Redemption Chapter 26
By Janet Monstwillo
Aeris cheerfully stepped inside Tifa's house, oblivious of whatever somber moods that may have been lurking inside. Cloud, however, moved a bit more carefully as he followed her. Perhaps he was on the lookout for her father.
Raieyana looked up from the kitchen table as they entered the room. She had been munching on a bag of roasted seeds, a very Undorian habit she had picked up from Lia years ago. "Thank goodness you're finally here, Rissy! Tifa sent your father out looking for you nearly an hour ago."
"I was just outside. What's the reason?"
"Zuri has some ideas about finding Patrick. Since she was so eager, I figured we should start as soon as possible." Raieyana shrugged a bit. "It's not life or death right now, as far as I know. Either way, I got to looking at this prophecy more while I was waiting."
"Does it really apply to anything?"
"Very much so. But, before we get into this, there's something I need to tell you--about Patrick."
"Besides the fact that Cloud is his father?"
"Cloud is--" She paused and looked at the man in question. "Did you say something?"
As he shook his head, Aeris answered. "No, Mom, I just knew one day. It's been happening for awhile now...this thing where I just realize the truth...maybe since the time you got sick."
Raieyana glanced down at the translated text. "Then you must be the `one who sees'..."
"According to this, Patrick has some important role to play, and there are four others to help him: `one who sees, one who burns; one who grieves, and one who learns.'"
"Makes you wonder about your free will, doesn't it?" Cloud said.
Aeris nodded. "This is quite freaky."
"I suppose it would be. This isn't new to me." Raieyana smiled sadly. "I think those four helpers--or the three others, rather--are probably in our group."
"I would think so." Cloud looked thoughtful. "Fate should know that a stranger is useless the way we're holed up here."
"Besides, some of us are strange enough as it is." Yuffie walked in with Azura and Tifa.
"You guys are here...finally." Azura rolled her eyes.
"Hey, I haven't been in my room since this morning, though." Aeris stuck out her tongue, figuring it was best to act normal around her.
"Are those translations any help, Ray?" asked Tifa.
"Oh, lots." She smiled. "You did a great job," she said earnestly.
Loud voices burst into the room, preceding their owners. "I am not a lightweight!"
"Sure you are. How many drinks did it take last Friday...? Three and you were dead drunk."
Sean walked in, annoyed. "I didn't even buzz... Well, maybe a little."
Ishmael snickered. "Kati had more than you."
Jumping on her brother's back, Kati giggled. "Maybe I outweigh him or something."
The three of them suddenly realized that they had barged into what appeared to be a serious discussion; they quieted down, with sheepish looks on their faces.
Amazingly enough, Red XIII strode in, with Marta in tow. "I hope this doesn't mean there is nothing left for my late-night snack," he said gravely.
"Yeah," she piped up. "Is this the thanks we get for seeing off Barret and Marlene?"
"Wow...this is nearly everyone. We should have an impromptu meeting, I guess, and fill Reeve and Vincent in with the details whenever they come back," suggested Yuffie.
Raieyana hesitated, then nodded, and the group gathered around her. "The target is Jenova. Our battle is the ultimate one--"
A tall figure burst in suddenly. Vincent viewed the group's stares with a slight apprehension. "I'm...getting water. I had a bit much to drink."
"Did Reeve go to his room?" Tifa asked softly.
"What? I haven't seen him since he left the bar with you."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Utter darkness and silence were his companions. Nearly fifteen years...he had never paid any respects at the Undorian monument Raieyana had built. Every step he took was still tainted with jealousy, it seemed.
Reeve wasn't quite sure what had caused him to run off on Cloud's chocobo, then pick his way through charred ruins, to the spot where a dead friend had given him his life.
Years of insecurity tore at him. He had never known if he had his wife--merely because he was the one who had survived. Why did it mean so much to get Cloud's son out of his house?
(Why did I feel so much relief when I saw Strife with my little Rissy? What kind of father just walks away from that, feeling relieved? ...just because it meant that he didn't want Ray.)
So there he was, paying homage to the moment that still grieved the woman he loved most. Turmoil filled him. It rattled inside his head and brimmed out his eyes and ears. He neither felt nor saw nor heard anything else. (I would sell my soul to Hojo to get Reno back. Would he make you happier, Ray?)
Reeve paced the ground where he stood. (I'm close to the place...I can feel it.) All around, he could see a slight glow. The years-old blast of Lifestream still lingered over the ruins of the place which had tried to kill the Planet.
His foot kicked something. Shiny metal glimmered as the object moved a little ways in front of him. Bending down, he picked it up and examined it.
"No," he whispered. "No fucking way in hell." Resting in the palm of his hand was a capsule on a ball chain, standard issue to Shinra combat employees. Nothing particularly special there, except for the fact that Reno had still made a habit of wearing his in the Alcor days.
Then there were the initials engraved on the side, J.R.. (No, no, that means nothing.)
He knew what was inside. A "last hurrah" letter, written for the next of kin, in case of a death in action. Reeve knew that if the letter inside was recent to the time Reno had died...then the letter was for Raieyana. He just wasn't sure how to explain coming across it.
(How do I tell her? "Well, honey, I finally felt grief and decided to pay my respects to Jack. I never could do it in Undor-Hai, because that memorial made me insanely jealous for some stupid reason.")
He knelt down, unconsciously clasping the capsule to his chest. (How do I explain to her, Jack, that it took me over fourteen years to feel sorry? That my remorse came slowly...)
"Can I tell her?" he said aloud. "That I let you do what you did...when all along, I knew the code that would have saved us all...including you?" A bitter tear escaped from Reeve's eye and dropped to the dust. "I thought you'd make it out in time, but I hoped you wouldn't."
"I'm sorry Jack...so goddamn sorry."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"I want closure."
The chief looked at Asula. "This is a very tall tale that you ask me to believe, oh stranger."
"Father." The chief's daughter intervened. "It's not outlandish, though. The woman she speaks of...her arrival preceded our own plagues and troubles. And her name does mean destruction from the skies."
"Eritsu. Do you see anything when you look at this...Jenova?"
The girl lowered her head. "No." She glanced at Asula, her eyes suddenly alight. "But I see white and purity...marred by sorrow. In this girl. If she is lying to us, then my sight fails us. And let the Planet destroy us as it intends."
The chief paused, thinking gravely. "But why is it, that I cannot send a warrior after her in the night?"
"She killed all our warriors at once," Asula answered. "If it were just a question of warriors, she would have never made it to your village."
"Do you have any idea how to defeat her?" asked Eritsu. "There are some things that my eyes cannot see. I will not be able to help you in this."
"Yes...I have an idea." She looked to the chief. "Do I have your permission, my lord?"
He nodded soberly. "Yes, yes. I would like to keep to our old ways, moving about...but that life has gotten hard. So our group of Cetra decided to settle down in these plains. But I suppose that made us an easy target."
"There is nothing you did wrong," insisted Asula. "A wise friend of mine told me that Jenova is not from our Planet. This is no punishment from the elders beyond...this is no challenge to test those who wish to enter the Promised Land. It is our turn to protect the Planet that gives us life."
"Then all I have is at your disposal. Will that be enough?"
"I hope so. If not..." Asula's eyes glanced out the window to watch Jenova singing, dancing, and laughing with some young men of the village. "I wish quick deaths upon those we leave behind."
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