"The end is near," Raieyana was saying, "I can sense it. We need the other White materia orbs, and we need them fast."
Cid looked at her. "Where the hell are they?" he asked.
"Well," she said, "to my knowledge, a woman named Lucrecia has Hope. Holy, of course, is in the City of the Ancients. Spirit, as we found out from our friends the Turks, is buried on Cactus Island. From my translation, I have learned Renew is in the Mythrill Mine. And we have Mercy." She held up the Evenstar, and Mercy glimmered.
"Isn't there one more?" Red XIII asked.
"Yes. Its name is Faith. According to the translation, it disappeared with a certain band of the Cetra."
Barret just looked at her. "You mean you want us to go through all this hassle of finding materia when she can't do nothing because no one knows where one of them is, anyway?"
Raieyana raised her eyebrows. "I guess I never told you guys that each of the materia does a specific job in resurrecting. Even without Faith, Sephiroth's spirit can be withdrawn from the Lifestream. And after that happens..."
"Wait a minute," said Tifa, "I got it. Sephiroth looks for someone, probably Cloud, and just takes over their body, right?" Everyone looked from Tifa to Cloud back to Raieyana.
"Basically, yes. And with Sephiroth's Lifeforce being so strong, I wouldn't risk Aysta getting her hands on any of the White materia."
"Look, Ray," said Ishmael, "I know you didn't want us to split to get these before, but we need to get them quickly. We should split up into three groups of three and one group of four. And I suggest the group of four go to Cactus Island just because of the threat of the Turks being there."
"Okay," said Raieyana, "let's do that. Vincent, you want to see Lucrecia, right?" He nodded. "Take Yuffie and Cid and go do what you need to do. Ruther, Legolas, Blane, umm you guys go to the Mythrill Mine. There might be some monsters there, but I trust you can..."
"Sure, Ray," said Blane.
Cloud spoke up. "Hey Raieyana, I'll go with Tifa, Barret, and Red to Cactus Island. You can take Reeve and Ishmael and go to the City of Ancients."
"Okay," she said, "that's settled. How long do you think it will take?"
Barret removed two PHS's from his bag. He gave one to Blane and the other to Raieyana. "When you get your materia, you call everyone and go to, umm..." he stalled.
Raieyana brightened. "I know. Undor-Hai. That way, no one will get caught by Shinra, unless Aysta goes and invades it But I don't think Aysta would want the Shinra guys to know about it, even now. So I guess we'll see you..."
"...when we see you," Blane finished. "Ray, take care of yourself." Then the group broke up, in search of the White materia.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The roar of the waterfall was overwhelming. Vincent, Yuffie, and Cid jumped off of their black chocobos.
"Sit tight Bage," Yuffie said to her chocobo.
"Y'know, Yuffster," said Cid, "they can't understand what you're saying to them, so don't both--ugh..." Cid's chocobo, Ulage, had kicked him in the groin. Vincent sighed, and cast Full Cure. "Oh, thanks, man," Cid said, glowering at Ulage.
"We must go see Lucrecia now," said Vincent. He watched Cid go in, but stopped Yuffie. "Please," he said, "don't say anything about, about what happened in Wutai."
"Fine, Vincent, but you knew exactly what you were doing. Maybe I could allow stupidity as a reason, but it is not like you were drunk or something." She walked under the waterfall, and into the cave.
Vincent closed his eyes (I'm sorry you took it that way, but it's just-- I'm just--) and walked into Lucrecia's cave.
Lucrecia was sitting in the shadows, holding something that looked like a baby blanket. (Why can't I just die? I am sitting in the darkness waiting for death.) She was crying. Vincent walked up to her.
"Lucrecia?" he said.
She stood up. "Vincent? Why have you come back?"
"I, I need to tell you the truth...about Sephiroth..." he said.
Lucrecia looked at him. "Is he...is he still alive?" she asked.
He shook his head. "No. But he was the last time I saw you. I'm sorry. But before, there were problems that needed to be taken care of. The Planet, it was about to die."
"I know," she said, "I heard it crying. But it hasn't stopped, Vincent."
Yuffie stepped forward. "There are different problems now, and we're all searching for White materia. Shinra, too. And we heard them say something...about you having one of them."
Lucrecia nodded. "Yes, Hope." She walked over to a place in the wall and withdrew the white orb. "Here. Save the Planet. I don't need this anymore. All my hope is gone now. I just want everything to end. I want... peace, I guess."
Yuffie took her hand. "We will make peace," she said, "with this, with what you have given to us."
Lucrecia smiled weakly. "Peace for the Planet, but not peace for me," she said. "I will never have peace. No, no matter what you do, what you say, Vincent, you cannot change anything for me. You couldn't change me then, and you can't change me now."
"That is my sin," Vincent said.
"No," said Lucrecia, "your sin is letting the world and all it has to offer slip by while you sulk over the fact that I made a horrible mistake. And you try to protect me, even now. Tell me, Vincent, why did you tell me Sephiroth was dead last time you saw me? What was it you weren't telling me? Had he done something? Was he the enemy? Didn't I have the right to know?" She sighed. "For all I know, he's still alive. It doesn't matter. Take the materia, kill him once, kill him again. But don't lose what you have now for what I did then. And don't try to fool me. I really did know the truth then and I do now. Sephiroth's dead, and Shinra wants him back. For whatever reason he needs to stay dead, make sure he does. But forget me, Vincent. I might as well be dead. I should be dead. But not you..."
"Lucrecia," he whispered.
"Go live your life, Vincent. Not for me, because there is nothing left for me. Live it for...I don't know, her." She pointed to Yuffie. "But live your life, Vincent. It would be worse if I had to think I had destroyed another life besides my own."
"I never realized you felt that way. I can never forgive myself for... Well, I guess this is good-bye, Lucrecia," Vincent said. Then they left.
"Yuffie," Vincent said.
"What?" she asked. She was crying. "Is it enough you had to tell me to make sure to keep our little 'mistake' a secret? I think I got the picture then. I don't need a rerun of your past statement of: 'Yuffie you don't matter. You were just something to pass the time.'"
Cid looked at them. "Did I miss something?" Then the Wutai events came back to him in the semi-drunken haze of his memory. "Never mind. I don't want to know." He walked towards his chocobo.
Vincent shook his head. "The way you were in there...I don't know. It's like you've all of a sudden grown up. Trying to comfort Lucrecia. Yuffie, there was nothing shallow in that. You are nothing like you were before..."
"I grew up because I thought maybe you'd want me then. I guess not," she said. She started to walk away.
"Stop, Yuffie," he said.
"Give me one good reason," she began.
"I think I'm in love with you."
"What? I think I'm deaf. It just sounded like you said you loved me."
Vincent reached up and touched her face. "I did. All this time I'd been guilty about it because of Lucrecia. Forgetting, for a moment, all my regrets and sorrow. Because of you. But she woke me up, right then. I've been living my life with nothing but remorse for...I don't know..."
"Something that maybe," said Yuffie, "you didn't do quite right, but isn't exactly worth ruining your whole life about. Or mine. I said nothing about us, but I think she knew anyway. It's probably the Jenova coming out in her."
"I will never forget you, Lucrecia...it will always stay...inside..." He sighed. "C'mon, I think Cid's waiting."
"And choco-Bage," Yuffie said. She took out her PHS. "Hey guys, we have Hope," she said. "Repeat, we have Hope."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The Mythrill Mine was dark and drippy. "I hate this place," said Blane. "Gimme Ray's map." Ruther handed it to him. "This way." Blane pointed to an even drippier passageway. They walked into it.
Almost immediately a slimy voice said: "It'ss beenn a loong time since I've hadd annyonne to pplay withh..." A large serpent loomed up ahead of them.
"I hate this place," said Blane. The serpent's tail started coiling around Legolas.
"Umm, guys?" he said.
"Yeah, okay, Leg," said Ruther.
"I hate it when you call me that."
"Look, Leg, do you want me to kill it or not?" Ruther said.
Blane blew off its head with his semi-automatic. "Eww, green blood," he said.
"I swear, Blane," said Legolas, "you are just like a girl."
"Shut up!" yelled Ruther. "Look, there's a treasure chest over there. Snake-boy must have been guarding it."
Blane opened it. "He must have been getting a little rusty all back here by his lonesome. Look, it's Renew." He took out the PHS. "Ray, white number two has now been acquired. Fine, white number three. But they didn't have to fight, so of course they got it first. Oh, shut up, Yuffie." He slammed the PHS, figuratively. "Monster-Man, Chinese-Chick, and the Drunk-Guy beat us. Even though we only had to kill Wimpy-Snake."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Cactus Island was hot and dry. "My nose is drying out," said Red XIII.
"What do you expect, it's a desert," Cloud said, disgusted. He brought out something that looked like a metal detector. "I present to you the Materia-Detect 5000."
"Like that's really gonna find it," said Tifa.
"It should," Cloud said, "it was 38,000 gil. I bought it from the guy who used to own the weapons shop in Wall Market."
Barret snorted. "It probably is just a cheap metal detector."
"We'll just see," said Cloud. He turned it on. Bzzz, Bzzz, *Beep*, *Beep*. "Oh, dig right there, Barret."
"Why me?" Barret asked.
"Because you have the shovel!" yelled Cloud, Tifa, and Red XIII at the same time.
"Probably a waste of time," he muttered, and started digging. Almost right away he hit something solid. (Probably one of those stupid cactuses.) He reached down, and pulled up a little gold case. He opened it up. "Well, I'll be dam--"
Tifa jumped up and down. "Spirit!"
"We'll be a-takin' that Spirit now," said Rude.
"Do you fellows know," Red XIII said, "that you annoy us to no end."
"Shut up," said Elena, "and put 'em up. It's time for revenge. Reno may be too injured to be with us, but we'll fight twice as hard..."
Tifa cast Tornado on them, and they ran away. "Is it just me, or are they getting weaker and weaker?"
Cloud shrugged. "Uhh, they're getting weaker and weaker," he said. He took out the PHS. "Hey Raieyana, we got Spirit, yes we do, we got Spirit, how 'bout you? Uh-huh, just got past that yellow fish to the stairs to the altar. Yes, that fish is quite annoying. What? They all got their materia, too? This is almost too easy..."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
(So easy for them. And they almost have all of them.) Aysta smiled. (Father, it's almost time. I'm sure it won't be hard for you to find a body after I bring your soul back.) She reached into her desk an pulled out a circle fitted with materia slots. Six. (The five White materia right here with Mutate in the center. A few incantations, Father, and you will return. And Raieyana will know pain like she never has before.)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Raieyana looked down the long stairway which led down to the place where Sephiroth had killed her mother. Ishmael looked at her. "It's hard for you, isn't it, Ray?" he asked.
She shook her head. "No, not really." Ishmael reached for her hand, but she pulled away. She looked at Reeve. (It's good to see only his fists are clenched after that episode with those guards. But it's only Ish, Reeve, only Ish...he would never do anything to hurt me...) "I mean, even though I can definitely feel bad vibes, I don't know, I guess there just isn't much meaning in this place for me. It would be harder to go to the ruins of the Temple of the Ancients."
"Because of Tseng?" Reeve asked.
Raieyana nodded. "Because of Tseng. Well, I hope no one is worried about getting their clothes wet..." She glanced at Reeve's suit. "...because Holy is underwater and we only know vaguely where it is. But it's glowing green, so..."
"Hey," yelled Ishmael, "over here! I see it!" He pointed to a spot in the water, and they could all see a faint glowing, and deeper, a materia orb: Holy. "Just stay there you two, and I'll go get it." He dived into the water with a splash.
Reeve raised an eyebrow. "He is way too enthusiastic about some things."
"Well, Reeve," said Raieyana, "you have personality problems as well, you know."
"Like what?" he asked.
"For one, the little skirmish in the Shinra building..."
"Ray, we got out alive, didn't we?"
"You didn't have to cut off all their heads."
Reeve moved closer towards her. "That guard didn't have to touch you like that, look at you like that, say anything... I didn't want anything to happen to you, and look--nothing did. Don't I deserve at least a 'thank you' for that?"
Ishmael hoisted himself out of the water. (I have Holy. Now where's Ray...) He glanced around and saw Raieyana...kissing Reeve. (See...you'll never be good enough for her...) Aysta's voice rang through his head. He turned around so Raieyana wouldn't know he had seen them. "Hey, Ray," he called. Raieyana and Reeve pulled apart quickly. Ishmael turned back around. "Got Holy," he said.
"Great," she said hoarsely, clearing her throat. She pulled out the PHS. (I hope Ish didn't see us. It would break his heart...) "Guys," she said, "we have Holy. Uh-huh, yeah. Now we're heading over to Undor-Hai ourselves. All right, see ya. Yes Blane, that also includes you. Bye." "C'mon, guys. Everyone is waiting for us." Raieyana started back up the stairs, with Reeve following her.
Ishmael brought up the rear. (Ray, I'm sorry...but I never thought you would betray me. I can't stop this if you're the one who started it. Aysta was right. You will never love me. Never.)