Manipulating the Terminator Line - Prologue: Limits of Choice

Thanks and dedication go out to Reading Chick, without whom this story may have never gotten off the proverbial drawing board, as our Tsviet-centered conversations have been very beneficial and encouraging! Go and read her story, Never Too Late, if you haven't already. It is a wonderful piece of writing and I am confident in promising that you will enjoy it. I've also somewhat stolen her chapter format, as I've discovered it works far better for this piece than the layout I previously had. Thank you again.

The song for this chapter is Enigma's Gravity of Love. Thanks for musical scoring goes to Leonora T.

Disclaimer: I do not own either Final Fantasy VII and all of its subsequent sequels/prequels, or the song mentioned above. They respectively belong to Square Enix and Enigma. The idea for this piece came from a storyline first thought of by Leonora T. and nariosaw, and it is used with their permission.

Ever since she had begun speaking to the poor, strange, dark man, all her dreams were lucid. Not that Yuffie minded, though. It was actually very useful. The ability to do anything she liked within her dreams gave her the chance to work out some very difficult problems and a lot of frustration. More importantly, it gave her the chance to relax. Anywhere she wanted to go, anything she wanted to do or see, she could. Unless she was working within her head, she was walking in a forest or dancing in the rain or watching a sunset. Tonight, she was foregoing figuring out a particularly knotty troop placement problem for standing on the edge of some high, nondescript cliff, planet only knew where. But it was where she wanted to be, so, there she was.

Yuffie closed her eyes and let the slight wind sway her body. She was feeling strained. She wanted to help this poor creature that called to her for aid, but she didn't know quite how to do it. Over all their conversations together, she had come to care for him very deeply. He was in trouble, and he seemed so kind and lost, that she couldn't refuse him. The only problem was Deepground. There was no way around them. No matter what plan she came up with, Deepground was going to be a problem, and those Tsviets were a factor that she couldn't quite pin down.

Yuffie sat down on the edge of the cliff in a mess of limbs and placed her chin on her fist, looking out at the ocean so many, many hundreds of feet below. She wasn't afraid of it; on the contrary, she had chosen a cliff for this particular deliberation for a very good reason. Her mother, before she died, had always told her that in order to make a firm decision, she had to be guided to the limits of choice, she had to choose whether to take the safe path or take the risk and fall. Depending on what Yuffie decided here tonight, she would either take the path behind her down to the foot of the hills, or let herself fall off the edge of the cliff and allow gravity to do as it would with her. Everything within her, save for one, small, doubting piece of her mind and heart, told her that she should take the fall. It was that one, small, doubting piece that she was here to convince, or give in to. She wasn't sure yet.

The pivotal question, she thought, still staring at the sea, was whether or not she could handle the pressure. In order to do this successfully, every plan she could think of that had even a small margin of success required her to keep this to herself and go in alone. It wasn't that she couldn't keep information privileged; as Reeve's Spymaster, she had the right to do that, it was simply that she didn't know if she could keep such an involved, dangerous project secret from her friends.

It wouldn't be a problem if she were caught by Deepground, or even the Tsviets. He had told her that the same ability that allowed him to access her mind and speak to her could be used to protect her and all that she knew from anyone who would try to harm her. And they would try to harm her if they knew she was there for him - everything he had told her as good as screamed out that Deepground and Tsviets considered her poor, trapped friend a very valuable resource. But that protection could not be extended to her friends or anyone else she chose to tell about this mission. That meant that she had to go in alone, and keep all information secret, close to her chest. She couldn't risk, wouldn't risk, involving anyone else and letting them get injured.

Yuffie laughed softly, catching her choice of words in thought. If she was already considering it a mission, then that meant she had convinced her head. The only thing left to convince was her heart.

Yuffie stood up and began idly pacing the edge of the cliff. She could feel the wind tug at her if she got too close. She wanted so much to let it pull her over, but there was that one, small, doubting piece that resisted, and pulled her backwards away from the edge. She wasn't at the limit of her choice yet. She wasn't ready to let gravity take her. Looking up and breathing out a sigh, Yuffie let her mind wander towards the reason her heart was still undecided.

The pull in her soul was so very strong, it was nearly painful. Listening to her tall, dark friend talk, hearing that particular lilt he had to his speech made her want to smile and cry at the same time. She enjoyed their conversations. But she had enjoyed others as well. She had nearly chosen to risk everything once before, before her inner voices had told her that she was not capable of answering the questions and making the choice. Those voices were silent now, and that was the most disconcerting thing of all. Yuffie felt lost with no way out of wherever she was, incapable of deciding. No. Unwilling to decide, afraid to decide. Something deep inside her, something so low in her body and so primal that she couldn't tell if it was herself or some long dormant connection to the planet all Leviathan's children were rumored to have, was telling her that whatever she chose, whatever she decided on this night, would bind her life and her soul forever.

Taking a deep breath, Yuffie went to stand at the edge of the cliff. It was now, or never. She opened her mind and her heart to two distinct possibilities: one, that she would help this strange, almost sweet man she had come to know, and the second, that she would refuse. The first choice filled her body with so much pleasure and happiness that she broke out into a grin, smiling up at the moon. Considering the second, however, she felt her body go cold and she shivered, tears coming to her eyes. She rapidly closed them, trying to blink away the drops but not succeeding, and, opening her eyes, she watched gravity take the few tears she had shed at the thought of losing this man down to the ocean, and Yuffie raised her head, looking up at the sky and the moon and giving them a watery, shaky smile, before finally letting the wind pull her over the edge of the cliff. She had come to the limit of her choice, and her heart had told her to take the fall.

She allowed gravity to take her down to the water and gently pull her down to sink beneath the waves, and then, after she had remained here for a while, floating in the comfort of a decision finally made and a resolved spirit, she would allow herself to wake up.

Deep beneath the ruins of Midgar, eyes closed in concentration and focus, Nero the Sable smiled.

Notes: I have two requests for this piece: one, which I am not thrilled at having to resort to, is that if you favorite this story you leave me a review so that I can tell what parts are working (even if all you tell me is that you liked the whole thing, that tells me something), and two, that you remain patient. This story may take a while to update, as it may get very dark, and it will be difficult to write. So please, if this is something that you enjoy, and I have not updated in a while, rest assured that I have not forgotten it and keep the requests for updates to a minimum, as I know some of you are very eager to see this story progress. Thank you.

The terminator line is the line between light and dark, or day and night, on a planetary body.

Formatting is a touch funny, but should be better in future chapters when I have more to a scene than a single line.