It Ain't Over Until The Fat Lady Sings (FF7/FF9 crossover)



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maryadavies

She Shoots for the Stars
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  • Keyblade Champion
  • Taciturn Stalwart
  • Moana
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy
  • 15th Anniversary
Okay, I admit I've had this one hanging for far too long. Part of this is to finally finish this, partly b/c I'd like some criticism and stuff; I don't have a beta reader or anything, so I mostly go at this by myself when the mood strikes.

I'll try to get up a new chapter a week. ^^ Anyway before we start this, I'd recommend you check out the story that started this (aka. How do Cloud and Zidane know each other?), Passing The Torch. There are a few refs to that, but nothing major. I may build a little on what's before, but that's it. Also I did start this before Advent Children, tho I'm trying to work that in without it seeming stupid (I try to stick to canon, always) so bear with me. If it's really off, then consider this a alterverse. Also I sorta ignore the other FF7 "sequels" so perdon me! Advent Children is as far as I go down that rabbit hole..

Anyway, 'nuf beating around the bush. Here we go.

[h=1]Prologue[/h]
[h=1]GAIA, THE IIFA TREE...[/h] It wasn't supposed to end this way. Kuja had warned Zidane to get away from the Iifa tree quickly. He hadn't. Zidane had come back...to save Kuja, he'd said. Now, as Kuja felt consciousness slip away from him for a moment, he heard a loud noise...he bobbed back up just in time to see what seemed to be both their dooms racing at them in the form of a lot of the Iifa Tree's roots. This is it...Zidane, why were you crazy enough to come back for me? Kuja thought. But just then, a strange thing happened. The roots hit in such a way that there was a temporary dome over them; then there was a flash of light and then he felt the familiar shiver of a magical transport.
If anyone had been there, they would of thought the roots had smashed them both, for that was how it looked from the outside.
Kuja leaned up on one elbow. They seemed to be in some underground cavern. There were more roots along the walls, but they weren't thrashing. At one edge of the room, there was a shelf...and a ball of light. Kuja smiled a bit. He remembered that Garland had mentioned there was something like this that was a way to control the tree. Could that light be what he spoke of? It has to be! he thought. He lay back down; that had taken quite a bit of effort. He realized that he was still dying...slowly. He could feel his strength gradually slipping away, little by little. I'll probably die in a few hours. I don't know how long I have left...
Zidane looked at Kuja. "What the heck happened? Thought we were gonna die there for a second..."
"If I'm not mistaken, I think this is a cavern Garland mentioned to me once. He said, 'There is a light at the heart of the Tree...that can control it, maybe even stop it from destroying both worlds. That is, if someone is willing to step into it and use it...' he mentioned it was hard to find though."
Zidane's eyes widened. "Then I'd better try..."
"NO!!" Kuja cried. "I'm not sure what that will do to you...it might kill you..."
"I have to! My friends may not know about this, but...they wouldn't want Gaia to be destroyed. Neither do I. It would be worth any price..." Before Kuja could say one more word, he'd ran to the light...and disappeared into it. There was a cry, and then silence. Neither did Zidane come out, which worried Kuja a little.
I hope he's okay...Kuja thought. Oh yes, Kuja had been raised among the Genomes, which he'd hated. They were so...cold and hollow, most of them. He hadn't wanted to be associated with those...empty shells. But both him and Zidane were different...If only I could go back in time and do things differently...I'm just no good...Zidane's truly better than me... But it was too late, he knew that. Death was coming and he wished he had more time. He laid his head to one side, sadly.
Just then, there was a flash of blue-green light at the far end of the grotto. A woman stepped out. Kuja couldn't help but stare, for she was unusual. For one, her clothes were of a much older style; it seemed like she had stepped out of an old painting. Second, her green eyes, which were exactly the color of emeralds, were just...not natural. Her white blond hair was pulled back; she appeared to be human. She was carrying a silver bow with crystal tips; there were very few people who used that weapon.
She spotted him, grabbed a silver arrow out of her quiver, and pointed it at Kuja. He heard her mutter something about 'chaos slime should just die'. Wha? I'm not that! He could see her arrows were as unusual as her bow. The shaft of the arrow she had pointed at his chest was silver; the point was either diamond or crystal; and the fletching seemed to be made of spun crystal. Kuja didn't admire it for more than a second, though. He didn't want that arrow in HIM! So he said, "Lady, please don't shoot me. I'm...dying...already...as...it...is.". He knew already he had nothing left to cast a spell to defend himself. He had used almost everything he had to give Zidane and his friends a way out.
She didn't loose the arrow, but she held it back, ready to fire. She snarled, "Give me one good reason I shouldn't, Garland's patsy..."
Kuja's eyes widened, realizing what this lady must be thinking. He said mildly, "I realize now I was wrong. He played me like a puppet on a string because I wanted to destroy him and surpass his power...he tempted me to hunt for great power...to serve him...and cause chaos...even though I wanted to destroy him..."
The lady's eyes widened. She took the tension off the string (she didn't take the arrow off the string, though) and came over to Kuja and inclined her head toward them. She hummed a tune; Kuja felt as if he was being looked at in the most minute way. After a moment, she smiled, sighed with relief, and put the arrow away.
"You're telling the truth. You're as much a victim as Zidane. Worse, as Garland made you think you were doing what you thought was right when you were wrong. On his own head be it, then. I don't have time to deal with you right now, but I will."
She walked toward the light and paused before it. She unstrung her bow and put it in her quiver. Then she raised her right arm and began to sing; it seemed like a call. Kuja summoned as much strength as he could and leaned up on one elbow to get a better look. A great rushing reddish-colored wind blew in. Kuja sensed this was the elemental power of fire. It swirled around her. Then another came in from another direction, this one blue. It was the elemental power of water! Another wind of power, this time green with pinks in in it. Kuja sensed this one was Air. Hot on that one's heels came a brown wind, which was the power of Earth. A dark wind blew in; this was the element of Darkness. Finally, a wind, with crystalline sparkles in it, blew in. This, Kuja sensed, was the power of Holy, or the Spirit element. Kuja was surprised and almost didn't believe what he was sensing; he'd been told that this was impossible, that no one could control all six elements at once without being destroyed.
Then the song she was singing changed. In the whirlwind of power that she was in, he saw a glowing silhouette of a woman, then energy swirled around her, creating a robe. It had long, wide sleeves that went down to her wrists. The robe itself also went down to her ankles. Not only that, it was pure white, including the sash. Her hair came loose and swirled around her face. Then she moved the arm she'd had sticking up to her side, then crossed both arms over her face. A pair of almost transparent bird wings sprouted from her back and covered her face and body, so he could not see her distinctly. A moment passed, then the wings exploded into a thousand feathers. The feathers swirled around her. First thing he noticed was that her ears had changed; they became pointed. Her clothes shifted to a beautiful gown. The glow itself disappeared gradually. It started disappearing from the top of her head first and then rippled down her body, down to her feet. She then removed her arms from her face, while a slight halo of power shimmered around her. She didn't look much different, except...she definitely was no longer human. She was...something else. She now had a very...alien cut of gown on (tho it was one any princess or queen would be proud to own) and had this very thick chain around her neck. Her eyes now also slanted a bit, not to mention the beforementioned pointed ears. Uh oh! Kuja thought. I remember Garland mentioning something about pointy-eared people once. Guardians, that is! He said they were evil...but he was wrong about a lot of things. She could of killed me right there, but she let me live. I'd better just make up my own mind about this, and not let Garland's ghost dictate things...He did say they were very powerful, which I am inclined to believe after this.
She turned away from Kuja and toward the light. She reached for the chain around her neck and sang out two distinct words. It shimmered and changed into a staff, with a star in circle on its top. The first star had a second star that was inside it, but it was blackened and badly crazed. She sighed, muttered something about "needs to be done now, don't know if what little is left of Terra will survive this" and began to sing again; it seemed like another call. The only words that Kuja caught were "woo cavartii di toiana". What is she doing now? Kuja wondered. As the last notes died away, she waited a moment. Then there was an answering call that seemed to be from twelve others. There was a blinding flash of light, and then twelve other people of her kind stood next to her. Six of them were men and six of them were women. The lady that had confronted Kuja bowed and went to one knee.
"Shistk va bixt, Nora. Oi hiok nv tive." one of the others said. She nodded and rose.
"Vesta, shi vaato ti Iifa takv fakt. Ni batov shii!"
The lady that had been addressed as Nora nodded. She raised her staff; the other twelve sang out the same two words that Nora had sung out earlier while grabbing not quite as ornate chains from around their necks; these changed into very simple staves, nowhere near as ornate as Nora's. They all gathered around the pool of light and raised these staves so they touched and pointed at the light. They began to sing. This sounded like a command. There was a soft gasp; Zidane fell out, on his back. They ignored him for the moment and continued the song.
Something began to happen to the light as well; it was beginning to slowly, ever so slowly, change shape somehow. A few minutes passed; the singing was disturbed by a shattering. The inner star on Nora's staff shattered into a thousand pieces and fell on the floor. Still they continued on. Suddenly there was a big flash that blinded Kuja for a second. When the flash cleared the pool of light had been replaced with a crystal tree. Zidane was laying not far from it.
Nora nodded at the other twelve. "Sa, sa. Iv et finbis."
"Sa. Muvis ga. Wua abkt hon?"
"Mmm, miv yv cvahe fiok ba ecgdwb lov lolk?" She motioned toward Kuja.
They seemed to think a moment about the question and discuss it a bit, then one of them said:
"Sa, ek es necuvvaro. De bi. Woku avok tek orhar?"
"Yv toke ma iv. Ga, avd bi boklyssrd bi woo hikarii!!" She bowed.
The twelve then raised their staves, sang a few quick notes, and disappeared.
Nora then came up by Kuja. "Sorry about that, had to ask."
"Ask what? And who were those people?"
"That was the Council Of Twelve, the rulers of my people. I asked them if I could attempt to change your fate so you wouldn't die today..."
Kuja gasped. "You can do that?!" He hoped beyond hope that it was true. If I could only have a little more time...maybe I could atone for what I've done...
"Maybe. But fair warning; I can't extend it for long. You are doomed to die young of seeming old age since Zidane has surpassed you in power; I can't completely change the fact. But I may be able to give you a few more months and a more...peaceful death. If I fail, you're no worse off. I admit I don't quite trust you, but I wouldn't wish a painful death like the one you're facing on my worst enemy."
Kuja nodded and laid back down. He guessed this...person knew what he had done, so it wasn't surprising that she didn't trust him if that was true. Nora hummed, which changed the staff back to the necklace that it had been before. She then pulled up her left sleeve and caught hold of a crystal bangle she was wearing. She hummed again; it shimmered and changed...into a dagger, made completely out of crystal. "Hoped I'd never have to use this again..." she muttered. More loudly she said, "Whatever happens, don't make a sound. I'll do what I can." Kuja nodded. She went to her knees, holding the knife with the blade pointed to her head. She then began to sing softly, as if she was speaking to someone very respectfully. After a moment, the song changed. She got up and began to sing more loudly; something about "Ha mai kamii shii di waa...Mii na kari shari taa". The knife began to glow. She kept singing and moving, as if in a kind of dance. Suddenly it seemed to end; she pointed the tip at Kuja. A ball of light came off the knife and flew toward Kuja. It surrounded him; his strength returned in a flash. It faded and Kuja sat up, then got to his feet.
First, Nora hummed and the dagger turned back into a bangle on her left arm. She then said, "I'm afraid you'll only live to see...and maybe speak...to Zidane one more time. There is a limit to what I can do when someone's life is flickering like a guttering candle. However, I've also changed the manner of your death; you will go to bed one night and not wake up again. It will also be fairly painless."
"What are you going to do about him, anyway? He sacrificed himself..."
Nora shook her head. "No, he still lives, physically at least. However, he is stuck between the lands of life and death, not able to move to either at the moment. Because friends used the Cure spell on him many many times today, I cannot heal him instantly since that method of healing has one similarity to the Cure spell; it uses resorces from the healed one's body. His has been drained to almost nothing; it would kill him to quickly heal him now. In any case, I couldn't call him back. He does not know me...yet." Kuja bowed his head. The brother...I hardly knew and threw away like so much trash. I wish I hadn't now... "Never fear, there is a way, though I hate it. There is a friend of his that you've never met that can give him a chance to come back. It will have to be his choice in the end to live or to die, however. Both are equally likely, but in the most likely future if he reaches that friend, he will live. It is not certain, however. There are many possible futures at this time and it's extremely difficult for me to tell which is correct, only the ones that are the most likely."
"Who is this friend of whom you speak?"
"Well..." She waved one arm in the air and sang out four words. A ray of light shaped itself into...a very odd looking man. His hair was blond and stood pretty much straight up; his eyes were blue with a odd glow to them. The strangest thing was his weapon; it was a sword that was almost as big as he was. It seemed he wouldn't be able to use that at all. "His name is Cloud...he hasn't been on this world in years--not since he went back to his home world six years ago. I'll send Zidane to Cloud's world...that world has technology that can keep Zidane alive long enough to decide if he will live or die."
"Why not just bring Cloud here?"
Nora sighed. "He couldn't help alone. Besides, I promised Cloud I wouldn't bring him here without asking him first; there is no time to do that. It must be done, and quickly. However, I won't leave Zidane without any help at all...not this time..." She turned, sang four words, holding her hands a inch apart. A ball of light formed between them; she carelessly flipped that at Zidane. It was absorbed into his body. What is she up to? Kuja thought. She then started singing something else; whatever she did seemed to stir memories in Kuja. Three sparks of light appeared in her hands, then danced around Zidane; they seemed to melt into him. Kuja decided not to ask exactly what she had done other than the obvious since he didn't think he'd get a clear answer out of her.
She fell silent a few moments, then broke into song once again. Some rags that looked like someone had thrown them out appeared before her. At Nora's song, they turned into a couple of sheets of paper. Writing appeared on them at a horribly fast speed. Kuja got a little closer; they were letters. Before he could read a word, they folded themselves over. A strip of sealing wax flew out of nowhere. The end melted, dripping on first one, then the other letter. One note later, and a starred seal was pressed into the wax. Then they turned around. On one, the name Cloud appeared; "Zidane" appeared on the other one. Her song changed; some small cloth bags filled to the brim with something appeared and landed next to Zidane. Then she touched the chain around her neck and once again sang out the two distinct words. It changed into the staff again. She then touched Zidane's cheek. "Forgive me for not asking your permission first.", she murmured.
She then straightened up, raised that staff, and began to sing one more time. It seemed like a call. A second voice answered and began to harmonize with Nora; a glow began to form under Zidane. It changed to blue green, and then he...along with the letters and the bags...melted into it, disappearing.
"There, that part has ended for the moment.", she said. "One more thing I must do and then I can rest for a time."
"What is it?" Maybe I can help if she's willing...after all, I have a lot to atone for...
[HR][/HR] [h=1]VIDA, NEW MIDGAR--ABOUT THE SAME TIME[/h] It had not been the best of mornings. First off, Cloud, Tifa, and Vincent were training outside when Loki, Cloud and Tifa's youngest, had wandered into that area of the yard (Which was fenced anyway), which was off limits with good reason. Tifa had spotted Loki before anything bad happened and grabbed him with a "No! You don't come in here!" Like the two year old he was, Loki had a temper tantrum about it. Tifa had hauled him inside to deal with the tantrum. So Cloud had started wacking on the pell. Vincent continued to shoot at a target (he'd just been visiting).
Suddenly, Vincent dropped the gun, grabbed his head with his one real arm, and cried out, "Uh, oh, Ahh!" Then he transformed into Chaos, and his clothes (very uncharacteristic of him, Cloud knew) tore into shreds. Cloud saw the whole thing out of one corner of an eye and heard the roar. Uh oh, that's bad., Cloud thought. What if Arella, our sweet four-year old, comes out? I'd better stop him fast!
Cloud quickly grabbed a net made out of myrthil cables he had lying around (he'd thought this might happen, though he liked Vincent) and threw it over Chaos, doing his best to keep Chaos from flying away. Chaos fought; Cloud stubbornly dug in his heels and held the net down. Chaos managed to get one arm/hand out and claw Cloud's leg--just as Cloud saw Tifa poke her head out of the house. The next minute, she ran out with a big bowl; she threw the contents at Chaos/Vincent. Some of it got on Cloud; it was icy water from the fridge!
Chaos shook himself, and then said "Wha...oh shit..." in the usual voice that kind of sounded like Vincent, only deeper, that Chaos used.
Cloud let go of the net. "Did you have to do that?"
Tifa shrugged. "That's supposed to work on people that faint. Thought since Vincent's mind was kinda knocked out enough that he was attacking you, it would work here, too..."
Chaos/Vincent nodded. "It worked. Thanks, needed that Tifa." He got the net off and shook himself. "It's gonna be hell to replace those clothes, though..."
"You'd better get in the basement before you change back." Cloud said. "Tifa, will you go to the spare room and go get a new set out of Vincent's pack and leave them in the basement?" Tifa nodded and went back in the house. To Chaos/Vincent, he asked, "Why is it going to be so much trouble to replace them?"
Chaos/Vincent sighed. "I have to get those made out of a special material that's really expensive...it's made out of a certain kind of unstable molecules that respond to thought..."
Cloud nodded. "Gotcha. Hey, why'd you transform like that anyway?"
"It happened pretty suddenly. I felt a lot of terrible pain and a scream in my head; next thing I remember was the cold drench. The scream was something like, "Why? Do people really have that much will to live? And why can't I ever win!?" Then whatever it was died and something inside me just...shattered."
"It's okay, Vincent. I think...Zidane won, it's over for good. Remember...six years ago, what I warned you about?"
Chaos/Vincent nodded. "Yeah...you mean it's happened?" He cocked his head, considering that. "Right now, I feel like a great weight has suddenly been yanked off me; the pressure is finally off. I think you're right, Zidane and his friends did it. By the way, did I hurt you?" He pointed at Cloud's clawed leg. Cloud nodded.
"It's not bad, and you weren't in your right mind...."
"Doesn't matter. Soon as I get dressed and can get at my materia, I'll Cure that. It's my fault for coming here..."
Cloud gently touched Chaos's/Vincent's arm. "Don't beat on yourself like that. I'm not afraid of you in either guise, even when you startle me by coming up from behind me after dark. Besides, could've been worse. This might've happened while you were wandering; no telling how much damage you'd of done then, with no Tifa to throw ice water at you."
Chaos/Vincent nodded and shuddered. "You're right, Cloud. But I'll still Cure that." He headed for the basement door. After a moment (and after he picked up the forgotten practice weapon, which he had dropped early on), Cloud leisurely followed, knocking first to make sure that Vincent had changed back and changed clothes. He had. It didn't take long for Vincent to find his Cure materia and use a cure spell on Cloud. Then they went inside.
[HR][/HR] A couple of hours passed fairly peacefully, only marred by yet another of Loki's temper tantrums (this time, it was Tifa wouldn't let him play with a cookie sheet she wanted to use to bake cookies on).
Cloud and Vincent were in the living room playing a game of chess when suddenly there was a surprised and shocked cry from the kitchen. It was Tifa.
"What the?" Cloud said, nodded to Vincent, and then they both ran into the kitchen, leaving the unfinished game on the table. Tifa was standing so she was facing away from the stove. She was looking a bit shocked. The reason was apparent once they came in. On the floor, lying face down, was Zidane...and he hadn't been there before. His clothes were a mess. Cloud went over to Zidane, patted one shoulder, and called to him; Zidane didn't even react. Cloud then carefully turned Zidane on his back, placed his head so one cheek was near Zidane's face, and started feeling around on his neck for a pulse. In a moment, he stood up.
"His heart's still beating and he's still breathing...but he looks dead. Tifa, what happened?"
"I'd just put the cookies in the oven; there was a flash, and then..." She pointed at Zidane. "He appeared along with these..." She showed him some cloth bags, full of rocks or something, and two letters...one of them had Cloud's name on it! Cloud took that one away from Tifa and undid the wax seal; then he read it. After he finished, he folded it over and muttered, "Nora, why?" He shook his head, sighed, and said, "We'd better get Reeve...we're gonna need a doctor. One that won't talk even if you pried his jaws open."
Tifa's eyes widened. "Why?"
"Nora said in that letter that he's 'caught between the lands of life and death'; I think that means we need a doctor...I hope Zidane's gonna be okay..."
Tifa nodded. "I understand, Cloud. You and him were good friends while you were there, right?"
Cloud nodded. "What's in those bags?"
Tifa opened one and dumped it out. It was full of gems and gold! Cloud laughed.
"That Guardian isn't dumb! Bet she knows we're gonna have to get the doctor...and doctors cost money. Gil wouldn't work, since the gil found there is different than ours..."
Vincent chuckled as well, which was a rare thing for him. "Heh.", he finished with. Tifa grabbed the phone and called Reeve at the office with a quick nod. After a minute, he must of picked up, for she said, "Hello? Reeve? We got a problem here. Do you know a doctor that'll make house calls and'll be totally discreet?" A pause; then she said, "No, I don't wanna talk about it. Mmm-hmm...mmm-hmm. Just a sec, lemme get some paper and a pen..." She put the reciver down and ran into the living room quickly. She came back with a piece of scratch paper and a pen. "Okay, got it." She wrote some stuff down, then said, "Thanks, Reeve. Sorry to bother you." Another pause and then: "Okay, bye." She hung up. Then she grabbed the paper and began to dial.
[HR][/HR] By the time the doctor had gotten there, Cloud had carefully carried Zidane's limp body to the spare bedroom. Vincent had said he was going to sleep on the couch for now; he thought Zidane needed the bed worse than him. Cloud hadn't protested overmuch; they really had only one spare room. Tifa led the doctor up the stairs into the room. The doctor examined Zidane over carefully and did some tests, then he sighed. He then said, "Goodness. I think I know what this is." He pointed at one of Zidane's arms, which had bruised very mysteriously when Cloud had carried Zidane upstairs. Cloud had sworn he hadn't banged Zidane into anything. "My guess is it's cure shock."
Cloud started in surprise. "Cure shock?!"
The doctor nodded. "And a bad case too. From what I can tell, he's somehow been thrown into a coma...he'll need to go to the hospital..."
"Please, no if you can avoid it." Cloud said. "Let's just say...Zidane here would be rather upset if he woke up there...he might throw a fit..."
The doctor nodded. "You think it would be better for him to stay here?" Cloud nodded. "I think it would be possible to bring the hospital to him instead of the other way around. I'll arrange it." Cloud nodded.
[HR][/HR] As the weeks passed, Cloud kept his eye on Zidane when he could. He also fought for Zidane with the doctor...some things he and the nurses wanted to do Cloud was dead sure that Zidane wouldn't like. Often when he was home, he sat by Zidane's bedside, talking to him, hoping he'd come out of it.
Tifa was very understanding through the whole thing, thank goodness. When Cloud had first gotten back and she'd found out about the episode, she'd grilled him about it; consequently, she knew exactly how Cloud felt about Zidane. Because of that, she stayed out of it and supported him the whole way.
Cloud kept hoping Zidane would wake up sometime...he didn't want to have to go to Gaia with bad news...



[h=1]Chapter 1[/h] ...Zidane finally woke up today. Scared me good though. Doctor says it's gonna be a while before he's going to be better. Zidane told me some things that startled me...
--From Cloud's journal
...I felt like I was lost in the dark...I really didn't care at the time...until I heard Cloud call out. Then I remembered...Garnet, my friends, the promise...mine and Garnet's song...That song gave me the strength to come back. What was weirder is I could remember back farther than I ever could before...into a time that I've revisited time and again in my worst nightmares. Still can, and it scares me. I found out why too. Darn that Guardian! ...Anyway, I like Arella better than Loki. Loki's got a bad habit of yanking on tails. If he yanks on mine again, he's gonna get his hide tanned. At least Cloud gave me permission to do that. Oh, I just wish I'd hurry up and get better...then I can go back to Gaia...
--From Zidane's journal



It had been a month since that day that Zidane had unexpectedly appeared in the kitchen. Cloud, as usual, was sitting by the bed, next to Zidane. Tifa had checked on him a bit ago and had gone away.
Cloud gripped Zidane's hand. He was really upset; the doctor had told him he was afraid that Zidane wouldn't wake up.
"Zidane! ZIDANE!" Cloud cried out. He started to cry..."Don't you remember me? The times we had?...I'm waiting for ya, you scamp! Your friends back home must be worried sick! They're waiting for you too... Please...whereever you are, come baaaack! I'm not gonna abandon you, not now!" he leaned his head against Zidane's hand and the tears really started to come...
Time never seemed to pass...There was a glimmering light that beckoned him, but something was holding him back from going that way...He didn't remember who he was or where he had come from. He heard someone talking to him from far away, about this and that. Then he heard the shout."ZIDANE!" and the person saying that his friends were waiting for him... Friends...? Suddenly, a glimmer of light floated near him...and he remembered... Steiner...Eiko...Vivi...Freya...Quina...Amarant...GARNET! He finally remembered who was talking too. It was Cloud! Been six years!! Garnet's face swam before his eyes for a while...he remembered...it all came back to him...and more...
....promise me.......
....one thing........
..please come back...
He then remembered Garnet's song, and began to sing it, because it gave him the courage to go away from the light. Somehow, he knew this was going to hurt...Don't worry, I'm coming! Not...gonna...let...her...down!
Tifa appeared at the door again. "Cloud?" she said. Then she heard a low moan from the figure on the bed. "CLOUD!!"
Cloud looked up. Zidane moaned again. "Oh my...Doctor, where's that dratted doctor?!" Tifa ran to get that doctor, since he'd gone downstairs for just a minute. The doctor dashed in with the nurse that had been helping him and they both did some quick checks. "Heart rate's up...he's hyperventilating a bit..." The nurse said, "He's not dying..."
Cloud stood up. "I think I know..." He grabbed Zidane's hand and held it firmly. "Zidane? Zidane? Remember me? Come back, I promise I'll get ya home when you get better..." Zidane let out a scream at that and made everybody jump.
"Wait, you think he's coming out of it?", the doctor said. Cloud nodded. The doctor cocked his head and then said, "Let me check the EKG...". He looked at the machine by the bed. "You're right Cloud. He is. How?"
Cloud glanced at the doctor. "We were very good friends six years ago, that may have something to do with it..."
The doctor nodded. "Then that's why. Call him back, I think he hears you..." He removed the EKG net since it seemed it would be no longer necessary.
Cloud turned to Zidane again. "C'mon, wake up, Zidane. I'm here. I'll get you back to your friends. C'mon and wake up..."
Zidane moaned one more time, then his eyes opened and he squeezed Cloud's hand back. "Cloud? Long time no see..." Goodness, it's been a long time since he left...but why is he here? "...but, how did you get back?"
Cloud shook his head. "Get back?! No, this isn't Gaia. You've ended up on Vida..."
Zidane's eyes widened. "That doesn't seem possible..." But then a lady stepped into his line of view. She winked. "Not when your erm...arrival scares the heck out of me in my kitchen!" She looked familiar...it took Zidane a minute to place the face. It was the lady of the picture that Cloud had been carrying around..."Tifa?! Wha?"
Tifa looked startled, but Cloud turned a bit and winked at her. "I did have a picture of you with me back then, what do you expect?"
Tifa then grinned. "Oh, you!" and then she laughed.
Then Zidane got a better look around. There was a needle? in his arm? and it otherwise just seemed like a normal bedroom, other than stuff that made funny noises. That needle really bothered him, though. It stirred some memories of...being in a tube? He shook his head fast and thought for a second. Yes, he could vagely remember being trapped in a tube like some Genomes he'd seen in Bran Bal...something he couldn't remember before. Those memories were scenes from his worst nightmares. It made him shiver a little. But they also made him detest that thing in his arm. He reached over to yank it out, but Cloud grabbed him by the hand, then shook his head. His eyes seemed to say, "Don't do that" Zidane wondered why and struggled to sit up...it was harder than he thought. It took forever for him to dredge up the strength, and he was dizzy for a few seconds once he managed it. He noticed a man in a odd-looking white coat in one corner. Cloud looked that direction.
"I told you, Doctor. I didn't know how Zidane here would react...he's not from around here. How many times..."
"You know what I said. There was no choice."
"What are you talking about?" Zidane asked, surprised. He tried to remove the thing in his arm again, but Cloud wouldn't let him. He nodded.
The 'doctor' smiled and said, "I'm sorry...what seems to have happened is you pushed yourself way too far and someone cast healing magic on you once too many...that is, cure shock."
"Cure shock?"
Cloud nodded sadly at Zidane. "You've noticed, haven't you? There comes a time when cure spells don't seem to heal wounds all the way? That they reopen real easy?" Zidane nodded. "It's because cure spells use resources from the person who is healed. When you've been cured and the wounds reopen really easy, that's a sign that you need to rest and get something to eat because your body's nearing the end of its reserves. If you don't...you can be knocked into a coma or even die. That's what happened to you...you got knocked into a coma."
"What's a 'coma'?"
"Oh..." Cloud smiled gently. "Basically it looks like sleep, but the best way I can explain it is the person's stuck between life and death. Sometimes people in comas decide to die, but sometimes they decide to come back and live...I thought for a while you wouldn't come back..."
Zidane's eyes widened. Oh crap! I don't think I could've died, but that's scary... Cloud continued, "You're just lucky..that thing in your arm is just one way they tried to help you get over it. I fought hard to make sure they wouldn't do anything worse than that tube in your arm..."
The doctor rolled his eyes. "Echh, I didn't know why you yelled half the time. Now I do."
Yech, I don't wanna know what 'worse' is... Cloud must of noticed the look in his eyes, for he said, "Is something still the matter?"
Zidane nodded, his feelings still in quite a tangle. Did that light...mean I could die? No, can't be right...
Cloud must've noticed the confusion in Zidane's eyes, for he said, "Will you guys please go downstairs? I think this's something that I'd better be alone with Zidane for..."
Both Tifa and the doctor nodded, and Zidane heard a third voice say (whomever it was was somewhere behind him) "Okay, I understand". They all went away, except Cloud.
Cloud then dragged up a chair, sat down, and then turned to Zidane again.
"Now, what's bugging you?"
Zidane sighed. He figured Cloud guessed something was wrong...Not that that's bad. Cloud was the one person who could understand last time...maybe this time too? That made his mind up, so he sighed one more time and began.
"Cloud...it's hard to know where to begin..." He laid back down. "But I'm finding I can remember farther back than I could before...and I don't like it."
Cloud's eyes widened a bit. "It might help to talk about it. What happened?"
His voice trembling a little, Zidane began the story. "First thing I remember now is that light...and bein' stuck in a big glass tube. It's kinda vague though...I kept gettin' stabbed with needles. I don't know how long it was...it's just a blur."
"Now I know why you're bugged by that needle in your arm. Brings back some of those bad memories, right?"
Zidane nodded. "You know, I've had nightmares before of that...just after I went to Terra...and a place you never saw called Bran Bal. A few times Steiner would wack me with the pommel of his sword when I started sayin' "let me out" in my sleep...not a nice way to wake up."
"Erm...Steiner? I heard of him...knight of Alexanderia, right?"
Zidane nodded. "Yep. Then Garnet would usually yell at him, for when he did that, I'd yelp and wake HER up."
"In a tent, right?"
Zidane nodded again. Cloud continued, "Yuck. That knight seems to have been rather dense to not realize you didn't like to be woke up like that. Go on."
"Well, Bran Bal was where I came from, I found out...Anyway, it's all a blur of bein' in that tube and getting stabbed by needles...as well as the blue light...Anyway, it got so at times I was almost awake. One day, I was finally let out of there...I didn't know how to talk very well though at the time. Three days later, this guy (who I later found out was Kuja) saw me and glared at me. He said some nasty words, and then there was a loud BANG. Next thing I knew, I was lying on my face in some woods. Took two tries to get up, I fell once. It was just so quiet...didn't know where I was, only that the blue light was gone. Took me a while to get my legs to work again..." Zidane shivered at that. Yeah, in the Mist, didn't know it was dangerous, but... "I'm not sure how long it was, but suddenly a monster showed up and scared the crap out of me..."
"Lemme guess. You ran, right?"
Zidane nodded. "Yep. Ran a lot, for I kept running into monsters...I was only able to rest enough once in a while to catch my breath. I only got bit once, thank goodness. Then I came upon a airship in a clearing...didn't know what it was, but there was a monster hot on my heels. So I ran for it...into the airship and into someone's cabin. The others there didn't see me, they saw the monster and went after it. I dashed out of sight of the door and then just stopped and panted, just gettin' my breath back. Soon as I'd caught it, I looked around a bit and realized I was safe. It was a nice room. I could feel myself calming down..." Yeah, my heart quit tryin' to leap out of me. I was that scared. "Then I noticed I was gettin' hungry; I didn't know what to eat tho, because nothing was familar. Found a bowl of some kinda sweet-bars, didn't know why I put one in my mouth, but I found that they were good...ate a bunch of them. I went over to the bed after that and sat on it...before I could stop myself since it was sooo comfortable, I'd laid down and took a nap."
Cloud smiled at that. "Heh, you were probably just tired. What happened when you woke up?"
"Well, for one, I was starving...my belly was really complaining then. Also, there was a lady leaning over me...dressed in red, with a red hat with a feather in it. I later found out she was a Red Mage. I was scared for a second, but she was real nice. She knew exactly what was wrong and got me something to eat. She talked to me a lot, which helped. I could understand her perfectly...and she could understand me, even though I had trouble finding the words I wanted to say at the time. She then asked me what my name was and told me hers: Kari. I told her. That was the start of a really happy time..."
"Lemme guess. She pampered you, didn't she?"
Zidane nodded. "Yep. Anyway, it ended when it was discovered I existed. Her boss was mean...he wanted to throw me out. Some thugs grabbed Kari; she yelled, "Run! Get out of here!" and she started casting Fire and Lightning on their rears. I got out of there...the rest is a blur, and then I remember my first few hours in Lindbulm and joining Tantalus. That's it."
Cloud nodded. Zidane continued, "It worries me. I know I came from Bran Bal and am one of the Genomes now...but those memories, especially the early ones, really bug me. I knew I didn't have a mother or a father, but..."
Cloud nodded again. "I know the feeling...at least about the 'tube' part. I may have an idea of how you got those memories back, though..."
Zidane's eyes widened. "Wha? How?"
Cloud sighed. "Best I start from the beginning. First things first: I have a confession to make. Wasn't completely honest with you when we were together last time. Didn't tell you everything on how I got to Gaia; I left something out."
"Wha? Why?" Zidane was pretty shocked.
"Well...when I first arrived, it wasn't in the woods. It was in a cave with no entrance or exit. There was a lady there who tried to say someting...I'm afraid I made a ass out of myself at first. Lost my temper and tried to attack her...she disappeared and reappeared on the top of a pillar..." He went on to tell him what had happened; that Nora the Guardian had known what was going to happen and had asked him to help. That she'd said that Guardians don't lie. The whole nine yards. Zidane was shocked and wasn't sure if Cloud was lying, for it sounded too incredible. Cloud hid..this? Why? It's just about impossible to believe... "You're still lying!"
"No I'm not!", Cloud exclaimed.
Zidane shook his head. Cloud sighed and reached in a pocket. He muttered, "Hoped it wouldn't come to this..." and removed a drawstring bag. He opened it and dumped...a ORANGE materia?! Onto his hand?! He never mentioned that color! Zidane thought. Cloud closed his hand around it and then closed his eyes, concentrating. The materia flared to life; nothing seemed to happen for about five minutes or so. Then out of nowhere a lady appeared. She was...wierd, that was Zidane's first impression. Her ears were pointed, and her eyes were just too green to be allowed. Zidane had never seen anyone dressed in a gown like the one that lady was wearing either.
The lady nodded to Cloud and said: "You'd better be right..." Zidane was slightly puzzled, for it felt like he'd come in somewhere in the middle of a conversation. Cloud smiled at the lady and said, "It's okay, Tara. If he tries anything, I'll sit on him...don't think he can. He's as weak as a kitten..."
It didn't take much to figure out who Cloud meant by "he"; Zidane got a little annoyed that Cloud was talking about him like that and said, "Hey!"
Cloud turned his head. "Sorry about that, Zidane. Should've been a bit more courteous..." Zidane nodded, guessing that Cloud didn't mean what had just happened that way. Cloud motioned toward the lady and then said, "This is Tara, the Guardian of Vida. Tara, this is Zidane.."
Tara startled and nodded; Zidane thought she was acting like a shy and very scared bird. Hmm, I'd better be careful. She's scared half out of her mind... He gently smiled at her. He didn't feel like flirting, but he did his best to put her at her ease without saying a word. (Lately he hadn't had the heart for it) The lady relaxed a little bit, but still seemed quite a bit tense.
"Hello," she said.
"Hi! S'okay..." Zidane answered.
The lady nodded. "Cloud told me through that materia that he needed me to show you that he is not telling you something...that isn't true this time. I usually won't show myself to anyone except Cloud for caution's sake, but...he was quite convincing." She held out her hand, shaking; Zidane carefully took it and gently smiled at her. They shook hands. Then Tara cleared her throat nervously and then said, "I thought you might want to know. My vaskiita, Tara, was very sorry she had to send you here...she was nearly crying inside when she contacted me to help create the dimensional gateway. She wished she could ask you first..."
Cloud started. "Pardon? Vaskiita? What's that?"
Tara turned that way, not seeming to care that Cloud had interrupted her. "Oops. I should of remembered you wouldn't understand that word. It's not a word that translates really well, but the closest is 'cousin'"
Zidane then said, "Erm...'closest'?"
Tara sighed. "The literal translation of that would be "person four times removed from the speaker's aunt". Family relationships among my people, the Kinaari, are complicated, especially when there's a Guardian in the family. Guardians live as long as the planet they are joined to, unless they renounce the Guardian's Oath. It's just the way it is." She backed up a bit at that; Zidane guessed Tara still was very nervy. Bet she isn't used to this... He considered what Tara had said, then answered, "It's okay."
Tara nodded. "What's odd is she's always...cared...about you, though it is certain you've never seen her."
Zidane nodded. Huh, that's wierd. I'd better ask... "True. But why does she care? And why wouldn't she just...show herself?"
Tara trembled a bit, then answered, "She won't show herself because...you are a Hikarii no Takkwon...excuse me, Light Warrior, and until a month ago, you had not fulfilled your destiny."
"Huh?"
Tara seemed to get a bit more courage and then said, "It's something you wouldn't of known. Few who are Light Warriors ever know what they are beforehand--or ever know that fact. As for caring about you; I don't know. She hides it very well, but I've been concerned for her the moment I heard of your existence. She goes...crazy...when something really bad is going to happen to you that is beyond your control. Many a time during this latest adventure, I'd contact her to find her pretty upset, and knowing she could do nothing this time...I fear she has let a curse of the heart take hold of her and affect her judgment. Won't be the first time, though."
"Curse?"
"I can't tell you, for it is a thing unspeakable among us sworn ones to even consider." She seemed to consider a moment and gather what courage she could, then asked: "Everything all right? My erm, cousin, will be asking about you sooner or later...I know her too well."
"I think it's okay; but...I seem to remember things I couldn't before.."
Tara looked shocked for a second, then muttered something like "bevvidk" ...Zidane didn't catch the exact word, though. However, the way she said it sounded like some kind of cussword, so Zidane realized it would be better not to find out what THAT meant. "My cousin said she restored your memories, since what you had just been through had...nearly destroyed them." Zidane was shocked by that. Almost...yeah, she's right. I barely remembered my own name just before I passed out... She took a deep breath. "Since me and Nora are related by blood, I may be able to use my abilities to see exactly what happened when she restored your memories. If I fail here, luckily it won't hurt you, it's just I won't be able to tell you anything."
"What do you have to do?"
Tara tugged at one glove. (Zidane hadn't noticed up until that moment that she was wearing them!) "I'll have to touch you skin to skin...and that's kind of risky..."
"Why?"
Tara sighed. "Because like the rest of my people, I'm a telepath as well. If you don't know what that is, it means I could read minds if I wanted to and send my thoughts over great distances to others. Touching people like that--especially people who are not telepaths...is not liked very much since, well, that causes the other person's thoughts to blast through one's protections, especially if there's strong emotions behind those thoughts. It can be quite...unpleasant if one is not prepared for it and ready to parry those thoughts, so to speak."
"You don't read minds...just to do it, do you?" That idea made Zidane a little nervous.
She shook her head. "I'm well aware what most non-telepaths think of mind reading; that it's a major invasion of privacy, so I won't if I have any say in the matter. Besides, most people who are not of my race have natural defenses against such a thing, which can be very hard to get around without touching the person in question."
Zidane nodded and thought a moment about it. She might get some of my thoughts up her nose...she knows that...but it's worth it. Now that I know that Nora gave me back my memories, I want to know if this was her fault or not.. He then said, "It's worth the risk. Please?"
Tara nodded, then pulled off a glove and touched Zidane's cheek with a bare hand. Zidane then noticed a feeling like if something had brushed his mind; it startled him and sent a chill up his spine, but nothing else happened. She then said, "Seems like you blocked those memories a long time ago...deep down, you didn't want to remember them."
Zidane's eyes widened a bit. Tara continued, "It's been known to happen. If there's a lot of pain in those experiences and couldn't handle them at the time, that's probably why. When you started searching for your origins, the block started to weaken somewhat, so you could remember bits and pieces..."
Suddenly Zidane realized what she meant. "I was having nightmares! You mean..those were those memories!?"
She nodded. "Must of been. Buried Memories come back up in odd ways sometimes. Anyway, when Nora restored your memories, the strain smashed the wall that you'd built around the memories you had hidden behind them, so to speak. It was already weakened by what you'd been through, so don't blame Nora. Guardians like me and Nora don't always know all the consequences of a action; we're not infallable."
Zidane nodded, understanding. She then said, "I'd better go."
Cloud nodded, and Tara disappeared. One minute she was there, the other minute she wasn't. Cloud turned to Zidane again.
"Didn't expect her to be that chatty. She's really shy, usually." He fingered the materia a bit.
"Where did you get that?"
"Nora gave it to me so I could yell at other Guardians if any of them dared jerk me to another world again. She created it with Tara's help."
"Oh, I gotcha." It HAD been the third time he'd been yanked to another world, he said when we met last time, after all. Nora seems like the sort to be courteous...and it was the Guardians's fault it happened, obviously!
"Anyway, she does seem to be fairly concerned about you, which is a little odd." Zidane looked at him curiously, Cloud then said, "Think about it. Why would she call someone out of another world to help you back then? She also wrote this..." He handed Zidane a letter that had his name on it in some fancy script.
"Wha? She wrote me a letter?"
Cloud nodded. "Wrote me one too. She really sounded worried in it..."
Zidane opened the letter. It said:
If you are reading this, I know you've gotten better, thank the light. There are many things I'd love to tell you about...and I wish I could of told you earlier, but there was no way. I couldn't break the laws of the universe without severe consequences and knew it.
I know the last few months have not been easy on you, and I know you still have questions. All I dare say at this time is part of your answer lies within you. Also, a hint I give freely; are the sins of the father the fault of the child? Think about that.
Also, one more thing I can promise you. When you recover from this, you will have your full strength back. That was one of two gifts I was able to give you; the other was I restored the memories that the Ifia tree stole from you. I don't know if we'll ever meet physically, but may you get well quickly. I admit to being worried about you; most of your friends think you died. I can't change that, sorry. Only one guesses the truth, and he does not have much time left...
Anyway, may the Light show you the way!
~~Nora
Under the name, there was something in a strange rune-like language that Zidane couldn't read. Cloud must of noticed that Zidane was puzzled, for he asked, "What's wrong?" "There's some writing on here that I can't understand.." He showed Cloud.
Cloud glanced at it and said, "I have something similar on mine. I asked Tara; she said that was Nora's name and clan. It's a more 'traditional' signature. It's just that kinda thing doesn't translate very well, she said."
"Wierd too...how can someone who never met me be concerned that way?"
Cloud shook his head. "I don't know, really. Even Tara isn't sure. Nora won't tell her about it. Nora and Tara may be telepaths and know the other's thoughts, but it's still possible to one of them to hide something from the other if one tries hard enough." Zidane nodded. "Also, I find it odd too. She doesn't know you, yet she cares about your welfare enough to find help for you when she could do nothing? That's odd to me..."
Zidane nodded again. He then noticed he was starting to get hunger pangs...they were kind of sullen, but they were there. He put one hand over his belly and thought, Shut up, not now!
Cloud must of noticed, for he said, "What's wrong?"
Zidane answered, "I think...I'm hungry..."
Cloud smiled. "No problem. I'll go and get you something to eat. Won't be long." He left.
Zidane turned around with some difficulty and turned so his face was to the wall. Everything's been turned upside down. Cloud...didn't tell me about the Guardian, why? And what does she mean with that cryptic remark about "the sins of the father"? I don't have a father... Just then, someone YANKED his tail (which he hadn't been paying attention to where it was) pretty hard, making Zidane lose his train of thought. He yelled, "YEOWCH!" He spun around with strength borne of anger and annoyance...just in time to see a little girl run in and run straight to a even younger boy.
The girl said to the boy, "Naughty Loki! Yankin' his tail! Bad boy!"
Loki (That was obviously the boy's name) started to cry. Just then, Cloud came in with a tray. He clicked his tongue and said, "Loki! Did you...?" Loki started to throw a tantrum. Cloud looked at Zidane and rolled his eyes. "Sorry. I didn't see which way Loki ran...he has a bad habit of pulling on Red XII's tail when he comes over to visit. Been trying to keep him away from you."
Zidane nodded, wishing he had some earplugs since Loki certainly could scream. Cloud came over to him, handed him the tray (it had some sandwiches on it, which made Zidane's mouth water) "Be careful, k?" Cloud whispered, then he excused himself by grabbing Loki by the arm and dragging him out of the room. Zidane picked up a sandwich and started nibbling on it; the taste brought his appetite back. (Not to mention, his stomach really started growling then) He started munching on it. The girl came closer.
"Why are you eating in bed? Mom will be maad..."
Zidane swallowed, then smiled. "No she won't. I got hurt real bad, okay?" Zidane guessed the gal was about four or five, so he figured it was best to keep things simple.
She bowed her head and said, "Awww! You okay?"
Zidane nodded and swallowed another bite. "I'll be okay, just don't feel good enough to play with you..."
The girl nodded. "Maybe you can play laaater. I'm Arella. Who are you?"
"Zidane. You been chasing your little bro?"
She nodded. "He's real bad, pulling tails like that. Last time Red wuz over, he said he'd bite Loki if he did it agaaain..."
"He'd better not do it again. I may just take my belt and whup his behind next time." Zidane remembered that Cloud had said that Red XII was a ...nonhuman...person that reminded one of a dog. (He'd also said 'don't call him that or he'd be upset'.) He wouldn't like getting his tail yanked any more than me, I bet.
Just then Cloud came back. "I heard that. Don't use your belt on him, k? Though I don't mind if you swat his bottom if he does it again. He needs to learn not to yank on tails." He knelt and glanced at Arella. "You getting to know Zidane?"
She nodded. "He's nice. When is he gonna get better?"
Cloud cocked his head. "Probably going to be a while. He really got hurt bad..."
Zidane nodded and swallowed. "She can stay, I don't mind her." He took another bite of his lunch.
Cloud smiled. "You sweet kid, you've won someone else over!" He then gave her nose a friendly tweak. Arella giggled.
Zidane smiled and worked on finishing his lunch. Guess I'm gonna be okay for now. I hope everyone else is all right...and I hope I get better soon! Darn that Guardian!
 

KingdomKey

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This was really enjoyable to read! I've never seen a crossover between two final fantasy games before! I was really excited to read it and definitely worth the hype. I don't know much the Guardians. I'll definitely have to read the stuff prior to this you linked. ;3 Anyways, it's nice to see Zidane taking this really well; even if he learned Cloud kept a few things from him. I hope Kuja lives longer than when he sees Zidane. I wonder if Garnet and the rest will learn he's alive? So... Loki and Arella, are they Cloud and Tifa's kids? Also, Vincent transforming into Chaos was eye opening too. Overall, good stuff. :D Can't wait for more, maryadavies.
 

maryadavies

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Kitkat; Actually the first story was spawned by a little ref in FF9 (Big sword on the wall). Guardians are basically original, but the idea is there has to be a reason charas get thrown from world to world now and then. They're kinda mysterious on purpose, I mean to explain them more later in the story, tho reading the first will give you some ideas on what they are. ^^ Kuja..well, you'll see. I don't want to spoil that.

And yes, Loki and Arella are Cloud and Tifa's kids. I don't tend to 'ship anyone that I don't see evidence in the games of a 'ship, and Cloud and Tifa,...well, once Cloud got over Aeris and after Advent Children, I can see that. ^^ I gave Loki that name b/c I wanted to give folks the idea of..someone who is a bit naughty, which as you can see, he is. Especially when he sees a tempting tail.

I mean to bring in Vincent later..again (and yes that Chaos transformation is a hint, when Zidane and Vincent meet, you'll get even more of a hint). I'll see if i can get a new chapter up by tomorrow. ^^
 
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maryadavies

She Shoots for the Stars
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Okay here we go again! BTW, just to make it clear; I do bring in ye old gold chocobo here (Cloud's being thoughtful). Background; in our house, when we do breed that gold chocobo, we usually name it "Goldie"; if it's the one you get from Kalm, it's always "Boko" since we figure that's like "Rover" for a dog. AKA. it'd better be a really dumb dog/chocobo, and if you've ever maxed out the Kalm one, you'll know why. ^^ So yeah, Cloud wouldn't loan Boko to Zidane.

Also you'll notice when Cait comes in, he's using "thee" and "thou" at first, if you didn't know, Cait is the victim of a little translation error that messed up the story. According to stuff I read from those in the know, in the Japanese version, Cait speaks in formal japanese when you first meet him, then slips into normal/informal japanese. This is to give a hint that Cait = Reeve. Unfortunately, the crack FF7 translators missed that little nuance. (There's a unofficial translation floating out there that fixes that among some other stuff, but it does change a biiit too much imo.) Since I'd rather bring a bit of that here, I made him speak formal English (complete with thee and thou) until Zidane calls him out.

Also, Alanna is a original chara, you'd know her if you read Torch. She'll show up more later.

Oh and to clarify, Zidane is a little like Sora here in that he only knows what he's been told. So there.

Ok, enough beating around the bushy..here we go. Next chapter ahoy!
---------------------------
Chapter 2

...It's been a few weeks. I've been getting stronger, slowly. Don't know how my friends are doing, Cloud said don't worry too much but sometimes I still worry. I'm also trying to make sense of what happened and my origins, which isn't easy.
...Since I can get down the stairs, Cloud decided to ask a friend of his, Cid Highwind, to go get Goldie from the chocobo stables, and he got permission for me to ride her in town so I could get a look around without wearing myself out. I didn't expect to meet Cait Sith..or should I say Reeve? and later, Yuffie. Cait was really nice and showed me where the drama students hang out, that was like finding a little piece of home. Yuffie..well, I don't know why she was spying on Cloud's house (I hope she's not still looking for Cloud's materia still after all this time!) but Cait scared her out. Hopefully she'll come say hey since I think she grew a little during the Jenova War, the way I understand it…
--From Zidane's journal


It had been four weeks since Zidane had woken up. Cloud had gladly let Zidane read his journals, especially the ones that pertained to the time Cloud had been on Gaia, which explained a lot. I understand now why he hid that stuff about Guardians., Zidane had thought. A promise is a promise, so I don't blame him. I don't blame Alanna either; that old lady thief was only trying to cover his butt by telling plausible fibs. I'm not going to call her out if she got back before I get back...


It'd taken a week (the doctor guessed it was because Zidane's gut had to get used to having food in it again) but Zidane had noticed he'd been getting horribly hungry, like he'd been growing again. Cloud had checked with Tara; she'd told them that was a side effect of the healing trick Nora had done for Zidane. What she'd said was that the trick worked with the body's rhythms, so that it did mess with the person's appetite because the materials for a healing had to come from somewhere. In this case, it came from what the person ate, which explained that.


Anyway Zidane had gradually been getting stronger; from getting tired from just going to the bathroom to now, when he could get down the stairs without being too worn out. This morning, he'd woken up, gotten dressed, done his business, and had just come near the stairs when he smelled something nasty. What's that? he thought. Just as he got near the stairs, he heard Cloud talking with someone.


“I brought that @#%$&^ bird, ye old spikey head. Why you wanted that @#$%^ chocobo, I have no damn idea..”, someone said that Zidane didn't know.
“I have my reasons, Cid.” Cid? I remember Cloud saying something about him..Cid Highwind?, Zidane thought.
“Well, I'd better get my #@$%^ ass back to Rocket Town...”
“Not staying for breakfast?”
“Not today, spikey head. I'd rather you didn't ask me to be a @#$%^ @#$%^ delivery service again.”
The door shut. Zidane ran down the stairs, there seemed to be a cloud of smoke which was the source of the smell; Cloud was trying to fan it out a window. It took a moment for Zidane to catch his breath.


“Who was that? Cid?”


Cloud nodded. “Before you say anything, yeah, he was smoking. As usual. Sorry, can't get away from that. I've asked him not to around the kids, but he never listens.”


“Peeyuu, that's such a smelly habit.” Just then, Zidane's stomach grumbled rather audibly.
Cloud then smiled. “Let's go get breakfast, then I'll go show you what Cid was annoyed about.”


Zidane nodded, then followed Cloud to the kitchen.
[HR][/HR] When Cid had come near New Midgard in the Shera, no one noticed Reeve on a nearby bridge. What is that old pilot up to? he thought. Reeve watched Cid land and lead a familiar gold chocobo into town and to Cloud's house. Cid seemed plenty annoyed, however, which just rousted Reeve's curiosity more. Something's been going on over there, I wish I knew what, but Cloud isn't talking about it..


Just then Reeve glanced at his watch. Damn, I'm late for work!, he thought. He took off for a dead run for the new ShinRa headquarters. There had been some discussion on renaming that, but no one had thought of a good replacement name for the corporation yet. Maybe soon we'll ditch that hateful name, Reeve thought as he dashed up the stairs to his office. He'd become the new CEO after the Jenova War, mainly because there were no other high ranking employees of ShinRa left; he had been doing his best to transform the company so Mako Reactors were a thing of the past. So was ShinRa being the government for anything; Reeve felt that was too tempting for anyone to abuse.


He paused at the door, out of breath. His secretary looked up and then said, “Reeve, sir? Are you okay?”
“I'm okay, Miss Potts. Just had to run for it. Is there anything I should know about? I know I'm running late..”
“Not really. The last of the Mako Reactors should be fully decommissioned by next week; there's nothing really amiss with the company. And the alternative power sources are doing very well.” Miss Potts also reminded him he had a meeting after lunch today, but this morning was just routine, boring paperwork. That gave Reeve an idea.


“Make sure I'm not disturbed. I'll have that paperwork done by lunch.” He entered his office, shut the door, sat down, took his keys out of a pocket, then unlocked the bottom drawer in his desk. In the drawer, was an odd pair of eyeglasses with a lens on only one side, and a pair of bangles. Reeve took the sort-of-glasses out. He carefully put them on, then snapped the bangles on under the cuffs of his shirt. He clicked a switch on the right earpiece, which switched the thing on.


A vision danced in front of Reeve's eyes, since this was the actual control device for Cait Sith. (It worked with a special materia that let Reeve control it by thought. The eye part let him see what Cait saw; it also had a sort of headphones in the part that hooked around the ears that let him hear what Cait heard.) He'd left Cait in a closet at home after the Geostigma mess; it didn't take long for Reeve to get Cait to move out of that closet. He smiled, and of course Cait smiled along with him.
Let's just see what you're up to, Cloud…


[HR][/HR]
After breakfast, Cloud led Zidane outside to one corner of the house. Zidane had noticed earlier through a window that there was something that looked kind of like a chocobo stable over there, but there wasn't a chocobo there when he'd last looked. Cloud turned to Zidane and handed him some greens. “Peace offering”, he said with a wink. Standing there, munching a bit at the contents of a manger, was a gold chocobo with a bridle on. It raised its head. “Wak, wak?” it said.



Cloud smiled. “Meet Goldie, Zidane. Cid was in a bad mood when he went to get her since I really can't; not unless I wanted to leave my motorcycle behind or find a babysitter so I could take Tifa along. And I wouldn't want to leave the motorcycle; not to mention it's been a little tricky to find babysitters lately.”



“That's understandable, but why?”


“I thought you might wanna have a look around yourself. Being sick isn't any fun, and being stuck in the house all day is worse; doctor said you should be able to ride without a problem though. Let's see if she'll take to you. She's the best chocobo I got; I got a few more but they're at some stables that are quite a ways from here, actually.”


“I gotcha.” Zidane stepped up, offering the chocobo the greens. She ate them, then nibbled a bit at his hair while he scratched her behind the eartufts. “She's a sweetie.”


Cloud smiled. “She tends to be; there's a few folks she don't like but I can tell; she likes you.”


Zidane smiled back. Cloud reached into his satchel and brought out a map and some papers. “This is for you; these are a note and papers that give you permission to ride Goldie in town. You'll have to hold her down to a walk, though. And this is a world map.” Cloud showed Zidane where New Midgard was(it was on an island just a few miles offshore), then tapped an area on the map. “Stay away from there for right now. That's where old Midgard was; there's a town at the edge called Edge, but the area has a lot of air pollution. If you thought Cid's smoking was bad, that's a lot worse and I don't think your body could handle that shit right now. I won't say you shouldn't go there once you're feeling stronger; might be a good idea to go to Aeris's church if you got a lot on your mind since it's a good place to think.” Cloud shook his head sadly. “Reeve had to go to a lot of trouble to make sure no one would get hurt in Edge since there were people that would not leave after Meteor hit. Had to make sure the area was reinforced so people wouldn't get crap dropping on their heads.”


“Why wouldn't they leave? Seems silly not to if they might get smashed...”


Cloud sighed. “It's because their villages were originally there, before Midgard got built. People often just love their homes, no matter how bad it gets.”


Zidane just nodded. Cloud continued, “If you wanna ride out of town, that's okay. Just please try to get back before dark; I don't wanna have to hunt for you. And unless you think you can handle a fight, don't get off the chocobo while you're not in town. There's still a few monsters out there.”


Zidane nodded again. Cloud has been really courteous about things, he thought. Zidane remembered:


It was not long after he finished his lunch that first day. Cloud had noticed Zidane had gotten pretty quiet.


Hey,” he said. “I understand. If you want to be alone, just say so and I'll go do something else. Everything's..been turned upside down, hasn't it?”


Well, yeah..”


I've been there.” Cloud had gotten a bit quiet himself, then said, “Don't be afraid to confront that crap in your head and think it though. It took me months, not to mention getting Geostigma and finding a cure, to finally come to terms with what happened, and it took me a little longer to come to terms with Aeris dying. Some things you just have to figure out for yourself...I should know.”



He reassured me there was no way I'd get Geostigma, there'd been no new cases in quite some time. Thank goodness. Not to mention I have other stuff to worry about…



Cloud nodded and smiled. “I think you should be okay. Anyway you know what day it is, it's my turn to go work. Time to go deliver the mail..”



Zidane nodded. I know, Cloud and Tifa have been taking turns day by day working so there's always someone home with the kids. That Loki, he can't be left alone. I think he stole the toilet seat last week...brother, Baku would of laughed his head off but it's not funny when you have to use that..


Cloud walked to the other end of the yard and wheeled out his motorcycle. “I'll see you at dinner tonight, Zidane.”
“Good luck and stay safe out there!”
Cloud nodded, made sure his Ultima Weapon was firmly on his back, put his helmet on, started the motorcycle, and drove off.
I think I'll take Cloud's invitation, Zidane thought. Kinda getting tired of just seeing this place out the window. He vaulted over the fence of the chocobo pen and found Goldie's saddle. She tamely submitted to being saddled; Zidane then led her to the gate, then let them both out, then mounted. “Let's go, girl!”


“Wark!” Goldie cried, and off they went slowly though the streets. Goldie seemed to understand this was not a time to run. She sure sounds strange, but same old kinda bird as back home, really. He sighed, he hadn't admitted it to Cloud but he was a little homesick. Hardly anything's familiar. I just wish I'd finish getting better so Cloud can call the Guardian and I can go home…


Just as he rounded the bend, Zidane noticed something really odd. There was this black and white cat that seemed to have hands and feet like a normal person, riding the ugliest moogle Zidane had ever seen. The face looked like someone big and fat had sat on it, and the moogle was as big as a person. It turned to look at him.


“Good morning sir, would thee please tell me thy name?”, the cat asked.


That rang a bell from what Cloud had told Zidane. I think I know who this is.. “It's Zidane. And you're Cait Sith, or should I say Reeve?”


“AAAAARGH!” The cat danced on the back of the moogle. “How did you know?!”


Zidane winked. “Cloud told me about you, and I've seen his journals. What brings you out here, anyway?”
“Oh, was going to try to catch Cloud but he seems to be off on mail delivery again. He didn't tell me why he needed a doctor but I can guess now...because you showed up?”


Zidane nodded. “Long story – I don't come from this world at all to be honest. But I did show up pretty badly hurt.” Zidane didn't want to go into the full story. Since he knew Cloud trusted Reeve/Cait, he figured Cait could be trusted, but on the other hand, Zidane didn't really know Reeve/Cait at all. Zidane wanted to find out how he felt about Cloud's friends on his own.


Cait talked to Zidane fairly gently, it didn't take Cait long to learn a little bit about Tantalus..


“Wait, they're kinda a theater troupe? That gives me an idea. Bet you're a little homesick, eh?” Zidane nodded. “I happen to know where the dive where the drama/theater students hang out is. The plays may change, but acting never changes; you might find a kindred spirit or two there.”
“Drama students?”
Cait put his hands behind his head. “Oh, did Cloud forget to tell you? One of the things I've worked on doing is I basically built the biggest school here in the world. Here, anyone can come who passes the entrance exams to gain a career – but I had another reason too. I want to make sure future generations don't forget the Jenova War and are able to learn from the past. I don't want the crap we went though to be repeated...well, if I have any say in the matter.”
Zidane nodded approvingly. “I'll show you the way there, homesick on top of recovering from injuries doesn't help anyone.”


It didn't take long to get there, it was a little bar called Garuda's Wings. Zidane dismounted the bird and tied her to a post; they went inside.


There were some folks in one corner doing something really familiar to Zidane; going over their lines. One of them was messing with a wooden sword..and looking terrible, like he didn't know what he was doing. Zidane stepped up to them.
“Hey, need some help with that?”
The guy looked up, startled. “Uh, sure.” He handed Zidane the sword, Zidane proceeded to show him how it was done, even tho it really got him out of breath. This won a round of applause. A girl nearby offered Zidane a glass of root beer.


“Man, that was good. Where did you learn that?”
“Learned from my weapons teacher a while back, but I'm still not good enough really to fight with it, but it works for acting.”


Zidane quickly learned that the girl's name was Madalynn, and her friends were working on a school project that would later be shown at the theater in town. It turned out to be a pretty nice morning after all. Cait had walked to the corner, told Zidane that if he needed him just holler since he had some garbagey paperwork to do as Reeve. For a while, Zidane was just able to forget about being homesick. Cait had been right. The plays were different, but acting never changed – it was like Madalynn and her friends were kind of speaking the same language as Zidane. Not to mention it was a lot of fun.
[HR][/HR]
After they left that bar, it didn't take them too long to remount and get back to Cloud's house. Cait happened to turn his head when..there was some rustling in a nearby tree.


“What's that?” Zidane said.
“Hmm, hang on.” Cait jumped off the moogle, picked up a small rock, and threw it at the top of the tree. It hit..what sounded to be someone. “Ouch!” a female voice said.
Cait shook his butt a little. “YUFFIE! What are you doing in that tree?!” He jumped back on the moogle. There was a rustling, and then a black haired girl in a rather odd outfit jumped out of the tree. Zidane believed Cait though. I haven't seen her before, but I'm sure Cait would know who that was., he thought. The girl had some kinda guard over one arm, otherwise she seemed to be dressed like a ninja.
“Um, being curious?”
“You aren't planning on sneaking into Cloud's house later, are you?”
Yuffie toed the ground. “Um, no?”
Zidane decided to speak up. “You'd better not. You'd proly scare the kids anyway.”
“Awright, awright, I'll proly drop by later to play with them then!”
I don't know if she meant to go after Cloud's materia or not; I hope she outgrew that game., Zidane thought. But I guess there's quite a few of Cloud's friends around...

---------------------
And there we go. We're headed back to Gaia next, be warned, it's going to be a tearjerker..
 
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KingdomKey

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I'm not sure I can handle a tearjerker! This was really good to read. You really know your characters. ;3 I like how Zidane was able to feel a little better and immerse himself with the other actors without feeling too homesick. I'm curious why Yuffie is after Cloud's materia. Might find out why in the story prior to this one though. In any case, I can't wait to see who else turns up and how the rest of the story goes. :D
 

maryadavies

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To clarify with Yuffie; she isn't after the materia (But Zidane doesn't know WHY she's around, so he assumes). She's acting a little suspicious though, hiding in that tree..Well, you'll find out eventually what that sneaky ninja's up to. But yeah, if she was, it's same reason as FF7, tho she doesn't have a reason to now. (Reeve, if you didn't guess, has been fixing that since he just wants ShinRa to be a power company mostly, not a government. Oh they might sell explosives for mining too b/c they did weapons, but that's it.)

Oh and I forgot to mention something about Cait. Yes, I imitated a Google Glass for the control device. Up until I dreamed this up, every time Cait came up in a fic, you'd hear something about a screen. Uh..when I was playing the game, I don't see any screen. So you can guess where that came from. I figure with PS era graphics, it wouldn't show; I hope they do add something like that to Reeve in the remake. :3

I'll have that cha..actualy a interlude chapter..up soon as I can. I'm serious tho. You'll understand when you see it but better have some tissues handy.
 
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maryadavies

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Okay here we go! Oh, and yes, Vivi's death here is canon. Seriously. I confirmed it with a FAQ long ago, and later with some sources I found on FF wiki. (Yes I double checked their sources.) Seems like we had a localization boo-boo that hid it, so unless you find a Ultimicia translation (Um, to us KH fans, that's proly pretty familiar..) you wouldn't know. (Said boo boo has to do with how Vivi talks in Japanese; he talks more like a little kid there than in English.) I'm full aware since we had that localization boo boo, we English speakers never knew Vivi was the one who died in FF9, not Zidane! The only thing is, we don't know when or how Vivi died even with other sources, so the circumstances are my own imagination. And yeah, we'll see Vivi's kids later.

Yes, I'm using spoiler tag here because it spoils not only a plot point, but part of FF9's ending. I figure whoever's reading this would know what happens, anyway if you don't, I hope you don't mind a few spoilers.

Also, mild warning, there's a bit of girl-running-with-towel-on in this; I think it's safe for work, however (I perfer to keep things PG-13 at worst) but guys; keep your filthy minds to yourself, you don't see nuffin' :wink:

Anyway I hope you got your tissues handy in case. Enough. Here we go.

INTERLUDE 1


Gaia, around the same time


I knew why Vivi had called us, it was just a quiet little talk and a reunion between friends. What I didn't know was it would be his last...which left me with a deathbed promise to keep. Since I had other obligations, it would be impossible, I thought I'd been horribly rash and wasn't sure how I'd manage both.
It was very lucky that when I was taking a walk with Eiko in Lindbulm that that lady thief found us. I didn't believe her at first, I didn't think Zidane had a girl as a teacher, but she proved me wrong when I crossed weapons with her. As everyone knows, the teacher leaves his or her mark on the student, and I could see it.
It's a really good thing she volunteered to be my proxy in this matter, I can't be two places at once…
~~From Freya's Journal


Freya hurried into Quan's Dwelling, where Vivi had gone after everything was over. He wanted time to think, Freya thought. But why a group reunion here? I really wonder what is going on.. Vivi smiled and nodded; Freya had been the last to arrive.
It's a shame Zidane isn't here, but he's..gone. No one could of survived that..
It turned into a chat about old times and a bit of a party. It wasn't much of one but it was good to be with old friends again. I've been really busy, Freya thought. Rebuilding Burmecia, getting to know Sir Fratley all over again..it's been hectic. This is a nice break though.


After a bit of a laugh with Steiner, Freya noticed Vivi was trying to get her attention. She went over to Vivi.
“Anything the matter, Vivi?”
“Not really. But if you have the time...could you do me a favor?”
“What's that?”
Vivi removed a sealed letter from his robes. “Please...if you could get this to Zidane..I'd appreciate it.”
“I don't think he's still alive...”
“I have a feeling, somehow, that he is. Don't ask me how or why, I just do.”
Freya decided to humor him. “I'll do my best when I can, Vivi.”


Everyone stayed until quite late, and decided to sleep in the outer area of the place. The next morning...they awoke to an awful surprise. Vivi had died in the night. Mist bled from his body to encircle a number of black mage eggs.


[HR][/HR] Two days after the funeral, Eiko and Freya were walking in Lindbulm. Eiko turned to Freya.


“Has something been bothering you..since what happened? Somehow you've seemed quite upset..”
Freya nodded sadly. “I feel torn right now. I didn't know when I made the promise but...now I'm honor bound to keep it...and considering me and Fratley have been trying to rebuild Burmicia, I don't know how I can.”
“What promise?”
Freya showed Eiko the letter. “Vivi...wanted Zidane to get this...thought Zidane's still alive. I'm still not convinced, it really looked like he'd gotten killed. How can I search when I can't be two places at once?! Among my people though, a deathbed promise MUST be kept, no matter what. What am I going to do?!”
Eiko patted Freya's arm in sympathy; she wasn't sure how to solve the problem, either. Just then, an
unfamiliar voice said, “Is someone taking dat scamp's name in vain?” They both looked up to see a strange lady. Her flaming red hair was pulled back by a leather cord. There was a really ugly knife scar on her left cheek; her hazel eyes were sparkling with life, tho she seemed pretty tired. She was wearing boots, slacks and a shirt and was fairly flat chested; her clothes seemed to be a little stiff with salt (Freya could smell it), which made Freya think she might have been on the sea recently. Freya recognized this was a rare bird; a lady thief. Few women become thieves, she thought. I don't think she's with Tantalus or I think she'd of been mentioned...


The lady put her hands on her hips. “Now, what's this 'bout Zidane?”
Eiko put her hands on her hips as well. “I haven't seen you before. How do you know him? And who are you?”
The lady smiled. “As fer who I am: I'm Alanna Alys Mustokova. And I know about him since I waz one ov his weapons teachers.” That startled Freya, who cried out: “I'm not sure if you're lying, lady thief. Could you prove it?”
Alanna blinked. “Whadda mean, miss dragoon?”
“Would you mind crossing blades for a moment? If you really taught him, I'll be able to see where you left your mark on him. The teacher always leaves his or her mark on a student's style somewhere.”
“Well, okay. This ain't da normal way ta settle somethin' like this, but I see yer point.” She drew out two jewel and crystal daggers from her belt, joined them at the end of the handles, and then..they extended into something very familiar...a thief's swordstaff.


Freya nodded at Eiko. “You back off. Since we have to use our real weapons, there's always the possibility of someone getting hurt. I don't need to explain more than that, do I?”


“Nope, I'll be ready in case that happens.”


Freya drew her spear, then said, “No fancy abilities, this'll just be weapon on weapon. That should be enough.”


Alanna nodded, and then it began. Freya could tell she was doing the honorable thing and pulling her blows; Freya herself was doing the same thing. Then she saw it; Alanna dodged a blow the exact same way Zidane did, not to mention she used the swordstaff sort of like how he did as well. “Okay, hold it!” Freya said. “Your body tells me you weren't lying; I saw you dodge that. Zidane did the same thing...there's no question.”


Alanna smiled. “I understand. By da way, what's yer names? I can understand not trustin' me at first tho..”
Both Freya and Eiko introduced themselves, then Freya said, “Let's go somewhere a little more private, then I'll explain.”
“Let's go ta my place then.”, Alanna said. “Since da air ferry's down, we'll have ta walk tho; it's in da Industrial District...but I need a damn bath.” She glared at her salty clothes.
Eiko chuckled. “Dirty is dirty and that sounds okay, eh Freya?”
It took them a while to get there because of the ferry not working, since the Mist was gone.


[HR][/HR] Once they found Alanna's house, it didn't take long for Alanna to heat the water and get herself a bath; she had a spot in the corner in the kitchen which was blocked off by a curtain that she used for such. She'd thrown her dirty clothes out from behind the curtain, and you could hear her scrubbing as the three talked.
“So, what's up with Zidane?” she asked.
Freya told Alanna what had happened. “Hmm.”, she said. “So ya think those roots smashed'im? But Vivi thought he'd lived, somehow?”
“Yeah...I'm not sure if Vivi was right, it sure looked like it..” Freya said.
Eiko chimed in, “I really don't think anyone could of survived that, but..”
“Mebbe I can solve this mystery. I think somethin's a little off...” they heard a splash which could only mean she was washing her hair, and then she went on, “Trouble is, most airships don't work no more since da Mist is gone. I really don't wanna go on da sea again..” There was a bigger splash, like she dropped the soap.
“Waitamo...Could there be a way ta retrofit a Mist-powered airship with a steam engine?!”


“Hmm.”, Freya said. “That sounds intriguing, but why?”


Alanna chuckled. “I'm the co-owner of an airship; da Angel's Wing. Unfortunately it's a Mist engine one; if it could be changed over ta steam, I could fly an' find out what da hell's going on. But as it is, dat old girl don't hunt...Just so ya know Freya, I'm willing ta take dat deathbed promise off yer hands if dat li'l problem can be fixed.” She splashed around a bit, prolly getting what she dropped.


Freya turned, smiled at Eiko, then said, “Once you're cleaned up, let's go check with Regent Cid. If anyone could do such a thing, it'd be him.”


There was a big splash, and then Alanna came out wrapped in a big towel. “I'll find Mavya Javvins too once I'm dressed, she's da other owner. She'd prolly be interested too, if I know her.” She ran for the bedroom.
[HR][/HR]


It didn't take long to find Mavya, who was cool with the idea. Then they found Cid, who thought a second, then said, “It might be possible, I'll check it out!”


It turned out that it was very feasible, it took Cid and his engineers a day to rebuild the engine, then Freya and Alanna met on the airship dock. Alanna nodded at Freya. (Cid was already making plans to rebuild the air ferries using steam; he also was training a team of engineers to rebuild Mist engines into steam engines)


“I've been by Burmecia before, I know da custom.” She drew her weapon; Freya drew hers. They crossed them, then Freya said, “Alanna, will you be my proxy and fulfill the promise I made to Vivi, who is now dead, since I cannot?”
Alanna nodded solemnly. “Yes. If Zidane be alive, or be he dead, I'll get that letter to Zidane. No matter how long it takes. On both our blades be it!” They both lowered their weapons; at the same time, Freya said quietly, “Then so let it be; all I ask is you do your best.” She handed Alanna the letter. “Let's go Freya.” Alanna then said. “I don't see a reason ya should walk home; I'll fly ya back there, then I'll be on my way. Wish me luck!”


Freya nodded and joined Alanna on her airship, and off they went. I'm glad I found a way to keep this, Freya thought. I'd hate to be a oathbreaker...

---------------
And there we have it. Anyway there's going to be some trouble brewing in New Midgard coming next. See you then!
 
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KingdomKey

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Hurts to see Vivi is gone. :c I didn't think he'd die. This was certainly a good chapter and got to see those Zidane left behind in his world. Is Freya Zidane's friend or love interest? I thought someone named Garnet was? xD Anyways, I don't know much about FF9 besides the ending, Kuja and Zidane as far as the game goes. And it's cool to see Zidane's teacher and I imagine this scroll/letter is similar to the one Cloud got before; right after Zidane showed up in his world.
 

maryadavies

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Freya's a friend, you should know that. Goes back a while, since Zidane met that dragoon a long time ago when he was wandering, but she has a boyfriend; Sir Fratley (who didn't come to that reunion party). I imagine his friends would be just as upset as Garnet about his "death" though.

We'll hear about Garnet later, for this is going to dovetail RIGHT into FF9's ending eventually. Also you can say Garnet is why Zidane isn't having the desire to flirt all that much; he's thinking of her...That letter is also going to tie into that. But I won't spoil more than that.
 
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maryadavies

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Okay, first "whoops" post.

Because of Windows 10 trouble (I had to redo the system twice!), the next chapter might be delayed. I'll get it up as soon as I can tho! I'll edit this post with the new chapter soon as I finish it; I had to LITERALLY restart it twice. Ugh! I just have one thing to say about that.



Sorry in advance about the delay.
 
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maryadavies

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Again, sorry about the delay. I not only had the computer problems, I got a minor case of writer's block for a bit. Ugh.

Just so you know, you'll notice Yuffie's...throwing things..in this. As I recall, she comes equipped with the Throw materia, but there's really no weapons she can throw unless no one needs them anymore. That always rankled, so I basically gave her some throwing weapons in fic. To clarify; I'm using "skean" and "tack star" for those from FF6, but just so you know; these are both types of shruikens, but Yuffie uses a shruiken as a main weapon, so I went with FF6 names to avoid confusion! Oh and yeah, she doesn't do it in this (there will be a fight later where she DOES) but she can throw her Conformer, but of course it comes back.

Okay, enough beating around the bushy again..
-------------------------------
Chapter 3

...It turned into a pretty bad day. I found out the hard way that one of Hojo's assistants was teaching and was behind some disappearances around town. I had to be rescued by Yuffie and Cait; Cait was beside himself because he thought he'd checked out everyone. He fired that teacher by the way.
….The good thing is I also found out another teacher was Professor Gast's assistant. She told me some things I'm still thinking about…
~~From Zidane's journal


Zidane was just leaving Garuda's Wing when it happened. He later would admit he'd been careless since it had been very peaceful. He'd just rode Goldie by an alley when something grabbed him off the bird and placed a cloth over his mouth and nose..one that had something sickly sweet smelling on it. He passed out.


[HR][/HR] Reeve realized he was running late; usually he'd try to check on Zidane at least once a day using Cait. Cloud knew since he'd seen Cait running around again, and didn't mind so much. He had Cait running by the Garuda's Wing when he saw Goldie running by squawking. He ran and caught the bird. Where's Zidane?, Reeve thought. Just then he saw Madalynn running down looking freaked out.
“What's the matter?” Cait/Reeve asked. (They'd heard him talk to Zidane enough that he felt it was best to drop the usual pretense.)


“I saw Zidane get kidnapped! I hear one of the biology profs is doing some pretty rotten experiments and some folks have been vanishing..”
“Can't be a coincidence, which prof?”
Madalynn told Cait that she'd heard that it was someone called Doctor Roberts. Cait said he'd check it out, and ran away at a dead run, leading Goldie behind him. If there is a prof doing nasty experiments, I'm going to have to deal with it. Can't have that going around, especially with people disappearing. Thank heaven I had a backdoor code hard-wired into the school security system that only I know; figured after the Jenova War you can't be too careful…


Just as he got close to the main campus, Cait/Reeve noticed something moving in the bushes. He picked up a nearby stick and poked. Out jumped Yuffie.


“Yuffie, why are you following me?!”
“To tell the truth..Rufus caught me and asked me to go see how you were doing. Yeah, he stepped down and wants nothing to do with the company anymore because he was ashamed...but he wanted to know.” She looked embarrassed.
“Lemme guess, he bribed you didn't he?”
Yuffie nodded. Cait continued, “Look, I got to deal with a humdinger of a problem. Would you be willing to come and back me up?”
“Sure! I got enough to tell Rufus, he doesn't have to hear about this.”
They hurried to the school. Luckily Goldie, realizing that she was going to be taken care of, behaved and followed them. Cait explained everything to Yuffie along the way, which made her a bit mad; Cait guessed she would proly cause quite a bit of destruction, which he didn't object to within limits. When they got there, Cait tied Goldie to a tree. He turned to Yuffie.


“Let's go.”
“Wait, the school's closed to everyone but professors right now, how are we going to get in?”


Cait chuckled. “I had a little sneaky backdoor code hard-wired into the security system when this was built; did it just in case something happened. Well, something has. I'm the only one who can trigger it, though.” He reached into a satchel and brought out a card. They walked up to the door, Cait swiped it. A female voice said, “Please speak the final security code for emergency unlock.”
Reeve/Cait made sure that his real voice would come though, then said, “Alpha Omega Forty-Two.”
The voice said, “Accepted.” The door unlocked.
Cait nodded. “I had this fixed so I could do the voice print code though a phone in case police had to be called. Anyway let's go Yuffie; we got a friend to rescue.”
Yuffie nodded, checked a satchel she had over her shoulder, and followed Cait to the elevator. It didn't take them long to get to the right office. Cait proceeded to fix the lock, then they slammed open the door. There on a table, fastened down, was Zidane.
“Time to get nasty and get him out of here!” Yuffie pulled some tack stars out of her satchel and threw them at the PCs; Cait tried to get the cuffs off Zidane. They would not come off.


Just then a strange lady with white hair jumped into the room. “Lady ninja, get that cuff, I'll get the other.” She unsheathed a rather large dagger and then slashed the cuff open. Cait noticed she had Mako eyes. Hmm, a lady member of SOLIDER? I think there were only two or three.. Yuffie pulled out her Conformer and slashed the other cuff open; they grabbed Zidane. The lady SOLIDER said, “Better hurry. I put that stupid prof to sleep in the bathroom, but that Sleepel spell will wear off soon. You'd better get him out of here before he gets back.”


Cait turned to the strange lady. “Thank thee for thy help, do thee know what he was doing?” He bowed. (Since he figured the lady didn't know he was really Reeve, he decided to bring up the 'Cait' persona a bit more.)
The lady looked disgusted. “Some nasty experiments with people and Mako, I've been sneaking in behind a few professors and found out. He hasn't done anything to your friend tho but drug him, he's lucky.”
Cait stomped his feet. “Do not worry thyself overmuch, my lady. That professor's head will roll for this.” The lady nodded. “Prithee, could thee tell me thy name, or no time?” He made sure that he was carrying Zidane on his back with the help of the moogle.
The lady shook her head. “No time for that; but we'll meet later I'm sure. I want a word with Cloud but haven't been able to catch him yet.” She ran out the door.
Yuffie proceeded to pepper the “bed” with tack stars and skeans, and then they ran out the door and down the hall after Cait relocked the door.
“I'm writing up an order to fire that professor as we speak.”, Cait snarled. “No one should do that to other people just for a damn paper!” Just before they headed to the elevator, a voice called.


“What's going on? And why is that boy unconscious?” A plump face poked out an office door.
Yuffie looked up. “Ma'am, we had to rescue him from Doctor Roberts..”
“Oh dearie me, I knew there were some odd things going over there but..kidnapping people? That..is going too far...Is he okay?”
“He's alive; he got drugged but that's about it.”
“I'll get Miss Mills from the nursing department up here to have a look to be sure. Come into my office, I'll make sure he won't get your friend back.”
Cait looked up. “And you are?”
“I'm Ms. Banks, the other biology teacher.”
Cait smiled. “I trust you then; weren't you Professor Gast's assistant?”
Ms. Banks nodded. They carefully sat Zidane in a fluffy chair; it didn't take long for the other professor to get there with a cart from the nursing department. Miss Mills checked Zidane over. “I think I know what drug he used; I'll double check, but I think he stole it from our supplies for when we do practicals. The cad!” She took a small blood sample and ran it though an analyzer; it turned out she was right..and had the antidote right there. She injected a dose, and Zidane began to wake up. He grabbed his stomach. “Uh, I think I'm gonna..” Miss Mills got out a pan in time for Zidane to throw up; luckily he didn't miss the pan.
Cait jumped off the moogle and patted Zidane's arm as he finished. “Ugh...you all right?”
“Th-think so. Still a little queasy though.”
Miss Banks then said, “Oh..I'm glad you're okay. Cait, did you..”
“Let me explain so you know what happened, Zidane. Seems one of the teachers was a cad and was doing forbidden experiments, kidnapping people.”
“Oh no..I thought that was over..”
Yuffie shook her head sadly. “Guess not...”
Cait patted Zidane's arm again. “Don't worry, I just sent in a notice that he's fired. I also found out something; he was Professor Hojo's assistant.” Cait really looked upset. “I thought I checked that; sheesh, I feel responsible since I didn't see that..”
Zidane then said, “Nobody's perfect..at least nothing happened, I hope?”
“At least not to you; I don't know who got hurt by that.” Cait smiled sadly.
Miss Banks then reached over and handed Zidane a cup of tea. “It's ginger tea; that ought to settle your stomach.” Zidane sipped it, then asked: “What do you teach, ma'am? Just curious.”
“Biology and Genetics.” At Zidane's puzzled expression, she amended, “Study of life and also of how traits get inherited.”
It took Zidane a moment to get up the courage; remembering what the Guardian's letter said, he asked: “Does it matter much, really? When it comes to personalities?”
“You mean about how people act and stuff? Even with all we know about the subject, I swear, you can't figure out someone's personality from their ancestry. I've come to believe there's a random factor involved that no one can predict. I can't say what...but everyone's unique in some way. Not even twins have the same personality, so I'm really not sure.”
That gave Zidane something to think about. It took a little while for him to quit feeling sick; then they thanked Miss Banks and Miss Mills and headed down the stairs. Goldie was glad to see Zidane; Yuffie said she'd quit sneaking around so much and see if Cloud wouldn't mind knowing she was around, then went her way.
Cait gladly escorted Zidane back to the house. “I'll keep an eye on that guy.” he promised. “Yuffie made a big mess in his office because she was pissed; he prolly won't take that lightly; the notice he was fired prolly won't help his mood either.”
Hopefully he'll just go away, Zidane thought. But you never know with that kind of guy. You never know.
----------------------------------
Next chapter; Interlude where some stuff's explained and Alanna meets Kuja..believe me, since she has been talking to Freya and crew, that might get a tad sticky, but not to blows. ^^
 
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KingdomKey

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Well worth the wait! Nice to see Yuffie and Cait come to the rescue for Zidane. C: Hojo's assistant taking up the job in his place was certainly interesting development. I wonder if this will be the last time we see him again. Poor Cait feeling responsible after doing his best to rid of the taint in the company of Shinra. I'm happy Yuffie won't keep sneaking around and about for a change. Good chapter overall. I can't wait to see Kuja again!
 

maryadavies

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Okay, here we go! You may notice that I started this one minor differently than the others; no journal entry, but a letter instead. This is because Alanna's a original chara that you wouldn't see at all if you played FF9 (Of course, I kinda got her out of the way after Torch for a bit during the events of FF9. Nothing fatal, just a long trip and she doesn't cross paths with the main FF9 crew until a bit ago). And oh yeah, you can see she's a bit peeved about Kuja being around, but if you know what happened in FF9 (and realize she's been talking to Freya about what happened) she has a good reason to be. She wouldn't like what almost happened, either.

Anyway I'm mouthing off too much again. Here we go.
------------------
Interlude 2
GAIA, Around the same time


The journey was uneventful, but I found something I'm sure ya wouldn't ah liked, Freya; Kuja was at Conde Petie. Since you'd told me da story on da way when I was takin' ya home, I was careful; I didn't fall off no turnip wagon yesterday. Seems he's really sorry for what he did, an' he had some news; Zidane's really alive, but he ain't here at da moment. I can't tell ya 'zactly what happened 'cause it would seem too incredible ta believe, but don't you fret, and tell Queen Garnet not to cry, I'll bring him home safe…and deliver dat letter...
~~Letter via Mognet from Alanna to Freya


It hadn't taken long for Alanna to get Freya to Burmicia; they talked about things along the way, Alanna was interested in what had happened while she was gone; Freya was happy to indulge Alanna in that. Alanna turned to Freya before she got off.
“Freya, I'll keep in touch with ya via Mognet; as long as nothin' gums up ta works, you'll know what's goin' on.”
“Works for me.” I hope that moogle didn't use Superslick on his fur again… Freya thought. Just then Sir Fratley came up; they shared a hug and touched noses. Alanna waved, then flew off.
[HR][/HR] It took Alanna a couple days to get to the Outer Continent. She headed for the Iifa Tree, hoping she could find some clues. She climbed down to notice a sparkle on a platform; it was covered in dead and dying roots that were skewering it. She threw a rock at the sparkle; it disappeared.


Hmm, she thought. Could dat mean they got taken..elsewhere? Hard ta say really, it really looks like they could've been skewered...but I ain't sure. Something inside tells me there's more than meets da eye.. She climbed back up.


She was starting to feel a little hungry. Remembering she'd seen a town not too far from there, she boarded her airship and headed there.


[HR][/HR] It seemed pretty peaceful in Conde Petie. A lot of the inhabitants were worried because the Iifa Tree was dying off pretty fast, since they considered it the tree of life. Alanna didn't enlighten them. I remember what Freya said; it's no tree ah life. It's something ta mess with the planet's crystal..well, that explains why da Mist is gone since da way I understand it, it came from there.


She headed to the little cafe. Sitting there was an odd man. It took Alanna a bit to place him, but then she remembered what Freya had said about who they'd had to fight…
Damn, she thought. If I got the description right, that's Kuja! What is he doing here an' alive?! Freya said he was dyin' when they had to leave...and was prolly dead now...But maybe he knows what happened? Better be careful tho, he was horrible, I understand, which is why they had to fight him…


She picked up her courage, made sure she had a dagger within easy reach, and then approached him.
“Excuse me sir.” she said in a slightly peeved voice.
The guy looked up. “Hm?”
“Is your name...Kuja?”
The guy then nodded. Alanna narrowed her eyes. “How did you get out ah that, mister? I've heard what happened, and you'd better tell da truth or else...” She took out a dagger and started making a little show of cleaning her nails with it.
“I was saved..by the Guardian..”
“Guardian, huh? Lucky for you it was me that came a'lookin'. I'm prolly da only one that knows what that is..She poked her nose inta that?” Alanna figured no one would lie about that, tho she didn't completely trust Kuja.
Kuja nodded again. “She also sent Zidane to another world, saying it'd be the only way he'd live; he did something stupid and almost died..”
Alanna's eyes widened. “Don't tell me; did that world have ta do with a spikey headed guy with a big sword?”
“Yeah, it did.”
“So yeah. He's likely alive, but not here, eh?” Satisfied with her nails, she checked the edge of the dagger, then said, “Guardian's really hard ta ketch; ya rarely see even her footprints around. I'll have ta ketch her when she sends Zidane back...”
“Back? You think she will?”
Alanna nodded. Kuja continued, “Would you mind if I came along?”
Alanna thought a moment, then said, “You got a bone ta pick with him or something?”
“I have something I want to tell him..seriously, I got a reprieve from dying, but I don't know how much longer I have left. This might be the last chance I get to talk to him.” Kuja flipped his hair a bit.
Alanna then nodded. “Okay, but if ya try anything rotten...” She pointed the dagger right at Kuja's face, then continued, “I'll personally remove 'nuf of your hide ta make me a pair ah slippers!”
Kuja bowed his head, looking slightly ashamed. “I guess I deserve that...I wish I could go back in time and not do that stuff...” he whispered. Alanna sheathed the dagger and continued, “We'll have ta check all da spots around da world that no one would wanna go near. If I remember right from da one time I did see her, that Guardian prefers ta not let anyone see her or anything she does. I'm guessing it'll be right here at da Iifa tree when she does show her power and bring Zidane home, but I've been wrong before. “
Kuja nodded. “Sensible.”
“My airship isn't da fastest but we'll find him, for I betcha that spikey head won't stand for Zidane staying there permanently when he should be here... Anyhoo, I'd better go see the moogle here; I promised Freya I'd keep her updated. She proly won't come after you; there aren't that many steam powered airships yet, so your hide's safe. For now.”
Kuja nodded. It didn't take long for Alanna to find the moogle and send Freya a letter. She went back to the cafe to get her some lunch to go, as she did that she thought; I hope he's somewhat reformed. Dunno how much of a chance I got if it comes ta a fight, but he seems sincere enough. Here's ta hoping he don't mean anything bad...
------------
Next up; we get Zidane pulling it all together, and a little cleaning up of that leftover mess. Oh and you'll find out who that white haired SOLIDER girl was who helped Cait and Yuffie rescue Zidane. (Hint; Parallel parallel..) And oh yeah, here comes Vincent..
 

KingdomKey

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Nice to see Kuja is still grateful to be alive and such. This was a good chapter with some insight to your original characters and Alanna seems nice with a good head on her shoulders. I don't blame her for being wary and seems like she'd probably like Cid. I look forward to the next chapter as always! C:
 

maryadavies

She Shoots for the Stars
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Finally! Sorry about the wait. More computer trouble (hopefully solved for good) + I had to spank my muse a bit and do a little research slowed me down. (Mostly about limit breaks). So before I do the usual explanations, this again:


A word on Kristina/Icicle; She's mentioned in Torch but Cloud isn't sure (slight memory malfunction there). I originally got the nickname from a Harry Potter fansite where the author said Icicle would be a HP chara and a Defense of the Dark Arts teacher; it turned out to be wrong or that was some kinda beta name for Ms. Umbridge. (She denied it, but considering that was from one of the more reliable fansites at the time, I wonder if it was beta for that particular mean chara?) I felt sorry for the chara so I stole the name since I liked the idea. Oh and her limit break described here IS based on a FFXI ws called Dancing Edge. (Hey, had to have her have one!)

Oh and I had forgotten last time; Aeris does show up in this. But..as a ghost. I think other than KH with her, dead should STAY dead.

Anyway, here we go. Enough with the old bush already!

Chapter 4
….It's been about three weeks since that mess. I think I just about got my full strength back; been visiting Aeris's church quite a bit to think the whole mess though. Vincent came yesterday tho and scared the whey out of me..but little did I know what would happen today. I finally figured out what the Guardian meant; not to mention Aeris's ghost startled me just as I pulled it together. Turned out she warned me that Doctor Roberts had been ugly and kidnapped Arella. Luckily I found Cait along the way; he went back to get Cloud and Tifa and go watch Loki while me, Vincent, Yuffie, Madalynn, and a white haired former member of SOLIDER called Kristina went to deal with Doctor Roberts. There was a fight after Madalynn got Arella to Garuda's Wing; it turned out Kristina was nicknamed Icicle and was Cloud's teacher as well. That was a surprise. Oh and I'd better remember never to tick off Tifa; I know not to tick off Cloud, but Tifa's almost as bad when she's mad, but when her kid's involved, I can understand…
~~From Zidane's journal


Three weeks quietly passed since that incident. Zidane found himself getting stronger and stronger; he no longer needed to ride Goldie around town to get where he wanted to go.


He'd also started training in the yard a bit; he'd found that Cloud and him were almost evenly matched, which was a surprise. Should of realized I'd gotten stronger, he thought. It's been a long time! Since he'd gotten most of his strength back, he started heading to Edge..and Aeris's church..a lot for some quiet. Yes, he'd managed to hold it together this long. But he was still worried and wondering why he even existed anymore, after meeting Garland and what had happened to him in Pandemonium. Cloud was right; it smelled there something horrible, but somehow Aeris's church was peaceful and the air was fresher there for some reason. Not to mention, as long as he stayed away from the pool of water that was the cure for Geostigma (since people did come in there now and then to deal with that) it was very peaceful and a good place to think things out


It had been another evening like that; Zidane still hadn't figured it out. He'd just gotten back to Cloud's when the sun was setting (Zidane made sure to ask Cloud for a watch when he started leaving town; he understood why Cloud didn't want to have to come hunting for him) when a voice suddenly came out of the shadows.


“Hello there; is Cloud home?”


Something about that voice reminded Zidane of Necron for some reason; he jumped, scaring the bird. Someone had better not be playing a joke on me!, he thought. Clucking at Goldie in apology, he got off her, drew the daggers that made up his Ultima Weapon, and put them together. They extended and he took a better look. It was a tall guy, dressed all in red and black, with black hair. The one eye he could see was red; also one of the guy's arms was mechanical. Wait a moment... “Who are you?!”
“Oh, I'm sorry. My name's Vincent...”
Zidane felt like a heel; he put away his weapon. “Don't scare me like that, please! I didn't hear you coming...” Zidane knew that Cloud didn't like Vincent to do that. I know why now, but why did I think Necron was back?, he wondered. He sure creeps me out tho...
“Sorry about that, didn't realize I'd scare you.”
“It's okay. And yeah, he's home.”
Vincent nodded. “Was dropping by to stay a bit and see how things are going. Don't worry, I won't scare you again.” He pulled out a jingle bell that had a clip on it and attached it to the shoelaces on his left boot. “That ought to stop that..anyway see you inside once you take care of the bird?”
Zidane nodded and went to lead Goldie to the pen.
[HR][/HR] The next day, after a visit to Garuda's Wing, Zidane decided to make yet another trip to Aeris's church.
Vincent was sticking around; but he either kept that jingle bell on his shoe or tied around his ankle because he was aware he tended to scare people if he accidentally snuck up behind someone when it was dark. (Zidane was glad for the bell though; then you knew Vincent was coming.)


Zidane sat on the rickety stairs, hugging his legs. He turned what Garland – and the Guardian's letter -- had said over and over in his mind. What did Garland mean? And what did that letter mean? He worried it over like a dog with a bone for a while. Then, suddenly, he remembered what Miss Banks had said: “We can't use inheritance to predict personality or how people behave”
Wait a mo..Wasn't Garland who created the Genomes in the first place? And he NEVER was able to control me. He looked at his hands a moment. I may have quite a bit of power, but I choose when to use it. I think I understand now why Kuja saved us even tho I went back to save him; it was his choice, we all have that power to choose. And I choose to use my gifts to defend what I care about, darn it! Also..he put his hand on his chest, since he could feel his heart aching a bit. Garnet, I….love you and I miss you. Hopefully it won't be much longer…


All this eased his mind quite a bit, tho he still wondered why the Guardian had sent him the note. He got up and stretched. Just then, something really odd happened that startled Zidane. A blue-green pool of light gathered over the water in the church; it then coalesced into the form of a brown haired girl who wore pink. She turned to look at Zidane; he could see right though her, he noticed.


The girl cleared her throat. “Excuse me, I know you're Cloud's friend; something awful just happened.”, she said. Her voice sounded like it came from some distance away, and was really soft.


“Just a moment.” Zidane wanted to be sure he knew who this was; he'd guessed, but wasn't sure. “Are you..Aeris?”


The girl nodded. “I tried to get Cloud and Tifa's attention, but they aren't in the right frame of mind right now. It's only because you have something I once used, not to mention Cloud told you about me, that I can talk to you at all.”


Zidane realized what she meant and dug in one pocket, removing something that he knew Tifa would freak out about if she saw; the Carbon Bangle Cloud had given him years ago to remember him by. (He'd been careful to either hide it in his pack or not take it out of his pocket, since he knew Tifa had wondered why Cloud hadn't gotten rid of it) “It's this, I know. Anyway, what's going on that's so bad that you had to tell someone?” He put the thing back in his pocket.


“That guy who kidnapped you has gotten some help and kidnapped Arella.” Aeris frowned. “I think it's because he wants revenge, but Doctor Roberts needs to be stopped. I can't…”


Zidane nodded, and could feel himself starting to get angry. Pick on a poor, innocent kid, will you!? Urgh! “Where? I'll get Goldie and go back to town. Maybe I can do something about it...”


“I'm sure you can.” Aeris went ahead and told Zidane exactly where they had dragged Arella. Zidane thanked her; Aeris then dissolved into blue-green light, while Zidane hurried out of the church..and out of Edge, where he'd left Goldie.


It had taken a while for Zidane to get back to New Midgar. He was always a bit careful with Goldie; he knew she'd been bred for racing but it did no good to wear her out. They'd flown across the sea, as usual.
Just as they got to Cloud's house (Zidane had meant to leave Goldie in the pen) Cait walked up, along with Vincent.


“What's wrong?” Cait jumped up and down on the back of the moogle. “You look like you wanna murder a kitten..”
“I don't have time to explain how I know this, but Arella's been kidnapped! I know where; need to go rescue her…”
“Say no more.” Cait said. “I'm not that good a fighter, but I'll take Goldie to the pen for you and go tell Tifa. And here..” He handed Zidane a little disk out of his satchel. “That's a tracker; it'll be quicker for me to give them the device to track that and for them to find you than to explain exactly where. I'll be sure to tell Tifa I'll watch Loki. Luckily it's a really boring day at the office.”


Vincent then reached down and removed the bell from his shoe. “I'll come with you. I can help, and I owe Cloud a favor or two.” He took his Death Penalty out from under his cape and made sure it was loaded. Zidane understood why Vincent'd taken off the bell; if you expected a fight, you didn't want to give yourself away to an enemy. He still creeps me out, but I know he's Cloud's friend; I'll trust him. He pocketed the tracker, then nodded to Vincent. “Let's go.”
Vincent nodded back and they ran.


As they were passing Garuda's Wing, they saw Yuffie and Madalynn talking; Yuffie turned to look and ran to the door.
“What's all the panic?!”
They paused a moment; Vincent looked at Yuffie. “Arella got kidnapped, we're going to go save her.”
“Ack! I'll help. Messin' with Cloud's little girl..heck no!”
Madalynn ran up, overhearing what happened. “I'll come along too; I can't fight but if you guys can grab the girl, I can run her to Garuda's Wing. I'll make sure the guys don't stuff her with sweets or something stupid, but she should be safe here. Don't worry, you can't catch me when I get going; I'm on the track team, and I do the long-distance runs a lot.”
“Good thinking!” Zidane said, and then they were off again.


It didn't take them long to get to the warehouse that Aeris had told Zidane about...where they'd taken Arella. There were a few goons, but no one made a move yet. Yuffie noticed the bushes were rustling a little bit, so she threw a rock that direction. “Ow!” a female voice said, and a white haired lady with Mako eyes poked her head out of the bush.
Zidane raised an eyebrow. “Who are you and what are you doing in the bushes?”
“My name's Kristina. I caught those goons kidnapping that poor little girl and followed them. Was thinking about trying to rescue her, but I'd proly get myself killed.”
“We came to get her.”, Zidane said, “Mind teaming up?” Kristina shook her head. “Prolly better that way.”


Zidane then said, “Okay, let's put our heads together. Need to figure out a plan; we don't need anyone getting killed here.” Everyone nodded, Zidane continued: “I think I could get her loose; thing is there's enough goons here that I could get spotted going into the warehouse.”
Kristina frowned. “They used cuffs and chains...”
“Oh, don't worry about that; I'm a thief, so I got a few tricks up my sleeve. Did you see what kind of lock they were using?” Zidane hoped it wasn't an electronic one or a combination one; he didn't know about electronic locks(he'd seen them at the college, but he had no idea how they worked), and a combination lock (which he'd seen on a gate and was left wondering how THAT worked) would stymie him as well. But if they were lucky...
“Looked like old fashioned mechanical ones that used a key..”
“Then they're stupid, that can't keep me out.” Zidane pulled a set of lockpicks out of a pocket. “Mind, I don't pick locks often; back home, it's easier just to steal the keys most of the time, so picking a lock in the way is a last resort. But I do know how to deal with locks that use normal keys if I got enough time.”
There were nods all around. Vincent spoke up. “So, all we need is a diversion so you have that time?”
Zidane nodded. “Yeah, just need a bit of a ruckus so they aren't paying attention.”
Yuffie nodded. “That's our job then; keep those clowns busy so they don't notice there's something going on.”
Kristina nodded to Yuffie. “I have a thunder and an ice materia; that should be good for a little havoc if I'm careful. If there's more trouble coming, would rather save some energy for Cure, since I have one of those as well, so I'll do a little duck-and-strike as well as cast spells. That should cause some trouble.”


Madalynn then said, “I'll hang out over there..”, she pointed at a tree which would be easy to sneak to and for her to hide behind, “Then you bring her to me. Be prepared, she's prolly scared of strangers at the moment, for I betcha ten gil they lured her away from the house with the promise of some candy or ice cream or something like that, then scared the whey out of her. You might have to reassure her that I'm a friend, and that I'll take her somewhere safe.”
Zidane nodded. “I hope she doesn't end up with nightmares over this...but can't be helped. Best you get her away fast though, if that so called professor is really out for revenge, it might come to some kind of fight. That would REALLY give her nightmares if she saw it.” Madalynn nodded, understanding.


“With that, is everyone ready?” There were nods all around. “Then let's do this! Poor girl is prolly scared half out of her mind...” They all split around a bit; Yuffie started throwing tack stars and skeans to give the goons something else to think about, Vincent started shooting at the goons from the bushes, and Kristina would jump out of the bushes, use her daggers on a nearby goon, then toss a spell at some others, then duck back into the bushes. It wasn't long before the ones that had been helping the prof were all thinking about the mysterious “attacker” though it was actually three people.


Once Zidane was sure that no one was going to notice, he started sneaking over to the warehouse where he knew Arella was. It didn't take long to get over there, and they hadn't locked the door. This is almost too easy, Zidane thought.


He found Arella with a pair of handcuffs on, with said handcuffs chained to one wall. She was crying a bit. He made sure he had his picks, then went up to her.
“Hey there, sweetie, you okay?”
“N-n-not really, those scary guys were mean...”
“It's going to be okay, I'm going to get you out of here. Just try to calm down and I'll get those off.”


It took Zidane a bit to get the lock on the cuffs to spring; then he picked her up, warned her to be quiet and brave, and snuck over to the tree. He had to calm Arella down because Madalynn was a stranger, but she calmed down quickly; Madalynn got Arella on her shoulders, made sure she wouldn't fall, then ran away as fast as she could.


Zidane then ducked behind the bushes and signaled the others so they knew Arella was safe.


Just then what was left of the goons backed up, looking like they were scared. Dr. Roberts walked into the area, checked the warehouse, then came out, looking pretty angry. He yelled, “Okay, so you got the girl back. Now, are you going to let me finish my research or not, you idiots?!” He then spotted one of Zidane's eyes peeping out of the brush. “So. I got a specimen here...”
Specimen, my butt., Zidane thought. “Not what you think, mister!”, he snarled.
The other three heard that; Vincent said in a very cold voice, “You should realize what you have been doing..”
Yuffie added, “I may not of known him long, but a friend is a friend! You leave him alone!”
Kristinia then said in a rather angry sounding tone of voice, “That's not a lab rat, you moron! Go away and find another damn hobby!”
Doctor Roberts then snarled, “Make me. I'll carry on Hojo's legacy..”
Zidane stood up. “Oh no, you won't!”, he snarled. The other three joined him; everyone was angry, and for good reason; picking on a kid like how this guy had was just too much. Dr. Roberts drew a staff, they drew their weapons, and the fight began. It was just a normal kind of “try to knock some sense into this idiot's head” for a bit until Dr. Roberts muttered something about reagents; then he mutated into a hideous monster.
That was when the fight began in earnest. He could see Yuffie was throwing her Conformer, but it always came back; there was nothing he didn't expect from his other companions, of course. Zidane could feel his Trance abilities starting to come to life, but he held it down. Not yet, not yet..Rather not reveal my full power for a little bit.


Vincent suddenly started to glow, then shifted into a devil like thing which Zidane recognized from Cloud's journals; Chaos. (Zidane didn't know what happened to Vincent's clothes, however.) Man, scary, he thought. Just as Chaos/Vincent spread his wings, a rather angry Cloud and Tifa ran up.


“What's this?” Tifa snarled.
Zidane glared back and said, “This was who kidnapped Arella.” he said, keeping his anger in check.
“I can guess what.” Cloud said. “Let's end this crud for good.” He raised his blade; Zidane nodded, and let the Trance free. “Ready.” he said. There were nods all around, tho everyone that didn't know was a little surprised when Zidane tranced; they'd never seen that before.


Chaos/Vincent flew in and let him have it with his claws. Yuffie brought her conformer down to her middle; a blue and white beam that was as wide as the weapon went and hit what was left of that guy. Kristina rushed in with a bang. She slashed him five times with a glow on her daggers(it looked like her blades were dancing), then jumped back. Tifa first hit the idiot/thing four times, then did a kick with a backflip, then picked him up and slammed him on the ground, then she drew back her fist (which glowed) and smacked him one, which created an explosion.


Zidane nodded to Cloud, then reached inside, calling on his Dyne. A bunch of fire runes surrounded the enemy, then there was an explosion. At the same time, Cloud jumped into the air and tossed the Ultima Weapon above his head; it split into five blades while he glowed blue. Cloud grabbed each blade in turn and slashed the guy with it. After the fifth time, Cloud slashed the guy four more times, while blue light trails followed him. The sword then went back together as Cloud landed.


What was left of Dr. Roberts yelled, “NO!” and fell back, turning into dust.


Cloud shook his head as Zidane fell out of Trance, since the danger was over. “Sad that but from the looks of things, he got treated with Jenova cells, same as Hojo. Prolly drove him over the edge to a certain extent a while ago, tho he remained sane enough to teach. Sure fooled Reeve.” Zidane nodded back at Cloud, understanding why this had to be done but not too happy about it. From what I understand, go too far with Jenova cells and Mako, and whoever it is done to becomes a monster himself or herself. Then you can only give them mercy… He noticed that Vincent had changed back as well, which was a relief.


Just then, Tifa asked in a minor panic, “Where's Arella?”
Zidane turned to her. “She's okay; we got her the hell out of here before Dr. Roberts went beserk. Madalynn ran her to the Garuda's Wing, so she's safe.” Tifa looked relieved.


Kristina then said, “Well, before we get going to go get her..Hey there Cloud, it's been a good while.”
Cloud's eyes widened. “Oh my….Hey there Icicle. Good to see you survived.” Wha? That's not her name… Zidane thought.
Kristina chuckled. “I dropped that nickname a while ago, but glad everything's okay now.” She nodded to Tifa, who was looking at her with thinned lips. “Don't fret about your guy, I know already. I was one of his teachers..and the only one that kept at it after he washed out of SOLIDER training. I thought who was making the damn decisions was nuts at the time.”


Tifa, realizing this wasn't an old girlfriend to come back and haunt them, smiled back, understanding. They headed to Garuda's Wing after that to pick up Arella. Zidane explained how he'd known about this on the way, they were all grateful to Aeris, for if she hadn't warned Zidane it would of been a lot worse. It turned out that Madalynn had talked her friends into not stuffing the poor girl with sweets, but into doing a couple plays to keep her entertained and get her mind off what had happened. Tifa scooped up the girl, smiled and held her peace.



At least this turned out okay in the end, Zidane thought. Who would of known that Cloud's old teacher would show up? But yes, this could have been a lot worse..
--------------
Next chapter coming up; It's the planning phrase for Zidane to go home! Meeting in other words, with a few..hijinks. ^^
 

KingdomKey

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Awesome chapter and well worth the wait. <333 Dr. Roberts being full of mako and jenova cells was certainly surprising. Even more surprising is how Tifa is still insecure about her relationship with Cloud after the brief encounter with "Icicle" or the "Carbon Bangle" which has to do with Aeris. You'd think having kids would change that. (xD) Anyways, this was a thrilling read with all the action we got on Zidane fighting alongside Vincent, Cloud, Yuffie, and ect. I'm going to be a little sad he's going to try to make it back home in the next chapter.
 

maryadavies

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Okay! Anyway had some sister troubles that got me upset; when I want to hide, my muse tends to take a freakin' hike >< Luckily it wasn't for long this time.

Anyway I added a little bit that should clarify that Tifa wasn't exactly jealous, more like "Who is this wierd lady?" kinda suspicious. If it's still not clear, I'll go back and rewrite it. That's the problem with not having a beta reader, sometimes you don't catch that when you go over it yourself. ><.

Anyway planning meeting for the trip to bring Zidane home, HO!
----------------------------------
Chapter 5
...I knew eventually it'd come. After the mess with Arella, Cloud thought it best to get me home. The trouble was, he didn't want to exclude his friends who were around town, since it's safer to travel in a group. I think he's right, considering I don't know what shape Gaia's in right now. So we had a little planning meeting first.
...Some of them couldn't help and said so, like Cait (Cait did find a nanny for the kids, however; Tifa's going to be coming) but Yuffie decided to try a little materia-stealing for old time's sake. Um, she found out that it's better not to try that trick around me. The materia in question was the materia that can summon the Guardian, and I stole it back…
...Garnet, I'll see you soon…
~~From Zidane's journal


Once the craziness had calmed down, Cloud told Zidane, “I'll see if we can arrange a meeting; it's clear your strength's back.”
“Why?”
“I don't want you to go back alone; it's safer to travel in a group before you get home. So we have to figure the logistics out. Who's going besides you, all that. The means will be fairly easy though, we just have to get somewhere private, and I call the Guardian; she'll gladly send you and whomever to your world, I'm sure. It'll be the same in reverse; good thing I have that materia.”
Zidane nodded, understanding. No telling if there's any monsters left on my world or what's been going on, he thought. If Cloud and some of his friends come along, I'll prolly get there safe in the end.
[HR][/HR] The next day, with Loki shut up in his playpen so he wouldn't get in the way, the gang met in Cloud's living room. It had taken a little bit for Tifa to warm to Kristina (She hadn't been as jealous as Zidane thought, just a little suspicious since Kristina was a strange person) but they'd hit it off.


Cloud, Zidane could tell was a little nervous; he knew that Cloud hadn't told most of his friends about his adventure to Gaia a few years back; mainly because they were spread out all over the world. Cloud did visit when he could, but Zidane understood; that kind of thing wasn't something you'd write in a letter, since some people got snoopy about the mail.


They all settled around the living room. The first thing Cloud did was give a summary of the adventure to Gaia since neither Cait/Reeve nor Yuffie had heard the story; Cait/Reeve because he was busy as could be, Yuffie since she'd vanished for a bit until the Geostigma mess, then she'd vanished yet again until she turned up in New Midgar.


“You guys proly guessed, I wasn't that worried about getting Zidane home.” He drew out the orange materia. “This is a very special materia. I can use it to call the Guardian on any world I'm standing on; shouldn't be hard to talk her into opening the way to Zidane's world. Thing is, it could be quite dangerous. There's no telling what state Gaia's in, so I think some of us should go along to watch each others's backs.”


Cait immediately shook his head. “I can't. I know I can't; the only way I can fight at all is though Cait, and without satellites and such, I'd be seriously crippled. There is one thing I can do, though.”


Cloud turned to Cait. “What's that?”


“I'll find you and Tifa a nanny so you can both go. I can't watch the kids all the time; meetings and such, you know the drill. Heck, I had to clear some time this evening so I could do this. But I can leave Cait in the house and play with the kids when I'm not busy.”
Vincent then spoke up and said, “I think I'd better not either. From what you've told me, I'd be out of place. Not to mention there really isn't anyone who uses guns over there. I'd rather give the chance to someone who wouldn't stick out so badly.”


Kristina said, “Since you hired me as a security guard at Shinra HQ, Reeve, I think it'd be bad form for me to leave so soon after I got hired. Hopefully there are no more remnants of what Hojo did; but if there are I can take care of it; but if I leave, who will?”


Cait nodded. “Too true. I refuse to have an army in ShinRa like the old days, but a security guard that can do some covert work if necessary isn't a bad idea, I thought.”


Yuffie then said rather innocently, “May I get a better look at that materia, Cloud?” Cloud let her take it for a second, but Zidane saw her sneak it into a pocket; knowing the fact that only Cloud could use that materia, Zidane figured he'd better get it back. I'll just use the oldest trick in the book…


He noted which pocket the orange materia had been snuck into, then said, “Moment, I need to go use the bathroom...”, then made sure to “bump” into Yuffie on the way there. She yelled, but while she was yelling, he stole the materia back and slipped it quickly into a pocket. He didn't really have to go, so he hid in the bathroom long enough to warrant him doing some business, and flushed a bit of toilet paper down the can in case someone was listening. (That was something he didn't have to worry about at home, but Zidane didn't want anyone to think he'd been lying. Also, this kind of thing was kind of a force of habit, since back home he'd stolen things all the time and had to cover up for it.)


He came back and tossed Cloud the offending materia, who caught it with a smile. Yuffie stared with wide eyes; Zidane then said, “Um, did you forget I was a thief?” He winked. “You shouldn't try to do that, did you ask Cloud about the catch to that thing?” She shook her head. Cloud then added, “I prolly hinted to this but..I'm the only one that can use this materia. The Guardian here, Tara, told me the instant I die, it'll shatter as well, so it's really useless to anyone else…”


Yuffie hung her head. “Sorry, force of habit...Anyway I think I should go. I'll head home first though; there's another outfit in my closet that my grandma made me; I think that'd blend in better, not to mention I'd better pick up some extra throwing weapons.”


They decided that they'd start out for what was left of Nibelheim in a couple weeks to give Cait/Reeve time to find the nanny; the buildings were still standing, tho the actors had run away. Cait had been keeping the library in good shape and the buildings sound, but no one had wanted to move into that town, considering the truth was out; Cait thought it was because people were a little afraid of ghosts. Cloud was going to contact Cid as soon as possible to arrange a ride, since it was quite a distance. “I hope he won't be too grumpy this time, especially since we'll have to drop off Goldie”, he'd said.


Won't be long now, Zidane thought as they finished up the plans. I'll be there soon..Garnet..And hopefully I can ask the Guardian what all this was about...

--------------------------
Okay. Next chapter; Zidane finally gets some answers from Nora, the Guardian, and both groups are going to converge, well, after a little trip to hide things and head to the Mako Fountain down by Nibelheim. Hopefully no more rl stuff getting in the way.
 

KingdomKey

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This was a good chapter and well worth the wait. C: I enjoyed Zidane stealing the special materia back from Yuffie. Furthermore, it's nice to know who's coming along on the journey with them to Gaia and who isn't. Too bad Vincent remains behind, but he's got a point about sticking out like a sore thumb, and bringing a gun could lead to disastrous things for the people of Gaia, if they know such a weapon exists. What took me by surprise is how the materia is connected to Cloud alone, and will shatter when he dies. I feel like there's a story behind that as well, but for now, I'm happy with where this chapter went. Curious what they'll need to hide before they leave for Gaia.
 

maryadavies

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Actually the materia thing is hinted to in Torch when it got created by both Nora and Tara. (Nora actually warned Cloud that he was the only one that could use it; Guardians don't like just anyone trying to call them.)...I'm guessing you still haven't got around to that.

You'll see, but I'll give you a few hints, it has to do with cell/PHS phones (I always call the PHS phones "cell phones" in fic) and money hiding since the gil isn't the same. Won't say where, but I think you'll find it a smart hiding spot.
 

maryadavies

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Okay. This chapter turned out to be a MESS, not to mention rl really got in the way. Man. I think we're 1-2 chapters from the end though. (This poor thing has been hanging for 10 years or more, so it really needs to go.) Sorry about the delay. Anyway...yes Yuffie kinda changes to her KH costume, but then again, it's blending in. Oh and hopefully you'll understand a little more about Guardians after this one.

Enough with that. Here we go!

Chapter 6


….Luckily when Cid came for us, he wasn't that grumpy, tho I wish he'd quit smoking. That stinks really bad...I also found out that Yuffie gets airsick. Poor girl…
Anyway, once we got to Nibelhiem, Tifa showed us an old childhood hiding place, where they hid a few things that couldn't be explained very well if someone saw them on Gaia. I'd spoken to Cloud and explained what I wanted to do once I got to Gaia before we started home; I wanted to talk to Nora and find out what all this mess was about. So after we got to the mako fountain (I had been the exception, but I found out Tara likes to open portals around sources of mako) and Cloud called Tara and got her to open the portal, he used the materia one more time so I could talk to Nora.
...I got a lot of questions answered..
~~From Zidane's journal


The day dawned rather nicely. Yuffie had gotten back from her trip the day before (she'd asked Cloud if she could borrow Goldie; he was fine with that); the outfit she'd come back with had lost the odd arm guard and looked a little like a white ninja without the face guard. They'd all done things to prepare, like getting medicines, and Tifa made a visit to the doctor once for some reason that Zidane didn't want to pry into.


Cloud had made sure someone else could take over delivering the mail, and Tifa had made sure her bar was going to be okay while they were gone. The nanny plus Cait would be taking care of the kids; Zidane had said his goodbyes, for this was it.


Cloud pulled a painting out of the way, unlocked a safe, and removed a box out of the wall upstairs. Opening the box, it turned out to be a bunch of materia.


“Okay!”, he said. “We'll need to get out master magics and stuff like that; no summon materia this time tho. Zidane told me that the princess has lost her fear of summoning, so none of them will listen now..is that right?”


Zidane nodded. “Also remember; I can't use any materia at all, but then it's understandable; I wasn't born here.”


Tifa, Cloud and Yuffie each took a Master Magic and an All. Yuffie then reached out for one of the summon materia as well. Cloud lifted one eyebrow and asked, “Why?”


Yuffie smiled. “That one's Leviathan; you said we couldn't use any summons but I just want that one for another reason.” Instead of putting that one into her crystal bangle, she put it into a pendant she was wearing that had Leviathan curled around a materia slot. “I can't use it that way, that pendant isn't made for that. Levi's the guardian of Wutai after all, and it is considered good luck; we could use a little luck I think.”


Cloud nodded and approved. Cloud then shut the box, put it back in the safe, locked it, and put the painting back over it. They grabbed their packs, and headed outside just in time to see Cid landing the Shera. Zidane grabbed Goldie's reins and they boarded.


Cid turned to look at them as they did so. “So okay, you @#%$&^ spikey head, what's going on this time?”


“I think I told you over the phone, Cid; off to Nibelhiem for us after we drop off Goldie. It's basically time to get Zidane here home.”


Cid nodded and took another drag on his cigarette. (Zidane did not like the smell at all, but he figured if Cloud couldn't get Cid to stop it, it wasn't any use trying.) Just as Cid took off, Zidane noticed Yuffie wasn't in the cockpit. He turned to Cloud.


“Where did Yuffie go?”


Cloud shook his head. “She's still around but she's prolly belowdecks somewhere. Airships make her want to hurl.”


Zidane shook her head sadly. I hope she won't be too sick, he thought.


It didn't take them long to drop Goldie off at the chocobo stables, then head to Nibelhiem.


As they disembarked, Cid said, “When it's over, you know what to do, Cloud. I understand this @#%$^ time, but get it done and come back @#%^ safe.”


Cloud nodded, and Cid took off. Tifa winked. “Let's go get rid of our cell phones and stuff like that; we can't be carrying them over there. What if someone decided to pickpocket us?”


Cloud nodded back. “You're right, Tifa. You know of a hiding spot where some thief wouldn't steal them while we're gone?”
“Last place anyone would look. If ShinRa rebuilt this place like I think they did, it should still be here. Follow me guys!”


Tifa led them to her old house—well, the recreation of it anyway. They went upstairs to the piano; Tifa pushed it to one side (the wheels were pretty squeaky), then stomped on a specific board. It popped up, revealing a hollow spot in the floor.
“I discovered this after you went away to try to join SOLIDER, Cloud. I don't think anyone would want to move a piano just to get at stuff. I didn't say anything earlier, but I did keep my savings back then in the piano's keys as you know already..”


Zidane grinned, realizing this was quite clever. “I sure wouldn't try to move that thing if I was robbing the place; the usual idea is get what you're after and get out fast, and I wouldn't bother moving that thing to check under it since it takes too long. That's way too noisy, besides.” Cloud smiled and nodded; Cloud, Tifa and Yuffie left their cell phones and some small change purses with their gil (since Gaia's gil wasn't the same as Vida's), Tifa replaced the board, they pushed the piano back over the spot, and headed to the caverns.


It didn't take them long to find the Mako fountain Cloud had explained to Zidane they were here to find, as the Guardian had often opened portals around sources of Mako. The time Zidane had appeared in Cloud and Tifa's kitchen had been an exception. The other reason they had come here is Cloud didn't want to advertise what was going on to anyone but a few close friends; best to go somewhere that no one cared to go to anymore.


Cloud then pulled out the orange materia and placed it into an empty slot in his Crystal Bangle. Zidane recalled the conversation the other day…He'd told Cloud that he had a minor bone to pick with Nora because he needed a few more questions answered; Cloud told him, “When we get there, I'll call her so you can have it out and finally get things cleared up. Just remember, I gather Guardians are very important to their worlds, so don't even think about attacking. Just get your questions answered.” But that was why Cloud was slotting it in; normally he'd just use it in his hand since normally he'd only have to use it once, then put it away. If he had to use a materia more than once or needed it handy to use at a moment's notice, that's when he'd place it in a slot just for convenience’s sake.


Cloud then turned to the others. “Everyone, make sure your weapons are put away. Tifa...try to act casual since I know you can't do that. Tara is very skittish, she gets nervous round anyone who can fight; I'll have a bit of a mind-to-mind argument with her to convince her to appear as it is. So..try not to spook her or scare her by looking like you want to pick a fight, okay?”


Everyone nodded; Tifa relaxed and put her hands behind her head in such a way that didn't remotely look threatening. Cloud then closed his eyes; the orange materia flared to life. Nothing happened for a good ten minutes. Really heated argument, I guess? Zidane thought.

Then Tara finally appeared. “I hope you're not trying to fool me, Cloud..”


Cloud shook his head. “Nah, you should know by now I don't do that. Only reason me and my friends have their weapons right now is there's monsters still; not many around here, but best to be prepared. I wouldn't attack you; if anyone here tried, I'd tackle them.”


Tara nodded. “So. You feel it's time to help Zidane get home, correct?” Cloud nodded. Tifa chimed in; “We all agreed to come along since no one knows what Gaia's like at the moment. Best to go in a group in case there's trouble.”


“I fully understand.”, Tara said quietly. “And Zidane….I know it wasn't originally your business, and you got caught up in it by accident; Thank you for stopping Hojo's student. If he hadn't been stopped, it would of turned out the worse.”


Zidane smiled. “No problem, ma'am. Tell Aeris thank you for warning me, if you can do that.”


“I can. Don't worry.” Tara closed her eyes for a moment; then said, “Get ready. Cloud, I know you can use that materia to call Nora so you and your friends can get home, so do what you must.” She grabbed the necklace around her neck and sang out three distinct words which Zidane didn't understand; it turned into a staff with an elaborate emblem on the top end. She sang out some stuff in that strange language; there was a distant answer, and then a portal appeared next to the Mako fountain. They all stepped into the portal, and found themselves by what was left of the Iifa Tree.

[HR][/HR]
Alanna saw a pillar of light sparkling from the remnants of the Iifa Tree while she was flying off the coast. Kuja turned to Alanna.


“What's that?”
“I think I know what that means. She's opened it.” Alanna smiled. “Zidane's back..We just need ta get there. I'll open up da throttle but it'll be a few minutes. Hopefully he won't ah gone far.”

Kuja nodded. “Let's go.”


[HR][/HR] “Everyone okay?” Cloud asked. There were nods all around.
“Then okay. Zidane, I'll use that materia one more time. Once you got your questions answered, maybe she'll take us somewhere else on the world so we don't have to look for a ship or something.” More nodding, then Cloud said, “Nora's braver than Tara, I won't have such an argument with her, but still. Don't make a move to attack, she'd hate that.”


It didn't take more than a moment for Cloud to activate the materia once again; a heartbeat later, Nora appeared. Zidane noted she looked almost like Tara; Maybe they're related? he thought.


Nora turned to Zidane. “Cloud tells me you're still confused...”


Zidane nodded. “Why….did you send Cloud to help me earlier? And why all the concern?”


Nora sighed. “This is between you and me alone, Zidane, I think...” She held out her hand. “Come with me a moment; don't worry, this shouldn't take very long.”


Zidane considered it for a moment. He was having this odd feeling that he should trust her, but he wasn't sure why...He reached out and grabbed her hand. The world vanished. He looked around and recognized the place; it was Memoria.


Nora turned to Zidane.


“I understand. This whole mess has been very confusing for you, has it not?”


Zidane nodded. Nora bowed her head sadly.


“I'll start at the beginning, and hopefully I can clear it up. It all started when Garland started creating Genomes. At first he couldn't get them to stay alive, since one of the laws of the universe is every living thing must have a soul. The Council of Twelve literally ordered me to make sure their souls had a place to go...I ended up holding them in crystals in my home.” She looked pretty upset. “Every time a new crystal appeared in my home, I'd cry. Then yours appeared...”


Zidane was startled. “I..had one?” He knew what the Council of Twelve was from Cloud's journal; it was the rulers of her people. Why would they order such a horrible thing? I don't know if anyone knows...


Nora nodded. “You sure did. I'd found out when Kuja was created that when a Genome gains a soul, his or her soul crystal shatters because their soul is called to their body..when I found out you were to be born with the powers of a Light Warrior, I knew I had to make sure that happened under control. I didn't have your soul crystal more than a day for that reason...Garland wanted you to have a soul when your body was very young.” Tears formed in her eyes. “That island..that island where you found the Ultima Weapon. That's where I linked the two worlds for a short time, long enough to guide your soul to where it was supposed to go. If it helps; you'll live longer than Kuja; as long as Garnet, as a matter of fact if you don't meet with any accidents. That was the one gift I was able to give you, and to hell with Garland there. I fixed it so nothing he did would take that away from you.”


“But..why go to all that trouble?”


“Because..during that time..you might not believe it, but a soul is more than most people think. It's the core of a person's being. So..in a way, I got to know you before you were born, tho the cruel irony is you will never remember that time, since another law of the universe is that no one can remember what happened before they were born... You're like a son to me.”


Zidane was a little startled, but now he understood why he felt the way he did. Maybe my heart remembers a little bit, like how I kinda remembered how to read that strange writing...I think I know what the curse of the heart is that Tara was so worried about. Love. ”I understand. But why do you people become Guardians?”


Nora seemed taken slightly aback, but she regained her composure then said, “To be honest, it's how our people are trying to atone for a really awful mistake. At the dawn of time, there was a terrible creature that went to the bad; he was the predecessor of Chaos...We were slow to respond, since my people tend to be fairly peaceful and really don't like fighting. But when we did; parts of reality itself were shattered, as well as many people were traumatized. The Powers that Be decreed that to mend this damage, we would have to have folks join with certain planets, thereby becoming Guardians. It would heal but it'd take millennia, and those worlds that had a Guardian would never be able to do without one again. Not to mention, we were given the ability to ask those yet unborn to take up the mantle of Light Warrior if it was necessary to keep our world safe, for no one wanted to unleash the power of the Void, which would really make the damage worse, as we found out the hard way long ago. Many of our people try to become Guardians since it's become an honor, but the first generation that did it..like me..often were shattered emotionally from the terrible fight we'd been though. Before you ask; a child helped me recover, but I've been a Guardian so long, my world has changed, not to mention I have had promises to keep.”


“Promises?”


“Have you ever heard of the story of the Dawn Warriors? That was a couple millennia ago, I know..”


“I thought that was a children's story..”


“No, no, it was real. I'm the last one left alive, but then it's also why I'm considered a daredevil. I discovered a way I could gain an almost-normal human form, but it'd require me to be literally reborn in a way. I got permission first, sealed away most of my powers so I wouldn't scare my foster parents, made sure I had someone who would be willing to watch in my absence and did it. That couple would of not been able to have a child any other way, so I know I gave them some happiness as well. I also set up a way so I could remember what I was and who I was eventually and regain my powers, once I grew up. Unfortunately..Necron put a crimp in that. I had to “awaken” early; when I turned 16. That's when me and three friends set out to do that..and stop him. Unfortunately, all I could do was seal him away and call the Light Warriors, for seals are always broken..eventually. Anyway, I promised my friends that I'd do everything I could to make sure the ones I had called would complete their destiny and stop Necron for good, since I knew I was the only one who would live that long. Our people set great store in promises and in oaths, so I knew I'd have to keep it.”




Now I understand, Zidane thought. I bet the other promise was to me, tho I don't remember…”Thank you. I think I got it now.”


Nora nodded. “I'll take you back..your friends are waiting.” Zidane took her hand, and they reappeared by the Iifa tree. Nora nodded to Cloud, then she disappeared. Just then, Alanna ran up with Kuja not far behind. Now what? I guess I'll find out..
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Next chapter: We find out Kuja's fate and also about that letter. Oh and gearing up for the end, here we go. Finally. I really should be less lazy, lol.
 
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