Unwilling Weapon


NOTE: It is recommended you read My Little Angel before reading this in order for the story to make some sense.

Our heroic party has recently left the Temple of the Ancients. Not long after that Aeris has left the party. In Gongaga where the party is, Cloud has newly awakened.

“Where am I?” Cloud murmurs, pressing down on the bed trying to get up. The soft white mattress yields easily. “Tifa?” Cloud asks uncertainly.

“Over here.” Tifa replies wryly, standing from her chair at the bedside.

“I’m sorry.” Cloud says nervously. “I thought…” He trails off awkwardly.

“I know.” Tifa replies smiling. “Silly.” She reaches a hand down to Cloud and pulls him up.

“How long was I out?”

“A coupla’ days.” Barret says walking in. “You all right?” Cloud nods.

“While you were sleeping Aeris left.” Tifa mentions. “No explanation. The others are still looking for her.”

Cloud nods again. “I know where she went. Get everyone together; we’re heading to the City of the Ancients.” Barret heads off to fetch the party.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” Tifa asks, concerned. “You attacked Aeris…”

“I know.” Cloud says guiltily. “But what other choice do I have? We’ve got to find her.”

“I had to stop you…I knocked you unconscious.” Tifa admits.

“As well you should have.” Cloud replies sadly.

“What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know. The best idea I have is to have you keep an eye on me. If I act funny stop me however it takes. I am a liability with Sephiroth in my head so take care of me if need be.” Cloud looks up to meet Tifa’s eyes. “I know you can do it.” Tifa nods reluctantly.

Aeris travels alone heading north.

“It really is quite simple the way that Sephiroth flies around.” Aeris thinks floating above the waves. “The energy within is what propels you.” She slows to a halt above a small island. “Though that makes it no less tiring.” She touches down. “Not a bad place to rest.”

A couple of monsters come over the hill in the center of the atoll. They charge the last surviving Ancient. She doesn’t bat an eyelash though. She incinerates them with a fire spell.

“Good thing I kept this.” Aeris thinks pocketing her newborn fire material. “They won’t miss it. Now for a nap.” Aeris stretches out on the beach.

In the Tiny Bronco, everyone is sitting kind of cramped up.

“How long is this gon’ take?” Barret asks, elbowing Cait Sith.

“Since this thing can’t fly no more, ‘bout two days or so.” Cid replies. “It is on the other side of the world for crying out loud!”

“Can you open the window?” Yuffie asks pleadingly. “I need to…ulp!” She makes a very ugly face.

“No! Ya want more water in here?” Cid yells harshly. “It’s wet enough as it is! Damn Shinra shot it full of holes already!”

“You want to open the window, Cid.” Vincent says flatly. “I really think you do.”

“She is lookin’ awful green over there.” Barret agrees. “I say you should open it up.”

“That is also what I would suggest.” Red XIII affirms edging away from Yuffie. “If only to avoid a mess.”

“All right already! Quit your bellyachin’!” Cid opens the window and gets drenched. “Ya happy now?”

Yuffie doesn’t respond. She stands then lurches in Cid’s direction.

“Don’t go hugging on me! Get offa- @#$%!” Cid swears. “I can’t believe you just-@#$%! %$#&*@^ *%@#&!” He trails off angrily.

“I tol’ you!” Barret chides.

“You were warned.” Vincent states.

Red XIII just shakes his head.

Outside, on top of the Tiny Bronco Cloud and Tifa sit watching the waves.

“What do you think the commotion is?” Tifa asks, noting the rising din from below them.

“That? I dunno. Somebody got seasick.” Cloud replies. “Probably Yuffie. I don’t remember anybody giving her a tranquilizer and without that she’s a barf bucket waiting to tip.”

Tifa nods. “Cloud?” She asks, changing topics. “How do you know where Aeris went?”

“While I was out of action she came to me in a dream. She was in the Sleeping Forest that leads to the City of the Ancients. She told me to leave everything to her.” Cloud shrugs. “It’s the only lead we have.”

“I don’t doubt it. I was just curious that’s all.”

“I know. It’s hard to explain. I just feel drawn to the place.”

“It must be hard just rolling with your gut.” Tifa says reflectively.

“Sometimes I feel so powerless. Like my only option is to see where this takes me. I don’t even know what is going to happen. All I can do is watch how it turns out.” Cloud sulks.

“I think things will turn out fine.” Tifa says, scooting next to Cloud. “You just have to believe.” She pulls him to lean on her.

Aeris is lying on a nameless shoreline, dreaming.

“Where am I?” Aeris ponders as her surroundings blur and haze out. “What is this?” The setting comes into focus.
“Sector 5?” Aeris thinks quizzically. “My old home?” She hovers over the tableau.

Her house and the field beside it are just as she remembers them. She sees herself run into the house. Shinra operatives are close behind.

“I remember this.” Aeris thinks, somewhat miffed. “This is the first time the Shinra came to get me.”

The scene changes. Inside the house, the Shinra and Elmyra are arguing. Aeris watches from above.

“No!” Elmyra yells forcefully. “I won’t allow it! She is my daughter and I will not allow her to be poked and prodded as some lab animal!”

“It really is not your decision.” The Head Officer says. “Your daughter is Shinra property.”

“This is not your house! You cannot take my daughter away from me!” Elmyra bars the way upstairs.

“I do not see why we continue this pointless debate. This is actually quite far out of your hands. I suggest you stay out of our way.”

“I don’t wanna go!” Cries little Aeris from upstairs.

“You hear that? She doesn’t want to go! So why don’t you all just leave!” Elmyra points at the door.

“Sorry. My orders were to recover the Ancient. They transcend what insignificant misgivings you may possess about the whole situation. Men, move her aside!”

“Get your hands off me! Aeris! Run!”

A few moments later a kicking, screaming little girl is brought downstairs.

“Let me go! Mommy, help!” Aeris cries.

“Aeris!” Elmyra lunges for her but two others grab her arms. “I’m sorry.”

“Take her away.” The head officer commands. “As for you…” He turns to Elmyra. “Mind your place.” He then smacks her.

“Don’t hurt my mommy!” Little Aeris yells, beginning to glow with a green aura.

“This isn’t how it went at all…” Aeris thinks to herself. “What is happening?”

“I’m having trouble holding her!” One of the grunts says.

“She’s heavier than I thought!” The other agrees.

“What are you talking about? She is just a little- what?”

Little Aeris had grown to about nine feet tall and was still growing. “Go away!” She screams.

The thugs are now tripping over themselves trying to find the door. Except for the head officer, who is still trying to do his job.

“Would you like to come with me?” Head officer asks nicely. “Where I‘m going we have lots of candy, even for a big girl like you.” He smiles. “What do you say?”

“NO!” Little Aeris screams, stamping her foot.

The rest of the head officer’s wherewithal disappears and he’s off like a racer from the starting line.

The dream ends and Aeris awakens.

“That isn’t how it happened at all.” Aeris remarks to herself sitting up. “I used to wish that could happen and fantasized a lot about it when I was younger but that isn’t how it went. No matter how much I wish it was.
I remember I climbed out the window and hid in the field while they searched all of Sector 5 looking for me. There is some truth to it though and it would explain how mom got that bruise I saw when I came back.” Aeris ruminates a bit.
“Why would I twist up a memory that way? Is the Planet trying to tell me something?” Aeris stands.
“I had better go. I won’t get anywhere puzzling over this all day. If I want to get to Bone Village by nightfall I had better hurry.”

The Tiny Bronco has docked for the night.

“Alright, idiots!” Cid yells. “Everybody off! I got to clean up this mess so get lost!” Everybody exits.

“Looks like we camp here.” Cloud declares. “Turn in early. We start at the crack of dawn tomorrow!” He begins to set up a tent.

“You know what’s been bothering me, fearless leader?” Barret asks limping off the plane. “What the hell happened to your hair?”

“I’d rather not explain.” Cloud replies sourly.

“You should! You look like a foo’!” Cloud growls in return.

“It is quite stylish.” Red XIII counters in Cloud’s defense. “For one of my race.” He laughs, an odd huffing sound.

“Whoa!” Yuffie says, leaping out of the plane. “Red XIII is picking on you, that’s harsh!” She laughs.

“You do look silly.” Vincent says dryly. “It mystifies me how you are able to walk around in that condition.” He chuckles, a foreign noise from him. So everyone looks at him oddly.
“Am I not allowed to laugh?”

“Cloud.” Cait Sith says, hopping next to him. “You have to tell us what happened. Even Vincent is laughing at you. Come on, tell.”

“Yeah, spill.” Barret agrees. Everyone looks at Cloud expectantly.

“It is pretty messed up.” Cloud admits, rubbing his chin looking up. “I guess all I can say is do NOT let Tifa touch your hair!” He declares to the party. They laugh some more, Vincent included yet again, and continue setting up camp.

“Why did you sell me out?” Tifa asks, helping Cloud with the tent.

“They deserved to know!” Cloud replies amiably. “You did kill my hairstyle as I recall. It wasn’t me!”

“There was nothing else I could do! You looked like a lost street urchin! What would you have had me do?”

“Not touch the hair!”

“Not touch the hair! What, do you think scrubbing a dingy doll-sized person is a precision science? I couldn’t help it. You’re lucky you didn’t get soap in the eye!”

“I did!” Cloud counters.

“There you go! What could you expect?”

“You not to touch the hair! How many times do I have to say that?” Cloud says almost exasperated. “Besides you ruined my hairstyle on purpose! You grabbed me up after I escaped to deliberately trash my hair!” He finishes tent assembly.

“You should be thankful! You smelled like a goblin!”

“Now I look like a goblin! Thanks!”

Tifa looks at Cloud. “You’re right. Exactly the right height and hairdo to pass for one aren’t you?” She laughs. Cloud makes another face and sits next to the campfire.

Night is just falling in Bone Village and Aeris has just arrived.

“Hi, is this where the Sleeping Forest is?” Aeris asks.

“Yes, it is.” The Head archaeologist replies. “You’ll need a Lunar Harp to pass through it though. Otherwise you’ll just get lost.”

“I need a Lunar Harp to get through the forest to the City of the Ancients? How do I get one of those?”

“You have us dig it up. They are in the ground around here.”

“You’d do that for me? Thank you very much!”

“Not without a fee and we’re closed for the night anyway. You have to pick a dig site during the day.”

“Really? But I’m in a very big hurry, can’t you help me?” Aeris bats her eyes suggestively.

The Head archaeologist looks uncomfortable. He looks to his fellow diggers for support. They shrug.

“Please?” Aeris pleads with large anime green eyes.

“…all right.” The Head archaeologist relents. “But you’ll have to pay double!”

“Yay!” Aeris cheers.

“That will be one thousand gil.”

“Here.” Aeris hands over a thousand gil and bounces off to the large tent.

“Sir, she didn’t tell us where to dig.” One of the diggers complains.

“Just find the Lunar Harp.” The Head archaeologist snaps.

“Yes sir!” The diggers reply in unison.

Cloud and Tifa are sitting in the tent preparing to turn in. Cloud is sitting up staring at the canvas wall while Tifa is lying down in her sleeping bag looking at him.

“What’s your problem?” Tifa asks finally.

“…nothing.” Cloud replies, sounding down.

“I don’t buy that.” Tifa sits up. “Tell me.”


“You’re worried about her aren’t you?”

Cloud nods and stares at the ground.

“Look, you can’t worry yourself to death no matter what has happened. It won’t help anything.”


“Worry about what you can change when you can change it, it’s easier. I’m worried about that rip in your suit so I’m going to fix it. Give it here.”

Cloud unzips and takes the outfit off and is standing in his boxers as Tifa rummages through her pack for a needle and thread.

“You certainly tore a big hole in here.” Tifa comments. “What were you doing?”

“Fighting with something reminiscent of the Midgar Zolem.” Cloud sits back down. “The ground is cold.” He shivers a bit.

“Yeah, get in your bag and go to sleep.” Tifa commands. “I’ll have this finished before you wake up.”

“I’ll wait.”

“You had better not. If you’re still awake by the time I’m done with this I’m fixing your hair again.” Tifa threatens.

“Is that so?”

“Yes, now go to bed. She isn’t going to magically appear in the campsite overnight so get some rest. Otherwise you may be bald tomorrow.”

Cloud complies and enters the sleeping bag. Contrary to his own belief that he would have trouble sleeping he dropped right off.
Suddenly he is holding the Buster Sword tightly. He can see the enemy in front of him along with Tifa and Barret behind it.
“I remember this.” Cloud thinks. “This is when we tried to blow the second reactor!” The enemy machine turns away from him, facing his comrades. He rushes forward and lands a hard slash, disabling the machination from behind. It shorts out and explodes.

Tifa and Barret jump back as that portion of the bridge disappears. Cloud is not so lucky. He hangs on with one hand precariously.

“Cloud!” Tifa cries, reaching for him.

“Ain’t nothin’ we can do for him!” Barret declares holding Tifa back.

“Be strong for me, Tifa!” Cloud demands, swaying some.


“Goodbye man!” Barret says.

“Goodbyes are so final. See you later!” Cloud insists.

“Alright then, later!” Barret replies.

Cloud’s hand comes free of the bridge and he begins to plummet. He feels his stomach rise as he enters free fall. The blood begins rushing to his head as he can see Sector 5 below him. He crashes through the roof of a building, lands on something soft and blacks out.

Meanwhile across the world Aeris is having the same dream. She is watching it from the outside though.

“This isn’t right.” Aeris notes, looking around the church. “There is no way I could fit in here is I was that size. I know the ceiling is high but this…”

Aeris’s dream self appears to be almost fifty feet tall sitting on her knees still managing to care for the flowers. She appears to be doing a fine job.

“I wouldn’t be able to even utilize any garden tools much less maintain one! This is a physical impossibility! What could possibly be-” What Aeris had to say was cut short by a crash. Cloud had fallen through the roof.

“What was that?” Aeris’s dream self wonders aloud. “I think something just fell through the roof.” She runs her fingers through her hair. Coming up with some splintered planks and a person she brings the contents of her hand to her face.
“What?” Aeris regards the person with an expression of puzzled worry. “Are you all right?” She addresses her visitor who appears out cold.

“Huh?” Cloud mumbles.

“Wake up!” Aeris says urgently.

Cloud comes around. He sits up and blinks a while. Where he is comes into focus. “What? Where am I?” He sees the larger than life countenance of Aeris. “Whoa!” He is visibly startled.

“Are you hurt?” Aeris continues, worried. “You had me going a second there. At first I thought you…”

“You just about scared the life out of me!”

“I didn’t mean to frighten you.” Aeris says apologetically. “I was worried because you fell through the roof. Are you okay?”

“I guess I’m doing okay considering how I got here.” Cloud looks up at the roof. “Sorry to just drop in on you; without any introduction anyway.” He stands up in her hand. “I’m Cloud.”

“Do you remember me?”

“Hmmm, think so. You were selling the flowers, right?”

“Yes, you didn’t buy one, though.” Aeris gives Cloud an odd look.

“Sorry.” Cloud looks uncomfortable.

“My name is Aeris. As for how I am-” She stops suddenly. “Go away.” She says to the pews. “Leave, I won’t ask again.”

Reno creeps out from behind the seat. “You should come with me. I really would rather not get rough with you.”

“No. Now go.”

Reno turns to leave. “I don’t see how they expect me to deal with that.” He mutters to himself. He walks out.

The dream fades away.

“The Planet must be trying to tell me something. I don’t understand this message though.” Aeris says aloud. She goes back to sleep.

At the campsite there is a heated argument.

“Look. I don’t want no trouble. We can share the tent.” Cid says persuasively.

“Naw. I don’ see that happenin’.” Barret replies. “Even a tent thief got to get wise. I bought it, put it in my pack and wrote my name on it so I’m not sharin’. Not with you anyway.”

“Come on. Cloud and Tifa done cozied up and Red XIII smells no matter what he says. Yuffie, who knows where she goes at night and Vincent don’t believe in tents.” Cid points to a man leaning on a tree trunk.

“Well, I’m sorry.” Barret says smugly. “I can’t help you. I bought this tent for me. See?” He points at his name on the fabric.

“You ain’t bein’ fair!” Cid protests. “I been scrubbing and scrubbing to get the plane clean all evenin’! It sure wasn’t easy!”

“It woulda been if you’d listened! Everybody warned you…”

“So what? I ain’t see nan one o’ ya scrubbin’!”

“It wasn’t our fault!”

“Look, I’m tired. I want to sleep in a tent. Is that too much to ask?” Cid asks pitifully.

“No, I guess you’re right.” Barret admits.

“So, you’ll let me bunk in the tent?”


“What? But you just-”

“I agree. It is a reasonable request. I’m just not helpin’.” Barret laughs heartily. “Good night.” The tent flap closes.

“Don’t start this @#$% now! It’s way too late at night and I ain’t havin’ it! If you don’t let me in there I’m fixing you!”

“I’m shakin’!” Barret laughs some more. “You done? I gotta get some rest.”

“Ya gonna need it!” Cid bellows. “You’re swimming all the way to the City of the Ancients! Remember, it’s MY plane!”

There is silence as the ultimatum echoes through the air. Then the tent flap opens.

At the crack of dawn, Cloud is up. He looks around and spies his suit nearby fixed. He dons it and his sword and prepares for the day.

“That was an odd dream I had last night.” He remarks aloud. “That isn’t how it happened.”

“How what happened?” Tifa asks waking up.

“I had the oddest dream last night it- never mind. Too hard to explain.” Cloud goes outside.

“You can tell me.” Tifa insists, following him outside.

“Really it just seems hard to explain. I actually can’t help you understand it because I don’t.” He visits the other two tents. “Wake up!”

Yuffie appears from nowhere and Vincent looks in Cloud’s direction. Then the moans begin and everyone slithers out of their tents.

“Are we ready to go?” Cloud addresses everyone.

“No!” Everyone replies crankily.

“Too bad. Get ready.”

General murmurs of dissent ripple through the group.

Aeris wakes up and walks out of the lean-to.

“Here you are ma’am. One Lunar Harp.” The Head digger presents her with a Lunar Harp.

“Thank you! You’re so sweet!” Aeris gives him a peck on the cheek.

“It was…” The head digger trails off sheepishly.

“Okay! Bye now!” Aeris disappears into the forest.

“Sir, one question.” One of the other diggers asks.


Suddenly a man in a black cape appears. “Did a girl in a pink dress come through here?” He asks.

“Yeah. She went that way. Into the Sleeping Forest.” The head archaeologist replies.

“That is all I need.” The man replies walking into the forest.

“Wait, you’ll need a Lunar Harp!”

“I do not. I shall be fine.” The black cape fades from sight.

“Idiot…” The head digger mumbles. “What did you want?” He turns to his subordinate.

“Sir. What are we going to do with all these Lunar Harps?” Digger asks holding several of the exquisite instruments.

“Bury them, what else?”


“Bury them. Unless you are going into the forest of course.” The Head digger pauses. “Well, are you?’


“How do we make money?”

“By digging for the Lunar Harp.”

“And if it is already dug up we can’t make any money can we?”

“No, sir.” The digger walks off.

Cloud and the party are just preparing to board the plane.

“Everybody ready?” Cloud asks turning to Yuffie. “Is she doped up?”

“She is very much incapacitated.” Vincent replies. “It is quite possible that she cannot hear us now, much less feel anything.”

“Good. Carry her on.” Cloud turns to his pilot. “Cid, we ready to go?”

“Yeah, the ‘boat’ is ready.”

“Then let’s go.”

Aeris walks through the Sleeping Forest.

“I have to go to the City of the Ancients to pray for the power of Holy.” Aeris thinks to herself. “Holy will stop Meteor. How exactly does Holy work I wonder?”

“Still mystified?” Comes a voice from above her.

“Sephiroth!” Aeris exclaims grasping her staff.

Sephiroth laughs. “This is neither the time nor the place.”

“What do you want?” Aeris demands of the floating figure.

“Merely to enlighten you. Though you know the purpose of your materia you do not know how it works.”

“How do you intend to teach me that?”

“The Black Materia is meant to destroy the Planet. It summons Meteor to accomplish this task. The White Materia saves the Planet from Meteor. How does it do this? I’m just here to fill in that blank.” Sephiroth disappears.

Aeris is suddenly surrounded by enemies. What appears to be a pack of wolves has encircled her. She takes a defensive stance.
“What could this prove? I need help?” Aeris thinks.

One hound attacks lunging forward fangs bare. Aeris gives it a dose of Fire in the mouth. It falls and two take its place, they attack. She sidesteps one pounce and catches the other right in the chest, being knocked down. Only the Princess Guard lodged in its teeth has saved her from a shredding. The monster wrestles the staff from her and it clatters away with the Fire materia.

“Help!” Aeris squeals thrusting her hands forward as though she can push the monsters away eyes tightly shut. Fully expecting to be rent to pieces she is surprised when a monster yelp causes her eyes to pop open.

The animals that had jumped for her had been knocked away. One badly injured with both front legs broken while the other appeared dead, its neck snapped by something powerful.

“What happened to them?” Aeris wonders. “They were just about-wait.” She looks around. “I can see over the trees. I’m enormous!” She realizes. “Exactly like in my dreams! I’ve got to be about fifty feet tall!”
A growl catches her attention. Aeris steps on the surviving monsters without a thought. “Is this the power of Holy?” She says, noting the obliterated creatures.

“Yes.” Sephiroth’s voice is in Aeris’s ear.

“Where are you?” Aeris shouts, spinning about and scanning the area. “Let me get my hands on you…”

“I’m not actually here. I might be in actual danger if I were.” Sephiroth chuckles. “I just want to inform you that this is just a small bit of Holy’s power. As the simple beasts summoned were a small bit of the Black Materia’s power.”

“Why is this important?”

“Because you haven’t chosen whether to accept the power or not. You can’t use the White Materia to its true potential until you decide. The power has been with you all along but you haven’t sought it until now.”

“Why does it mean something to you? We aren’t friends.”

“Because your fate and mine are intertwined. The fates of everyone on the Planet hang in the balance. The sooner you decide, the sooner we can move forward and continue to play our roles. Keep it in mind.”

“What is your role? Why have you decided to do what you are doing?” Aeris inquires but Sephiroth’s presence is gone. She looks around again then goes back to normal size without warning.
“I can grow even bigger than that?” Aeris muses, picking up the Princess Guard. “How much bigger?” She ponders this as she continues on.

Aeris arrives at the City of the Ancients without further incident as monsters are fleeing at her approach. She doesn’t notice, the voices in the air have her attention.

“These voices…” Aeris whispers. “Altar…what altar?” She listens closely. “The only place my voice can reach the Planet?” She pauses to allow for a response. “Nightfall is the only time I can reach it? Thank you, I understand.”
Aeris walks into an old dwelling. “I have a little time before twilight; I had better just take a quick nap.”

The sun is setting as Cloud and friends show up at Bone Village. First out of the plane, Cloud is questioning the inhabitants of the settlement.

“Have you seen a girl in a pink dress?” Cloud asks worriedly.

“Yep. She went Through the Sleeping Forest early today.” A digger replies. “Said she was going to the City of the Ancients.”

“Okay, let’s move out!” Cloud makes for the forest.

“Whoa there, little fella! If you go in without a Lunar Harp you won’t be finding anybody. Heck, nobody will be finding you either.”


“You’ll need a Lunar Harp to pass through there otherwise you’re done for. Now go talk to my boss there.”

“Sir. I need a Lunar Harp right away. One of my friends may be in grave danger.” Cloud says.

“Lunar Harp? We’ll find it for you for a fee. What does your friend look like?”

“Tad bit taller than me, pink dress…”

“Quite the charmer isn’t she? Sure is popular too. Another guy came looking for her. He had a black cape and long white hair.”

“Damn!” Cloud swears. “Could you hurry?”

“It’ll take a night still.”

“Find it!”

“Yes sir!”

Aeris awakens from what was a dreamless slumber and looks around.

“Dusk. Better get moving.” Aeris leaves the resting area.

The hushed atmosphere of the Forgotten Capital unnerves her. There is no movement because nothing dwells here anymore. Even monsters stay away from this place. This only serves to disquiet Aeris further.

“This sure is creepy. I wish Cloud were here.” Aeris thinks walking quickly toward the center of the city. “There is a crystal staircase. It seems like the right way.” She proceeds down it. The luminous stairway opens up into a massive room with an altar at its heart. She can feel Sephiroth’s presence.

“Don’t worry about me.” Sephiroth’s voice bounces off of everything. “Just call out to the Planet and make your choice. Realize or shun Holy’s power.”

Aeris proceeds to the altar. She falls on her knees and begins to pray.

At Bone Village Cloud is fretting up a storm.

“I got them digging in five different places. We’ll get a Lunar Harp.” Cloud declares.

“You’ve got to calm down.” Tifa says. You’ll worry yourself sick.”

“I deserve it.” Cloud says darkly.

“Nobody deserves it!” Tifa retorts angrily.

Stunned by the outburst Cloud sits mouth half open.

“It’s not all about you!” Tifa continues. “Or me! Or what we have been through together! It’s about everyone!
Cloud we have all made sacrifices and done things we regret. It is one of the things that bind us all together.
Barret is sad he has to leave Marlene behind with Shinra operatives and regrets having had to fight his best friend. Red XIII feels foolish for having doubted his father, a warrior without equal, his whole life. Even Yuffie regrets having stolen our materia.
We all go through changes. We have to deal with them.”

“But I-”

“Do you want to be haunted like Vincent? He lives every waking moment in shame and pain because of what he has done. Not a minute goes by that he doesn’t thinks of it. Can’t you see? He is dead inside! Do you know why?”

Cloud doesn’t answer.

“Because he cannot separate himself from what he has done! It is a part of him now and it is killing him! Vincent can find no refuge in sleep anymore. Red eyes burn through the night like coals never blinking. Is that what you want?”

“I just want to make it right.”

“You have got to learn to do what you can then let go. Worry about what you can change when you can change it. Not after the fact.
People don’t understand they can never make things right. All they can do is try to do good next time. Do you understand?”

Cloud nods.

“Let’s turn in. We’ve got a big day tomorrow.”

At daybreak Cloud is up and about. He visits each tent because everyone had a separate one and rouses them. They all carp about it except for Vincent who was awake as Tifa said he would be.

“Now that’s everyone…the Lunar Harp. Where is it?” Cloud thinks running down a checklist. “We’ll need that.” He goes to the treasure chest. “Where is it?”

“We didn’t find one.” A digger shorter than Cloud says timidly. “I’m sorry.”

“Are you serious?” Cloud asks disbelievingly. He turns to Tifa. “Is he serious?”

“I don’t know.” Tifa shrugs.

“Permission to flip out?”


Cloud moves to hoist little guy up but someone stops him.

“Cool your jets.” The head archaeologist puts his hand on Cloud’s shoulder. “You and your big sister can calm down. Here.” He hands them a Lunar Harp.

“Why didn’t you give it to us before?” Cloud asks, irritated.

“Because someone didn’t do as they were told!” Head archaeologist gives the short digger an angry look. “I thought they had. We should’ve found one last night if someone had followed directions.”


“Just get lost.”

Cloud and party pack up and leave. Cloud, Tifa, and Vincent are the leading group. They begin to walk through the forest at a brisk pace.

“What do you think the guy was talking about?” Tifa asks, trying to start conversation.

“The scam they’re running, probably.” Cloud replies.

“Come on, that’s just terrible to accuse him of doing!”

“His actions were indicative of a ruse.” Vincent agrees. “Do not be surprised.”

“My guess is what they find is set up in advance. Little guy messed it up looks like.”

“Indeed. The harp was supposed to be found in the ground. It appeared to me that they misplaced it. They seemed too sure of finding it for this dig to be chance or random at all.”

“You can’t believe that!” Tifa says. “That is a bunch of cynical negative thinking! They aren’t the Shinra!”

“Then why did the head ‘archaeologist’ come up with a Lunar Harp, keeping in mind that he did not lift a finger?” Cloud asks.

“Do not forget that the instrument in question is completely free of dirt and debris associated with a ‘dig’.” Vincent continues. “It is almost as though it had already been dug up. A process which supposedly takes all night and he produced it in three minutes.”

“Without his workers’ help or any of that sophisticated equipment that they were talking about. That we were charged for anyway!
Just poof! Here, have a Lunar Harp, get lost.” Cloud concludes.

“Well…” Tifa trails off.

“Do not blind your eyes to the truth.” Vincent adds.

“What is important is that we have the harp, scam or not.”

“Like we needed it.” Cloud mumbles.

They come upon the City of the Ancients fairly quickly without incident. Monsters seem to be avoiding them. After a quick search they find nothing.

“This is where she was going, I’m sure of it.” Cloud says aloud.

“Are you certain? This is a long way to go on a hunch.” Vincent mentions.

“What am I missing?”

“A brief rest could do us all some good. We should rest and collect our thoughts. Here is a good place.”

Aeris sits deep in a meditative state on the altar.

“I can hear the Planet much more clearly now.” Aeris realizes. “Like it is right next to me. It has never been this way before. I can feel myself losing touch with reality and falling into the Planet’s rhythm.”
Aeris falls deeper into trance. “Now I understand why he is here. He is waiting, I can still feel his eyes on me but now I know why. The connection between the White and Black Materia is greater than I had thought. He too needs to pray for the power of his material. Because the Planet created them they both work in the same manner. All I need now is a vision to show me the way to have complete understanding.
Planet, please show me the true path that must be taken to act in your defense!”

The altar fades away and the surroundings change. Aeris recognizes them.

“This is Junon. What does it have to do with saving the Planet?” Aeris wonders floating above the naval city.

Indeed it is Junon just as she remembered it. Soldiers patrolling everywhere, ships entering and leaving port, it is very busy. The large cannon is still there as well, set forever pointing at Costa del Sol.
Suddenly the soldiers stop marching and cast their eyes to the sea. Then there is frenzied scurrying as the number of soldiers on duty triples with arms at the ready.

“What could possibly be the matter? All of them seem to be in a really big hurry.” Aeris looks to where their attention appears to be riveted. The sight makes her gasp.

A gigantic version of her strides through the waves toward the city.

At the same time Cloud is also inside of Aeris’s vision.

“What is this?” Cloud looks around and tugs at his clothes. “A Shinra bluesuit? This is stupid.”

Soldiers rush past him yelling. They run back and forth. Some in circles, frenzied, all self-control gone.

“What is happening? A call to arms? Why?”

“Target approaching.” Comes over the loudspeaker system. “Battlestations!”

“What target? What is crazy enough to attack Junon?” Cloud cogitates gazing over the water. “This cannot be…”

Aeris easily one hundred fifty feet tall strolls into the harbor.

“This simply can’t be…” Cloud whispers looking up.

“Battlestations! I repeat everyone to your Battlestations!” The loudspeaker blares.

The soldiers seem to pull it together for the most part. They shoulder weapons and await command. All sights set on Aeris.

“No, don’t!” Cloud yells. “Don’t shoot her!” The soldiers pay him no mind.


“You don’t understand! None of this makes any sense!” Cloud continues but is drowned out by the sound of weapons cocking.


“No! Aeris look out!” Cloud screams to no avail. Explosions override his words and Aeris is engulfed in flames.

The smoke clears. Aeris is perfectly fine. She looks almost amused.

“That isn’t possible.” Cloud says. “Nothing could’ve survived that.”

“My turn.” Aeris says smiling slightly. She steps right into the middle of the front line. She begins to destroy the airport with her hands while idly causing havoc tapping her feet.

“Stop! You have to stop this! It’s wrong!” Cloud screams into the cacophony of destruction. “I can’t even here myself. I’ll have to get closer.” Cloud runs closer, until he is certain he is in her line of sight. He begins waving his hands.
“Aeris!” He fires off a few rounds from his machine gun. “Over here!” Her eyes shift to him. He flings off his helmet.
“Aeris, you have to-”

“What an odd insect.” Aeris says without recognition. “I’ll make it swift.” She raises a hand.

“No, Aeris wait!” But it is too late. Her hand descends quickly and he is killed instantly.

Cloud wakes abruptly. “My head aches.” He mumbles. “Aeris is here, I can tell.”

“Is something the matter?” Vincent asks from his post leaning on the wall.

“Can’t you feel it? Aeris is here. Sephiroth is too.” Cloud says, waking Tifa. “We have to go.”

They leave the rest area.

Aeris, still trapped in the dream is in anguish.

“No! This is evil! I can’t stand it!” Aeris screeches holding her head. “Cloud! Somebody make it stop!”

Her double continues to wreak havoc on Junon. She stops to sink each boat in the harbor and drown any survivors.

“I don’t want this! It is convoluted malice! I will not become this vile creature!”

“Are you sure? This is the power of the White Materia.” A voice replies.

“Yes! This is not right!”


The large cannon turns to her colossal doppelganger and locks on. She pays it no mind. The cannon fires. Aeris is moved by the force of the shot but is otherwise unscathed.

“Are you sure you do not want this power?”

“Yes! Give it to someone else. I will not become your WEAPON!”

Aeris wakes with a start. She looks up. Cloud stares at her, sword on the floor eyes down. She can see Tifa and Vincent behind him. They are bounding in this direction now. She feels a light breeze then a piercing pain. She falls forward impaled on the Masamune, life fading fast. All she can see now is Holy bouncing away. Her last sight is of a gloved hand catching it before her eyes close for good.