The vision now broke off into many threads of moving images, each of them portraying the life of an individual that divided into more threads as with each decision that the individual made, new possibilities were born or lost in a split-second. The images moved faster and faster, swirling about in a vortex of thoughts. Then, a bright light overwhelmed everything and all was still.
As the dream slowly faded away from Cloud's consciousness, he opened his eyes softly, realizing that he was already on his feet. Sirea was there, smiling and standing patiently in front of him. Strangely enough, he was still clutching Zack's sword in his right hand. He sheathed the sharp weapon and clasped Sirea's hands. "Aerith ... forgive me. Back then, I let you die right in front of my eyes. I couldn't protect you. It must have been painful ... " Still, Sirea kept smiling at him, showing no trace of hostility or doubt in her expression "Let's go Cloud. It's time to destroy the Jewel of Sardius, to destroy the Onyx Weapon!" Cloud, could only nod in approval at her request.
Sirea drew a circle around herself on a small patch of soft soil with an intricately designed metallic staff that she seemed to have plucked out of mid-air. "I've prepared the spell. From this world within your psyche, we'll enter the realm of the Onyx Weapon where the dark jewel exists as one between your soul and Sephiroth's." Cloud stepped into the circle with Sirea and suddenly, a shimmering blue light shot up from the ground where the circle was drawn. The light slowly enveloped them as it gradually grew in intensity until it obscured all that were outside the magical circle. Cloud glanced at Sirea for a moment. Her eyes were closed as she focused all her thoughts into the teleportation magic. She had shed her Shinra Uniform and Cloud couldn't help thinking of how cute she looked in her light pink dress with a thick scarlet armored vest and two silver armlets to protect her shoulders.
"Hmmm ... is that supposed to be a battle dress?" Cloud whispered into the air. His cheeks flushed red when Sirea suddenly opened one of her eyes and caught him gawking at her. She smiled and gave him a coquettish wink.
Before long, the magical light diffused into the ground leaving Cloud and Sirea deep within the realm of the dark jewel. Rocky formations protruded everywhere in this vast wasteland. Though it was dark, the sky offered an eerie light, which filtered through its unnatural multihued atmosphere. "Right there Cloud! That's our goal." Sirea was pointing at a large crystalline object shimmering in the distance at the peak of a small hill not too far from where they stood.
They approached the hill cautiously, their weapons drawn and ready for battle. Then, Sirea who was walking in front came to a sudden halt.
"Just a minute Cloud. I forgot to tell you. When I allowed you to look into my memories, I also gave you a portion of my powers. You can use magic without materia now, but only the ones that you've already learned and you need to be somewhere within my vicinity." No sooner had she said this, when countless beams of laser-like intensity suddenly showered them from multiple directions. Cloud deflected most of the beams with his sword, though a few gave him some light burns on his arms. Sirea evaporated the ones aimed at her with a wave of her staff. A large group of bipedal creatures just a little taller than an average human being, with stone-like skin and stout structures emerged from the shadows of the base of the hill. Each of them had two rows of funnel-shaped protrusions on their bodies, which was the source of the deadly lasers. The creatures advanced on them steadily while inaccurately shooting their beam weapons and emitting deep throaty growls. Cloud dodged the next barrage of laser beams and released a flare spell on the nearest monster. As the smoke cleared, the creature continued its advance unharmed. Just then, Sirea jumped forward and swung her staff at the monsters head. The blow connected and the head crumbled into countless pieces, while the rest of its body collapsed and tumbled into the ground breaking into a mass of lifeless rock. "They're immune to magic, but not to a good bash on the head." Sirea smirked and gloated over her handiwork. Following Sirea's example, Cloud rushed at the horde of monsters and slashed wildly with his sword. Most of them fled and only a brave handful remained when they saw this raving lunatic, who was killing off two to four of their kind with each blow. "Clear a path to the jewel!" Sirea yelled out as she threw herself into the battle.
The terrain was rough nearing the foot of the hill as Cloud and Sirea finished off the last of the rock-like beings. Upon closer inspection, the hill had a natural spiral ramp that made it easier to reach the top. Cloud turned around and saw Sirea casting another spell. In the blink of an eye, a transparent triangular shaped wall had encased the entire hill.
"Hey what did you do?" Cloud asked.
"Can't risk having those things follow us here. I've made a barrier magically sealing this whole area. It should hold them off until we can destroy that jewel. Then ... we're outta here!" Sirea replied. Cloud couldn't help feeling just a little bit used as they slowly ascended the hill. "Nah ... she's been through enough already. I'll just do what I have to do and return home safely. I can't let Tifa worry too much about me." Taking the lead he hastened his pace, and ran swiftly across the spiral path.
"Wait! ... Huff ... Puff ... Wait I say!" Sirea protested as she tried desperately to keep up with Cloud's pace. The figure of Aerith standing within Sirea flashed into Cloud's mind for a second. "What's wrong? I thought you were the master of combat and magical arts here?" Cloud said jokingly.
"Ooooh ... you're terrible!" was Sirea's agitated reply. They walked slowly now as they neared the peak of the mountain where the dark jewel was clearly visible. It was as large as a small house and it possessed an evocative and peculiar beauty as it glimmered in the maddening light of the troubled skies.
The tension mounted as their common goal came closer with each step. Though usually not one to engage in small talk, Cloud chose to break the anxiety by starting a conversation with Sirea. He had much to talk about since his mind had been filled with questions ever since he met her.
"Sirea, can I ask you something?"
"What are your body measurements?"
Cloud was answered by sharp slap to the side of his face that awakened all the nerves on that particular part of his body.
"Ahem.. anymore questions Cloudie?" Sirea said in a sickeningly sweet tone.
"Well ... seriously, what would happen if we destroyed the gem of Sardius?"
Sirea paused to think for a moment and then she answered. "Sephiroth summoned Meteor using the black materia to cleanse the people of this planet and in doing so, open the gate to the Promised Land. Of course, we can't allow this to happen. As Aerith, I had the means to stop Meteor using the white materia containing the Holy magic. But ... as you already know, the white materia was lost when Sephiroth killed me. As I traveled through the lifesteam, I found an alternate way to stop Meteor. You see, all of Sephiroth's magic stems from his connection with the gem of Sardius. So if the gem is destroyed, Meteor would burn itself out on the atmosphere of the planet with no magic to guide its path. Sephiroth would also lose most of his powers."
"So why did you need me here?"
"The gem can only be destroyed by the gem itself. In this case, you Cloud are one half of the gem. That means that you have the ability to destroy it."
"So the gem is a part of me, I learned that in the dream. What happens to me after we destroy it?"
"Probably nothing ... In the worst case, a splitting headache for a few days, since you never used the power of Sardius unlike Sephiroth."
"What are those things that attacked us?"
"Everything that you can see here is a product of your own and Sephiroth's negative emotions. The gem of Sardius uses them to create a natural protection for itself within this world."
"What about ... " but before Cloud could finish his inquiry, Sirea interrupted him.
"Ahem ... I've been really patient answering all of your questions so far Cloud. Now it's my turn to ask you a question." She smiled coyly before continuing. "Do you know what I thought of you when we first met?"
"As Aerith or as Sirea?" Cloud said, playing along with her.
"No ... I don't and ... I don't really care."
"I thought you were a total idiot the way you wandered around aimlessly and let your mouth hang open when you saw that cannon in Junon. You even groped around clumsily for your sword when I greeted you. Still ... you were a little cute."
"Oh yeah? Well you gave me a heart attack when you suddenly appeared out of nowhere and somehow knew my name. I get the same feeling every time I'm near Sephiroth. I thought you might be him in disguise and you confirmed my suspicions when you attacked me suddenly with that knife. You were like a messenger of death when you said 'I will be your guide' " Cloud said while trying to imitate Sirea.
At this, Sirea started laughing uncontrollably and Cloud joined her. For a moment they were both completely unaware of their situation and were off their guard. A snake like projection sprung from the ground and made a small cut on Sirea's left foot before she could react. Instantly, both fighters backed away and tried to find the attacker. They didn't have to look far, because the thing whatever it was, stood only ten feet away from where they were. Its body was dark and decorated with countless sharp spikes. It was a little bit shorter, though obviously more powerful than the previous monsters that they had encountered. It was humanoid and each of its arms had three large claws on its hands. "Looks like this guy is the boss around here." Cloud whispered.
"Yeah and if it has the same properties as the ones we fought before, magic will be useless. I say we attack first." Sirea responded.
Without a second thought, Sirea dashed toward the creature with Cloud following behind her. Sharp tentacles sprouted from the monster's body toward its attackers. Twirling her staff Sirea easily deflected the assault. Cloud took a swipe with his sword and cut off the tentacles causing the monster to whine in agony. Suddenly, a green shaft of light erupted from its mouth. Sirea dodged left and jumped skyward. "Here's where you pay for what you did to my foot!" She yelled as she raised her staff and struck the monster cleanly on its head with all her strength.
"What?" Sirea screamed in terror as she saw that her blow didn't even make a dent on the creature. The monster grabbed her by the throat. She gasped for air and a look of shock registered in her face as it stabbed her through the chest with its other clawed hand.
Cloud watched in horror as the monster withdrew its claws from Sirea's limp body. Her blood dripped from tips of the beast's huge claws and stained her dress. He charged at the enemy as tears of rage filled his eyes. Mercilessly, he hacked away with his sword, but he couldn't pierce the thing's seemingly impregnable skin. The monster struck his face with inhuman strength sending him tumbling to the ground. He scrambled back to his feet and rushed into battle and again, after landing a few hits with his sword, he was hurled to the ground by the force of the monster's deadly claws.
Blood gushed forth from his forehead as the pressure from the impact of the blows he had taken escaped his body. Ignoring the pain, he once again resumed his relentless assault, but his efforts yielded him naught. While, the stamina was slowly draining away from his body, his opponent didn't even have a scratch to show from the struggle.
Though she had received a mortal wound, Sirea kept her consciousness and she saw Cloud fighting desperately against the clawed demon. She gritted her teeth in agony as a sharp churning pain ran through her stomach. Raising her hand as high as she could, she found the strength to use one last technique. "Cloud ... let you're anger be forged into new strength ... Fury Brand!" And rays of silver light traveled from her delicate fingers to Cloud. As the light hit his body, he instantly felt reenergized. He knelt down and bowed his head low. Just as the beast prepared to strike him down once again, his speed and strength were multiplied ten-fold and he let loose with a barrage of slashes. The monster was knocked backwards with each strike. At first, it seemed as if the attack could do nothing more than make it step back. Then, small jagged rock-like pieces of debris flew with each slash, indicating that the monster's skin was not invulnerable. It let out an agonized howl as Cloud continued to butcher its body. Countless blades of light now followed through with each slash that he inflicted until the monster was reduced to a pile of rubble. Still, he kept on slashing until all that was left of his enemy was a fine black powder.
Having calmed down, Cloud rushed over to Sirea who was half-conscious lying in a pool of her own blood. He quickly cast the fullcure magic. He felt relieved as the color returned to Sirea's face while the healing aura encircled her body and closed up her wound. "That was ... careless of me." She managed to say before drifting off to sleep.
While Sirea slept, Cloud kept a vigilant watch on her. She looked hauntingly beautiful with the eerie natural light falling softly on her fair skin that made her full cherry lips stand out. When she finally awakened, Cloud was there, still standing guard over her. The blood on his face had began to dry and crack.
"Thanks for saving me ... I guess we're even now." She spoke softly as she got up to her feet.
"Yeah ... you had me worried there for a second, are you alright now?"
Sirea smiled mischievously and released a cure spell on Cloud's face. "Stupid! You're injured and you didn't even notice."
"It's time ... let's destroy the dark jewel and end everything." But even as Cloud had said this, he heard the sound of many large footsteps moving closer toward them. Then, from the darkness of the path ahead, six clawed monsters that looked identical to the one that they previously defeated came forward. It wasn't long before the monsters completely surrounded them as the foul beings prepared to deliver the coup de grace. Sirea began to chant. "The power of the eternal cosmos, Meteor 2!" A meteor shower rained from the heavens. The large projectiles exploded as soon as they came in contact with anything. The monsters were struck down by the force of the impact, but their bodies remained unharmed.
"Yeow!" Cloud exclaimed as a stray meteor hit the ground and exploded dangerously close to him. "Cloud! Run for it." Sirea shouted at him over the deafening waves of meteor explosions. So they ran back down the spiral path. The monsters were still confused by the non-elemental magic that rained down on them and they didn't notice Cloud and Sirea escaping from their death circle.
Halfway down the spiral path, Sirea collapsed, so Cloud took her inside a natural cavern that he found on the face of the hill. As he laid her down to rest a small sparkling object fell into his hand. "Oh it fell out ... You can have it Cloud. It came from this." Sirea pointed to the silver adornment that she wore on her head. She always wore that tiara and it seemed so natural on her hair that Cloud had forgotten all about it. "My mother gave me this Tiara when I was 12, I guess I grew really attached to it. Now, I always wear it to remind me of her. It feels like she's always protecting me." Then she fell into his arms
"I'm sorry about this Cloud ... I guess I lost too much blood." Sirea mumbled weakly.
"Hush ... you need to rest now." Cloud answered while softly cradling her in his arms. They looked deep into each other's eyes and time seemed to stand still for a moment. Neither one of them spoke as they were lost in each other's gaze. Finally, Sirea broke the silence. "Umm ... Cloud? ... Would you give me a ... kiss?"
"What?" Cloud said surprised, but as he looked at Sirea, her eyes almost pleading him, he closed his eyes and slowly positioned his lips to meet hers.
"No!" She screamed suddenly and Cloud drew back. "I.. I mean.. it's all right Cloud. I think I've regained some of my strength now ... besides, we need to get out of here." Cloud was suddenly aware of their situation. The ominous growling of a thousand demonic beings could be heard directly below them and from above, the thunderous footsteps of the clawed beings grew louder.
"So did those things from before break through the barrier?" He asked her.
"Yeah ... I guess it couldn't hold them for long." And suddenly she rose up and looking at Cloud with a firm resolve she said. "I've exhausted all my strength. it's over. We couldn't destroy the jewel after all. I'll use the last of my powers to send you back to your world."
"No! Don't! Aerith please listen to me." He called her by her old name now, but before he could finish, Sirea had already cast the teleport spell on him. The blue light began to engulf him once again. He tried to go after Sirea but she held out her staff strongly in front of him. "Don't follow me Cloud! While the spell takes effect, I'll distract those monsters and buy you enough time to get out of here."
"No! You can't Aerith I ... "
"Don't say it Cloud. Do you remember when Zack died fighting for you on the outskirts of Midgar? When you reached Midgar alive, you were taking on Zack's memories and personality. When we first met, you weren't yourself. Still, living on a false memory, you fell in love with me as Zack. But ... I knew from the moment I first saw you Cloud. I ... fell in love with you ... twice. Once as Aerith and when we met again, as Sirea." And with that, Sirea turned away and strode slowly towards the horde of oncoming monsters.
As Cloud stood there engulfed by the blue light of the teleportation magic, he heard Sirea yell suddenly. "Hey Cloud! I never told you my full name. It's Strife ... Sirea Strife." Cloud was beside himself with disbelief. So this girl was actually his ancestor from 500 years ago. He noted that there were actually many similarities between them. Her blonde hair, her strong personality, Why couldn't he notice these things before? Perhaps that was the reason why they could get along so well. Then as Cloud recovered from the shock, he realized that he might never see Sirea again. Once again, he tried to step out of the magic circle, but it was too late. The light had already grown to such an intensity that it created a barrier of energy between him and the outside world.
As if Sirea could read his thoughts she called out to him for the last time. "Don't worry Cloud. We'll meet again ... someday." And as the magical light began to dim the vision of Sirea fading farther into the distance, Cloud caught a glimpse of a shadowy figure walking beside her. It was Zack, though the sight grew fainter, the figure was unmistakably Zack. Then, the apparition stopped and turned to face him. A thin smile crossed its lips as if it was trying to reassure him and then it was gone. Sirea was alone again as she strode out to meet her fate. The teleportation magic was now complete and the overwhelming light concealed everything from Cloud's view. She was gone and only the small white jewel that he held in his hand was left.
"You came into my life so suddenly. Our adventure was short, but I'll always cherish these memories wherever my path should lead me. You may not realize this ... but you were the key to release me from my inner prisons. These feelings that I locked away inside me for so long, that at times, they seemed like a distant dream to me. Those times that we'd relax and talk together ... you were shining, far brighter than the countless stars of the galaxy and more powerful than the Dark Jewel could ever be. Thank you ... Aerith ................................... Aerith."
The young man softly closed the covers of the aged book. From his pocket, he took out a small white jewel that his grandfather had given him long ago. A strange feeling of reminiscence overcame him as he stared deep into the multi-faceted stone. The trance was broken when a familiar female voice startled him. "Hah! I knew you'd be here Cloud, you always liked this place even when we were kids. You should get out more often and practice some self-defense like me ... Hyah!" Said the woman as she pretended to punch him. "Well not all of us can be martial arts experts like you Tifa." He replied mockingly.
"Whatever. Whatever. Anyway, I came here to tell you that your sister is waiting for you outside. We promised to watch the stars together today remember?"
"Yikes! I forgot all about that." He said while carefully pocketing the gem. They walked out of the mansion and it was already dark outside. "You spent all day in there didn't you? What were you doing down there anyway?" she asked.
"Oh nothing Tifa ... just snooping around like I always do."
"Whatever you say, hey look there's your sister."
The young man saw the little girl waving frantically at them. She was standing on the playground area of the town where the three of them often played together under the moonlight.
"Big brother Cloud! Tifa! Come here quick! Look! Look! A shooting star. Isn't it pretty?"
"Yes ... it's beautiful ... Sirea."
Final Fantasy VII and all related characters, names etc. are copyrighted by Squaresoft. I am in no way affiliated with anyone from Squaresoft. This fanfic can only be found on rdreamers.topcities.com and fanfiction.net for now. If you wish to post this fic on your website, please feel free to do so. I wrote this fic only as a hobby, so I don't care where the heck it ends up. However, I do take pride in my work so if you plan to plagiarize my work ... THINK TWICE! Because I will do everything in my power to track you down and milk you for everything you own through legal and illegal means. Final Fantasy VII: Jewel of Destiny written by Cloud^. So... whaddaya think? (the whole world is a critic.) I've divided this fic into separate chapters at last.