Ok, I went a little over the top in this chapter. Sorry.
Key Final Fantasies: 7 and 13, obviously, with major roles from 2 and 12. The storylines in the latter two are basically explained, as much as you need to know, here as it is, so don't worry about those.
We've reached the end of this story! I'm happy to say I finished it and 'Faces', my other fanfiction, before today, which is good going considering tomorrow I'm on holiday and won't be able to write for a while.
This is the last multi-chapter fic I'll be publishing on here for a while.
Now, play FFXIII! (And FFVII too, if you want).
A smoky shadow seemed to form over Cid as Vanille spoke that word.
"I don't know what you mean" Cid spoke with a quiet outrage
"You're the pilot of the Shera" Vanille bounced up, "You've got a lot of faces, and it's easy for you to take away Gran Pulse's soul to another world. You went mad swapping us from world to Lifestream to wherever, and can easily stand just there with no Minwu in sight. It would be easy for you to fix it yourself"
"I told you why-" Cid stopped mid-sentence, "Why didn't I think of that?"
"Our Cid wouldn't do that" Aeris murmured, "But he didn't know you were real."
"All my bodies are separate" Raines explained, "I told you, they know nothing of being ever-present. They only remember their own lives"
"Exactly" Vanille nodded hastily, "It's easy for you to do it, and forget it after. And I reckon I know which of you did it"
"You mean…" Cid paused. If one of his many bodies had split up Gran Pulse, and made him forget, everything would make sense. And he knew he wasn't perfect: that was what Vanille was getting at, she'd seen his darker side. He'd made her become Ragnarok, out of simple curiosity. To see if there were any differences, and how the transformation went.
"That one" Cid looked down, ashamed at that part of himself.
"Does he have something to do with Nethicite?" Aeris spoke up.
"Nethicite?" Cid's gaze snapped over to Aeris, "He was the expert on it. How do you even know about Nethicite?"
"Oerba was covered in it" a new voice joined the conversation, "As is the Forgotten City." Minwu stepped forwards, coming out of a swirl of Lifestream. "He was siphoning Lifestream with the Nethicite, taking the spirit energy of every person. He could create a person out of nothing, create anyone. They were in almost every world. I expelled them to the Void though, they are no longer anywhere"
"Good" Cid nodded, a slight red glow shining in the air above him for a brief second. "I won't let him control me any longer"
"It's not that simple" Minwu sighed
"Huh?" Cid's eyes shot up. An almost corporeal smoke cloud appeared behind him.
"Turn around" Minwu muttered
Cid span on the spot, staggering back as he saw, just in time, the smoke dissipating.
"Venat" he said the word like a curse.
"The life form blended with Doctor Cid" Minwu said, explaining it to everyone, "Doctor Cid was his form which transformed Vanille into Ragnarok. He created a kind of nethicite, which takes in Mist and Lifestream, with the aid of the creature tied to his mind: Venat. And it is that creature which is feeding off you, like a parasite, in every one of your forms whether you admit it or not, becoming that doctor and making you forget"
"But…I…" Cid fell to his knees, desperately ashamed. "I didn't know" the shadow, Venat, reared up behind him. Two orange eyes in a hazy body made up archaic looking vines and armour.
Venat fell, a graceful movement, sliding into Cid Raines' back. A silent, horrible, tense second passed as Aeris, Vanille and Minwu looked on in horror. The others were elsewhere.
A ripple passed through Cid. His grey cloak shrank, becoming closer fitting, and a deep red and maroon. His black hair shortened, turning to a pale brown.
The kneeling Cid Raines stood up, now a different man, quite literally. Doctor Cid, the reason for all the trouble they'd been through, stood there, smirking, eyes glowing a harsh, barely noticeable red.
"A pity you figured it out" he muttered, lifting one white-gloved hand. He clenched it into a fist.
"I took enough spirits with my siphons" he murmured, holding back an insane chuckle.
He opened his hand, and three seeds of Lifestream rose out of his palm, striking the ground. Three separate people grew out of each.
The first was a tall man, garbed in yellow armour over his front, with regal purple behind it. Lots of purplish drapes, some transparent, some not, were hung over the form, masking the lethal jagged edges of the armour over the elbows, the snarling golden lions over his knees, and the pointed feet. His face was pale, almost handsome, if not for his purple lips and gaze full of loathing.
"From the Lifestream in your world Minwu" the twisted Cid commented, watching the initial figure grow.
"Mateus!" Minwu cursed. Vanille looked strangely at him. "I gave my life to aid the rebellion against his rule over my world. He installed himself as emperor, dying and returning from hell itself in his quest to keep control"
Lightning, Fang, Hope, Sazh and Snow had noticed the bright lights and the shouts, and they soon joined the group, in time to see the second of the three seeds grow. It became a woman, with waist length grey/blonde hair. She wore tight fitting leather and bands of armour. Her shoulder plates had a blue neon outline, and over her waist she wore a baton.
"l'Cie" she almost spat the word out
"Jihl!" Vanille stepped back, putting her hands over her mouth. Jihl Nabaat was the PSICOM officer who'd caught up with her and Sazh at Nautilus. She didn't seem to care what happened to the people around her: she used them like tools. How ironic, that the Primarch Barthendelus had killed her, disposing of her like a tool.
"She comes from this world, just for you" Doctor Cid looked down at the last seed, lips pursed. "Now he needs no introduction."
The third seed grew quickly. It was a man, garbed in black leather, boots going most of the way up his legs with only a few silver buckles keeping them on. His cloak was also made of black leather, flowing behind his imposing figure. His chest was bare, except for an X of black and the cloak either side. Each shoulder had a three piece silver plate on. Each hand was covered in a black glove, with a silver bracelet attaching it to the long sleeves of his cloak. In one hand, he held the gold and blue handle of a long, long sword. He looked up, peering through silver locks that extended past his neck, staring straight at Aeris.
"It's been a while" he spoke, melodic, deep voice sounding more like a threat.
A lone, black, feathered wing rose into sight, lifting from behind his back.
"Sephiroth" Aeris murmured, stepping back. Fear was blossoming in her heart: she had already died by his hand. Scars like that never fade.
"I take my leave" Doctor Cid gave a sinister smirk, moving back. A soft glow bathed his lower half, and he started to rise off the ground. Taking one last look at Sephiroth. Emperor Mateus and Jihl Nabaat, he turned, to soar away.
"Vanille!" Minwu shouted, a blazing white light coming from his hands, offering protection against Mateus as the Emperor tried to attack.
"What?" she tilted her head, grinning despite having to jump mover a sword slash from Sephiroth
"Your materia! I can feel you have it, proto-materia forged in Gran Pulse. Use it!" Minwu let a stream of fiery light
"I don't know how" Vanille murmured, lifting her binding rod to deflect a blow from Sephiroth. He leapt back, flying, and swung his blade, swiftly bringing it through the air, straight for Aeris.
"No!" Vanille shrieked. She didn't know what came over her, she just knew Aeris shouldn't die twice by Sephiroth's hand. In a split second, she sprang across the flowering Oerba, bathed in a fiery light, until she crashed down, grasping the blade with both hands and slamming it to the ground.
The world seemed to stop in that brief second. Vanille felt like she was out of her own body, and in a sense she was. Her hands were not her own; her skin was thicker, the shade of tree bark, with streaks of yellow, orange and gold streaked across it. She looked almost as if she was glowing. Savage, untameable, stronger.
She could see her hands, she could remember every aspect of the transformation. She felt, somehow, in control on the beast. How was that even possible? She stumbled back, an ungainly movement for the creature.
"That's what it does" Minwu shouted across Oerba, "The materia. Control over creatures, created by the Planet and implanted in a human. For Vincent, it was Chaos, for you, Ragnarok" Minwu thrust both hands forwards, a red aura starting to cover his skin. "Now go, stop Doctor Cid! Only you, as Ragnarok, can stop him. If he escapes, there's no telling what else he could do" Minwu jumped back, starting a graceful twirling motion, before creating a maelstrom of light around Mateus.
Vanille looked around, seeing Lightning, Fang, Sazh, Hope and Snow engaged in some kind of deadly dance with Jihl Nabaat, who parried nearly all attacks with devastating grace, her baton moving faster than Vanille's eyes could comprehend.
Aeris seemed to be losing, as the soaring Sephiroth shot across the ground, slashing out with his blade. It was a miracle he hadn't been hit yet.
"I'll help Aeris!" Minwu shouted to Vanille. As he said those words, a loud thrumming reverberated around Oerba. In a flash of Lifestream green light, the Shera was pulled down from the sky, all the way from another world. With little more than a look at Aeris and Sephiroth, Cloud, Tifa, Yuffie and Cid were falling over each other to leap off the airship.
Minwu fell back as a blow from Mateus struck home. The lapse in concentration had cost him, he couldn't risk it again.
Satisfied that this was the best that was going to happen, Vanille took two steps along the ground, before tensing and leaping, soaring up into the air, revelling in the control of the devastating beauty that was Ragnarok.
There! In the distance! She could just see a speck of dark red, Doctor Cid. He'd pay. The rush of anger surged through her, images of what Ragnarok's powers could do flashing through her mind.
She shook it off, trying to focus on the present. But still, the voice was there, the little whisper of the true Ragnarok at the back of her mind.
"You can control it too?" a familiar, haunted voice murmured.
"Seems so" she shrugged, light hearted as always, turning over in the air to see Chaos flying along behind her.
"I can hear you?" she tilted her head, facing back at the creature and kicking her feet leisurely as if swimming.
"Seems so" he mimicked her. She giggled slightly, before giggling even more after realizing the destroyer, Ragnarok, was giggling like a schoolgirl. "Proto-materia, it does a lot."
A few more seconds passed, as they shot through the sky, seeing Doctor Cid in the distance. He was getting closer.
"So, monsters together?" Vincent asked, flying alongside Vanille now.
"Monsters together" she nodded, still laughing, happiness enhanced by the glimmer of humanity in Chaos's eyes.
She bent forward, giving Vincent a quick peck on the cheek, mirth being reborn at the ridiculous looking gesture of affection between the creatures they were.
The twisted ever-present man looked back for a moment, catching sight of them. He scowled, before being illuminated by a burst of green Lifestream. Vanille shot forwards, with Vincent, moving as quickly as they could to shoot through the Lifestream portal before it shut. For a few seconds, they were enveloped in the comforting, warm current, before they shot out into a dreary ruined metropolis.
Vincent accelerated past her for a moment, breaking through a rusted sign, as the two, orange at back, twirled into the clear sky over Midgar. The ever-present man hovered a few metres away. He started to run the instant he saw them.
"Why are we chasing this guy?" Vincent muttered, as Vanille started after Cid.
"He started it all" Vanille muttered, leaving Midgar. She was happy to put a distance between herself and Midgar: Ragnarok's instincts were still there, and it was like an unbearable thirst, trying not to take in the readily available Lifestream.
"By 'it all', you mean…"
"He took the soul of Gran Pulse and gave it to Ragnarok. He put that Ragnarok in your world, and he covered the Forgotten City in nethicite-it looks like crystal." Vanille recounted, pulling herself closer to Vincent as they soared through the air.
They shot over a sea, nearing Cid as he flew towards a snowy landmass. He fell closer to the ground, skimming over a forest. A few minutes behind, Vanille and Vincent, Ragnarok and Chaos, followed.
"The Forgotten Capital" Vincent identified the area.
"I know" Vanille nodded hastily, ducking beneath several of the Gran Pulsian creatures milling around. "Why are they all here?"
"They came out of the Lifestream. Perhaps the residue drew them towards the nethicite" Vincent muttered, the two almost reaching a valley into which the ever-present man had descended. "The question is" Vincent began, "Why are they still here?"
"To go home" Vanille answered after a moment, pointing towards a spike of Lifestream hovering in the air. Through it, she could just about see Gran Pulse, and several of the creatures were flying and stomping through it. "Must be Minwu"
Chaos dragged Vanille down, beneath the portal, as the twisted Doctor Cid ducked past it and into the Forgotten City.
"Where's he going?" Vincent murmured, "It's a dead end in there"
"I guess we'll see" Vanille shrugged, touching the ground and starting to run through the coral-like city. A soft orange blur was left behind as she, as Ragnarok, ran.
"He killed the fish" Vincent muttered dryly, as they followed Cid through a few fronds of seaweed.
Vanille looked at him oddly, before catching sight of an orange fish lying in the fronds of the green plant. Then she gasped as, past the plant, she was atop a staircase made out of pure crystal, each step supported seemingly in the air itself.
"Beautiful" she whispered, slowly walking down the stairs, step by step, moving towards a softly glowing island in the centre.
"It should be" Vincent muttered, morphing into his human form to keep balance on the steps.
"It is" Vanille insisted, watching the ever-present man jump from stone to stone at the bottom of the clear stairs.
"This is where Aeris died. I can't look at it the same way" Vincent reached the bottom of the crystal steps just after Vanille.
"Oh, I'm sorry" Vanille looked away, jumping across the stones to reach the ever-present man, standing on a circular altar. She tried to restrain Ragnarok's instinct to take in the abundant Lifestream.
"Don't be" Vincent murmured, standing beside her.
"Can you feel it?" Doctor Cid interrupted the exchange, spreading his arms out to his sides as the shadowy Venat appeared behind him. "The Lifestream. So, so rich here, gathering, rushing through the air. Such energy."
Vincent lifted his gun. It clicked.
"By all means, shoot" the twisted Cid in front of them laughed, "If you think that can do anything."
A ghost of a growl passed over Vincent's face, before he sheathed his gun, surprised at his sudden anger.
"Can you feel Omega?" Cid laughed, "This close to the heart of the Lifestream, the Weapon with control over Chaos has you in its grasp. I would say that's why you transformed. And it still has hold over you. And I'd say Ragnarok can't resist the succulent Mako around us for much more"
Vanille didn't want to admit how right he was: she could feel herself inhaling, absorbing, the Lifestream, even as her every thought was to try and prevent it. Doing the only thing she could, she focused on Vincent, trying to calm herself.
In a second of light, she fell to her knees, no longer as Ragnarok but as the Gran Pulsian Vanille. As she knelt there, panting on the ground, she could feel GeoStigma start to burn and spread.
"This is too perfect" Doctor Cid looked down at them, sneering. "At the mercy of the Planet she tried so hard to protect, and another unable to control his own body." He raised one gloved hand, plucking a piece of nethicite out of the air.
"So much Lifestream" he whispered, almost admiring. "Is it not perfection?" the insane incarnation of the ever-present man turned to the shadowy creature behind him. "The reigns of history in the hands of man, and man in our hands. For us, Venat."
Vanille gritted her teeth, falling to the stone floor, but resisting lightly with her hands to prevent too much pressure on her tender Stigma. Was this it? Was this where it would end?
"No" a voice murmured in her head. It wasn't her own.
"Huh?" she thought
"He is taking in Lifestream, his own Lifestream as much as the Planet's."
"He has unlocked himself. Stand"
"I can't. Stigma" she winced even at thinking the word
"You can. This place is rich in Lifestream, we will guide you"
"Who…who are you?" she stuttered even at thinking it, as a soft, friendly white glow enveloped the infected parts of her body.
"I am Cid of the Lufaine. Each one of us is here: in him, and now, taken away by the nethicite. We are free"
The voice fell silent as she got to her feet.
"Move towards him" A new voice, reminiscent of the Cid she'd met in the afterlife pub, spoke. "We are all here"
She felt a hand on her shoulder as she moved forwards.
"I am Cid Haze. Go forth, touch him once. We will help"
She started taking another step.
"Go! I, Cid Pollendina, am here"
"Cid Previa, master of the crystals here. Go get him!"
"You have the blessing of Cid Del Norte Marquez"
"Ya know me, pilot of the Highwind. Get the guy!"
"Cid Kramer. Move!"
Vanille moved half the distance towards Doctor Cid in one step. Time seemed to have slowed: the voices spoke at a seemingly normal speed, and yet they'd all had the time to say something in the time it took her to make that one step.
"I, Regent Cid Fabool, encourage you. Keep going!"
"We haven't got all day!"
"This is Raines. I'm sorry, I never seem to be able to control myself"
"High Commander Cid here. Hurry"
"Get him, for all our sakes"
"Go! I am Otto Cid. You must get to him"
"You must just touch him once. I, Count Cidolfus, can do the rest"
"It is I, the Judge. I wish I could help more, but it is in your hands"
"Don't let us down"
"You can do it Kupo!"
"I am not an onion, ok? Anyway, you can do it"
"We are trusting you. I am ashamed to also be a Doctor by the name of Sid with him also bearing the title"
"You've got him!"
As the voices of many Cids rushed through her head, she completed her last step and, as they had instructed, rested her petite hand on his clenched fist, as every Cid had instructed.
The furious duel with Cid, Tifa, Yuffie and Cloud on one side, and the devastating Sephiroth on the other, seemed to be reaching an end. Cloud let out a series of slashes with his huge blade, knocking Sephiroth's masamune away.
Jihl Nabaat soon fell, with the continued assault of five l'Cie.
Minwu nodded at each of their progress, as he stared into the eyes of his nemesis through a blaze of white magic.
"I gave my life to help bring about the end of your tyranny" Minwu spoke, letting the cloth covering his mouth fall, making his speech clearer. "And in death, I helped defeat you again. I will not stand by and let you continue"
"You assume too much" Emperor Mateus spoke in a nasal tone, exerting himself a great deal to deflect every spell of Minwu's, but trying to keep a façade of disinterest. "You presume to have a choice."
"There is always a choice. I died to aid the battle against you. Do you remember why?"
Mateus's eyes widened briefly, the only crack in his composure.
"The last magick created by the Ancients of our world."
"You wouldn't dare. Not even you, Minwu, could control such power" Mateus used magic to lift himself into the air a little. Not for any attack, only to look down on Minwu.
"For you, Emperor, I would do anything. For Firion!" Minwu took a step forwards, a golden light starting to blaze out from his fingertips. Mateus shrank back, angry at the fear he felt. The fiery colours of Minwu's spell roared into life, two currents of sheer energy above and below Mateus, with a helix of magick transferring from one to the other, the blazing energy crashing inwards, centring on one point. The Emperor Mateus.
"You have suffered three deaths" Minwu spoke through the blistering magical heat, "This will be your fourth. Unless you wish to suffer a fifth, do not return"
"Ah, Minwu. People like us never fade, not completely" Mateus closed his eyes, as the spell drew inwards, incinerating the body of the Emperor.
Minwu stood still for a moment. Soon, there was a gunshot as Sazh fired, striking Jihl Nabaat. The second of the summoned foes fell.
Last, but in no way least, Cloud slashed through the air, blade clanging onto Sephiroth's time and time again.
Minwu sighed, raising the drape he wore to cover his mouth again. Cloud wasn't strong enough to defeat Sephiroth alone, not yet at least. He waved one hand, summoning one spirit in particular from the Lifestream.
"I'll take that" a similarly muscled body to Cloud darted past from the Lifestream, snatching Cloud's blade and, in eight swipes along, broke past Sephiroth's defences and landed a blow on the one winged angel.
"Here ya go" the black haired newcomer tossed the sword back to Cloud, 2Keep it in good condition, you hear?"
"Zack!" Aeris cried, running up to him.
Minwu smiled secretly, turning away from the couple. Then he felt it: a surge in the energy around them. The Lifestream was opening.
In front of him, Doctor Cid fell onto the flowering land of Oerba, with Vanille clinging onto one arm.
"Betrayed by my own minds. Curse them!" he was snarling, like some kind of animal.
Minwu knelt down, quick and yet calm, resting two fingers on the ever-present man's forehead. A ripple passed through Cid's body, turning him from Doctor Cid to Cid Raines.
"What did you do?" Vanille got up, kneeling curiously, weary, and yet somehow still perky.
"Isolated that world" Minwu whispered, "He can't touch that world or that form on any level. The only way to keep Venat away" Minwu moved back, as the laying down Cid Raines opened his eyes.
Vincent fell through the Lifestream door, panting. He stopped as he saw Cid Raines lying there.
"I feel…odd" Cid murmured, sitting up slowly.
"I'm sorry" Minwu bowed his head, "It was necessary"
"What did you do?" Cid's eyes snapped onto Minwu
"I sealed off that version of Ivalice. You cannot connect with him, ever and at all."
"What?" Cid span around quickly, glaring at Minwu, "You can't do that! He's-he's part of me. I may not like him, buthe's there to stay."
"He's not. I just proved that"
"Why don't you just take Chaos out of Vincent too? Chaos is dangerous also" Cid spoke smoothly
"Chaos does not threaten the stability of the worlds. Dr Cid used you to take in Lifestream. He brought to life three people from it: Jihl Nabaat, Sephiroth, and Mateus"
"M- I'm sorry Minwu. I didn't want to subject you to Mateus again. I didn't think he would be able to achieve that. And Jihl too? And…Sephiroth. I had no idea he'd become so powerful"
"Believe it!" Yuffie shouted. "And who's this black haired guy?"
"I'm Zack" the 'black haired guy' turned, still embracing Aeris, "I'm the original of Cloud here"
Cloud turned away, as if slightly embarrassed.
Cid Raines smiled at the ninja's leer. While she interrogated Zack about why he'd left them with Cloud, Raines turned, nodding and smiling to Cid Highwind. The ever-present man received a rude hand gesture in response.
"I guess...thank you, Minwu." The ever-present man murmured. "But it's more than just me who has a feud with you" Raines leant back, smiling a little before dissolving into a blur of white lights, leaving small rainbow trails as they dissipated.
"Watch it Cid" Minwu chuckled, watch the lights fly away, "Those things don't even belong in this world, oh, why bother?" Minwu laughed, standing up.
"What did he mean?" Vanille peered at Minwu, leaning forwards, "That he's not the only one with a feud with you?"
"Ah" Minwu slumped a little, good mood vanishing. "That." Minwu turned, calling out to the whole group. "Everyone!"
Hearing the authority in his tone, Cid (Highwind), Tifa, Zack, Cloud, Aeris, Vincent, Sazh, Snow, Hope, Fang, Lightning and Vanille moved into a huddle in front of Minwu, unconsciously separating themselves in the centre by world. Smiling a little, Aeris moved away from Zack, and dragged Cloud to the centre, where he stood next to the pink haired Lightning. Aeris took a few steps back, giggling a little. The two soldiers looked at each other, almost mirror images, saying 'hi' in the same instant. They frowned in unison, trying to speak again. "You-". After a few more moments, they both shrugged, and looked forwards towards Cid, reflections of each other, each a little flushed.
"I knew it" Vanille bounced happily to the front of the groups, next to Vincent.
"Can I speak?" Minwu seemed almost reluctant to, despite his request.
"What's happened?" Aeris asked, keeping an arm around Zack.
"It's not what has happened, it's what will happen. You each belong to a world, your own world. You are needed there: I've seen the future. It should be obvious to you Vanille, you should know what you're needed for. Aeris, Cloud. One week, that's all I can say to you. But you must return to your worlds"
"What?" Lightning was, surprisingly, the first to speak up.
"I'm not leaving Vincent" Vanille cried, clinging tightly to the red-wearing pale skinned man. He looked down at her, amused, and lightly kissed her hair.
"Calm down" Minwu paused, "If you enter crystal stasis, or when you die, as all things must, I may be able to pull a few strings. Manipulate the path of your spirits, if you will. We'll see which world you end up in" they could almost see a sly smile behind the drape Minwu wore across his face.
Without much warning, Lifestream rose out of the ground, taking the Shera, Cid, Tifa and Cloud with it.
"I figured you two might want time to say goodbye" Minwu nodded towards Vanille and Vincent, before looking away. There was a moment's silence. Vanille didn't know how to feel: for one thing, she was in her home, her home alive again, the beautiful plant life that used to be there, now resurrected by Aeris, and she was standing in the embrace of the 'tall, dark and handsome' Vincent Valentine. On the other hand she…she was saying goodbye.
"We'll meet again" Vincent murmured, bringing Vanille closer.
"But when?" she replied, sobbing into his cloak
"One week" Minwu spoke clearly, even though he was supposed to be looking away. "For Vincent at least"
"What about for me?" Vanille turned, pouting, "And aren't you supposed to e leaving us alone?"
"Sorry, I thought you'd want an answer. I won't tell you how long it will be for you, but for Vincent, I will bring you to his world, when I can, in one week"
With that, Minwu lifted his hands, and as he brought them down, Vincent and Vanille were transported to a swirling cocoon of Lifestream. "For a little privacy" Minwu's amused voice sounded.
Vincent and Vanille stood there, wrapped in each others arms for what seemed like an eternity.
"Monsters together" Vincent murmured, kissing her hair again
"You're no monster" Vanille shook her head quickly, peering up at Vincent.
"Don't start that again" he smiled a little, pale skin almost gleaming in the light of the Lifestream.
"Then stop saying it" she kissed his lips lightly.
"Oh Vanille" he sighed, bringing his lips down to hers in a passionate kiss.
"I wish I could see you again" Vincent whispered, voice muffled by her hair.
"You will" Vanille spoke between sobs, "In a week. I hope"
As she said those words, the Lifestream swirled around them. Vanille was deposited, kneeling, crying, on the fields of Oerba. She was alone, Vincent in his world. For the first time in Vincent's life, a lone tear was falling down his normally resolute pale face.
"You'll see each other again" Minwu murmured, looking over the group in Oerba. "And now Aeris is with Zack. In a week, you should al be happy" Minwu stepped back, as if to leave, before freezing.
"Wait" he touched the back of Vanille's neck and, as if performing some parlour trick, scooped a sphere out of her.
"What's that?" she tilted her head, looking up, trying to disguise her tears.
"The materia" Minwu said, juggling the star filled orb, "Aeris's. It doesn't belong in this world" almost imperceptibly, Vanille could've sworn he winked at her.
"Why a week?" she asked, hoping to distract herself with the questions.
"I suppose you can't tell him now. If you must know, in a week GeoStigma will be cured"
"That's good" Vanille nodded, before falling back down to the flowering field. Tears fell out of her eyes, moist drops onto the fresh new grass.
"There's a lesson to be learnt" Minwu knelt down next to her, resting a comforting hand on her back. "Never" he spoke, before vanishing into the Lifestream, "Never give up hope."