Lightning had never run so fast in her life. Not when she had seen Serah lying on the cold carved floor of the Pulse Vestige that had housed Anima. Not when she had literally fought for her life and those of her ragtag family against a being infinitely stronger than her.

But now someone had Fang.

Her Fang

Someone was going to pay.

Beside her, Sacrifice was barely able to keep up despite the fact that she was able to float along. "Lightning! Slow down!" She cried, silently cursing the fact her heavy armour was slowing her down.

Lightning didn't hear her, or just ignored her companion. Instead she was focused on the pounding of her boots on the uneven pathway that made up this twisted realm. A snarl was affixed to her face as the Beast rose within her.

The Beast. The name she had given to the primal urge inside her that drove her to fight and fight. That howling voice in the back of her mind that forced her to hit and hit long after the life had bled out of her victim. It had to be reined in, chained until she was ready to release its fury on the world. And now it pulled at the chains that held it back, bashing itself at the mental wall she maintained. Lightning both loved and feared the Beast. It alone gave her the strength to protect Serah. It alone forced her to keep moving long after even Fang had given up. It was the pain. The anger. The bloodlust. It was the Beast.

\Memories of a Dream/

"Who are you?" Fang repeated, pulling at her bindings. Her emerald eyes were narrowed at the imposter that stood before her.

It looked like Lightning. It sounded like Lightning. It moved like Lightning.

But it wasn't Lightning. It was too old, too decrepit to be the woman she loved. "Tell me!" She screamed. That voice had been the last thing many Cocoon soldiers had heard, bellowing wordless promises of pain and agony at her hand. It made Platoons tremble and Behemoths cower, but the imposter didn't even flinch.

"I'm so sorry." Came the whispered reply. "I didn't mean for it to be this way."

\Memories of a Dream/

Silence. That was the first thing Snow noticed. There was no noise beside him. No deep intake of slumberous breath, nor the quick bursts of a nightmare. Gently he rolled over onto his side, careful in case Serah was there. He didn't want to crush her under the immense bulk of his frame.

That side of the bed had been carefully remade, the duvet pulled up tightly and the pillows plumped and placed on top.

Snow swung his legs out from under the pale pink covers, his feet resting in the warm, thick carpet. He was thankful that they had been able to salvage so much from Cocoon for use down here on Pulse, otherwise they wouldn't have anything that could be called 'civilised'. Pulling his mind from the uncharacteristic thoughtfulness, he slid out of the bed and picked up a discarded t-shirt from the floor and slipped it on. Moments later he was slinking down the stairs, careful to avoid the squeaky seventh one down. The stairs took him down to the hall facing the door. On his left was the door to the kitchen. On the right was the living room. If he were to turn around he would be able to see the cupboard under the stairs and the downstairs bathroom.

Slight sounds could be heard from the living room. Snow laid his massive paw-like hand on the polished wood of the door and pressed. Quickly he stuck his head inside, scraggy blonde hair falling into his face.

Inside Serah was curled up on the sofa, sleepless cerulean eyes staring at the rain splattered window. Snow sighed and stepped inside. This was the fifth night in a row he had found her like this, unfocused eyes peering out into the blackness. "Serah? Honey?"

She didn't make any indication that she had heard him, except for a single blink. He crouched next to her and took her hand in his own. "Serah, please come up to bed."

He heard a little snort that sounded similar to a quiet 'no'. He steeled himself and sat down next to her, childlike hand clutched in his own paw. He knew about this, a childhood habit to wait up for her sister. He couldn't get Lightning home any sooner, but he could do this. He pulled Serah to his chest, smiling as she snuggled up to him. He slowly ran his fingers through her candyfloss hair, marvelling at the unique colour. Seconds later, his smile widened at the soft snoring that was emanating from his wife.

\Memories of a Dream/

Fang shivered when the cool blade was placed against her skin, but she refused to show any fear. She was a Yun warrior. She would not dishonour her clan by showing weakness. The knife glinted in the meagre light as it ran down her skin, bringing up goose pimples where it touched. It came to rest near the bindings that held her down.

A tear rolled down her cheek, but it was not her own. Another tear fell from her captor's cerulean eyes and hit Fang's cheek. "I never meant for it to be this way Fang. I'm sorry I had to do this."

Fang's captor shifted the knife and Fang gasped as the honed blade drew blood from her wrist.

\Memories of a Dream/

Lightning willed herself to go faster, ignoring the burning of her limbs. Sacrifice had pointed out the correct portal to her and she had dived through with no hesitation. Not she was running through row upon row of carefully arranged stones. They stretched as far as the eye could see, little grey thumbs poking out of the ground. At the edge of her vision had been a cathedral like building, ruined with age. It was much closer now; she could see lights flickering in the grimy stained glass window.

With practiced ease she stepped onto one of the stones, using it as a step to launch herself into the air. Her other foot connected with a leafless tree, the bark cracking under her weight. She pushed herself upwards, soaring towards the top of the tree. The Beast roared in her head and she kicked at the trunk with both feet, cracking the brittle tree down the middle. Twisting in the air, her steel soled boots smashed through the stained glass. That had all happened in a second.

Instinct kicked in and she rolled to lessen the impact. Her boots crushed the glass underfoot as she pounced, drawing her gunblade and sliding it between the ribs of the woman stood with a knife to her Fang in one movement. Her arm ripped back and she stabbed again and again, the Beast calling for blood.

The blood rage subsided when Fang grabbed her arm and heaved her off the lifeless corpse. "Lightning! What in the name of Etro is wrong with you?"

The soldier looked around the chapel. A stone table sat in the centre of the room with four leather straps, one in each corner, upon it. One had been sliced open, by the woman, the others had been unbuckled. Quivering, she wrapped her arms around Fang suddenly, noticing the small cut on the inside of Fang's wrist. "Fang." She murmured into the taller woman's shoulder. "I thought I lost you."

"You ain't getting rid of me that easy, Sunshine."

"I woke up and you weren't there and I was scared and I had to find you and I thought you were hurt an…" A long finger was placed on Lightning's lips, silencing her abruptly.

"I'm here, Light. I'm here." They slumped to the floor, managing to avoid any blood or glass, still holding each other. Fang held Lightning tightly when the Cocoonian started to rack with sobs.

\Memories of a Dream/



Yes. I've been gone a while. But I'm back. I could demean you, my loyal readers, by giving you excuses…BUT NO! I respect you too much and so am just going to say sorry for keeping you waiting and we will just move on.

I'm sure there were some reviews I should be replying to, but I'll do it in the next chapter.

Well, that's it.

There's nothing else to see here.

Read the next chapter.


PS. Read Tainted fal'Cie by Tear of Light. A very good read, even if you haven't read the prequel. Plus she's an awesome person. So go read that as well.