Prologue: The End
Disclaimer: I do not own characters or ff7 universe:(
The sky was vivid blood, a reflection of the chaos unfolding on Gaia below. Death danced this day embracing life in his arms. All perished. The young, the old, it mattered not, all stripped of life. He left not a soul. They died horribly, crushed, buried and burnt. All to fuel his burning anger the pulsating rage that nothing could quench. He was mad for it. So much so that he could no longer remember the cause. He knew only he was God. God of life and God of death and today he would send Gaia to her final grave, for the only being left to oppose him had already given up.
On the cliffs above Edge Cloud watched. Watched as everything he'd fought for and everybody he'd ever loved was destroyed to dust.
For a time after Deepground Cloud had finally let himself believe that the world was at peace. And perhaps more importantly he had come to peace with himself. Depression still weaved its way through his bones, but those feelings of guilt and self-loathing could usually be broken. Visiting his Avalanche friends helped. Barrett, Tifa and the kids were doing well in Edge, Cloud had to admit he'd been pleased when Tifa finally gave up on him as her life love. Though he enjoyed her company he would always love her as a sister at best. Yuffie to the surprise of all had matured much after inheriting the Wutai thrown from her father. Cloud could now safely visit her without feeling the need to bang Tsurugi on the young ninja's head. Even the brooding Vincent seemed content, working closely with Reeve and the WRO.
Cloud laughed manically to the wind, yes with himself forgiven and his friends happy he'd finally given in to that terrible emotion of hope. Hope for his future, hope for happiness. That was until the one winged angel once again made his appearance on Gaia and all his hope turned rotten.
It was the Turks who caught sight of Sephiroth first, carrying out their annual check to the crater. Tseng had even managed to warn Rufus before Masamune sliced through his heart. Rufus wasted no time alerting Avalanche and soon they and Turk were once again united against Sephiroth. It hadn't been enough. Like a vengeful god Sephiroth descended the skies, raining down a promise of misery and death. Wutai had fallen first its armies never fully recovered from the war 11 years earlier and gradually the lights across the rest of Gaia's one by one flickered out.
Edge remained and despite the many monster attacks in the weeks that followed it strove through. Avalanche gathered for a final stand, the battle to end battles but Sephiroth never came. Instead he used his god power to bring another meteor, tearing down from the heavens it struck Edge such a blow Cloud could still feel the ground trembling days after. There was nothing he could do. He couldn't save those crushed by rock and fire. Nor could he save Denzel and Marlene from the toxic fumes brought in meteors wake. One by one they died in front of him, Tifa, Yuffie, Barett, Cid, Nanaki. Vincent lasted a little longer before his lungs too were consumed by the venomous air.
Cloud's Mako had saved him. While the toxins corroded his lungs his body healed faster. So now he stood on the cliff that marked Zack's grave watching as Gaia was obliterated. 'Damm you Sephiroth damm you' Cloud screamed again to the swirling winds of ash. It only wailed. Wailed like the thousands of souls now ripped from their bodies with no hope of reaching the lifestream. With Chaos and Omega gone there was no way Gaia could save them, not now he had failed.
So Cloud waited, waited for the blissful moment in which he could finally die. Sephiroth would come for him soon he was sure and Cloud wouldn't fight him he would only watch in peaceful serenity as Masamune rammed through his heart one final time.
For a moment he believed it Sephiroth but it was a girls soft tones that hailed him.
'Cloud Strife I have been looking for you.'
He turned in surprise, a young woman stood behind him untouched by the chaos raining down upon them.
'How are you alive,' he managed to choke out, the agonizing process of his lungs constantly destroyed then healed made it difficult to speak. The girl only smiled 'I am here to help you Cloud. All of this destruction it can be undone, your friends can still be saved, battles can yet be won but it has to be your choice.'
'How,' he croaked, looking at her through disbelieving eyes.
'Gaia is dying but we can still save her. The lifestream contains the souls of the Cetra and Sephiroth has yet to pollute it. Cloud your body contains S cells, Sephiroth's cells, thanks to Hojo you are forever connected. With that connection and the power contained in the lifestream I can turn back time this future would no longer exist. Your friends, you can save them.'
Cloud closed his eyes he was tired so incredibly tired and what's to say things wouldn't be worse a second time around. But hope is a corrosive weapon and it seeped through his defensives. Zack, Aerith he could see them both again. Tifa would never see the destruction of her village, Denzel would still have parents and his mother would still be alive. Tears streaked down his face as Cloud realized what he had to do. To face the past he'd always ran from and this time succeed, he couldn't fail them again, none of them. As the green of the lifestream swirled towards them he grasped the girls hand tightly. She smiled at him, her glowing eyes matching the lifestream's brightness, he wondered if she wasn't a figment of the goddess herself.
Then the pain hit him as if simultaneously every cell in his body was ripped in two. Jagged pain of ice and glass, a thousand times worse than any needle Hojo had inflicted on him. He knew nothing. He was nothing. Just pain, mind shattering pain, weightless, floating.
'I'm sorry,' the voice called 'this was the only way.'