Disclaimer: FFVII and its characters do not belong to me. This story is fan made.
Noting more than a Puppet.
"I will never be a memory"
Theses where the last few words to reach his ears before darkness took over. He was both blind and deaf to the world around him. The blonde haired ex-SOLDIER was alone.
Cloud did not know how much time had passed, every effort to make his body move failed.
His body felt so cold, was this it? Was this end? Cloud had always thought that he would die on the field, in the heat of battle with the rising crescendo of gunfire as his funeral music, to die fighting for something he believed in, just like he did.
Instead he was once again trapped within his own body. It was always this way, was his punishment just to fade in nothingness? To simply lie still after the many hardships he had endured? It would not surprise him, innocence blood was on his hands.
Pain began to shoot up and down his body, however this was not so bad as his aching joints and muscles were almost welcome to him, this pain was evidenced that he was still alive. He never wanted to die, no matter how much he knew that he may deserve it.
Cloud put all of his effort to open his eyes. He needed to wake up. He needed to see his friends and to for fill his promise to Denzel. He could not let himself fall in to a sleep that he may never wake up from.
He felt something, this could not be a dream, and it felt too real. Cloud knew that sense, he was been watched. It was him, he was here. Cloud tried to turn his head, only to be rewarded with agony, his body was still only half conscious.
The silence was then broken by laughter. He found it almost unbelievable how much fear he felt by one sound. However Cloud refused to be afraid he could not show weakness to his enemy, the voice was not going to win.
And that was all that he needed.
His anger gave him the much needed energy to not just open his eyes but to quickly get to his feet. He automatically stepped into a fighting stance, and reached for First Tsurugi, only for his fingers to find nothing but air, whispering a curse to himself. Cloud new he would have to use hand-to-hand combat, fists at the ready, he may be unarmed but there was no way he was not going down without a fight.
His glowing eyes darted around, however it seemed pointless, as he saw nothing but darkness the only source of light was the dim green glow from his own eyes.
"Looks like I have you under my control yet again." the voice continued to laugh, gritting his teeth he kept looking for his target, but still found nothing.
"Sephiroth!" Cloud shouted. "Show yourself!"
"What have you done?"
"Relax Cloud" Sephiroth sounded emotionless and Cloud was finding it more and more difficult to push down his fear. He was alone in the dark with no weapon no idea where he was and a crazy wannabe god telling him to "relax."
Still seeing nothing Cloud looked at the ribbon wrap around his left arm, taking a deep breath he found that relaxing his body was easier now. He had to keep a level head or he was not going to get out of this. He was going to kill Sephiroth for the last time, and with that the fear faded.
"So what's going to happen now?" Cloud called out into the darkness.
"Puppets are not meant to question their masters Cloud." The voice that replied did not sound far away. It sounded close.
Like Sephiroth was right next to his ear. Cloud could almost feel the man's breath on his skin and when Cloud turned to face the man who was once his hero he saw nothing but darkness.
"How are you...how did you..?" Cloud was looking desperately for Sephiroth he could feel him close like he was behind his back but when he turned a second time he saw nothing yet again.
But then the words that Sephiroth said finally got to him.
"I am not a PUPPET! And I will never call you my master!"
"Foolish boy, my shadow is forever burned into your heart, in the end Cloud you will always do as you're told. You are nothing more than a savant awaiting my orders."
Cloud put his hands to his ears and closed his eyes taking more deep breaths, and doing his best to block out that voice.
"Shut up! That's not true I am not a puppet!"
Cloud could tell that Sephiroth was enjoying this. He could feel his cold eyes burning into his own. He could all most see Sephiroth smiling down at him. Was this it? Has Sephiroth finally won?
"Well Cloud shall I put you to the test?"
Cloud took his hands from his ears and opened his eyes. To find the Buster sword right in fount of him lying on the ground. How long had that been there?
Without a second though he picked it up and took to his fighting position. Not even questioning where the sword had came from.
It felt good to have the familiar weight of the sword in his hands once more. This sword was Zack's honour, it was his dreams. No matter what Sephiroth had planned there was no way that he could defeat Cloud while the Buster sword was in his grasp and there was no way that he would escape it!
Clouds turned around, sword still in hand only to become face to face with Sephiroth. Who was standing a few feet from the tip of the Buster sword.
One thing about him surprised Cloud. It was that the great General Sephiroth stood before him unarmed.
"Draw your sword Sephiroth!"
"I don't need a sword to pull your strings Cloud."
Less than a second later Cloud swung his blade back and charged.
Cloud leapt in to the air and aimed for Sephiroth's neck.
The smile on Sephiroth's lips remained.
As the blade was cutting throw the air and came close to its target. Still smiling Sephiroth's only reaction was one word.
Cloud could not move. It was like time had frozen. He was still in mid-air, nothing was holding his body. The blade was so close to the ex-general's neck. Cloud tried to push it closer but it did not move. He tried to reach the ground but his legs did not obey.
Cloud tried to speak but his lips would not move. It seemed the only part of his body that he could control were his eyes.
Sephiroth looked up at Cloud with a smug grin on his face and yet again he began to chuckle.
"You see Cloud you are nothing more than a Puppet."
Cloud's heart rate began to rise.
He tried to shout back but his voice did not work, he was paralyzed in mid-air.
Yet another order his body followed.
Cloud felt his body grow weak and the next thing he knew he hit the ground blade still in his hand.
"On your feet."
His fingers allowed the Buster sword to fall to the ground. He was screaming in his mind trying to hold on to his only weapon, but it was pointless. His body was no longer his to control.
He stood to attention just like he did when he was a trooper.
Sephiroth stood before him.
"I understand that Hojo placed mother's cells into you bloodstream? You see Cloud over the years her cells have been reproducing and have now bonded themselves in to your DNA. I can access all of mother's cells, they have become a part of you and made you strong but for that there is a price."
Sephiroth looked deep in to the blonde's eyes. He watched the many fake emotions flicker behind the glowing mako. Shaking his head, he smiled as he found what he was looking for, Cloud really believed he was still human.
Sephiroth gave Cloud another order "You may speak."
At that Cloud found his voice return to him. He could move his lips he could control what came out of them too.
Cloud spoke in a calm voice, this gave Sephiroth even more evidenced to prove that Cloud was not human, if he was he would show fear.
"This is not over Sephiroth!"Cloud tried to move he was fighting with his own body. He did not show it but inside he was afraid, not for his life, but for his friends, he had to escape Sephiroth's control, or his friends would not stand a chance.
Sephiroth's right hand went to Cloud's unprotected neck. "It would be too easy." his grip became tighter he began to put more and more pressure on Cloud's windpipe, just to show his power over the blonde. However Sephiroth would not allow Cloud an easy death, after Cloud played his part he would make sure that he would pay for his treachery. So after a few seconds he then let go.
"Know your place boy." Sephiroth took a few steps back and crossed his arms.
Cloud lips twitched.
"Do it then."
That got Sephiroth's attention he smiled and turned to look at the young man.
"What would that be Cloud?"
"You would wish for death? When you could join myself and mother."
"I would rather die than join you Sephiroth. You have tried to kill me so many times here is your chance, why wait?"
"Let me guess. You think that after your death your friends will come to defeat me? And save the planet? You overestimate them they are weak and without you they are nothing but a minor threat."
Cloud gritted his teeth, his friends were nothing but weak, if it was not for them he would be the one that was nothing, the one that was weak. For it was him who was a puppet, a tool, a savant who could not even stand without an order. With Sephiroth pulling his strings he could make him do anything and he could not even complain without permission. Cloud knew that his friends held more power than both himself and Sephiroth and could win any victory with a little time, however he did not want it to come to that.
Cloud did not want to battle his friends, it would break him.
"I need you alive Cloud. Your cells are the key."
"I don't care anymore Sephiroth! I don't need you to explain anything to me I-"
Cloud was cut off.
"Quite! Dose it pain you to hear it? Then I shall continue."
Cloud closed his eyes as tight as he could.
"You see Cloud mother no longer has a body she lives in our cells, so we must work together and go back to where it all began, to when mother had her body. I will take a fresh sample of your blood and inject it into her lifeless body. The cells in your blood will reproduce and mother will gain control of her own body then taking this planet between the three of us will be child's play."
Cloud opened his eyes and looked at Sephiroth, finally allowing his emotions to flow, his eyes full of fear.
"That's right Cloud. You and I will be the first from this planet to travel through time. What a great honour Angeal would be proud."
Sephiroth looked deep into Cloud's eyes their faces an inch away and said.
"Mother, myself and you Cloud will take the planet together."
"Where is he? I can't feel him snymore, he is not in the life stream he's somewhere else."
Aerith could not keep still. She needed to get Cloud back to the land of the living, back to his friends. The planet has even allowed her to return Cloud back to life but why could she not find him?
An ex-Frist Class SOLIDER walked up to her and placed his right hand on her left shoulder.
"Aerith don't worry about it, you will find him. It just might take some more time, I mean come on! It's not like bringing the dead back to like is an easy thing to do right?"
The woman turned to the him and smiled.
"Your right Zack I can do this, I just have to be patient."
Zack then turned and spoke in a low voice so Aerith would not hear him.
"Hang in their buddy!"
Cloud was still stood in the same position he still did not have the freedom to speak. All he could do was hope that someone would come to his rescue or maybe if he tried hard enough he could break this so called "bond" that Sephiroth was using.
Sephiroth was still in fount of him but his attraction was torn away from Cloud's eyes to his left hand. Cloud could only watch as Sephiroth fished out a needle from his pocket. That contained a strange green coloured liquid, at the sight of the needle Cloud's eyes grew wide. Memories of been strapped down on an operating table came flashing back to him.
Taking a deep breath Cloud pushed his unpleasant memories aside, now was not the time to dwell on the past.
Cloud examined the Green coloured liquid, it was not mako that much he knew.
"I guess you want to know what I plan to do with this." Sephiroth asked, his lips held hints of a smile.
In response Cloud could only look at the needle. He felt hot sweat run down his spine.
"You see Cloud your friend in the life stream believe you to be dead, so that cetra girl is putting all of her power to bring you back to life."
Cloud's eyes retuned to Sephiroth, he completely forgot about the needle i his hand.
"This liquid was a gift from your bothers. They crushed powerful materia to make this for you. I will inject it in to your body and with the help from your friend in the lifestream, who is using all of her power trying to save you. However insect it will give you the much needed energy to transport us both back in time then, I will order you to do so, but of course it may take the girl form the lifestream and existence in the process but she would have played her part does this please you Cloud?"
Many questions came to Cloud's mind at that moment but one seemed to puzzle him more than others.
Aerith was trying save him but why? He let her die, he was not worthy of her friendship.
But he could do nothing, he could not fight back, he could not runaway. he could only stand in one spot and know that he alone would be not only the reason for her death but for her to be taken out of the lifestream away from Zack away from her family it was all his fault.
One tear fell from his left eye.
Sephiroth saw this and in response raise his hand and slapped the blonde across the face. Cloud could not even stumble back his feet remained glued to the floor he could not even yell out in pain.
"There's no need to act as though you are sad Cloud you and I both know that you can feel nothing.
Cloud closed his eyes and told himself deep in his mind.
One day I will make him pay.
Sephiroth then placed the handle of the needle in his right hand and grabbed the blonde's left arm.
"The pain will be like nothing you have ever imagined. Also you do have the freedom of speech I would not want to miss the sound of your suffering."
With that final word Sephiroth pushed the needle deep in to the blonde's skin.
The pain spread like wild fire to the rest of his body he could feel every cell inside him screaming with pain he tried to hold in his screams, to not show his weakness, but it was too much his skin began to burn his eyes lost focus and felt like someone was trying to take them out with a hot spoon.
Sephiroth grabbed Cloud by the neck and whispered in his ear.
"How does it feel?"
In response Cloud could only cry out from the pain.
"Now draw the girl's power and turn back the clock."
Cloud did not do a thing and for a second it seemed that Sephiroth's hold over him had failed.
But then he felt a wave of energy wash over him.
It was happening he was taking power away from Aerith!
He could hear her screaming, he was causing her pain, it was unlike anything he had ever heard before, he had never heard Aerith crying out in pain in the past. Even when she was murdered she did not make a sound. He knew that her screams will forever remain in his mind, a reminder that he had not been strong enough to do anything again.
He called out to her but he got no reply he could only listen as he was draining the life out of one of the few people he had called a friend.
Zack heard Aerith screaming. He turned and ran towards her. She was lying on the floor her face was pale. Tears ran down her checks and her eyes looked dull, that spackle that Zack fell in love with was fading, something was wrong.
At that moment he didn't know what to think. Wasn't the whole idea of being dead not to be in pain anymore? He pushed that thought aside and knelt on the floor to pick Aerith up to support her on his knee with one hand on her back he used the second to brush a tear from her check.
"Aerith are you ok-"
"Zack I have not got much time left I need to tell you something"
"What do you mean? You're not dyeing you know! I hate to break it to you but you kind of already did that!"
She gave the young man a smile.
"Zack I am fading into darkness I need you to hold on to your memory I need you to free him!"
Her body began to fade. Zack was scared, he was more scared then he could ever remember feeling. His world had been turned upside down in a matter of seconds and he didn't know where what else to do but to beg Aerith to stay.
"Wait! What! I need to hold on to my memory? Aerith no please don't leave me I don't understand who I need to free?"
She took a deep breath and looked deep in his eyes.
"Zack I can't remember for you. You need to hold on to your memorises. Don't forget. Don't let Sephiroth to succeed!"
"What! Sephiroth succeed what? Cloud killed him didn't he? And why would I forg-?"
"I need you to Promise me that you will remember."
Zack looked down into her eyes there was no way she would tell him anything more until he agreed with her.
"I Promise Aerith...but I still don't understand! What are you talking about?"
Too late for any more questions Aerith gave Zack one last smile.
"Thank you Zack...I will miss you" with that last word her body disappeared in to thin air.
"No Aerith come back what did you mean! Aerith! I need you!"
Zack stood up and continued to call for Aerith.
He got no answer and fell to his knees. What he was feeling could not be described in a thousand words, the pain was hurt more than anything he felt in the flesh. The woman that he loved was gone and he did not know why.
Then he saw something in the corner of his eye. It was a wave of green light headed his way it spread throw the lifestream so easily like water washing across a smooth surface. Zack saw a few sprites running and screaming passed him.
"Okay..." he said while rubbing the back of his neck and standing up.
He then heard Aerith's voice in the back of his mind.
"Hold on to your memorises Zack. Don't let them disappear!"
"Aerith! Where are you are you okay?" He asked aloud.
The light came closer.
"Just do it!" Aerith yelled at him in reply.
"Fine! But I am not happy about it!"
He closed his eyes and remembered his parents, his mentor, his best friend, his girlfriend and what made him the hero he was today.
Just as he did this, the green light swept him off his feet.
He opened his eyes and lost his line of thought. He could not concentrate or pay any attention to his past.
He found it easier to scream.
Then he blacked out.
Tifa stood looking out across the rubble of Midgar with wide eyes.
Cloud and Sephiroth had gone. All that was left wasFirst Tsurugi laying were its owner once stood.
"Cloud." She called out his name, but he did not reply. Her eyes where scanning the remains of the once mighty city for her blonde hero but she found nothing. She turned around to look at her comrades, each searching for their friend.
"I don't see him! Cloud this no time to play hid and seek! When I find you I will make you pay from hiding! Now stop hiding forms me!" Yuffie's voice could be heard for miles around.
"Spiky you better be safe fool!" Barret added while looking under a large piece of rubble.
They continued their search for hours.
"Vincent have you found anything?" Tifa asked, as she approached him from behind.
"Not a trace" he answered folding his arms.
"I can't pick his scent up either it is like he just disappeared" Red XIII added.
The group came together in a circle around First Tsurugi that still lay on the ground.
"Well is he dead?" Cid asked while lighting yet another cigarette.
The group each send a death glared at Cid.
"Hey! It's not like I want him to be dead or anything, but I was just saying what everyone was thinking!" he added after blowing a cloud of smock from his nose.
"Do you think Cloud disappeared with Sephiroth?" everyone's eyes turned to the source of the voice it was Tifa who had asked the question there did not want to answer.
"That is a possibility, when we saw Cloud best Sephiroth at sword play. We saw Sephiroth disappear and leave his new Puppet Kadaj behind who had gone to the lifestream. We then saw Cloud fall to the ground with is sword but none of use saw him land." Red XII explained.
"So Sephiroth must have took Cloud with him to the rift." Vincent finished.
"Hey what is a rift?" Yuffie asked tilling her head.
"I can answer that" Barret said happily.
"You see, when the real Sephiroth died and that. The planet could not let him poison the lifestream so... the plant put Sephiroth in the rift so he was not dead but was not alive. The planet did that to get him out the way ya get it kid?"
The group turned to Vincent and Barret.
"What! Who told you that and why didn't I know!" Cid commented.
"Yeah that's no fair!" Yuffie screamed.
"Well let's just say that Cloud is a bad lair" Barret said smugly.
"We do not have time for this! We can ask questions when we find Cloud I don't care about how you two know. I think finding Cloud is more important don't you!" Tifa shouted.
"No need to shout lassie" said Cait Sith.
"You right Tifa" Red XIII nodded.
"So what do we do now?" Cid asked.
"Err...that's a good question" Barret said while folding his arms.
Yuffie turned from the group she was still upset that Cloud had left so many of them out of the loop she could understand him not telling Cid but why not her! She was a Wutai ninja for Gaia sake! And in her opinion the best secret keeper in the group!
She gazed out towards the waste lands as the others began to brain-storm about finding that big blonde lying jerk!
"When I get my hands on him! I am going to make him tell me EVERTING!" she mumbled under her breath.
"Yuffie? Did you say something?" Tifa questioned.
She turned to look at Tifa who was now facings her "No nothing" she replied.
Tifa attention then went back to the group.
Yuffie drew her eyes back to remains of Midgar.
She breathed deeply.
"Think Yuffie Think!" she told herself.
She crossed her arms in frustration.
Then she saw something far into the distance. To her eyes it looked like a giant wave of green liquid her eyes grow wide. She then turned to her group and screamed to the top of her voice.
The group did not even look at her.
"Yuffie this is hardly time of games" Vincent glanced down at her.
"I am not playing around here! Take a look for yourself!" Yuffie pointed to the east were the green wave was getting closer and closer with every passing second.
The group stood and stared.
Yuffie then drew her eyes back to the group "well... I hate to say it but I told you so!" she said with a small giggle.
"Imposable" Vicente mumbled "Everyone listen to me."
The group looked at the ex-Turk who in the many years that all of them had known him looked worried for the first time there could remember.
"I need all of you to hold on to your memories. I need you to hold on to yourself and what has made you the person you are today. I feared that this may come to pass" Vicente walked forward "My friends the real battle has now begun."
"Vicente! What the bloody hell are you talking about" Cid complained.
"Do this for Cloud we cannot forget about him we cannot lose to Sephiroth" Vincent answered, not offering any more information.
The waves then reach the rubble of Midgar. Only a few seconds remained and so many questions were unanswered.
Yuffie stepped back as the wave came closer "huh?"
"We are going back to the beginning" Vicente added.
And with that last line the group was sweep in the air. Tifa heard Cid shout abuse at the wave before she blacked out along with the rest of the members of AVLACENCE who followed her lead.
It was agonising pain. His own body was throbbing sweat was dripping down his forehead. At the moment, he wanted to just run and get as far away from the pain as possible. But he could not even move one finger.
The silver haired demon was still holding his neck with is left hand. He was clearing enjoying hearing his blonde nemesis suffering.
"Hurry Cloud I grow inpatient."
Cloud felt his heart rate increases.
A few moments pasted but to Cloud it felt like hours.
"MOVE you worthless puppet!" He ordered.
One mistake that Cloud had hope would come came. With that one word his fingers could move without an order. He stopped screaming, at that moment and replaced it with a smile. the chance of victory helping him forget the pain. Sephiroth's eyes grew wide.
But Cloud did not give him the chance to say anything.
He closed his right hand to a fist and throw it at the demon.
If the best way to stop a punch is with your face then Sephiroth was the most talented person on the planet when it came to that.
Sephiroth fell back to the ground.
Even with his glowing eyes he could not see where he was going. The darkness never ended he kept running, was he in the rift? His body was scramming in pain but he had no choice but to push pass it and try to get away from his captor.
"STAY where you are!" another order his body could not refuse.
His feet rooted to the ground. He had lost control of his body from the waist down. He turned his head to see Sephiroth about 30 feet away from him.
Sephiroth stood with blood running down the left side for his face. Cloud could not help the small smile on his face from the wound.
A few moments went by. Cloud found it easier with every second to ignore the pain.
Sephiroth looked in Clouds eyes. There where glowing more brightly he had clearly taken the power of the girl and now it was too late for him to escape what he had done. The world had already been swept clean and all that was left for the wave to do was to come to the rift and claim the two people who would remember.
As if right on cue the wave came crashing in a few yards where the blonde stood.
But it was too soon. Sephiroth needed to be in psychical contact with Cloud. So he could make such he would not forget like the rest of the world. So he then ran towards the blonde and reached out. He only needs one small contact to make such he would remember.
Cloud no longer looked at the demon. The pain had now grown stronger. His eyes were burning it was like someone had pushed red hot needles in to his pupils. He placed his hands on his temples he was not taking any notice of the green wave headed his way.
Sephiroth was now 15 feet from where he stood. But he could not reach Cloud. The wave had now taken the blonde and he was no longer in sigh.
Sephiroth caused under his breath and stood still all he could do now was to wait for the wave to take him, and then the clock would be turned back and he hoped to his mother that he would remember that he was the chosen one and that Cloud is and always will be his Puppet.
"See you soon cadet Strife"
He laughed as the wave washed over him.