Appointment With Destiny Chapter 32

By T'Shael

"They destroyed each other." Tifa shook her head disbelief. "The top of the Shinra Building is gone."

Barret furrowed his brow. "So that means, no more Rufus and no more President, right?"

"Only if they were in the building at the time," answered Vincent, "On one of the top floors."

"So what next?" asked Yuffie. "Where do we go from here?"

"We go to the Ancient City," replied Cloud, looking up at the red ball in the sky. "It's time to find Aeris."

"If I didn't know any better, I'd say that thing looks a lot bigger than it did before," said Barret.

"It ought to." Red's tail twitched from side to side. "I think it's on a collision course with this Planet."

"It's going to kill everyone," said Vincent in his somber voice. "There's no place to run."

"Let's find Aeris fast," said Tifa nervously. "Maybe she can shred some light on what's going on."

"I'm ready to go when you are." Cid turned to his crew. "We're going to the Ancient City."

"Aye, aye Captain," said the head crewman.

Red XIII looked down and shook his head as Highwind made a pass over Midgar, then headed for the sea.

* * * * *

Hojo turned away from the television. The reporter was silent as he allowed his crew to televise the destruction caused by fight between Shinra Headquarters and the Diamond Weapon. When he came back on, he debated with a co-worker in the studio as to whether Rufus and the President were still alive.

Hojo turned back to the television and snapped it off. The President was dead. Now there was only Rufus to contend with. He man pulled at his thin hair as he walked into another room. He'd had his portable lab set up here. A hibernation cabin, resembling a glass coffin more than anything else, sat in the middle of the room. Inside lay the body of Sephiroth. Arms at his sides, his handsome face was still and pale. A device strapped to his arm fed him the solution that kept him in a coma. On his chest another device kept track of his heartbeat. Still another on his forehead registered his level of unconsciousness. The final device in his right arm fed him nutrients to keep him alive.

Hojo studied his son with pride. Sephiroth had turned out to be everything he expected of him physically. He was stronger than the average man. His mental powers and control over magic were commendable. The only thing he couldn't explain was the color of the young general's hair. Hojo wasn't sure if it originated from receiving Jenova cells in the womb or if it was some abnormality in Lucrecia's family bloodline.

Whatever the reason, Sephiroth had always been proud of his tresses. When the silver strands threatened to drag on the ground, he only used one barber. Wendyl Moff knew exactly how to trim the silver bangs. He was so highly skilled, he could cut Sephiroth's hair to hang below the knees, yet looked untouched by a pair of shears.

Personality-wise, Sephiroth had inherited a great deal of Jenova's temper. When something roused his anger, he was a terrible sight to behold. He was a strong disciplinarian, but he tempered it with fairness and exceptional leadership. He was extremely intelligent when it came to the matter of war and strategy. He'd never been beaten in a battle. Despite his sometimes violent outbursts, Sephiroth's men respected him. His reputation was a drawing card for young men seeking to enter the elite company known as SOLDIER.

For all his fame as the most celebrated SOLDIER to ever grace the ranks of Shinra's army, Sephiroth had one trait that irritated Hojo to the extreme . . . he inherited his mother's gentleness. Never before had that been so apparent, as it was now that Sephiroth had met and married Aeris. Hojo scowled. Before the Cetra came along, Sephiroth rarely displayed such a shameful emotion. The only reason, he hadn't asked Heidegger to beat it out of the boy was because it was usually directed toward an animal, like a dog or a chocobo. Except for General Heidegger or the late Professor Gast, he had behaved that way toward another human being.

He'd given Heidegger strict order not to pamper the boy. Sephiroth wasn't allowed to play with other children. Heidegger started teaching him about the military from an early age. Instead of fairy tales at night, Heidegger read tales of battles real and imaginary.

All of Sephiroth's toys were weapons and strategy games. He was never allowed to watch family oriented televison shows or movies. All he could see were military shows and recordings. Heidegger taught him how to fight and defend himself before he sent the boy to his first class at the Junon training facility. Everything Sephiroth touched, taught him nothing but how to be a soldier and a leader.

By the time he entered the senior ranks of cadets, nothing mattered to Sephiroth except being the greatest soldier possible. He made very few friends along the way and those didn't stick around when they couldn't get him to go to a dance or have fun the way other eighteen year olds did. Only Zack struck by his side.

Once Sephiroth was exposed to the contents of the chest, he had little or no interest the biological process between men and women. Just as happened to Hojo, the only emotion Sephiroth could feel the desire to conquer and enslave the Cetra.

Hojo's features darkened as he thought back t his own battle of spells. Six months before he met her, he'd dreamed of his Cetra too. But unlike Sephiroth, her beauty didn't fill him with love. All it did was make him even more determined to create a powerful army with her. Hojo wanted as many children as she could bear, and he was willing to use his laboratory to give her all the help she needed. Power is what spurred him on, power to do what he wanted with the world.

If his Cetra wasn't put off by his appearance, what she saw in his eyes repelled her even more. Hojo used what he thought were his strongest spells, but the Cetra defended herself against them. When spell was cast, Hojo sank to his knees, defeated, exhausted and furious. Her last words were a promise that his son would never have her daughter.

"She was wrong about that!" he hissed to Sephiroth. "I'll have her daughter and my army too!"

He circled the container staring at his son.

"I've gone out of my way to make you the best of the best," hissed Hojo. "And how do you repay me? You defy my greatest dream!"

He shook his head. He'd told Heidegger to teach his son women were only a drain on a woman's vitality. What had that fool done wrong? How could Sephiroth fall in love with the creature who was supposed to use to make his military prowess complete? He was supposed to OWN her not love her damn it!

As much as he admired Jerin, Hojo despised him too. If Jerin hadn't been weak enough to love the first Cetra, maybe this disease wouldn't have carried down to his son. HE hadn't let that nonsense get in HIS way. He had done what Jerin was too weak to do. Maybe he hadn't won his Cetra, but Lucrecia had worked out fine. She'd been nothing more than a vessel to carry his seed, and look what he'd created for his efforts! The father of a god!

Sephiroth was the father of the greatest heir to date and the proud owner of a Cetra bride. His family had fought for nineteen years to obtain that goal. Sephiroth had it all, but what did the fool want? A real family! Not an army with the power to conquer this world and others as it pleased. Hojo slapped his hand against the hibernation chamber in frustration. Why was he the only one who could see?

"If I were in your shoes," he said to the still face, "I'd go to my father and ask for ways to increase my offspring as quickly as possible. I'd set both of us on top of the world. Like Jenova before us, we are meant to be rulers, not followers and certainly not sheep. We are the ruling power on this planet and we have the right to crush it under our feet!"

Hojo smiled to himself. When Aeris surrendered, she'd get more than she bargained for. Now that his secret was out, he couldn't trust her not to interfere with his plans.

He went to another room, opened the door and turned on the light. An empty hibernation chamber lay waiting for an occupant. Her name was already on a metal tag fastened to its base. It wouldn't take much to convince Rufus to go along with his plans to produce an army "for Shinra," through artificial means. Now that the President wasn't around to put words into Rufus' mouth, things would go a lot smoother.

He could harvest what he needed from Aeris and Sephiroth to produce the embryos he needed. Once that was done, he would brainwash Aeris through the use of stimulants. He'd make her aware of her powers and obey his every command. When her conditioning was complete, he'd let her open the portal for Rufus. Once that was done, he'd put her back into a coma while Rufus negotiated with the beings on the other side. There wasn't enough information available on the Cetra to tell him if his brainwashing techniques would last permanently. Keeping her in a coma was less risky than having her snap out of it at an inopportune moment. She'd go on producing what he needed while she slept.

The eggs he harvested earlier would be his backup plan if the chemicals he used to make her pliant caused biological damage. If that happened, he would use grafts from her body to obtain DNA for eggs taken from other women. Hojo nodded to himself. Things were looking up indeed.

* * * * *

Rufus stared at the man in front of him. "You're sure? My father is dead?"

"Yes Sir." The trooper stood at attention. "Both the President and Scarlet were killed when the Diamond Weapon destroyed the top floors at Headquarters. We don't know how much damage was done to the building yet. The survey crews are still checking."

"What about Heidegger?" asked Rufus. "Did he survive?"

"No Sir," answered the trooper. "General Heidegger was on the roof."

Rufus turned his back on the man. Scarlet was dead. A weight fell off his shoulders. Now he didn't have to deal with her again. He silently whispered his thanks to the Diamond Weapon.

He turned back to the trooper. "You're sure about Scarlet?"

"Yes sir, we are." The trooper looked at Rufus curiously. "She was with your father at the time."

Rufus' didn't make any attempt to hide his satisfaction.

"Thank you trooper," he said. "You may return to your post. Keep me informed of any updates."

"Yes sir." The trooper saluted and left the room. He hadn't missed the fact Rufus wasn't showing any signs of grief over his father. He shook his head and went back report to his commanding officer.

Rufus stood in front of the window. So. It was all his now. His father was dead along and so was that tramp Scarlet. It wasn't going to be easy looking for a weapons specialist replacement, but he was sure he would. The building in Midgar would have to be repaired, and HIS office would be even bigger than his father's had been.

He looked at his watch. There was so much to do and so little time to do it. The first thing he had to do was establish himself as the new head of Shinra. Rufus went back to his desk and picked up the phone. A parade ought to be just the thing to make him more visible. The sooner, the better.

* * * * *

"This place is creepy," said Yuffie looking around. "You got that harp Cloud?"

"I've got it." Cloud carried the Lunar Harp tucked under his arm.

"What kind of bones were those?" asked Tifa looking back. She held on to Cloud's other hand tightly.

"I don't know," said Barret. "But I'm sure glad whatever it was, is dead."

"Ditto." Valentine looked around warily. "I guess that harp is working. We haven't been attacked yet."

"Think positive," said Cid. "You'll be wishing something on us directly, if you keep talking like that."

Red XIII stopped. "What's that?"

Yuffie stopped dead in her tracks. "What's what?"

"That red thing, that keeps moving around over there," said Red.

Barret raised his gun. "Where is it?"

"I don't think its dangerous." Red tensed, then raced off into the brush.

"Red?" Cloud gave the harp to Tifa and reached for his sword. "Where are you?"

Red XIII came trotting out of the bushes with something in his mouth.

"Materia!" screeched Yuffie. She reached for it. Red pulled it out of her reach and gave it to Cloud.

"It's a summon materia," said Cloud turning it over in his hands.

"Mine!" Yuffie reached for it. Cloud pulled it out of her reach.

"C'mon Red," he said. "Let me fasten it to your comb."

"Mine!" said Yuffie stubbornly.

"Oh shut up Yuffie," said Cid in a tired voice. "I'm so sick of you whining over materia, I could scream."

Yuffie gave him a dirty look, but kept her thoughts to herself.

AVALANCHE followed the path through the forest to the City of the Ancients. After some exploring, they found the path to the shell house. Cloud led the way down the stairs.

"Everything is so beautiful!" said Tifa. "So this was the home of the Cetra, long time ago."

"They'd still be here, if they'd hadn't crossed swords with Jenova," said Red. "Rumor has it, the tried to kill her because she was trying to warn humans about them."

"Look." Vincent pointed. "Isn't that Aeris on that platform over there?"

"That's her," said Cloud. He started toward Aeris, but Cid pushed him out of the way and hurried across the crude stepping stone path to get to the kneeling girl first.

"What do you mean by stealing my ship?" he shouted. "We saved you from Shinra and you pay me back by running off with my ship and my crew?"

Cloud hurried up to Cid and touched him on the shoulder. "Easy Cid. Let her finish her prayer first."

"She ought to pray I don't wring her neck!" huffed Cid. "Where does she get off stealing my ship?"

Aeris opened her eyes and smiled at them.

"I've been waiting for you," she said. "I'm ready to go back to Nibelheim."

"Oh. Just like that?" Cid folded his arms. "What makes you think I'd take you anywhere after what you did?"

"I'm sorry Cid," said Aeris standing up. "I know I should have asked to use the Highwind first, but I didn't want to put any of you in danger. The Temple of the Ancients is a very dangerous place."

"It wouldn't be the first time," snarled Cid. "We've been through danger before. I'm sure we could have handled one broken down temple."

"You don't understand," said Aeris. "Once the black materia is removed from the altar, the building will collapse on the person carrying it, if he tries to leave. Someone has to die in order to accomplish that task."

"So who did you kill?" asked Yuffie. Her hand rested on her weapon.

"I didn't kill anyone," replied Aeris. "There was someone there willing to die to in order for me to leave. He volunteered."

"Gee, thanks," said Barett sarcastically. "I didn't know you cared."

"Of course I care," said Aeris looking at him, as if surprised by his remark.

"What makes you one of US would have had to die?" asked Cid pointedly.

"The Lagomorph wouldn't have come forward, if any of you were there. That means one of the group would have had to die. I didn't want to put anyone in that position."

"Why did you go after the black materia in the first place?" asked Cloud. "What do you need it for?"

"I needed it to summon Meteor," said Aeris simply.

"Meteor?" Tifa looked shocked. "You mean that thing is in the sky?"

Aeris nodded.

"What is Meteor and why would you call it here?" asked Cloud.

"Meteor destroys other Planets," replied Aeris. "That's all it does as it travels through space."

They stared at her.

"Then the tales about the Cetra trying to take over this Planet were true," said Yuffie. Her voice trembled. "I never knew whether to believe them or not. Now I know the truth."

"No you don't." Aeris looked at each of them in turn. You don't know anything about the Cetra, but it's time you did. The Cetra left their world because the sun was going to explode. They traveled through space as far as they could go, looking for a place most like their home. By the time they found this planet, they were almost out of fuel. Their ship crashed in the ocean just off the coast of this continent. The people salvaged what they could before it sank and came ashore. They built this city and for a time, they didn't interact with humans. They merely observed them from a distance."

"The humans at that time, were primitive and life was very hard for them. They were developing much too slow to adapt to the changes on this planet. Many died of disease or environmental conditions. After a council meeting, the Cetra decided to work with humans, bringing them technology a little at a time, until they were able to live comfortably and develop as a species on their own. It was a good arrangement. Humans accepted the Cetra and learned many things from them. Some even married Cetra men and women. Life was fine until Jenova came along."

"Jenova was a lady in the royal court on her planet. She tried to kill the queen. For whatever reason, she thought if the queen took sick and died, the king would turn to her, and take her as his next bride. Something went wrong, and her plot was discovered."

"Jenova was banished. She was looking for a place to live when she took ill and crashed into this planet. Her body in its natural form is what made that big crater on the other end of this continent. The Cetra saw her descent and went looking for her. While they were assisting her, they found out she was a shape shifter. Knowing the humans would panic if they saw her as she was, they convinced Jenova to take on a more pleasing appearance. She took on the form of a beautiful woman. The Cetra brought her back to their village and nursed her back to health."

"Jenova helped in assisting humans at first, but she was amazed at how primitive and weak they were compared to the Cetra and herself. Men adored her new form and she loved to manipulate them. She could get anything she wanted by batting her eyes. It wasn't long before she started abusing humans whenever she could. When the Cetra spoke to her about it, she ignored them."

"Jenova had the ability to manipulate the human mind. She was the cause of several divorces. She made it look as if all the men were pursuing her. Some men did, but the rest were victims of her control.

"When a young girl committed suicide, a diary was found in her home portraying a troubled mind. According to the diary, the girl had been thinking of killing herself for months. Supposedly, even her upcoming marriage wasn't enough to make her want to live. Everyone assumed she would have killed herself anyway, but the Cetra suspected Jenova had gone to the girl and manipulated her into writing the entry and killing herself because she wanted to play around with the groom. Since the girl didn't die until the groom rejected Jenova, it had to be her.

The Cetra were also concerned about mysterious fires, people vanishing, crops failing and unexplained deaths. "When they confronted her about it, Jenova denied everything. Pretending to be outraged by the accusations, she went to the villagers in tears proclaiming her innocence. Having never seen the bad side of Jenova, and taken by her sparkling charisma, the villagers sided with her and looked upon the Cetra with suspicion."

"To further ingratiate herself into the villagers good graces, Jenova took advantage of her status as a victim and moved into the village. She dated one man exclusively then married him. She announced her pregnancy a short time later. In the meantime, fires kept appearing, people went on vanishing and crops failed sporadically all over the Planet. Jenova never failed to mention these events and the Cetra in the same sentence. Contact between the humans and the Cetra dwindled almost to non-existence. There still people who believed the Cetra were good, but Jenova was shielded by supporters."

"The birth of her son curbed Jenova's appetite for mayhem. The Cetra feared for the child, but Jenova was so fascinated with her hybrid baby, for a while, she left both humans and Cetra alone. Naming her baby Jerin, she pampered and spoiled him shamelessly. When Jerin was old enough to walk, Jenova started taking him off by herself. No one would see her for days. When she came back, Jerin always had a new talent to show off. The strangest thing is that even though her husband didn't know where she was when she wandered off, he never questioned Jenova. He simply smiled when people asked where his wife was. He was probably being manipulated too."

"By the time Jerrin was four years old, Jenova was up to her old tricks again. The Cetra took the blame for everything she did. Most people avoided the Cetra now. Their human friends were forced to visit at night when there was no fear of being seen. To do otherwise was to be openly scorned and abused by the rest of the villagers."

"The Cetra were at their wits end when Jenova came to visit one day. She freely admitted being the cause of their troubles. She told them flat out, she was tiring of playing the role of a human weakling. She felt humans were little more than worthless parasites who didn't appreciate the fact that they were living on a world with such potential. Excluding her son, there wasn't another being on the planet with the ability to turn things around. Jenova had decided to conquer the world. She intended to set herself up as queen with her son as prince and heir."

"The Cetra were the only threat to her plans. Jenova didn't want them interfering, and she didn't want them to help any humans who came to them for shelter. In short, Jenova promised the Cetra, if they stood aside, while she fulfilled her dream, she would never touch or harm them in any way. They turned her down. Jenova didn't argue or plead with them. She left without another word."

"Her next act surprised them all. Jenova went back to the village and called the people together. She admitted to being an alien. She told them, she'd come to the planet in a spaceship, fleeing an arranged marriage. She told them how the Cetra took her in, injured and dying, and nursed her back to health. She told them how the Cetra had taught her to work with humans and how she'd come to love them. What she didn't tell them, is that she was wearing human disguise. She didn't tell them she was the one who blighted crops, and killed animals. She especially didn't tell them some of those missing people had been devoured by herself. In her natural form, Jenova used a lot of energy to get around in the atmosphere. If her body craved nourishment when she traveled at night, she ate the all the edible creatures she could find. She didn't care if it was animal or human. Food was food. Those she didn't eat, witnesses who'd seen her natural form, were tortured to death for amusement and buried where they couldn't be found."

"The villagers were shocked, to say the least, but what she said next had them pale with fright. Jenova claimed to have gone back to the Cetra city to "reason with them," when she came upon a meeting of the elders. Fearful of Jenova's popularity, the Cetra were planning to attack the village and kill every man woman and child, she said. It was an act designed to strike fear throughout the planet. Murdering a village or two with special powers they possessed would make the rest of the humans fall in line, then the Cetra would set themselves up as gods and rulers."

"As for herself, Jenova said she was to be publically executed to further demonstrate the Cetra would not stand for anyone interfering in their right to control the world. She swore to use what abilities she had, to protect the humans and their world."

The human hid in their homes, while Jenova sent a messenger to challenge the Cetra to a fight. As soon as the messenger was out of sight, she sent her son and husband away. When the challenge was read to the Cetra by a messenger, my ancestor hid her child with a human family. Jenova meant to kill the Cetra all along. By setting them up as the perpetrators of a foul plan, she could kill them and still keep the friendship of the villagers. Both sides killed each other."

"When Jerin heard his mother was "dead," his personality took a turn for the worst. Always a bit of a spoiled brat, he became an outright bully. There are still a lot of people who think the Cetra were evil, but a lot of them changed their minds. Especially Jerin's victims."

"According to Hojo, some parts of Jenova body were still alive when they found her, but they'll die by the end of this year. Maybe on her own world, her people could have revived her body before it died completely, but that technology does not exist on this world. Hojo wants recreate Jerin's attempt to bear a child with Lascinda, but Sephiroth won't cooperate. Now he's using Sephiroth as bait to get me anyway."

"How do you know all this?" said Yuffie. "You said you didn't know anything about this world when you first came here. You said you didn't have any magic either, but now you're summoning meteors from outer space to kill us!"

"You're right," said Aeris. "I didn't know anything about this world when I first came here and I didn't know anything about my powers."

"Then why do you know about them now?" asked Barret.

"My people told me." Aeris shrugged. "I asked for their help and they showed me how to find the power inside me."

"Your people are dead," said Cid. "Do I need to point out the obvious?"

"They're dead to this world," said Aeris. "But they've been talking to me since I came here. I just couldn't hear them."

"Right," Yuffie looked scornful. "What did your people say?"

"They told me to help the Planet protect itself," replied. "They told me to help it release the Weapons."

"YOU did that?" Barret looked incredulous. "YOU turned those things loose?"

"When the Cetra made this Planet their home, they vowed to protect it from harm," said Aeris. "They didn't create the Weapons. The Planet did."

"Why didn't the Weapons attack when Shinra first started sucking the Planet dry?" asked Vincent.

"The Cetra have the gift to hear the Planet speak," replied Aeris. "By the time Shinra came into existence, they were gone. Their spirits were trapped in the Lifestream. Without the Cetra to protect it, the Planet created an arsenal to defend itself, but it took a lot of work. The effort required to build the Weapons combined with Shinra's mining process, was a tremendous drain on the Planet's resources. It's too weak to activate its own creations. The spirits of my people in the Lifestream reached out to me and told me what to do. I gave the Planet what it needed. "

"Why didn't you hear the Cetra before?" said Vincent.

Aeris looked embarrassed.

"I didn't come to this Planet with a receptive mind. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself at first, and later on, I was too busy trying to adjust to life in Sephiroth's world. I never made a real effort to find out who I was or where I came from. I was desperate when I called out to my mother for help."

"Your mother didn't die here," said Cloud. "How could she answer?"

"Somehow her sprit passed through the vortex to join the souls of our people here," said Aeris. "When I heard my people speak, it was wonderful! It felt as if I'd been blind and suddenly my eyes started working again. I just knew everything. I heard the Planet calling to me and I did as it asked.

"So you released a bunch of monsters upon the land and a thing from space to destroy us all," said Cid bitterly.

"I'm doing what I have to do," said Aeris. "I know it looks bad. All I can do is ask you to trust me."

"Why?" asked Barret pointing to the sky. "That's our death warrant up there, and you wrote it."

"I'm not the threat you think I am," she said. "I have to go after Hojo, but AVALANCHE has to stop Rufus."

Cloud folded his arms. "We'll stop Rufus all right, but what are you going to do about Meteor?"

"Just trust me," pleaded Aeris. "Stop Rufus. I've got a feeling Rufus is going to be ten times worse than his father. There's a very cruel man behind those blue eyes of his."

"There might a very cruel woman behind those green eyes of yours," said Yuffie. "Why don't you call off Meteor?"

"I'm going to see Hojo." Aeris had a determined look on her face. "Leave me in Nibelheim and go after Rufus."

Tifa shook her head. "I can't believe you're willing to kill all of us just to save your husband."

"She sacrificed someone at the Temple, so why not us?" said Yuffie.

Aeris looked at the accusing eyes around her.

"If I don't confront Hojo my way," she said. "Calling off Meteor won't make a bit of difference in what happens to this world."

"What makes you think that?" asked Red.

"Hojo has no intention of letting me or Sephiroth go. He's going to use us to take over the Planet, and believe me, his plan will work."

AVALANCHE looked uncertain.

"Those Weapons are attacking Shinra troops and Shinra establishments, but I'm sure innocent people were hurt in Midgar too," said Cloud. "What about that?"

"I'm sorry," said Aeris looking pained. "I asked the Planet to be careful. I don't have any control over what the Weapons do."

"By the reports we heard coming in, there are at least two more Weapons out there," said Red. "A big green one in the sea and a red one hiding in the sand near the Gold Saucer."

"They'll go back to sleep if we stop Shinra," said Aeris. "That's all the Planet wants."

"We could help you with Hojo," said Tifa.

Aeris shook her head. "I have to do this alone."

"You've never used your powers before," said Yuffie. "What makes you think you can beat Hojo alone?"

"I'll do whatever I have to do," said Aeris. "Jerin forced Lasinda into another world and condemned eighteen other women to fight for their freedom every generation. I'm not going to run away from Jerin's line anymore. I'm going to face Hojo for the right to live my life as I please."

Yuffie looked impressed. "And all this time, we thought you were just a crybaby."

Tifa jabbed the young girl with her elbow.

"Ouch!" whined Yuffie. "What did you poke me for? You know I'm telling the truth!"

Everyone shuffled uncomfortably. Cid cleared his throat and looked away.

"That's okay," said Aeris. "I understand. I would probably have thought the same thing about me."

She turned to Cid. "I'm sorry I took your ship without asking Cid. I was just doing what I thought I had to do. Can you forgive me?"

Cid glanced up at the sky as if he could see Meteor through the dome.

"You'll take care of that?" He indicated the sky with a jerk of his head.

"Trust me," she said.

Cid gazed into her bright green eyes and relented. "Okay. I'm putting my trust in you Aeris. Don't let me down."

Aeris smiled at him. "Will you drop me off in Nibelheim?"

Cid nodded. "If that's what you want, you've got it."

Aeris smiled at him. "That's what I want."

Cid nodded and turned toward the walkway. "Let's go then."

Aeris looked at the others. They nodded, then turned to follow Cid. Aeris took one last look around, then went after them.


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