Darkness Falls Chapter 24
The meeting was over, Avalanche and the Turks were deep in thought about
what they should do.
Seto was also there, and offered his advice, we must not worry about the preparations, everything is in place. We can do no more.
Reeve took a deep breathe, but what will we do in the meantime, count the minutes until they come?
Cloud voiced his opinion, no, that wont do us any good. We need to be relaxed before the final push. If we lose our calm, we will lose everything.
What should we do then? asked Elena.
What did you do to prepare for Sephiroth, asked Kaede, how did you prepare for Meteor?
Cloud nodded, you know, there was something that calmed me down.
And that was? asked Rude.
I spent the night with Tifa, he replied, then inwardly winced at how that sounded.
What? blinked Reno, you mean you guys-
NO! shouted Tifa and Cloud in unison.
Not that night anyway, said Barret under his breathe.
The others hid their laughs as Cloud and Tifa gave them venomous stares.
Kaede nodded, urging Cloud to continue.
I meant that we talked to each other, said Cloud, glancing at Reno, it helped us to forget our troubles.
Yeah, exclaimed Cid, I remember, I went back to Rocket Town.
He smiled at Shera, who smiled back.
And I went and saw Marlene, continued Barret.
We all went somewhere to relax, finished Vincent, somewhere that we could forget our troubles.
It helped us remember what we were fighting for, reasoned Cloud, made us more determined.
Kaede nodded, a wise course of action. I couldnt think of a better idea myself.
Okay then guys, said Cloud, lets mo-
He took a quick look at Cid, who threw his arms up in dismay. Cloud grinned as he said, lets move.
Thank God, whispered the captain.
The various members of the group went back to their hometowns, to take a final look before the battle started. Barret took Marlene to North Corel, while Reeve and the Turks opted to go to Midgar. Cid and Shera went to Rocket Town, Nanaki returned with his father to Cosmo Canyon. Yuffie took Vincent to visit her father in Wutai, while Tifa and Cloud went back to Villa Cloud. Aeris and her mother joined them, as did Kaede.
Always his favorite pastime, Kaede was walking along the beach with Aeris by his side. They held each other close as they gazed at the night sky.
I wonder how long well be able to see the stars like this? asked Aeris.
Dont worry Aeris, answered Kaede, youll see them again.
Sure, answered the Planeswalker, cant lie to my beloved now can I?
Aeris grinned, which reminds me...my mother wasnt all that surprised when I told her.
I know, said Kaede, like she had a sixth sense about it.
Aeris laughed, I cant believe she called you a good catch.
He frowned, what, Im not?
No, no, of course you are, smiled Aeris, its just that I never thought of you as a...catch...before.
Kaede smiled back at Aeris, Im glad Im getting to spend these final moments of peace with you.
Now it was Aeris turn to frown, dont say it like that Kaede, well have plenty more moments like this.
He sighed, I hope so.
Elmyra stood on the deck, looked out at the sea, looking at her daughter, as she walked on the beach with the man known as Kaede. Off in the distance, she saw them as they disappeared into the Kitana. Elmyra smiled sadly, how much longer could they enjoy lifes simple joys before the monsters took them away?
Shes lucky, said Tifa from behind.
The older woman turned around as she saw Cloud and Tifa come out and take seats next to her.
I know, and Im glad for her, said Elmyra, but it just isnt fair, for either of them...or for any of you. It shouldnt be like this. You kids are at the beginning of your lives. You shouldnt be forced to cope with whats happening.
Life is ever a series of trials, quoted Cloud, heard that in Loveless.
Tifa smiled, I wasnt aware you saw that play.
Oh you know me, joked Cloud, Im a hopeless romantic.
She rolled her eyes at him, spare me.
What? he demanded, I am
When? she smiled.
Cloud suddenly became serious, paraphrasing more from the play, whenever I am near you, my heart flutters and my soul soars to Heaven. I am hopelessly devoted to you Tifa.
He grinned at her surprised stare. Kaede wasnt the only one who could spout poetry.
Elmyra smiled knowingly at the two, I think three has just become a crowd.
Tifa and Cloud asked her to sit back down, telling her not to leave.
Elmyra shook her head, listen to me kids, as I told Aeris and Kaede, just do what you have to do, and come back safe. Relax, Planet knows youve earned it.
With that, she smiled and walked back into the Villa.
A frown of worry crept into her face, please Planet, if there is any justice in the world, please protect Aeris. Protect each of them...for all our sakes.
The crew members looked with fear at the four generals on deck. The shipmen were used to higher ups on board, but these were the emperors Four Horsemen. Whats more, they had the emperors personal guard with them. Like wraiths were the guards, giant shades that reeked of death and suffering. But it was not the shades that they feared, it was the generals.
Methos looked with disdain at the schematic of the planet. Here he was, in one of the flagships of the empire. He was surrounded by the best technology ever created, and backed by the largest fleet ever assembled for such a task force. He had the very powers of the emperor flowing through his veins, and still, he could get no straight answer.
Why is there so much activity on that planet? asked the Horseman of Chaos.
I do not know Lord Methos, replied an officer below the tactical podium.
The captain of the ship looked on with terror at the four Dread Lords. Never had he seen such power before. Their eyes burned fierce with raw energy. They were shrouded in darkness, as if they swallowed the very light. Whatever was unlucky enough to draw near them invariably froze, shriveled, and perished. There were several dead vermin lying near their feet, looking for all the world like theyd been sucked dry...and the Horsemen hadnt even been paying attention to them. By the emperors name, why did he have to cross these people, today of all days?
Sephiroth grimaced at the man, green eyes blazing, you are a military mind, are you not captain? What do you think it means?
They know we have arrived, deduced Veletta.
Sephiroth nodded, the holding patterns are similar to some of the phalanx positions used by SOLDIER. Flanking positions resemble Wutainian tactics. You can be assured of a welcoming party.
Methos turned to the captain, I thought I told you...I wanted to catch them by surprise.
The terrified man tried to stammer a reply, I-Im sorry sir! It was some kind of seal! It broke when we entered the solar system and-
The Chaos Lord extended his hand toward the captain below. The man was lifted from the deck, rising foot by foot until he was level with Methoss blazing blood red eyes.
You should have thought of that before...apologize, commanded the evil man.
Im sorry! It wont happen again, I-
The captains words were cut short, for a strange force began to grip at his throat. He couldnt speak...couldnt even breathe.
What was that? sneered Methos, did the cur have something to say?
The mans eyes bugged out as his throat was crushed. With a sickening snapping sound, the rest of the body imploded, as if sucked dry, then fell to the floor in a broken heap of flesh and bone.
You will not have a second chance to disappoint me, said Methos to the dead mass.
Sephiroth smiled grimly, tsk, temper, temper Methos, although I do like your style.
Methos glared at the man, lets get one thing straight, spawn of Jenova, the only reason you are still alive is because the emperor wills it, and we have use for you. Beware, I am the very embodiment of his power!
We all are, warned Veletta.
Dont cross us, finished Morbius.
Sephiroth shrugged, unimpressed, dont put yourselves up on any pedestal, lest you forget I have a piece of that power as well.
Methos grunted, well, its time you put your skills at work.
Morbius continued, you know the layout of the planet, how will we go about this?
The Dark Purge has already begun, reminded Veletta, we need only to finish the last step.
Sephiroth looked at the schematic on the Fortress of the Ancients. This is where it would have to fall. However, if he knew Cloud, and that accursed Cetra bitch, there would be problems. Nothing he couldnt handle.
Sephiroth sneered to himself, it was time to put his plan into action.
If we are to succeed, we will need to make it fall here, in the Fortress, pointed Sephiroth, and there is one small thing that stands in our way.
Kaede, answered Methos.
Actually, countered Sephiroth, I had someone else in mind.
The Cetra, deduced Veletta, the one known as Aeris.
Sephiroth nodded, she alone can summon forth Holy and cause us problems.
You do not suggest, demanded Methos, that a little harlot like her could actually be a threat to our plans?
Sephiroth shook his head, of course not, however, she may delay it, and in so doing, lessen the force of the Dark Purge.
So what do we do? asked Morbius.
We must kill her, said Veletta, we must kill the Cetra.
Sephiroth shrugged, she poses a minor threat, but she must not be allowed to try anything.
Methos shook his head, we must kill Kaede first. He poses the most threat. He knows-
We must destroy HER, cursed Veletta.
Stay focused, chided Morbius, the Purge is all, the Cetra doesnt matter.
You speak for yourself, spat Veletta, I know what I must do. The bitch dies at my hands. I will have the satisfaction of seeing them suffer before the end.
Morbius shook his head at her. Why was she being like this? Ever since Kaede had left, she had become tempestuous, unfocused. Her fury knew no bounds, and yet they soared to even greater heights whenever he was mentioned. And now, it seemed that hatred had transferred over to the girl, the last great hope this planet had, although the Cetra would burn easily enough with the rest.
Sephiroth shrugged, kill the girl, kill him, kill them all. It makes no difference.
He smiled to himself. Sephiroth had studied these people enough to know what buttons to push. They would be so busy with their own plans, they would not notice his trap until it was too late.
Morbius looked at Veletta again. Why was she so obsessed with the Cetra? Ever since they had found out what had happened to the Sleepers, she had been almost one-sided in her pursuits. It was clear that the only threat came from her and Kaede, but they would fall easily. Morbius smiled inwardly, oh yes...they would all fall. They had no idea of the power they were dealing with. The power of the emperor flowed through his blood, making him into a god. Now all creation would cower at his feet.
Sephiroth grinned inwardly as he prepared to put the final nail in the coffin, our plans mean nothing without this...
He drew out a black orb. The other Horsemen looked at the dark thing. However, it was not dark in itself. It was not that it absorbed all light, like them, it was just that it emitting...nothing. The thing, whatever it was, looked as evil as the emperors eye, as if it were made of the raw dark powers that flowed through their bodies.
What is that? demanded Methos.
This, answered Sephiroth triumphantly, is the Black Materia.
And what do you plan to do with this trinket? asked Morbius.
The ex-SOLDIER glared at Morbius, this trinket will help us multiply the power of the Purge tenfold.
The other three Horsemen stared at him, eyes narrowed.
How do you plan to do that? demanded Morbius.
Yes fools, thought Sephiroth, fall into my trap. And when it is done, I shall be the one with ultimate power!
Aeris laughed as she walked the halls of the ship with Kaede. Beautiful tapestries adorned the walls as they walked down the halls.
Wow, exclaimed the Cetra, I never knew you were an art buff.
Im not, smiled Kaede, these are various relics I picked up on my travels.
Kaede lead her to another room, with cases full of trinkets and artifacts from countless worlds.
Keepsakes, explained Kaede, given to me by different races,
Aeris was awestruck, it seems you are held in high honor.
Lord Silver is well known for his exploits throughout the cosmos, explained the feminine voice of the computer.
The Planeswalker groaned, Kitana, how many times have I asked you not to call me that?
Sorry, replied the voice, old habits-
Thats okay, interjected Kaede, I dont need for you to sound like Bahumet!
Very well Master Kaede, answered the computer.
He groaned again, why do people always have to be so bleeding formal with me?
Aeris laughed, you sound just like Reeve.
Kaede looked at her doubtfully.
Its true, she smiled, you just have this...aura about you. It demands respect.
Lady Aeris states it quite succinctly, voiced Kitana.
Lady Aeris? asked the Cetra, where did that come from?
Well, reasoned the computer, if you are to be sire Kaedes betrothed-
Alright Kitana, said Kaede, thank you for reminding...wait a minute...how did you know?
You didnt really make that big of an effort to hide it sir, said Kitana, you always talked about her while on board the ship and the way your body temperature rises when-
KITANA!, struggled Kaede, please...youre embarrassing me.
Aeris tried hard not to laugh aloud.
Very well sir, replied the computer, do you need me for anything else?
No, thank you, answered Kaede, take a rest, Ill activate you in the morning if I need anything.
Sweet dreams sir.
Sweet dreams, he responded, DO computers dream?
I may not have full autonomy of the ship sir, but I am sentient, I do run the bridge and some of the common areas-
Kitana...I helped program you, remember?
Oh...right, said Kitana, sorry. Well, to answer your question, I do kind of dream sometimes, although its not quite the same as what you do.
Hmmm, pondered Kaede, very well, until the morning then.
Until the morning, bade the voice, good night Lady Aeris.
Good night, laughed the Cetra.
Sephiroth was done explaining. They would follow his plan. He knew they would, for they had no other alternative.
So, asked Methos, we use this...trinket...to empower the Dark Purge, granting the emperor energy ten-fold to what we have anticipated?
Morbius blinked uncertainly. They had come to this planet to reap the technology and energy of this planet. Archaic as the planet was, it had mysteries hidden deep inside, mysteries that could grant ultimate power.
Sephiroth knew they had come to this planet, to feed off its energy. It was the key to their power. And a planet this rich in mako was irresistible to them. They were drawn to it like a moth to a flame. He smiled, it was a fitting analogy. They did not know it, but this Fortress would not only strengthen the Drak Purge, it would empower the avatar who brought it forth. He would be the one to receive its power. He would discard the emperor like a forgotten plaything. Or perhaps not, it pleased Sephiroth to think of all the ways he would make life a living hell for these people.
How do we know this isnt a trick? demanded Veletta.
Hear me Jenovan, cursed Morbius, do not cross us.
Sephiroth waved his hands in a gesture of dismissal, I couldnt care less about Jenova. Mother was simply a means to an end. And while her song was sweet while it lasted, I have found more fertile pastures in which to reap the fruits of destruction.
How poetic, quipped Methos, pray your mind stays on task. Fail us, and it will be the last time you do anything.
Sephiroth narrowed his eyes at the Horseman, careful Methos, my patience goes only so far...
As they discussed the plan of attack, all the while, Sephiroth brooded on his ascension to power.
I shall become a god, and all creation shall cower before me!
Well, said Aeris, weve got the ship to ourselves.
Looks that way, agreed Kaede.
So, whats the deal with my new designation? smiled Aeris, I never thought of myself as some lady of a lord before.
Im no lord, shrugged Kaede, but you have all the grace and charm of any royal.
She blushed, thanks.
He lead her over to the glass cases in the showroom. Lighting shone down from the ceiling, glittering against the jewels.
So, what do you think?
She was spell bound, theyre beautiful.
Not half as much as you, he answered.
Aeris returned a wry grin, I bet you werent thinking that during battle, or when you first pulled me from the lake.
Youre right... he trailed off
Aeris frowned...well, at least he was honest. She remained quiet as he lead her to another room. It had a balcony with a view of the stars outside. The night air was slightly chilly, but comfortable.
...You were even more spell binding, he finished.
It took a while for her to realize he was finishing his sentence from before. Aeris raised her hands to her forehead in defeat.
What, you dont believe me? he asked, take my word, it is nigh impossible to imagine you not looking radiant.
Oh Kaede, she laughed, youre a card.
He grabbed her hands and brought the close to his chest. She felt his right hand caress her hair. His other brought up a silver necklace, links finely etched with the shape of flowers.
And to the Lady I present something more to put that ring around.
She stared breathlessly into his eyes as he brought his hand behind her neck, undoing the string necklace. He took the ring from around it and placed it around the new one.
Trade? he asked.
She nodded absently and stayed silent as he put the new necklace about her. He folded the old string one and placed it in his pocket.
Hello, Aeris? asked Kaede, looking into her eyes, are you home?
She managed to gather her wits enough to finally reply, Kaede...
He smiled back.
You didnt have to, she started.
Thats why I wanted to, he finished.
They turned to look at the stars, Aeris snuggled comfortably against his side.
Kaede began to feel an aching headache at his temples. Why was he feeling like this? The seal had already broken.
Aeris noticed something wrong with him, whats wrong?
He rubbed his forehead, I dont know-
Aeris clutched at her stomach and cried out in pain.
Kaede caught her as she began to stumble. Carefully, he lowered her to the ground.
She slowly fluttered her eyes open again.
The Planeswalker heaved a sigh of relief, are you alright?
Aeris nodded, though her body was still quivering, the cries of the Planet, they overwhelmed me for a moment.
He looked at her with concern, its because the Drahk are coming.
Yes, that and...something else.
I dont know...
Kaede gently lifted Aeris to her feet, and they held each other in the night, comforting each other.
What did you feel? asked the Cetra.
Kaede looked at her askance.
Your headache, she explained.
Kaede sighed and looked to the stars, he could already see the darkness closing in.
I feel them coming, answered Kaede, pointing to the stars, look there, they are almost here. I see them like a cancer in the night sky. And I feel them like a plague in my mind...
He looked into her pleading eyes with sadness in his own, Aeris, I must be honest with you...
Aeris hushed him, caressing his face, Kaede, I understand.
He looked downward, now it was his body shaking, I cant...lose you...
Aeris embraced him, you wont Kaede, its you and I...till the end. Thats more than most people get in a lifetime.
Kaede beheld the Cetra through glassy eyes, Aeris...
Whatever happens Kaede, I feel blessed to have known you...to have loved-
She could speak no more, and wrapped herself in his arms as she shed her tears against his shoulder.
Hush now, he comforted, no words are needed between us. Get some sleep.
Aeris looked up.
Walk out the door, pick any room you want, offered he, mines at the end of the hall if you need anything.
Arent you going to sleep? she asked.
He let out a heavy sigh, I have some things to think about, Ill go in a little while.
He let himself collapse into a sofa, holding a bottle of Serran nectar in his hand.
Are you sure? she asked.
He nodded, sweet dreams Aeris.
Good night Kaede, she bade before leaving.
Tifa sat snuggled against Cloud, watching the stars from their recliner. She felt so safe in his arms, whenever he held her. With Cloud by her side, she could hold the world at bay.
Cloud reveled at their closeness. She couldnt know how it soothed him just to be near her, just to feel the warmth of her embrace.
He suddenly felt a bone chilling coldness seep into him, dispelling the warmth, threatening to destroy him. Cloud clutched Tifa close to him as he fought for breath...then the feeling was gone.
They breathed harshly together, in each others arms, for what seemed like forever.
You felt it too? asked Tifa.
Cloud nodded, what was it?
I dont know, she replied, what is that?
She pointed to the sky...there seemed to be a dark patch in the heavens...through which no star light could penetrate.
That must be them, deduced Cloud. It was the Drahk, the harbingers of death...coming to claim all their souls.
Tifa held onto him tighter, Oh Cloud...
The swordsman drew his wife closer, looking into her eyes, hey now...itll be okay.
Tifa looked away, but he lifted her chin again to gaze into her eyes again.
Whatever happens, promised Cloud, well get through it...together.
She smiled and clutched him tightly, taking comfort in the friction of her body against his.
Whatever happens, he continued, I have no regrets...because I found you, and because I love you.
She shed a tear, which Cloud promptly brushed away before kissing her. Cloud once more drowned himself in her, forgetting his sea of troubles...
Kaede stood up, he had brooded for long enough. He had to get some sleep, for the true challenge was yet to come. He breathed heavily, praying silently that everything would turn out okay...they wouldnt, of course; they never did. But that didnt keep him from trying, from hoping.
The warrior tread silently through the halls, careful not to disturb Aeris. He didnt hear anything...she was already asleep.
Kaede shook his head, the last few weeks had been torture for her. He had tried to protect Aeris, but he always went where the trouble was...it was virtually impossible for him to be in someones presence and not endanger them. Once again he considered if he was being fair to her...forcing his emotions on her. Kaede sighed...like fate, love was a fickle mistress. It did what it would, and be damned the consequences. All he could do was try his best for Aeris.
He opened the door to his room, stripping down to his pants and tee-shirt.
Lights, he announced, dim.
As requested, a very soft glow lit the room.
Kaede... came a whisper.
Kaede noticed breathing, and it was not his own. He turned around and found himself face to face with Aeris.
She wore only her tank tops and shorts, looking down at the floor.
Aeris, he whispered back.
His heart was beating rapidly like a drum. He closed his eyes, steeling himself, forcing himself to stay controlled. He knew what she wanted...knew how she felt, but he couldnt do this. He wanted it too, wanted it so badly. He needed to know he had finally found someone...finally found peace that wouldnt leave him quaking in the night. He wanted to feel that...that she was not some ghost in the night that would pass him by...that would leave him cold and alone, like he had felt so many times in his dreams. But he wouldnt...he couldnt do this to her. He couldnt bare to be the fleeting ghost in HER dreams...to ultimately fail her.
Aeris...if I dont make it, he tried to explain, I cant...
Kaede trailed off as he saw the look in her eyes. And he recognized the same emotion in her that he felt himself...need. Oh...how he wanted to forget his troubles. How he yearned to hold her in the night, and forget that anything existed but her. He wanted to bury himself in the rising emotions that threatened to engulf them both.
I can feel your thoughts, tried Aeris.
Aeris, whispered Kaede, you dont...why...?
I just...wanted to be near you, she struggled to say.
Aeris trailed off, not needing to explain any more. He knew what she felt. She was frightened. They were now faced with a force powerful enough to destroy worlds. It was foolish to ignore the fatality in that. Great Planet, she needed him so badly now, she needed him so badly it hurt. Needed him to make her feel alive, to let her know that she was not alone, that she never would be, that the darkness would not claim her...and he needed to know the same.
Kaede felt his heart clutch, for never before had he committed himself to anyone. Never had he truly loved...
Kaede looked into her eyes one more time, and was lost. Her eyes screamed for him, pleading with him not to go. He never would, never could...for she was to him like the blood that flowed through his veins. Life without her would not be worth living. He ached for her, oh how he ached for her...
The Planeswalker sighed, reaching out his hands. Aeris ran into his embrace, while Kaede held onto her like a drowning man. He breathed in her scent, smelling sweet flowers. He tasted salt on her cheeks as they held each other close, and reveled in the warmth of her body against his. He sighed as he stared into her searching eyes once again. And as he captured her in a ravenous kiss, giving to her his very heart and soul, he knew this was it. He would hold onto her forever, and never let her go. They were for each other, and nothing would EVER take that away.
The two simply quivered in each others arms as they lost themselves in the each other...lost themselves to the night...
Authors (really big) Note: AHEM! Sorry people if you were expecting
this last scene to get a little lemony, but I told you it wouldnt happen,
Im not a big fan of them. Too often it degrades the story and makes
it cheesy. And my story is already frothing over with chesiness at points.
This is the closest youll get from me. In fact, I had to be convinced
to write this much...you see, I cant write romantic stuff very well,
so I leave it to you. I dont want to botch up anything, and I trust
you all to have creative minds. You can make up your own ideas. Im
not saying anything happened, Im not saying it didnt...I want
it to be your choice. Sorry if the last few chapters came out a bit corny.
At any rate, this was the last completely developmental scene. Now its
to the meat of the matter...final battle. No more uncertainties, I bury them
all in the heat of battle!
Next chapter sees the first scenes of combat, and it all follows soon after that. Id like to get feedback on these last few chapters so I can tailor the story to my readers tastes. I already have what I want to do planned out, and you all have been great with all the encouragement and suggestions.
I get really disappointed when a great story just drops the ball at the end, and I dont want that to happen here. I am really excited about the story, I think about it all the time. I just want to make sure I finish it with a bang, so feel free to tell me what you think and what you want done. Ill rewrite entire chapters if I feel the need. Tell me what you think I should add or cut. Just try not to rag me (smiles nervously)! Thanks again.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic