I don't really like to use the word "zombie" in these cases but I really can't come up with a better word for it. I guess that's what I got to call it. "Living dead…?" No…I prefer "zombie" over that…

I bet by now you're wondering what all this rambling is about, huh? Well, I guess you deserve at least an explanation so I can ramble to you so I guess I should start with how this all…well, started.

I was in SOLDIER. Not only that, I was a 1st class—the very best. 1st class SOLDIERs are elite and there's not many of us…in fact, I was one of two that hadn't abandoned. Then, after time, I was the only 1st class left…and technically I didn't exist anyway.

Well, I'm sure you're wondering why, right? Of course you are. You're interested by now or else you would've left…or you're just waiting for me to get on with it. Whatever the case I'll keep going…

There was this 1st class who was better than all of us. His name was Sephiroth and well, at one point I considered him my friend. We did a lot of missions together for ShinRa and he was the best fighter I knew. Of course, one day he went nuts—you've heard of that much right? I was there when he had his first break-down. So now, to make it brief, he burned my friend's village down, I fought him inside a reactor, he knocked me out, I did a quick tag-team with aforementioned friend, and Sephiroth jumped into the ravine of mako below. Right now, I can't tell you anything more.

So, after awhile I felt my body being lifted from cool metal floor and onto canvas. The voice of Hojo—a rather odd man who basically lived in the science department—creped through my mind even though all of what he was saying was hard to understand. All I knew that I had this funny feeling that I might not wake up in Midgar again.

Of course, my gut instinct never fails.


Whoa! I guess with all this ranting, I forgot to introduce myself…I'm Zack and that kid earlier that I tag-teamed with—he's Cloud. He's basically going to be a vegetable for a while so I can do this flashback. Back to the story…

When I opened my eyes again, I seemed to be floating. Whatever tried to wake me up did the trick. The light that hit me was amazing, white and painful to the eye. When I put my hand out to find my way through it, I hit glass.

I'm going to say this was instinct from then on because I'm not sure how I broke the glass or why I took out the guy in the lab coat…but when his body made a sickening crack when he hit the stone floor for some reason, I didn't care. You could call it fight or flight?

Well, turns out me and Cloud were used in the Jenova Project…or something. I just know I got that creepy alien's cells somewhere inside me. Cloud was stuck with mako poisoning and we had nowhere to run…as for me, though, I knew I had to go somewhere

I found a letter in my pocket shortly after we escaped—I had ignored it the entire mission until this point. I suppose if I read it beforehand I wouldn't be so eager to get a move on. It only said that she wanted to be with me more. I guess I would've just taken it as a little love note before, but now and with her…it all seemed really serious. I didn't know what was wrong with me, I had no clue how I was going to go…but I knew I had to go. And oh Gaia, it hit me…I'd fallen in love.

No, this will not be a gooey romance… (Oh great Shiva, I hope it won't be) but I have to clear this up with you too… (I feel like I'm doing a lot of that today) this girl, I only knew her for about year—maybe less—and for some reason, I only wanted to be with her. Well, I don't know. Maybe I wouldn't take it that far.

Her name was Aerith. I can't really explain her. She's innocent…like…you can't get her to think dirty at all—which sucks sometimes (for me)…and she's kind of a ditz, I'll admit—but it's cute.

And you're probably saying this is a crush or something on my part. Hormones

Well, yeah, probably. Get this though…I wouldn't say I'm that bad of a guy. I think I'm pretty good with girls and once you learn what they like—you're in! Plus, I'm not that bad looking if I do say so myself…But that's not the point either…

I've been with lots of women. And I've never felt like this except once.

And that's why I had to go back to Midgar. Back to Aerith.

Of course, it took me a few months to get to Midgar…I won't go into too many details because this is just my terribly long introduction. I haven't even gotten to the story yet. (Be patient) Cloud was a vegetable and ShinRa wanted us back because of our 'precious sample' status…the Turks (the other elite group of folks who work for ShinRa) wanted us simply because we could inform the public. (And hell yeah, I was going to if I got my chance)

Now, I'm almost done, I swear.


They shot me. First of all, how the hell does that benefit ShinRa? The Turks, maybe. Sorry, getting off topic again…

Not only did they shoot me they shot me a billion times. There had to have been thousands of men there for my head. (What else does the army have to do other than chase down one man and a vegetable? Just cards, right?) As I was laying there…I remembered thinking earlier, just over this cliff, I'm gonna be in Midgar. I'll be home free!

After a few minutes of lying there in the dirt, (well, it could've been an hour, my internal clock was gone) I stopped feeling pain. I guess it was from blood-loss…I can't tell you. I was weak. I'd been getting weaker for some reason over the course of the months, but that was just from a lack of sleep. I could feel myself dying. Or falling asleep…It felt a lot like that.

Something kept dragging me away, like when those mothers put their kids on the leashes… (Bad analogy, I know, but—) Then there was something pushing me back, trying to keep me there for a purpose. I was stubborn, I should have tried to hold on more, but for once I wanted to give in for once. I wanted to know what was on the other side…but Aerith, Cloud—he was still laying where I left him, just as much as a vegetable as he was when he came out of the mako months ago. The soldiers were gone.

And Cloud moved. He came crawling from behind a rock and he stayed beside me, confused. This is not a good scene for someone to wake up to. I told him he would live, maybe he'd be comforted…I told him he could keep going. As I handed my pride to him in the form of the Buster Sword, my leash was given a good hard yank.

And I left.


This is right about where you could say my story begins. Yes, I'm a dead man…but just wait and watch.

I laid in the Lifestream for awhile. I can't tell you time periods. (I actually thought I'd been there for hundreds of years) Occasionally, I'd feel something—a twinge, someone I knew thinking about me, talking about me…I heard my name a lot for awhile, then I heard it none at all…I took a lot of comfort in that. Cloud was doing his half of the bargain. Maybe he'd met Aerith…

Soon, in the course of seconds it didn't feel like eternity anymore—I heard my name, over and over and over…and I felt that pull—that pull that drew me to Midgar and in the first time in a long time, I saw color…like the light that had woken me up from the mako chambers.

Red.

I got up trying to follow it. I had no idea that I'd been laying down for this whole time. I had no idea I had something of a body this whole time. I was sort of amazed, happy that this wasn't so bad at all.

I followed the color; it was so much more vivid than any of this blank space around me. From that color came the shore of a river, the red seeped into a concentrated puddle in the sand until it disappeared entirely. It was the first scene I'd been able to look at for awhile—and I wasn't sure if I should be happy about it or not.

"Aerith…is that you?"

The girl kneeling in the sand seemed surprised. I was a bit surprised too—had no idea I could talk too!

"Zack, you're dead too?"

No hello, no 'nice to see you again, Zack'…she's very straight-forward, isn't she?

"Hello to you too…?" I smiled, I needed to…I'm sure I was something very… unexpected.

"How could you be dead…?" Her voice was so quiet. "You never messed up…"

I forced a laugh. "Guess I slipped…?"

Not the smoothest thing to say. I watched the color drain from her face so I attempted to try something else. "What happened to you?"

I came out as a demand, I didn't mean for it to, but...

"Sephiroth—Sephiroth is trying to summon the black materia. I tried to stop him, but he got to me first…" She trailed off, "I'm sorry."

"Not your fault…Seph is a really famous bastard," I sighed. She was blaming this all on herself. It wasn't right at all. I told her what I knew. "Y'know, out of all the girls I've been with, you're definitely the best. If I made it to Midgar and all we would've kept going out and it would've been great."

She grinned back at me. "You've been with a lot of girls. You're really too friendly."

"What's wrong with that?"

"Well you certainly haven't changed a bit," She giggled, forgetting that she was here. "You're too dramatic. What happened to you since then...you seem to be…"

"What?"

She sighed, telling me everything since I was gone. Apparently I got more than one letter from her and she'd been going out with Kunsel, Luxerie, and of course Cloud.

"Can't you go and tell him who he is, Zack? He'd believe you, since—"She stopped herself, looking down.

I shook my head. "I probably can't leave…he's gotta figure it out himself."

Cloud had been going through an identity crisis…he'd thought he was me. Well, he'd been going about telling my stories and replacing me with himself as the main character…and he really believed himself.

I kinda wanted to slap myself for telling him all these things while he was comatose.


I'll fast forward from here because I'm going into Aerith's story. Not my own. She'd saved the planet with all of us (i.e. "the dead") and we got Cloud into the Lifestream with us so he could figure himself out…she was such a leader for such a fragile girl.

So of course, this led me to flirting with her again.

"Man, Aerith, out of all the girls I've gotten along with you are truly the best." I grinned at her only to be met with a serious face. Have I gotten rusty or something?

"No man who gets along with girls so much can become a lover."

What was she saying?

"How mean. I'm nice to everyone."

She gave a small smile, "That's your bad point. You aren't awkward and simplistic like Cloud."

I felt like I'd been replaced. I didn't fit here anymore like I should…she loved Cloud.

So I decided to go back to square one. "So that's what you liked?"

Her voice got real soft then. "In five years, things change."

I chuckled, pretending I was depressed (even though, well…I discovered my girlfriend was actually an ex…) then grinning at her. "Hey, if you get lonely call me, okay?"

She smiled. (So I wasn't too rusty after all) "Sure Zack," she giggled. "But only if I get really lonely."

Bright side was that she wanted to talk to me a lot. We had five years of catching up to do, after all. Plus, she was one of the few that knew I was here. There were a lot of guys back in SOLDIER that I had to deal with that were here…they were my friends but they wanted to be alive just as much as I did. A lot of guilt came down on me because I put them here either from injury or plain battle…

They didn't care, none of it was really my fault…but I did kill them.

Because of that, I always stuck with just Aerith.

Now I can begin my story. Aren't you happy?


I heard my name again and this time it was loud. Louder than any of the calls Aerith had given me, this one was more of a scream. Well, I hadn't been screamed at so of course, me being the dare-devil that I am, I decided to check it out.

And I kept going.

And going.

And going.

(And etc…)

It was really like one of Shin-Ra's battery commercials…but I never expected to find myself where the battery went at the end of this little tour.

Landfills?

No, I ended up in a reactor. Not only that, a really crummy one too. (But since Shin-Ra went under because of all the troubles we went through all reactors should be abandoned and crummy.) And like that—gravity had hit me for the first time in six years.

I thought I'd either finally gone back to the planet or died again. Struggling to my feet, I felt the taste of sand in my mouth and my hands were sore and blistered under my gloves. When I tripped over a forgotten wrench and fell face-first onto the metal ground I decided that it was neither.

I shouted, for a test of voice as it cracked out and echoed through the reactor. I tried again, "H-hey!"

My voice sounded a lot stranger here. Like I was really close to myself, like I was in my own head…usually my voice came out in echoes...

I clanked my way down the steps of the reactor, the green light of mako fading into day light and as it turned out I was more eager to find out where I was than I was to go outside and the sun hit me too hard. I dodged back into the dark with a groan.

This time, I inched carefully through the exit. It was a pretty barren place, not many plants around. Staggering up the dirt path there seemed to be an air of nostalgia about this place. I didn't know until I got into town that I hadn't been called somewhere into the Lifestream, I'd been brought home.


This is chapter one! Haven't been writing for awhile so here is a peace-offering for you guys. This will be a really fun story once we get into it more, I promise. Zack and Aerith belong to Square-Enix, The Lifestream belongs to the Planet, and this computer belongs to me. See you in Chapter two!