Redemption Chapter 14

By Janet Monstwillo

Azura was tending the campfire, watching the setting sun. She glanced at Patrick, who was cleaning some animal or another. The animal which would be their dinner. (I asked him why he had to be hunting. He told me that we might as well leave our supplies to times when we'll need them more.) She thought about how the little animal would have been hopping if not for their needs. (I'd rather save hunting 'til the times when we were starving.)

"Sit tight and watch the pro." Patrick leaned forward, setting up a spit on which to cook the meat. He caught her concerned look. "Wouldn't you rather live off this than rationed power bars?"

She gave him a small smile. "I guess."

"This isn't the life for can't stand causing anything pain."

"But I'm here anyway, so it must be." Her eyes drifted away in thought. "Don't you believe in fate?"

"I suppose I have to. It keeps you from thinking about the grimmer possibilities, when you can just explain life away as doing the things it was meant to do."

"Don't you ever want to think that you might actually have a purpose in life though? Maybe that your specific soul was placed in your specific body for a reason?"

"It seems too well organized. Wouldn't there be no pain, no hurt if that were true?"

"Maybe," Azura said softly, "we feel pain here in order to learn things. Besides, on our Planet, there was a lot that couldn't have been planned. Even if some force controlled our Planet, could they have foreseen Jenova?"

"Does it matter?"

"It matters a lot. Many people live with the effects of her cells inside them. We deal with it okay, probably because we were born this way and our parents who lived with it, had even stronger amounts..."

"Zuri." Patrick looked at her. "I've been having dreams lately that I'm not quite sure I understand. And they scare me, because Mother always said she was told many important things in her dreams. I hope with everything inside me that these are wrong."

"What have you been dreaming of?"

He lowered his voice. "That Cloud Strife is my father...and...and... I'm not positive what else I've seen, but it doesn't look good."

Azura turned the meat roasting on the fire. "Cloud? But from what I've heard, your mom never liked him very much."

"I know." There was something in his voice that made her rethink pressing him for more information.

"That's funny."

"Why's that?"

"Well, Pat." She paused and glanced at him. "I've been having dreams too. About the things that happened after Jenova came to this Planet. They scare me so much..."

"They're just dreams, Zuri--"

"But they're so true. So true to life. That's the reason why they frighten me. Not because they're excessively terrible. They are terrible, but only because they easily could have happened."

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

"You sure this is the way you want things?"

"Will you disown me or something if I go down there?" Aeris glared at her father.

"He probably won't welcome you even if you find him, you know."

"I have a better chance than you do."

"That's not difficult." Reeve looked down. The Highwind II was floating above the foot of Mt. Crist. Aeris had insisted on climbing up the trail herself, hoping to maybe find a trace of either Patrick or Azura along the way. "It's getting to be dark."

"I've done it in the dark before."

"Well with you mother as she is, I feel extra cautious about you kids--"

"Except Patrick."

He ignored her and continued on. "I have to think twice as hard about things as usual, and..."

"Dad? I have two comments. One, I'm twenty-one years old, and I am plenty smart enough to make my own decisions. Okay? If I die out here, it's all my fault. Two, I am feeling some strain from Mom's illness also. Maybe she's trying to connect to me or something, I don't know. But I feel responsible for Patrick being out there by himself."

"We're gonna need as much help as we can get in Junon, Riss, if you'd just..."

"If you had any foresight at all, you might have realized that Patrick just might be the kind of person you want on your side in a fight like that. Now you're short two warriors, and two children. Funny how life is."

Reeve sighed deeply. "I just can't get over this change in you. You've always been happy and bubbly like, well like Aeris, your grandmother. But now you sound like..."

She tilted her head to the side and gave him half a smile. "Mom?"

"I always thought that attitude was something she picked up from Tseng."

"I just picked it up from her. She's not able to keep you in line right now, so I've got to do what I need to do. I'll be careful. You know I'm not stupid. But just trust this knowledge that I have deep inside, that we need him. This new game that's going's bigger than what happened in our living room. Bigger than Sephiroth, even if it's going to be far quieter and spill less innocent blood."

"You see that?"

Aeris nodded. "And Patrick is the most important player of all. We could all fall off the face of the Planet tomorrow, but if Patrick remained, it would keep its course."


We're all players in a deadly game
While the world keeps spinning
Soon none of us remain--
The darkness keeps on winning

Of all the times that come to pass
Never again shall these stars align
The most important cycle is the last
Just takes time to find the sign

You can pass the torch along again
But the runner stays the same
In this one event, that's always been
Immortalized--in despair and pain

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

Cloud looked at his surroundings. The haze of dusk held a filter over his vision, but what he could see matched the scene in his mind's eye. He slowly made his way up the trail to Undor-Hai, wondering what the response would be to his return, after he'd seemingly fallen off of the face of the Planet.

(Will they hold me in scorn still? Or will time have dulled the sharp edges of the knife I placed in their memories?) His dreams, if they could be called such, had become over-whelming as of late. He had come to a certain conclusion; that this time, the voice speaking to him was pure and unmarred. It was as if Jenova had given up and concentrated all effort on someone who would actually be somewhere besides Round Island.

The hidden island was the perfect place for Cloud to live away from society. He brought a few of his prize golden chocobos with him, making sure he always had some way back to the mainland. He had only left a few times in the past years; his island way of life was surprisingly self-sufficient.

He was clothed in the tan color which was the trademark of Gysahl fibers. Even though the greens weren't quite the best thing to feed chocobos, the plant was a source of tough fibers which Cloud wove into cloth and made into his shirt and pants. He really only left to buy shoes, and he bought enough of those at a time to last him a good while.

Since he hated the idea of growing old, he practiced his battle techniques still. This habit, along with the Jenova and Mako inside him, had put up a stringent defense against the effects of aging. So while his self-induced solitary confinement had brought more years' worth of wisdom than would be expected, his body was as fit as that of someone who had only neared thirty. There was still a youthful tinge to his face. Maybe the powers-that-be had something in store for him yet, either that, or were allowing him that privilege to compensate for the aged look within his eyes.

As he climbed Mt. Crist with his Ultima Weapon in hand, he couldn't help but remember that day, so long ago, when he had thrown the Lowlellean from the very peak, vowing off violence. (It didn't work out quite as well as I had hoped. I found that I owed it to Raieyana to keep her safe after I hurt her so terribly. I tried to save her from the Turks, from Shelding, but I failed. The only thing I ever accomplished was saving my son.) He bowed his head. (I hope life has dealt him a hand easy enough to where he thinks his life has some worth.)

He continued upward with the trail, unaware that close behind him, the girl with Raieyana's eyes followed. Their goal was very close; they both wanted to find Patrick and tell him what they had felt inside, what their souls told them. But Aeris knew a fact that Cloud did not; that they were heading towards a home abandoned, with the occupants scattered. And that the key to everything was hidden in the forest, cutting himself off from contact, an idea conceived by an attitude remarkably similar to that of his father.


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