Pathways Of Foreboding Chapter 24
By Paul Nathans
Sol faced the Pureland Water Entity.
One-eighth of its bottom section was enshrouded in mists, the rest of the Molbor-Like Fish leering at him and ready to strike. Behind the half-Cetra, held-up by protective Magics, were Arthur, Curtis, Gloria, and Sharon. The thing was so much larger than it, yet it faced the thing unflinchingly.
Torrents of water still poured from its mouth as it opened it to mock them, mock him. "Do what you will, but you can't slay a God!"
"Immortal though you may be, I've had more than enough time to prepare for this! If I could merge Xagor's Life-Essence with mine for even the fraction of a second, I can take you down!"
"How!?" The thing snarled. "As I recall, your race couldn't even take-down Ashura when necessary! It took the Lifestream to do that, since it had to latch-onto something! Only then could the Cetras fix the damage there, and unravel the 'Net-Lifestream!' Your task is greater, your aids are less!"
"You are not of this Universe, while I am! And I am not just a Cetra!" The black-haired man extended one hand. The thing scowled and gathered energies for a Flare Star, one strong-enough to wipe Sol from this very existence.
In seconds, it was over. Before the blast of energies could even singe his beard, the white-robed Cetra whipped-out his right hand. Yellowish-white energies built-up into a huge discus and folded-in on the enormous fish-like creature, at the same time inversing and blasting-outwards in white-and-purple-light.
When the light vanished, its adversary had been vaporized.
The Pureland Water Entity was gone.
Approximately 784 Years Later
T-Minus 45 Minutes
His hand chopped into the center of the thing, cutting a wide swath of burning energies through the globe/orb that was the Dark Star.
More and more tentacles of energy came-out, attempting to crush the being against the thing. Ralyon muttered to itself and warped-away. The thing transformed into its natural form, connecting sections of stars into a shimmering blade, its left arm the actual blade, and swung.
Ralyon copied that tactic by forming a mace with its right hand and smashing through the stars, adding greenish-white energies to the thing and shattering the hand. The ripples soared towards the planets, and were hastily blocked by itself, the ones missed grabbed by the Universe and removed.
'You dare to cause me pain!' The Dark Star boomed.
'I want you gone, or serving me!' Ralyon replied.
'That I will never do!' The 'God' shouted back.
'Then consider yourself victim!'
'We shall see.'
Ralyon didn't give him the chance to see, just teleported behind the thing and sent it spinning far-above the system. It could sense its Master in trouble, probably preventing the Zodiac Constellations from exploding while doing what was necessary. Large currents of starry energy shot-out and into the gaping orange-and-blue sockets that was its mouth, eyes, and nostrils. The Dark Star howled-again and formed a whirling plane of energies that started to expand.
Ralyon nullified the thing. 'No Quasar Blasts permitted, my friend.'
That was its mistake. It had to concentrate so much energy into nullifying the more-serious attacks that it couldn't retaliate with any that could damage the thing. Sure, it could evaporate the whole galaxy and bring it together on the thing, but that would do nothing but stop their plans and remove enough matter from the Universe to cause it to begin imploding in the next year or so.
It was only a matter of time before something got through.
That something did, a spear consisting entirely of Black Holes. Ralyon screamed as they began to tear its body apart and quickly formed a nullifier triangle. A large portal was then formed behind it, which it slipped into. Instead of slipping-out behind or to the sides of the Dark Star, above or beneath it, or even in the same place, it rocketed-out from all sections at once, enclosing the thing within its own body and slowly pumping the powers that gave it existence out of it.
'To prevent things like you and the Yggdrasil from viewing the Universe as their own private playthings, and to stop all this madness!'
The Dark Star teleported out, only to be entrapped within a glowing green triangle with golden pinpoints that began to swirl around it and form into a pyramid.
That had worked easily-enough, the life essence of the thing would finish draining into where it needed to go soon-enough. Ralyon would then place the energies it had absorbed where necessary, and the Criyorti would be complete.
Still, it stayed to watch, while keeping one corner of its mind on the Craxyold/Whorlex. That would still need to be dealt with, and it had an upcoming debate with a bunch of mortals. They'd proven their cause just, and provided they survived, it would speak with them.
But it couldn't count the Dark Star out yet.
"This is not the way!"
He turned just as a shimmering green lady ripped-out of the Spirit Plane in front of the being.
The 'Lifestream Goddess,' come to save her 'protectorate.'
'I'm not wasting my time arguing with you.'
The 'Goddess' spun and waved her hand. Thousands upon thousands of creatures appeared and rocketed towards the multicolored cloud of gas and dust that was the remains of the Craxyold/Whorlex. Well, at least what could be seen of it, the Whorlex still existed, most-likely.
The 'female' finished passing-on her instructions to the 'Hosts' and turned to Ralyon just as it threw what would be an incapacitating punch. It waved its hands, and the triangle around the Dark Star disappeared.
"If it can learn, you can, too! My 'brother' has already learned what it needs to, even though he does not know it yet. You, on the other hand..."
Things were becoming complicated again.
The flower seemed to hover in front of him, silhouetted starkly against the ever-shifting colors and the blackness that lay beyond like some last dim ray of hope.
Their faces were shown to his eyes again, yet he couldn't tell whether they were smiling. He tried to gaze even-deeper...
...and his vision shattered, replaced by one of utter blackness.
The colors swirled about what could only be the Whorlex. He was aware each of his friends were there, and again he knew not.
No, did know.
Aeris. It had to be.
She was still out there...she'd saved them, somehow. She'd saved them all in the end, and still would.
The white flashed before his eyes.
The darkness and the light intermingled and mixed into a figure that was truly out of a nightmare. Expressions of awe and surprise crossed each of their faces, save those of Ramza, Nanaki, and Ruass.
The thing was there in the center of the space. Orange-and-white-and-bronze, the wiry thing that could only be a WEAPON hovered there in front of them, grotesque in shape, in a crouching position...a mantis waiting to strike.
Its left arm was a mass of white tubes ending in a sharp claw. A much-longer, orange arm extended outwards like Yuffie's armguard, yet it could dangle down almost like a second foot. The other arm had a similar arm-guard, yet it wasn't exactly symmetrical, its edges were more like sharp wires in many places than the left 'second arm.' The real right arm was a wiry mesh of white and orange, while its right leg and foot was a white mesh, the left leg and foot an orange mesh. The main body of the thing was another mesh of orange-and-white tubes, bronze tubes attached to the sides. They went down the side of the body and down in pyramidal fashion to the bottom of the feet, then curved backwards on both sides, 'second' crouched legs. An orange-and-white tail as thick as the legs, arms, and 'second arms' extended backwards to end just behind the crouching golden 'second legs' folded together now to give the impression the thing was kneeling. Two large tentacles arced-out from the top of the head, the right one orange, the left one right. The bronze side-tubes arced-up along the neck to enmesh with the chin and cheeks of a lower head, also orange-and white, positioned just below the upper head, the lower one barely humanoid. The upper head was somewhat demonic in shape, orange-and-white, too, without and traces of bronze. The meshes ended just above the head with the splitting, singular, 'antennas,' the single tubes. A strange curvature-like mesh seemed to fold back behind the main body, just-above the tail, forming a second orange-and-white tail, a thicker one, just above the lower tail.
"Welcome to the Whorlex, my tiny little pawns."
A lithe, catlike figure shimmered into view, a good twenty times their size, not even close to the size of the huge WEAPON, which was easily as large as a Planet, which meant they were hovering some distance from it. The female figure was much closer, yet in front of the midsection of the WEAPON. Feathery wings extended from her back, somewhat bat-like, while a pinkish-orange fire enmeshed her humanoid body. Her eyes were burning embers, actually greenish, but with orange-and-blue flames burning behind their irises.
Its presence was definately equal to that of the Yggdrasil, far above that of Altima, and at least thousands of times stronger than what had proved to be a weakended Lucavi and a weakended Ensconce.
Behind it and to the side hovered a familiar creature, the thing Cloud and Nanaki had encountered at the bottom of the shaft below the Makoro Reactor in Gongaga.
"I am Aisha."
Ramza was instantly struck at how familiar, yet enhanced, this presence was. He couldn't put a finger on it, but knew this was someone he'd battled and defeated before. The only question was: When?
"You must be tired," she spoke softly. "Allow me to give you sleep."
"The heck you will!" Barret shouted. "You're one of those freaks that created Jenova, ain't ya'!? If so, I got sumthin' I wanna' say to ya'!!!!!"
She laughed, doubling-over and clutching her chest as she shook with the strain of what was purely-insane laughter. Laughter that was sickeningly familiar to Ramza as he realized just where he'd seen this figure before.
"Been a long time," he spoke. "Lede."
She swiveled her gaze to meet him, pale-gold hair flying behind her in a storm-like fury. She fixed her gaze on him, focusing all of the power that she emanated on him, and, as when he'd faced the Yggdrasil, he felt as if he wanted to curl-up and cower in a corner, whimpering.
She finally finished scrutinizing him. "Ramza Beoulve," she spoke, straightening. "My, you're perceptive as always." She hissed in anger. "I don't suppose that blonde-haired twit of a Temple Knight is with you, so I can pay him back for depriving me of my fun as an Ultima Demon Assassin! Its not often I get out much!"
"Where is your sister!?" He challenged.
'Lede' shrugged casually. "She paid the price of thinking I'd lost it, she's ashes on the wind, scattered throught the depths of every abyss and the darkest corner of burning embers and prisms."
"You are insane, ya' know that!!" Barret shook his fist. "You and your stupid Black Materia and Jenova's done I dunno' how much damage, then you have the right to lead us on another crazy chase around the Planet, throwing-us around the planet like those embers you described, torturing us, even slaying one of us, and now you're got the audacity ta' speak like this ta' us!!"
She shrugged again, grinning for a moment. "Hey, so the Jenova Cells helped produce my little pet over here." She patted-it lightly on the head and recieved a warning growl back. "It would've formed anyways, you just wouldn't have had to deal with it poisoning the Lifestream. Heck, and if you look at it all, you've been yanked-around just as much when you entered Elslumina. Thrown onto a space station, now floating like marionettes dangling on a rack thanks to some pathetic Cetra Object saving your life!"
"Oh, yeah!" Barret snapped back. "If you hadn'ta' done what you'd done we might not've had any freakin' WEAPONS to deal with. If Vince' was still here he might've been able to snipe Sliyonog from a distance and Tifa and Yuffie'd still be around! And maybe Cid..." He hung his head as he realized that Cid's fate had absolutely nothing to do with her, regardless of how far-fetched it was that if there was no Jenova, they'd still have been in this situation with Aeris, and she could've stopped the Sky Fortress.
"Like you thought, gun-boy!" She giggled with immature, girlish amusement, yet keyed it so it was a mockery of Aeris' tones. She smiled as the majority of those who were with Cloud winced.
She moved into a sitting position, then into a position where she was lying on her side, head cupped in her hands. "We had no choice then, although now I don't give a heck! 'Daddy' won't slay me, I'd take 'him' down first! He can give me the pain he wants, now I just want to destroy! I first discovered the pleasure of torturing when I ripped Tifa apart for statistics on how to build WEAPONS."
"That was you!" Cloud drew his Materia Blade, and watched as it melted, along with half of his mouth and his legs. He tried to scream, but it came-out in a mangled tone of voice. Ramza winced, then clenched his teeth as his body was bent in impossible positions, his bones crushed and snapped with no more than a few words. The absolute worst type of pain he'd yet experienced shot through him in every way.
"Ramza!" His sister shouted.
"I'll slay you and revive you thousands of times before I'm done with you! We've got eternity, so maybe I'll do it much more! I've always wanted a toy!"
"Then we'll all perish together!" He gasped-out. "You won't survive the coming apocalypse either, Lede!"
She yawned. "You're just trying to scare me! Whatever this danger is, its probably the thing that's going to slay 'daddy-dearest!' I hope they annihilate each other!" She burst-out laughing again.
If Ramza could've moved a muscle, he would've recoiled involuntarily. This was the type of madness Ralyon and its Master, and any others aligned with them, if they existed, were trying to prevent. They were trying to, too.
And then met-up with what proved justification for their way.
At least she won't be around anymore.
He shoved that thought away as soon as it came. Despite how completely unfeeling this thing was, and the fact that it seemed to have become the impersonation of every type of evil alive, it still didn't deserve to be replaced. For once, he'd just seen something that was better-off not living, but she shouldn't perish like that.
"Oh, listen, sister!" She cackled. "The Universe is out to get us! Ooohhh, I'm quivering in my sleep!"
"Hey!!" Barret shouted. "If you're tryin' to torture us by talkin', it ain't workin'!" He grinned and sprang-forwards.
However, Aisha had apparently not forgotten they weren't binded anywhere, and quickly ripped him into nothingness, leaving his head floating in air. She forced him to remain alive until she'd finished binding him, then left him that way.
"I'm...not...screaming!" He spat.
Part of his face, from his left cheek to his jawbone, crumbled-off.
Rafa collapsed to the ground, weak-kneed.
Aisha twisted her head around, leaving her neck twisted, forcing her to look.
"And since escape from my Spells will mean perishing when I'm done with you, that gives me all the more incentive not to put you out of your misery!"
The flower brightened, and the green energies of the Lifestream shot-out and restored each of them to normal. Barret collapsed to the ground, shuddering as he tried to get ahold of himself.
"That's quite enough!" A Bahamut-like dragon with thirteen heads was hovering there. "You definately have lost it! As if the Yggdrasil hadn't manipulated you enough!"
"You lying son of a worm!" She screeched, frying him with a burst of white energies, watching as he crumpled to the ground in ashes. She continued to launch streak after streak of white energy at those ashes, vaporizing them completey. "You freak spirit won't survive now, you don't deserve to be tortured for saying I could be manipulated!"
"Its true!" Alma shouted, a sudden pity flaring in her eyes. Ramza was sickeningly reminded that this was what Delita could've become, might still become if they didn't get home. If he was some insane creature right now...he couldn't slay this pitiful thing, yet she didn't deserve living like this. If she had been an innocent being, whatever part of her was still sane would've wanted her suffering to cease.
"Why you little-" Aisha launched into a long string of the most-nasty and derogatory phrases that could be applied to any female, a ton of them being words that none of them had ever heard. When she was done, she lunged at her.
The rose's stem extended to a staff, slashing into her face and glowing with pure energy. "That's enough!" Someone shouted behind them. "Not quite enough, but as far as you're going to go!"
"Oh, yeah!" She sneered. The others turned to behold a multitude of glowing figures standing in the sole opening ofhe misty, swirling colors of what had been the outer Whorlex, the Craxyold. The dust thinned there, spreading-outwards and hovering all-about the inner 'black sphere.' And the stars on that side of the Whorlex were clearly-viewable. "My Infinity Weapon is quite active!" She waved her hand, and its eyes slid-open. It noticed the occupants of the room and grinned maliciously...
...One of the figures, an octopus-like thing with nine heads, darted forwards and let-out a blast of energy at the thing. It simply roared and got to its feet, swinging one arm and throwing the thing to the side. Its upper-head swiveled, and a blast of yellowish energies emerged, completely melting the thing.
"That's a Spirit Flower!" A voice called. "I don't know why you got it or who you got it from, but that's what saved you from the explosion and is keeping you alive in this atmosphere! It's a stretch of flat terrain, use it to get out of here while you still can!"
Already, the things were swarming around Aisha, who was rapidly growing larger, the WEAPON, and the beast, which had heretofore done nothing, like flies. Aisha was batting at the thing angrily, while the WEAPON was clapping at the thing and swatting at them. The creature seemed to be getting very annoyed.
Aisha stopped expanding, probably having reached her full size, half the size of the WEAPON. "You're all going to perish now, you little maggots!" She shrieked, picking-up a group of them and crushing them to dust in her fingers.
"Go!" the same figure shouted. Behind them was a wide open view of space, around half that side of the Craxyold/Whorlex they were probably in.
More than enough room to escape.
Surprisingly, it was Cloud who stated it first.
"We can't leave them," he spoke matter-of-factly, drawing a semi-surprised glance from Barret. "We can't take Aisha and I'm not risking anymore of us on soemthing the odds are against us on, that nameless beast over there, but I'm willing to bet that WEAPON is just a gargantuan cyborg. We can take that!"
"Something as big as a Planet!" Barret scoffed. "I doubt even channeled Limit Breaks are gonna' reach that far...unless..." He spun to one of the spirit beings, a humanoid with its torso expanding-outwards into a blue dragon. "Take us up to the heads of that freak WEAPON!!!!!"
"Just do it!!" Barret snarled.
The thing sighed. "Hop aboard," it said.
The Dark Star was, for the first time in its ageless life, confused.
Understood? What had it understood?
Its 'Lifestream/Goddess' had wanted it to understand what caring was, but it had experienced nothing of the sort.
'Have you?' Her soft voice penetrated his ear. Her blasts of green light were momentarily distracting Ralyon. 'What did you feel when this figure,' she gestured at the giant 'Angel-Figure' ,'this Ralyon, attacked your daughters?'
'Anger,' it responded. 'They're mine to do with as I please.'
She shook her head, smiling again, lightly. 'But then why did you come here?'
'Someone damaged something that was mine, they had no right.'
'Yet you weren't feeling anger. What did you feel?'
'I-' It hit him at last. 'Worry. And I was angered at what this thing did to the Craxyold/Whorlex because I didn't want anyone there to be hurt.'
She had been right, so long ago, when she'd said that if he simply understood emotions, the rest of the pathways of life would open to him. For so long they had been hidden, but now all else that was needed to know had finally been revealed. His mind was open, and he understood.
The pain, the tears, the destruction.
'You were right, sister,' he spoke, a smile at last coming to his face. 'I'm sorry it took so long.'
Ralyon had stopped its fighting by now, and was gazing at them with an expression of wonder and intense though on its face. 'If beings like this can learn to care...then maybe...just maybe...'
The 'Goddess' smiled.
A scream came from the Whorlex.
'Aisha!!!!!' Three voices cried at once.
Upon swooping-in towards the awesome WEAPON, it quickly became evident that the thing was definately not the size of a Planet. Gross, colossal, somewhere along a third the size of Meteor, obviously-higher as it was standing, but not even close to as large as a Planet.
The Craxyold must've been the black sphere that was reflected clearly in the light, and its brightness must've been so great and profound it carried with it all details of the enormous thing.
Gazing out the viewports of the Sky Fortress, it hadn't looked so large to Nanaki, just the size of a small Moon. And with the outer 'shell,' the Craxyold, gone, the Whorlex proved not to be so large at all. Just slightly larger than Meteor had been.
A huge beam of what looked like Mega-Breath tore through another group of the glowing 'fireflies.' Aisha spun and enclosed her wings into a protective ball. A pulsating sphere of pure white energy grew in there, then let-loose in a corona of utter devastational powers, ovals of incandescent destruction smashing in all ways possible out at her opponents, literally reduing the ranks of their attackers by half.
Yet they were past her, for now, had evaded the thing, and were safe.
Pure Lifestream Energy seemed to materialize in midair and shoot towards her, darting-away from smaller blasts. Someone had performed something like a Summom, gathering-in symbols of power, and three familiar dragons made their entrances. First came Bahamut, swooping-in before the 'woman.' Then Bahamut-Neo materialized behind it. Finally, half the size of the WEAPON that they were headed towards, Bahamut-ZERO appeared above her. Two other dragons joined them, one to her left, one to her right, one gold, one both ebony and white, slender like the gargoyles in the North Crater, yet with a wingspan of Bahamut-Neo. The only difference between each being the clubbed, spiked tail of the golden one.
As she launched a series of futile blasts against the energy that enclosed her, it became visible, lines of orange-and-blue energy launching from dragon to dragon, enfolding her in a pyramid. It spun around-her and condensed, detonating with a blast that was probably strong-enough to shatter worlds.
She appeared singed, and annoyed.
Thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions or billions of turrets opened in the wiring of the WEAPON, and a host of pure white beams shot-out, dancing in a group of human-size, destructive columns, thin laserbeams that tore through the air. The things attacking-it suddenly shot away, including the one they owned. Barret hissed and fired a Catastrophe straight through the lasers.
That seemed to gain the thing's attention, proving it was indeed something they could harm, if maybe only bang against. It gazed at them like flies, and swung both of its 'second arms' at them. When it became obvious that they could dive-away fast-enough, energies crackled from each and expanded in spider-like lines to catch them and vaporize them.
A large bauble of glowing light appeared amidst them while they could swoop free of danger. The dragon-thing was 'panting' now.
"I still think you humans should go!" It gasped. "You can be slain, we've already passed away at least once, reduced to not even existing is nothing to us!" Before anyone could ask the inevitable, it added ,"And we are all quite solid."
"Who the heck are you, anyways!?" Barret shouted. "You seem to be allies, but what are you!?"
"I am a simple Draglex, Gender Reluthe, or Gene-Splicer."
"Huh?" Ruass asked. Nanaki shot him a firm glance, telling him this was not the time to ask about particular genders of species, but the Draglex answered anyways.
"We of the Draglex reproduce with forty-two thousand. When it is time for our species to give new life, we each exchange specific tasks with all around us, each forty-two thuosands genders doing as necessary until new life begins. It is our way, and our raks, for we deem life the most-sacred of all things."
"Complex," Ruass nodded.
The thing tucked and rolled as a series of orbs began to get sprayed-about the room, courtesy of the strange thing.
"Some beings can only reproduce during specific seasons, and then every time the climate is suited for them, usually thousands of years in between, a specific system out of hundreds."
"What's your name?" Nanaki asked dryly.
The thing darted upwards, avoided an enormous comet coming from Infinity Weapon's 'lower head,' shaped like the comet breath of a Bahamut, and answered. "We deem names unneccessary. We are not like 26% of the different types of the trillions of beings in both Universes. The other 74% sees names unnecessary. Some do not even term anything, and will not allow others to do so to them."
So many types of living organisms...
Nanaki gritted his teeth in anger. One thing was going to eradicate them because of the widespread destruction, slaying thousands of innocents.
"Can you activate one of those things that allowed us to move?" Alma asked. "We're staying, but you need not risk your life."
"Whoever cast that Spell would have to be made contact with. Esen-Brenia's work, I believe, and she is not reachable.
"But I thought Aeris-" Cloud began.
"Aeris Gainsborough/Gast. Planet-Healer, in human tongue. Esen-Brenia in the Universal Tongue."
Seto's son could see how the 'Ex-SOLDIER's' shoulders tensed, could hear the faint hiss of escaping breath. He, too, hoped she was amongst the living.
A series of Breaks from Barret separated a cord from the Infinity Weapon's left leg, draining his Quadra Magic-Contain Materia Combo Completely. Alma handed-him one of her Megalixirs, and he activated it.
"Yo', Mister, um, I meam, Reuthle Draglex, take us in now!"
"I am quite aware of the fact that is necessary!" It responded just as dryly.
They had to flip backwards, and as they did so, Red XIII noticed a series of Bahamuts smashing into the furry 'thing.'
"Those things don't like like the larger Bahamuts in the Quinta-Bahamut," the red-furred beast remaked. "They look real."
"They are real," the Draglex answered, performing a series of tight maneuvers that almost caused Rafa to lose her grip and fall. Alma was there for her, yanking-her back into her position quite-firmly. "Where do you think 'Summoned' Creatures originated from?"
That one stunned even Ruass into silence. Alma recovered first, though. "But-but, if that's true, their summoning..."
"They are real. Large of their species, definately not their best, but real. What you saw, besides the ones that have drifted close to this Planet in the Lifestream, were a Bahamut-Corona and a Bahamut-COSMOS, the golden one and the ebony-and-white one, respectively."
Another series of Breaks took-off another limb. The Infinity Weapon brushed-aside a large group of attacking beings and focused its whole lower head on them.
The thing muttered something in a tone that was clearly not human, some vocals barely-heard, others not heard at all, beyond the reach of their hearing, yet were there because the thing's mouth moved while it obviously wasn't just mouthing. A blue-white Titan appeared, uppercutting the head.
The being switched-back into Human Vocals. "Titan-Holy." The thing spoke, whirring-upwards and opening its mouth. Small white sparks whizzed-out, exploding furiously upon contact with the thing's chest.
"And the Espers?" Cait Sith asked.
"Merely a division of the beings that vary and seem the same as many types of, as you are fond of calling them, 'Kingdoms,' but truly belong to one. Save the Crusaders, which are Esper-Like but definately not Espers."
A series of large, Odin-Like things charged the upper head of the WEAPON, and as several of them were slashed-apart by the constant blasts of lasers, it was clear that their lower bodies melded to their 'horses.' Another group of beings were hit by a series of projectiles coming from the thing's chest, but merely reappeared, not wiped from existence.
"What are you!?" Ramza shouted. "Why are you doing this!?"
The thing winged its way into a calm spot while Barret, his Materia rejuvenated yet-again, blasted its lower nose with Breaks. This time it seemed to become very irate, as the head engulfed them in the intricate patterns of crackling energies. They were so large that the Draglex could whip through most of them, but none escaped unscathed.
Cloud cast Shield repetitively, and was handed a Megalixir from someone else.
These were going to be running-out if this tactic kept-up.
"We serve the 'Lifestream Goddess' that was cast-away from what is now the Dark Star! A collection of beings from trillions of worlds, working-together to prevent the destruction caused by beings like it, and, if it becomes too-widespread, the humans!"
"Huh!?" Meliadoul gave a startled gasp.
The thing continued to blast through the raybeams that came at it.
"You humans, as insulting as it may seem, are the only warlike species, save the Pureland Entities, which are now extinct, in both Universes!"
So it was us!? *We're* the reason this is happening!!??
Cloud was already too-drained to care, all that kept him from shattering completely was that image of a single bright flower and Aeris' smiling face.
"Which means that-!?" Ramza let-out a long breath. "And yet we're all condemned."
"This is no condemnation," the Dragelx spoke.
"Tell that to the life-essence of the Universe," Meliadoul responded.
The Dragelx faltered, and only another hastily-erected bubble saved them from vaporization by the upper head's 'Comet Breath.' Still, they were thrown back nearly the whole distance they'd gone.
Nanaki shook his head. "No it isn't. We're all doomed; both Universes. And because of the actions of the humans...but we know not all of humanity is evil!"
"We'll deal with that later!" Cloud snapped, having recovered from the blow. "Who's got something that will pack a serious punch in that thing!"
The Dragelx muttered again, causing their ears to ring even though most of its 'speech' was not heard. The 'Flower-Rod' appeared before them, each petal unfolding, hundreds of miniscule Materia Slots suddenly becoming visible between each.
The thing muttered again and a bright light lanced-out from each of their orbs, birthing another, smaller one in the tiny slots, a replica of the other. "Try an Amalgam Ray with all types of Materia save a Final Attack, which won't make a difference anyways."
"Then take us up!" Cloud commanded, handing the staff to Alma. "Just reach-out with your mind and will the Materia to perform an Amalgam Ray while I Omnislash the lower head! Fire between both and that should end this thing!" The Cleric nodded. "On my mark! Umm...uhh..." Strife pointed at the Dragelx, who could see him out of its humanoid eyes. "Take us up again, and move it!"
It nodded too, and swooped-up. "I hope you know what you're doing," the Reuthle commented as the thing began to once-more blast at them intensely, a result of them drawing closer.
Although he didn't know whether this would work himself, and prayed that he wasn't dooming them all.
"Aisha's starting to form another Quasar Globe!" One of them called, projecting its thoughts into all their minds.
"Evacuate the area!" Another shouted mentally.
"We'd better make sure we can evade!" The Draglex cried.
The living beings had also heard this, but Barret shook his head vehemently, positioned just behind Cloud, in front of the humanoid portion of the Draglex. Cloud stood almost on its head, while Alma stood slightly behind him.
"This may be our only chance! Keep movin', foo'!"
"No need to be so rude!" With one final burst of speed, the Draglex was there.
"Now!" Cloud shouted, raising his Materia Blade and launching into an Omnislash, using the sheer power of the thing, once-again, to propel him vast distances, right above the 'lower head' to where the blasts would chop into the 'skull' and neck. Behind him, the Draglex whipped-away, making sure to remain horizontal as Alma was standing. The first Amalgam Ray was released beneath him, shooting with a soundwave of incredible energy towards the lower head, where it would weaken the 'lower-upper-neck' enough to be chopped through, as he didn't think they could perform three without draining all the Materia, nevermind they might not have time. The second was released seconds later, shooting towards the upper head...
..."*ENOUGH OF THIS!!!!!*"
Just as it seemed that they would yet survive this dark hour, as it seemed yet-again that at least some of those who had come, willingly or unwillingly, to this place of hatred and fear, would survive the ferocious battle taking-place within, they were halted. All their efforts were suddenly put in vain as cords of white energy crackled-up and entangled them in a stranglehold, yanking them back from where they were to be held in the air in a glowing latticework of the same pure energy.
Aisha released those cords, letting-them snap-in on her opponents, binding them where they were, and with a wave of her left hand, had healed all the wounds the Infinity Weapon had sustained. The nameless creature that had also been fighting against the 'Spirit Beings' was also cured of all injuries, and turned a baleful gaze to them, eyes smouldering with rage.
Aisha sighed half-dismissingly and caped her wings. "This type of playtime is too expensive, so its into the trash for all of you." She widened them again into the ball-like form she had used to cast the Quasar Globe, wingtips barely touching.
She cracked a smile.
Ralyon wasted no time.
The scream had been a surprise to all of them, a cry of pain and shock. The 'Hosts' had probably managed to injure the female Entity, resulting in incredulous surprise.
The black-and-white currents shot from its hands, searing its way into the Dark Star even as it spun towards the Whorlex and prepared to reach-out towards it. This particular attack didn't simply 'electrocute' the immense being. It ripped its way into the life essence of the thing and completely sucked it away before he even had a chance to react, after which it dissipated into the Universe, leaving a drifting, lifeless figure.
The 'Goddess' spun.
"Why did you-!?"
'My Master has need of these,' Ralyon answered, before teleporting the 'God' away, to where its Master would position the body along the currents of Spirit Energy.
"Your Master!!??" The 'thing's eyebrows shot-up.
Ralyon simply stared in half-amusement at the wide-eyed Goddess. 'All this time and you still didn't know the truth.' The 'Starry Angel' half-bowed. 'My apologies, my lady, but he is needed elsewhere for now. Whether he survives is for my Master to decide, not me.'
For indeed, that was true. The Dark Star was still alive...in a way.
"What do you want!?" The 'presence' was struggling to conceal its astonishment and something that seemed to be sadness, but not, and yet more-profound, or so it seemed.
'That, my lady, you have no right to know. Begone!'
It waved its 'hands.'
The thing that was supposed to be a Goddess responded with placing-up a shield of blue-green energy, deflecting the invisible force that should've started the thing on a trip across all of space. Ralyon quickly removed the energies and faded into what looked to be a portal. It was opened on the other side, and a claw came-out, catching the 'female' in the jaw.
Her shield dissipated as she momentarily lost concentration, but a moment was all Ralyon needed. He formed the 'Magical' equivalent of a 'Mako Vacuum,' only one much-stronger than that the Makoro Reactors on Artesta used. She struggled, but as she was composed of Spirit Energy, wisps of her form were dragged-into the vacuum almost-immediately, and by the time an incredible discharge of imprisoning energies had taken-place in the Whorlex, the rest of her, helpless to do anything, had vanished with only a single cry, at the end, able to escape its lips.
Now to finish its job.
"This has gone on long-enough, don't you think?"
Aisha didn't even wait for an answer, her energies continuing to gather together.
She simply smirked. "An interesting experience, and a valiant effort on your parts, but futile nonetheless.
Just keep talking, you wretch! Cloud growled inwardly. Keep-on mocking-us long-enough, and we'll all go out together!
Then that bitter hope was lost as he realized that in sacrificing himself to save Artesta, Cid had also completely removed the chances of the Universe doing what it needed to do. Provided their theories had been right, of course.
Ralyon was also, supposedly, still out there.
As crazy as that trend of thought had been, whether they all ceased to exist didn't really matter. There really was nothing that could save them this time.
"Why I'm wasting my time talking I don't know." Aisha shrugged. "Maybe its just to prove how utterly helpless you are, but even that just grew boring.
She waved her right hand ever-so-slightly.
"So you really are going to do it."
The energies evaporated as if they had never been there, and Aisha's wings flapped limply to her side as she spun.
A similar angel, with angel-wings of white feathers, a slender body surrounded by blue wisps of fire, appeared to her side, floating gracefully.
"Celia," Ramza whispered, nodding his head. "Or Ceile."
"Why are you here!?" Aisha growled. "I burnt you to cinders!"
She smiled sadly at her sister, a tear building-up and falling. "You'd think you had, eh, sis'?" She dropped all her restraints, and let the tears pour-out, shaking her head sadly again. "You really did lose it, huh?"
Aisha snarled ferally. "You can remove yourself or I'll make sure to slay you this time, you sentimental freak!"
"Don't try to stop me, sister," she breathed, words like light feathers on a summer breeze. "This madness has gone far-enough."
Aisha shook her head. "Don't you get it!? We can leave now!! Father's gone, the restraints were snapped before that, but we've got the Hosts to deal with! The 'Goddess' is gone! Nothing can stop us from doing as we please now! There's no power above us! Let's slay these freaks and leave!!"
She shook her head again.
"No matter what we are, no matter how powerful we are, you've forgotten everything about rights and wrongs, Aisha." She moved-closer, pity clearly showing in her eyes. "Come with me, let us right all the wrongs we've created?"
"You...you..." Aisha shook her head. "How!? You were part of this too!? Half of all this was your idea!! How...how dare you tell me to stop!!??"
"The same thing that keeps you from striking me down again until you see if you can convince me to join your insane ideals. The reason our father came to save us, the reason we avenged ourselves on those assassins all those billions of years ago.
"Do you know what it means to embrace life and love?"
"You...you're the one who's gone insane!" Aisha backed-away, tears brimming in her own eyes, which seemed to cause her to shake more.
It was like watching a drama, sitting in the seats and gazing at the stage, yet knowing you could do nothing to change what would happen, the fates of those you watched would be decided regardless of what you wished.
"You struck me down in anger before, and you won't do so again!" Ceile responded. "I love you, my sister, and I know you also love me." She smiled halfheartedly. "You're the same as everyone else, too."
"We're stronger, it is only right we can do what we wish!" Aisha growled.
"I might have continued to agree with that for a time," the other replied. "Even then you might have understood what I have come to understand. Life is no toy to be tampered with, what you see is an insanity that your mind has played upon you in one moment of twisted ecstasy brought upon you by circumstance.
"Forsake it and come back to me...please."
For just one moment, Aisha's eyes softened, and Ceile moved to embrace her sister. But that moment passed as quickly as it had come, and her eyes hardened again, all tears vanishing.
"You're not my sister!" She clenched her fists and growled. "So, you survived! So what!? You're pathetic!" She spun to point at the nameless creature. "Destroy them all!"
"I think not!" It growled back at her. "All that exists is mine to destroy!"
"What!?" Aisha whirled.
"You heard me!" The thing channeled its energies as it cupped its hands, firing a huge beam of white energy. Ceile threw her out of the way but was sent screaming to the ground in a heap, having taken the full brunt of the blast.
"*SISTER!!!!!*" Aisha howled. She spun to the Infinity Weapon. "Eradicate that thing immediately!!"
To the awe of the entrapped beings, as well as their terror, the Infinity Weapon revealed its true secret. Its 'second tail' suddenly uncurled and the 'upper head' disattached from the lower, shooting-up until it rose so high on one narrow orange-and-white wire mesh the WEAPON had increased four times in size. The Whorlex evaporated, replaced by the same multicolored mists, which enlarged to encircle it, keeping them all within a sphere, hiding them in case it was necessary. The Whorlex reappeared, in its first test, having successfully enlarged.
The 'upper head' rose to converge with the two tenticles, flowing until a single pair of bulbous yellow eyes glowed above them, a short nose beneath. The 'tentacles' were really huge mandibles that extended off to the side. It remained that way, as if in the background, hovering like some grotesque being looking-down upon its victims...
...and/or its true puppets.
And remained that way.
"I've had this planned for a long time!" The beast snarled again. "The WEAPON is mine, I had the steps ready to take when necessary! I will slay them, *you* will simply be a fond memory when I am done with this Universe and its twin!"
"No...please..." Ceile whispered.
The WEAPON and the creature attacked at the same time, the stalk of the Infinity Weapon coming-down as it lunged forwards, mandibles outstretched to rend and tear through her as a much-larger blast erupted from the cupped palms of the nameless being.
Something rocketed towards Aisha.
There was a wailing shriek of intense pain and agony followed by a detonation of energies that seemed to defy magnitude and shattered the whole Whorlex. Multicolored dust clouds stood stark against the lighter hazes of colors that were now surrounding them, eerily reminding Cloud of Safer-Sephiroth's Supernova Spell. Aisha crumpled to the floor, unrecognizable save for her form...
...while Ceile had been completely and uttery vaporized.
The energies that had bound them vanished, and they fell, only to be cushioned by the spirits as they each swooped-down and grabbed one of them. Dragelx retrieved both Ramza and Nanaki.
They all landed lightly as the multicolored misty clouds from the explosion that engulfed the majority of this spherical 'place' began to shimmer.
Inside it, Aisha moaned and glanced up from where she was lying. Her gaze flicked across the hazy sphere, and her gaze fell-upon the space Ceile had previously occupied. That and the fact her aura was rapidly dwindling as she also vanished from existence told her one thing.
The broken figure unleashed a series of pulsating white-and-purple blasts immediately following its cry. Both the nameless being and the Infinity Weapon were caught in them before they could react, both stunned by a more-violent detonation than they had expected.
They were eradicated in an instant.
The scream came seconds before the colors became transparent, but two successive explosions tore through the air, shoving particles into each-other and condensing the blast of rainbow-like energies, which was scattered into the air to join the kaliedescopic mists that enshrouded this space.
What remained was something not just fom a nightmare, but from the depths of the utmost twisted minds and insane visions that anything could ever view.
She was no-longer enshrouded in pinkish-orange flames, but rather in an incandescent black-blue. At least two-thirds of her body had been torn-away in the eruption that appeared to have claimed the lives of three other beings.
The thing had not been wearing anything, so no burnt clothes were matted to her body, but the stench of burning flesh was just as strong, if not stronger. Her wings were not feathery anymore, but were completely bat-like. They were torn and shredded, the outer half of the entire left wing was separated from the inner half by a grouping of shreds of flesh and bone, vaporized and damaged beyond repair. Those same 'patches' ran rampant across that outer-half, as well, tendons clearly-visible in three of the larger ones. Huge gashes were torn in the inner-half of her left wing. Only the outer-third of her right wing was like that, less-damaged and crumpled anywhere else. A large path of flesh ran between the two large meshs of shredded skin and bone. Both of the upper wingtips, dragon-like, were completely stripped of flesh, and it was a miracle they were still intact.
Her left leg was bent in impossible ways, heel-bones having severed as the whole foot below hung limply, twisted around. Except for her upper-thigh, of which only a blue-black fire composed now, she remained undamaged between those places. Above the thigh was simply bone, and where it merged with the waist was nothing but more blue-black fire that composed the 'being's' whole chest up to where her wings were attached to her back. Her right leg was composed of bone down to slightly above the knee, where mangled blue-black fire was what formed a large section of her leg, forced-outwards in the detonation, half the size of her head. Below that were horn-like bones that split to the sides, and from there down bone composed the leg. The heel and foot was completely twisted, heel spike structures slammed to the side, the foot itself half like a bird's claw. Save for the burning part, it was much-thinner than the other leg.
A narrow grouping of bones composed the thing where its wings connected. The only flesh on the female Entity's chest were her breasts, half-sliced to ribbons from the top of her chest down, like grotesque talons connected to her body, disappearing under another gathering of fire. Some were burning with the same blue-black fire as that that enmeshed her and was all that was left of the 'Deity' in various places, others were simply bone. The upper-chest was connected to the shoulders of the thing, and 'flowed' into the 'creature's' breasts by another swirling tornado of fire, as large as, but much shorter, than the one that composed her midsection from her lower-back down to her waist. A single large bone was all that remained of her body below her neck, connected to the blue-black fire that enmeshed her upper-back and flowed into the bones and flames that composed most of her breasts.
The upper section of both arms was composed of another raging inferno of blue-black flame, joining into flesh, blackened and charred, on her right hand. Portions of bones had been twisted-outwards like knives, hanging-away like four thick talons. Her right hand was bent backwards. The elbow of the left arm was composed of bone and blue-black flames, while a thin section of bone and cartilege continued downwards. Only two 'talons' had been sheared-away there, the rest utterly assimilated into atoms, a larger section of bone connecting to a just-as-thin column of more blue-black flames. That, in turn, connected to the left hand, which was just five fingers, bent and crushed into katana-like talons, the same as the ones on its wrists. Her neck was composed of skin up to her collarbone, which was composed of a series of bent and snapped bones, branching-out and hooking together in monstrous ways.
Above that, skin led-up to her face.
And that was what was the most-grotesque of the whole being that had once been either Aisha or Ceile. The right side of her face was fine compared to the left side. A huge 'matting' of twisted bone and flesh stood-out in her right cheek where it curved to meet her face. To the side, and somewhat above it, was one of the only sections of hair that remained on her body. Blue-black fires enmeshed with bones and cartilege separated the burning, maleovolent right eye from the lower face. Above the thin sections of her forehead that remained, just above that eye, a section of skin had been shoved-up, supported by those blue-black flames and bones that enshrouded her eye and right cheek all the way to the back of her head, curving under that right side to her chin. Even more meshes of bone attached to the center of what had been right between her eyes, tearing down to just above her mouth, which was composed of near-nonexistant lips and shattered teeth. Her nose had been completely crushed into the bones above, they ended where her nose would've ended, sections of flesh crawled-around that area. The left side of her mouth was attached to one solid section of bone, slightly beyond it, shreds of flesh, bone, cartilege, and blue-black fire composed. That mass crawled-about to the left side of her chin, tearing slightly into the section above it. Just below her eye the mesh disappeared, all of that what remained of her lower left face. A thin section of blue-black fire, skin, and bones crawled-out from between her eyebrows, hanging like an overhang over the left eye. The eye was connected to the central section of bones on her face by a 'bridge' of skin, the eye on a single island, the surroundings clearly visible through the space between it, its 'overhang', and the mesh below it. The 'whole skin' on the back of her head ended just where the 'bridge' to the eye began. A tuft of hair stood-out from the side of that 'overhang,' a mass of skin, bones, and cartilege had been shoved-up in a gross mass directly above the eye, and a small section of skin slightly-curled in just near the bottom, but did not touch the eye.
Her skull had been smashed into nothingness, but her brain remained undamaged, clearly-viewable between the cage-mesh of bones and skin that enshrouded it. Those same bones protruded down to the narrow sections of skin above her eyes, entertwining with her skull. Two horn-like bones tore from the sides of the bones enshrouding her brain, the rest of the bones of her face had been shoved-up into a triple-grouping of horns. The lower one was composed of ten bone-horns, two blackened bones protruding upwards from between the center two 'horns.' A single blackened bone protruded up from where the other two blackened bones split, a single sharp 'horn' that could rival most slender razor-spikes.
The wings of the thing were black-and-yellow, while the skin of the being was an unhealthy yellow, lighter than the wings. In some places pale-white-and-yellow patches of skin decorated the female 'thing.' Yet none of its skin was healthy-looking, all of the portions that weren't wings and patches were a pale, sickly yellow.
This was the thing that was once Aisha.
..."You freaks took my sister from me!!!!!" The 'lady' hissed in an insane rage, somehow all the more terrifying as her form was grotesquely monstrous.
"What!?" Ramza shook his head, hoping that the thing could still hear him. "The Infinity Weapon and that other creature were the ones responsible of attacking you, and if you speak and know the truth, slaying either Aisha or Ceile."
"I am Aisha!!!!!" The thing screamed.
"And she still sacrificed herself...to save you..." Alma shook her head, then bowed it silently, clasping her hands in a brief prayer.
It was somewhat amazing she still performed that ritual, as there were probably no-longer any Gods and/or Goddesses around.
"Because of *YOU!!!!!!!!!!*" She screamed again. "She really did lose her life this time, if not her very existence, and its all because of *YOU!!!!!!!!!!*
"If you hadn't seen fit to annihilate Jenova, this wouldn't have happened! Four of you are going to go now, the rest of you will simply be my first victims as this Universe and its twin feel not only my desire for pain and destruction, but the fury of my vengeance!!!!!"
'No one shall!!!!'
The haze swirled behind her and parted. She spun as the multicolored mists were brushed-aside to reveal the face of Ralyon, and launched herself at it in a fury, Quasar Globe after Quasar Globe smashing into the enormous face of the thing. It was so-unprepared for this that the meager shields it brought-up did nothing to prevent the awesome blasts from tearing into it, smashing into its life essence and pulsating.
As one last globe was launched into its nearly-shattered structure and life essence, it was unable to mutter a scream. Ralyon, the strongest being in the Universe, shattered into trillions of golden shards and rained-down into the emptiness of space, where they quickly assimilated into nothingness.
Aisha spun as the mists swirled-closed behind her.
The glowing things launched themself at her, and all but two of them were immediately wiped from existance. The two that managed to throw themselves away were a figure that was quickly-obscured by another, larger one, a humanoid thing with dragon-like wings and fourteen tails.
Nanaki bowed his head in recognition of the loss of the Draglex.
"I see the time to listen to reason has passed! So you must has well!" The thing spread its hands.
"Time and Space, merge into nothingness; give birth to the dragons and monsters and all! Crusader!!!!!"...
...They all shimmered-away as the huge monster swooped in front of the thing, forming an enormous globe of blue-white energy. Raybeams shot-out and whirled-around as the globe was launched into her, and exploded in a hurricane of starry power, roaring right into her...
...yet it did nothing. The thing disenterated with a wave of the female Entity's left hand, and was gone.
A blackish creature, an ebony-like version of the Ruby Weapon, followed by a more-complex version of the Ruby Weapon, blood-red, and a larger, more-complex version of the Emerald Weapon followed, similar to the things Exor Ra had 'created' in the All Plane. An 'Ebony Weapon,' a 'Blood Weapon,' and a 'Mako Weapon.'
Aisha spun and launched a crescent beam at them, chopping all three in half. A reversed whirlpool of blue-white energies shot-out at them, annihilating them all. The 100 Emerald Weapons, tiny 'Forest Weapons,' that were in turn assimilated. The armies of emerald warriors and ruby warriors, chiseled like Sephiroth, also evaporated at its touch, but the pure-diamond warrior-lookalike of Sephiroth deflected the shot with its blade and prepared itself to strike.
It found itself unable to move. The lone-survivor of the 'Angel Warriors' was only able to stare as a Quasar Globe erupted in the same space as it, utterly eradicating it.
The lone survivor of the 'Hosts' that served the 'Lifestream Goddess' was kneeling with hands clasped in prayer.
"Aeris..." Cloud breathed.
"I don't know what you were thinking those things could do," Aisha snarled.
"They were not my work, Aisha," the flower girl spoke. "Please stop this."
"You do not dictate what I am about to do!!!!!" Her eyes flashed red, and two beams shot from those burning orbs into the flower girl.
Or rather, into the wisps of Lifestream that suddenly appeared around her as the form of the 'Lifestream Goddess,' took-shape before her.
She turned to regard her friends. "I was stranded only to absorb knowledge. Once I understood, I was allowed to join the rest, and all else I could know was unveiled." She tossed the 'Flower Staff' she had been using at them, then turned and faded into the green before any of them could speak.
"What do you want, Auntie?" Aisha growled sweetly.
"Do not force me to do what I did to your father," she responded.
Aisha simply formed another Quasar Pulse. The green assimilated and reformed around it, snatching the ball of energy and crystallizing it before it could explode. "That will not be necessary, my child."
A whirlpool similar to the one that she had used to destroy the waves of the things Ralyon's Master had obviously sent to purge the Universe of the one thing that might indeed not be destroyed in the purge, howling in nonexistent wind, formed and shot outwards, impaling the 'Goddess' and sucking-up her own life force.
"You had to perish, wench! You were interfering with my vengeance!"
Aeris was nowhere to be seen.
And then suddenly she was standing inside the pocket of air that enclosed them all, collapsing to her knees and kneeling. A golden MegaBarrier was formed in the air.
"I guess you'll all perish together!!!!!"
She began to fire at the shield.
Barret responded by pummeling the crystallized orb that held the energies of a Quasar Globe with Breaks. Aisha simply darted at him and began to absorb the air formed by the white rose, exposing them to the vacuum. The 'Flower Staff' hummed.
Nanaki charged forwards channeled the energies of a Cosmo Memory into her. She growled and snatched the shield out of the way, forgetting about the air bubble and lunging down. Cloud quickly calculated the distance of his opponent and fired a Finishing Touch, blasting her up into the air before she could respond. She flipped and fired a series of All-Ultimas, weakening the shield.
The shield that Aeris must've been forming all-along. She'd never willingly stop protecting anyone down.
He activated another Finishing Touch, but suddenly switched it into a Finish Touch, the 'semi-existant' white rocks smashing into the already-torn wings of the insane 'Goddess.' She screamed as new wounds tore into her.
Then she was upon them, crouching-down and battering at the shield.
Barret stopped pounding the crystal orb with Breaks and fired a MegaBarrier at the huge shield, strengthening it for the second their ally needed to reinforce it.
Nothing needed to be said, they wouldn't fail her again.
Aisha snatched the shield away and brought her fists down.
"Come together as you once were one! Amalgam Ray!!" Alma's addition of a chant to the Materia had confused her adversary briefly, who screamed as she was tossed across the room.
Cait Sith's back opened, revealing a series of rockets. He blasted forwards and opened-up his front, the Android shutting-down the back engines and activating ones in the front as he passed Aisha, scorching her in the thin bones between breasts and midsection.
She teleported directly into the midst of them now, striking-out with blue-white crescents of energy, throwing them around what had been the Whorlex before they could react, battering them back. A current of explosions launched them further backwards, and Cloud found himself gazing-up at thinner mists and stars.
She was trying to shove them into the vacuum.
Another Amalgam Ray forced Aisha backwards, this one taking her right in the thin bones between midsection and upper chest. She crashed into mists in the back and screeched again, beginning to form a Quasar Globe.
Another blast, this one in the upper chest, distracted her again.
She collided with the mists and brought them together in a swirling tornado, breaking normal wind barriers and nearly sucking them all towards it. Aeris was completely unprepared at the start, but managed to plant firm fists against the suface.
The winds were reversed, blasting the mists away and suspending them on an invisible orb-like platform, hovering high above their Planetary System.
Aeris was flipped backwards, and found her hands suddenly losing their hold. She quickly regained that hold and flipped-up, bracing herself.
A carpet of flame swept towards them on the winds.
Another Amalgam Ray cut through the flames, brushing them and the winds to one side, and striking Aisha in the left foot.
"Give me that!" She screamed, lashing-out with the same cords she'd used to enmesh them and grabbing the staff just as Cait Sith supplied another Megalixir to it.
Alma refused to relinquish her hold, and was yanked off her feet. Meliadoul grabbed-on, and Ramza grabbed-on to hers, activating a Throw Stone to latch him to the surface.
"Now your loved ones shall be dragged-away from you just as Ceile was from me!!!!!" Aisha screamed, throwing back her shoulders in a victory cry.
"Please!" Alma called, struggling to position the staff just in case she had no choice in the matter. "That's not...what happened...you don't know...auuuggghhhh!!!!!"
"Please, Aisha!" Aeris called. "They're right, you know! Your sister gave you the chance to live, she hoped that you'd understand, are you going to throw that away!!??"
"You Cetra were the ones who first caused trouble for Jenova!" She snapped back, blue globes lancing-out from her hand. The Ancient rocketed away, landing amidst her one-time friends.
She hissed again, and the blue-black fires that enwrapped her seemed to ignite even-more. The extra energies lanced-out, blasting into them, throwing each of them in various directions.
Barret grated his teeth and blasted her in the face with a Catastrophe.
"You little beasts!" She hissed, extending her fingers and causing their Materia to start crackling.
The crystal globe above shattered, and the coronas of a Quasar Pulse shot-out at them as she began to form another one, one that would obviously be fired at them, one they would surely perish at the hand of. At the sane time, more cords whipped-out to wrap around Alma.
"No!" Ramza shouted.
Cloud could see the coronas' movements, knew exactly who was in range. And as Alma refused to relinquish her hold, and was in the process of powering-up another Amalgam Ray, barely holding the staff aimed at Aisha's face...
...she had realized that this was the only way they would survive.
Just like Aeris and Sephiroth.
Two different beings, but the same type of situation. He'd failed Zack, Aeris, and Tifa...Aeris was about to be wiped from existence, Zack and Tifa would soon follow if Ralyon's Master was able to activate what it had been preparing.
They were going to lose someone again.
The energies of an Omnislash propelled him into Alma's way, breaking her grip and throwing her to the invisible surface; an instant later his mind was submerged with thousands of different spectrums as he tapped into the 'minds' of Materias as they were in the process of being activated.
That split second was all that was necessary. The cords tore into him and snapped the Flower Staff into pieces as the Amalgam Ray launched-out.
I'm coming, Tifa...
Cloud Strife smiled.
Aisha's eyes widened as the blast streaked up towards her, and cringed involuntarily, knowing she couldn't warp away or dodge in time. In those brief trilliseconds the cords finished tearing into Cloud, while the coronas impacted with where his form either was or had been, setting something humanoid ablaze with blue-white fire.
It was impossible to tell, with what else was happening at the exact same time. Aisha's face mirrored a strange contentment and terror as the Amalgam Ray impacted into her head.
She was screaming as she erupted into pieces like a fountain of unfathomable, suddenly-freed energies...
...the multicolored matter swept into them and past them like a storm of dust, seeming to efface from existence all that stood in its path.
TO BE CONCLUDED...
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