. R O A D . T O . D A M A S C U S . C H R O N I C L E S .

. S E R E N D I P I T Y .

Chapter 9- Gaea Eight

"Any luck on Hollow Bastion?" Cid asked as Aeris walked into the doorway of his tavern at Taverse Town.

The russet haired woman shook her head and leaned against the counter, watching as Cid went over his gummy inventory. "No. No changes. Leon is still there and keeping the clean sweep around the castle. The library is the only place the shadows refuse to touch, which is a good thing."

Tifa came in from the back room, holding several boxes and crashed them down on the counter, causing Cid to spew few expletives and scolding on how sensitive the gummi blocks are. She rolled her eyes and retorted, "They're gummis! They shift and changes and stretches, you can't break them!" She turned to Aeris and asked, "Do you think we need to contact Vincent after all?"

Aeris nodded, "It's time. It's been two years already." She turned to see Cid pull out a small wooden box with wires connected here and there on it. There were several knobs and a large screened circle in the center. Cid switched it on and several lights flashed and there was a crackle and a loud hiss as the electricity turned on. "What in the world is that?"

Cid chuckled and fiddled with it before he was shocked and he cursed before replying, "I've been working on this for a good while, it's a radio that can reach our home world. Let's just hope the radio there still work."

"All right." Aeris looked apprehensive as they gathered around the radio. Yuffie came bouncing in the room and beamed.

"You're pulling out the radio at last?" She asked as she made her way between Tifa and Aeris.

"Yes." Cid gruffed and worked the knob, listening to the statics and for a good while, he worked until he found the right combination. "There! Hello, anyone there?"

The radio replied with a static and a buzz. It went on for a while and Cid sighed, turning the connection off and sat back in defeat. "No go. Seem it's not working on the other end."

They turned their heads toward the radio as beeping noise came on, it was loud in the room and they stared before Cid scrambled and flipped few switches and called, "This is Gaea Seven Beta Base, over."

The radio gave a long static and then the familiar voice that spooked everyone came clear cut on the radio, "Gaea Seven Alpha Base, Cid is that you? Over."

"Dammnit Vincent! Even on radio you still sneak around!" Cid yelled into the microphone and heard a light soft chuckle on the other end. "Glad to hear you're still alive and kicking. We lost more of our people."

"I see." Vincent replied stoically. "How many more?"

Cid looked to Tifa who looked a bit pale and she nodded. "We lost Cloud and Sephiroth." There was no reply on the other end. "It's four of us left from Gaea Seven over here, Tifa, Aeris, Yuffie and me. Leon's still around, mostly on Hollow Bastion."

"That's what I've gathered."

Aeris frowned, "It seems he knows more." She leaned forward and took the microphone from Cid's hand. "Vincent, the kids are missing too."
"I am aware of that. They just came to Gaea Seven few days ago and remained a couple of days. They just had left."

"And you didn't even think of telling them to stay or go back to Hollow Bastion?" Yuffie yelled.

"Ah, good to hear you voice, dear wife." Vincent replied and Yuffie jumped up and down in frustration, nearly pulling her hairs out. "But, from what I've spoke to them, it is best that we do not go after them. They are on a mission and it is important that they are not to be bothered with."

"Why the hell not?" Tifa asked, confused.

"Oh." Vincent went silent on the other end as if he was realizing something and then spoke once again, causing Cid to jump and scowl. "I see, you seem to not know some vital information." Aeris stared at the radio as she paled slightly; the others looked at her oddly.

"Vincent." Aeris started and glanced around the room, knowing that the others were very curious. It was no point in hiding anymore. "I know. But they're so young."

There was sound of swishing noise and they realized it was Vincent shaking his head. "Aeris, do you recall back to how young Cloud was when she left home to begin her journey? Or even Yuffie?"

"But it's not the same thing!"

"It is precisely similar, it is their fate, especially for Serendipity, seeing how she came from her parents, or did you forget?"

"No!" Aeris shouted.

"Then, let it be. Their journey had just only begun."

"Vincent," Yuffie took the microphone from Aeris' hand. "They've been gone for two years. You said they came to Gaea Seven few days ago, did they mention where they were before they arrived there?"

There was a long silent and everyone grew apprehensive. Finally, his voice came across, once again clear cut, "This is troubling." Cid cursed in the background and the other women gave him a look and he quietly muttered under his breath. "From my understanding, they came straight from Hollow Bastion and they've just only left there few days ago. Serendipity doesn't look older than her ten years of age. However, you mention two years has passed…" There was a silence again.

Yuffie broke the silent. "Vincent. How long has passed on Gaea Seven since we left?"

"Between two to three years, if I recall correctly."

Yuffie looked at the other in shock and to find the other shared the same expression. Vincent sensed silence on the other end and asked, "What is it?"

Aeris took the microphone from Yuffie. "It has been five years since we've left Gaea Seven. Apparently there is some sort of time change."

Cid looked pensively at the radio and scowled. "This doesn't make sense."

Vincent replied. "I concur. But as much I love to stay and chat, I must go." Then the radio went dead.

Aeris bowed her head, placing the microphone back down on the table and sighed. She opened her eyes to find Tifa, Cid and Yuffie looking at her with looks on their faces saying that she wasn't getting out of this one. "All right, when I went back to Hollow Bastion to get them. They were gone. Leon and I looked for them and there was a letter left for me…" She gave a soft sorrowful sigh. "They left because they learned who the Sorceress Princess is and set out to find the Keyblade Master, taking the whole thing into their hands." She closed her eyes, knowing the questions would be bombarding on her.

However, only Yuffie questioned what was on the other's minds. "Who is the Sorceress Princess?"

Aeris looked up, "Serendipity."

Tifa sat down in her chair with defeated 'whoomp', "Of course." She muttered, "It had to be her, it makes all the senses now. The daughter of the two Valkyrie heirs."

"Yes. Leon found the book they were reading; we all missed the clue entirely, seeing how most of us had already read the book from cover to cover. It was just two pages long chapter on Sorceress Princess and the signs all points toward Serendipity. The biggest key point is that the only way for a person to be a Sorceress Princess is to be the descendent of Gaia herself." Aeris explained as she reached over to the shelf next to the radio station and pulled out the said book of the Princesses. She opened to the marked page where she had left the letter from Serendipity. "Of course, Serendipity was already growing in her power and her friends, being loyal to her as ever, tagged along." Aeris said as she handed the book to Cid and he read it with Tifa and Yuffie looking over his shoulders.
"So, that's what Vincent meant, for you to leave it be?" Yuffie asked.

"Yeah, we can't interfere but sit back and wait."

Cid stood up and took the radio and placed it under the countertop. "Well, that's done with. But it still bothers me."

"What does?" Tifa asked.

"The time difference. If Vincent is two years behind us, we ahead…" He shook his head and scowled, "Whatever the time difference, we would have not been able to get through! The whole distance time paradox thingy, don't ask me." He waved his hands in the air as if to bat away confusing thoughts.

Aeris gave a small smile. "When one cannot explain something, the simplest answer is there."

Yuffie nodded, grinning. "Magic."

Cid and Tifa rolled their eyes.

They all crashed together, albeit with much better practice than the last time around and Odin helped Serendipity up on her feet while Jules did the same for DaHara. As they brushed their clothes off and glanced around. The world was pretty much in same shape as Gaea Seven, ruins left in litters all around them, there was no sign of life and dark shadows crept everywhere.

Serendipity shivered. "This is Leon's home world, Gaea Eight."

"We won't find anything here." DaHara announced with slight scowl on her face. "We all knew that, so why are we here?"

"I don't know yet, but the clue left to me saying that I should go from Seven to Ten, so I assume to check out each world." Serendipity replied as she pulled out the crumpled letter from her pocket and smoothed it out to read it. "Begin with Seven and end with Ten. There, I have to go to each world, seven, eight, nine and ten."

"We're here, so what?" DaHara snapped. "Nothing to find here, it's empty! Let's go on to Nine!"

Serendipity frowned at her friend and shook her head. "This is my mission; you all chose to follow me. I say we take a look around and see what we can find here and then we will go."

DaHara gave much show of rolling her eyes and crossing her arms, acting like a petulant child. "Whatever."

Jules frowned behind DaHara and looked to Serendipity and saw his other friend had sorrowful look on her face. He shook his head and mouthed, "I'm sorry." Serendipity gave a small feeble smile in reply and walked ahead, looking about.

"If anything, I am sure Sephiroth would tell you to stick with DaHara and help her through this. We all have taken to the situation badly and out of all of us, DaHara is taking this rather badly." Odin whispered to Jules.

"I know. Her parents were one of the first to go. Just before her mother disappeared, DaHara was fighting with her mother and said some words she wishes to take back." Jules explained quietly.

"I see." Odin nodded and walked ahead to join Serendipity.

They managed to find a town and took a look around, only to find it deserted and shambled in ruins. When night fell, silence lingered between the four friends as Serendipity erected the barrier and they settled in a long sleepless night.

When morning approached, the sky was overcast, casting gloomy looks, and their spirits weren't in better shape than the day before. They rose and scavenged through the abandoned town and decided to pack up on necessary, finding dried food, some packs and other things.

They moved on, walking down the long road, following it to another town. During their journey, they came across some shadow beings and fought them off, putting practice with their weapons and their strengths.

After third day, they reached a large city and looked around. The tension between the four friends had reached to its highest. DaHara finally stomped her foot on the ground, pausing everyone in their track. "That's it! We've been walking around here for three days, nothing worthwhile to find!"

Serendipity turned to her friend and scowled, "We will find something worthwhile here!"

DaHara smirked and leered at her friend, "Oh, yeah? What are we looking for then?"

Knowing she was caught, she looked away. "I am not sure yet."

Smiling albeit cruelly. "Ah, ha! I motion for a vote. Who vote to move on to Ninth?" She raised her hand and looked at her other friends. Jules wasn't looking at her, rather, ignoring and looking away and Odin was scowling at her with his arms crossed, rather pissed while Serendipity looked about ready to cry. She then dropped her hand and snapped, "What's wrong with you two!" She pulled at Jules' arm to get his attention. "Are you really going to follow her around until we get caught by the shadow? She knows nothing!"

Serendipity looked up, her eyes blazing through unshed tears. "Shut up DaHara!" She stomped up to bring herself closer to her red-headed friend. "You've been moping in past three years! You're not the only one who has problems! I lost my parents too! In fact, I lost the entire planet! I am to be its next queen and not even eight year old, I lost it all!"

DaHara slapped Serendipity's face and screamed, "So what! How would you feel if you told your mother that you wish for her to go away and only to find that she was gone the next moment!"

Serendipity held her cheek, burning from the sting of the slap; she glared at DaHara and whispered with ice in her tone, "We all have burdens on our shoulders, each one of us. It is up to me to save Gaea Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten while the Keyblade Master to save the universe from the shadows. You best keep your mouth shut and your burden to yourself. I do not need to carry your problems on my shoulder." She squared her shoulders and turned, walking off.

Odin scowled at DaHara. "She's right. You best keep your temper in check, more often than not, it gets you in trouble." He then followed after Serendipity.

Jules sighed and walked after his other friends, leaving DaHara behind, only to call at her, "Come on. I am sure we'll rest soon."

DaHara stared after them and grinded her teeth, unknown to her and everyone else, a small shadow being had watched them and crept up behind her, creeping until it's tendrils wrapped around her and she shook her head, walking after her friends, but only to have the shadow settle on her back and then disappear into her.

They came to rest an hour later for lunch and sat together in circle with the barrier surrounding them. They ate quietly on the rations they had found few days before. Odin was looking at the letter that Serendipity carried around.

He finally spoke. "This is odd." He gestured to the letter. "There are so much riddles and clues in such short letter and not once there was a mention of a Keyblade Master."

Serendipity took the letter and read it again, she had memorized the letter to heart by then but to read the words, it was refreshed. "Why would I need to find my brother to find my parents?" She asked out loud.

Jules took the letter out of Serendipity's hand and read it. "We all know this at least that King Sephiroth is in the shadows."

DaHara took the letter and read it. "It says here that you know the answer." She murmured and returned the letter to Serendipity. She looked to her best friend and gave a challenging glare. "So, Sorceress Princess, what's in your heart?"

Serendipity met her glare unflinchingly. "I am sure in time I will know." DaHara knew she lost and looked away. "I think, like I did on Gaea Seven, I should find the doors on each planet and put a barrier on them to keep from more shadows coming."

"That's a good plan. But how would we be able to find a door? The planet's huge." Jules asked.

Serendipity closed her eyes. "I am not quite sure… I can sense the door back on Gaea Seven. Maybe I should try to sense it out here." She suggested and glanced around and saw Jules and Odin had somewhat pensive agreement on their faces. "I have been walking toward the feeling in past few days since we've arrived. I sensed we should keep going in that direction." She pointed in the general direction that they have been traveling toward. "Leon told me that it began in Balaam Garden a long time ago… And according to the signs we've been passing, that's where we're going."

"Then, let's not waste any more time." DaHara snapped as she stood up, grabbing her pack. "Let's go!"

The others grudgingly got up and gathered their supplies and followed DaHara, wanting to avoid her teetering temperament. They continued in pretty much same fashion they had in past few days, silently walking along, fighting whatever shadows creature came to cross their path and searched whatever town they came across.

By evening, they reached the end of the road to see the large very highly advanced building structure, dark and ominous. "I suppose that's Balaam Garden." Odin commented as they stared up at the said city.

"That's huge." Jules added in awe.

"I supposed it was glorious." DaHara whispered.

"Yeah… I wonder how we can get in." Serendipity mentioned as she walked ahead, looking from side to side, searching for some place to get in. The entrance seemed to be blocked by large boulders.

DaHara seethed behind Serendipity, "You have a magic wand, why don't you do hocus pocus and wave off the boulders away?"

Serendipity frowned, turning to DaHara. "I am not strong enough to levitate anything yet. Have you forgotten that I am just only ten years old!"

"Easy to forget when you take up as the group's leader." DaHara snapped back.

Odin stepped in between them, his hands held up to stop both of them. "Enough! DaHara, your attitude lately had been tiring and Serendipity…" He sighed and shook his head and turned to her. "As much I agree with you, but maybe you could try."

Serendipity looked up at Odin and nodded, "maybe." She turned and held her scepter up and tried to remember what Genie had taught her about levitation of object. She stood there, her eyes closed as she slowly moved her scepter in the pattern that she learned to do with her hand. The orbs on the top of her scepter glowed and hummed and she mumbled under her breath, trying to focus, feeling her power reaching out much like a giant hand, wrapping around one of the boulder in front of her.

The others watched in awe, having never seen her levitate more than a heavy tome in the past and held their breath as the boulder rattled and finally lifted weightlessly in the air and shifted, moving slowly to the side. The boulder hovered in the air, and Odin noticed it was starting to rattle. He looked to Serendipity and saw her straining, shaking. He ran up to her and grabbed as she fell to the ground, the boulder fell to the ground, hitting with much gusto and dirt flew in the air.

DaHara sighed in irritation. "Still blocked!"

Jules frowned and ran ahead to the boulder and shook his head, calling back to them. "No, not anymore, there's enough room for us to get though."

Odin held Serendipity and turned to her, "You did well, for a starter." He handed his skin to her and she gladly took drink of the water. "Come on, before the shadows find us here. I am sure you're not up to putting up the barrier."

She nodded and with his help, got up and they ran to where Jules and DaHara had slipped into the entrance and made their way into the Balaam Garden.

In the Garden, they found it was much like Hollow Bastion, deserted and teeming with shadows. They fought off every time they came across the shadows and searched around the city-like academy. It was long into the night that they finally decided to settle in one room and wait through the night before starting again.

"There's not much information here." Odin announced as he finished checking the computer log. "From what I understand this, the Shadow came on them too fast, much faster than our world. There was a last log where they sent someone away in space to get help and that was it."

"Someone in space, did they say who?" Serendipity asked.

Odin peered at the screen and mumbled, hitting few buttons and grinned, "Squall Leonhart, senior cadet of SeeD. They were doing flight training and advised for him to not return but go and get help from nearby planet…" He typed on the screen, pulling up few more information and read them.

"Squall Leonheart. So that's his name." Serendipity softly said.

"Who's he?" Jules asked.

Serendipity smiled at her best friend, "Uncle Leon. He never told us his real name, but only asked us to call him Leon. He's from this world… hey, isn't there a mention of a princess on this world or something?"

Odin shook his head as he kept reading the reports on the computer, replying, "From these information I've found, the government here is different, there's no royality or anything, but run by group of people. This is simply an academy, the entire city." He waved his arm to gesture overhead. "It's difficult to say who's the ruler or any sort. But at one point there was some problem with an evil sorceress and Leon was one of the groups that defeated."

"Maybe, there is someone in the group that could have potential to be a princess?" Serendipity asked.

"Maybe. Let's see… uh." He turned to Serendipity. "Leon fought alongside with three women in his group. None of them are royalty."

"Shoot." Serendipity replied and lay down on the mat she had created to sleep for the night. "All right, I am bushwhacked. Good night everyone."

"Good night Sere." Odin replied as he came to settle beside her, sitting and watching the fire.

"Good night Sere." Jules replied. DaHara didn't reply but was sitting against the wall in the corner, looking out of the window next to her. Jules looked toward her with concern on his face.

Odin leaned against the wall, looking out of the window of the room that they had camped the night before. Serendipity had done excellent job of keeping her barrier up through the night, protecting them from the shadows. It seems that her power was growing by bounds each day. Of course, most of the contribution of her power's growth was pretty much from stress of fighting the shadows and using them to defend themselves.

He glanced over to see Jules sitting at the console, reading whatever files that were on the computer and DaHara sitting in the corner, twirling her sais. Serendipity was sitting in the center of the room, her eyes closed and meditating. She had been like this since they woke up in the morning few hours ago and it was nearly approaching noon, from what it looks like it on that planet.

Finally, Jules sighed in frustration and turned around on his seat, facing everyone. "There's no Princess on this planet. No door or some sort. Nothing. It doesn't make sense… if the door is the factor to allow the shadow enters a planet."

Serendipity opened her eyes and craned her neck to look at Jules behind her. "The door is here…" She said as she stood up and walked to the window and pointed out of the window. Everyone gathered around to see what she was pointing at. In the sky hung a large moon, barely visible during the day time, the sky had finally cleared up from its overcast weather. "The moon…" She sighed. "That's why the planet was taken over so quickly, the door was open and the shadows bided their time and then swept down."

"Is that even possible?" DaHara asked.

"Yeah, the shadows travel in the dark, among the shadows." Serendipity replied and went over to the computer. "Let's see if I was right." She clicked at few keys and the screen came on. "Yeah. That explains it… the day the entire planet was overtaken, it was new moon." She turned around, facing her friends. "The moon was completely dark, in the shadow and that night, the shadows traveled to the planet and basically spread everywhere. Balaam Garden was the last to go. It was only morning when they realized this and Leon was already in air, his only escape."

"Yeow." Jules commented quietly. "So, what are we going to do?"

Serendipity shook her head. "Nothing about this planet. This planet had been like this since I was two years old. It's been too long. There's nothing on this planet but shadows."

"Then, we should move on to Ninth." Odin said.

Serendipity looked up to Odin and nodded in agreement and went about to gather her things. When she was finished, everyone else was ready.

"What about the door on the moon, should it at least be closed?" DaHara asked.

"It's closed for now." Serendipity replied. "That's what I was mediating for… to find the door and I found it on the moon, but it's closed for now."

"What about the seal?"

"There won't be any more shadows coming to this planet, there's nothing left. The heart's long gone."

"I see…" DaHara replied.

They all gathered in a circle, waiting as Serendipity created the portal for them to travel to. The sphere grew larger and they could see that the planet they were going to travel to appear to be untouched and with hope in their hearts, they leapt forward into the portal. The portal closed behind them and the shadows slithered in the room, searching for them only to find they were gone.

w w w . y a s h o d o a . c o m / r o a d t o d a m a s c u s

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Check Yashodoa's Bio for information and author's notes.

AN: Probably one of the worst chapters I've ever written because I have no idea what to do with this chapter and I didn't play FF8 or FF9 and my knowledge of the two worlds are very limited. I don't intend for her to stay on either world very long. This chapter is pretty much a filler chapter. I know I must have misspelled Balaam/Balam, but I wasn't sure which the correct spelling is because I've seen both.

I know you're all thinking - Why did Aeris keep the information about Serendipity a secret for two years from the others? That will be answered later on (when I find the answer... ehh, I wonder that myself too).

As for the time-line… it's going to get very, very confusing from this point on. I thought I had it figured it out then went back to the notes I wrote and found I lost my brain when I read it and tried to redo it only to get one or two years off. But it's one of the vital importances to the story surrounding Serendipity. Both FF8 and FF10 dealt with timeline and it's possible in Final Fantasy worlds. I will have the timeline explained in the future chapter. Thank you for your support and patience! HUGS!