Elena, don't you understand that this is the only way to buy you enough time to get out of this city and warn Raieyana?" asked Reeve.

She shook her head. "I'm not running away. I can't leave."

"Elena," said Reno, "we can't call her on the PHS, they're going to be intercepting all communication connections. You know that they can listen in on our conversations. You know they have the technology. Neither Reeve nor I trust that we can keep Raieyana's location a secret under torture. We need you to escape so you can help her get away. We can't let them succeed."

"I don't understand. Aren't you letting them succeed?"

"No, Elena. We're letting them think they succeed." Reeve smiled weakly. "There is a small difference, although it doesn't change much for us. Let's go, Reno."

Reno stood up. "We've been through a lot Elena, and I hope this isn't it for either of us. The helicopters are on the roof, I know you can fly one. Yorlain will hold camp down here. I've told him what to do. No matter what happens Elena, remember that you're a Turk. That's an order."

She nodded. Reeve and Reno turned to leave. "Wait. I just want you to know that they're not going to get her. I swear to you, I'll keep them from her until my dying breath. I promise you won't be doing this for nothing."

Reno raised an eyebrow. "So I guess you've finally gotten over your petty little hatred for her. That's wonderful."

Elena shook her head. "She never deserved my hatred. I know that I was a bitch before."

"At least you figured it out in time to change. Take care, Elena," said Reeve, softly shutting the door behind himself.

Elena carefully turned on the television. She saw live news coverage of the crowd cheering as Reeve and Reno were taken into Shinra custody. "Those bastards," she swore, "they deserve to be taken over by the Shinra. Those damn bastards! I promise, I'll come back and win Junon back for you, Reno. For the Turks. And I'll save Raieyana. Maybe not because she's my most favorite person in the world, but..." Her words trailed off as she realized she had been talking to herself. (...I'll save her for Tseng's sake. And for yours. Reno.)


Chapter 25

(I'm so tired. So weak. So...) Raieyana's eyelids fluttered open. (...happy that it's all over. God, I wish I could've been unconscious this time, too.)

"Finally awake, huh?" Lucrecia walked over with the baby wrapped in a blanket. "You lost a lot of blood. If it had taken any longer, I probably would have called for help. But you did just fine, and you have a healthy baby boy."

Raieyana grimaced. "I notice you left out the traditional 'normal' tag."

"Well, he looks fine. Ten fingers, ten toes, check him yourself," she said, handing him to Raieyana, "it's all there."

"That's not what I meant and you know it!"

"That's real wonderful. This wouldn't all have been such an ordeal for you if you didn't make it that way. I offered my arms to you, my comfort, and you never have said 'thank you' even once."

Raieyana shook her head. "I'm sorry that I didn't pick up one the subtle vibes of 'welcome to my home' that you placed in your dank, dark, depressing cave of pain. Look, I'm sorry this whole situation was hell. But it's not something that would ever come up on a greeting card. I can't be the child you never had. I can't be more to you than a friend of a friend."

"Honey, you can't do everything by yourself."

"I know that, but I could do anything without your pity. You should save it all for yourself. God knows, you need it more than I do."

Lucrecia scrutinized her face. "What do you know about me? How much has Vincent told you?"

"I don't know," said Raieyana softly, "how much has he told you about me?"

"Only that you were in danger and needed a safe place to have your baby."

"That's it? Mr. Silent-Vampire-Man pulls through again. I'll elaborate for you. Maybe you'll finally understand. The Shinra are after me because they think I'm the last Ancient, they know I'm the daughter of Sephiroth, and that sounds pretty damn good to them."

Lucrecia's eyes lit up. "You're Sephiroth's...? Well, I'm..."

"I know."

"You knew all the time, and you still said all those things..."

"Look, this whole thing has not put me into a 'shiny-happy-Raieyana' mood. I've had a lot on my mind lately."


"Umm...hello?" Elena walked into the cave.

"What the hell are you doing here?" exclaimed Raieyana.

"Reeve and Reno sent me. The Gens have gone to occupy Junon. They took Reeve and Reno hostage. They told me to take Lucrecia to another hiding place, and bring the baby to...well, I'm supposed to meet someone named Lia near the ruins of Midgar..."

"Oh, that sounds right," said Raieyana.

"...and you're supposed to try to get to Costa Del Sol and meet up with the people there. Reeve said that you were armed, so I guess..." She paused, and looked at the baby. "He's awfully cute," Elena said.

Raieyana smiled weakly. "His name's Patrick. you think we can rescue them?"

"I don't know, all the other Shinra buildings were hard to infiltrate..."

"No, that's not what I meant. I've infiltrated all the other ones before, I was just wondering if you knew how strong these 'Gens' were."

"I have no idea."

"Well, that's encouraging." Raieyana picked up her sabres. She gingerly handed Patrick to Elena. "Good-bye for now, my precious," she whispered, kissing him lightly on the forehead. "Until later, Elena, Lucrecia," she said, nodding. Then she slowly walked out of the cave.


Elena set Patrick down in the basket Lucrecia had been using as a makeshift bassinet. "So, where are you going to go?" she asked Lucrecia.

“Oh, I don't know,” said Lucrecia softly. (Reunion...)

“You do have someplace to go, don't you? It wouldn't be safe to stay here.”

(...the reunion...rejoin the fold...reunion...) "Of course, it's just..." She picked up a large rock. "...hard to really pick a place for it. There are so many choices." (where will i go...i think i'll go and see the reunion...he says that it'll be better than the last...the last one was a poor turnout...)

Elena looked at Lucrecia. (She sounds like she's not quite with it. I suppose anything would be better than this cave, though. What is she doing behind me? Is she packing?) "But if you pick a place, I'll fly you there in the helicopter. It would be terrible for me to think that you weren't safe..."

(...even though everyone was one rsvp' 'thank you' cards...but now they will all come...all come...all come...) "I think I'll be safe, so don't you worry," said Lucrecia, approaching her from behind. "I'll be just fine."

There was a loud sound when the rock connected with the back of Elena's head. Lucrecia had supernatural strength, of course. After all, someone who harbored Jenova inside of her could not be normal after all those years.

Lucrecia looked down at the blood softly flowing onto the floor of the cave. If she still had control of her own emotions, she would have felt sadness, and maybe remorse. "I'm sorry. You were such a nice girl, bringing me news and a helicopter. But I had an appointment that I just couldn't miss." She picked up Patrick and walked toward the front of the cave. "I really did you a favor. It's not like someone like you could survive the Reunion, anyway..."


( Elena slowly crawled to where Lucrecia had left the PHS. She turned it on. (No answer...I'm getting...some kind of voice mail. I have to leave...a...message. Tell...them...before it's too...late.)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The room was dark, except for one bright light. (And the damn thing is shining straight in my face. I can't believe the clichés this guy enjoys.) Reeve squinted at Lucas Shelding. (He must have been quite the newbie before I left the Shinra. I barely remember him. One of Hojo's lackeys... Hojo?)

"Look, Reeve, if you tell me where this Raieyana Amine girl is, you can leave scot-free. She can't mean that much to you."

Reeve closed his eyes. "Shelding, you know I'm not going to tell you jack. So why are you wasting both of our time? Just lock me up and be done with it. Or kill me. You're not getting any information out of me."

Lucas slammed his hand down on the table. "There's where you're wrong, Reeve. Either you or Reno is going to tell me the whereabouts of Raieyana and her two children. I don't care if I have to torture you until both of your minds are completely crushed."

"The children?" Reeve whispered.


"Come a little closer, Lucas."

Lucas leaned in close to Reeve's face.

Reeve spit in his eye. "Go blow yourself, Shelding. Some people have loyalty, a concept that Shinra scum like you could never understand."

"Don't forget, Reeve," said Lucas, wiping off his face, "the you were a Shinra. Besides, Reeve, everything I do is out of loyalty. I just happen to answer to a higher power than you. The only god. Science."

"You sound just like Hojo."

"You say that like it's a bad thing. I take it as the highest compliment."

"Hojo was a madman. His actions destroyed the lives of many people and they almost destroyed this planet. Anyone who would take my statement as a compliment is a moron."

Lucas was furious. "You'll beg me for mercy when I'm done. You'll tell me everything you know, and you'll wish that you knew more things so you could tell them to me. I will destroy you."

"But Lucas, she'll destroy you. Do you think I'm afraid to die? I have no reason to fear the beyond."

"Reeve, there is no beyond."

"You can believe that if it helps you sleep at night."

Lucas turned to a couple of the Gens standing behind him. "Take him away, now! There's no need to be gentle, either. Take him to room 31B tomorrow morning. We'll see your threshold of pain, Reeve." He watched as his men left with the prisoner. He nodded to the others. "Bring in Reno."


Reno's greeting was laden with sarcasm. "Professor Shelding, a pleasure. I'm sorry that we haven't been able to finish the job. A couple of things came up."

"Well, I'm thrilled that we now have a chance to work out this misunderstanding. I think you owe me a little money, seeing as you never did what I asked you to."

"If it was the money, Shelding, you wouldn't have done this."

"And if a few things had come up, Reno, you still would've pulled through. Admit it, you set me up. I'll admit I was a fool to hire you. Tseng always told me you were the weakest Turk."

Reno was unfazed. "Look, maybe you could play Reeve through all his emotions, but you'll have to be smarter than that to fool me. Shelding, you didn't come to Midgar Headquarters until a week after Tseng died. And considering I know I'm the weakest Turk, your comments do not bother me."

"Only a weak man would let his emotions prevent him from completing an assignment."

"It's only the strongest men that are able to admit their weaknesses. The fools hide them and quiver with fear at the thought that someone might discover them. Look, Shelding, I know you worship the ground that Hojo walked on. Hell, you probably found out a way to either clone him or become him. But you see, I was a Shinra. And that's why I would burn in hell before I would let you get your hands on Raieyana."

Lucas wrote something down in his notebook. "So you believe in hell. Interesting."

Reno shook his head in amazement. "What, are you psychoanalyzing me now? I know there's an afterlife, and I know I don't belong in heaven. So of course there's a hell."

"If you're going to hell, Reno, why not tell me where the girl is and live a little longer. Ought to be better than burning, I'd say."

"Because I'm bitter, Shelding. If I can't have her, you sure as hell won't. Look, you're obsessed with the scientific and the Ancient parts of her, and you want her body. But she'll never want you."

"Reno, don't you understand that I will make her perform my will?"

"She'll crumple your mind like a piece of wet newsprint."

Lucas smiled. "Funny. You both have this exaggerated view of her strength."

"I think you're the one with an exaggerated view of strength. Your own."

"Who will bring forth the Reunion?" Lucas asked.

Reno looked him in the eye. "Not you. Because it's starting without you."

Lucas punched Reno in the mouth. "You don't know what the hell you're talking about!"

"Then why the hell you so scared, Shelding? Or don't you understand that you'll always be just somebody's lackey?"

In a mad rage, Lucas grabbed a rainstick from his office. It made a gentle water sound as he repeatedly beat Reno with it.

Reno spat out blood. "That all you got, Shelding?" he taunted.

"Take him away. I will keep you alive," he swore to Reno, "and you will watch me have her before your very eyes!" Lucas closed his eyes. (I will have Raieyana Amine... Hojo's perfection... perfect... “my perfect specimen...”)


Chapter 26

“Legolas, Elena never came. She never came. Where’s the baby? Where’s Raieyana?”

A low feeling of dread settled at the base of Legolas’ spine. (Elena. Damn it, we shouldn’t have trusted her.) He sighed. (What can I say so Lia doesn’t feel so worried?) “I’m sure...” he began. Then he faltered. “Wait a minute Lia, somebody left a voice mail message on the PHS.” He pushed the button.

“I’m not sure if I can reach anyone in time. I know I won’t reach you in save myself. But that’s not important. Raieyana has safely left, but Lucrecia...she ran off with the baby. My head hurts so bad...there’s so much blood... Lucrecia has Patrick... and I think the Reunion is starting.”

Over the line, Lia burst into tears. “Elena didn’t betray us. Lucrecia did. And now Elena’s gone. Why do all the good people die, and the vile survive?”

“I think,” said Legolas slowly, “that Lucrecia might not have been in control of her mind. She probably was called by the Reunion. But if Lucrecia’s going to the Reunion, we gotta find out where it is. So we can get the baby back. We have to, for Raieyana. Wherever she is.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The wind whipped her hair into her eyes. (I needed an excuse for another break, anyway.) Raieyana pulled out a hair band from her satchel and tied her hair back. (I’m so tired. Costa Del Sol was never so far away. I swear.) She heard a loud rumbling sound in the distance. She looked around. (Funny. I don’t see a thundercloud anywhere.) She slowly started walking again.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Ruther, sit down. Sit down!” Elsie watched in horror as all the men around her arose from their cots and started walking towards the door.

“...time for the reunion...reunion...”

“hojo...hojo...where are you?”

“...the child...”

“Ruther!” She grabbed him by the shoulder. He threw her down. She stood up, angered. “Fine, go ahead! I don’t know where the hell you think you’re going to go! You’re on a fricken’ island, you morons! Ruther! Get back here, you’re sick!” She followed him out the door.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“I have a rhetorical question,” said Yuffie. “If we just blew the Amber Weapon out of the jet stream, where did it go?”

“Shut up, just shut up, Yuffie! Goddammit! Where the hell is that Weapon,” asked Cid.

“You said we had enough firepower to blast its head off,” said Cloud.

“It’s not my fault. I wasn’t the fucking genius that miscalculated,” he said, looking at Red XIII.

“Don’t try to blame me,” said Red XIII, “you told me they were anti-aircraft missiles. I think they must have been ‘peacefully-protesting-against-aircraft’ missiles.”

“We don’t have time to wait around for the Weapon,” said Legolas.

“We’ll leave tomorrow afternoon. And find the Reunion. But we have to make sure the Weapon is gone from this area,” said Vincent.

“We can’t let it hurt these people after we protected them for so long,” said Tifa.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

(Tired. So very tired.) Another roar. (What the hell is that?) Raieyana whirled around. (Oh my god.)

The Amber Weapon grinned maliciously at her. The powerful blow from its arm sent her flying. She landed on her right leg. Hard.

Struggling, Raieyana stood, unable to put weight on her ankle. (I must have sprained it or something.) She looked at her sabres. (Shattered. There’s got to be some decent materia in here.) The Weapon started to reapproach her. (Enemy about Aqualung?)

The Weapon roared in fury. Its eyes blazed with a monstrous power. It ran at Raieyana, clawing at her. The talons tore her clothes and ripped at her flesh. She fell prostrate on her back. She looked at the materia again, without much hope. Then she saw the red materia.

She remembered picking it up at some quaint little souvenir shop in Costa Del Sol. The fat, balding shopkeeper had told her it had enormous power. She still hadn’t used it, thinking it was worthless. (If that was the one time in my life I’m wrong, let it be it.) She held the orb in her hands, concentrating all her strength on it. The inscription on the side: the Furies.

Slowly an incantation came from Raieyana’s lips. It came from her lips, though the origin of it was anonymous.

“Aeterni reges ob delicta, invicta monstra, persequitores maleficorum, Erinyes, audite meam implorationem. Iacete vestram iram in hoc quo innocentes interfecit. Servate me fato monstruoso.”

The colors flashed; Raieyana’s mind spun. Beams of light tore through the sky, inflicting damage to the Weapon. Then she saw what she had summoned. The Furies.

She screamed as the three hideous beings flew past her. She fell to her knees, weak with pain and fear. She could not bear to watch the attack on the Weapon. (What have I done? What if they go after me next? What if...) Then the Weapon shrieked, and the sound reverberated throughout the mountains and across broad waters. Everyone within fifty miles of that spot heard the Weapon’s death cry, and the Furies rose in a tailspin above the clouds and were gone as quickly as they had come.

Raieyana laid her head down on the sand of the beach. (I’m not bleeding too bad...Costa Del Sol isn’t so far away...I can make it on my ankle...I’ll just rest for a little while.)

That evening, the moon rose and gleamed its soft rays over the warm beach where Raieyana laid sleeping. Sometimes the eye of the hurricane is more dangerous than the storm itself. The forces of darkness converge for the final stand against the hope of humanity; however, at least for one moment, all fear is forgotten as Raieyana rests, quietly preparing for the battle of her life.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

When Raieyana awoke, the waves were lapping at her feet. (Well, good morning, it’s high tide now.) She tried to stand, but she couldn’t. She finally managed to get to her feet, and she noticed that her clothes lay in tatters on her body. She pulled them together as best she could to cover herself up. Her shoes were nowhere to be found. She slowly started limping in the general direction of Costa Del Sol.

She turned around for one more look behind her. She saw her crushed sabres, strips of her torn clothes, and the carcass of the Weapon. Far in the distance she saw the crater and Lucrecia’s waterfall. (If I defeated this Weapon, I can defeat Shelding.) Her hope rose. (I beat Death, I avoided the first Reunion. I think I’m strong enough to make an appearence at this one. I think I’m strong enough to start acting like a woman again and not like a child. It’s time for me to make some decisions. And the first one I make is to not pity myself anymore.) Raising her head, she walked confidently towards Costa Del Sol. Every step she took was as firm as the frame of her mind.

Part 9

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