Evolution of Innocence Chapter 24

By Janet Monstwillo

("It's not merely whispering to you this time.")

Daphne's dozy eyes popped open with a start, her heart racing. (Must have been a dream.) She shook her head. The day at the bar was being quite slow indeed. Leaning forward and resting her chin on her arm, she glanced around at the one customer they were entertaining. (I wonder if Joel will let me go home...) She knew it would be stupid to ask for that, though. A bar was busiest in the evening.

She lay her head down in the crook of her elbow, yawning a bit. She'd hardly gotten any sleep the night before. What little shut-eye she'd managed to collect, was contaminated with bizarre, upsetting dreams...

("It's screaming."

What's screaming?

"The Planet. Are you too far away to hear, or too close-minded?"

Only Ancients can hear the Planet...

"You assume too much. Did you ever stop to ponder that only Ancients heard the Planet, because they were the only people who cared enough to listen?"

I used to hear the Planet, the Promised Land...but now I don't. I've tried!

"Hmm...so now you are deaf, dumb...and blind? Look around you. Can't you see what's happening? Things are coming to pass. Maybe you never got the chance to see them before...but you know what you're looking at. You know in your heart that something has gone terribly, horribly wrong."

Isn't there always something?

"Perhaps. But that doesn't mean a soul should go out of their way to cause problems. The 'somethings' that always seem to come up, are easily managed by the Planet. Natural catastrophes, floods, droughts, simple meteor showers, earthquakes, forest fires...these are all natural and part of the Planet's functioning. Jenova came from beyond this Planet. Her destruction was nothing short of unnatural."

I understand that. That's why I had to fight it...fight her. Don't presume that I am stupid.

"This is not assumption, merely observation. You disregard nature...break nature...why not allow others to do so."

I didn't go against nature! I only asked for my reward...I asked for my life back, I just wanted to have a chance to live out my–

"Your sacrifice was great. You gave your life to save the Planet. By returning, you are taking back your gift. You paid a price. And now you're asking for your money back. So sure, take your life..."


"You're only rendering your sacrifice worthless.")

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Kayley walked along the deck of the Highwind, actually alone for once. She gazed down at the swiftly passing landscapes, in awe of the speed and height at which she was moving. Somewhere in her mind, though, lurked the faint memories of hyperdrives, light speed, time dilation, and star systems so far away, the light of their birth only reached this Planet as the stars themselves were dying.

(Why do I find such wonder and delight at these simple, low-level experiences? I know of better ways to fly...better things to see...and of places these base creatures could not even hope to fathom.)

Still though, she gazed at the sky with a bit of wonder. The eyes in this body detected light differently from those in her old one. She never knew...the sky was such a bright color, cool and austere. Wisps of purity silently glided by... (Water vapor) she scoffed, but could not deny herself the beauty.

She dared to glance at the shiny orb lighting up the sky, despite her vague knowledge that it wasn't quite good for one's eyesight to do so. She admired the young, yellow star. It was not as harsh or as volatile as the twin set she could just barely remember.

She began to turn her attentions elsewhere, but noticed a dark blotch out of the corner of her eye. (Such a large sunspot?) A queer feeling of deja vu began to settle over her.

(Where have I seen that before...?) Kayley searched her mind, bringing up haunting images of alien moons, huge comets, asteroids...

A look of shock materialized on her face. "...meteor?" she whispered.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Barret had just climbed aboard, cursing up a storm, as Vincent's wild hair appeared from beneath the deck of the Highwind. Lightly hopping up, he turned, extending his good hand to help Tifa onboard.

While Barret had gone, probably to cuss out Cloud for "taking so damn long to pick our asses up," the other two stayed to speak with those who had come out to greet them.

"Seems as if there's only a few of us with decent heads on our shoulders," Red XIII said in a low growl, nodding to Reeve and Derin, who were standing on either side of him.

"Cid and Yuffie are quite worked up...I'm not sure if they've stopped screaming at Cloud all day," Reeve said, with a hint of amusement on his face.

"I think they're working in shifts," Derin added.

Vincent's face remained stern and cold. "But if they're occupied, we should be able to come up with some sort of plan...without their interference."

"Are you really sure that's wise?" asked Reeve. "Even if Cloud's being a little nuts at the moment–"

"Those who aren't here are irrational all of the time, as opposed to Cloud's most of the time." Red eyes glowed menacingly. "I'm not trying to be cruel, just realistic. If we want to nip this problem...whatever decision we make now will definitely play a huge role in..."

"...the survival of our Planet," Red XIII finished for him. "I sensed disturbance before Kayley's trip to the Crater. Even if we didn't notice anything out of the ordinary until she did go...that doesn't necessarily mean that nothing wrong was happening prior to that point."

"So you think that Kayley was just coincidental?" Tifa asked softly.

The large cat nodded. "I truly think she was given a mission from the beyond."

"As do I," Derin added solemnly. "She's more harmful to herself than to any of us. Except maybe Daphne..."

"Unfortunately, this conclusion leads me to believe some other form exiting the Lifestream...precipitated the revival of many other things. And to suspect Daphne, and you, Derin."

He nodded. "I can understand why you would wonder about me. But I didn't force my way out at all...they wanted me to go...but..."

"But what?" Vincent prompted.

"Aeris was very gung-ho on getting a chance to come back her. I don't think there's any way in hell though, that one soul, even if it did save this Planet once, that the minds of the Elders could be changed in such a way."

"I doubt they would send anyone to destroy a world, though," Reeve said.

"That's what confuses me."

Suddenly, the small group was interrupted as Kayley ran up to them, from the far end of the deck. "I think there's something y'all need to see."

Curious, they followed her back to her observation point. She gestured up to the sun. "Do any of you see anything?"

"It's not good to look at the sun," Reeve chided.

"Of course not!" she snapped. "Don't look at the sun. Look next to it."

As they gazed up into the sky, squinting a bit...

Vincent's sharp eyes caught something with their enhanced vision. "There is a circular blemish in the sky, appearing to be near the sun. However it is much, much closer to our Planet. There is a bit of reddish haze around it."

The others had turned to him in shock.

"Is that what I think it is?" Tifa whispered.

He slowly nodded. "I don't understand, though. The Black Materia should be buried in the Northern Crater. Our people who were just there, would have found it..."

"It was destroyed by Lifestream, though," Red XIII said. "Maybe it has also returned because of the chaos life has been thrown into."

"But it's an object!" Tifa shook her head.

"So were the Weapons." Derin lightly placed a hand on her shoulder. "Look at how high it is, though. We still have time...more time than you did the first time."

"The first time, you guys knew what you were fighting against." Kayley spoke up suddenly. "This time..."

Reeve peered at the shadow again. "What I think, is that we need answers. Shinra is gone. Sephiroth is gone. The Black Materia is gone..."

"Aeris is not." Vincent met his eye. "Are you suggesting what I think you are?"

"Cloud's desires actually coincide with our own. We must find Daphne. We can't let him scare 'er off though."

"So where should we start looking?" Derin wondered.

"Where did you guys first find her? I said many times before she probably just wanted her old life back."

"Junon." Red XIII nodded to the others. "I shall go inform Cid of our destination."

Chapter 25

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic