The gunslinger returned his gaze to the demonic figure, now on the ground a few meters away from him. But it had lost its wings, and everything else, labeling it as inhuman.
He turned and was met with the sight of Shelke, dressed in a light blue, simple cotton dress with white sandals. They had been meeting on the cliff outside of Lucrecia's cave for the past two years after the fall of Deepground. They talked about things—oddities: the sky, society, nightmares, the works. He had grown fond of the girl, viewed by most as her father-figure.
"We need more rain," she said. As it were, the grass was so stiff and dry it could have scratched his sabatons when he walked through it. This drought had nearly ruined the small farming town of Kalm, where he had been staying. "How goes the irrigation project?" Shelke asked, seeing the direction of his steady gaze.
"What irrigation? The most we're doing is supplying more dust to the weeds that are dying."
"The same is happening here. Tifa's bar has been being more frequented because of the lack of field work."
"How is Tifa?"
"She is well. She wishes you to visit."
"She has my cellphone number. She is welcome to call."
"She says she doesn't want to intrude—that it might be a bad time."
"She need not worry. Only Yuffie is unwelcome to my mobile."
Shelke smiled a bit. "I will tell her that."
They returned to the silence. He thought of Shelke as he gazed at her drawn, calculating face. She had become less android-like, if you will, and more comfortable with her emotions as she realized that they were allowed to exist. He saw a bit of himself within her: her deep thinking, her uneasiness with being expressive, part of her life wasted away, the loss of a loved one…Shelke was one of the few he wasn't uncomfortable around. The girl didn't press on talking for no reason, didn't enquire about his thoughts, and was sensible. She made him feel more h—
"Vincent, do you smell that?"
He closed his eyes and inhaled. That sting—smoke?
His eyes snapped open, the unwelcome light shadowed by Shelke's alarmed frame. Her face was turned toward…black clouds of soot.
They looked at each other then took off running. The drought had made the fields essential kindling—now being eaten up by angry flames. It was racing toward Edge—where the other members of AVALANCHE were.
Shelke was dialing. "Tifa! There's a wildfire heading your way! Get help!" She hung up and continued running. "Vincent, how do we stop a wildfire?" A small note of panic shone in her voice.
He didn't know. But—was that a flash of orange from his other side? No, it was blue—orange? Whatever color it was, it was fast. A guardhound? He drew Cerberus and shot it…but it kept running…toward the fire? As it drew closer, it started leaving a trail of bare ground behind it. After mere seconds, it started hightailing it the other direction—this time leaving a smaller, tamer fire in its wake. A backfire, he realized. Whatever this was, it was a friend.
"Shelke, stay your weapons. That thing is on our side."
The pair slowed as they neared Edge. Tifa and Cloud were riding toward them on Fenrir, the large attack fire and small backfire still racing toward each other. The two duos met in front of the flaming battleground.
"Is that little fire going to be enough?" Tifa asked worriedly.
Nobody knew what to say. They had never seen a prairie fire before.
"Hey— " Cloud was pointing. An unseemingly fast shape was darting through the monstrosity. It leapt out, light blue tattered bat wings emerging, shaking off the flames—or rather, absorbing them. Cloud gasped. "Vincent—"
"Your nightmares follow you like a shadow, forever." –Aleksandar Hemon
But he'd already seen. But it was impossible…that shape…those claws…no…Chaos had returned to the planet two years ago…so why? A ghost?—is what the coloring would imply…
The group had been so absorbed in the horrific creature that everyone except Shelke had failed to notice that the fire had dwindled—considerably. "Hey." Shelke's voice drew him back to the ground—literally. All that was left of the firestorm was little smoldering patches of weeds.
"So it did work," Tifa observed. "But who…?"
The gunslinger returned his gaze to the demonic figure, now on the ground a few meters away from him. But it had lost its wings, and everything else, labeling it as inhuman. It—she—slowly rose from the ground, shaking the debris from her long silver hair. She turned and directly looked at him. "Vincent Valentine."
"He said you were the only one who would be able to ever hit me." Her silver eyes held his gaze steadily. They were…unsettling. As was the rest of her appearance. She wore a pale orange corset and light blue balloon pants with light orange pointed shoes. Her gauntlets were tapered over her hand, a light blue diamond, covered by a light orange gauze. One of them glinted in the harsh sunlight. These mid-upper-arm sleeves were topped by a trailing, high-collared ascot that appeared light blue at some angles, but light orange at others. Aviation goggles around her neck had a thin silver braid of hair hanging over them. She began walking closer, slightly imbalanced, arms still on her belt—which he could now see held three daggers on her right and a small square pouch on the left.
The group tensed as she came to a stop in front of him. The part of her face that was not obscured by her ascot was drawn, and her eyes held the persona of being older than she appeared, of once knowing laughter lost in lieu of barriered terror.
He stepped toward her, and he would have missed what she said had he not possessed heightened senses:
"Please, help me…Hojo is back, and I didn't know where else to go…please, Mr Valentine, I'm so lost…" She swayed and fell forward.
He moved to catch her and she fell against him. She was extremely light for someone of her stature—about five and half feet with toned curves. She was also extremely warm. Her face, up close, was of ghastly pallor with a faint, sickly blush against her cheeks. Her lips, chapped and bleeding, were the color of his eyes. Her eyelids, grey and sunken, fluttered and she groaned, pinching her jawline into a more defined presence. She was not beautiful under any circumstances, but pretty, in a sick, tortured, pained sort of way.
"What is your name?" he asked the girl.
Dragged you down below
Down to the devil's show
To be his guest forever
Peace of mind is less than never
—Avenged Sevenfold, "Nightmare"
There is an illustration for this chapter. Please go to my deviantART
h t t p : / / v a m p s e n n . d e v i a n t a r t . c o m / # / d 4 r i x q l
It is a drawing of Viridian and her render of Chaos.
This is re-uploaded. I am aware that "Crystal Cave" is on the western continent in Final Fantasy VII, but in Dirge of Cerberus it appears to be near both Kalm and Midgar Edge, as well as having lost the waterfall in front. My opinion? Lucrecia isn't really in the cave you find in FFVII, but a different one in Dirge of Cerberus. It's never explicitly said that the two caves are the same [they don't even remotely match descriptive-wise].
Review, please, and tell me things that you noticed. :]