Author's Note: An update? Yes! I am sorry for the huge delay on this. There is a note regarding the reason behind the delay in my profile, if you haven't already seen it. I will finish this story, I promise. Thank you for all the signed reviews and anonymous reviews, in particular the Guest reviewer on 8/18/2012 who left a family review. Your review made me smile and I'm glad you and your sisters are enjoying this story. Yay to family bonding over Sephti! :) All the reviews and support mean a lot, so thank you!
Thank you, as always, to my beta, Sephiroth Owa_13. She got this update edited and returned in 24 hours, so she is my hero!
Disclaimer: Square Enix owns Final Fantasy VII and all its characters (damn). I just play with them every now and then! :D
Chapter 44: Reunion
Professor Strahm was gone, and Sephiroth was finally alone. He had to find a way of bringing Zack to him and to do that he needed to concentrate on the task at hand.
It was a tricky situation. If Sephiroth requested Zack's presence, Vincent would probably find out and that would make Chaos even more suspicious than he already was. No, he had to find a different way to bring Zack to him.
Sephiroth leaned against his pillows and closed his eyes, contemplating his options when he remembered his clones. They had entered his mind and communicated with him through telepathy. He could now hear everyone's thoughts. Maybe he could communicate with Zack the same way?
While Sephiroth wondered how to wield that power, his mind instinctively began to seek out Zack's thoughts. Once he had latched onto them, he began to focus on reaching out to Zack mentally, planting a subtle desire to come to him amongst Zack's thoughts of boredom.
Sephiroth didn't know how he was doing it. It was almost as if his mind was following a basic instinct, a knowledge he had long forgotten.
Sephiroth's lips curled into a small smile. He had found a way to reach out to Zack. All he had to do was influence his thoughts and draw Zack to him.
Zack was trying to pay attention, he really was! But listening to Angeal, Genesis, Tseng, Rufus, and Vincent planning another return to Nibelheim was boring! He had too much nervous energy. If they wanted to stop ShinRa, they should bring the fight to Midgar. They should go right up to the front door, knock, and kick ShinRa's ass.
But, oh no, they had to plan every last detail. And return to Nibelheim? What was up with that? ShinRa had probably cleared out the basement after Vincent had broken him and Cloud out of there. Returning was a waste of time.
What I should be doing is talking to Sephiroth. He would know what to do. Making these plans is wrong without getting his input. He should be here. He…
His thoughts trailed off, his mind made up. If no one here was going to seek out Sephiroth's guidance, then he would.
Sephiroth opened his eyes when the door to his room opened and closed. He smiled at Zack. "Come in."
Zack stepped further into the room and sat in the chair beside Sephiroth. "Hey."
Sephiroth could feel Zack's conflicting thoughts. The Reunion instinct hadn't been fully activated yet. Sephiroth would have to tread very carefully with his manipulations. If he pushed too hard, too fast, it was possible that Zack would become aware of his presence in his mind. Instead of overtly planting thoughts and desires in Zack's mind, he was going to have to make Zack think Sephiroth's will and desires were actually his.
"You seem unhappy, Zack."
Zack looked at him and smiled, but it was obviously a forced smile. "Unhappy? How can I be unhappy? You're finally awake and looking better by the minute! Tifa's relieved, and so are the rest of us. You gave us all quite a scare, Sephiroth."
Sephiroth tilted his head to the side. "Zack, you're rambling. What's wrong?"
Zack sighed and shrugged. "I don't know. Everyone's making plans to, finally, take down ShinRa, but…"
"It's taking too damn long. We've been fighting them for two years. We finally have them on the run. Why aren't we taking this fight right to their front door? All this planning, all this 'we have to go back to Nibelheim' stuff is a waste of time."
Sephiroth frowned. "They're still planning to go back to Nibelheim?"
Zack nodded. "Yeah. Look, I know they want to help you with this 'Reunion' stuff, but you look fine to me."
"I am fine. If I survived Hojo all these years, I can certainly survive his mistake – and that's what this is, Zack. Hojo made an error in his experiments during my gestation, and everyone is overreacting."
Zack looked at Sephiroth for a few moments and nodded slowly. "That's why they should be including you in their plans. We need you."
Sephiroth shrugged, feigning resignation. "They're just trying to protect me, and you know how Angeal can be when he feels protective."
Zack smiled and nodded. "Oh, yeah, I know how he can be!" He chuckled softly, but it faded, as did his smile. "I just hate not having a voice. Angeal doesn't see the growing I did after he died; he doesn't see all the changes I've gone through. And Genesis still just sees me as a hyperactive puppy, not a SOLDIER 1st Class, like him. Even after fighting by his side for two years, he still doesn't take me seriously..." His voice trailed off before looking up at Sephiroth. "Not like you do."
It was perfect. Because of his poking around in Zack's mind, his thoughts and feelings were in turmoil, making it easier to manipulate him into giving Sephiroth what he wanted. Sephiroth schooled his features into a carefully crafted mask of understanding.
"I take you seriously, Zack. You served under me with the utmost competence and I know you can handle any mission you set your sights on." Sephiroth paused before going in for the kill, so to speak. "In fact, I need you to do something for me."
Zack perked up slightly. "Really?"
Sephiroth nodded. "I think it's best that we have a solid plan of attack prepared to use against ShinRa. If Angeal and Genesis think this mission to Nibelheim needs their attention, then I won't question their decision. However, that doesn't mean we can't make plans for our move against ShinRa, in the meantime."
Zack nodded in agreement. He shifted in his seat, clearly trying to remain as calm as possible in an effort to avoid looking like the energetic puppy he was often compared to. "Do you have a plan?
Sephiroth nodded. "When the clones confronted us in Junon, they were trying to help me."
Zack frowned and shook his head. "Help you? They have a weird way of 'helping'."
"Come now, Zack," Sephiroth chided lightly. "You know as well as I do that dissidents within Shinra can't openly oppose them. They have to follow orders…or at least look like they're following orders."
Zack still looked skeptical. "Okay, so what did they say to make you think they want to help you, not kill you?"
"They said that a weapon exists on Gaia, so powerful that we can destroy ShinRa." Sephiroth focused on listening to Zack's emotions and was hopeful when he felt a spark of interest in him at the mention of the weapon his clones had mentioned. "But it was a weapon created by the Ancients. Without knowing what it is, I can't be sure if it will suit our needs."
"Simple! Just go to Cosmo Canyon! They study the planet there, so they're bound to have the information you need, Sephiroth!"
Sephiroth shook his head. "Cosmo Canyon is to open to everyone wishing to study the planet, Zack. ShinRa could have spies there. If the clones know about this weapon, it's most likely they heard it from someone at ShinRa, possibly even Hollander. If ShinRa knows about the weapon and think we may attempt to find it, they'll be waiting in Cosmo Canyon for us."
Zack's face fell and he nodded. "Damn. You're right. So, what other choice do we have? Where else can we get this information?"
Sephiroth could feel Zack's desperation rolling off his body in waves. When he concentrated on finding his way into Zack's mind, he could feel the turmoil had become a desire to please Sephiroth. He was no longer feeling the pull of trusting Angeal. He was ready to hand his complete trust over to Sephiroth. He was beginning to see Sephiroth as ultimate answer to any questions; ready to submit to his will and the power of the Jenova cells slowly coming to life within him once more. Now was the perfect time.
"Aerith is an Ancient." Sephiroth kept his voice calm. "She would know what the clones were talking about. Find out everything you can from her about this weapon and then report back to me. Once we have all the information we need, we can finally include Angeal and Genesis in our plans for our next move against ShinRa."
Zack nodded and got to his feet. "I'll talk to Aerith and see what she can tell me about this weapon. I'm sure she'll want to help us any way she can."
Sephiroth's lips curled up into a smirk when he watched Zack walk toward the door. He waited until Zack's hand was on the door handle before speaking again. "I trust you'll understand when I say it's important for this to stay between us for now?"
Zack turned and smiled at him, giving him a lazy salute and easy smile. "You got it, Seph."
"Vincent? Did you hear what we said?"
Vincent looked at Genesis. "I agree with you. An infiltration of the Shinra Mansion at night is the best course of action. It will give us the cover we'll need."
Vincent had been listening, but he hadn't just been hearing Angeal and Genesis, he'd also heard Chaos…and his warnings of doom.
Angeal looked at Tseng and Rufus. "Why don't you two get ready to head out? We'll meet you at the helicopter."
Tseng nodded. "We'll gather our supplies and have Reno prepared with any layouts and security information he can find on the mansion."
Angeal nodded and watched them leave. Once the door closed behind them, he turned and looked at Vincent. "Something's troubling you."
Vincent sighed. "I think we have a problem"
Genesis smiled wryly. "I think that's rather obvious, don't you?"
"Sephiroth is losing himself."
Genesis immediately became serious. "He seemed like himself when we saw him."
Vincent nodded. "He did, but Chaos can see more than we can."
Angeal frowned. "What's he saying to you, Vincent?"
"Evil lives within Sephiroth. Jenova is dead, but through her cells, within a living host, she will never truly die," Vincent said, quoting Chaos' exact wording. "She is an ancient evil that destroys worlds by infecting people with her cells. Through these victims she destroys all life but for her Chosen One. The Chosen One is meant to travel to the next suitable world and start the cycle again. As long as one person receives her cells, it doesn't matter if The Chosen One dies. A new Chosen One will arise from the infected and continue Jenova's path."
Angeal looked at Genesis. "Don't start – "
"Angeal, I refuse to think Sephiroth is already lost to that monster's legacy." Genesis began pacing. "It's bullshit to think that the Goddess gave us back our lives only to claim the life of our friend who suffered at our hands! Surely there's a way for us to save Sephiroth."
Vincent shrugged. "Her cells need to be neutralized, but there really is no reliable way to do that. Both Hollander and Hojo failed to find a way to nullify her cells to end your degradation, Genesis. The only thing that saved you was the Goddess intervening and healing you."
"Maybe the Goddess will show Sephiroth the same mercy she showed Angeal and I?"
Angeal shook his head. "For the Goddess to intervene again, we'll have to kill Sephiroth."
"And there is no guarantee she will choose to show Sephiroth the same mercy she showed you, Genesis," Vincent pointed out.
Genesis scoffed. "Why the hell would she save me and not Sephiroth?"
Vincent shrugged. "The Goddess' duty is to protect the planet and you are her chosen protector, Genesis. With the Jenova cells infecting Sephiroth, she may see him as a threat to her planet best disposed of, not saved."
"But – "
"And you won't be there to plead his case to her, like you were when you asked her to give me back my life instead of returning your life to you, Gen," Angeal added. "It's too risky to kill Sephiroth and hope that the Goddess will save him.
"Sephiroth is running out of time," Vincent said. "He is losing more of himself every minute. And there's more."
Angeal arched an eyebrow. "More?"
"Sephiroth's request to speak with Miss Gainsborough."
Genesis nodded. "And you said no."
Vincent looked between the two men, debating if he could trust them not to confront Sephiroth on their own. After a small internal debate he decided that they were probably the two people he could trust most with his son's future. "I said no because Chaos could sense a dark purpose behind his request to see her."
Angeal frowned. "Sephiroth would never harm her."
"I sure he wouldn't, but if she possesses a knowledge that he could use to destroy this planet, and if the Jenova cells are overwriting his DNA to seek that end, I'm not sure we can trust him to be near her." Vincent didn't want to think that his son would ever want to see Jenova's will through, but The Reunion had been activated and that meant Sephiroth was vulnerable to thoughts and desires that were not his own. "I think she has something he needs to see Jenova's plans through; or at the very least, knows of something that will give him the power he needs to destroy Gaia."
Angeal paused for a moment before looking at Genesis. "Gen, she is an Ancient. The planet speaks to her, and if it senses the danger Sephiroth may represent, it may communicate with her the location of anything she could use to protect it."
Genesis nodded slowly. "And I'm positive Sephiroth heard my thoughts. Tifa said the younger clone was able to force his way into her mind. If they can do that, it's possible Sephiroth can as well…" His voice trailed off. He shook his head and looked at Angeal. "I hate to say this, Angeal, but Zack's Flower Girl just isn't safe around Sephiroth right now."
Angeal nodded. "We have to get her out of here. Gen, take Vincent to find Aerith. I'm going to find Tseng and arrange a place to keep Aerith until Sephiroth is back to normal."
"If that ever happens," Vincent murmured.
When Angeal and Genesis both stared at him, he met their gazes, and in that moment, they all knew and accepted that it was a very real possibility that Sephiroth was lost to them already.
Zack smiled when Aerith opened the door. "Hi, Aerith."
She smiled brightly. "Zack! I thought you'd be busy making plans to move on Midgar."
She is the key. Find what I need and we can take revenge on this planet.
Zack smiled, a feeling of contentment spread throughout his mind and heart at Sephiroth's words, spoken only for him. "I have a special role to play in our plans, Aerith, but I need your help."
Aerith smiled and stepped aside, letting Zack pass her before shutting the door behind him. "I want to help anyway I can, Zack. Name it."
"ShinRa's got a lot of fancy weapons we don't have," Zack explained. "If we're going to take ShinRa down, once and for all, we have to have something they don't…something SOLDIER and the entire Infantry can't fight and beat, but Wutai just doesn't have that. I mean, their anti-SOLDIER Guardians kick ass, but eventually they fall. We need something big. Didn't your ancestors have something – anything – we could use that ShinRa can't fight?"
When Aerith paled slightly and fidgeted, Zack knew he could fulfill Sephiroth's request.
Aerith shook her head. "Zack, it's too dangerous. No one can wield that kind of power."
"So, there is something." Zack smiled softly. "You can trust me, Aerith. I would never attempt to use an ancient weapon…but Sephiroth could wield it. I know he can."
Aerith wrung her hands slightly. "I know he's the greatest SOLDIER in ShinRa's history, Zack, and his casting really is impressive, but…"
Zack nodded in agreement with Sephiroth's question. "Materia."
Aerith frowned and looked at him closely. "Zack, are you alright?"
Zack nodded. "Of course, Aerith. I just need more information. If we want to stop ShinRa, Sephiroth needs to know all the options."
"The Black Materia is a rare materia – the only one in existence." Aerith dropped to the bed. "With it, a person can summon the ultimate destructive magic: Meteor. It's so powerful that it can be used to destroy the entire planet."
Make her tell you where it is, Zack.
"It sounds like something we can use against ShinRa! Aerith, tell me where it is?"
Aerith got to her feet and paced, clearly agitated with Zack's questions. "I can't do that, Zack. The planet will protect itself. It won't see the difference between the ShinRa's evil intentions and Sephiroth's intentions, no matter how good they may be. If he attempts to use the Black Materia, the planet will summon her protectors."
Zack smiled and waved his hand dismissively. "Angeal and Genesis will know Sephiroth's just trying to save the planet."
She stopped pacing and looked at Zack, shaking her head. "I don't mean Angeal and Genesis, Zack. I mean the WEAPONs."
"The planet's seven WEAPONs were created by the planet when Jenova first came here to fight her, but the Cetra sealed her away and the WEAPONs weren't needed, so they were sealed away in crystallized Mako, in case the planet was ever threatened and needed their protection again." Aerith reached out and grasped Zack's wrist. "If Sephiroth summons Meteor, he'll awaken the WEAPONs and the destruction this planet will suffer as a result won't be worth the good he might achieve. Zack, please don't let him summon Meteor."
I am The Chosen One.
Zack's smile faded, his face devoid of all emotion, his will slipping away. "Sephiroth is The Chosen One."
This Planet is mine and all her children will see me as their God.
"The Planet is Sephiroth's and all her children will see him as their God."
Aerith frowned and backed away from him slowly. "Zack?"
"I always knew Sephiroth had an ego buried all that stuffy love of protocol!"
Zack turned around and saw Genesis and Vincent standing in the doorway, weapons drawn. He put his hands on his hips and grinned. "Sephiroth is our Chosen One and now he has the knowledge we need to stop ShinRa."
Vincent cocked his gun. "We won't let you leave here, Zack. And we won't let Sephiroth leave, either."
Sephiroth threw the covers back. He needed Zack. He couldn't let him face Genesis and Vincent alone. Without hesitation, Sephiroth pulled the sterile, white medical gown from his body. He easily found his clothes and dressed quickly. With Masamune in his hand he opened the door…and came face-to-face with Angeal, Tseng, and Rude.
"Sephiroth, what are you doing up?" Angeal asked.
However, what Angeal was thinking was far more interesting to Sephiroth.
I can only hope you'll forgive me for what I am about to do, my friend.
Sephiroth narrowed his eyes and smiled serenely. "There will be nothing for me to forgive, Angeal. I will not be the one in pain. Unfortunately the ones to bear the pain will be the three of you."
Angeal's face clearly reflected the surprise he had to be feeling. "Sephiroth…?"
Sephiroth flipped Masamune so it pointed toward the ground before holding it in front of himself. It began to glow. "I am The Chosen One."
Angeal, Tseng, and Rude drew their weapons, but it was too late.
Sephiroth unleashed the energy that had gathered in his blade and unleashed it upon the men in front of him, knocking them all to the ground. However, they didn't stay down long.
Angeal shook his head, pushing himself to his feet. "I'm sorry, Sephiroth, I can't let you leave."
Don't worry, Brother, we're here with you.
Without warning, Tseng and Rude were knocked back to the ground by two fireballs from behind them. Tseng shook his head and refused to let the spell keep him down. Shots rang out, and Tseng hit the ground again, this time he didn't get back up. He stayed down.
At the end of the hall, the clone from Junon with the longer hair was lowering his gun. He inclined his head toward Sephiroth.
Angeal lifted his sword in preparation to attack Yazoo, but a bright blur, from the corner of his eye, caught his attention. In an instant the bulky clone was in front of him; the smile that played along his lips bordered on playful, yet sadistic. His hand wrapped around Angeal's throat and squeezed until Angeal finally dropped his sword, raising both of his hands and wrapping his fingers around the clone's wrist in an effort to loosen the grip around his neck.
The clone lifted his left arm and pressed the tips of the weapon on his left arm against Angeal's chest. With a click and a muted blast, Angeal was sent sliding along the floor, unconscious. The clone then turned and faced Sephiroth, smiling brightly.
Rude struggled to sit up, but before he could, the smaller clone materialized over his head before stabbing his double-bladed sword in his right shoulder and casting sleep on the Turk. He turned and looked at Sephiroth.
"And I'm Kadaj. We're here for you, Brother – The Chosen One."
A smile curled Sephiroth's lips into a cruel smile. "Zack needs us."
Genesis slid back slightly when Zack's sword made contact with his Rapier. He hadn't been expecting that amount of power from Zack. It was concrete proof that Sephiroth had activated the Reunion instinct inside of Zack's Jenova cells.
He quickly took stock of the situation: Zack was focused on him and Vincent had taken up a protective stance between Aerith and Zack. It was still no good. Aerith needed to be as far away from Zack as possible, but Genesis hadn't been able to lure Zack out of the room and they were now blocking the only exit. He had to get Zack to follow him, but Zack wasn't taking his bait.
Genesis smirked and tossed his hair out of his eyes, backing out of the room into the hall. "Come on, Puppy. Why don't we go play in the yard and really have some fun?"
Zack grinned, looking slightly past Genesis before meeting his gaze again. "I think you're about to have more fun than you're prepared for, Gen."
Genesis' smirk faded and he frowned. What did he mean, "More fun than he was prepared for"? He turned his head and found himself facing one of the clones from Junon. Before he could even lift his sword, the clone pressed his hand against his abdomen and a burning pain engulfed his chest. Everything happened so fast; the pain, and then the sensation of his body hitting the wall across the room, his head bouncing off the surface with a sickening crack.
He heard the sound of gunfire, but couldn't focus his eyes on the source. There were multiple shooters, that much he was sure of. A familiar crackle of energy and suddenly Vincent was on the ground beside him.
Genesis shook his head and forced himself to focus on Aerith. When he saw Sephiroth slowly approaching her, he started to push himself to his feet. The two taller clones moved in closer and stared at him intently. Suddenly, Genesis found he couldn't move.
"What the fuck?"
"Jenova's unknown powers," Vincent murmured. "The clones are doing this to us."
Genesis' eyes widened. "Telekinesis?" Like they didn't have enough problems to deal with, now they had to fight the power to hold a person at bay without physically touching them? "Great."
All Genesis and Vincent could do was sit on the ground and watch Sephiroth.
Sephiroth could feel Aerith's fear and the regret she felt for telling Zack too much. He smiled calmly. "It's too late, Cetra. You've already given me the information regarding the power of the Black Materia. Just give me the location and we'll leave."
Aerith shook her head. "I can't do that, Sephiroth. You don't know what you're doing…what will happen to the planet if you do this."
"I will cleanse this planet of the evil that festers within it and use this planet as my vessel. I will travel the cosmos and find a new planet on which I can create a shining future." Sephiroth tilted his head to the side. "If you won't give me what I need…" He advanced on her until he towered over her. He reached out and tilted her chin so she was looking up at him. "I will take the knowledge that I seek."
Zack stood beside Sephiroth and looked at Aerith. "Just tell him what he wants to know, Aerith."
Her eyes moved to Zack, her sadness almost overwhelming to Sephiroth. "I can't do that, Zack."
Sephiroth roughly jerked her chin so she focused on him. "Then we can do this the hard way."
Sephiroth focused on pushing his way into her mind, navigating his way through her emotions, trying to access her memories and other guarded thoughts. Memories of Zack filled him with a warm feeling, her emotions becoming one with his, while memories of labs from her childhood and the fear of Hojo coming for her one day made him feel cold. He had to shake off her emotions and continue until he found…
Sephiroth's lips curved up in cold smile and he released his grip on her chin, watching her fall to the ground when he released his hold on her mind. He turned and looked at Zack and his clones. "We have what I was looking for."
"You're not leaving here, Sephiroth."
Sephiroth narrowed his eyes, and turned to face the new voice, his smile still curling around his lips. "Good to see you, Cloud."
Cloud stood in the doorway, facing Sephiroth. "I can't let you do this, Sephiroth."
Sephiroth watched him charge toward him, sword drawn, and easily deflected his strikes with Masamune. "We shouldn't be fighting, Cloud. Your destiny is with us."
"Cloud, Sephiroth is The Chosen One," Zack said calmly.
Cloud looked at Zack, only briefly while he concentrated on trying to disarm Sephiroth.
Sephiroth had to hand it to the boy. He was not going to give up without a fight, a perfect trait for a follower of The Chosen One.
Sephiroth dodged a few aggressive attacks from Cloud. When Cloud moved forward again, Sephiroth lifted Masamune and pierced his right shoulder with the blade, easily lifting Cloud off the ground.
Cloud groaned and dropped his sword, both of his hands grabbed the blade piercing his flesh in a vain effort to stop himself from sliding further down Masamune. "Fuck!"
"You can end this pain, Cloud. Open your mind and let yourself embrace the future I can offer you." Sephiroth stared into Cloud's eyes, extending his thoughts to become one with Cloud's, seeking out the familiar pull of his Jenova cells.
The pull of the cells was faint, at first, but they slowly increased their presence, reacting to Sephiroth's Jenova cells. He could feel the power from his cells imbue Cloud's cells with the needed power to show him that following Sephiroth was ultimately the right choice.
The change in Cloud's thoughts was obvious the minute it happened. His body slackened on the end of Masamune and his head tilted down. When he lifted his head, Sephiroth could see his own cat-eyes staring back at him.
Sephiroth smiled and lowered his blade, pulling it from Cloud's body. "Cloud."
Kadaj stepped forward and smiled. "Brother."
Cloud's lips lifted at the corners in a small smile and he inclined his heat toward Kadaj. "Brother."
"Aerith, something's – " Tifa stopped when she entered the room. She quickly surveyed her surroundings before looking at Sephiroth.
Tifa stared at Sephiroth and knew instantly that the Reunion Protocols had already taken over his mind. Her eyes went to Genesis and Vincent on the floor, then to Aerith, tears on her cheeks, and then to Zack and Cloud. Both of them no longer had the deep blue eyes she was used to seeing. Instead, Sephiroth's eyes stared back at her. It was too late. The three of them were already lost to Reunion.
Tifa turned to run, but an unseen force slammed the door closed. She turned the handle and pulled the door, but it wouldn't budge. She looked at the door in frustration, but that frustration melted into icy fear when a shadow fell across her and moved up along the surface of the door. She forced herself to turn around and face Sephiroth.
"I know you're scared, Tifa. The unknown is frightening, especially to the human mind." Sephiroth reached out and gently caressed her cheek before leaning in and kissing her. The softness of his kiss a stark contrast to the evil that was radiating from him. He lifted his lips from her mouth and smiled serenely, resting his forehead against hers. His hands smoothed down her arms and rested on her hips, caressing them lovingly. "You don't have to be scared, Tifa. I'll never leave you. You'll have a place at my side as I rid this planet of its evil, and when our new world order arises, you'll be there, at my side as my Chosen One."
Tifa shook slightly when he stepped back, fighting the tears threatening to fall. One minute, Sephiroth, his clones, Zack, and Cloud were standing in front of her, the next they dematerialized, leaving Tifa, Aerith, Vincent, and Genesis alone.
Genesis and Vincent both slackened slightly against the wall, and Aerith sobbed softly. Tifa ran over to Aerith and hugged her tightly.
Vincent got to his feet and pulled out his PHS, opening the door and stepping into the hall for privacy.
Genesis crouched down beside Aerith and Tifa. He reached out and gently touched Aerith's shoulder. "Aerith, what happened?"
Aerith looked at Genesis. "I've made a terrible mistake." Her eyes moved to Tifa's face. "I've betrayed the planet, and now Sephiroth has the means he needs to destroy everything on Gaia and the planet herself!"
Tifa held Aerith as she continued to cry and looked at Genesis. It was clear to both of them: any hope they thought they had to reverse the Reunion Protocols in Sephiroth had decreased significantly…if not disappeared completely.