Raieyana was at the trail to Undor-Hai, at the foot of Mount Crist. The Undorians, cautious of strangers, let few outsiders into their hidden land. But Raieyana and Aysta were allowed to live there, train, and learn. Raieyana had always wondered why she was able to easily enter such a secretive society. (Was it because I am an Ancient? Or because I have a few more Jenova cells than the average clone?) She started up the trail. (I've got to get Lia to clear this. But this is never easy anyway.) Raieyana had forgotten just how hard it was to get up to the top, especially crossing the gorge aptly nicknamed "The Bottomless Pit" using only a single rope for a bridge. But she made it to the top, finally.
"Welcome home, Ray," a slender blonde girl called.
(Lia) thought Raieyana. The nineteen-year-old leader of the Undorians ran up and gave her a hug.
"Oh, Ray, I've missed you so much. What's been going on out there? How's it been?"
"Lia," said Raieyana, "there's a big problem. I think Aysta's president of Shinra now."
"Aysta?" said Lia, "well, if she's the president, then there can be nothing wrong, right..."
Raieyana shook her head. "I would have thought that before. But I saw the Turks while going to Kalm. They were looking for White materia," she said, "and only one of us three would know about it and what it can do. The only one outside all this time? Aysta."
"Would she really use the Ancient translation against us?" asked Lia.
"I don't know," said Raieyana, "but I think she has her own objectives now. I think she's become the enemy. I think she wants to bring Sephiroth back. So I need to bring some people up here to equip them. We have the best weapons. There's eight in Cloud's party, and I'm going to get Ish and Blane--if I can--so ten, I guess."
"Ray," said Lia, "allowing outsiders here is not going to boost my approval rating with the people. But I will do what has to be done. We've translated a little more and we've completed the Evenstar. Aysta's not going to get very far. I only wish it wasn't one of us that was our adversary in this..." They walked towards Lia's house, planning.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Aysta sat in her office, staring at her computer monitor. (Where is that paragraph? Damn this word-processing program...deleted parts of the most important files...sure, leave the stupid Freecell "readme.txt" file intact, but anything of value, no, delete parts of it...)
"President?" Scarlet walked into the room.
Aysta looked up from the screen. "Yes," she said, irritated. Scarlet handed her a picture of Raieyana.
"While looking for the White materia, the Turks ran into Her. Reno says this girl threatened them and also said she was the daughter of the deceased Turk Tseng Amine." Aysta sucked in her breath angrily. "President?"
Aysta handed the picture back. "Put out a warrant with Soldier for the arrest of a certain Raieyana Amine. Spell it right. If she enters my Junon, I want to know and I want her here where I can see her with my own eyes."
"Yes, president." Scarlet left in a hurry. The computer beeped.
Aysta spun around to look at it. "The file has been salvaged" appeared on the screen. She clicked and the screen was filled with hundreds of pages of translation. Aysta hadn't left Undor-Hai empty-handed. She had taken her copy of the Resurrection texts with her. She leaned back in her chair, revealing a fine gold chain on which a Black materia hung. Mutate--to change the physical thing, to alter the inner Lifeforce; to cause as great a damage as Meteor, if not greater because of its subtlety.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The entire group was arguing over what was to be done about Raieyana's disappearance.
"If she's not mature enough to stay with a party once she's joined it, then I say we forget about her," said Yuffie.
"Cloud," said Tifa, "with Shinra roaming around again, no one should be roaming around alone. We have to try and find her."
"I don't think she would have been so blunt about leaving if she didn't want us to follow her," said Reeve.
"So Red," said Cid, "where is the approximate location of this Unbor-Lai place?"
"Well," said Red XIII, "Undor-Hai is rumored to be near Mt. Crist, which forms part of the ridge beyond Midgar."
"I 'spose we could follow her," said Barret, "absolutely nothin' to lose in it, I guess, except for quality time with Marlene."
"Looking for an imaginary trail to an imaginary place is exactly what I like to do," said Yuffie, "I never wanted to see Wutai again, anyway." So they went to look for Undor-Hai, with some of them cursing Raieyana in their heads.
Raieyana left down the back trail for Junon, nearly encountering with Cloud and the others in their search for a trail. But she didn't notice them; they didn't notice Raieyana.
"Whoa, trail alert," said Yuffie.
"I'll be damned," said Cid.
"Well," said Cloud, "only one thing to do: head up the trail and hope they're friendly at this place." They started up the trail. Suddenly a slender, blonde girl lept down from a tree above.
"I would suggest," said Lia, "that you leave now. If you won't go peaceably, I'll have you know that there are fifty armed warriors hidden in the forest around you."
(A trap?) "Umm, we're looking for Raieyana," stammered Cloud, thinking of those fifty armed warriors.
"Wait a sec," said Lia, "what's your name?"
"Cloud Strife," he said.
"Party of eight," said Lia, "well guess what. You're not under threat anymore. We've actually been kind of expecting you. You can follow me to Undor-Hai." She smiled at them. "Contrary to what you may believe, it does exist. Come and see the splendor of my city."
When Cloud and the others arrived at Undor-Hai, they found it to be nothing like they had expected.
(Wow) thought Yuffie (houses in the trees. These people must be as agile as birds.)
Lia led them to the largest tree-house. "This is my house, and Ray's, too," she said, "come on up." She climbed up the rope ladder swiftly. Reeve was first to follow. (If I die, there's always Cait Sith.)
Barret was a little embarrassed. (Why did I let the Shinra manager go first? I'm such a wimp.) Eventually, though, everyone got up the ladder. Inside, the house was beautiful and surprisingly modern, with any convenience imaginable except electricity and Mako energy.
"Look ma," said Cid, "no Mako." Vincent slapped him on the back of the head.
(I shouldn't have let him have that third beer. If no one watches out for his drinking, who will?)
Lia smiled. "We've never had Mako or electricity and probably never will. But it makes it so much more beautiful here than other places because the Lifeforce stays outside the houses, in the Planet, where it belongs."
"Are you Ancients?" asked Tifa.
"No," said Lia, "but we study them in great detail here. We've translated many of their texts and scrolls. Raieyana is our best translater, even better than Aysta."
"Who's Aysta?" asked Vincent.
"Ray will have to tell you that," said Lia, "but I should probably go get your weapons. But we can do that tomorrow, I guess."
"Ma'am," said Red XIII, "we have our weapons already."
Lia started to leave the room. "No, your new weapons. We have everything from swords and guns to...lances and ninja stars." And so Cloud and the others spent the night in the legendary sanctuary of Undor-Hai, sheltered between Mt.Crist and the sea.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Raieyana looked at the Shinra building in Junon. (They've added on to it) she realized (I wonder what else Aysta has done in my absence? What to do first? See Aunt Aula or storm the Shinra building? I'll go with door number 2.) She headed towards the entrance.
"I'm sorry, miss," said the Soldier guarding the entrance, "you can't come in here."
(What has she won? She has just won a...jack-ass. Yes, a bona fide jack-ass. Tell her what she could have had if she chose door number one, Al. "A brand new Cadillac, and twenty-five thousand dollars in spending money for her seven-day cruise to the Bahamas...") "Why the hel--, I mean, why not?" she asked. (After all, I could have real, valid business here. Just because I haven't doesn't mean that I should be set apart from those who don't want to knock the whole damn thing down...)
"Because," the Soldier with the very familiar voice said, "Ray, it would be very dumb, with the warrant Aysta has out for you, to just go in and hand yourself over to her." He took off his helmet.
"I knew it was you the whole time, Ish," she said.
He closed his blue eyes, smoothed back his longish red hair, and laughed. "Sure you did, Ray," Ishmael said. "Well, let's just go to your aunt's house." He checked his watch. "It's my break, anyway."
"Oh, Ray, it's good to have you home," said Aula, her eyes brimming with tears as she embraced her niece. "Unfortunately, however, you can't have your old room. I've been boarding some Soldiers here. Blane is one of them, but you don't know the other three."
Raieyana would have been surprised at learning Blane was a Soldier if Ishmael hadn't explained to her on the way over how Aysta had convinced them both to join. (It was supposed to be me, Ish, Blane, and Aysta--together forever. Yeah, right.)
"If you come upstairs," said Aula, "you can see Blane and the two guys. Denmae is working."
"There's a girl Soldier here? I've never seen a female Soldier before, Ish," said Raieyana as they went upstairs.
"You haven't seen Denmae."
They entered a room where three young men were playing cards. "Hey Aula," said a brown eyed, dark haired Soldier of about eighteen--Blane, "and Ishmael, and...Ray?" He got up and hugged Raieyana. "This is Ruther..." he said. A slim, dark-skinned man with a shaved head nodded. "...and Legolas," finished Blane. A short muscular man with grey eyes and bleached-blond hair stood up.
"Pleased to meet you," he said, shaking Raieyana's hand.
In two hours, it was like old times. Ishmael had to go back to his post, but Ruther, Legolas, and Raieyana were talking like old friends.
"It just isn't right, Ray," said Blane, "Aysta's warrant and all. She's betrayed you, turned her back on the person who is practically her sister. And it's ruining Aula. Seeing her daughter backstab her own cousin who has done nothing wrong. You're not a criminal, Ray." There was a pounding on the door. They could hear a gruff voice questioning Aula downstairs.
"Sergeant Michaels," said Ruther, "Raieyana, we have to get you out of here."
"I'll take her," said Blane, "you guys cover for us." He opened the window and started to climb out onto the fire escape. "Ray?! Come on! You're not going to prove anything by getting locked up."
"We're going to go get Ish, too, right?" she asked.
Blane nodded. "Ruther and Legolas will meet us outside of the city. And I guess they'll bring Denmae. Don't want to leave her to be interrogated by Michaels."
Raieyana climbed out the window. (I didn't expect to be running from my hometown the day I arrived. I guess sometimes things don't go as you planned, though.)