BY : Rina76
Category: Final Fantasy Anime > Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children
Dragon prints: 1486
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII Advent Children or any of the characters from the film. I am not making money from the writing of this story.

Chapter 23. Vessel

After midnight, when everyone in the lair is sleeping, I go to fetch my regular glass of milk. If I don't have it, I start to feel nauseated, so it's something my body, and my baby, evidently needs. Sometimes I even have a snack too, such as a cookie or an iced fruit bun from the local bakery. I guess going all night without any sustenance is too long for my hungry kid. When I enter the dimly-lit kitchen, I see someone in a black robe leaning into the open door of the refrigerator. At first I think it's Yazoo but then I realise he's too short to be Yazoo. It's Kadaj. When he straightens and turns his head, I freeze, not sure what he'll do or say but he simply smiles at me.

"Thirsty, Cate?"

"I'll come back later," I mumble hesitantly, not wishing to anger him in any way, especially after our encounter in the hallway where he used Allure on me and almost crushed my wrist in his furious grasp.

"Don't be silly," he says lightly. "If the baby wants milk, give him milk."

Acting as though he didn't threaten me earlier, Kadaj cheerfully offers me the cardboard carton from the fridge. "Here. Don't bother with a glass. You don't have to use manners around me; I won't care."

As I take the carton from him, I realise by the weight of it that there's only a few mouthfuls left, hardly enough to fill a glass anyway. There's a fresh carton in the fridge, unopened, so I decide to finish this one before opening the new one.

Keeping some distance between Kadaj and I, I tip my head back and take a few swallows of milk. Almost immediately, my vision swims and I suddenly feel funny - lightheaded, almost drugged. I drop the carton I'm holding and when the last of the milk spills onto the floor, I see it's tainted with something like black ink.

Looking to Kadaj in confusion, I ask with a thick tongue, "What did you do?"

"This." Calmly, Kadaj gets a glass of water and puts his fingertips in it. Dark materia swirls from his hand and into the water. "This is Mother's legacy. This is how we will change the world."

"Loz!" I scream in terror, believing that I'm being poisoned. Gripping the edge of the kitchen counter with dizziness, I cry out again as I sink to the floor in front of the oven, feeling weak all over.

"Oh Gods," I whisper. "I'm dying…"

"No, you're not, Cate. You're a vessel," Kadaj states, gazing down at me.

At first, I think he's talking about me being pregnant – a vessel to carry Loz's baby – but then something very strange starts happening. I feel like my skin is turning inside out and my bones are lengthening, even the ones in my fingers, but it doesn't hurt. My scalp is tingling and I'm enveloped in green light from head to toe.

With my blurry eyesight, I see Loz rushing into the room, closely followed by Yazoo. They stop and stare at me.

"What's that light? What's happening to her?" Loz's voice is alarmed but Kadaj hushes him.

"She's fine. Just watch."

Too giddy to do anything else, I lower my head, closing my eyes against the bright greenness of the world for a few moments as my flesh continues to ripple and stretch over my altering skeletal system.

Then it just stops. The bright light goes away. My head clears. I open my eyes, gazing at myself in the glass window of the oven door in front of me. My irises glow electrified-red. There is long silver hair floating around my face, except it's not my face anymore. And it's not my body. As I stand up in one fluid motion, I glance down. Gone is my big belly, replaced with a slim, tall figure encased in what looks like blue veined rubber. Out of the corners of my vision I see scarlet protrusions spreading out behind me and I turn to look. Wings.

I am Jenova.

"Mother!" Kadaj cries out and as one unit the brothers instantly drop to their knees as if in the presence of royalty, lifting their mesmerized gazes towards her slender form, worshipping the long-awaited return of their Goddess, their Creator. I am inside of Jenova but I can see what she looks like through their eyes.

She's breathtaking. Flawless. A pale, perfect winged creature of unimaginable splendour and magnificence. Her lips are dark blue. She speaks, not through me in dreams or visions anymore, but directly through my mouth and my vocal chords which have changed and become identical to hers. I cannot say or do anything; she has taken over now and she wants to talk to her children.

"My boys. My sons," Jenova greets them warmly. "Look at you. All so beautiful."

The whole three of them are crying but their gazes remain steadfastly riveted on the supreme being before them, love and exaltation transfixing their awestruck faces.

"Loz. My strong, obedient one." She touches his cheekbone with white, long-nailed fingers, making him sob even harder. Jenova's all-seeing eyes turn to her middle child.

"Yazoo," she sighs, softly stroking his silvery hair, so similar to her own. "My lethal beauty."

"You came for us," he whispers in reverence, silent tears streaming down his face. "You came!"

"For you, yes," she affirms, her tone deepening with maternal intonation. "And for Kadaj."

"For me, Mother? You're here for me?" Kadaj breathes eagerly, stretching out his fingers towards her in adulation. She allows him to take her hand, to cover it with dedicated kisses.

"Of course. I told you I would come. You are my favourite, my cold-hearted warrior." She smiles down at her youngest as he rubs his cheek adoringly against her fingers. "How full of pride you make me."

"Where are you? Tell us where you are and we will come and get you," Loz implores. "We will rescue you, set you free."

She shakes her head. "I am constantly being moved. Even if I tell you where I am now, I will not be there when you arrive. Never fear. We will all be together soon. The Reunion WILL happen and nothing can stop it. This I promise you, my sweet children."

"What should we do now, Mother?" Kadaj looks to her expectantly with shining eyes. "Tell us what to do. We need your guidance."

"You already know what to do, my pretty spawn," she returns, still smiling. Her voice is very much like Kadaj's, low, velvety and seductive yet edged with something blood-chilling and dangerous, like the tip of a surgical scalpel. Or at least that's how it sounds to me. To them – her living legacy, her offspring – that voice is the sound of heaven, her words pure gospel.

"Rid this pathetic planet of all unworthy human existence." Her smile turns unpleasant; I can feel it curving more like a sneer. "Crush their feeble skulls with your boot and grind their useless brain matter into the dirt."

Swift, terrifying horror infuses me and I start to smell something decomposing and decayed, like maggot-infested meat. I can taste it on my tongue, sour and putrefying, and I realise it's coming from her. It's Jenova's evil, her badness, oozing from her every molecule like black sludge. I would have gagged at the overpowering rottenness of it but I'm not in control of my body anymore. She is.

"Annihilate everybody that opposes me on this wretched rock," she hisses to Kadaj in a tone as frozen and unfeeling as liquid nitrogen. "Cleanse this world of all its fools so that I can create a new empire and become its savage and powerful ruler."

"I will," Kadaj vows fervently, his pupils so thin they are like razor-blade slits. "For you, Mother, I will do anything. Anything!"

Gleaming red eyes slice towards the other two brothers kneeling on the floor.

"All of you will do as I ask," she instructs imperiously. "You will die for me if I wish it so, my sons."

"Yes, Mother," Yazoo whispers. "We will die for you."

"Together, we will bathe in the blood of our oppressors," Jenova callously continues, "dine on the steaming flesh of their organs and scrape the sweet marrow from their bones with our fingernails while they are awake to watch and feel it. They will know who their new ruler is before their death. I shall take pleasure in the sound of their screams for every single one will be in praise of my name and my name alone."

"Praise Mother," Kadaj intones religiously.

"The female humans that I choose to keep alive will be used for breeding. The males…We will do to them what they did to you, my darling boys. We will experiment on them, change them, turn them into monsters. They will be our willing slaves and carry out the work of my legacy until humankind is extinct and nothing remains but MY cells, MY blood, MY progeny. The world will be solely mine."

Her crimson wings lift and spread like those of a giant vulture, the volume of her voice rising and booming, frightening with its degree of power.

"And nobody will deny me any of this for I...AM...JENOVA!"

She begins to laugh, madly and cruelly, delighting in the true level of her control and influence over these poor, lost Remnants of hers. Yazoo is staring at Jenova, unafraid and utterly spellbound by her, but I see Loz starting to look uncertain, his eyes clouding with something I haven't seen before.


Kadaj, however, is fawning over this alien queen, this horrendous calamity, cradling her arm and licking the back of her hand like he wants to crawl inside her skin and BE her. She gazes down upon him in superiority, knowing that through him, this carbon-copy clone-child, her wishes will be fulfilled and her darkest desires completed.

"You, most of all, will help me get what I want," she replies, rubbing her thumb slowly and incestuously against Kadaj's half-parted lips. "You will give me your body, your essence, your very soul if I ask for it."

"You can have me, Mother," Kadaj replies, sounding sexually excited. "All of me. I am yours." He dares to swipe his tongue-tip across the pad of her thumb, shuddering with the twisted gratification of it.

"Of course you are, my son. Our children will be beautiful and deadly."

She rubs Kadaj's lower lip again, suddenly piercing it with her sharp thumbnail. Kadaj stiffens, giving a hiss of excitement. Green fluid wells from the wound. Smearing it on her fingers, Jenova pushes them roughly into his mouth, making Kadaj taste his own blood while his other two brothers watch. Her fingers and hand merge and elongate, her whole arm turning into a long greyish tentacle. She slips the tapered end of the boneless limb in and out of Kadaj's mouth like an obscenely grotesque penis, moist and slimy and squirming. Mindless with arousal, Kadaj grips her slim thighs in his hands and moans helplessly at the back of his throat, closing his eyes and sucking like the submissive son-slave he is, more than willing to do whatever his Mother tells him to, more than willing to let her hurt him or humiliate him if it means pleasing her. That's all he wants to do – please her – and she knows it.

"Yes," Jenova purrs. "You will prove worthy to be my king."

She smiles again and it's malicious and dreadful and cruel. Her beauty starts to distort and warp, shape-shifting back into the repugnant form it must have originally been, neither male or female, human or animal, flesh or liquid. Just a writhing, genderless, ancient entity from an alien planet light-years away. Jenova is hideous, demonic malevolence in its purest form; a nightmarish, soul-devouring monstrosity and I don't want it possessing my body for one second longer.

"Get out," I yell at it in angered terror from inside. "Get OUT of me, you ugly bitch!"

The thing calling itself Jenova doesn't listen to my silent shouting but from somewhere deep within me surges a great power, pushing at it, forcing its foul, soulless presence to release its unnatural hold on me and finally, the Calamity shifts. Dark, polluted mist swirls chokingly around me, through me, and then the creature retracts its insidious tendrils and vanishes, leaving me so weakened and nauseous I can't remain standing. I crumple dizzily. There's a flash of blue light and a pair of strong hands catches me, lowering me safely to the ground.

"Catey? You okay? Say something!" Loz's fearful urging pierces through my sickened daze and I fight to open my eyes, seeing nothing but blurry shapes.

"She's gone," I hear Kadaj exclaim in dismay and disappointment. "No, Mother – come back!"

My vision blurs again and then comes into focus. Loz and Kadaj are looking down at me in concern, although Kadaj doesn't appear concerned for my wellbeing; only that his beloved Mother has left him. I'm lying on my side and Loz has a bent arm under my neck, supporting me. Cupping my face anxiously with his fingers, his brows are cinched with alarm. Kadaj moves back, loath to touch me now that he knows I'm not HER. He's licking his still-bleeding lip. Yazoo is standing aside, watching me with odd disinterest. He doesn't ask if I'm okay, or even looks like he cares.

Knowing what Mother really is, and fully understanding where these strange young men came from, means that the terrified revulsion I felt when Jenova overtook my body never leaves. Anything that was created from her decaying cells cannot be good. These boys, these silver-haired, green-eyed triplets...they're incredibly, extraordinarily beautiful but they are also horrific, ghastly experiments that never should have happened.

And now I have one of them inside me.

Oh Gods, I have part of Jenova inside me.

"Are you all right, Cate?" Loz ventures, sensing my overriding fright.

"Don't touch me," I yelp, frantically shoving myself out of Loz's arms and scrambling to my feet. "All of you monsters just stay the fuck away from me!"

With that outburst I turn and run down the hall as fast as I can carrying this heavy half-alien child in my belly, ignoring the crippling stitch that I get in my side and the way my breath gasps dryly in my throat. I know that any one of the guys could catch me if they wanted to, especially Loz if he did that flashing thing, but nobody comes running after me. Lungs burning and an invisible knife stabbing in my ribs, I make it to Loz's bathroom and slam the door behind me, locking myself in. I slide my back down the wall and sit there on the tiled floor, panting and holding my stomach. My abdominal muscles tighten suddenly and sharp pain slashes across my midsection, making me gasp.

"Oh no," I whimper, scrunching my face up in trepidation. "Not yet. Please, not yet."

It's far too soon for me to go into labour and if I do, the baby could die, or even I could die. I rub at my tummy, waiting in mounting unease for another contraction to arrive but it doesn't. Instead, a giddy wave of nausea rolls over me and I groan, clumsily getting to my hands and knees, crawling to the toilet and lifting the lid to forcefully vomit up everything I ate this evening at dinner. I retch a few more times and when nothing else comes out I close the lid and flush, grabbing at a towel rail to pull myself up. I stagger over to the sink and turn the faucet on, splashing my sweaty face and rinsing my mouth out . I dare to glance at my face in the mirror over the basin and 'haunted' is the only word that comes to mind. I look white and haunted, like I've managed to climb my way out of the depths of hell itself mere milliseconds before I got eaten alive by demons.

That's how I feel too. If I hadn't been able to make Jenova leave, she might have stayed there, living in my body like a parasite and I would have simply ceased to exist. She could have suffocated me with her slippery, probing tentacles, sucked the life out of me with her blackened breath and I could have disappeared. Forever.

"Hey, little girl? Is everything okay in there?" Loz's tentative voice coming from behind the closed door reminds me that I'm still very much here and even though I don't want to talk to him right now, I'm glad to be myself again.

"Go away," I say weakly, lowering myself onto the closed toilet seat. My nose starts to bleed and I dab it up with a wad of toilet paper, unsurprised. After the ordeal I just went though, I'm amazed my brain isn't leaking out.

"What's wrong?"

"What do you think, you idiot?" I snap at Loz, the first time I've ever called him such a name. "You're cloned from that…that THING."

He is quiet for a moment. "You mean Mother?"

"That's exactly what I mean," I spit out, still tasting her sourness in my throat. "You were made from her stinking, undead corpse."

"Not by choice," he objects. "We didn't ask to be made. It was something that was done to us."

"Yeah, well. I don't care. You're still part of her and that makes me sick."

Loz doesn't answer. I'm pretty sure I've offended him but I can't give a shit about his super-sensitive feelings at the moment. He's not the one who got his body invaded by a cold-blooded space-slug who sees humans as nothing more than vermin to be exterminated.

"Just leave me alone," I mutter, letting my forehead rest against the smooth, stone wall, letting its coolness soothe the hot throbbing beginning there. Great. A headache. Exactly what I need on top of everything else.

"I just want to be alone right now, Loz."

"All right," he eventually replies, trying not to sound hurt and failing. "I'll be out here if you need me, okay?"

This time I don't answer, just close my eyes and pray that I wake up from this dream because it's a really fucking bad one.

All this time I've supported the boys in their search for Jenova. I wanted them to find her. I wanted them to have their mother back, to be a complete family again. I thought she'd be wise and gentle and caring, all those things that mothers should be but she's not any of them. She's nothing like what I expected. I had this idea in my head that she'd be beautiful, and she is, but her beauty only goes as far as her outer form.

What's inside her is the ugliest thing I've ever beheld.

As I'm sitting on the toilet lid trying to recover from the chilling horror of Jenova's body-rape, I feel the baby move inside me. Just as I start to wonder what kind of ghastly creature I'm carrying in my womb and how I could get rid of it before it kills me, an overwhelming sense of emotion emanates from my belly, spreading all over me in a warm, deep wave. Even though my child is unable to talk, I can understand exactly what they are saying. The baby is telling me that I'm safe now, that I don't have to worry. The baby wants to protect me from harm, and in fact, has already protected me.

What happened before, the supernatural power that made Jenova leave...that wasn't my power. It was the baby's. The baby wanted her gone as much as I did. Therefore, whatever I have inside me cannot be evil like her. Even if it's not entirely human, it still radiates goodness and loves me more than anything in the universe. I start to cry, holding my stomach.

"I'm so sorry, sweetie. I'm sorry I ever doubted you," I sob, stroking the bulge of my belly. "Mommy loves you too, baby. Mommy loves you so much."

I feel nudging against my hands, as if the infant in there is attempting to get closer and not for the first time, I dearly wish they were out already. I want to see what my son or daughter looks like; I want to gaze down at their little face and feel their soft, small body in my arms. I want tiny hands curling around my finger. I want to hear the noises that newborn babies make: gurgles, hiccups, even the sound of crying because it means that they're here and I can be a mom and soothe them. I want to comfort my child. I want to hold them to my breast and watch as they nurse, quietly and contentedly. I just want my baby here with me so I can hold them and love them properly.

I want something good in my life to counteract all the bad.

I still have eight more weeks to go before my estimated due-date and it seems like such a long time. But the baby will come when he or she is ready. All I can do is wait but it makes me feel better knowing that in the meantime, if Jenova tries anything again, my kick-ass kid can shove her slithering black tendrils out of me and lock the fucking door.

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