What Lies Within Chapter 3

By Shenara

The little boy cried. He knew what he’d done was wrong. He hadn’t meant to do it. His sobs became louder. He hadn’t meant to do it! And now 'He' would be mad. The boy always seemed to make 'Him' mad.

::Cry! That's all you know how to do isn't it!:: The sobs increased and the boy started shaking his head, his short silver hair flying about his face.

::Go away!:: The boy opened his eyes and glared, tears streaming down his cheeks. ::'He' said you're not real! Go away!::

A globe of darkness appeared before the boy and became a face. ::Oh I am very real, my child...::

::Don't call me that! You're not my mother!:: The boy grabbed a book nearby and threw it at the face. It passed through the darkness, causing it to ripple. ::Go away!:: The boy started to sob again, as the globe faded, chuckling softly.

Footsteps. They were very faint, but the boy heard them anyway. If they didn’t get louder he might be safe for now. He stifled his sobs as best as he could and prayed to the Planet that 'He' wouldn’t come.

The footsteps grew softer, and then the sounds disappeared completely. The boy stopped hiding his sobs and let them burst through again.

He knew what he’d done was wrong. He just didn’t know why.


::Can you walk now?::

As the dream fades from my mind, I try to grasp at the pieces of it but they float away. Who was that boy? The dream evades me completely and I open my eyes, “Zack?”

The black haired man is kneeling beside me. “I said, ‘Can you walk now?’” He rises to his feet and offers me his hand. I wait for the voice to scream at me, telling me not to trust him, but I hear nothing. After a few moments I grasp Zack's hand tightly and my old comrade pulls me to my feet, which I find are stable enough to walk on.

I release Zack’s hand, once again expecting a reprimand, and once again receiving only silence. Mentally shrugging it off, I look around, trying to get my bearings. I'm in another corridor, nearly identical to the one I last remember seeing.

“Come on. It’s close, and if we don’t hurry, it’ll catch us.” Zack hurries through the passageway, not looking back to see if his command was being followed.

I follow the bobbing spikes in front of me, easily able to keep up with the grueling pace the former Soldier sets. A thousand questions were brewing in my mind, the foremost of which is why my cheeks are still damp. “The Shadow Eater?”

The spikes bounce quickly - a nod. “Rupert was able to get a lock on us while I was waiting for you to wake up. We can’t afford any more incidents like that or he’ll catch us for sure.” Zack’s pace picks up - he's almost running now.

“How do you know so much about him?”

“I spent a lot of time with the Cetra after my old girlfriend, Aeris joined the Lifestream." At this Zack throws a look of anger over his shoulder, "I know all about their nifty creations. This cave we’re in for example: It’s called the Chambers of Fire. It’s sort of like the old Gongagan religion’s Hell. Persons found unworthy by the Cetra Council are sent here to be devoured by the Shadow Eater.” Zack had switched into his old ‘Soldier’ persona, the one he used to use on missions, back when we worked together.

“Are there any exits?”

“No. Not conventional ones anyway. The whole maze links up like a complex mobius loop. In the center though, there’s a materia. It’s huge and powerful. It’s the only thing that makes this place a reality. If we can get rid of it somehow…” Zack’s voice trails off as he continues his jog along the corridor.

I wait for him to continue, but apparently its my turn to talk again, “And you’ve got no idea how to do that.”

Zack’s shoulders shrug at the statement. How typical. He never did go into battle with a proper plan. I laugh once sharply. It's not a very joyous laugh, but it's hardly one of my old maniacal cries either. “Well that’s helpful. In that case, tell me what you know about ‘Rupert.’ Why are you so scared of him?”

Zack cranes his neck while jogging and glares at me. “I’m not scared.” He faces forward again to avoid running blind. “I just know our limits. The Shadow Eater devours the souls of those thrown into the Chambers. That’s its purpose as programmed by the Cetra. It is itself not of this world. It is an unholy fusion of Lifestream and Jenova, created by the Cetra in death to destroy their enemies.” Zack glances backwards again. “And before you ask, we can’t destroy it. It has no real substance, so we can’t really hurt it. That’s why we need to find a way to get rid of that damned materia.”

“I see.” I continue to jog behind Zack, trusting him to guide us to the center and our goal. So… the Cetra created a monster of Jenova? I guess you weren’t the first one, Professor. My eyebrows scrunch together as a new thought hits me. “Wait, Zack, if this thing is made of Jenova, I can just control it.”

Zack shakes his head violently. “Negative on that General. The only reason you were able to manipulate Jenova before was because you had so much of it in you. Our old bodies are gone though, the ones we have now are lifestream constructs made by that damned materia. You and I are both one-hundred-percent Jenova-free now!” Zack throws his trademark grin over his shoulder. “Ain’t it great?”

I shake my head in wonder. “So… I’m human now.”

“Eh, if you count being made of lifestream as human, then yeah, I guess so. None of that damned disease in us now though, that’s for sure.” Zack looks back at me again. "Didn't you wonder where your sword went when you woke up that first time?"

Screeching to a halt I quickly stare at my belt. The Masamune is gone, and so is its scabbard. I glance back at Zack, "And the Cetra did this?" Zack laughs uproariously, "What were you so stunned by seeing my charming face again, that you forgot completely about your beloved weapon? 'My, my how the mighty have fallen!'“

I glare at Zack's spikes and hope that he trips over his feet or something. "Fuck you."

Zack chuckles, "You wish Old Man!" and continues running.

"I'm not old."

Zack snorts, "Really? Then why are you panting back there?"

I come to a stop to catch my breath. "I'm NOT old..." I'm just... I'm just... I try to think back but something blocks my memory, and my vision starts to get blurry again. How old AM I?

Zack stops running and comes back to me. I begin to sway on my feet and he reaches out and grabs my shoulder, holding me up, "Easy there, Seph." He points at the corridor walls ahead of us, which are infused with a ghostly white glow, "Past this next bend is the materia chamber. If you’ve got any materia destroying ideas now would be a good time to share with the class.”

Chapter 4

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic