It was two days after the death of Sephiroth and the destruction of Meteor by Holy. Cloud and the others were walking across the grassy plains towards Kalm. They were on foot, because the Airship had been left in Junon for repairs. They were going to see Elmyra, Aeris' adoptive mother, Marlene, and they were going to meet up with Reeve. Cait Sith was to officially retire. The sun was shining; birds were singing. Peace had finally come, or so it seemed.
Cloud saw a young girl of about sixteen or seventeen approaching them from the nearest ridge. He motioned towards the others to stop.
"What is it Cloud?" asked Tifa, watching him intently.
"Is it," whispered Red XIII, "no, it can't be..."
Cloud looked at her again as she came closer. (Same dark hair, same green eyes, Aeris' face...) But it was not Aeris. There was something different about this girl, not just the way her eyes and hair shone with a fire in the sunlight. She was carrying an adamantium staff and a small satchel. She slowed, because she had reached them.
"Are you...are you Cloud Strife?" she asked, with Aeris' voice. But hers was slightly different, the tone like as if she had never been happy--ever.
(How can she not be happy? The Planet is saved. Sephiroth is dead.) "Yes," he said, "that is my name."
She looked him directly in the eyes. "I have been following you," she said.
"What?" asked Barret, outraged. But that was as far as he got. They were interrupted by the buzz of a helicopter and the whir of a Gelnika.
(Damn) thought Raieyana (I thought I had more time.) The others watched in amazement as the Turks descended from the helicopter on a ladder.
"What are you bozos doing here?" asked Elena.
"Notice how the Turks mysteriously reappear after both Sephiroth and Meteor have been destroyed," muttered Yuffie.
"You know what," said Elena, "this is not our purpose here, but I guess it's payback time for you guys doing in my boss."
"If you're talking about Tseng," said Raieyana, "you're sorely mistaking, because these people didn't kill him."
Elena snorted. "Scum like you are not worthy enough to speak the name of such a man."
Raieyana walked closer. "Like you ever knew him," she said.
Elena looked her over. "You are certainly not cultured enough to have been even an acquaintance of his," she retorted. Elena looked ready to fight.
Raieyana shook her head. (Oh dear. I've got to stop this thing with the irate blond chick with a thing for Dad right here and now.) "I'll tell you what," said Raieyana, "the next time a total stranger accuses equally total strangers of killing your father when you know Sephiroth did, then I will fight with you over this. But I think I have a little more knowledge of the event of my father's death than you do, so I would suggest you keep your mouth shut before you come off as an even bigger idiot than you already have." Raieyana didn't usually chew people out; she really tried not to let other people get to her. But Elena, thinking she knew it all about Tseng, really had gotten on her nerves.
This little outburst of Raieyana's had everyone stunned, even the Turks. Yuffie's mouth was hanging open--wide. Vincent softly pushed her jaw up so it was closed again.
"You don't have to thank me," he said, "trust me, I did it for my own benefit, not yours."
Reno stepped up and put a hand on Elena's shoulder. "Come on Elena," he said, "remember our orders--find the Hope and Renew materia orbs."
"What?" asked Raieyana.
"Look little girl, go home and play with your dollies. Come back when you're old enough to drive," said Reno.
What she said next wiped the smug smile right off of his face. "You can't possibly think that I'm not going to try and stop you every step of the way. I know what you're trying to do." At that particular moment, she really looked quite formidable.
Reno collected himself and raised an eyebrow. "Listen kid, stay out of our way, or you're going to get burned. C'mon Elena, Rude, let's go." They climbed back up the ladder into the chopper and took off, with the Gelnika following.
Cloud turned to Raieyana. "Tseng's your father?" Raieyana told them all about her life, from test tube to the present.
"I was following you because Aeris was with you," she said, "but then, you know. Now Shinra's up to something."
"We're on our way to Kalm," said Cloud, "why don't you join us, Raieyana?"
She shrugged. "Okay, I might as well."
When they arrived at Kalm, Marlene was waiting there to greet them. "Papa!" she laughed as Barret lifted her up on his shoulder. Then Reeve came out of the house where Elmyra had been staying.
"Look," said Barret, "it's the Shinra manager. How's public relations goin' these days?"
"Barret, you know I quit," he said.
"Yeah, I do," said Barret. Then he laughed. "Just don't think of going back to those Shinra," he said, shaking his finger. Everyone laughed. There really weren't any hard feelings now.
Raieyana remained silent, thinking about a few things in a new light since their little encounter with the Turks. (In that brief moment, they gave me more information than they could have possibly realized. I never would have thought she would... Why would she...)
Elmyra came out onto the porch. "I've cooked a delicious dinner for everyone, so..."
"Whoo-hoo!" yelled Barret, "Chow time!" He quickly followed her back into the house, while everyone else tried really hard not to laugh. That dinner was the best meal Raieyana had in a long time. (Elmyra sure knows how to cook. If only she didn't keep staring at me like I was a ghost...)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Elmyra invited everyone to stay the night, but Raieyana bowed out, opting to stay at the inn. So she left after dinner.
"Hey, guys," said Reeve to Cid and Vincent, "I'm going out for a cigarette." They barely looked up from their card game as he followed her out the door. "Wait up," he called, catching up with her. "We never got a chance to get properly introduced," he said, "I'm Reeve."
"And I'm not one for formal introductions. I'm Raieyana."
"Raieyana," he said, "look, I know you're planning on leaving tonight. The way you left Elmyra's, it was a little obvious."
"Well then, Reeve, you have great insight," she said, "but I have my reasons. I'll come back after I take care of a couple things. Just one thing, though--you or the others, don't any of you try to mess with the new Shinra president until I come back, okay?"
"Why?" he asked, intrigued.
She smiled. "Let's just say I have great insight, too. Good-night," she said. Reeve watched her leave, then lit up that cigarette. He slowly walked back to Elmyra's, not noticing the full moon. It was blood-red.
At about midnight, Raieyana prepared to leave. She pulled a dark cloak around her shoulders and left her room. Leaving her room key on the counter in the lobby, she walked out into the night. Cloud was there, waiting for her.
"So, why are you taking off?" he asked.
"Look," she said, "I've been following you for a long time. I need to go home."
"If you need to go to Junon, we're swinging back there in a few days, so..."
Raieyana stopped him. "No. I kind of have two homes. Junon is one and the other is...Undor-Hai."
"But that's just a legend," said Cloud.
"Maybe to you," said Raieyana, "but it is a very real place to me."
"I bet you also believe in witches and demons and monsters," he said.
"What do you call Sephiroth?" she asked, walking away, "I'll see you around." Cloud watched her leave and then he went back inside, also ignoring the scarlet moon.