Redemption Chapter 28
By Janet Monstwillo
White. It glared and gleamed, hurting Asula's eyes. Shielding her brow, she searched for four figures in the distance. They were as ants from her height. She squinted and focused on one form in particular.
(Your time is nearly up, Calamity.)
Remorse touched her slightly as she reflected on the three men, who were to be sacrificed as they faithfully served their tribe. (Better just those three now, then their entire village later.) She set her jaw; her mind firmly set upon the task in front of her. The time was approaching; the small group neared the narrowest part of the ravine. A weird energy began to flow through the atmosphere.
Closing her eyes, Asula called on the elements. With a few prayers uttered and a bit of focus pinpointed, the sun was covered with a dark thundercloud. All the while, she called on darker powers still.
Streams of fire flew from both of her palms, casting a torrent of ice and snow downward, creating an avalanche into the ravine. This sealed it off and buried the occupants.
Asula dropped to her knees, feeling quite drained. As she slowly caught her breath, she noticed the strange feeling hadn't gone away. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end and small shivers ran up and down her spine. Soon, she realized the problem.
(My job is not yet complete.)
"What else do you want me to do?!" she demanded of the sky. Her only answer was the gusting wind from the storm she had called. At a loss for her next move, Asula kicked a stone over the edge in frustration.
An idea came to her as she watched it land with a thud. It was comforting and disturbing at the same time. She closed her eyes and placed her palms upon the earth in front of her.
(Better four, than my entire race.)
Rock fell that day. If only once, this was a time when a person so small had the ability to bring down a mountain. Maybe only one part of the rock face collapsed, but that matters little in the scheme of things.
Even if there had been enough time to run, Asula had drained her last ounce of strength. That time does not matter. There is only one time that matters.
Asula brought two thousand years of safety to the Planet that day, but her name was lost in the rock that became her grave.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"These are just scientific notebooks, sir."
Patrick let out a sigh of disgust. "You are dismissed." He sat down in the lab of the Shinra mansion and gingerly opened one of the seemingly ancient journals.
"Permanently dismissed," he continued, not even looking up. "Don't take it personally, since I want you to take all of your men and leave."
Inside his mind, Patrick watched the exchange that followed like a movie.
He heard his voice speak, though he did not control it. "Earlham is a fool. A simple puppet, while I am the only thing that the powers that be ever truly desired. His plans for conquest and armies are delusions, given to his simple mind so he could comprehend what I mean to this Planet."
"Take the men and take leave to Earlham. These are my orders. I don't think I shall need your help, don't you agree?" He turned his bright Mako eyes to the trembling man's face.
"I trust your judgment, sir." The soldier saluted.
"Just leave the chocobo."
The man nodded and left the room.
(This isn't me.
"Of course it is...this is all you ever wanted to be.")
Patrick held his head in his hands and moaned. (I won't let you control me!
"I told you before. I am you and I'm completely in control..."
Then why are you looking for a huge piece of red materia?
"Because that will benefit me...you...greatly."
You refuse to tell me why...yet if you and I are the same, then I should know what the materia is for, deep down. And you should know where it is!
"I never asked you or told you because you have no comprehension of such things. You're only a monster. This is the better Patrick, the one who will have a meaningful role in history!"
I'd rather be a monster than a puppet...
"Silly boy, don't you know you're both?")
Images flooded his head. Wutai burning, people dying, Azura crying, and Patrick smiling. (No...)
The little boy inside Patrick sobbed...and Jenova continued her work. His voice read an excerpt aloud: "It has been determined through much testing that the red-colored, so-called `Summon' materia actually opens an inter-dimensional gate, essentially sucking creatures from other worlds into our own. After a certain amount of time, usually determined by the power of both materia and materia user, these creatures are returned home through a subsequent gate back home.
"No person has ever attempted a leap into one of these portals, mainly because few exist on the Planet who can exert that much control over the power of the materia to create a stable portal for two-way travel. The only other option would be to leap into the return door with the creature, which would not work out for obvious reasons.
"If any of the powerful `Huge materia' in our company reactors happen to be of the red variety, this may be regarded as sort of an ultimate in summoning. If the right materia user could be found, this materia could be the key to creating portals between worlds. Summon materia could possibly be a key to the Promised Land."
Patrick sighed. "Signed, Professor Gast."
("And to think, I used to think he was the useless one. This is a wonderful development.") Patrick's mind had fallen into the background once more, but not without leaving valuable information for the being controlling him. ("There is only one materia user on the Planet qualified for such a task as the one I have in mind. Will love make her blind...or will her thirst for revenge on Wutai lead her to madness?
"Either way...I will have her.")
A twisted smile crossed his face. "My Zuri."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Reeve slowly walked into the front door of Tifa's Cosmo Canyon home. (It looks pretty quiet. Everyone must be in bed, thank goodness.) Closing the door behind him, he tiptoed into the living room, only to find himself face-to-face with Cloud.
"You missed quite a bit while you were off on your field trip," said the blond man with a twist of irony in his voice.
"I didn't do anything that you haven't done."
"I know." There was an awkward pause as the long-time adversaries gazed at each other.
"And I know about you and Rissy."
A slight bit of panic crossed Cloud's blue eyes.
"Relax." Reeve shrugged his shoulders a bit. "We're all under pressure. Riss is an adult. I would advise her against this, but as long as you don't hurt her," he said, emphasizing the last few words, "I can't be concerned with it at the moment."
His eyes softened. "Good... Zuri decided to look for Patrick, using that Sense-remote viewing skill of hers." His voice trailed off and he swallowed the lump in his throat. "He destroyed Wutai. Everyone flew off there in a rush. Zuri's resting upstairs, and so is Rissy."
"Why is Rissy"
"She got another psychic flash, and it was of the ruins of the city."
"Oh god..." Reeve put his face in his hands and leaned on the wall for support. "What in this Planet have I unleashed?"
"We can fix this," said Cloud.
"How?!" Reeve insisted. "Well maybe you can, but I sure as hell can't. I destroy everything I build. I'm too weak, I was never cut out for this hero nonsense."
"Even those born to be heroes can stumble along the way." He gestured to the scroll translation sitting on the table in front of him.
Wearily brushing back his brown hair and perhaps even a tear or two, he picked up the paper. Reeve glanced over a few lines and laughed bitterly. "He's the savior of the Planet, not the next Sephiroth, and I've been treating him like devil spawn." He set the paper down. "It's yet one more thing on my list of crimes. And Vincent thinks he has penances..."
"Daddy." Aeris carefully walked down the stairs to them, her face pale and wan, green eyes blazing. She placed her arms around him before looking up at Cloud. "We're in danger here," she said softly.
"What is it?"
"The huge materia. Jenova needs it for some reason or another, I don't know...but she has a link to Patrick now and he knows where it is."
Reeve shuddered. "The Planet is doomed."
"No." She shook her head softly. "There's still hope. That Wutai thing...was part of the search for the huge materia."
"That means Patrick must be fighting her control." Cloud was deep in thought. "And it's buying us time to stay a step ahead of her."
"If we leave now," said Aeris.
Breaking from his daughter's embrace, Reeve looked at the two of them. "The chocobo has been fed and stabled. He should be up for another spin tonight."
"We can't leave Zuri, Daddy..."
"Of course not. I will stay here and meet whatever may come." His voice was resolute. "Azura can get herself out of here if the danger presents itself. You two should take the materia from here and flee."
A tear rolled down Aeris' cheek. "Dad...you can't stay here, you'll be"
"Are you armed?" asked Cloud coolly.
"Rissy, go get the materia and stick it in my satchel."
The tears flowed more steadily as she turned and ran towards the observatory.
"You don't need to do this. Patrick is my son." Cloud's eyes were full of resolve.
"He may be of your blood, but I am the root of his exile, not only the physical, but also the mental and spiritual. If I can't help him, I alone deserve what he may unleash. Not you, not my Rissy, and certainly not Azura."
Aeris returned to the doorway, bag in hand.
"Take care of her, Strife."
She began to shake her head.
Cloud walked to her side. "It's the only chance we have. Only two of us can fit on the chocobo."
"You need to hurry," Reeve insisted.
It seemed a mere moment between the instant Aeris and Cloud rushed out the door to the last time Reeve heard a "Wark" resounding through the late night air. Shadows danced along the walls as the flame in the fireplace flickered its irregular rhythm. Glints of light reflected off the cold metal of the knives that rested in his lap.
He sat on the bottom of the stairs, guarding the passage to Azura's room with the faithfulness that any guilty man gives to his penance. Seconds may have passed, or minutes, or hours, but all those measures seemed irrelevant.
The only thing that mattered was that Reeve was there to meet fate eye-to-eye, with the plans to leave his weapons behind for once. It was time for forgiveness, for Patrick and for himself.
He just didn't know if the child he rejected for fourteen years had any ears left to listen to his apology.
Others may vanish in the depths of the night
Others may drown their sorrow in tears
The time is come to stay in sight
And reconcile these fears
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic