Rough First Day

Author's Notes: It's been a long while since I last played through FFX, and I can't for the life of me remember just how technological/Medieval things were exactly in the game. I know Blitzball type tech is 'allowed', and that Bevelle was hypocritical. But just how olden were things outside of that? Did they have day-to-day appliances like showers or fridges or stoves? Did they have plumbing? Bathrooms? Things of that nature?

Or were Yevon based towns, cities, and villages full on medieval outside of the Al Bhed?

I'm leaning more towards the latter. If I'm wrong, oh well, fic is an AU anyway.

Also: 'High Cetrain' (later on in the chapter) is made up for this AU to serve as another bridge between FF7 and FF10. Its a minor thing that helps me out for this chapter.

Ifalna & Gast & Sephiroth is my own little head-cannon that I use for all my FF7 fics.

Yuna, frankly, had the worst sleep of her life that night.

Before, Wutai had been her focus, day and night. Now... there was just her. Just her memories, of friends long gone. Each of them giving her a sad smile from across a snow covered chasm she couldn't cross, her hand reaching over pleadingly for them to grasp. Her father standing as an impossible pillar for her to reach behind and over them, a pillar that was made of glass, shattering with a single stone thrown from seemingly nowhere, sending him crashing down into a abyss far below.

She woke up with a sharp intake of breath, breathing ragged, laying there, unmoving. She stared silently up at the dark ceiling before she sighed and stood, making for the door and opening it. She tiptoed into the... gathering room she believed it would be. She did not feel like being in that awkwardly false room unless it was to sleep. The room she entered was large and somewhat barren, a black-leather couch, two black-leather seats, a low to the floor wooden table the chairs and couch were positioned around. The floor was carpeted. On the wall that the couch seemed to face was a large, black square object, almost looking like it was made of glass of some kind, she wasn't sure what it was. She paused when she noted General Sephiroth there sitting on the couch. Had she not slept that long, or had he simply not gone to sleep?

His eyes flickered briefly over to her. "An early riser I see."

She hummed as an answer, moving to sit on the floor at the low table.

"I can move to a seat if you'd prefer the couch," he offered.

"I prefer to sit on the floor or the ground," she answered, "It... reminds me of Besaid, where we'd all gather around a campfire, or in our humble homes for the evening meals."

"If I may ask, what do you define as humble?"

She tilted her head, half-looking at him. He always asked like that. Open if but pointed curiosity, little if any judgment his tone. "We lived in tents. If but well crafted ones, Besaid was well known for its fabrics and clothing we painstakingly produced."

There is a thoughtful look on his face. "They practiced their craft well then."

"Parents passed down their skills through the generations."

"I can respect such long-lasting dedication," he commented before refocusing, "Though, I do not wish to sound rude, but I have never heard of Besaid."

A sad smile crossed her face. "I never heard of Wutai, Shinra, Junon, Midgar, or Banora before I woke up in the middle of a war."

He is a well controlled man, one that perhaps even rival's Auron in his impassiveness, but that sharpness, that intelligence and focus in his eyes betrays his curiosity and desire to know, even if he restrains himself from directly asking. "A curious thing."

She sighed. "If the Aeons are to be believed, not quite so."

Sephiroth shifted his entire focus to her. "I was under the impression you did not know how you arrived in Wutai."

"I don't," she answered, answering his focus with her own, eyes meeting eyes unblinking, "But I do know where I come from, and where I am now. The how is still the question to be answered. If it ever will be, none of the four have an answer for me."

There is a slight furrowing of his brows. "I see. Would you be willing to explain what you know?"

She shrugged. "If you wish."

He nodded slowly. "I suppose I will wait for the meeting then."

Great restraint with that one. She imagines Tidus and Sephiroth in one room, it would be amusing for everyone who wasn't those two, or perhaps painful to watch. "I don't wish to impose, but, do you have any tea?"

He seems pleased with her request, if the slight upturn of the sides of his lips are any indication. "Yes. I don't mind a cup in the morning myself either. A minute."

He gets up and moves into what she assumes is the kitchen area. From what she sees, it doesn't quite match what she knows. Even from Bevelle's more 'modern' approach. The large white metallic box she assumes is a food storage machina given the cold she senses from it, aside from that... she doesn't recognize anything else, not that she's closely inspecting them anyway. She assumes something in there must be like a wood stove if one is to heat anything. She supposes she'll have to figure it out eventually. On one hand, there is Yevon's teaching preaching sacrilege in the back of her mind against machina. On the other hand... there's the exact same thing, just her wanting to use machina out of pure spite of the false faith. Practicality demanded unless she wanted to starve, she'd have to learn to use them. The General was her jailer, not a servant, he wasn't going to be making every meal unless they literally wanted to keep her that helpless and reliant on them here. She'd find out soon enough.

The man in question returned with two empty cups and a metallic tea kettle. It was curious to note how even a world apart, and thousands of years inbetween, how some things stayed similar, even if it was merely the shape of a kettle. He poured them both a cup, paused briefly, and then joined her on the floor, sitting on the opposite side of the table. She blinked once at the action, wondering if he honestly wanted to try it or was trying to be/act considerate of her culture. Which was odd, since she was in his home, not to mention his prisoner, and not the other way around. Still, she brought the tea up to her lips, a spicy aroma assaulting her nose. She adjusted the cup and took a light sip rather than her normal amount, her eyebrows lifting at the strength of it. She let it sit in her mouth for a moment, savoring the way it made her tongue burn in a cleansing way. She swallowed, the finish of it leaving her mouth tingling.

She set it down and he cocked his head. "Not to your liking?"

"It's good," she disagreed, "But powerful, not something to be sucked down. I could probably sip this for an hour or more."

She looked at the cup fondly. "They didn't make tea like this where I come from."

"Ah, right," said Sephiroth, slightly chagrined, "I'm surprised you can even stand it, not being Mako Enhanced. I had to have this specialty made and ordered for SOLDIER."

"Mako enhanced...?" she asked.

Sephiroth paused, appearing to weigh how to answer. "Then way I am... empowered, leaves me resistant to many things one might not realize outside of battle. Alcohol for example has absolutely no affect on me. Tea also requires a more powerful mixture for me to truly enjoy it."

"Oh," she said, "That is an odd price to pay for one's strength."

He chuckled. "I suppose it is."

Though, there was the slightest of straining to his eyes. She doubted the loss of the ability to get drunk or needing stronger tea was nearly the only price he had to pay, but it wasn't her place to ask. She wasn't honestly sure she was curious enough to, let alone cared. She let silence resume, and sipped lightly away at her tea for the next hour. It wasn't to bad, just sitting there, almost companionable in their enjoyment of the drink. She could tell he did appreciate the tea, it was one of the few honestly open tells she had gotten from him.

"You may wish to wash and change while you have the chance," said Sephiroth after a long period of silence, "Today I am sure is going to be a long day. There should be a change of clothes in your room. I can show you were the bathroom is after."

He paused. "And show you how to use the appliances in it if need be."

Yuna considered it briefly before nodding and standing. Might as well. She had gone periods of time on her pilgrimage without bathing, but, it was always a nice, refreshing sensation to finally sink into a tub of water. Cleanliness was a common courtesy to others; and Yuna was fairly certain after a few days on a boat and a trip through the helicopter she might require one. She paused in 'her room' briefly to go through a few dresser draws, eyeing the clothes chosen for her. They all appear to have a distinct Wutian look, long full body or two piece flowery or patterned dresses. Nothing exactly like her own from Besaid, but she wasn't exactly expecting any to match. She choose the closest to it, a two piece white top and black bottom with white crisscrossing symbols. She wasn't quite sure if they had any particular meaning, but that was fine.

She walked out clutching the clothes to her stomach, arms around them, and followed Sephiroth down the hall. He led her into a small room. She let her eyes wash over the area. Well... lavatories had certainly changed a bit. Though she could guess which object was where one was to relive themselves at least. Her eyes flickered to the countertop with a dip in it, a metal fixture hanging above it with two nobs, one on either side. There was a kind of stall with a glass-like door that seemed to distort the view of the inside, with some water on it if she saw right. Curious, where did the water come from?

Sephiroth watched her take in the room before going to the counter and turning one of the knobs. "The sink."

Yuna blinked when water came out of the metal fixture. "Oh. Where... does the machina get the water from?"

"I'm not sure I'd really call a sink a machine," mused Sephiroth, "It's more plumbing than anything."

"Plumbing?" asked Yuna.

"It is a system that pulls water from a distance," said the man.

Not very descriptive, but Yuna understood it's purpose to be an alternative to a well, and then glanced at the stall, squinting through the glass-like door and spotting another metal fixture with an odd circular head. "I'm assuming it is the same in there? That is where you bath?"

"Shower," he corrected, moving to the stall and opening it, without the blurry glass, Yuna noted another two nobs a bit below the metal fixture, "The water sprays down from above. You can adjust the temperature with these, hot or cold."

Yuna's eyebrows shot up. "You can have hot water without heating it with fire or magic?"

"I don't know the exact specifics," admitted Sephiroth, "But I am fairly certain the water is distributed through a boiler furnace for the heat."

"Hmm," hummed Yuna stepped past him to reach into the stall, briefly adjusting one knob and watching water spurt out from above against the wall a bit over her head, she held out a hand and then pulled it back. "This knob is definitely cold."

"You can adjust them as you see fit, and move the shower head if you so wish," he said, before pointing at a few objects resting on little edges in the stall, "Soap for the body, shampoo for the hair, and a washcloth. I'll leave you to it, there are towels hanging by the door."

Yuna nodded absently, eying the shower again with just a tad of envy. "What a luxury..."

Sephiroth briefly paused at the door. "I suppose that's one way to consider it."

Yuna waited until he was gone before carefully stripping down and folding her old cloths, leaving them on the counter. She moved to the shower and reached a hand up into the water, using the other to adjust the temperature until she was satisfied, and then stepped in, closing the glass-like door behind her. Ah, that's why the door was like that, to give the occupant privacy if someone else had to use the lavatory, or... what did he call it? Bathroom? She shrugged it off and tilted her face up into the water, closing her eyes. "Mmmm..."

Like standing under warm torrential rain. It was soothing in a way, relaxing, to feel the warm water hitting against her skin. She turned to let it hit her back, sighing with contentment. "I wish we had these back home."

Not that home existed anymore.

She frowned a little at the thought, before wondering if there was a limit on these 'showers'. She suppose she shouldn't waste their water either way. She reached for the 'shampoo', eyeing it curiously, fingers trailing over it. She stopped at its top, it looked like she could pull it up. She grasped the bottle tightly and pulled at the top...

She gave a startled yelp as it opened and some kind of goo shot into her face. She hissed as it went into her eyes, burning, her hands going up to swipe at her face and eyes. She gritted her teeth and turned her face into the shower, forcing her bleary eyes open and let the water rinse the goop out. She scowled and raised a hand towards her eyes again to rub at them before pausing and squinting, noting the goop on her hands had turned runny and a little bubbly. She frowned and ran it through her hair, noting how it stuck there. She carefully this time aimed the shampoo at an open palm and squeezed more of the goop out before tilting her head back to keep it off her face and raised her hands up.

She made a mental note to not aim that bottle at her face in the future.

She washed her hair and her hands off, then swiped at her irritated eyes with now clean hands. It was the most infuriating sensation. She muttered under her breath and cast a quick Cure and Esuna on herself, not knowing which would help with it, and not frankly caring as long as it did. She gave a relived sigh and quickly decided she was done with the shower for now. She turned the knobs to turn it off and then stepped out. Her eyes flickered to the floor, frowning a bit when she got water everywhere. Perhaps she should have hung one of the towels over the door to dry herself off before exiting.

Another mental note for next time.

When she was done and clothed, the water soaked up by a towel, she grabbed her dirty clothes and left the room. Sephiroth was waiting in the center room, holding his PHS in his hands as he flicked at it. He glanced up at her briefly and then motioned to a basket in the corner filled with clothes. "We set out the clothes basket in the morning and facilities will take, clean, and return the clothing by the end of day."

Yuna nodded and asked, "Do you have a spare comb by chance?"

Sephiroth glanced up again, a subtle frown on his face. "Yes, I keep a spare set of toiletries under the sink."

She followed him back to the bathroom and watched him kneel down and open the underside of the sink, pulling out a comb, an odd small tube, and... an even smaller brush on a little handle. "One comb, toothpaste, and toothbrush."

"Toothbrush," she said curiously.

He paused again, glancing at her. "It is to clean and take care of our teeth. How do you do so where you come from?"

"Toothpicks, rinsing my mouth after eating, and magic," she said simply, tilting her head a bit, "We had herbal recopies meant to cleanse the mouth if there was an illness or infection as well."

"Hmm," was all he said in response, "Well, we have these, and mouth-wash if you wish."

After a brief demonstration, she found she rather liked the strange taste the 'toothpaste' had. Sephiroth called it 'mint', she wondered if it was related to the plant somehow. She couldn't help but lick the insides of her teeth at the taste. She had the opposite reaction to the mouth wash, that burned, a cleansing one, but she was more than content to spit it out when done. She combed her hair, set the toiletries back under the sink, and went back to the center room and sat down next to the table, glancing back at her tea cup.

"You may wish to wait for awhile," advised Sephiroth, "Mouth wash, toothpaste, and certain drinks leave a rather nasty taste when mixed."

She had enough of odd tastes in her mouth for the time being, merely nodding. She closed her eyes and sat there, adopting a light meditation. She could feel the Aeons in the back of her mind. She toyed with the connection, not to summon, but to examine it more closely now that she had a chance to just sit rather than be carted from one battle to another. Back home, Aeons were either 'dreaming' or active. Now... it was strange to feel neither. Leviathan, Shiva, and Anima were all recuperating from what she could tell, but not in the same kind of dreaming state as on Spira, more like an idle rest. Ifrit was at a standstill, but he didn't feel dormant, she could faintly feel his attention flickering, as if from one thing to another. She wondered what he was focusing on and how. Aeons were no longer dreaming fayth, so where did they linger when not summoned? How did they view things without a physical body?

She contemplated asking, but decided against it for the time being. The less she knew, the less she could answer Shinra with.

A knock on the door ended the reprieve. "General Sephiroth?"


Yuna watched Tseng enter the room out of the corner of her eye, the man briefly appraising their positions, eyes lingering for a second on the tea kettle and empty cups. "We will be ready for her shortly. Hojo has requested that she briefly be brought to the Science Department for samples to be taken, and for vaccinations."

Sephiroth nodded his head slowly. "Hmm. I hadn't thought about illness. Rather considerate of the good doctor."

The way he said that made Yuna think being considerate of others was not a trait of this 'Hojo'.

"The President wants Lady Yuna kept in a healthy condition," said Tseng mildly, "Let us be on our way."

Sephiroth rose from the table, and Yuna fell in behind him. Two more Turks, along with Genesis and Angeal, were waiting outside.

"Up before twelve, Genesis?" questioned Sephiroth in a tone that Yuna had a hard time telling if it was teasing or not.

Genesis huffed. "If she's out and about, the President wants her kept under all of our watch until she's proven compliant."

Yuna exhaled out of her nose; did they have any idea how insulting it was to be implied as a Oathbreaker? Multiple times now? She signed that treaty right alongside Lord Kisaragi and President Shinra. "I have given my word, both aloud and in writing."

"People lie, my dear," said Genesis.

"If I were an Oathbreaker," she said, her voice slightly raising in offense, "I would have capsized your boat in the middle of the ocean and left you to drown, or destroyed your helicopter midair and let you plummet while my Aeons flew me away."

"Ah," said Sephiroth, "I was wondering if you had thought of that."

She doesn't miss the way he is appraising her posture while seeming indifferent in stance and tone, nor the warning glance he gives Genesis.

Genesis merely shrugged. "Not my call to make either way. Shall we?"

She is once again escorted in the middle of a group, into a lift, and to another floor. The one they enter makes her wrinkle her nose at the odd smell, almost corrosive in nature. Her eyes flicker as they walk, to guards, and to people dressed in white garbs. There is something in the way they walk, hold themselves, their eyes, the calculating way people look at her...

Its almost like looking at an Unsent, or a Fiend. Something emotionless. Souless. Evil.

Coupled with the general aura of this place the deeper in they go, she is on edge very quickly. She should keep her thoughts to herself, but she feels almost compelled to speak, she keeps her voice quiet, "Many people have died in this place."

There is a small hitch to the group, and Tseng asks cautiously. "What makes you say that?"

"It lingers," she answers, not able to keep the edge out of her tone, "In a way that suggests extreme torment."

None of the group responds to that. She is led into a room with a table, cabinets, and many machina she doesn't have a clue about on tables lining the room. Standing in the middle waiting by a single flat human sized table is a single man who she assumed was Hojo, hands clasped behind his back, with spectacles. His black hair was tied back in a ponytail, his dark eyes appraising her silently. He is dressed in white, though his coat is open to reveal a white undershirt and dark pants. More importantly...

He absolutely reeked of death and suffering.

Yuna had met many a warrior on her travels, and few of them had death linger around them in any way comparable, even Sephiroth, Genesis, and Angeal didn't have that same kind of aura about them. Fiends and Unsent rarely reached anything close to this level. Even Seymour hadn't. Whatever this man was... whatever he did...

She schooled her expression and steeled herself as her escorts filed to the outskirts of the room. She can feel that this man is not physically or magically powerful, but she has the sense that this is perhaps one of the most dangerous and disturbing individuals she has ever and will ever meet. She will have to tread very carefully. She has met enough distasteful people in her life to know coming off polite and civil can be somewhat placating. She will not agitate him under any circumstance unless it is literal life or death.

He motions to the table. "Have a seat."

She complies without saying anything, her eyes never leaving him. He moves to one of the countertops and loads a cart with small needled vials and other odd contraptions. "We will start first with your blood pressure, followed by taking skin, hair, saliva, and blood samples. Afterwards I have been instructed to give you vaccinations for the most common of Midgar illnesses."

"Very well," she says, tilting her head, she ponders whether to ask a question or simply stay silent in his presence, she decides to carefully test the waters, "What do you mean by 'Blood Pressure'?"

"No understanding of biology then," he murmurs with a hint of disdain as he wheels the cart over and brings out a odd kind of wrap that is connected to a small device not unlike a PHS. "Arm out, sleeve up."

She complies as he begins to speak, wrapping the not-cloth around her bare arm. "Blood Pressure, in simple terms is the force that pushes blood around within our circulatory system."

"Circulatory system?"

"The circulatory system is the network of organs and vessels that is responsible for the flow of blood, nutrients, hormones, oxygen and other gases to and from cells within the body," he answered.

She glances down at her arm as the wrap squeezes and starts to beep. "Cells?"

"Rather curious, aren't you," he said.

"One cannot learn if they do not ask," she answers calmly, "I've lived in ignorance of many things in my life, it is a state I do not much appreciate anymore."

That makes the man pause and regard her, something in his eyes shifting. "Well then, I cannot say I disapprove of such an outlook... Yuna, wasn't it?"

She bobbed her head a bid in confirmation, watching as the wrap deflated and the PHS-like machina beeps and he reads what he sees aloud, "One-hundred and eleven over sixty-five."

"Is that good or bad?"

"Normal," he says, placing the object back on the cart, "Being below one-hundred and twenty and below eighty fall in normal, everyday measures for average healthy specimens, so long as it doesn't fall to low. It's something that has stayed consistent between Ancients and Humans."

He pulls out a little cotton stick. "Mouth open."

She complies, and he swipes at the insides of her cheek. "Our bodies are composed of countless cells that make up our skin, our organs, our blood. Each kind of cell serves a purpose within our bodies. Perhaps at another time I might enlighten you on more specifics."

She really doesn't want to be anywhere near him, but has the most awful intuitive hunch he will be one of the more common people she interacts with. That she must be exceedingly careful with how she does these interactions. Worse than dealing with the clergy of Yevon, a dance that a single mistep could result in agony. He approves of her desire to learn. Such a thing could perhaps be cultivated into respect, and less of a reason for her own death to add to the stench that permeates from his soul.

So she answers with a civil, "I would appreciate it."

Hojo nodded. "When the President stops breathing down our necks I suppose."

The rest of the session went in a similar manner until he was done and sent her off. The moment she was out of the room and the door was close, she let out a shaky breath and a shudder.

"He does have that effect on people," said Sephiroth quietly before regarding her, "You played that well."

"He is not, and will not be, the last abhorrent individual I have to interact with," answered Yuna, "I am well versed in how to do so."

"I see," he said, considering her words, "Your former husband?"

"Among others," she says mildly, "Hojo is the worst I have met yet. No one, not one person nor fiend I have ever encountered reeked of death as he does."

She gave Sephiroth a cautionary look. "Not even a general and warrior who lives in a battlefield such as yourself."

Sephiroth hummed in response, but did not look surprised at her words. "Hojo is someone everyone in Shinra limits their contact with."

He shifted focus as they continued to move back towards the lift. "Am I to assume correctly that you can detect such things just by proximity?"

"It depends on the individual," said Yuna, "It takes a great effort to leave such a lingering around someone to give off such sensations. This entire area makes me feel like I'm treading through an area infested by fiends."

"And fiend I assume is your word for monster?" inquired Sephiroth.


"I don't think she's far off," muttered Genesis.

"The good doctor is, unfortunately, critical to Shinra's aims," said Tseng in a mild tone, "And so long as he continues to be, he is left to his devices."

There is a disgusted scoff from Angeal, but no one counteracted his words. Yuna merely shakes her head and says, "Take care your life does not get added to the aura of suffering around him."

Tseng did not offer a response as they filed into the lift and left that area of death. She understands better now the warning Sephiroth gave her in Wutai. This was what he had been referring to. It is strange to her though, Sephiroth is more than capable of killing any being she has encountered since coming here, it is baffling how such a place can hold any power over him when he could carve through the entire building without being remotely challenged. Something she will need to keep an eye on. The power structure here is strange; the Maesters of Yevon were perhaps not the strongest individuals back on Spira, but they were by no means defenseless, and had legions of loyal followers to defender them. What did Hojo, or even Shinra itself, have that could stop Sephiroth should he choose to raise his blade against them?

Had any of them even considered such a thing?

Had he?

She is led out of the elevator, down another hall, and into an elongated room with a giant wooden table lined with chairs. On top of it is a line of metallic boxes with a glass-like part facing outwards, similar to the black-box on the wall of Sephiroth's apartment. Curiously, these glasses are glowing, with images and words on them. There is a larger one exactly like Sephiroth's on the wall. The carpet is red; a red that reminds her of blood. There are people already in the room; President Shinra sits at the head of the table at the far end, behind him is a large glass wall. There is a blond woman dressed frankly like a high-class Bevelle brothel worker in a revealing red silk-like gown. There is a plump man in green clothes with a black beard going down to his stomach; his entire posture yells out arrogance to the world. She vaguely recognizes one of the Turks from the peace negotiations, she believes he had been briefly introduced as Veld Verdot. There is a second plump man, balding, in a tan version of the same clothes that many people are wearing...

She turned her head towards the general as they all filed into the room. "I've noticed many people here are wearing the same kind of garb President Shinra has, does it have a name?"

Sephiroth's head turned briefly. "It's called a business suit, suit for short, its considered to be professional clothing."

Simple enough of a name.

She continues her look around the room as they all take a seat, hers being chosen as the opposite of the President, Sephiroth sits to one side of her, Angeal the other, Genesis next to him. There is another man in a blue suit, blond haired, the only one with gloves on, white ones, and wearing spectacles. She notices his lips are thin when he looks at her, she has the distinct impression he for some reason either does not like her or is upset with her for some reason. Next to him is yet another person in a blue suit, his only defining feature a small well trimmed beard and mustache. Though... unlike most here, his presence is much fainter, less greed and arrogance in him, a care for others most do not have.

President Shinra cleared his throat and looked at Tseng. "Has everything turned out well?"

Tseng nodded. "Professor gave her a clean bill of health and has given her the relevant vaccinations while taking the readings and samples he was allowed to take."

Yuna's head tilts, a slow, "Allowed to take?" escaping her lips, drawing attention. That implied that he wanted more.

"The good doctor generally prefers more samples," said Tseng in a careful tone, "Some of which require invasive measures to acquire."

Yuna eyes crinkled a little. "Invasive? As in from inside of me?"

There is a cautious air around the room, and she has enough sense to know they are going to dance around the subject; it is Verdot who answers, "Cell samples from various organs to compare them to normal people."

Yuna humms, but does not reply. There is a picture being painted of Hojo that darkens and twists worse and worse the more she hears and learns. She is starting to believe that within this company that Hojo may perhaps be the most dangerous person here. Sephiroth will not act unless provoked or ordered to, she believes, but Hojo...

Yes, she thinks her earlier actions to be civil around him and draw respect were the best decision she could have made.

Then, speaking of Hojo, the black-box's glass springs to life, a moving picture of Hojo appearing on it. "I would much rather be allowed to work on my samples than be dragged into politics, Rupurt."

Yuna tunes out the President's response, connecting the dots and turns again to Sephiroth, speaking in a low voice, "That glass box shows him from where he is to here?"

Sephiroth blinks once and nods. "It is a display screen connecting him from his lab to this conference room."

He motions to the table, the boxes on it. "They come in different forms, such as computer screens, or television screens, as examples."

Yuna cant help the reflexive desire to reach out and poke the nearest 'computer screen', a soft plunk her answer, and a small smudge from her finger on it. She shifts her clothing on her wrist and rubs the smudge off before sitting back. "Your machina has a lot of different uses."

That gets an amused look out of him. "That it does."

He frowned a little. "I'm not sure its actually pure glass, you'd have to ask someone about its exact composition."

She nods, not sure she needs to know the specifics, and settles when she realizes most of the room is watching them. She turns her head to meet the President's gaze and waits.

"Well then, lets get down to business," says the President, "First and foremost, introductions."

He beings to introduce those around him. "This is my Board of Directors, they lead their specific divisions within my company. "

He motions to the scantly clad woman. "This is Scarlet, she leads Weapons Development."

Yuna blinked, a little startled, and interrupts, "You are a blacksmith?"

In that clothing?

Scarlet laughs. "Dear, we have machines and assembly workers to make most of our weapons. I create designs and direct my team on how to make them a reality."

"An oversight position then," said Yuna thoughtfully.

Her eyes shift back to the President, who she notes looks a little impatient at being interrupted. He motions to the plump black bearded man in a green suit, "This is Heidegger, he leads Public Safety Maintenance, which directs our army and police force."


She gives the man a polite nod. He nods back but doesn't say anything. She makes a note that she should be civil and respectful to these people as well, no matter what vibes she gets from them. They each hold positions of importance. A den of vipers the lot of them though, well, most of them.

Shinra motions the other plump man. "Palmer, head of Space Exploration. He leads the initiative to begin investigating what is beyond our planet, how it might be of use to us, and how to attain it."

If the refugees of Spira were capable of escaping their planet, and people were only now trying to figure out how to do so, then much had been lost. She gives Palmer a curt nod as a greeting.

Palmer... leans forward on the table and waved excitedly, "Hey-hey!"

Yuna stares at him, going still at the active and jolly greeting when it is so out of place in this group of people; She offers him a calm, "Hello," in return and leaves it at that. She notes not-so-slight-hint of exasperation of President Shinra's face, and others, before he moves on.

He motions to the man with white gloves. "This is Lazard Deusericus, director of SOLDIER. He handles my SOLDIER's management, deployment, needs, and the like."

Ah, that perhaps explained why he disliked her. She and her Aeons had killed a number of his SOLDIERs. She carefully scrutinizes him, eyes cautious and not judging as she takes in his appearance again. She notes, what she missed the first time, is the sharpness of his gaze and intelligence in his eyes. He holds himself well, but she gets the impression that Lazard dislikes most of his fellows. She comes to the conclusion that Shinra is not a unified front, the exact why of that is however something she does not yet understand.

She gives him a curt, respectful nod, he does so back.

President Shinra motions to the man with the thin mustache. "This is Reeve Tuesti, he is the head of Urban Development."

Yuna doesn't miss the dismissive tone in Shinra's voice. This Tuesti isn't taken seriously by him. She mentally notes it down, but merely gives a nod to the man before asking, "What does 'Urban Development' entail?"

"A bit less than it did before Midgar was finished," snubbed Shinra, "These days he deals mostly with maintenance projects for the city."

Yuna's eyes trail the way Tuesti's mouth thins to a line before he can even speak, cut off and shut down and very displeased by this. Yuna keeps silent on Shinra's rudeness and merely decides to, if she's allowed, approach Tuesti later. If he maintains this city of machina, he might be able to answer a great deal of questions about how various machina work, among other things. There is the loose thought that if he's not happy with Shinra that means he's not as dedicated or loyal, which might be helpful if this whole thing doesn't turn out well.

She'd need all the help and the allies she could in such a situation.

President Shinra motions to Verdot. "This, is Veld Verdot, head of the Department of Administrative Research, otherwise known as the Turks. I believe that Tseng has been assigned as your point of contact with them should any difficulties arise or you need something."

Shinra glances back at the man, who nods and clears his throat. "That is correct. After the meetings, Tseng will go over a few details of your stay here in addition to giving you a PHS and showing you how to use it should you need to contact him."

"Okay," she answers.

"You have already met Professor Hojo, he heads the Science Department," said Shinra, glancing at the screen and scowling to see Hojo leaning over and fiddling with some machina that he appeared to be peering through.

President Shinra shakes his head, settles his hands together on his stomach as he leans back slightly in his chair. "Now that introductions are out of the way, let us get down to business. We made the agreement in Wutai for several reasons, first and foremost is for something known as the Neo Midgar Project, which," he says, narrowing his eyes in warning, "Is to not be mentioned outside of a secure room and cleared individuals, is that understood?"

"Yes," she answers again.

"Good, good," he says, "Now, the Neo Midgar Project aims to build a new and improved Midgar, we require your talents in order to find that location."

She gives him an absolutely perplexed look. "I have no experience with building, or determining where to build."

He waves a hand. "You don't need to concern yourself with that, all we need from you..."

He stares at her in anticipation. " the location of the Promised Land."

She just blinks at him. "The what?"

There is silence in the room for a long moment before the President's face darkens, red anger seeping into his cheeks. "The Promised Land, a land of infinite mako."

Her bewilderment doesn't fade, she has no idea what he is talking about.

"Perhaps," offers Tseng, "The Cetra refer to it by a different name?"

That seems to pacify The President for a moment, he taps the table in thought.

"Could you describe what this Promised Land is?" asks Yuna uneasily.

She's not even from this world, she can already see this going downhill fast; she's not sure the Aeon's have been given enough time to rest and heal to even attempt to fight out of this building.

"As the Legend goes," said the President, "The Cetra were a race who traveled the Planet, healing and cultivating it, and at the end of their journey would find the Promised Land, a land of supreme happiness. It is said that there is infinite power, infinite mako, in this place."

That phrasing actually tickled a memory, about the duty of the summoner and finding peace at the end, did they mean...

Yuna's eyebrow's furrow. "The Farplane?"

Her response is more a question than an answer, but the President seems hopeful, "Describe this 'Farplane'."

"The Farplane was a gathering place for the dead," explained Yuna, "The energies of the place could be used to manifest images of those departed. Some would visit the Farplane in order to find closure, though, it wasn't common. The location was guarded by the Guado; they and outsider's did not get along well."

"There is plenty of old fashion rubbish folklore about mako being the blood of the Planet, of souls," mused President Shinra, "It's safe to say that is most likely the same location we seek. Do you concur Professor Hojo?"

The man briefly looks up from his machina, frowning as he adjust his glasses as he peers out of the screen. "Whom are the Guado? I recognize the phrase 'Farplane' from the High Cetrain language loosely translated as 'Land of the Dead', but not Guado."

"High Cetrain?" inquired Genesis with interest.

"Its a language that fell out of favor in the later parts of the Cetra's existence," explained Hojo, "Mostly spoken by..."

The President waved a hand. "I'm not interested in languages Professor."

Hojo turns his gaze from the screen to Yuna, staring at her silently for a very long minute before completely ignoring the president. "What are you?"

Yuna blinks. "Excuse me?"

"What. Are. You?" he asks, motioning to his machine, "I've been inspecting your cell samples since you left, your DNA only loosely compares to any sample of Cetra DNA, recent or preserved, and is barely comparable to human DNA outside of basic structures. You are not a Cetra, not by DNA definitions at least."

There is again a heavy silence, the President looks speechless for a moment before his face turns red, glaring at Yuna. "What treachery is this?"

Yuna closes her eyes, inhales, and breaths out her nose before opening her eyes; she doesn't know what this 'DNA' is, but she assumes its enough for them. "I have never, not once, claimed to be a Cetra."

"That, dear," said Scarlet in a predatory voice, leaning forward, "Is splitting hairs, because you never corrected anyone on that."

"I told Tseng as much when I first met him in Wutai during his spying," Yuna countered.

There was an air of awkwardness upon Tseng as eyes turned his way. "If I recall correctly, you were unsure about that, and a great number of things; but as Scarlet said, not once since then have you said otherwise."

Yuna holds back a nervous swallow and goes still, reaching for but not yet calling out her magic. She sends a nervous flutter to the Aeons, drawing attention incase she needs them. She feels an immediate flare of protectiveness, that despite their exhaustion, they will fight if need be.

"Perhaps," said Lazard says in a neutral tone, "The Professor's question could be answered? There is nothing to say she still can't provide what the President wants if the Farplane is what he suspects it is."

"I was not aware of the difference or the meaning of a Cetra until my Aeon's informed me," she said thinly, eyes shifting to look coldly at her accusers, "But I am a Spiran."

Before anyone else can ask, Hojo immediately inquires, "Spiran? Elongated form of Spira?"

"Yes," she answers, giving the screen an interested look, "What do you know of Spira?"

"I know there is a bit of confusion in translation between experts in the field of Cetra studies," said Hojo slowly, "That there are for some reason two different words for 'Home' in the High Cetra's language."

"Spira is where I am from," explained Yuna softly, a faint ache in her voice.

Hojo adjusted his glasses. "Interesting, so it should be translated as homeland rather than home. Assuming then that the Cetra and 'Spirans' shared a homeland, that still doesn't explain the genetic differences, it would require hundreds of generations, perhaps thousands, to create such a divergence. Even if two different bloodlines existed and developed elsewhere, your DNA shouldn't have such a wild change from more... recent Cetra samples."

She makes an assumption that's probably true. "Would such difference be caused by traveling one planet to another?"

"Well yes, though I wouldn't want to consider the logistics of sustaining a population for that long," said Hojo before pausing and narrowing his eyes, "What exactly are you implying?"

"What I said," she answers.

Heidegger slams his hands onto the table. "This is preposterous! I don't care what kind of parlor tricks she can do, I say we should lock this imposter up and resume the war!"

Yuna narrows her eyes and places a palm on the table. She had learned enough from Lulu in order to manipulate objects with black magic. She freezes Heidegger's hands to the table, and he yelps, trying to pull away. "A parlor trick, you say?"

"Enough!" demanded the President, "This is an executive meeting, not a child's playground, you are all adults and I expect you to act like it, is that clear?"

He waited for a bob of heads before leveling his gaze at Yuna. "Release him."

She did so, watching briefly as Heidegger scowled and rubbed his hands together.

The President cleared his throat. "Heidegger is however correct, what you've said is preposterous, so I suggest you think carefully about what you say when you explain it."

"I died on Spira, I awoke in Wutai, I have no further explanation, I've already told Tseng this," said Yuna, "I did not know where or when I was until the Aeons told me. Not even they know how exactly I came to be here."

"Convenient for you and even more ridiculous for us," said Scarlet with a sneer on her face, "So let me get this straight: the Cetra were originally Spirans from another planet, you among them. You died, then you apparently came back to life on another planet who knows how many thousands or millions of years later without any explanation."

"I don't feel unsent," mused Yuna, "I'm fairly certain I am alive."

Scarlet looks briefly confused, but merely shakes her head. "You, girl, keep on digging yourself into a deeper hole."

"Or she's insane," said Angeal, staring at Yuna uneasily, "She's giving no tells of lying, she believes what she's said."

"Well, isn't that fabulous," said Lazard dryly.

"Yuna," came Anima's voice, "Summon me."

Yuna blinked slowly. "What?"

"Summon me, this will not end well for you without intervention," stated Anima.

"You can't win in a fight, not here and now," said Yuna, "You also won't fit in here."

"I have no intention of fighting, just speaking, and as to my form, you will find much has changed for the Fayth since our time on Spira," explained Anima.

Well, in for a gil in for a pound then; she spoke as she raised a hand towards the ceiling. "If you wont trust my word, perhaps you'd believe an Aeon instead?"

There was a moment for the room to register what she said before it became a whirl of activity. Verdot yanked the President's chair back and away from the table, drawing his gun and aiming it at Yuna. The various executives pushed away from the table and backed away. Angeal surged to his feet, stance ready to act. Genesis gripped Yuna's shoulder tightly, and Sephiroth caught her wrist faster than she could blink. None of which actually stopped her from summoning; she didn't need to chant a beckoning or anything like that, it just helped her focus and do it faster.

The room darkened as a vortex of dark purple energy formed on the ceiling near the doorway, and dropped a spiked anchor. It slammed into and through the floor, causing a circle of swirling dark energy to appear as it sunk further and further down. Then it stopped, and began to pull. Chains rose from the darkness as the anchor pulled up. Unlike last time, no monstrous mummified Aeon appeared. Instead, there was a hand gripping the anchor, slowly pulling up the form of a pale woman. She shoulder length dark hair, which was lightly threaded with gray. She bore blue eyes on a soft, sad face, and was dressed in a dark purplish-blue draped bodice with a straight blue skirt, and a delicate golden chain belt with small teardrop pendants. Her feet, garbed in a gray-blue heel, tapped lightly onto the floor as Anima let go of the anchor and it disappeared into the ceiling, the energy fading away.

Anima gave a chilly look to Sephiroth, "I suggest that you unhand the Summoner. I may not be capable of besting you, but I can kill most of the people in this room who you swear fealty to before you could stop me if I so chose, do not tempt me."

Sephiroth had gone perfectly still, his eyes wide as he took in her form, before schooling his expression. "If I have your word you will not attack."

"If I were going to, I would have already," said Anima with disdain, "Contrary to what most of our beckoners believe, battle is not our only purpose. I am here for one reason, and if I did not believe it was necessary to come and relieve you of your ignorance, I wouldn't have."

Sephiroth let go, allowing Yuna to reclaim her hand, but did not retake his seat, instead taking several careful steps to stand at a wall at the ready. Genesis let go and sank back into his chair, staring at Anima with fascination, and perhaps awe. Angeal slowly sat down, still tense. Verdot lowered his gun and holstered it, eying the Aeon warily. The executives all slowly took back their seats, looking ruffled, wary, or a little frightened.

Yuna had turned the chair to stare at Anima, wide eyed. "You look..."

Anima raised an amused eyebrow. "Did you think I was going merely adopt a smaller form of my Fayth?"

"Erm...," mumbled Yuna sheepishly, averting her eyes, "Maybe?"

Anima shook her head. "Gaia granted much to us, molding our forms was simple, though most of the old Fayth had no interest in their mortal flesh anymore, save for Bahamut on occasion when he wanted to interact with the Cetra in a more neutral manner."

"Are you saying that Bahamut, Lord of the Skies, once took a humanoid form to come and chat with people?" exclaimed Genesis, incredulous.

"With Cetra, yes," corrected Anima before her nose wrinkled. "And please don't give him titles, none of us wish him or his children to become arrogant from them."

Yuna blinked slowly. "Bahamut had children?"

How did that even work?

"That," said Tseng in a careful manner, "Is something to be asked another time, I believe the summon was called here for a reason."

Anima folded her arms into her sleeves, all pleasantries and humor gone. "You here are men and woman of ignorance. You believe only in what you choose to if it suits your needs or it can be proven without the shadow of a doubt. Even then, your kind is known to ignore the truth in favor of lies and treachery should it benefit you."

She looked Shinra dead in the eye. "Or for greed."

Shinra narrowed his eyes, briefly glancing at Sephiroth again, perhaps as a form of assurance of safety, before speaking, "Human nature is what it is, summon, regardless of what we are, I can only assume you were called to vouch for this madness she speaks of. If you were called by her, how are we to trust your word was not simply the desire of her summoning?"

Anima tilted her head. "If you humans bothered to use my kin in any manner outside of battle, perhaps you would know that your will is not necessarily ours."

"If you dislike humans so and are capable of refusing," said Sephiroth, probing, "Why answer our summons at all?"

"I cannot personally answer for my kin, but I would assume being indefinitely trapped in little red baubles would make them desperate for any sort of freedom, even if you would but use them as tools of slaughter," answered Anima, "And I do not dislike humans, I dislike these humans."

Genesis huffed. "I like this one, its a shame I've never heard of you before, I've done research on many summons, or Aeons as she calls you, and you never came up."

Anima tilted her head, studying Genesis briefly. "I represent darkness and death, pain and suffering, that role has not changed between Spira and Gaia. The Cetra had little desire to deal with me, and I them, even when the Glutton of the Feast fed upon them and the Planet. I did not suffer my kin's fate because I stayed out of the conflict, and had not been demanded to intervene."

Genesis's eyes furrowed. "What is the 'Glutton of the Feast'?"

Anima's lips peeled back in distaste. "Do you think the Cetra civilization died out for no reason at all? They were consumed by the same abomination that devoured Spira. Their last act the only one that spared Gaia that same fate."

"While fascinating, the topic at hand if you would?" said Sephiroth.

Anima looked at Yuna for a moment. "You did die, of that I, and my kin, are certain. You were the Last Summoner with the potential to truly stop Sin, your death was noted. You were however correct in that you are not unsent, such a state does not exist on Gaia, its lifestream differed from Spira's in that regard. Monsters here are not the fiends you know of."

Yuna frowned a little, there were hidden meanings in that statement she would need to ask upon in private later. "I see."

"As for how you are here, that I do not know, neither do Shiva, Ifrit, or Leviathan," said Anima, "If the others have any ideas, I do not know, considering their imprisonment, it is doubtful. I have questioned Minerva, but she held her silence. Though, she does not particularly like me as I sat out the conflict with the Glutton of the Feast; I'm not surprised she refused to answer me. Regardless, she always played her cards close regardless."

Yuna blinked. "Who is..."

"You've met the goddess?" whispered Genesis in reverence.

"Unfortunately," said Anima sourly, "She sits upon her throne, arrogant and judging. I don't particularly recall her ever manifesting to challenge the Glutton of the Feast either."

Genesis narrowed his eyes and was about to respond before the President cleared his throat. "Professor Hojo, assuming we go along with this, can you, in any way, confirm this story?"

Hojo hummed as he looked down at his machine in thought. "I can compare Lady Yuna's DNA to the oldest Cetra fossil records we have with this information and look for possible similarities. But, under the assumption this is true, there are countless generations between her life and the Cetra of our world, the similarities I question if they will be major or not."

"The Cetra lost much of themselves in their journey across the stars," said Anima, "They gained in some ways, a flexibility by not being bound to a planet nor its lifestream, but suffered in many others. There is not a Cetra, living or otherwise, who would compare to a Spiran in magical might and ability. Though in the reverse, few of Spira had any manner in which to tend to a planet and commune with it."

"I am a man of science not spiritual faith, though I suppose I am looking at such a matter," mused Hojo, considering Anima for a moment, "If what you say is true, that makes the Cetra, and thus Humanity, alien lifeforms to this planet. Fascinating."

He turns to the President. "If you have no further need of me this meeting...?"

The President waved a hand. "Do what you will, but keep the connection open incase your expertise is needed."

"A moment," came Anima's voice as she regarded the screen, waiting for Hojo to turn to look at her.

"I know of you, Hojo, the lifestream knows of you, the Goddess knows of you, from the suffering you have caused, and your hand in the pain and death of the last full blooded Cetra," said Anima in a hostile tone, "So long as your efforts help Yuna and do not harm her, I will stay my hand, but if you treat her as you did Ifalna, I will kill you without hesitation. I suggest you stay well away from any other of my kin, they would not give you even that much of a reprieve for your sins."

There was a suckering of breath from Sephiroth, a whisper of 'Ifalna' in a soft tone from him, before he narrowed his eyes at the screen, at Hojo, with a brief flare of open hostility. Yuna doesn't know who this Ifalna was, aside from a Cetra, but she doesn't need any special understanding to know that Sephiroth is furious over this. She did not miss the way Anima's eyes flickered to Sephiroth appraising that reaction with partially raised eyebrows, surprised and curious, but masked it. Hojo had gone very still through the screen, mouth set in an irritated line, but did not react otherwise except to maintain his silence.

Which was most likely wise of him.

It was also another warning in her mind, an extreme warning, that the Aeons hated this man. She is beginning to dread having to interact with him perhaps more than she did Seymour.

Tseng cleared his throat. "Lady Yuna is currently a guest here while we determine the best place for her to fit into the company, even if she cannot provide the location of the Promised Land, there are many other ways she can prove to be a welcomed and treasured asset. Unless she attempts to harm us, she will not be harmed in turn. We're not that foolish to instigate against a woman who can summon entities of your power with a flick of her wrist."

Anima gives him an amused smile. "Your tongue is an asset you use well, human. I would have been interested in seeing you argue against many a Maester."

Yuna forgot dignity and snorted at that. "I'd have paid gil to watch them all talk around eachother for days."

Tseng shifted on his feet, looking a little perplexed. "Maester?"

"Religious leaders on Spira who used indoctrination, faith, and deception to control the populous," said Anima with distaste.

"While this is all... interesting...," said Lazard slowly, still eying the Aeon warily, "Perhaps we can get back on topic? The summon can be dismissed and we can move onto matters that are not absurd."

Anima tilted her head. "And should I not wish to be dismissed, little human?"

Lazard blinked. "You can refuse?"

Anima smiled. And that smile warped, her eyes hollowed out black with a blue glow in them, her teeth turning sharp, the air chilling as a black aura briefly illuminated her. "I am not bound by a little red bauble, human, I can choose to come and go as I so please, the Summoner simply makes it far easier for me to manifest outside of domains that I govern. I have not appeared before now because I have not cared enough or had a reason to."

Yuna swallowed thickly, tensing under Anima's anger, the entire room freezing. Then Anima's form settled back to the completely Spiran one, her smile pleasant again. "For that matter, so can my siblings now that they have been freed. You had best tread careful when venturing into the cold north, into volcanic areas, or across the oceans lest you test their wrath."

About the only one who didn't balk or tense or wither at her rebuke was Genesis, he looked positively ecstatic. "Oh that is marvelous, summons walking around in broad daylight is going to be an absolute delight. Tell me, would they be willing to converse perhaps? I have so many questions."

Angeal rubbed his forehead, exasperated. "Genesis..."

"If you stumble upon them, perhaps you will find out one way or another," said Anima in a mocking tone.

Genesis huffed in response. "I hope Shiva didn't take our fight personally..."

The President cleared his throat. "I do believe that is quite enough. Deusericus is right, enough of frivolous banter. This meeting was called for a reason, and since Lady Yuna cannot provide what was asked, as I assume this 'Farplane' existed on Spira, not here, than it falls on you, Summon. Do you know where the Promised Land is?"

Anima wrinkled her nose in distaste. "For a human that prefers logic and science over faith, you are rather swayed by myths and legends."

Shinra narrowed his eyes. "Are you claiming the Promised Land is not real?"

"Nothing of the sort, it is very much real, just not in the way you think it is," said Anima, that mocking tone returning.

"What exactly do you mean?" demanded Shinra.

"The Promised Land is the lifestream, you foolish mortal," snarled Anima, "The phrasing of that myth is not complex, it is straight forward. The Cetra were born from the Planet, speak with the Planet, and unlock the Planet, and at the end of their days, the Cetra will return to the Promised Land. Return, not find, but return to whence they came. Their souls go to the planet to be healed and rejuvenated as all life eventually does, to find release until the day comes they are reborn in one form or another."

Her lips curled. "I do not know who claimed the Promised Land was some fabled place filled with infinite lifestream, if I did, I would kill them for their stupidity that has caused the Planet such pain. Common sense, even for a 'spiritual being' as you would claim me to be, dictates that infinite anything is a farce, a sham. One would think a man of knowledge would not be swayed by such foolish legends. Instead, you hungrily circle for a place that does not exist, like a leech hungering for more. So listen and listen well, human, the lifestream is not infinite, it never was and it never will be, all things end in time, and your reactors do this world no favors in extending its lifespan with how you attempt to bleed it dry."

Shinra's face had heated up in anger. "How dare you..."

"I think," said Verdot, taking a step forward, "That perhaps this meeting should be adjourned for now until cooler heads can prevail. Agreed?"

President Shinra scowled but nodded. "Fine, adjourned until a later date."

Anima merely shook her head and looked to Yuna, "If you have need of me, merely call, I have not walked outside the lifestream in thousands of years, I wish to, I suppose the phrase is, 'stretch my legs'. I can feel the pain and suffering of those who dwell below our feet, I wish to observe my domain firsthand."

With that, Anima sank through the floor into a black puddle and disappeared.

"We have a summon walking around who knows where," said Angeal with a heavy sigh, scrubbing at his face.

"I'm assuming she meant the slums," mused Genesis, "Interesting that she considers it her domain. I suppose she's not wrong on the harshness of their life."

The rest of the executives did not stay for banter, looking more than eager to get out of the room, some walking just short of running to doing so.

"Sephiroth," came Verdot's voice, "If you would escort Lady Yuna back to her room?"

Sephiroth nodded stiffly before motioning to the door, "If you would, Lady Yuna?"

She rose wordlessly, wanting to get back to her room to try and think over this whole mess in peace and silence. She did so in a slow manner however, ears listening as Shinra turns his chair around, pulling out a cigar to puff on vigorously, stressed and frustrated. "What do you think Verdot? Was that a show to throw us off the trail, or is the Promised Land not real?"

Verdot's response was careful. "I cannot say for certain, sir. She did not appear to be lying, but reading the body language of a summon can't be the same as for a human. Regardless of that... perhaps I will be blunt in saying that we have spent millions of gil scouring the Planet for the Promised Land with nothing to show for it, perhaps..."

Yuna was out of the door before she could finish hearing what he said, she couldn't make it look to much like she was intentionally eavesdropping, rather than moving in slow grace. Genesis and Angeal fell in behind her while she walked at Sephiroth's side towards the lift. She considered him for a moment as they walked in, weighing if she should ask, or had the right to, but decided she needed to know this. "Who was this Ifalna, to you?"

Sephiroth lips tightened for a moment, not looking like he wanted to speak of the subject, but ended up doing so, "She was a kind woman that I knew in my early youth. She, and a man named Gast Faremis, were two people who made things... tolerable for me, back then, before they suddenly disappeared without so much as a goodbye, in hindsight, for obvious reasons."

He said nothing more on it, going silent, and very tense. The term brooding fit quite well. She left him to it, eyes briefly appraising Genesis and Angeal as the lift started downward. Angeal looked hesitating, as if he wanted to reach out to Sephiroth, but didn't. Genesis looked at the silver haired man in interest, but wisely, in Yuna's opinion, did not pry. Still, she got what she wanted out of that, perhaps more. Sephiroth's youth had most likely not been pleasant, if the two people were the only ones who had made it 'tolerable' for him. He didn't sound like he had taken their disappearance well when it happened.

She's not sure how to use it, or if she should, but it is perhaps a wedge between him and Shinra. For now she leaves it be, she's not yet in a place of knowledge or position to use such a thing, or anything else she's learned, to her advantage. She must be patient, and careful in how she acts. Summoning Anima had been a risk that Shinra had come very close to killing her for in reaction, Verdot had been aiming dead on after all. It was best to let things lay for now.

So she was led back to her room, and shuffled in quietly, sitting on her bed and sighing, thoughts drifting to the mornings events...

"I was not expecting Calamity's Son to react to Ifalna's demise, Minerva," mused Anima as she sat ontop the beams of the Church that the last daughter of the Cetra dwelt in, staring down at the young woman in contemplation.

The voice of the Goddess, disgruntled at being so directly addressed, echoed out, "Do you believe that such a thing has meaning?"

"Considering I did not believe he would have cared at all, perhaps it does," said Anima, considering it for a few moments, "My domain is pain and suffering, and it echoes off him, of things that putrid scientist did to him in his youth, that he still does to him. Calamity's Son or not, he is still partially human. Ifalna was a reprieve in that, as was her chosen consort. Sifting through the lifestream for his memories is not a simple thing, but from what I have found, Ifalna's consort stalled out many of the more despicable tests the scientist wished to preform on Calamity's Son when he was but a child."

She hummed quietly to herself. "They held influence over him in an important time in his life, though that influence fades day by day under Shinra's boot."

"Do you have a point to make?" inquired Minerva in that infernally calm, patronizing tone.

"I know you have plans for the red-haired one, I've felt your focus shift enough times observing him through the lifestream," said Anima, "But have you considered that the other sons of the Calamity may be stolen from their mother as well?"

"It cannot be done, how he was bound and infected by the Calamity differs from the other two, I cannot cleanse them as I would him," countered Minerva.

"I was not speaking of being cleansed," answered Anima.

"And why should the Planet tolerate any tainted by the Calamity upon its flesh?" posed Minerva.

A darkly amused look crossed Anima's face as she jabbed, "For all your wisdom and knowledge, perhaps sticking closer to a mortal mindset, of understanding them, might do you some good. Dealing solely in absolutes would drive away two potentially powerful allies who, on their own, might be able to match the Calamity."

Anima could feel Minerva's consideration. "And if they instead became threats when they could have been eliminated?"

"Whom exactly do you have that could kill any of the Calamity's most powerful children?" posed Anima, "Certainly not I. Perhaps the Squire if he were awakened before the Calamity's children grow to much more powerful in strength, but we both know he would not be easily restrained from also fulfilling his function and cleansing the world of life. I have little faith in the lumbering WEAPONs being able to defeat even one of the three."

She glanced down at Aerith as she hummed to her flowers. "She will never be a warrior that can match them. She could awaken Holy as a last ditch effort, but that is it."

Anima smiled knowingly. "Or perhaps were you thinking of Yuna? She is still so young, with so much more potential to gain, and through her, perhaps we do as well. But will that be enough? I do not know."

Minerva did not answer.

Anima merely shook her head. Let the Goddess keep her secrets. Anima had been stirred by Yuna's arrival, she had no intention of going back to sleep, she would take her own actions and make her own plans. She was not a bound Fayth, hadn't been for a very long time. She felt that she owed it to Yuna, to help her, as atonement for her son's sins. His greatest sin of murdering Spira's last true hope. The waking dream and Yuna, together they had been meant to end the cycle of death and suffering, but both of them had been needed alive to do so. The dream to reach Jecht, and Yuna to best Yu Yevon. Without both of them...

She sighed quietly, it was in the past. Spira was gone, mutilated by her insane son, then devoured by the Glutton of the Feast. For now, she felt it best to observe the last of Cetra blood, and see what kind of person she was. There was potential, if Sephiroth valued the child's parents so, that it might extend to the child, and having such a guardian would be a great boon. Of course, if the Calamity reached and swayed her son, it would not matter who the child's parents were, but if that could be prevented, and Aerith potentially used to do so...

There was potential there.

For both Yuna and Aerith to fulfill that function.

Anima smiled sharply. It wouldn't happen yet, not without careful consideration and planning, but she was looking forward to seeing the two of them meet, the last Cetra and her people's ancestor...

Review Responses:

Rhavis: Lol. I still haven't decided how she'll react to normal materia, this is mostly an Aeon thing between them and a summoner.

Guest: I didn't set out to write this in order to baby people, this is going to be a harsh story, there will be good, but there will also be heavy and horrible things that happen in it. Consider this your warning, if your triggered, then perhaps you should reconsider what you read.

Azure Shine: No promises, Hojo's been warned, and Yuna is acting smart, but Hojo is also Hojo, it will be a balancing act to see if Yuna can stave him off from his more 'Hojo' tendencies.

TrilbyBard: Yuna might die from adorableness if it happens though!

DRMAK: I went with the children idea, now the question is, which Bahamut is actually FF10s Bahamut? :D

Actionliker: Glad you enjoy.

Radical Dreamer 57: No beta we die like men. Haven't decided on normal materia yet. She will eventually have public appearances, Shinra kind of forced that to be a thing when they did the public wedding.

Expressz641: Good call.

Patrick the Observer: Thanks. Genesis is fun to write. The story will be a large up and down, high points of good, low points of really fucking bad [spoiler]Especially when Yuna and Jenova first meet[/spoiler]. I haven't decided on Deepground yet, a lot of their troops were stolen from Wutai wounded if I recall, the war ending early, among other things, may weaken Deepground's potential, but you are perhaps right on it being developed to try and counter Sephiroth. Which is stupid, Sephiroth IMO could have solo'd deepground (maybe not at the same time, but 1v1 I think he'd trash most of them except Nero).

Everyone else, thanks for the responses.