Ch 13

With Aerith dead, the trio are not too far away from accomplishing their mission. First, part of Sephiroth's and Cloud's pasts comes back to in the form of old friends...

My friend

Cloud couldn't believe it.

If this was a dream, please don't wake him up! But, Jenova told him not too long ago that Aerith had been successfully killed, therefore stopping Holy from being summoned when called for and sealing the Planet's fate.

Seeing the shocked look on Cloud's face, Vincent quickly came to his side. "What happened?" he asked.

"Vincent... he... he did it," Cloud replied after a moment of tense silence.

Now it was Vincent's turn to be shocked. The Ancient was dead? "Then... that means..." he trailed off as a grin slowly spread across Cloud's lips.

"We... we did it!" he exclaimed, throwing his arms around the gunslinger in a happy embrace.

He was caught off guard for a brief second before returning the hug. He, too, was happy. He finally was getting a chance at a new life. Already, he could feel the burden he had been carrying starting to slow lift off his shoulders. Inside, Chaos and his other demons were roaring in triumph. Tears of joy flowed down from Cloud's eyes as the news truly sunk in.

His deepest desire was coming true; now, he and Sephiroth will never be seperated again! His revenge was almost complete! Vincent's head snapped towards the door upon hearing someone coming in. Breaking from the embrace, the two turned to see Sephiroth dusting off the snow from his shoulders and some from his hair.

"SEPH!" he heard Cloud shout.

Looking up, all the ex-General saw was a blur of blond before he found himself being tackled to the ground, enveloped in a tight glomp. They found themselves laughing with happiness as Sephiroth hugged him back, knowing why he was like this. He knew that Mother had told him the news. Other than that, Cloud was acting like the innocent, young Cadet he knew back in SOLDIER.

'That's good. He can forget all that troubled him in the past. This is why I fell in love with him in the first place,' he thought as he held Cloud in his arms.

Vincent gave a soft smile as this sight. He wouldn't admit it, but he found it quite amusing to see the blond acting like a teenager that was head-over-heels in love. The two broke apart and both got to their feet before Cloud hugged him again, this time more gently.

"All we need to do now is head up to the Crater. AVALANCHE will soon be coming" Sephiroth then scoffed. "They think they can avenge the fallen Ancient. I say let them come," Sephiroth smirked as he looked at the two.

Cloud sighed. "We tried to warn them what would happen. At least... I did. Now..." he looked up in determination. "Looks like we have no other choice." He looked over to his blades propped against the wall near the door. "We're going have to show them the hard way," he said, clenching his hands into fists.

Sephiroth nodded slowly. "We should get going. They're heading this direction soon," he said.

Heading back outside, the snow had stopped, much to Cloud's relief. He felt a hand slip through his own and being slowly lifted off his feet. Sephiroth was now hovering several yards off the ground while Vincent covered himself in his cape once again and was already flying away. The two lovers smiled at each other as they followed the gunslinger's ghostly form. The icy air bit at Cloud's face, forcing him to shut his eyes.

Mother, we're heading for the Crater. AVALANCHE will soon be heading this way as well.

Very well, my son. I'll take care of them when they do come.

Sephiroth cut off the connection. Getting up beside Vincent's form, he suddenly saw crimson light emerging from within. He knew Chaos would soon be making his appearance by light's growing glow. Cloud managed to crack his eyes open and they widened as the deity of death seconds later was free from the confines of Vincent. Its crimson and black aura left behind a brief tail as it flew. Sephiroth smirked at the demon and in turn, got a feral grin, revealing his sharp canines. Sephiroth looked towards the upcoming destination that was a couple of miles away.

"We'll be there soon enough. Soon, the Planet will be ours!" Sephiroth proclaimed, earning a roar of approval from Chaos and a cheer from Cloud.

They came to the Crater and the trio hovered miles over it. Cloud stared in awe at the huge hole as he saw wisps of the Lifestream whipping in and out of cracks in the hard earth.

"The place where Jenova landed... her life force is very strong here," said Chaos, looking over to the silvered haired warrior, who nodded in reply.

"And this is where Mother will prepare your bodies for the Final Ascension. Once that's done, we will be ready. As for AVALANCHE..." Sephiroth suddenly laughed. "They'll be nothing but dust once we're finished with them!"

They descended into the Crater and upon closer inspection, Cloud saw black cladded men slowly making their way to the center. Sephiroth took notice of his look and explained. "They are Mother's servants that are called here. All those who shared her cells come here for the Reunion."

"Reunion...?" Cloud asked.

"Yes, Cloud. But, our Reunion will be special. When this is over, they will be of no more use to us. They are just mere puppets," Sephiroth nodded.

Though it sounded cruel, Cloud knew that this was part of his lover's plan for the future. The result was going to be worth it in the end, no doubt about it. They haven't come this far for nothing. Touching down, they walked deeper into the Crater. The wind howled against their ears and once in awhile, bolts of lightning would strike the ground, startling the blond. Nearing the center, Cloud heard something that only his ears picked up.

Cloud...

He suddenly froze, eyes going wide in recognization. That voice...!

My dear Cloud...

"... Mom?"

The other two stopped upon hearing Cloud stop. Seeing him shake, Sephiroth and Vincent immediately went to his side.

"Mom? Is that you! Where are you!" he called out to the winds surrounding them.

"Cloud? What's wrong?" Sephiroth asked.

Cloud... I am here, my sweet boy...

"Sephiroth, it's my mom! She's calling me! She's here!" Cloud exclaimed, tears brimming his eyes.

"We don't hear anything, Cloud," Vincent shook his head.

Cloud... it's alright, my dear. Find me.

"Mom? Where are you!" Cloud called out again before tearing away from the two and ran ahead.

"Cloud, wait!" Sephiroth called after him, the two running after him.

Dodging a green wind wave, the blond ran towards his mother's voice, beckoning him like a siren's song. Excitement beat within his chest. How he missed his mother! How missed hearing her!

Oh Cloud... you've grown up so much.

"Mom!" Cloud cried out, tears flying behind him.

Cloud, stop! The Planet is playing a trick on you!

The blond stopped as Jenova spoke to him. What! Then, Mom isn't...

No! The Planet wanted to seperate us, so they won't allow us to finish our plan! You need to get back to Sephiroth and Vincent!

Cloud nodded and before he could go, a bolt of lightning struck near him, stopping his progress. Unsheathing his blade, he looked around, alert for any monsters that may spring out of nowhere. Now, he was REALLY pissed off with the Planet. Not only did it seperate him and Sephiroth for five years, but it dared impersonate his mother! He cursed at it under his breath as he continued to look around. Suddenly, he instinctively ducked as a Sonic Speed zoomed over him.

"Ok, that's it! I'm sick and tired of this crap! You impersonating my mother was the last straw! I tried to forgive you for what's happened to me, but it seems that Sephiroth was right. This place is better off being destroyed! Listen and listen well! There's nothing you can do to tear us apart!" then, he screamed out to the heavens "I WON'T LET YOU GET AWAY WITH ANYTHING ANYMORE!"

As the monster bird came back around, Cloud's aura was glowing Mako as his eyes burned brightly, signaling his final Limit Break. He gripped Ragnorok in one hand while having the Buster Sword in the other and jumped at the Sonic Speed.

"I'm breaking my limit! OMNISLASH!" he shouted as he began a repeated chain of sword slashes.

The bird screeched out in agony with every strike that connected. Finally, Cloud jumped higher and with both swords glowing with raw energy, he thrusted them into the torso, ending the bird's life. Both fell to the ground, but the angry blond landed on his feet while the corpse fell into the endless abyss below. Panting heavily, he sheathed both swords and clenched his fists.

"I've had just about enough with this place. To think, I actually loved this Planet," he muttered angrily.

"Cloud!" The blond snapped up as he saw Sephiroth and Chaos hurrying over to him.

A relieved smile was on the face of the ex-General as the two lovers tightly embraced. "I heard you screaming and I feared the worst. What about-" Sephiroth started to ask.

"It was a lie. The Planet used the memory of my mother to lure me away from you. It hoped to seperate us so it could get rid of you," Cloud shook his head.

Sephiroth hugged him again. "... I'm sorry, Cloud. I know how much she meant to you. Now we know that the Planet will try anything to stop us from accomplishing our goal. We better keep going," he said before kissing his forehead.

Cloud and Chaos nodded before going on ahead at a run while Chaos flew above them. The winds whipped around them, forcing Cloud to shield his eyes from the blasts. Fortunately, Sephiroth was at his side to keep him from being blown away. Giving a quick nod of thanks to him, Cloud slowly got in front of the silver haired warrior while using his arms to shield himself further. Suddenly, they heard two strange voices around them, but this time, it didn't sound like it was coming from the Planet.

At last... you have come.

We have been waiting for you for the longest time.

"Wha... who's there?" Sephiroth called out.

There's no need fear... Sephiroth.

The silver ex-General's breath hitched. It knew who he was! "How... how do you know my name? Has the Planet told you?" he asked into the now gentle wind.

A deep chuckle was the reply. No. I've known you for a long while, but it seems your memory of me has blurred me to reintroduce myself.

The first figure with the deep voice stepped from the greenish haze. An elongated dragon of mako green scales and silver hue colored mane that stretched down its long back appeared before the three warriors. The dragon seemed to be fifteen feet in length and ten feet in height. Its eyes were a piercing turquoise as his locked onto Sephiroth's wide orbs. Suddenly, memories came flashing back to him that went back to when he was General in SOLDIER.

Flashback

Sephiroth, who just became General five days ago, sat under a tree on the training field, a novel in his hand. His eyes were reading the next paragraph when he heard a mighty, yet pained roar from the skies above. Slightly startled, he quickly got to his feet, book forgotten and looked up just in time to see a dragon fly down into the Training Forest. But, as he saw it go down, he saw many gashes and cuts along its body. A loud crash was heard seconds later and Sephiroth rushed in that direction. Wrenching open the entrance gate, he tore down the dirt path and went deep into the forest.

"That dragon must've been in a rough fight with another of its kind," he said to himself as he leaped over the river in one mighty jump.

Arriving at the crash site, which was indicated by lots of fallen tree branches and a big, yet shallow crater, he saw the dragon curled up in a heap. Its breaths came out hard and ragged, pained whimpers in between. Shock and awe filled the General as he cautiously got closer, never taking his eyes off the grand beast. Hearing footsteps coming close, the dragon snapped its head up, letting out a threatening hiss. Sephiroth stopped brieflyand raised his eyes in a calming manner.

"Easy. I'm not here to hurt you. Calm down," he spoke softly as he slowly went closer.

The dragon scrutinized Sephiroth for a moment before with a pained whine, fell back down. Sephiroth looked him over for a moment while reaching for a Master Cure materia. Indeed, there were many gashes and cuts along it, many of them bleeding heavily.

"I've got to stop this bleeding or it's going to die," he muttered before kneeling next to its head.

The dragon managed to look up again and saw a soft smile on the silver haired SOLDIER's face. "It's going to be okay. I'm going to help you, so relax, alright?" he soothed it, daring to stroke its head.

It accepted the touch and closed its eyes, as if telling to proceed. Sephiroth nodded and shut his own eyes, tapping into the materia's power. Placing his equipped hand over it, he muttered "Curaga". Sparks of light danced around the dragon's injured body as most of the wounds began to heal and stitch back together.

Reopening his eyes after cancelling the spell, he looked the dragon over again; the only things left were minor cuts, which should heal within a day or two. The dragon cooed at him and nuzzled his head as a thank you. Sephiroth only chuckled as he stroked its mane. "I'll be back later. I'll try and bring something to eat," he said before raising to his feet.

True to his promise, later that night after dinner, Sephiroth snuck away to the forest, a basket filled with food in his hand. Making sure no one was watching him, he opened the gate and stole away into the dark forest. He found the dragon happily curled in the same spot where Sephiroth first found him.

"Hey there. You feeling any better?" he asked as he sat next to it.

The dragon nodded and Sephiroth's eyes widened, looking bewildered. "You... you understand me?" he gasped.

It nodded again, smiling in his eyes. Sephiroth let out a chuckle. "It looked like you got into a fight. Is that what happened to you?" he asked.

The dragon nodded again, this time sadly. Sephiroth got a sympathetic look as he stroked its muzzle before smiling again. "Well... you're safe now. Come on, you better before it gets cold," he said before pulling away the small blanket to reveal several large pieces of steak and chicken.

It licked its hungrily as it took out the first steak and swallowed it in one bite, licking up any remains from his face. Sephiroth, too, decided to eat as he took out a chicken leg and napkin and bit down into the meat. They ate in silence for awhile until the basket was empty. Rubbing its head, the General got to his feet. "I have to go. I'll be back tomorrow. Right now, you should find a safe place so my SOLDIERs don't find you, ok?" he said.

The dragon nodded in understanding. However, Sephiroth seemed to think for a moment. "Well, I don't suppose you have a name, do you?" he asked.

To his surprise, it nodded and shocking Sephiroth for the second time, its voice filled his mind.

"My name is Silverus Okam. In the language of my kind, it means "Silver Mako."

Sephiroth grinned. "Nice to meet you. My name is Sephiroth."

End Flashback

"Now I remember. You were... the dragon I saved," Sephiroth breathed as he went towards Silverus.

Silverus nodded, its eyes smiling. "And after all these years... you have changed. When I heard of your death, I mourned for you. You were my first true friend. Back then, humans sought us for our hides or just for sport. Now, my heart rejoices seeing you alive," he said aloud.

Sephiroth smiled as he ran towards Silverus and threw his arms around his neck. Silverus nuzzled him in return. For the first time, tears flowed from the silver haired ex-General's eyes. "I'm so sorry I've forgotten you... my friend," he whispered through his tears.

"I forgive you, Sephiroth," he said soothingly, wrapping his wings around him for comfort.

After a moment, Sephiroth released Silverus and turned to his allies. "Cloud, Chaos, this is Silverus. We met when he crashed into the Training Forest when I just became General. He was really hurt, so I helped him the best I could," he said, stroking Silverus's mane.

"My name is Cloud Strife and I have a question for you," the blond said.

"Go ahead," the dragon nodded.

"Do you know of a winged wolf name Arrna Rekozu?" he asked.

The dragon let out a deep chuckle. "You must be the one Arrna mentioned," he said.

Cloud gasped. "Really?" he exclaimed, excitement building in him.

He met Arrna when he was only a kid. The neighborhood bullies chased him into the mountains one day. He cowered in a cave, completely terrified of his pursuers and became more scared when they finally found him moments after he ran out of Nibelheim. Just when they were about to beat him up, this silver and blond humanoid wolf came to his rescue.

Flashback

"I told you not to go near Tifa, didn't I, shrimp? Now, it's time to pay up," said the leader, cracking his knuckles.

"No! Please leave me alone!" little Cloud cried out, tears of fright in his innocent blue eyes.

The other bullies just laughed as they slowly advanced on him. Suddenly, a loud and commanding roar sounded through the cave, stopping the bullies dead in their tracks as they looked around for the source.

"Let's get out of here, Toby! Monsters are coming!" said one bully before turning tail and ran out of the cave, the rest following, leaving only Toby and Cloud, who was shaking like a leaf.

Toby hesitated for a moment before, too, running out of the cave. "You're monster bait anyway, Strife!" he called over his shoulder.

Cloud didn't move in fear of giving himself away to the creature that may be watching him. Then, a tall, muscular figure stepped from the shadows. His eyes were feral-yellow with slitted irises.

"Please... please don't eat me," Cloud whimpered.

The figure let out a laugh. This laugh wasn't evil; it was comforting. "Now, why would I eat you, little one? I may be a wolf, but humans are not my diet," it said.

As it stepped into the light, Cloud saw the figure was indeed a wolf, but it had two white angelic wings coming from its back. It stood over seven feet tall and its body fur was silver, but on the top of its head, he had blond streaks. What surprised him was that this particular wolf was standing on its hind legs and had a sword tied to its side.

"My name is Arrna Rekozu," he said in a soft voice as he knelt in front of Cloud.

Seeing that the wolf meant no harm, Cloud stood to his feet and wiped his tears. "My name is Cloud. Thank you for helping me," he said.

Arrna nodded as he stood to his feet and picked up the young child. Cloud curled himself into his furry chest, immediately feeling safe. Arrna gently stroked his hair. "It's alright, young Cloud. You're safe now," he said soothingly.

The warmth of Arrna's fur and him stroking his hair was enough to lull the little boy to sleep.

End Flashback

Cloud was snapped out of his memories as he heard soft footsteps. Looking up, there stood Arrna. Cloud couldn't believe it; it was really him! "Arrna...?" he gasped.

The wolf smiled. "Hello, Cloud. It's been a long time, old friend. You've really grown over the years," he said.

Cloud could only nod. Arrna looked about a foot taller than he last remembered. The wolf ruffled the ex-SOLDIER's blond spikes, who let out a soft laugh in reply before embracing him. The wolf wrapped his wings around him in return. "It is good to see you again, young one," he said.

"You, too. But, what happened to you? I never saw you again after I left Nibelheim," Cloud asked.

"... I've been watching over you ever since you joined Sephiroth. I knew you didn't remember, but I never once left your side. I was waiting for the day when we could be reunited. I met Silverus and together, we decided to follow you three. Although I find your desire quite questionable" at this, Cloud flinched slightly. "I will stand by your side, nonetheless. You two were the first to befriend both of us, although we are of different species," Arrna said.

Both lovers grinned. Watching this reunion from within Chaos was Vincent. Inside, he was smiling at the sight.

My sons! AVALANCHE is here! came Jenova's voice.

Sephiroth gritted his teeth in anger. "I've had with them," he growled.

Silverus sensed his friend's anger. "I take it that you have pursuers," he said.

The silver haired man nodded. "They are called AVALANCHE. They want to stop us from completing our mission. We have to stop them once and for all," he replied with a determined glare.

Hearing the approaching group, Cloud laid a hand on Ragnorok. "Sephiroth, Vincent, listen to me. You guys need to get going. You need to look after the Black Materia. Arrna and I will hold them off," he said, unsheathing his sword.

"No, Cloud! We go together-" Sephiroth started to argue.

"SEPHIROTH!" Sephiroth recoiled from the blond's shout. "You've been looking after me ever since we first started this journey. Now, it's my turn to look after you." He briefly turned to the silver dragon. "Look after Sephiroth... please?"

Silverus nodded. "I will, warrior," he said.

Sephiroth looked ready to argue again, but Silverus's tail wrapped around him and placed him on his back. With that, Silverus and Chaos took off towards the center of the Crater. The ex-General looked back helplessly as they flew away. Yet, he managed shout to him "YOU BETTER BE BEHIND US WHEN WE GET THERE!"

He wouldn't see it, but Cloud gave him a smirk in return before turning back to the task at hand; slowing down AVALANCHE. "Ready, Arrna?" he asked.

The white wolf unsheathed his blade. "I'm right behind you, Cloud."

AN: Arrna and Silverus belong to Rose Mistress, who has some awesome stories! Check out her profile sometime!