He had dispatched Riku, Yazoo and Loz when it all went wrong. The world fizzled out yet again – and why did he have no control over it? He'd have to speak to Jenova and see if she couldn't rig this whole time and space warp business – either that, or call the Doctor. As his body rushed through the vortex, he concentrated all his considerable willpower on reaching Ultimecia.
He knew he had succeeded when he landed in the hall of a gothic-looking castle. Only Ultimecia could have such bad taste in interior decorating. The place was a shambles too; the wallpaper was peeling, the pictures faded and the furniture was covered in dust. Very shoddy work.
"I'm coming for you, Ultimecia," he muttered.
Then the person almost at the top of his 'people I don't like to see' list materialised on the staircase. Seymour didn't look quite as collected as usual; in fact, he was grimacing.
"Something wrong?" asked Sephiroth.
"Not at all," said Seymour. "I'd prefer not to talk about it, if you don't mind. I see you made it to Ultimecia's Castle."
"Yes. Either you help me find and kill the bitch, or you get in my way and die." Sephiroth raised his bloody Masamune. "I don't mind which."
"Been causing carnage? I shall have to erase that."
"Don't," Sephiroth growled. "If you try that rewind trick one more time on me, I swear I'll-"
"Too late. Ultimecia's already fixed it."
Sephiroth couldn't manage a coherent reply, so he settled for, "Argh!"
"I'd also like to remind you that I'm already dead, so you can't kill me."
"When you regain the power of speech, I'm sure you will thank me for bringing you here. I'll take you to Ultimecia if you wish."
Sephiroth got his tongue working again. "Why? I thought you were trying to be a supervillain – not very evil resurrecting and helping people, is it, you pathetic fool?"
"You can't torment people if they are dead."
Sephiroth couldn't think of a reply to this, which infuriated him. "Just take me to Ultimecia!" he growled.
"Here," said Seymour. "All you have to do is tap this banister. According to Ultimecia, a group of SeeDs will be arriving soon, but they won't find this simple means of transportation; instead, they'll waste their time searching the entire castle and killing monsters to regain their powers. We have plenty of time."
Sephiroth smirked despite himself. He and Seymour tapped the banister, and after one nanosecond arrived in Ultimecia's chamber. Ultimecia had by now knitted an entire cardigan. When Sephiroth stared at it, she muttered defensively, "It's draughty in here!"
Then she remembered that this was her domain, and she was in fact sitting on a throne. So she stood up and announced impressively, "Welkome, Sephiroth. I have been waiting for you to kome. I have sent you on a journey through time. A journey to test your kourage and spirit."
Sephiroth was getting bored of her speech, so he stabbed her in the chest.
"Ow!" said Ultimecia. A black mist rose about her – obviously, she couldn't just die, it had to be dramatic and weird-looking.
"Congratulations," said Seymour. "You just killed the woman who was controlling time compression."
"Your point being?" Sephiroth asked, as he drew the sword out of Ultimecia and she fell on the floor at his feet.
"Now everything will spiral out of control."
Sephiroth was beyond caring. As far as he was concerned, everything was already out of control. The throne, Ultimecia, Seymour and then the whole room vanished. But this time a scene didn't appear to replace it. He was standing against an empty background, rather like an artist's painting, in which the artist drew the subject in loving detail but then couldn't be bothered to paint anything else. Artists tend to draw on white paper, however, and this lack-of-background was black.
Somebody else was there though. A man with gravity-defying blond hair and a giant sword to rival Sephiroth's. His blue eyes looked vaguely confused. This was normal. Sephiroth could hardly remember a time when the blond didn't have a look of utter befuddlement on his face. He smirked.
"Cloud… we meet again."
"W-where am I? What's going on? I-I-I-"
Sephiroth rolled his eyes. "Stop stuttering, you worthless puppet."
"I'm not a puppet!"
Sephiroth thought about engaging in more pre-battle banter, but he was running out of Clichéd Villain Speeches™ by now and he was rather tired. He settled for an evil glare and rushed his enemy. Cloud, being Cloud, didn't shy away from battle. It was quite astonishing how such a scrawny guy could wield such a giant blade at all. Bored, Sephiroth let his body do the work and instead contemplated on his exact relationship with his mother.
Meanwhile, Cloud was tiring. His parries were getting slower and weaker. Should have picked a lighter blade, Sephiroth thought. He could have swung it for a bit longer then. Sephiroth, possessing limitless stamina and strength (as the ladies all knew… ah, how he longed for the glory days of the war…), quickly forced Cloud back. He would have backed him into a corner, except there were no corners. He wasn't even sure whether he was floating or standing.
Sephiroth got past the pretend SOLDIER's guard and sliced across his arm. Wrong arm, unfortunately – Cloud still held his sword, but the wound made him gasp and stumble.
The silver-haired villain leered down at his enemy, poised to strike. Remembering what happened last time, he didn't waste another second gloating or stabbing Cloud in the shoulder. He ran his precious Masamune through Cloud's jumpy little puppet heart. Cloud shuddered and then went limp. His strings had been cut.
Sephiroth stopped. His brain couldn't process the situation. Had he actually won? He couldn't celebrate, couldn't even gloat. This wasn't supposed to happen. Sephiroth knew the rules. Supervillains were always defeated by the hero. It was like a Law of Nature.
He felt strangely empty. What was supposed to happen now? Oh yes… he had a world to take over. It just didn't seem right without a plucky band of heroes getting in his way.
"And… that's it! Put your pens – er, I mean swords down now! The examination is over! Over! I said put it down Kadaj! Or I'll unleash my Light of Judgement!" The speaker laughed maniacally.
The empty background suddenly came into focus. He was back in the classroom, sitting at his desk. Lacklustre light streamed in through the window. Chalk squeaked. Outside, he could hear a bird singing. It was all incredibly mundane. He had forgotten how ordinary this classroom was. Maybe it appealed to Kefka's warped sense of humour, he thought.
"That's right!" said Kefka gleefully. "Welcome back! The test is over and I'm about to decide the final marks!"
"Test?" said Sephiroth. "This was all a test?" His poor, battered mind, which had just barely managed to retain its intelligent insanity, was struggling again. He looked around. Everyone was there. He had stabbed Ultimecia in the chest and watched her die – yet there she was. She glared at him and made a rude hand gesture. He turned away. Behind him, his three stooges were sitting next to each other. Kadaj copied Ultimecia's hand gesture, causing Loz to burst into a fit of childish giggles. Yazoo looked as poised and elegant as ever. Apparently being killed by Sephiroth hadn't even managed to ruffle his hair.
Sephiroth heard footsteps, and turning, he saw Hojo enter the classroom. He stared at the scientist coldly. Hojo really was unbelievably ugly. The scientist was holding a sheaf of papers, which he handed to Kefka with a grin. Nearby, Sephiroth noticed that Seymour had blanched and was trying to edge his chair away.
"What's up with you?" he hissed at the blue-haired villain.
"Nothing, nothing," said Seymour, attempting to appear composed.
Hojo finished talking to Kefka at the teacher's desk and turned his attention to the class. He nodded at Seymour.
"I haven't finished with you yet. Kefka has promised me that if you fail, he'll let me keep you as a specimen!" Hojo rubbed his hands and cackled.
Seymour's face had turned an unhealthy shade of grey. His veins appeared to constrict. "Let's hope I pass then," he whispered, in a worthy attempt at sounding offhand.
Hojo winked. "I'm sure you will. I'm sure I haven't doctored any of the results. At all. Indeed. Heh heh heh." He left.
Before anyone could comment, Kefka leapt onto his desk and announced triumphantly, "This is it, folks! The results are in! I bet you're all dying to know if you've passed my class!"
Seymour stood up. "Let's just get it over with." He reached out his outsized hand for the results. Kefka grinned and waved the wad of paper in the air, out of Seymour's reach. "Kefka… you're wasting my time."
A sly figure slipped in through the door. Kuja's silvery hair glimmered as he sidled up to the teacher's desk. "I think I want it more than you do, Seymour," he crooned. Sephiroth and his brethren all growled simultaneously at the sight of the skimpiest supervillain, but Kuja had already sneaked behind the desk and grabbed the test results.
Kefka winked and spoke in a whisper that everybody heard, "You've done really well, Kuja! You're my star pupil! Even better than Riku in my other class!"
Kuja flourished the test results and bowed at his fellow students. "I try my best. Now, who wants their results?"
Sephiroth gritted his teeth. He would not beg for the examination results like the pathetic trio behind him, or Seymour who was desperate to pass.
"Here you go, Ultimecia… and Yazoo, here's yours." Kuja patted the young man's shoulder and murmured, "We can celebrate later."
Yazoo just looked blank.
"Does he, er, know how to read?" asked Seymour.
Kadaj snatched the paper away from Yazoo's limp hands. "I'll read it."
Kuja continued to twirl around the classroom, handing out results papers in a gallant fashion. Finally, he stopped in front of Sephiroth. He looked at the final paper.
"Do you want it?" Kuja breathed. As usual, he was standing too close for Sephiroth's comfort.
Sephiroth held out his hand irritably.
"Shall I take that as a yes?"
He was so infuriating.
"Do you want it right now?"
"Kuja, you really don't want me to lose my patience." His patience had been so thin lately; he'd almost forgotten he had any.
Kuja held the paper behind his back with one hand and stroked Sephiroth's cheek with the other. Sephiroth jerked his head away.
"Patience, my silver canary. I don't give it to just anyone, you know."
"Don't. Touch. Me."
Kuja pressed his finger on his mouth in mock surprise. "But I thought you wanted me to. You said you wanted it…" A fiendish grin appeared on his face. "I've been saving myself for you. Yazoo… Kadaj… they were mere blips on the path to you."
"I don't want to know," Sephiroth growled. "Give me the test results and get the hell away from me!"
Kuja sighed and flipped back his hair. "You know what your problem is, Sephy? You have no sense of humour. I take a fiendish delight in all my evil ways. You, however… well, you're like a poor actor in the wrong part."
Sephiroth could have sworn that, just for a second, his vision went red. Forget composure. He let out a strangled yell and grabbed Kuja bodily. He ripped the test results away but Kuja was still clinging to him.
"Are you angry?" Kuja purred. "I like it when you're angry."
"Get – off!"
Sephiroth felt something long and supple snake its way around his leg and almost fainted before he remembered that Kuja had a monkey tail. Kuja's sharp-nosed face grinned at him impishly. It was time for drastic action. The black-coated villain lifted his free leg sharply and kneed Kuja in the groin.
Kuja let out a high-pitched squeal and let go immediately. He limped away and shot Sephiroth a glare of venomous hatred. Loz looked up from his test results (which he probably couldn't read either) and guffawed.
Sephiroth ignored them all. He would remain Splendidly Aloof. Instead, he started reading. Most of the writing was typed but every now and then someone had added a comment in cursive lettering.
Student's Name: Sephiroth
Class: How to be an Amazing Supervillain (Introductory Course)
Teacher: Kefka (the Great, Shining and Terrifying One)
The student was assessed in five different areas. Each one is marked out of 10 to give a final mark out of 50. The pass mark is 25.
Black is so last year. Student also requires a haircut.
Didn't cope well under pressure. Relied on the same tactics repeatedly.
Managed to cut down most of his enemies with the Masamune. Loses points for relying too heavily on a very long implement.
4/10 (Below Average)
Quickly ran out of clever retorts. Resorted to a permanent sneer.
9/10 (Very Good)
A natural killer. Insane and full of hatred. Needs to fix oedipal complex.
Final Mark: 26/50 (Pass)
Congratulations! You have passed the How to be an Amazing Supervillain (Beginner's level) course! You are now ready to proceed to the Intermediate level.
A Friendly Bit of Advice from Evil Overlord Kefka:
"So," said Kuja, who had dared to venture near him again, "how did you do?"
"You did better than those puppets of yours then."
Sephiroth glanced back. Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo were all clinging to each other, their faces wet with tears. They really were an embarrassment.
"That doesn't surprise me," he snorted.
"I scored the highest marks in the class," Kuja boasted.
"Because Kefka has some sort of fetish with you."
Kuja drew himself up to his full, if not very impressive, height. He sounded scandalised. "Are you suggesting that I didn't get the highest scores purely on merit?"
"Yes." Sephiroth shot Kefka a burning glare, but the supervillain teacher was too busy arguing with Seymour.
"They've been tampered with, I know they have," Seymour was saying.
"How can you tell?" Kefka demanded.
"I can see the Tippex!"
Kefka shook his head stubbornly and cackled for good measure. "That proves nothing! You just can't accept that you fail as a supervillain and as a person!"
"I passed, I'm absolutely certain of it – look, it's only the end result that has been changed – the module scores add up to a much higher mark! I suggest you fix your calculator and alter it."
Kefka's voice grew dangerous. Everyone else forgot their arguments and conversations and watched in silent fascination. "Are you suggesting that I can't add up?"
"I'm suggesting that Hojo has deliberately-"
"Are you suggesting that I CAN'T ADD UP?"
"No, as I said, the problem lies not with you, but-"
"DO YOU THINK I'M A MORON?" Kefka screeched. He was practically dancing with rage.
Sephiroth felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. There was an acrid smell in the air.
"Do you feel that?" Kuja asked nervously. His hair crackled.
"Power," said Sephiroth. "Raw power…"
Kadaj and his brothers stood up. "What is that?"
Meanwhile, Seymour's pleas were becoming increasingly desperate. "I just want you to change the mark; it can't be that difficult-"
"Oh no, I'm sure that for an IDIOT LIKE ME it'll be completely IMPOSSIBLE!"
"We'd better go," said Sephiroth.
Approximately two minutes later, an explosion engulfed the building in which Kefka taught his students. Three minutes after that, a slightly scorched moogle was seen to emerge from a backdoor, saying rather dazedly, "Kupo?" And thirty seconds later, a gleeful Hojo was observed bundling a large collection of prone bodies into a van, mumbling happily about his new specimens. There were also one or two reports of a man wearing black jumping onto the roof of the van, but all the witnesses vanished in strange circumstances soon afterwards.
(A/N: And then Sephiroth forced the author at swordpoint not to write any more because he was sick of being treated like cannon fodder... Or in other words, that's it. The end. The more I read this story, the less funny I find it... but hey, some people seemed to like it and I didn't want to leave it unfinished, so I tried my best. Well, if you have any opinions, please review. Just don't ask for more. It won't happen. I'm certain that I've taken this as far as I can take it.)