Redemption Chapter 31
By Janet Monstwillo
Azura was shaking in spite of herself. No matter how hard she tried to become convinced that her situation was entirely under control, it wasn't working. Maybe that feeling was caused by the huge storm blowing up behind them...or the huge waves splashing up around the back of their Gold Chocobo. It was a possibility.
"What are you spooked about, it's just a little squall," said Patrick tersely. His arm was still wrapped tightly around her waist.
Under any other circumstances, she would have been less than grateful. She shivered slightly. Suddenly, a huge crest of water broke on top of the pair; Azura was knocked free from the vise-like grip and cast off the chocobo. As this registered, she only had time for a short gasp before her entire mouth and nose were filled with salt water. The liquid flowed around her, but her landing was hard.
Bright mako eyes gazed up at her from atop the bird. "The shoreline becomes quite...indistinct when the waves are so large, doesn't it, Zuri?"
She pulled herself to her knees, brushing wet sand from her face. "You dropped me," she said incredulously.
"Just making sure you understand where the control lies in this little relationship of ours." He smirked.
"You are very sure of yourself...for a person who just ruined a piece of priceless materia with a juvenile temper tantrum only a little bit ago."
Patrick shook his head. "I cannot be juvenile."
She shrugged. "Then I know you're not really Pat. He's just a kid and he would admit it...to me at least."
("I could easily fool a child like you...but...making you believe isn't worth my time.")
Azura gasped, for Jenova's thought had entered her head. ("Child. Didn't you know that this would happen to you sooner or later...it will happen to all of your little group! How can you hope to defeat me when part of me is inside you all?")
Patrick turned to her. "If you destroy me, you will destroy yourself."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"We have to turn back!" Cloud shouted over the roar of the waves.
"And go where?" Aeris retorted as water broke and spun in the air around them. "We're at least halfway."
"We haven't hit the heart of the storm yet, though."
"At the heart of the storm lies Patrick." She bent down, attempting to soothe the startled chocobo.
Cloud yanked her back down into the saddle. "RISS! If we're riding to certain death, at least keep your butt down where I can keep a firm grip on it."
She turned back and grinned, even as another wave broke over them. "Why would you want a grip on my butt?"
He grabbed the reins and urged the bird to stop. It happily complied. "Even without the storm, this might be certain death."
"Cloud...for us, breathing brings us a step closer to certain death." She took the reins back. "If we're gonna die, we should at least be doing the right thing when it happens. Besides, I can see the shore from here."
The chocobo's terrified warks were barely heard above the roar of the water. Feet pounding through the troughs and peaks of waves, it soon reached the shore. He dismounted, automatically turning and helping Aeris down.
"I'm glad you could join the party," Patrick grinned. "It's just never the same without you guys."
Azura sat propped against a large rock, one hand on her temple, the other wrapped around herself for warmth.
Aeris' eyes widened. "If you laid one hand on her, I swear"
"Calm yourself, sweet sister. Zuri is fine, isn't she?"
The small girl moaned and held her head. "It's not supposed to be like this, Pat."
The voice seemed to reverberate through the land.
"It's not really there," Patrick announced. "But we all share a bond you see, a debt to the greatest being on the Planet. Without her, our lives as we know it? Zip. Nada."
"There are four of us," Cloud began carefully. "If we just keep together, we can easily break down the power of her attraction."
"Do we really want that, though?" Patrick smirked. "I mean, if you break your bond, you have to remember the pain you caused my mother. Didn't she scream when you held her down on the bed, Cloud?"
"Patrick!!" Aeris' hands formed into fists.
"Oh and you...my perfect big sis. So perfect that her father couldn't even stand to see her until she was about seven years old."
"He didn't know," she said defensively.
"He didn't care." He walked to Azura. "See what a beautiful happy family we are? Whose image are we made in?" He laughed derisively. "Alone, we are flawed, wretched mortals. Combined with her, we can become as gods."
"There was one who said that, long ago. His death was long, and he probably still has torment in his life. Is that what you want?" asked Cloud.
("What Patrick wants is what I want. Combined, we are the most powerful being that has ever existed on this Planet.")
Aeris walked silently over to Patrick. "With all the Planet has shown to me, it neglected...one..." She shook her head.
She held up a hand, silencing Cloud. "It neglected one important thing. The most important fact of all."
Patrick grinned knowingly. "We are..."
Azura rose and walked up to the two of them. "...the children..."
A realization hit Cloud. He knew this scene. (But why am I just a spectator?) "No, stop!" he yelled. "Aeris..." His steps toward the group seemed as if they were slow motion.
"We are the children of Jenova." Aeris lifted the satchel off her shoulder, handing it to Patrick.
("You are left to simply watch because that's all you were ever good for, failure.") Jenova's words murmured in Cloud's mind.
Aeris turned her head to see him kneeling in pain. "Wait...Cloud?"
Patrick scowled and nodded to Azura. Suddenly the two of them were surrounded by a barrier of energy, which blasted Aeris away from them and onto her knees. She stumbled into Cloud.
"Oh no," she whispered.
"So..." There was a sickening lurch in his stomach. "She couldn't hold all of us at once. Looks like you're a spectator, too."
"No!" She jumped to her feet, hurling herself into the barrier.
Patrick laughed as his sister bounced off the blue wall of magic. "Zuri, darling."
The girl was back on her knees, holding her head. "No...get that away..."
"What?" His eyes were opened wide, in an expression of faux innocence. "Oh, you mean the huge materia?" Opening the top flap of the satchel, he scooped up the large red mako crystal. "I'm afraid it's stuck inside here with us."
(no...no...no...no... get it out...open the barrier...
"Make me. Asula, it's been a long time. I've been biding my time waiting for revenge. I'm going to need all of my strength to break this will...")
Patrick handed the materia to Azura. "You can put your energy into this. All your will for fighting, into this crystal. It will set you free."
"No. It won't." She felt her hands wrap around the cold materia anyway. It began to glow as soon as it made contact with her skin.
Aeris got up and banged on the divider between them. "Zuri...you can fight this."
She tried to drop the materia, but she found she couldn't. ("That loss of control you're feeling? I may not be able to completely control you, girl, but I can control the parts of you that count."
Control this!) Azura slammed her head directly into the barrier. Her hands lost grip on the materia, which slowly slipped down and landed gently on the ground.
"Zuri?" Patrick whispered, with a hint of his old self in the tone of his voice.
"See?" A drop of blood slid out of Azura's nose. "We can fight it, Pat. Tell me you want to fight it."
"I..." His eyes flashed. He shook his head. "I want to..." His voice dropped to a whisper. "...it's too damn hard." His head suddenly jerked to the right, as if listening to a voice that only he could hear.
"She says...that she'll let us go, Zuri. We just have to use this materia...once."
"Jenova lies!" Cloud shouted.
"Be strong," Aeris said.
"Once, and we'll be free?" Azura asked weakly.
She jumped into his arms. "Okay."
Aeris buried her face in Cloud's shoulder. He watched the girl slowly pick up the materia. A bright blood red glow hung in the air around them, steadily glowing brighter. (I pray we have the strength to fight against whatever horror they are unleashing.)
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic