Declaimer: "I do now own Final Fantasy 7..."

Kiome-Yasha: "Here I am, with another late update. Sorry everyone! Prepare for a short chapter ahead."

Chapter 27 Raise Your Will

Aeris's POV

I heard the earth shattering blast of the bullet, echoing across the hall as it hit the ceiling, missing its original target. Tifa and I flinched from the sound, finding she was unharmed as a low growl was heard. We both looked up and spotted Nanaki, the red-furred lion commencing a lethal blow as he snatched a hold onto Rufus's arm. Rufus cussed under his breath as he saw red liquid begin to spill through his robe, trying his best to push the beast off from his arm. He let out a yelp of pain as Nanaki took a nasty bite into his flesh, digging his fangs into the security of his skin.

"Run!" The creature managed to growl out between the folds of the scandalous man's arm, doing his best to hold on.

The young tyrant though wouldn't let us escape so easily, pushing the red haired feline off him as he took a clear aim at him. Before we could react, he launched fire at Nanaki, shooting him on the side as the mammal crumbled to the floor. Tifa immediately ran to the creature's side, checking his wound as she tried to summon up some power to heal it.

I gasped as I saw Rufus struggle to bring his now bleeding arm up, pointing the gun over at Tifa's forehead as the she looked up at him with a furious glare, "Sorry, princess; looks like you won't be alive to be my Queen." He pulled the trigger, releasing the small mechanism inside.

"You talk too much." A voice suddenly said, causing us to jump with alarm as the bullet was reflected off a long blade that looked all too familiar.

It wasn't long until a nasty cut of flesh was heard.

Sephiroth's POV

I treated the injured the best to my ability, requesting they take refuge somewhere so they could be safe. They nodded without hesitation, running off somewhere down the hall as they followed my advice. It didn't take long for me to hear a gunshot fire off into the distance, picking the direction of the sound somewhere down the corridors. This is when I began to panic; I took too much time, and for all I knew, Tifa was in great danger. I quickly got up from the ground, drawing out the legendary heirloom of the Lockheart family's name, the Masamune.

I saw my reflection through the blade, marveling the clean and sliver beauty of its glow as it hummed majestically. I looked towards the hall where my goal was, fixing my stare into determination, 'Tifa, I'm coming!'

Cloud's POV

I slashed through another solider, the rain pedaling down my skin as his blood splashed over my armor. I showed no disgust from the splatter, focusing my task to stay alive, as it was survival to the fittest. Zack howled behind me, summoning all his strength as he marked his blade into combat. I tried to keep up, my eyes searching for the ruler who was in charge of this army. My men were falling one by one, but they all remained strong, picking up their weight as they did their best to protect the injured. The rain was a downpour, blinding my senses as the thick metallic smell of blood reached through my nostrils. It was all I could smell ironically, finding myself in a pool of blood as Bandit marched his way through the raging crowd.

I finally jumped off my chocobo, fearing for his life as I ordered him to return back to the castle. He took no fright in following my demand, galloping back to the fort as he knocked off some soldiers from his path. I pulled my blade back, my muscles enhancing as I pulled the heavy sword forward, already taking the lives of a group of men in one swing. I could hear Zack holler in excitement from my attack, kicking off some carcass that his blade was stuck through.

I cringed from the violent outtake of the battle, shaking my head as I forced myself to concentrate. I could hear the paddling of the rain against my armor, vibrating my skeleton into trembles of adrenaline. It must have caused a distraction for me though, seeing I wasn't aware of the assault I was about to receive behind me.

Zack called out my name in distress, "Cloud!"

Before I could react, someone shouted, "My Lord! Get down!" I could of have sworn it was Vincent, hearing a gunfire as he shot the man behind me in the back.

I quickly turned around, finding a boomerang swing by overhead as Yuffie caught it skillfully with her hand. She had attacked all the surrounding enemies, making a clearing for her and Vincent to get through.

I called out to them, feeling relieved and yet shocked to see them, "Yuffie! Vincent! What are you two doing here? I thought I told you to take care of the citizens."

"Don't worry about that Spiky-sama! Barret is taking care of them as we speak." Yuffie consoled cheerfully, bringing her shuriken over her back.

"But most importantly, we have come to aid you." Vincent concluded deeply, taking the hilt to his gun over his shoulder.

I gave a comforting smile, finding their loyalty to be most admirable; especially when it was to someone like me who didn't deserve it. We tried to convey further into the conversation, but was interrupted by my brother's voice, "Hey! There's no time for talk! We must fight!"

We all agreed, setting our own separate and individual weapons into position as we continued to clash with the enemy. We were naïve though, finding ourselves to be oblivious towards the sky's calamity as she watched diligently from afar.

Barret's POV

I couldn't stand the wait, I actually felt helpless. Denzel and Marlene huddled close against me, holding back the tears that threatened to fall from their innocent eyes. Poor kids, they shouldn't be exposed to this sort of stuff. I could hear everyone amongst the hall of the shelter whisper, expressing fear and concern over what could be happening above in the battlefield. We felt the whole area shake as another cannon hit the castle above, causing sprinkles of dust to fall over us.

I shouldn't be here with these fools. I should be out there fighting, doing my best to protect the kingdom.

It wasn't until I heard little Marlene whimper and Denzel cough that my tough demeanor faded. I padded their heads, hoping it would comfort them, despite the roughness of my black hands. In the end, I knew I had more important things to protect than some kingdom.

Tifa's POV

I remained shocked, watching the silver blade go red as the sword drew away from the flesh it made contact with. I saw a wisp of silver hair flash in my vision, causing me to jump as I shouted over to the person who held the blade, "Brother!"

Sephiroth turned and spotted me, a relieved smile coming over his slim lips, "Tifa!" He ran over to me and engulfed me into his arms, transforming my cheeks into scarlet. He was so close; I could practically smell the musk of his cologne, despite the swap of sweat over his skin.

"Sephiroth!" I yelped out in alarm, finding it hard to believe that he was our savior. I felt relieved, allowing the moist in my eyes to fall freely from my face. I embraced him tightly to me, as I felt overjoyed to see him; he was always my number one protector.

"Sephiroth!" Aeris was shocked as well, running over to us as she tried to inspect Nanaki's wound.

My brother drew away from me, patting my long black mane before pulling some strands behind my ear; he knew it was a nasty habit that I had.

"Are you safe?" He asked with genuine concern, checking my body over for any injuries.

I shook my head, "No, we're fine...but Nanaki..." I turned to the furry creature, finding his whine to be heartbreaking.

Sephiroth looked over at Nanaki with a bit of sympathy, "If only I had came sooner." He looked back at me, "Forgive my carelessness, Tifa. I know how much the beast means to you."

I shook my head once more, "Please, don't punish yourself for something you had no control of." It was at this moment that we heard a disgruntled growl, turning towards the source to be Rufus.

"I see the almighty Sephiroth has come to protect his precious princess. I'm no match for you then, so I shall take my escape." He dropped his gun, spitting a bit of blood from his mouth; it would seem like the gash my brother had inflicted on him was severe, "It won't be long until this whole war is over! I bid thee to your deaths!" He fled down the hall, running as fast as he could despite his injury.

"Come back here, you coward!" Sephiroth was about to chase after him, gripping his Masamune tightly as he had every intention to kill.

I grabbed fast of his arm though, "Brother, don't! He's not worth it! With a wound like that! He's surely leading to his own death..." And I prayed that he was, the monster deserved such a fate. I looked over at Aeris and Nanaki before looking back at my brother's turquoise and cat-like eyes, "We have more important matters to deal with. We must take part in protecting this kingdom before it falls to the ground!" I tried to reason with him, feeling his rage from underneath his sleeve as his veins pulsed for vengeance on my now former fiancé.

Aeris decided to speak as well, "Agreed, we have no time for the likes of him! The battlefront won't hold off for long without your battle skills, dear cousin." She held onto Nanaki's weak paw, desperately pleading with her eyes, as they held fear.

He looked into my eyes with an intense stare, before releasing an infuriating sigh, "Sometimes, you both make me want to retire to an early grave." I beamed happily as he finally gave into our pleas, "I shall aid the fight, as you command." He retreated the Masamune into its sheath, the blade silencing itself as it shafted through the hold.

I got up from my position, taking out a pair of gloves, before slipping them on through my slender fingers. I gave a refined stretch through the binds, hearing the leather twist after much containment. Sephiroth and Aeris looked at me in horror as I spoke confidently, "Well then, shall we?"

Sephiroth rebutted towards my words, "And what manner of action is this? You're surely not accompanying me in battle! You're far too precious to lose in such a violent state of mayhem. No! I won't allow it!" He grabbed hold of my wrists, restraining me from hands, "You shall remain here under the protection of this castle! Do I make myself clear?"

"Sephiroth!" I shouted at him, "I request that you unhand me so I can protect the people who live and breath in this country! Please! I know I could fight!" There were some sparkles around my hands, indicating the lost art to my kingdom as I felt the surge of magic given to me from my ancestors.

My cousin looked at me with wonder, before tilting her head forward with some manner of regret, but her voice steaming with pride, "Sephiroth...let her fight."

We both looked at her with awe, "Cousin! Have you gone mad?" He questioned her with a baffled expression.

She nodded hesitantly, "I believe this is the right choice for her to make, for she is a grown woman now; and as such, she is granted privilege to make her own decisions." She looked up at him, her eyes containing wisdom as she spoke with a severe tone, "We can't keep treating her like a child."

He gave a deep grunt, "I do not approve of this." He drifted his eyes over at me, "If anything were to happen to you...Tifa...I don't know..."

"Nothing will happen to me, dear brother!" I tried to comfort him, relieving his fears with a pleasant smile that only I, his sister, could give him, "For I shall have you with me."

He lost his breath from my words, becoming stunned by my trust in him. And how could I not? I loved my brother, dearly. We could never be apart, for we were devoted to each other. I may not be in love with him as I am to Cloud, but we did have a bond.

A bond that wasn't connected as lovers, but of something stronger...

Sephiroth's POV

We had left Aeris behind, giving her the duty to treat Nanaki's wounds as Tifa and I ran off towards the direction of the battlefield. I was still against bringing Tifa with me, feeling more secured with the idea of her staying behind where she won't be harmed. But, unfortunately, even that wasn't good enough, seeing as she was almost killed by the very man who she was about to wed. Given the circumstances towards the situation, it's safe to say there won't be any matrimony between them now.

I once again took my attention on the object of my affection, "Tifa, are you sure?" I had to make sure, just in case she had any doubts.

She nodded without any hesitation, "Yes, I'm sure."

There, she said it; no second thoughts, she was convinced of her role.

And I; I had to try my best and remain strong for my role. For being a brother, is all I had left to give her.

Aeris's POV

I was instructed to stay with Nanaki as my cousins went off to help the others in the battle. With the state of his injury, we were left immobile. I tried to close up his wound, or at least stop the bleeding in the meantime. It would seem like he would be able to live, but without the proper care of medical attention I couldn't be so sure. But, nonetheless, he was breathing, resting the front part of his body over my lap as I stroked his fiery-red hair.

I felt the castle shake once more, causing the ceiling to shower more dust of debris from above. I covered my head as some of the pebbles fell over us, letting out a hiss as the sharp edges nipped my hands. I couldn't help but to think of Zack, praying to the high heavens that he was safe, that no scratch shall harm his body. I wanted him to return to me alive, for there was a lot explaining we had to do.

I was tired of running, and I was tired of lying.

I always was one to be honest with my feelings; but I was also one to be loyal to my people. It was about time I made a decision, one that shall determine the life inside me.

That is if we all lived long enough through this war for such a future to be born.

End Chapter

Kiome-Yasha: "I know, I suck! I suck at updating, and I suck even more for giving you guys such a SHORT chapter DX. But, I promise, the next one shall be longer! I will like to say my thanks to everyone who continues to read this story and to those who left reviews. It's nice to see that you guys still take your time to enjoy this story, and I appreciate that; even to a lousy writer like me :,)."