The last chapter is here! This story was a lot of fun to write. Shinra and Avalanche's strongest have gathered at Nibelheim to prepare for the final battle...
Step 47: Limit Break
Shera remained in Nibelheim taking care of Marlene, Denzel and Blaze, the rest of us, Turks and Avalanche, have come to the Northern Crater on Cid's airship. The group includes Rufus, who stubbornly refused to stay away from the action, though he promised to act mostly as a sniper.
The crater has become much deeper and an evil aura is in the air. We make our way down, careful not to fall, but as quickly as possible, until we reach the deep bottom. The calamity has noticed our presence and is ready for the inevitable confrontation. Eliminating those Turks must have been a provocation and a test, but we didn't respond swiftly enough, I think she knows we are unaware of the secret to defeating her, she herself most likely doesn't know what it is. A weakness that one is unaware of can be extremely dangerous, but it won't do the opponent any good if he is unaware of it himself.
"Lowly creatures, do you dare fight me?" She laughs mockingly. So this is her true form, she's not simply copying Jenova anymore, though they are definitely of the same kind. She has the same pink skin and her eyes glow brightly. Her hair is a shiny platinum color and it's much longer than Jenova's moving as if carried by the breeze, but there is no breeze down here.
There is a glow around her, maybe Jenova had that glow too when she lived, but she didn't include it in her Jenova disguise, possibly because she determined that we wouldn't know of it, since Jenova died so long ago. It cannot be denied that the sight is majestic, if her expression were serene instead of malicious; some might mistake her for some kind of angel.
Everyone stands ready and speaks their own oath of courage, but I am too focused on the coming battle to hear them and too distracted by myself to make my own. Then, in a split second, the fight begins.
We didn't have time to train together, Turks and Avalanche. I half expected people to start bumping into each other and accidentally cancel out their attacks like newbie cadets, but fortunately that's not the case. Rufus is shooting more and more as fast as his ammunition can be refilled. Vincent is doing the same, though instead of staying in one place where cover can be found if needed, he's moving around and jumping to shoot while staying out of he way of the calamity's attacks.
Joining them is Tseng, fast and precise without the theatrics of Vincent's jumps, but without staying in one spot for more than a split second. Elena's sister is following a similar strategy. Barret, the other gunner of our group, is rather amusing to watch, charging in full force firing away and backing out when overwhelmed with attacks, only to charge in again a second later, confident that next time he'll land the finishing blow for sure, but this is only the beginning.
The three Turks who have an affinity for electricity, Reno, the girl with black and blue hair and the man who was play fighting with Reno back in Nibelheim, all wield electro-rods and are focusing their energy in unison, creating a much more powerful electric attack.
Cissnei and the ninja girl, Yuffie, was it? Are surprisingly synchronized with their shurikens, though I sense it is Cissnei adjusting herself to match Yuffie's attacks from opposite directions. It's clear she has the most experience in terms of teamwork, making the best of numbers and being quick to fill in all the openings left by the others. Obviously, she hasn't neglected her training.
Reeve is not here in person, though he is on the airship, controlling Cait Sith from there. The robotic cat is riding on Nanaki, pounding away at the Calamity whenever Nanaki strikes, adding a little extra to the first's attacks.
Tifa, Rude, Elena and Cid are attacking from different directions but with perfect timing, as if trying to divert the enemy's attention before the next attack and all at once watching each other's backs.
It seems everyone has found their own little subgroup to work with, while at the same time supporting the overall team. "Ready? Let's get her from both sides," the sword wielders are stuck together, why must I be teamed up with Cloud? None the less we attack in perfect unison, I wonder if seeing how I use my Masamune, he'll figure out I'm far too similar to Sephiroth to be only a twin or clone.
The calamity's force is amazing. Whenever she is damaged in any way, and it takes a lot to do that, she heals instantly, she's serious now, it's a lot harder to cut through her in her real form. We have all noticed her tremendous strength and resistance and the unspoken notion to attack repeatedly hoping that we're faster then her healing powers is put into effect.
She no longer has the semi angelic appearance from before. Her skin has become red with anger and power and her previously ivory glow has turned dark. Her eerie eyes glow even brighter and her platinum hair moves like deadly tentacles. She has grown sharp claws and spikes, making it very difficult to attack her. Her skin has also become harder, akin to armor made of ruby. She truly is a terrible calamity.
Her attacks are not limited to the physical, she possesses a sort of telekinesis, moving large boulders at will and throwing them at amazing speeds like canon balls. Her strongest attack is that dark force. She threw it into the air like a dark sun made of negative energy and it exploded, raining deadly beams on us. Most were left in a near death state, knocked unconscious while others, barely alive and able to crawl, struggled to heal themselves and awaken their companions who would surely be crushed if they stayed still.
Hours passed and our energy is almost exhausted, our sanity and will to live being brutally tested. I feel it too, pushing my body to the limit and summoning energy to go on from a supply that's already empty. We had come equipped with materia, but the summons did not come to our aid. The calamity laughed at our attempts, she was able to block out Aeris from the life stream in the planet, she can easily block out communication with alternate dimensions much further away. Ice, Fire, Lightning, Earth, Comet, Ultima... even with he flow of Time itself on our hands and layers of Barriers and Shields, we cannot Restore ourselves as fast as she can and the effect of our materia is fading.
No one can carry an infinity of items into battle, no matter how small and concentrated they may be and no one can become truly invisible, no matter how well armed and how fast and often they are healed, even with materia to enhance our life, strength, speed and energy. Our preparations were hasty but strong, dare I say we could conquer the world if we wished, but it seems we cannot save it.
They're falling, all my comrades are falling. I can't let this happen, not again. I couldn't save my friends in the past, now that I feel I can make new friends, that I have made new friends, I can't let them die. Not this again, I don't want their lives to be stolen away.
Rufus has forgotten his promise not to be reckless, he along with Vincent, Tseng and Barret, despite being armed to take on the world, have run out of ammunition. They're charging in recklessly, putting all differences aside and striving together. The electric team led by Reno has no more energy left for such attacks and they charge in as well. Cissnei and Yuffie, their weapons broken, join them. Rude, Elena, Tifa, Cid, Nanaki and Cait Sith, they're all attacking as well. Each of them in the last of their strength, each of them desperate, each of them knocked away.
"Now!" Cloud calls out. They have managed to do some damage with that last effort, the calamity is healing slightly slower, though still fairly fast. We attack, over and over relentlessly, ignoring our pain and blood, I imagine my state must be as bad as his, as bad as all of us, but we're still awake, clinging to our last drop of life. It wasn't enough; the calamity threw us away like lifeless puppets with cut strings and recovered. "How can we beat her? This is hopeless..."
We can't retreat, if we do, she'll finish digging to the center of the planet and kill it. It might fall apart and even if we prevented that, even if we regrouped and won, if the planet died, where would we live? All the living beings in the world will no longer have a means to support themselves. "We cannot fall into the shadows..."
I attack once more, head on, the calamity fights back, but I don't change my course, jumping high while her long tentacle-like hair tries to hold me back, but I keep moving and slash down at her with the Masamune, her claws cutting deep into my flesh as I go. I want to knock her all the way to the legendary promised land where evil would disintegrate, to a distant place where she can't hurt anyone, I don't care if she drags me with her, but I will protect this world.
She screeches loudly, louder than ever, in deep agony. "That was reckless, suicidal!" Cloud scolds; it's as if he's afraid to be left alone to battle, afraid to be the last to fall.
"I'm not about to lose," I assure. "Her energy is not infinite, she's powerful but not immortal; her kind was defeated before." Though I should be terribly close to death, I instead feel a rush of calmness, because I'm not struggling anymore. I am doing what I must and I have decided to try my best until this battle ends. I am no longer focused on the outcome, I'm only thinking of the here and now.
I see the world from a new perspective, regardless of what I once was and what I am now, all that matters is that I'm here and what I wish to become is... a hero. Even being an unknown hero will do as long I as I do everything I can to protect, true heroes are not about glory after all, not about fame and being turned into action figures, it's about giving everything to protect. I call upon all my power, past and present and stand ready for battle once again, with a single black wing on my back.
"Sephiroth," Cloud whispers.
"You knew didn't you? Deep down you've always known, but you didn't want to believe it. Cloud Strife, stop clinging to a past villain to feel like a hero by comparison, there is no such a thing, because a hero is someone who shines so brightly that there can be no comparison."
"It's not really for you to determine, ask your friends when this is over and they'll tell you." The calamity attacks and we fight, unable to speak any more. I know what I am, by accepting myself, including my flaws and past mistakes, I was able to understand it.
When Aeris said 'you will know' she was giving me the answer, but finding yourself is something you can only do yourself. Mother must have known; that's why she smiled and called me hope. That is also why it didn't feel so strange to be called weapon and why I can hear the planet after finally learning to listen.
This planet really is childish. It chouse the strongest out of those who were slain, assuming that would be enough for them to become heroes. It took the most powerful beings from the life stream and turned them into Weapons, the protectors of the planet. Yet those dragons didn't know what they were doing. At least this time the one who was chosen to be the next warrior of the planet can actually think and strategize. Well, Planet, I'll show you you've made the right choice.
Cloud has fallen, exhausted and injured. I move him out of the way quickly. He's still conscious, he says something, but I don't understand.
"Rest, I'll finish this..." I summon those three parts of myself that I might have suppressed in the past. They appear, coming from me. "Kadaj, Yazoo, Loz, keep her busy for just a moment so I can summon the planet's power."
"Let's go, we'll show her who's boss!" Kadaj leads the way into the assault with fiery courage.
"We'll put up a good fight!" Yazoo wisely strategizes searching for openings.
"And we'll make you proud!" Loz shows his power jumping into the action.
I summon the power of the planet, the power of hope itself and put my very being into one last attack, to break my limits, to break all limits and accomplish what must be done. Kadaj, Yazoo and Loz return to me, becoming one with me again and I charge forward, my sword glowing a pale green.
Even impaled, the calamity struggles strongly, clawing at me and throwing her dark energy. Her attacks are not without effect, but I know must stay strong. I can feel her very being connect to mine as if our souls are doing battle. Every memory I ever had flashes before my eyes, both good and bad. I treasure the good memories and accept the bad ones as an inevitable part of who I am.
Then the green glow fades, and the calamity's life begins to disappear as well, but she still holds on. I'll have to finish her myself, she's stubborn, clinging to this world, changing her shape; mother, my real mother, what a cruel illusion, but she will not fool me. I am surrounded by a silver glow, my very soul. I'll dissolve this calamity's very last cell; there will be nothing left for history to repeat itself. Finally, with desperate rage, she faded away completely.
I remain in this world for only a few seconds, more. I see them waking up, the planet is healing them now that it has been freed from that creature that inhabited it like a disease. I believe the planet wished to help us more during the battle, but the calamity had held it back, now she's gone and the planet is free to heal, though it will take a very long time. They are awake, my comrades, all of them, I spread my wing as I feel myself fade away; I put my very soul into disintegrating the calamity after all. I smile, not wanting to be remembered looking grim and this time, expression doesn't feel so strange, "I will never be a memory..."
xoxox xox xoxox
"Some people are just so stubborn..." Zack?
"He doesn't know when to take a break; he's restless like a puppy, like you." Angeal?
"He might be mad if he heard you calling him a puppy... Wait, you just called me a puppy!" Zack...
"It seems it's not his time..." Aeris?
"There are some who might get lonely if he's not there; he's still needed in that world." Angeal...
"I guess this means you'll be on your way, give my brother my good wishes." Lazard?
xoxox xox xoxox
"Wark!" Of all the things to wake up to...
I open my eyes and see a room that is mostly white, an infirmary; the Shinra infirmary at headquarters. I remember fading away, I guess I must have reappeared somewhere and was brought here. The large red chocobo's color makes it stand out against the pale room, as if his size didn't already make him obvious enough. The chocobo looks at me curiously, his blue eyes glowing with... mako?
"Wark! Wark! Wark!"
"What is it, Blaze? Why are you..." Reno stops, it is one of the rare but pleasant occasions when he's left speechless, as expected, it doesn't last long. "He's alive! He's alive!"
"Blaze?" I stare at the chocobo, he's big enough to carry me and he certainly looks strong. He's nothing like that fragile tiny creature I remember. "How did he get so big? For how long have I been in a coma? Why are his eyes glowing?"
"It's been a whole week. You beat that evil alien, you're a hero!" I can tell he's avoiding my other questions.
"Reno, what happened to my godchild?"
"Um... well... I kind of lost track of him that one time and he might have eaten something radioactive..." Reno confesses. "But don't worry; the doctor says he's fine, except for the part of being a bit bigger than most chocobos and a lot stronger and faster. I entered him at the Gold Saucer last weekend and we won all the races!"
I laugh; I should have been prepared for these antics when I came back. "With you as Blaze's father, it should come as no surprise that something like this would happen." Blaze bends over so I can reach and I pet. "Good to see you again."
"I wonder why no one's rushing over... Hey, didn't you hear me? I said Seph's alive! He's awake!" Reno insisted.
"Shut up, I'm not falling for that again!" I know that voice...
"It's true this time, really!" I can definitely imagine Reno in the boy who cried wolf situation.
"I'm trying to read!" The other man argues.
"You read Loveless everyday!" Reno pouts, "is that more important than your comrade coming back to life for the billionth time?"
"You're drying my patience!" Genesis moved to white curtains around my bed away, his hand raised with his favorite book ready to hit Reno with it. He stood frozen for a second before yelling, "Sephiroth! Everyone! Sephiroth is awake!" One by one, they rush into the room while Reno pouts because no one believed him.
xoxox xox xoxox
Apparently it was Reno who found Genesis and brought him to Shinra, thus the Turks, myself included, took it upon themselves to help in the process of reintegrating him into society. Hopefully, I'll save him from being driven insane by Reno's antics, Elena's crazy driving, Rude's absolute silence, Tseng's workaholic ways and Rufus being well... Rufus, plus whatever new strangeness the other Turks may add, because no one is ever normal in Shinra. The president was surprised when I delivered Lazard's message, then smiled, knowing that Lazard continues to exist somewhere in the life stream.
Right now we're all reunited at the Seventh Heaven, Cloud and I are not exactly friends and I'm sure he'll never admit I saved him back then, but it doesn't matter. He knows who I am and accepts it well enough not to put up a fight. Tifa must have been shocked, but she too has come to terms with the truth, they all have. There will be no more hiding.
The reason why we're here at the Seventh Heaven isn't simply a victory reunion and it's certainly not for the sake of listening to Reno's 'thee soldiers walk into a bar' jokes. We're here because my new adventure in this world began with an invitation to hang out at the Seventh Heaven and I thought it might be good to have Genesis come here too.
"Next week," Genesis declares, "we're all going to see Loveless!" I know he will insist until we all do, Shinra and Avalanche alike.
Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII. This last chapter had a lot of references. There were some references to Dissidia with Sephiroth's quotes about falling into the shadows and the promised land.
When Sephiroth mentions fame and action figures, it's a reference to Hercules. A reference to Valkyrie Profile is when Sephiroth mentions choosing the strongest from those who were slain. Kadaj, Yazoo and Loz represent the three aspects of the Triforce from Legend of Zelda. Reno yelling "he's alive" is a reference to Frankenstein. The part about the 'dark sun made of negative energy' is a reference to the Gagharv trilogy, part of the Legend of Heroes game series.
Why does the planet sound like a child? Because in the original FFVII Cid calls it a child. Why is Genesis alive? Because at the end of Crisis Core it is hinted that Genesis survived and even if I didn't include the events of Dirge of Cerberus in this story, hence why Shelke isn't there, the game also hints at Genesis being alive.
Many thanks to everyone who continued reading this story all the way to the last chapter and thank you for all your nice reviews along the way! I'm not really planning to write a sequel, but maybe someday Square Enix will get around to finishing Genesis' story themselves and if anyone feels like writing their own version of what may happen next, you're welcome to do so.