Ok Guys! The Last Chapter is finally here. Man I can't believe that after more than 2 months of non-stop writing were actually at the finish line. I want to say thank you to every one who read my fic especially to those who took the time to leave a review or two. I have loads more to say but I guess I'll leave that at the bottom. Anyway, here's Chapter 30.
Sora stared at the flowers as he sat quietly in one of the pews of his mother's church. The moon shone brightly that night as it illuminated his face, sadness radiating through his deep blue eyes. It had been 6 months since his mother died yet the pain that he felt in his heart was still as fresh as it was when his father had told him of the tragic news. He hated this feeling but what he hated the most was the fact that he couldn't even say goodbye to her.
As Sora's consciousness continued to revolve around this sad thoughts, he heard the creaking sound of the door opening as a red haired girl with indigo colored eyes entered the church. The girl slowly made her way through the aisle and sat next to the young boy.
'I knew you'd be here…' the young girl said.
'…Kairi' Sora spoke though he did not look at her and continued to stare at the flowers.
She smiled at Sora trying her best to cheer him up.
'Everyone's waiting for you at the 7th Heaven… It is your birthday you know, it'll be just weird if you don't even show up to your own birthday party.'
He remained silent for a brief moment, and then he began to speak.
'Kairi… I'm going to leave Edge tomorrow.
Kairi's eyes widened. 'W-What..."
'I'm going to Junon. I've decided… to join SOLDIER.'
'You're… You're kidding, right. I mean your still a kid, your dad would never let— '
'It took a bit of coaxing on my part…' Sora interrupted. 'But I was finally able to convince him.'
'But… But why?' she asked, trying to make sense of everything.
He looked at Kairi. '…Because I'm weak.'
Sora stared at something in the middle of the flower patch.
'I always thought that I was strong… but now I realize just how weak I really am.'
'…Sora.' Kairi whispered. She was saddened by what she was hearing.
'I want to become stronger… so that when the time comes… I'll be able to protect everyone. I want to protect my dad when grows older, big sis, my uncles and aunts, Riku and the others…'
His eyes turned to Kairi.
'…and you. I want to protect you… But I won't be able to protect anyone if I don't become stronger.'
Sora quickly felt Kairi's hand on his.
'Sora… you don't have to go… Please, just stay with us.'
Her indigo eyes were brimming with tears.
'I'm sorry…' he replied. 'But I've already made up my mind about this.'
Kairi was downcast; it seemed as if there was nothing she could do to change his mind.
The red haired girl slowly reached in her pocket and took out a small, yellow star-like keychain. She took Sora's hand and placed the keychain on top of Sora's palm.
'Happy Birthday…' she whispered.
Sora looked at the keychain, it was a five-pointed star that glowed bright yellow and provided light to the two of them.
'It was my granny's… she gave it to me when I was five.'
'Kairi…' Sora tried to return the keychain to her. 'I can't keep this… it's too important to you.'
'It's alright… you can keep it, but you have to promise me something.'
She looked at Sora as she held his hand tightly.
'Promise me… whether you pass SOLDIER or not… I want you to come back to me. Ok.'
Sora gave her a small smile.
3 years later…
'Come on Denzel… We're gonna be late!' said a very irritated Marlene.
'Alright, alright, I'm coming. Geez Marlene! It's not like that building's going to run out on us!'
Both of them entered the building that stood in front of them. As they walked through the inside of the building, they quickly saw a small amphitheater. Gold and silver decorations could be seen all over the place. Marlene and Denzel walked through the aisles and sat in one of the upper tier seats.
At the center of the amphitheater was a cluster of metal chairs that were occupied by young men and women. Those at the back row were wearing blue outfits, while those in the upper portion were wearing red fatigues. In the front row, four young man could be seen wearing violet upper garments.
A tall woman wearing a formal executive dress slowly made her way to the stage.
The woman started to speak.
'Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Today we celebrate the graduation of the first batch of the New SOLDIER Program. From the three thousand applicants that came from all over Gaia, only these one hundred and fifty seven candidates have passed the grueling three year training course to become a member of SOLDIER.'
'To bestow the rank of SOLDIER to the candidates… please give a warm round of applause to the honorable, Mr. Rufus Shinra.'
A man with neatly groomed blonde hair and blue eyes appeared from the side of the stage. He wore a white three-piece suit with a unique double-breasted jacket; he was also accompanied by the Turks. As he made his way towards the center, he looked at the candidates. His eyes lingered for a moment at a young boy who was seated at the front row. As he stared at the boy's deep blue eyes, a small smile made its way to the man's lips.
He started to speak.
'The future…' he stopped for a moment, and then continued on with his speech.
'I don't know whether any of you are old enough to even remember this, but 17 years ago the Shin-Ra company was considered as the most powerful capitalist empire that this planet had ever seen. With the income that we received from the major cities by supplying them with Mako and other goods, we were able to control majority of the civilized world.'
'My father before me established the first SOLDIER program. SOLDIER was to become Shin-Ra's personal army, a means by which any form of rebellion would immediately be put down.'
'I won't lie to any of you… When I took over Shin-Ra, I believed that every human being lived for the sole purpose of serving me. Back then I thought very highly of myself to the point that I even considered this planet as nothing more than a piece of land that I owned.'
'And then, as if by some divine intervention, I was unceremoniously brought back to reality. God or whatever you want to call him used his trump card against me. The same card that he always uses against people who become to arrogant for their own good.'
'He made me face death… twice!'
A small chuckle escaped his breath.
'Death really is a funny thing… Once you're unfortunate enough to face it, you're never the same person anymore. Death made me realize how much of an idiot my father was, and how stupid my actions were.'
'The truth was that I was mortgaging the planet's future for my own profit.'
'Stupid..? Yes, I'm pretty aware of that right now.'
A small grin appeared on Reno's face.
'When I survived my first meeting with death, I tried my best to make up for every wrong that I had done. I wanted to rescue the planet from its pathetic state of existence. But somehow I knew that my entire lifetime wouldn't be enough to atone for all the mistakes that I made. After my second encounter with death, I finally realized something. The best way for me to help the planet is to plant the seeds of tomorrow and let the next generation nurture it until it becomes a future worthy of them.'
He glanced at all the candidates in front of him.
'The future… is in your hands now.'
'Be proud and raise your head high, because unlike the first SOLDIERS who were nothing more than mercenaries and who had to fight for things that I doubt they themselves believed in, you fight for something noble… something that's worth fighting for.'
Rufus looked back at the four Turks and signaled them to come forward. As Tseng, Rude, Reno, and Elena stepped forward; all of them took out a small box covered in velvet.
Rufus turned to the crowd once again.
'Before I continue, I would first like to honor four candidates who have shown exemplary marks in the field of combat prowess and leadership during their 3 year training as aspiring SOLDIERs. As I call out your name, please stand and come to the stage.'
Rufus took a small piece of paper from his jacket and proceeded to reading it.
'SOLDIER candidate; Ramza Beoulve.'
Immediately a young man with blonde hair and red eyes stood up and made his way towards Rude.
'SOLDIER candidate; Squall Leonhart.'
Another young man stood up. It seemed as if he was the same age as the first one. He had dark brown hair and a scar that ran through the bridge of his nose was visible on his face. He then made his way towards Elena.
'SOLDIER candidate; Sora Strife.'
A young boy slowly stood up. He was definitely younger than the first two. He had light brown hair and deep azure blue eyes. He smiled a bit as he walked to the stage and positioned himself face to face with Tseng.
'SOLDIER candidate; Tidus Zanarkand.'
A few howling sounds and wolf whistles could be heard from the crowd that sat at the left upper tier seats of the amphitheater as a blonde haired young man with blue eyes and sun-tanned skin stood up. He waved to the crowd before he made his way to Reno who was a bit annoyed for some reason.
The four Turks opened the small box that they were carrying. Inside it was a small cross-shaped insignia and a green materia. Sora looked at the small materia and quickly deduced that it was probably a magic materia that gave the power to cast barrier.
Rufus spoke once more.
'To you four, I bestow the rank of 1st class SOLDIER. This is both an honor and a burden that you must carry. The insignia symbolizes the title you carry and also names you as one of the frontrunners of SOLDIER. The materia on the other hand symbolizes the main goal of not just you four but of all members of SOLDIER. It is a reminder of what you fight for… To protect both the planet and its people.'
'All of you are the new guardians of this world. To each and every one of you I have given and planted a seed which all of you must nurture… And when the time comes, I believe that this world's future will flourish with the trees of hope that came from the seeds that you took care of and tended to.'
'From this day forward… All of you are now members of SOLDIER. Good luck and always remember what it is that you are fighting four.'
A warm round of applause echoed through the amphitheater as Marlene and Denzel cheered on.
'I can't believe the President actually said that… I'm a bit touched, yo.' commented Reno.
'Not really…' replied Elena. 'Reeve was the one who wrote most of that speech.'
'Wha…' Reno suddenly felt his knees buckle.
'Hey Sora!' Marlene called out to him.
'Sis!' Sora quickly made his way through the crowd and met with Marlene and Denzel.
'Congratulations!' said Marlene who quickly embraced Sora.
'Wow Sora..!' spoke Denzel. 'You've grown a bit. Although technically, it's still illegal for you to drink beer.' a sly smirk crossed the young man's face.'
'Ha-ha-ha! Hey "UNCLE" Denzel, I think I see a couple of gray hairs on your head!' Sora countered.
'Don't push your luck kid…' an irritated smile crossed Denzel's lips. 'You maybe a 1st class SOLDIER but that doesn't mean I can't kick your butt with some of the moves Tifa taught me.'
'Bring it on "OLD" man.' The boy smiled.
'Ok you two, knock it off.' Marlene interrupted. She soon noticed the giant key that was tucked away at Sora's back.
'So I'm guessing that's the keyblade that Cloud's been talking about.' she spoke.
'Oh! Yeah, Reeve was the one who gave it to me.'
Sora quickly showed them his keyblade. It looked exactly what its name suggested. Its blade was pure silver while its hilt was gold. A yellow star-like keychain could be seen hanging at the bottom of the hilt.
'A key huh…' Denzel raised an eyebrow. 'Well, I guess you could always poke your enemy to death.'
'Hey, UNCLE! Don't underestimate my keyblade. It might look simple but this thing's got some serious moves.'
He glanced at Marlene.
'Hey Sis, I'm really sorry that I couldn't write to you and dad last month. It's just that our superior banned all contacts with the outside so that we could concentrate on our exams.'
'Don't worry, we know. Cloud was getting a bit worried so he contacted Reeve via Cait Sith number 3 and he explained everything to us.'
Marlene quickly noted the sudden change in Sora's expression.
'What's wrong?' she asked.
'It's nothing…' he replied. 'I'm just thinking about all that's happened… this past 3 years. A lots changed in the outside… hasn't it.'
A lot had indeed changed. During his time in Junon none of them could see their families or friends. The only means of communication to the outside was by mail. Only three people were able to write to Sora: Marlene, Denzel, and Cloud. They had told him about everything that was happening in the outside while he was training at Junon for the past 3 years.
His uncle Barret had agreed to help Shin-Ra in finding alternative fuel sources to supply the ever increasing demand for energy in all of Gaia. He was perfect for the job since he did have a knack for finding oil fields. Although he still didn't trust Shin-Ra (Rufus in particular) and always threatened to gun him down if he ever did anything that was fishy.
Uncle Cid on the other hand was now considered as the best pilot/engineer in all of Gaia. Shin-Ra had already employed him into making new models of airships and he's also being considered as a top candidate to head the new Shin-Ra Aviation and Aeronautics Department. He's also more cheerful these days ever since his wife gave birth to their first child… a cute girl that they named Sierra who would be turning four in the next 6 months.
His aunt Yuffie had replaced her father, Godo, and was now the legal ruler of Wutai. She is now popularly referred to us the "Materia Mistress of Wutai" (although she never did like the name since it made her feel like an old hag).
Meanwhile, Nanaki had decided to continue to live in Cosmo Canyon and help the elders in their quest to further their knowledge of the history of the planet.
His uncle Vincent was (according to Marlene) still the same… literally. He had not changed physically at all which was rather odd since Vincent had stayed the same from the time that Sora first met him up to the present.
His Aunt Tifa on her part took over managing the 7th Heaven while Marlene remained its bartender. She even taught Denzel a few moves that she had learned during her earlier journey. After a while though, she left once again on another training expedition but promised to return after a year or two.
Even his friends had gone through major changes in their lives.
Just last year, Riku and Kenji had decided to join SOLDIER as well. But since they were only rookies they were not allowed to interact with the upperclassmen, so Sora was rarely able to talk to them.
Gon and Jack expressed a deep interest in joining the Investigation Sector of the Shin-Ra General Affairs Department (A.K.A. The Turks) and had enrolled in a 2 year training program 8 months ago.
Tech, being the genius that he is, was given a scholarship by the Shin-Ra Aviation and Aeronautics Department while Ryuji and Ryuki had started their training to become aspiring airship pilots. All three of them were now under the tutelage of the famous Cid Highwind (with a little persuasion on Sora's part).
Theo in the meantime, was now attending an exclusive business school in preparation for the hectic life that awaited all members of the Shinra clan.
Only Celine and Kairi had stayed in Edge. Both of them were now helping to manage a flower and item shop at the city.
'Hey Sora… what's with the gloomy face? It's your graduation, stupid! You should be happy and smile a bit.' Denzel chided.
'Yeah…' Sora smiled. 'I guess your right'
'Oh, we better get going…' Marlene advised. 'Cloud's probably waiting for us in Edge.'
As the three of them left the building and were now in the outskirts of Junon…
'Hey kid!' a familiar voice yelled out to him. 'Get your ass in here already! We haven't got all day!'
'Uncle Cid?!' Sora spoke in shock.
'Long time no see… Sora.' a young man who was roughly the same age as Sora appeared from behind Cid. He had black hair and wore a pair of glasses.
'Come on Sora. We've got a lot of catching up to do.'
As they boarded the airship and made their way to Edge, Tech told Sora about all that had happened to him in the past 3 years while Sora talked about the hard training that he had to go through during his training.
After an hour, they finally arrived just outside of Edge.
'Hey Sis, aren't you going with me?' Sora inquired.
'Maybe later, we still have to pick up a few things in Rocket Town.'
'Ok. I guess I'll be seeing you later.'
As Sora was about to leave…
'Hey kid!' Cid called out to him again. 'I wanna show you something.'
A couple of Cid's men unloaded a red motorbike. It bore a great resemblance to Cloud's Fenrir although its frame had a dragon like design.
Sora slowly walked towards the red motorbike and touched the corner of its frame.
'Uncle Cid… you made this?'
'Of course I did, dumbass! I borrowed Fenrir's blueprint and made some major changes in it's design and overall set-up. I call it Ragnarok. This thing is, without a doubt, the fastest land vehicle on Gaia. Hell, it'd put your father's Fenrir to shame.'
As Sora looked at Ragnarok with awe, Cid smiled.
'If you want it… its yours.'
Sora's eyes widened and he immediately looked at Cid with disbelief.
'Hell yeah! Oh, and wait here for a moment will ya.' The pilot boarded the airship and after a few minutes he came out with a small bouquet of flowers.
'This one's from all of AVALANCHE.' said Cid as he handed the bouquet to Sora. 'Make sure you give it to your mother, alright.'
As a blonde haired girl was walking down the street carrying a bag of groceries, she saw a red blur pass through. Although she was only able to look at it for a split second, she quickly noticed the familiar light brown hair and deep blue eyes of the rider. She immediately rushed to one of the flower shops.
'Kairi… H-He's here!' she informed a red haired girl who was tending to the flowers. 'I think he's heading to our old headquarters.'
The red haired girl quickly stopped what she was doing and headed straight to the exit of the shop.
Sora had arrived in their old headquarters. It was now filled with dust and the walls were littered with cobwebs. It was as if no one had used this place for months now. He walked towards the small refrigerator on the side and opened it. Inside he saw a can of soda; as he took the can of soda from the refrigerator he couldn't help but smile a bit.
He looked around and saw their old photo. He took the photo and looked at it. The photo reminded him of the short but happy childhood that he had. Even though technically he was still a kid, he knew that it wasn't really the case. He had given up his childhood over 3 years ago in order to become stronger. He never regretted his decision because he believed that it was for the best… But still, he couldn't help but wonder about what could have been. He couldn't help but fantasize about the life that he might be enjoying right now if things had happened differently… if his mother had never died.
He noticed the G-Box at the corner of the room. The same G-Box that Tech had promised to make.
'I guess he kept his promise…'
'… And you did too.' a familiar voice echoed through the door.
Sora dropped the small can of soda in his hand and turned towards the entrance.
'Kairi…' he whispered.
The girl ran to Sora and embraced him tightly. She buried her head on his chest as tears came streaming down her eyes.
'I'm back…' Sora whispered once more as he returned her embrace.
'…you're home.' She whispered back as she stared at his deep azure blue eyes.
Sora headed towards his mother's church. He was riding his new motorbike, Ragnarok, while Kairi held on tightly to his waist.
As they arrived in front of the entrance, Sora hopped off his motorbike and took the bouquet of flowers that Cid gave him.
'Come on Kairi. Let's go.'
'I'll just stay here…' She replied. 'This is your moment with your mom. It's better this way.'
Sora gave her a small nod.
As the young boy entered the church, he immediately saw a man with blonde hair standing in the middle of the flower patch. He was staring at a small gravestone.
The man turned to Sora and smiled.
'Sorry dad, I had to do something first.'
Sora walked towards the flower patch and placed the bouquet in front of the gravestone.
'Mom…' Sora uttered softly. 'Happy Birthday…'
As Sora stared at the bouquet he continued to speak.
'Today was my graduation, Mom. I'm now the youngest person to make it to SOLDIER… can you believe it. I just wish that you were there.'
Cloud placed his hand on Sora's shoulder.
"Don't worry… I know she was there. She wouldn't have missed it for the world."
'Dad… do you think Mom would've been proud of me?'
'Of course, although she would have killed me first for letting you join SOLDIER at such a young age.'
Sora laughed a bit.
A few moments of silence reigned through the church.
"Sora…" Cloud began to unsheathe his Buster Sword and handed it to his son. "Take it… this is our gift to you."
Sora looked at the Buster sword in his hand.
"Can you promise me something…"
Sora looked at his father's Mako blue eyes.
"When you find your promised land… make sure that you never lose sight of it, never take it for granted."
And as the two men looked at the Gravestone, the sun illuminated a phrase that lay engraved on its front. Its words glimmered like diamonds.
Aeris Gainsborough Strife
A Good Friend
A Devoted Wife
A Loving Mother
She Will Live On In The Memories Of The People Who's Lives She Has Touched…
For every Story that ends…
A New One will ultimately Begin…
I would like to thank my most avid reviewers: FaeTian, NCPrezmike, and Sky G. Strife. And to all the other guys who were kind enough to leave a review. I also like to give credit to the fanfics (Clock by Nesza, Madly Truly Deeply by Beeria and many others) who have both influenced and inspired me to make this fanfic. I do hope that you guys enjoyed my story as much as I enjoyed writing it. I think I won't be writing anymore fics anytime soon since this one took a lot outta me. As for Sequels (Yes… my brother is telling me to make one) well the concept of Sora kicking ass with his keyblade on one hand and Buster sword on the other is quite tempting but I guess I'll just wait and see what happens. If you have any questions about the fic then please feel free to PM me. I'll gladly answer it.