Darkness Falls Chapter 11
A week later, Kaede was still lying in bed, where the others had left him. Avalanche had called the doctor to Villa Cloud once more. This time, he used the time to study Kaedes biology.
They were discussing his condition in a meeting room.
I am slowly beginning to understand some of his processes, said the doctor.
What happened doc? asked Cid.
His body, continued the doctor, can heal itself, as you well know. However, I believe the recent events have totaled his bodys efforts to heal himself. His energy has been depleted, and the constant battles have not helped.
What can we do in the mean time? asked Red.
All I can suggest is bed rest for quite a while yet. Although I am beginning to understand some of his attributes, I still found some...disturbing anomalies.
Disturbing? asked Aeris, What kind?
Brace yourself, said the doctor, it isnt pretty...
Kaede slowly woke up, groggy and tired. His body felt like stone. He tried to move, but found that he couldnt.
Dont try to get up, said a voice, the doctor said that youll be floored for a while.
Tell me something I dont know, said Kaede.
The other figure chuckled, and Elmyra came to sit next to Kaedes bed.
Do you want to tell me what happened? asked she.
You wouldnt want to know.
Wouldnt I? asked Elmyra.
Do you honestly want to hear about it? About the bloodshed, the fighting? About how they nearly killed us all?
I suppose not, said Elmyra, but at least you could get your feelings out into the open.
I...never really had time for feelings, said Kaede.
Oh come now, chided the older woman, you may be older than me. But I still have more experience in these matters. You are still young in heart.
Elmyra, muttered Kaede, I may, biologically, be in my twenties, and to all appearances, medical or otherwise, I may be a normal man. But my life has been sullied by war. Ive spilled blood, my own and others, countless times on countless planets. Are you honestly telling me that a life like that can have any time for such luxuries as feelings?
Then why do you fight in the first place? asked Elmyra.
It is my duty...
Thats a load of croc and you know it, snapped the woman, I mean your real reason.
I fight...because I dont want what befell to me...to happen to others.
Then, you do have some feelings.
Kaedes face drew into a bitter grimace.
A weapon cannot feel. Sure, I may care about what happens, but Ive never had time for true emotions, such as you speak of. No love, no family, nothing. I nearly killed my best friends in cold blood. Dont tell me about emotions. A machine cannot feel.
Elmyra was shocked by the raw anger she felt. She stood up, brushing imaginary dust from her dress.
Get some rest, said Elmyra, walking to the door, youll need it if you want to recover.
The doctor explained his findings concerning Kaede.
What did you find doctor? asked Vincent, we know he was experimented on, trained to become a weapon, as Shinra did to its soldiers not long ago.
Yes, conceded the doctor, but perhaps not the gravity of those experiments. You see, I found massive amounts of mako-esque deposits in his body.
Mako-esque? asked Cloud, What does that mean?
I am aware of the kind of tests Shinra used to do on its soldiers, treating them with mako to increase fighting prowess. One of these signs is, say, the strange green glow in his eyes. I found various signs of such tests in Mr. Knight.
So, continued the doctor, they were like no other mako I have ever seen.
What do you mean? asked Aeris.
They had different aspects about them, as if they had no origins from this planet.
Seems logical, said Red, he did, after all, travel to different worlds.
That not my point. You see, mako conditioning, especially in such drastic amounts as he had, leaves traces within the body, it seems the same for his biology as well as human. What concerns me, however, was that he had over fifty such traces in his body, all from different energy sources.
FIFTY? yelled Barret.
Cloud remained silent. He remembered how painful his tests with mako had been. The experience had left him deluded and nearly dead. Only years afterward had he regained his sanity, his life. Only years later had the pain finally stopped. That had been only one test, one exposure. But Kaede had gone through over fifty such experiments. Cloud could not fathom the pain Kaede must have gone through. How could he still be alive after that?
Theres more, said the doctor, examining his skeleton, I found another strange anomaly. It consisted of the same trace elements.
What does that mean? asked Yuffie.
In itself, it meant nothing, said the doctor, until I took a closer look. I saw evidence of surgical procedures throughout his entire skeleton. Apparently, this strange energy had been surgically grafted to his bones.
What?! shouted Cid, Surgically...what do you mean?
Whoever it was, they cut him open, and fused these minerals to his bones. The drugs and the mako enhanced his strength, and not only did they pump his body full of the energy, but the grafted mineral deposits onto his skeleton. My guess is, whoever tried to make him a weapon, knew what they were doing with horrible precision. They used the mako mineral to strengthen his bones, and massive dosage of raw mako-like elements to not only increase strength, but energy manipulation. He can summon spells with more intensity and volume than I care to imagine.
Weve seen that, but how could he survive such a process? asked Shera, the only one who was able to speak at the moment.
It is his healing abilities. He was able to recover from treatments that would have killed others. Not only that, but the ability to absorb power, much like using materia, could have saved him.
So what happened? asked Tifa, Whyd he finally give out?
Hes not invincible, chided the doctor, as powerful as the changes sound, they were merely an effort to make him physically stronger. Eventually, all bodies become resistant to whatever drugs are thrown at them. And all the alien mako in the galaxy would have meant nothing if he had no ability to control it.
So what youre saying, said Red, was that the mako treatments really had no lasting effect on him?
Not really, said the doctor, even Shinra experienced this problem. It could not make the mako treatments permanent, since the mako effects eventually faded. Think of it as an growing immunity to drugs. As you are exposed to more, you become more resistant. Although this would strengthen them, the drugs effects would eventually wear down. This eventually meant weaker soldiers, or more influx of mako, which usually killed the subjects. I believe you know the results, Jenova cell experiments, and strange demi-humans.
But he was able to keep his abilities, just as I after entering the Lifestream, said Cloud, but he kept it through learning to draw energy from outside sources, much like the old ideas of chi.
Thats right, exactly, said the doctor, for all the testing, for all the surgery, that is the key to his abilities. The mako seemed...more of a pretext for controlling his powers, maintaining his body, than anything else. It seemed to have been used jointly with other methods as a form of mind control, again similar to the old Shinra experiments.
That would explain the armor, said Vincent.
The others nodded, remembering Kaedes story about the dark armor he wore when he was with the Drahk. Now they truly knew what it had entailed.
Armor? asked the doctor.
Oh, it doesnt matter anymore, replied Aeris.
Thank you for enlightening us doctor, said Tifa.
My pleasure, though I wish I could have given you better news. I hope he feels better soon.
Elmyra walked in from the room where Kaede was sleeping.
He woke up for a few seconds before falling asleep again. Physically, he seems fine.
Well, said the doctor, thats good news. But by my new information, it should still be a week or so at least before he returns to full power.
Maybe so, said Elmyra, but that man has some problems, and I dont mean his health.
Well, said the doctor, considering what was done to him, I find that understandable. I hope he feels better.
So do we, said Aeris.
Well, I am getting slightly tired, so if you dont need my help, Ill show myself out.
Kaede woke up to darkness again. When he heard movement, he opened his eyes.
So, said Red, how are we feeling?
Like a stone statue, said Kaede.
That sounds about right, laughed Sheras voice.
The doctor told us about your condition, said Red.
And? asked Kaede.
Youll be fine in a few weeks, answered Shera.
Kaede weakly shook his head, too long.
Even a warrior has to rest, chided Red, you should know that.
Sometimes, there just isnt time for rest.
Which is why you are lying here right now, chimed Shera.
Ive been meaning to ask you Kaede, said Red, why do you fight so hard?
If you mean my abilities, I train-
No, no, no, said Red, I mean what is your motivation? We know of your training, and the treatments. Why do you fight at all? You seem so cold and calculating on the battle field. Does your power come from your hatred for the Drahk?
I dislike the Drahk yes, answered Kaede, a slight understatement, but that is not where I draw my will from. Like I told Aeris, will drawn from hate is self defeating, it eventually consumes the person who tries to wield such power. I draw my will from my need to protect others. The Drahk ruined my life, and I would rather die than stand by and watch others suffer the same fate.
Watch it, said Shera, you sound like you care about this planet.
I do, said Kaede.
We know that, returned Shera, softening, we know that you care. So why dont you ever reveal your feelings? You never share your thoughts with others.
You are all beginning to sound like Elmyra and Aeris, said Kaede gruffly, as I said before, I do care about you people, but I cant afford the luxury of emotions.
And why is that? asked Red, you know the others, myself included, have formed a sense of comradery with you. You are our friend.
You shouldnt get close to a machine, said Kaede, like I told Elmyra. My life has always been one battle or another, no time for lasting friendships, always traveling. Solitude has been my one constant.
Whatever you say, said Red, shaking his head, you should know that you can trust us as your friends.
I appreciate that, said Kaede, but as I said before-
I know, sighed Red, And a part of me understands, for I am the last of an extinct warrior race. I above all should know what its like. But you must learn to move past your limitations and regrets. You may draw your strength from honor and duty, but true power comes from love and friendship.
Red walked out the door.
Hes right you know, said Shera.
The less you grow attached, said Kaede, the less you have to lose.
Before she went out the door herself, Shera said something to Kaede, Someone once told me, that a cold heart is a dead heart.
Then, replied Kaede, I have been dead for over a hundred years...
Then, all was darkness for Kaede once more, as the dreams and the nightmares came again.
It had been nearly two weeks since the battle in Mideel. In that time, the governments had been notified of the Drahk threat, and were well on their way to building their defenses. Reeve and the Turks kept up a nearly endless communication with the other countries, coordinating construction of the planets protection. They also kept contact with the Kitana. Apparently, the ships computer had been programmed for the events, for it readily provided information on the new technology to be used in improving weaponry and constructing new spacecraft. Reeve had promised to build as many ships as possible before the onslaught, but there could be no guarantees. The technology wasnt like Kitanas however, for Kaede had wisely decided that the planet could only use technology it could understand. So, adapted blueprints were given to Reeve, showing him how to make his ships with a few tweaks here and there. For the Highwind, however, the Kitana had been able to offer schematics for a full hybrid of the two technologies. When completed, the Highwind would be among the best ships on the planet, second only to the Kitana.
However, the blueprints made even the most brilliant of scientists break out into headaches. So, the Kitana had been docked with the Highwind, robotics inside the alien ship making changes to the other. Rather than being put off, Cid was ecstatic. His only regret was that a full copy of the Kitana could not be made, but the computer itself could find no records of how to do that. Kaede had truly created a one-of-a-kind ship, with technology from so many different planets, it was a wonder it could have been built in the first place, much less a copy.
Meanwhile, as the planet gathered its forces, Avalanche continued to practice. If they were to combat the Drahk and their Sleepers, or whatever they called themselves, the planets most powerful warriors would have to be ready.
At this moment, however, it was nearly midnight, too late for anything other than sleep. Aeris sat by Kaedes bed, waiting for any change in the quiet man. She had been unable to stop thinking about what had nearly happened on that stone wall. She couldnt understand her feelings then. Somehow though...she felt safe and secure whenever Kaede was around. Despite his reticence, Aeris felt as if she was beginning to understand him, perhaps because she, like no other, knew what his secret dreams held. And despite his outward coldness sometimes, Aeris felt like she could trust him to watch out for her...for her friends. It made her feel warm.
She looked across at the other three people who stood vigil with her. Or, in their case, Aeris smiled, slept vigil. Yuffie Kisaragi had instantly formed a deep respect for this strange man. She felt as if she had found a kindred spirit, a fellow warrior. Kaede, like Cloud, seemed to Yuffie like a brother that she never had.
Vincent Valentine stood in a corner by himself, anyone else would have thought he was awake, but Aeris knew better. Vincent could sleep basically anywhere and in any predicament. His previous repose in a coffin had earned him the title Vampy from Cid and Barret. Surprisingly enough, Yuffie was the one who, more often than not, took offense at this. She seemed to genuinely care for Vincent like no one else. The ninja whole-heartedly enjoyed teasing big brother Cloud, why not Vincent?
Vincent still mourned Lucrecia, but it was more distant, he was learning to cope. His nature seemed to be softening of late. Aeris smiled, wondering if the two had figured out yet what was already apparent to the others.
Rude had merely slept in another cot, out of respect for a fellow warrior, should he need help. He had said he felt it his duty, seeing as how Kaede had given them so much help in raising the planetary forces.
Aeris looked at Kaede again, wishing that she could figure out her own thoughts so easily. She had loved Zack, but that was a childhood crush, and he had died. Later on, she felt pangs of tender emotions for Cloud, but that was more of her holdover feelings for Zack than anything else. She had gotten over them, and was actually glad that Cloud had married Tifa. So what was it she felt now, was it...loneliness?
Frustrated, Aeris simply bit her lower lip and gazed into Kaedes countenance. He seemed to be in pain. Wasnt it enough that his waking life was a constant battle? The Drahk now tortured his nights as well. It didnt seem fair to Aeris, but then, life was never fair, was it? After all, she had died at the hands of a madman. Of course, she had been brought back as well, only to be thrust into battle again. Of late, life had seemed a strange, sick merry-go-round for Aeris.
She pushed past her uncertainties and simply held Kaedes hand. If she couldnt comfort him in any other way, at least she could give him this small token of reassurance. Aeris simply stayed there, unable to sleep, merely holding his hand. A few minutes later, she was amazed to feel that the grip on her hand tightened, the gaze in his face calmed somewhat.
The nightmares haunted Kaede again, although not as bad as before. Always, it was the same kind of thing, death, destruction, bloodshed, most of it caused by him, by his dark side. Then he finally stepped out of that darkness, only to be consumed by another darkness, one which he fought against, but could not beat.
Strange...to defeat the darkness, only to be consumed by a greater darkness, that sounded vaguely familiar, and prophetic. Where had he heard that before?
That was when a calming breeze came into his dreams. It was a rare occurrence for him. In fact, he could never remember having felt such peace in his dreams, and only on rare occasions in his music. It was as if a comforting force held him tight. But he had never been so...calmed, even when meditating. It felt...liberating. He felt as if he could truly fly for the first time, unbound of all shackles.
Then the dream twisted into a nightmare again. This time, he saw the planet and all its inhabitants, engulfed in flames. He saw Cloud, he saw his friends, he saw cities, all destroyed and burned to ashes. He saw darkness descend onto the streets of blood, and then he saw her...
Aeris was lying still on cracked soil, bleeding her life away. As he neared her, she shuddered with fear. Kaede tried to lift her, to look into her eyes. Then he saw it...in her chest, was a sword...Kaedes sword. The Drahk laughed at him as they raped the planet, destroying everything and sucking it dry of life and energy.
He cried out in vain as he held Aeris in his arms, pleading with her not to go.
Dammit Aeris! Dont leave me here!
The girl managed to crack open her eyelids, one last time, Im so...sorry...Kaede...where were you?
Aeris closed her eyes once more, and he knew that she would never open them again. This was all his fault. He had vowed to prevent this, and now he had failed. He had failed them all. Then he heard the evil laughter around him, the laughter of the Horsemen, taunting him, telling him how he had spurned his power, the power to prevent this, the power to save Aeris...it was all his fault.
Kaede screamed his pain into the burning skies, and then the darkness took him again...
Authors Note: Alrighty! Got some more delving into the secrets behind Kaedes power and personality. Can anyone say 'Wolverine'? I really hope youre all still following along with the story. Thanks to everyone whos trudging through this with me!
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