Hel & Back Chapter 1
By Dino Pollard
He slowly approached the altar in the center of the Ancient City. His heart began to soar as he saw her kneeling there, locked in silent prayer.
Her body twitched slightly, and then her head moved up. Her beautiful, emerald eyes opened and her gaze fell upon him. A smile spread across her face.
He felt the need to smile as well, to run up their and take her in his arms. However, there was something wrong. He noticed a second figure, falling from the top of the altar.
A silver-haired demon with an angelic face. Garbed in black, he held an extremely long sword, the blade pointing downward, towards Aeris.
No!! he cried out. He ran up to the altar, but with no effort.
The blade slid neatly through her spine, exiting her abdomen. She slumped over it, her eyes shutting and the smile vanishing.
This cant be real...
Oh, but it is, the demon said. It is more real than you know.
This isnt what happened... he said, clutching her lifeless body in his arms.
This is what you wanted, wasnt it? the demon asked. She interfered with our plans.
I didnt want this to happen!!! he spat. This isnt right!!!
Perhaps next time, you should choose your path more carefully...
He looked down at Aeris form. She was looking up at him, a malevolant grin on her beautiful features.
You thought I cared for you, she said, standing beside the demon. How could I ever care for someone like you? Someone who has destroyed so much!!
Sephiroth awoke with a startle. The bed sheets were soaked with sweat.
It--it was just a dream...? he said, somewhat disbelieving. Peeling the sheets off of him, and off of the bed, he threw them to the side. They would have to wait until later to be tended to.
He looked at the clock on the nightstand.
Sighing, he walked over to the window and looked out towards the mountains. The Nibel air was somewhat chilly, mainly because of his sweat-soaked body. Nibelheim also grew very chilly this time of year.
After the downfall of Shin-Ra, Nibelheim was nothing more than a ghost town. The actors who were posing as townspeople left once they found that they were no longer getting paid to cover up the secret of Nibelheim.
It also didnt help much that Sephiroth was now living inside the Shin-Ra Mansion. He chose to stay here due to the peace he would get.
But recently, he had just been plagued by nightmares. He lost count of the number of nights he went without sleep. All the dreams involved Aeris and Seraph. The one he awoke from was a frequently recurring one. Turning away from the window, he sat on the matress, turning on the bedside lamp. He picked up the book that Red XIII had given him a copy of.
The Crisis of the Planet.
It told of Avalanches trek to stop Jenova. It told the truth. Red spent a lot of time writing it. Still, Sephiroth had trouble reading about himself. Even when he was in SOLDIER, he never read a single newspaper article about his exploits.
Putting the book back down, he noticed something else in the nightstand. The only picture he kept in the Mansion. That of all those who were at the celebration party at Cosmo Canyon. Avalanche, Strike Force, Tsunami, the Turks, Knolan, Bugenhagen, Garrison, Jonah, and Zack.
His eyes wandered on the picture, stopping on a single person.
He looked back out the window, towards the mountains, sighing. The memory of the party was crystal clear.
All right, everyone smile! the photographer said as he snapped the picture.
Im seein spots... Yuffie complained. Whats the point of this picture?
So we can look back on it and remember everything weve been through, Aeris replied. All the good times and the bad.
Funny, Garrison said. I dont remember any good times.
Hey, I thought this was supposed to be a party!! Reno exclaimed. Lets bust out the free drinks already!!
Ho ho hoooo, Bugen said with a laugh. What drinks?
Dont fuck with me, old man, Reno said. I was promised a party. And when theres a party, theres free drinks. Capishe?
How dare you show such disrespect... Red growled.
Youll have to excuse Reno, Tseng said. He takes his liquor very seriously. Kind of like how we used to be, right Vincent?
Tseng looked to his older brother, who said nothing.
No, no, no, Cid said. Superman was a wuss!! All that bullshit about truth, justice, and the American way.
A wuss?!? Deadpool exclaimed. The guy could punch planets out of orbit, fly to God and back, and time-travel!!
Yeah, but he wore red briefs outside his pants, Cid countered.
Deadpool opened his mouth to protest, but stopped.
Youve got a point there...
...So then I was like, do you have any Materia? and the guy goes, of course! This is a Materia shop! and then I say, do you have any summon Materia? and he goes, wait, lemme check. And once his back is turned, I grabbed all the Materia in sight and hi-tailed it outta there!!
I think I heard this story before.... Reeve said.
Well I didnt!! Cait exclaimed.
Yes you did, Reeve replied. I was controlling you at the time.
Pshaw!! Cait remarked.
Yuffie, do these Materia stories have any real point to them? Lara asked. Im getting a little tired of hearing about you running away from people youve stolen Materia from, while theyre firing shotguns at you.
How did you know the ending?!? Yuffie exclaimed.
Lara rolled her eyes.
Its how ALL your stories end!!
Damn, ya gotta love these Cosmo Cocktails, Barret said. Hey, pour me another one!
You DO remember what happened the last time you drank too much, dont you Barret? Red asked.
That was just a gag by da cat an da brat, Barret replied. I can hold my liquor.
Barret, I dont need to remind you of the times you collapsed in the Seventh Heaven, do I? Tifa asked, Clouds arm around her.
That wasnt me, that was Biggs, Barret replied.
The three laughed, remembering the fond memories of their fallen teammates.
Throughout the entire party, Sephiroth remained distant from the group. He simply sat in the back, taking it all in. His drink, which he only sipped every now and then, lay on the table in front of him. His demeanor remained the same throughout the evening.
Are you having fun, yet? Aeris asked, sitting across from him.
Sephiroth made no reply.
I wanted to talk to you, she said. About what happened between us the other day.
Nothing happened, he replied.
I know, she said. Thats what I wanted to talk about.
Theres nothing to talk about.
Why are you fighting me? she asked. Something has been happening between us over the past few months. Especially recently. Cant you realize that we need to discuss that?
What almost happened there would have been a tragic mistake, he said coldly. You dont want to get involved with me. Im going to be staying away from the rest of the team. I am going to live in the Shin-Ra Mansion. That is the only place for me.
Thats not true... she began, her eyes pleading with him.
It was nice knowing you, Aeris Gast, he said, standing from his seat. You were a good ally.
He walked out the door, ignoring her gaze on him. He saw Zack talking with Mercedes and Shen as he walked out. The dark-haired man simply glared at him with hatred in his eyes. The last thing Sephiroth saw was Zack walking over to Aeris to comfort her.
Cloud walked through the streets of Costa del Sol with his brother. They had met for a friendly spar, and were now heading to Tifas Seventh Heaven for drinks.
You sure about this?
Ive never been more sure of anything in my life, Pool, he replied. It still seemed on, calling Rain Strife Deadpool. But, as Pool had said, he had grown accustomed to the name. And Cloud wasnt going to start calling him Rain just for the hell of it.
Okay, but are you REALLY sure about this?
Cloud shook his head with a sigh.
Yes, for the eight time, Im REALLY sure!!
Whaddaya expect? Pool asked. Youre my only brother.
I know, and I understand what youre saying, Cloud said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the small, burgandy box.
Marriage is a big decision.
Reeve stood in the balcony of the Presidential Tower, admiring the Midgar skyline. It was beautiful at night, all lit up. He should be working, There were tons of papers on his desk he needed to look over.
But right now, he just felt he needed some fresh air.
There was a lot of things he still had to do. Tomorrow, Cid was flying in from Rocket Town for a meeting concerning the space program.
And above all, there was something that stood out on his desk.
Designs for Cait Sith III. The first two had been exact duplicates of each other. This time, he thought to improve on the original model. Eventhough it was pretty pointless. The police were able to keep the peace just fine. Its not like Cait Sith would be needed at all.
Still, it was just something to do.
Aeris walked through the streets of Midgar. It wasnt a long walk from the hospital where she worked to her apartment. She never even bothered buying a car. Everywhere she needed to go to in Midgar was within walking distance.
Aeris ignored the voice and continued walking, quickening her pace a little.
Slow down, I was just wondering if you had the time.
She kept on walking, almost breaking into a run.
His footsteps grew louder.
Cmon lady, cant you help out a guy?
She rounded the corner only to find herself facing a fairly large man. She turned back the way she came, but nearly ran into the man who had been calling out to her. The one behind her grabbed her arms and held her in a vice-like grip, forcing her into an alleyway. She wouldnt stop struggling, though.
No need to be cold, babe, he said. He looked over her body. Were gonna have some fun tonight, arent we?
She made no response, just a disgusted face.
The man drew a switchblade and softly ran it across her cheek.
Do you like sharp things?
Please, you dont want to do this, Aeris said, her eyes pleading with them.
Sorry babe, he replied. Youre just too fine for me.
The lady said please.
Who the fuck was that, Jimbo? he asked, looking around.
Not sure, Tony, Jimbo replied.
Hold her, Tony ordered. He walked out towards the end of the alley, looking from side to side.
Guess I was just hearin things, Tony said. Things were easier when we had the slums, know what I mean?
Aeris continued to stuggle, but it only caused Jimbo to tighten his grip on her. She felt that if she moved at all, her arm would break off.
Lets get this overwith, Tony said. He brought the switchblade up again, but something knocked it out of his hand!!
What the hell?!? he asked. He fell to his feet and felt around for the blade.
Before he could grasp it in his hand, someone delivered a fierce kick to him while he was down.
Jimbo released Aeris, cracking his knuckles, prepared to take on his friends assailant.
The other man easily dodged Jimbos blow, then delivered a quick jab to Jimbos abdomen, following up with an uppercut to his jaw.
Jimbo still pressed on, fighting with savage tactics, no obvious strategy.
The man grabbed Jimbos fist, pulled it towards him, and slammed the palm of his hand into Jimbos elbow. It dislocated with a sickening crack.
Aeris slowly got to her feet and looked at her rescuerer. Once she saw him, her eyes lit up.
She quickly pulled him into a hug, more relieved with the fact that he was in Midgar than the fact that he had saved her life.
I dont believe this!! she exclaimed. I thought you were living in Nibelheim.
I was, Sephiroth said.
What are you doing in Midgar?
Thats great!! Where are you staying?
He just shrugged.
Well, youre going to have trouble finding a place this time of night. All the hotels are booked. Come on, you can stay at my place.
No thank you, Sephiroth said. I should be able to find something.
Nonsense!! Aeris exclaimed, grabbing his arm. Come on, itll give us a chance to talk about old times.
Sephiroth opened his mouth to protest, but stopped. He knew from personal experiance that there was no stopping Aeris once she had her mind set on something.
Barkeep!!! the man exclaimed. Gimme another beer!!
Mason walked up to the man, handing him another glass. He looked at the younger man. He had somewhat long, black spiked hair, and he was dressed in a SOLDIER uniform. You didnt find many people with those on these days. Obviously, this guy didnt care.
Then again, he hadnt seemed to care abotu anything, just asking for drink after drink.
Bad breakup? Mason asked, cleaning some glasses with a cloth.
The SOLDIER simply looked up at him.
I said bad breakup.
You might say that...
Cmon mac, share the details, Mason insisted. I may be a barkeep, but Im good at givin advice.
She left me.... or actually, I left her.
An now you miss her, right?
I was stationed away from her while I was in SOLDIER. Then, I got lost for 5 years, with practically no memory left. Recently, I met up with her again. Only to find out that she doesnt feel the same way. She likes the guy who almost killed me.
Lifes a bitch that way, Mason said. He poured the man another beer. This ones on me. The names Mason.
Zack, he replied. Zack Trimmer.
Well Zack, I think its time you started heading home after you finish that one. Were gonna be closing, soon.
Zack made no reply, just finished off his drink.
So, how have you been? Aeris asked.
Sephiroth shrugged, taking a sip of his coffee. He could tell her about his recent nightmares, but he knew that would only cause her more worry than she needed.
Come on, Sephiroth, she said. Its been five years since weve seen each other. Surely youve got something to talk about.
He shook his head. Aeris sighed.
Do you have a job?
Again, the same response.
Im working at the nearby hospital, she said. I figured I can do a lot of good helping people there. Reeve offered me the position of the head of public relations, but I declined. I felt I could do more good here. Besides, Ive already gained enough fame from being a member of Avalanche. I dont need any more attention drawn to me.
Sephiroth sat in complete silence. It made Aeris wonder if he was even listening to her at all.
Sephiroth... is the reason for youre silence because of what happened the last time we were together?
He shifted his gaze to his cup. It was. In that moment they were about to kiss, he felt his heart soar. It gave him a feeling unlike any other. She actually trusted him so much, that she was willing to show him the one thing he had never experianced. Love.
But, he drove her away, convincing himself that he wasnt worthy enough for love, due to his past deeds. Was he right, though? Hadnt he redeemed himself by saving the people in Mideel, and nearly the entire world by stopping Jenova? The number of people he killed in his life was large, but the number of people he saved was much larger. Hadnt he deserved the right to experiance love?
No. He would never be able to. It just wasnt meant to be.
He looked back up at her.
You have to understand something, Aeris. I have spent my entire life in isolation. There is nothing for me to discuss with you.
All right, she said, standing up. Im going to go to bed. Ill talk to you in the morning.
She got up and walked over to the door leading to her bedroom.
And Sephiroth. If you ever need someone to talk to, Im here. I wont judge you.
After she closed the door to her bedroom, her words still rang in his head.
I wont judge you.
That was so absurd that he almost felt like breaking into laughter. It was human nature to judge others. That was just the way things were.
He lay back on the pull-out bed Aeris had made up for him.
A few hours later, he was finally able to sleep.
It is time.
Yes, I sense it as well.
The Bringer of Destruction has been awakened.
The Harbinger has accomplished his task.
Now it is up to us to insure that the Helspont remains unharmed.
What of the one who originally imprisoned Helspont?
He is no longer a threat.
What of Sephiroth, then?
You neednt worry about Sephiroth. He is no more trouble.
He is out of practice. His skill is no longer what it used to be.
Hojo contemplated his plans. Revenge would be sweet. Revenge on those who destroyed him. The failure, Valentine, his son, and the rest of that absurd band of rebels. Now, he had the power to destroy them.
Helspont would insure their destruction. The ancient evil had returned, and its power easily rivaled that of Jenova.
Now, as he made his way into Helsponts chamber, he pondered his words. One must use caution when speaking with the Bringer of Destruction. Choose your words carefully, or die.
What do you wish of me, Harbinger?
Hojo kneeled once he reached Helspont sitting on a throne.
I was going to inform you of those who destroyed Jenova.
Ahh yes. Who are they?
They are a group of men and women.
WHAT?!? The Crisis From the Sky defeated by mere MORTALS?!?! It is not possible!!!
Two of them are of Cetra descent.
The Cetra... so, Jenova failed us the first time. Her task remains uncompleted. She was to destroy ALL the Cetra. Just as I destroyed the Eternals.
A few Cetra survived, Hojo said. And I believe the Eternal who imprisoned you still lives.
Good. I desire revenge on these rebels who destroyed Jenova. And then, the Eternal.
I know who they are, Hojo said. I can guide you to them.
Then guide you shall, Harbinger.
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