Chapter 8: Family
Atop the cliff where Sephiroth and his young siblings jumped to their escape, Cloud was looking down in disbelief. Tifa was standing near him. Cloud began “I don’t believe it… he’s their father…” Tifa helped him back up, and asked “Are you ok? That little girl got pretty feisty with you about attacking Sephiroth.” He nodded “No kidding, but I’m not hurt. I didn’t fight her seriously, anyway. But why did Sephiroth jump the cliff with them instead of fighting back? I expected him to fight.” Tifa replied “If I had to guess the answer, I’d say he jumped attempting to protect them. That’s what a father does, isnt it? Protect his kids?” Cloud didn’t respond. There was a long silence between the two of them. Cloud broke it and said “He got away! I should’ve just finished him off, darn it!” Cloud was very angry. Tifa put a hand on his shoulder “And if you killed him, how do you think we would pick up his kids and help them? They wouldn’t want anything to do with us if they saw you kill their father, Cloud. Settle down and think instead of acting so reckless. Think about more than just what you want.” Cloud shook his head and replied “You’re right, but… as long as they’re with Sephiroth, there wont be any getting them without a fight. What choice do I have?” Tifa answered “We’ll have to be patient and find a way to separate them. That’s the only other possible choice, and it’s the smarter one. Deal with Sephiroth later and focus on teaching those children right from wrong. If Sephiroth raises them, they’ll be a violent gang when they grow up. You know this better than anyone, Cloud. But you cant keep acting careless like that.” Cloud sighed “You’re right. But they jumped down to who knows where. They’ve probably reached the bottom by now.” Tifa replied “Yeah… and since there’s too much smoke to see the bottom, we’d better find another way. Come on, let’s figure this out. There has to be another way down.” They turned around began walking away from the cliff. Cloud shook his head in disbelief “I don’t even know how Sephiroth is still alive in the first place. And he had kids, to make it worse. If they turn out just like him, every single person will be in danger! But where’s the mother?” Tifa asked “Isnt JENOVA the mother still?” Cloud answered “Probably, but I don’t know for certain. If they’re looking for her, then I doubt it. But it’s hard to imagine any other woman crazy enough to have children with him.” Tifa laughed “Well, he is a handsome guy, even if he’s crazy. Someone out there would probably fall for him.” Cloud ignored her reply “If JENOVA is the mother, that would mean she’s also still alive. The only question is where…” Tifa suggested “Probably the reactor in Nibelheim, right? That’s where she always was.” Cloud replied “Yeah, but that’s what makes me doubt her being there. If she’s organizing another plan, I don’t think she would make herself easy to get to. Especially after two defeats.” Tifa understood “Well, that would be too easy in her perspective, I’ll bet. She knows we saw her there before. Somehow, I don’t think she forgets anything…” Cloud agreed “Sure seems that way. She’s been taking notes on all of us—the entire time. Why else would she change the plan so much? She wants to throw us in the dark and make us start over, to make sure we have to relearn everything that’s going on. Even if the goal is the same, that’s the theme here. Trial and error.” Tifa nodded in silence. After a brief pause, Tifa said “I have a bad feeling about this… especially if JENOVA really is pulling out all the stops this time…”Cloud shook his head “That last fight I had with her… there’s no way she can get stronger than that. And Sephiroth too... my goodness, Sephiroth..! Don’t you know when to quit?” Out of nowhere, Cloud stopped to glance at the sky above, and stopped Tifa as well. He made out a faint glimpse of something falling from above, and as it drew closer, he realized it was large and warned “Oh, shoot..! Tifa, run!” They both ran back, scurrying out of the way as quickly as they could, and something crashed behind them seconds later. Having barely evaded impact, the crash knocked them down. Tifa cried “Agh..!” After a short while, Cloud helped Tifa up “Are you ok?” Tifa replied “I’m fine, but… what’s that?” She pointed to where the mysterious thing had crashed, and there was a lot of smoke and dust obscuring the crater it created. Cloud followed where she pointed, and he made out a faint red glow that came from inside the rubble. Cloud wanted to get closer, but he couldn’t. He tried and tried to move closer, but it was useless “Urgh! What in the world?!” Tifa asked “What’s wrong?” Cloud groaned “Ugh, I cant move! I don’t understand why!” Tifa tugged on his arm “Cloud, come on! Snap out of it!” Cloud struggled “I… cant..! Too strong..! Tifa, get away from here! Go back before its too late!” Tifa hesitated, but obeyed. She began heading back to new Nibelheim, in hopes Cloud would make it back. Cloud returned his attention to where the red glow was, and saw a very familiar face. Cloud cried “Hey, you’re… no, it cant be the same one..?” JENOVA was standing before him, her silver wings brimming with silvery light, and a blinding silver halo above her head. She gave off such brilliance, it almost hurt to look at her. Cloud gazed in frozen disbelief “All that light… that wasn’t there before?!’ He also noticed she was carrying what looked like long and thin broken piece of metal that appeared ravaged on the edges. Cloud wondered “JENOVA… what are you..? Or are you a fake trying to look like her?” She didn’t answer him; she didn’t even seem to notice him. Seconds later, she flew off somewhere without looking once at Cloud or looking back. Cloud felt a sudden release, and began gasping for air before turning around to see her flying off “Oh great, another one? Just perfect… now we have all five of them to deal with. At least she’s going the wrong way, though. Sephiroth and his kids went down the cliff.” Cloud shook his head. He couldn’t believe anything that was happening; everything that he saw “This is going to get very ugly if they’re all back… I’m not sure I can beat them all together… Especially her. She seemed so much stronger, but she acted like she didn’t even see me. What’s going on..?” Cloud forced it out of his mind and began heading back to new Nibelheim “Forget them! I have to make sure Tifa got home ok first. I’ll find a way to deal with them later… I hope.”
(Back to Sephiroth and remnants scenario)
(This section will focus on Yazoo as the speaker) We spent a lot of our day walking through the forest that we fell into yesterday, but out of nowhere, we heard a loud crash somewhere above, followed by a noise that seemed to be something flying at very high speed overhead. Kadaj gasped “Mother?!” Sephiroth stopped and turned around to us “Kadaj, what is it? Did you see something?” Kadaj shook her head “No, I felt something… Mother is…” She began moaning and holding her head, wincing from extreme pain. Sephiroth knelt down to help her “Hold on!” He gently placed his hands over hers, and she immediately calmed down. Sephiroth asked “What happened?” Kadaj replied “Mother… she’s right above us!” Sephiroth’s expression turned hard “I knew it! But it’s too high. We cant get up there on time.” Loz asked “But Big Brother, cant you just fly us to her?” Sephiroth grew sad and shook his head “I want to, but I… I cant anymore, see?” He turned around, and I saw what he was talking about. All that was left of his black wing was the stub of its base. I felt really sad “Oh no… what happened?” Sephiroth turned back to us “During my last fight with the man who attacked us up there, my wing burned away… I used too much power trying to hold on when I was near death, and that’s what did it… I didn’t make it, and I tried so hard…” Kadaj was eager to help “Can you grow a new one?” Sephiroth answered “It’s extremely difficult. The only thing that can heal a destroyed or broken wing… is true love. Until I feel a strong positive connection with someone, I cant fly at all. I doubt any pitiful existence in this world wants me… they’d never understand.” Kadaj said “Don’t say that. There must be somebody who can help! What about if we got you to Mother? Do you think that would work? You love her…” Sephiroth shook his head “I don’t know… I do love her, but… I’m not sure if my wing would get fixed if I met up with her.” Kadaj insisted “It’s worth a try. Let’s keep going! We’ll find a way up!” Kadaj signalled for us to follow, and me and Loz followed her. Sephiroth seemed shocked by her positive attitude, but smiled and followed too. Sephiroth said “I think it’s best I lead the way, alright? There might be danger ahead.” Kadaj listened and Sephiroth was leading us again. We walked for a long while in silence, and Sephiroth shook his head “There’s endless rounds of foliage… how are we going to get back to the surface?” Loz complained “And there’s nothing to do either! This is boring!” I shoved him, giving a sign to stop “Would you just stop complaining for once and focus?” Loz groaned under his breath but didn’t respond. He crossed his arms over his chest in frustration. Kadaj reassured us “Don’t worry, Brothers. There must be some way…” Sephiroth agreed “Naturally. The only question is where…” Loz whined “Why didn’t Mother fly down here and help us? Doesn’t she know we’re lost?” Sephiroth replied “Calm down, Loz. I know you’re tired of all this walking, but giving everyone a hard time wont solve anything. Wherever she was, it was very high up… higher than the eyes can see. Even if she does know we’re looking for a way out, if there’s something else she had to take care of first, we cant be angry with her for that. We have more enemies than comrades, so it would come as no surprise if she had to distract the enemy or confront them for another reason.” Kadaj asked “You really think so?” Sephiroth answered “It’s just an educated guess really, but it’s difficult to tell what Mother is thinking sometimes. Regardless, if she knowingly passed over us, it is not without reason. That I do know. Do any of you see anything out of the ordinary?” We all stopped, and looked around for anything that looked like an exit, only to come back to Sephiroth and say we found nothing. I shook my head “Nothing… just more trees and grass and bushes… not even a hole in a wall that we could squeeze through.” Loz laughed “A wall? Then we’ll just have to make one to fit through.” Loz ran towards the wall I’d found, but Sephiroth grabbed his arm and stopped him “Don’t do it. If it’s connected to the cliff we jumped, we’ll get caved in. It’s too risky.” Loz grumbled but obeyed, and Sephiroth continued leading the way. We walked for a very long time, and finally came to a bright clearing. In the middle was a mysterious light that resembled sun rays, and another mako fountain beneath it. Kadaj cried “Look! There’s another one!” Sephiroth went to examine it, and we followed, standing beside each other. Sephiroth shook his head “Unfortunately, it’s blank. No materia here. But if this is a clearing, we’re probably pretty far in. Hopefully we’ll find a way up at the end of these woods.” I asked “Do you think we’ll be able to catch up to Mother once we’re back up?” Sephiroth shook his head “I don’t know. Mother flies incredibly fast... Even my flight speed never matched hers. If she’s flying to get around the city, I doubt we could catch up on foot. And Shinra’s technology cant outrace her, either.” Loz asked “Then we’ll have to catch up by chance..?” Sephiroth nodded silently. Kadaj shrugged “Well, now we know why there was so much noise when she flew overhead… but, will she be ok on her own? We cant just leave Mother…” Sephiroth nodded “She should be fine, as long as they havent finished work on this awful thing I’ve heard about…” I turned serious and asked “What awful thing? By they, I’m assuming you mean Shinra.” Sephiroth grew sad and sighed “Shinra’s been working on building this awful machine… they want to use it to drain Mother’s power and use it for themselves. And when I had that first look at it, when it wasn’t even finished…” He turned away and moaned under his breath “Oh no…” Kadaj asked “How long ago was that?” Sephiroth replied “It was last year. They started work on a device designed to drain Mother’s powers… it looked so horrible… There were all of these blades and so many needles—more than I could count! It’s like they want to make it as painful as possible for her..! I cant stand it!” I realized Sephiroth was crying, and Kadaj ran to help him “Don’t worry, they wont get her. We’ll figure something out. There’s no way I’m letting those people get that thing even close to her. Shinra is so gross! What do they want to gain from all of this?” I remembered the large dragon-like monster I freed during the Shinra mission we went on, and for some reason, I began to wonder what they were using it for. I asked “Big Brother, the dragon thing I released in Shinra Headquarters that night… you don’t think that had any connection to the machine you described, do you?” Sephiroth turned back to us, and his eyes widened “That monster… ohh no…” Loz asked “What is it?” Sephiroth forced himself to calm down and replied “The monster you released was no mere dragon, young Yazoo; that creature was Ultima Weapon!” All three of us cried “What?!” I shook my head “You’ve got to be kidding me…” Loz hesitantly asked “Uhh… what’s that?” Kadaj laughed at him playfully “Oh, Loz, you’re so funny! Why’d you freak out when you didn’t even know?” Loz replied “Gah! Well, I uh… I forgot! Just now, I forgot… that’s all…” I couldn’t help laughing too. When we settled down, Sephiroth explained “Ultima Weapon is a powerful monster. It’s magic and abilities are horrendously strong. Even it’s physical prowess is great. If Shinra has a dangerous creature like that in their possession, there’s no telling what they’ll do with it.” Loz worried “Ohh man… I’m glad we didn’t try to fight it. It was right above us when it got out!” Sephiroth agreed “I agree completely. You three would have been no match. It’s too powerful. In fact, Shinra’s setup may have saved your lives in its own way… it took them a long time to get the beast contained and locked back up in their specimen tank. The building itself was in ruins on many floors after they finally had it back under control.” I remembered how empty the place was when we escaped “That explains why it was so empty and messy… I’ll bet anyone who survived the struggle ran for it. But what do they want Ultima’s power for? That’s where I’m lost.” Sephiroth shrugged “I’m afraid I also know very little… there’s a big list of things they could probably use it for. Although this is a bit irrelevant, Hojo was pretty angry about that incident.” Sephiroth laughed, and I remembered the guy with the black hair we saw, then I began laughing with him. We were all laughing after that. Kadaj smiled “That’s what he gets for being a bully! Jokes on him!” We began to calm down, and Sephiroth began leading us out of the clearing. We continued walking to find a way out, and finally came to a hill outside of the woods that looked sandy. Sephiroth said “Hopefully whatever they’re planning to do with Ultima isnt something that threatens the legacy. I still cant believe they were able to bring it in to begin with… only skilled and experienced warriors have any chance against that thing.” Loz asked “What will happen if it escapes?” Sephiroth replied “Things will become very messy in the city. If the beast runs wild, many deaths altogether is to be expected. Many can fight it, but few will be strong enough to survive.” I asked “If we run into it again, do you think we can beat it with your help?” Sephiroth shook his head “I will deal with the beast myself if that happens. You children arent strong enough to stand up to Ultima, and I cant endanger any of you. If we happen to meet up with Mother, her and myself will deal with it. Between the five of us altogether, only me and Mother are strong enough to fight it.” Loz whined “Aww, no fair! I wanna play too!” Sephiroth sighed “No, Loz. It’s too dangerous… so much, it’s not even funny…” I realized how concerned he sounded when he said that, and Kadaj did too. Kadaj shook her head sadly “Sephiroth…” Sephiroth suddenly looked ahead as if something caught his attention, and he put a hand to his ear “Hmm?” He seemed to be listening to something, but I couldn’t hear it. He nodded, then lowered his hand. He turned around to us and said “She said to head for the Northern Cave.” I asked “Who? Mother?” He nodded, and Loz smiled. Kadaj understood “Right, then let’s go. But… wasn’t that the cave we found you in?” Sephiroth shook his head “No, that was it’s lookalike called Western Cave. Both are very identical concerning their interior, but Western Cave is much smaller, and easier to reach. But the Northern Cave? That’s a long walk, and its much bigger.” Loz groaned “Ugh! Not more walking! I wanna ride a motorbike! This stinks!” I shook my head and sighed “You know, Loz is actually right about that… this does get exhausting going by foot all the time…” Kadaj understood too “Yeah, even I’m getting tired of all this walking. But if it’s the only choice we have, we’re stuck with it. Big Brother, do you know where we might be able to find something that can us around faster?” Sephiroth replied “Mother landed back on the Planet, so that means she left a silver ship wherever she came. I don’t think she’ll mind if we borrow it, but I am clueless of its whereabouts. However, I know a certain somebody who will tell when pushed to the extreme.” He smiled sinisterly and laughed, then gestured for us to follow him up the hill “Come on, this way, my young siblings.” We tried to follow him up, but he slid back down and we stopped behind him. He jumped, and tried again, but slipped another time. He shook his head silently. Loz asked “What’s wrong with it?” Sephiroth touched it to examine what it was “I don’t know either, but something isnt right. This cant be genuine sand. It slips like goo.” He let go and looked up “This would be easy if I still had my wing…” He sighed and shook his head. Loz offered “Let me try… Maybe I can make it…” Loz tried to climb up, jabbing the hill with his weapon, but he also fell down “Whoa..!” Sephiroth caught him, and carefully put him down “Looks like we’ll have to turn around. I don’t think we can make it up this.” Kadaj interrupted “No, wait! Big Brother, there’s something there… I don’t know what, but I just feel it…” Sephiroth warily backed away, trusting Kadaj’s intuition, and the rest of us also did. Kadaj went ahead of us, and touched the hill with her hand. She kept her hand there for several seconds, and lowered it “I guess since I don’t have my materia anymore, I cant fix it… looks like we really do have to go back. I’m sorry, guys…” Sephiroth immediately understood what she was talking about and approached the wall “No, it cant be..! The mako energy distorted the ground here?” Kadaj nodded “Looks like it, but I don’t understand why… I mean, there’s no reactor or anything, is there?” Sephiroth replied “Not close by, but the presence must have been strong enough to make this happen. And it can only be fixed with magic held by certain materia. Fortunately, I have acquired said power thanks to my travels and work in SOLDIER, and my journey helping Mother too. That’s why I’m so powerful.” He placed his hand on it, and a green substance began appearing, being pulled out of the ground, and disappeared seconds later. Sephiroth lowered his hand, and tried climbing the steep hill once more. He managed to make it up, and helped the rest of us climb up too. Loz sighed in relief “Phew, that was close! I thought Sister meant there was a monster hiding in there!” Sephiroth replied “Fortunately that wasn’t so. Let’s keep going. We need to find Mother’s ship. The enemy might beat us on this one if we go by foot. It’s too far to walk.” I asked “So where are we going?” Sephiroth answered “To New Nibelheim. The man who has the answer is there.” I asked “How do you know?” Sephiroth replied “It’s hard to explain, but I can tell… he saw Mother land.” Kadaj said “So she is back… I’m just glad she didn’t have an accident. That’s what me and my Brothers thought all along. Yazoo said something about her taking cover…” Sephiroth replied “I understand your concerns, but Mother is strong. She is not one to run from her enemies. You three have endured much despite being around for a short time. You’re brave children.” We all said “Thanks.” After a long silence, Loz asked “So we’re back up now, but how far to New Nibelheim from here?” Sephiroth stopped walking and looked around carefully, and we waited for him to answer. He turned back to us and shrugged “I’m afraid our jumping the cliff has brought us rather far from our destination. I’m still not certain about the forest we fell into, but it took us quite a ways from the city.” Loz groaned “Ugh! Not again! Now what are we supposed to do?!” I shoved him and glanced at him firmly “Would you quit it? Stop complaining and focus! We wont find any solutions by throwing a fit.” Sephiroth sighed and shook his head “Here we go again… Come on, you two. Given our dire situation as part of the Cetra race, is fighting each other what you really want to do, my young Brothers?” We both calmed down immediately and didn’t argue further. Sephiroth turned to Kadaj “Those two will be a handful, even after they grow up, Kadaj. But I know you will be an excellent leader for them when your time comes… We will finally have our own team.” Kadaj asked “What do you mean?” Sephiroth explained “Mother has given me orders concerning the three of you, and wants to form a family group we’re going to call JENOVA SOLDIER. She wants only the best and most worthy of the Cetra to be involved in this group, however. Even if you are still children, I sense great potential in the combinations the three of you can create when you fight seriously. Mother also knows you’re each capable of much, and wants me to train you children for the big battles to come. That reason especially, is why I have returned to this Planet. Yazoo, you’re smarter than any average boy of your age. Loz, you possess great physical prowess, and you can move faster than most. And you, my Little Sister… there’s a lot more to you than you know. Mother and myself have decided this kind of group is perfect for forming JENOVA SOLDIER with proper guidance and enough thorough training.” Kadaj seemed confused but very interested “Sephiroth… what… what am I..? What is so special about me that I don’t know..?” Sephiroth shook his head “The only way you will understand it is by seeing how you develop as you grow older. I can explain it here and now, but you’re too young to understand it. There’s a lot of complexity tied into how you will develop as your body matures and changes with time.” I asked “But what about us? It sounds really important… what are supposed to do about it?” Sephiroth glanced at me and Loz “I need you both to protect Kadaj, no matter how ugly a fate that confronts you… keep her alive, even if it costs you your lives. That’s what Mother wanted me to tell you two… and it’s what she desires. So please, do everything you can to keep death from meeting with her…” I heard a loud static noise in my head, and felt heavy sadness and sorrow out of nowhere. I began crying quietly, and held my head with both hands. I had a mental image of myself finishing off the blonde man with the big sword, firing the last few shots I could at him. He was holding Kadaj in his arms, and she looked very weak as if about to die. I heard myself shout at the man “No, stop it! Leave her alone!” and fired more bullets at him. But I couldn’t kill him; everything went black, and I desperately fired more bullets at the man, only to fall short myself. When it all faded, I realized Sephiroth had knelt down to me to calm me down. I noticed my face was wet with tears, and Sephiroth said “You had another vision, didn’t you?” Kadaj was close by and asked “Yazoo, what’s wrong?” I lowered my hands and shook my head “I don’t know… it was just like that dream I had the first time I woke up, all over again… I don’t understand why. Why am I so afraid of something happening to Kadaj? Why do I worry so much?! I don’t get it..!” I started crying again, and Kadaj worried “Yazoo…” Sephiroth gently picked me up and said “This may not be the best time to keep going… let’s find a safe place to rest and call it a day.” After that, Sephiroth ended up carrying me the rest of the walk that day. I eventually calmed down with him comforting me, and we ended up stopping at a what looked like a horribly ruined train station. It looked as though someone bombed the area and it was abandoned for years. I was shocked “Whoa! This place is a disaster! I cant see the other side! What happened here?” Sephiroth carefully put me down and explained “I cant remember how many years ago it was, but apparently the enemy blew the pillar, and, well… the plate destroyed everything underneath, along with any people who didn’t make it out. It’s a bit messy because of the wreckage, but since nobody comes here, it’s a safe hiding place for us to sleep.” Loz asked “But, then… what about New Nibelheim? Can we still get there?” Sephiroth turned around to us and nodded “We can. It’s a bit of a hike with all of the wreckage, but I think we should still be able to cut through here. In fact, we might get there faster like this. I doubt we’ll have any guests given how ravaged the area is, as well. That should keep us off their radar for a little while, at least.” We all understood, and the three of us laid down on the nearest space of open ground. Sephiroth laid in front of us, keeping an eye on us, most likely to protect us until we fell asleep. I fell asleep quickly, hoping for a less hectic tomorrow.
To Be Continued…