Diverging Paths Chapter 8
By Link Kokori
The Wutai ship was pulling around the island.
"We're almost there, Cloud," Tifa pointed out. Cloud stood at the stern of the ship, his arms holding him up as he rested against it. "Aren't you going to get ready?" she asked. No answer. Tifa repositioned herself so she was in Cloud's face. "Cloud, speak to me. Something's wrong, I know it. Tell me..." she persuaded.
Cloud took a deep breath... and picked up her hands.
"Tifa... I've got a feeling that something might go wrong. I'd prefer it if you would stay here." He told her, his eyes staring into hers. For a moment, they were one person, one love, one destiny. Cloud slipped her hands out of his, turned, and left to get prepared. Tifa sat there for the next few moments.
I'm going to go, she told herself.
Sephiroth banged his sword against part of his hiding spot.
"So, Mother... you have come back to me. You've come back to watch your kin finally take everything back for you. But that will not happen, Mother. This time, Mother, you won't be bringing our ancestors back. No. It will be me... me, Mother."
Sephiroth took the Masamune and cleanly sliced part of Jenova's tentacle off.
"No, Mother. You won't."
Sephiroth sliced off another part of Jenova. She had mysteriously appeared some time ago... and only now could he talk to her alone. Only now. And only now could he tell her that he would be the one to lead the Cetra back to glory... not her.
Sephiroth sliced the trunk of Jenova in half. Green blood split from the remaining parts of the body. It seeped into the ground. And Sephiroth smiled.
As Cloud climbed down the stairs to what had become a makeshift "prep room", he spotted Crono shining the Rainbow.
"Nice sword, kid," Cloud told him, as he headed to the Ultima Weapon.
"Mm... thanks." Crono answered. Crono was obviously in a solemn mood, one that wasn't fitting of his normal style.
"Something wrong?" Cloud asked, as he praticed with his sword. Although it was magnificently huge, Cloud could handle it quite well.
Crono let out a large sigh. "Yes," he said in a strained tone. "You see, I have the feeling that I'll never see the love of my life again."
Cloud smiled a bit at the hearing of the words "love of my life" from some 14-year-old. He quickly pulled it away, and continued. "Oh?"
"I know you're trying hard not to laugh. Just like when Glenn and I tried to tell our story when we first met..." Crono said. He had finally got it out of his system.
"Speaking of your frog friend, where is he?" Cloud asked.
"Prepareth to be slayed!" Frog called out as he hopped to the floor from a hiding spot somewhere high in the bowels of the ship. Cloud cried out with suprise. "Geez! Don't do that!" Cloud said. "Give a guy a heart attack, huh?"
The ship stopped about a mile from the Crater... Cloud, as leader, stepped onto the rocky soil, and ruffled some through his hands.
"Are we going to move, or not?" he asked his fellow members, all who were still on the ship. "It's just another battle with Sephiroth, nothing to worry about."
Cid shook his head. "You've forgotten, haven't you?"
"Forgotten what?" Cloud asked.
"You've forgotten about the last battle with Sephiroth. It almost killed us."
Cloud thought back, and remembered.
"Good point. But, we have the element of suprise this time. Now, are we going to move, or not?" he asked the group.
Just then, the ground on Crater shook. A bright flash filled the sky, as if the sun had gone supernova. Cloud looked up after the initial blast.
What lied there was more horrible than he could've imagined.
What lied there, he had tried to destroy.
What lied there, was more powerful than before.
Sephiroth still had the Black Materia...
Meteor had returned.
Down, through the twists and turns, sat Sephiroth, standing above the Planet's core, the main source of the Lifestream. Where he had once been defeated before... all becuase of the damn slowness of Meteor. He had been patient before... but that had disappeared.
A trickle of green lights traveled a short distance into the Black Materia.
"Yes... give evil more power..."
The Black Materia grew blacker.
"Oh, perfect!" Barret cried. "First, Sephiroth, and now, dis? What's next, fire and ice?"
"Calm down, Barret," Cloud scolded. "We can still get there in time." he reassured... but in his mind, only two words could come to mind:
The crew started off towards the Crater's opening.
And, quietly, Tifa snuck off the ship.
(Author's Note: Not much goes on while the group heads to Sephiroth... except the Meteor moves closer, and has but a matter of minutes to reach the Planet.)
This was where the core of the Planet had been... a lone platform, most likely meant for Sephiroth, floated eerily in the center of it. Cloud scratched his head for a moment before addressing the group.
"This is it, people... this is the battle to once again, keep the Planet alive. We have a shorter time span, however, so we have to strike quick and hard. The more time we dilly-dally in the fight, the less the chance. Meteor is moving faster than ever before."
A voice, not too far off, and familiar, rang out.
Cloud turned to the general direction where the voice had come from, and broke into a run. Could it be? Could it? He recognized the voice immediately... but was Sephiroth fooling with his mind? Was he? Or was it real?
"AERIS!!" he cried, as her face lit up with joy. He slid to his knees and banged up against her make-shift cell.
"Sephiroth, Cloud... you may owe him a debt this time... and maybe I might, too."
"I can't believe it. You're alive."
"I'm still having trouble believing it myself."
Cloud stood up and backed away. "I'm getting you out of there. Hold on."
Cloud pulled the Ultima Weapon, shining, and whipped it's edge against the rocks... one by one, they crumbled away. Aeris crawled out, and locked her arms around Cloud.
"Two souls, Cloud... one destiny."
Behind them, rocks crumbled, snapped, and covered the exitway.
"Sorry to ruin your fun," an evil voice cackled.
"Sephiroth!" Cloud exclaimed.
"So, I see you two are spending your last few quality moments on the Planet together... like many of the other traitors most likely are." he said, as he pulled the Masamune from it's sheath on his belt.
"You touch her, and you die..." Cloud warned.
"Oh, I won't kill her...not until she sees you die, failure."
Both men raised their respective swords at the same time. Sephiroth took the first strike, a lighter blow followed by a swipe, blocked both times.
"Face it, failure... you were never truly a success... it was luck that yoy defeated me... for I am the One-Winged Angel. I am the force that will bring the Cetra back." Sephiroth taunted.
A blow, a parry.
"What happened to your bodygaurd?" Cloud asked, as his sword hit with a loud clang.
"Oh, you mean Safer Sephiroth? I took him back into my being... I needed to be whole again."
Cloud and Sephiroth danced throughout this branch of the cave.
"You will not ever see the light of day again, failure," Sephiroth continued. He took another swipe, barely side-stepped by Cloud. The two were equals... not once did it look to be an advantage on either side.
:You're wrong, Sephiroth."
The battle continued with parries, blocks, and swipes.
Reeve stood in his office, looking up at the Meteor.
"Dammit..." he cursed. The door to his office creaked open... he spun around, only to see a blue beast, not unlike Nanaki, pounce at him before his eyes were ripped from his skull.
"Tsk tsk tsk, Reeve. You thought you were the next in line to control the Corporation..." Hojo scolded. "Unfortunately, you forgot about little 'ol me... girls?" he called back. Marle and Lucca, their clothes ripped and torn in several places, were pushed into the room.
Hojo laughed. Laughed hard.
"Yes... yes..." Toron repeatedly said. As he looked out a viewport of the Black Omen, he saw his plan coming to fruitation.
A gigantic Black Gate had formed over the world, throwing debris and other things onto the lands. A smile crossed his face.
A matter of time, just a matter of time.
"Die, failure!" Sephiroth cried out as he let loose another swing of his blade, making a hard and vain attempt to slice off Cloud's ankles. Cloud hopped up, dodging the swing. Using unparalleled speed, Cloud swung the sword and made a fantastic front flip, missing Sephiroth's shoulder by bare millimeters. Sephiroth took no notice.
"Strife... you know you are a failure. Admit it... and allow me to end your misery."
"Sephiroth... in your eyes, I may be a failure... but, in everyone else's eyes... I am a success. And it will be just a matter of time before you realize that. Being a failure in one's eyes means nothing... when you give up, you're a failure. And I don't give up." Cloud finished.
"Fool." Sephiroth uttered, lodging the Masamune into Cloud's side. Cloud, amazingly, did not cry out, did not flinch, but stood steadfast, his eyes locked on the now green eyes.
"You are envious of me... are you not?" Cloud said, no sign of pain appearing in his voice.
"Why... why would I... why would I be envious of a traitor?" Sephiroth asked, suddenly taken into disbelief.
"You don't have what I had..." Cloud said as he looked back towards his friends, his eyes most entent on Aeris.
"I DON'T NEED LOVE, FAILURE!" Sephiroth cried out as he pulled the Masamune away, the blade running from Cloud's body. Cloud, now bleeding, collapsed to the ground, blood spreading and his breathing becoming lighter.
"Cloud!" a woman's voice cried from high above. Looknig towards the voice, Sephiroth saw Tifa, tears running down her eyes. "Sephiroth, you killed everyone I held dear... you're not taking Cloud."
Tifa jumped from the cliff she had been standing on, her eyes intent, her body set, energy flowing through her.
In a flick of Sephiroth's wrist, all that, plus her life, dissapated. Sephiroth, using his reflexes, had just pointed the edge of the blade towards Tifa, pushing the sword into her body. Sephiroth turned and let her body slide off, a sound most sickening resonating through the cave, and putting her body next to Cloud's.
"Spend your last few seconds on the Planet together... You'll never see the light of - AGGGHHH!!!" Sephiroth was interrupted by a samuri sword running through his body. Crono had managed to sneak up behind Sephiroth.
"We may be disappearing, but you're going with us."
"Foolish child... did you not forget, that I am more powerful than - YAGHH!" he cried out as a second blade stuck through him. Cloud had managed to drag himself across the ground, also, and had stuck the blade also through Sephiroth's body.
"What... what is... happening?" Sephiroth asked. "Mother? Forgive me, Mother..."
And Sephiroth fell limp.
Sephiroth was finally dead.
Behind them, the rocks crumbled.
"Need any help?" a battle-ready Barrett asked.
"No... Barrett, I don't think we need -"
"LOOK!" Yuffie yelled, pointing to the surface.
Tearing through the Planet, was Meteor.
"How can that be? Wouldn't it cause an earth-shattering explosion when it hit?" asked Nanaki.
Cloud didn't answer that question...
Wait, he thought. Looking down at his feet, he saw a jade-green, clear substance fill the bottom of the chamber.
The room was filling up with it. And rather quickly, too. The rest of the group started heading for higher ground.
"Wait!" Cloud ordered. "Stay here. I have a feeling... get in." The group followed orders, and the room contnued filling.
The lifestream was at waist-level now, and Tifa's body laid at the bottom of it... her chocolate-brown eyes never to see anything again.
"Tifa..." Cloud said, diving under and hugging her body tight. Meteor was almost there. It was the moment of truth... or the moment of cowardice. Thousands had already died thanks to one selfish act... would anymore be taken?
Meteor hit... and the Lifesream glowed. It shimmered. And, when Meteor finally passed, not one soul remained...
To Be Continued...
Thoughts, Thanks, and Other Stuff