RISE OF THE SILVER PHOENIX

BY : SabreTooth
Category: Final Fantasy VII > Crossovers
Dragon prints: 639
Disclaimer: I do not own the original story line and characters of the canon FF7 genre. I do own the original plot sprung from my deviant mind and some new characters. No money/profit is made from this.

RISE OF THE SILVER PHOENIX

Based on the games of

Final Fantasy VII


In the beginning, there was… sin.

 

In the beginning the creation was but the humble shape of the heavens and planets, but the planets were without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. Then the Spirit within stirred through the darkness and hoped to once again bask in the light… and there was light and the Spirit saw the light… and it felt good, welcoming, like a dear friend greeting the empty eyes of a weary warrior.

Vincent opened his eyes and the morning light cut through him like daggers, piercing his head like vicious memories from the past, from a not so distant past. He awoke to the daybreak-chanting of the priests as they announced through hollering the grace and goodness of the Gods. Gods that supposedly watched over every step of the people slowly filling the marketplace underneath his open window; but it was just an illusion. They were all alone.

Vincent sat up, his red mantle rolling off his chest as he leaned over to the windowsill, observing the busy craftsmen and salesmen raising one stand after another, offering their services or merchandise to the weekend-shoppers. They were all so very happy. Every day was like a celebration of life to them and they were rejoicing; and for a good reason. The evil that had plagued them was now dead, abolished, destroyed and quite soon forgotten. But Vincent couldn’t forget, he couldn’t rejoice, and he felt no calmness soothing his soul. There was nothing but turmoil and resounding anguish inside of him, transforming Chaos into a restive fiend, which was constantly on the edge of breaching the boundaries he kept within and manifesting in the flesh.

Vincent took a deep breath and watched a group of children play hide-and-seek between stands and the playground architecture of the park. Their laughter was witness to a carefree youth, but Vincent’s numb lips could not bless the day with even the faintest smile. Why was he cold inside? Why was he dead now when life truly began? Sephiroth was dead! Vincent had witnessed the destruction of the one-winged angel and the return of colour and brightness to the skies. The obscurity vanished and the entire planet was set free from the dread that kept them captive in their nightmares. Thus, why couldn’t Vincent express joy? At least be glad for the fact that his vicious lie had become true. Yes, he was now released from the burdens of his tailing pain of being delusory towards his beloved Lucrecia.

Vincent jolted at the mere thought of that name; Lucrecia. It was still too painful and he felt the panic building up inside him like a monster, ravaging from within. He turned away from the window, brushing his sable locks aside as he glanced into the darkness of his domicile. The dwelling was so dim and gloomy that it instantly wrapped his soul in a chill, forcing the warrior to once again stare into the blinding morning sun. It appeared as if even the light wanted to escape this square cave he called his home. Indeed, Vincent’s room was always dark for he fled into its obscure security. Fled from the light, from the scrutiny of brightness as if he feared his soul would reveal its darkest desires in the presence of daylight.

Upon his final journey from Lucrecia’s crystal grave, he had given her peace by swearing her child had died at birth. Yes, her only son; a hideous mongrel who was integrated with an ancient species with powers comparable to a demigoddess. Sephiroth was the one-winged angel who was born of two mothers and a father more sinister than the beasts of Hell, and even though the beautiful seraph was part human, he had inherited the worst part of the weak flesh. He inherited his insanity, the frailty of the human mind, so easily controlled and misled by a higher power, such as Jenova. Now, her remains were scattered into the unknown, her seraph son was dead and Lucrecia could find true peace. Still, Vincent couldn’t.

He was burning in the flames of his guilt like a sinner. He was carrying the sins of the father as a young seraph was sacrificed like a lamb in the purgatory sprung from human madness and hunger for power. Vincent had never before been tormented by thoughts like these. He had always fought for the death of the Jenova spawns, yet now facing the truth, he felt increasingly uneasy sensing that the death of this angel was premature. Vincent could feel the pain and the torment of the Seraph’s spirit through Chaos; the Daemon that linked them both not only to a common past but also united them through the forces of Gaia and the Lifestream of the planet and the Universe. Vincent leaned even further out of the window, almost as if he reached through the gaping mouth of a monster that wanted to swallow him. With a weak breath he released a name that was carried to the skies on the wings of culpability; Sephiroth.

But across the clouds his spirit could marvel at its shadow, fly and land inside the restless mind of Cloud who had been sleepless for days. It had been a few years since he defeated Sephiroth and thereby his sinister “little brother”, Kadaj. It was something everyone had fought for, a joint effort that Cloud had executed. Yet the sweetness of victory had a bitter aftertaste that haunted him at nights in the shape of that bastard child – the spawn of Jenova – just another victim of human madness. Kadaj’s fate, as with the fate of Sephiroth, was tied to that of billions and a future that was ever so uncertain if they were allowed to live. There was no other choice but to destroy them. It was the way it had to be done. Unfortunately, Death was irreversible and Life was the only thing that mattered; it had to prevail no matter the cost.

“Another bad dream?” spoken softly from beside him.

Cloud smiled a little and turned to the side, facing Tifa. He nodded wordlessly and snuggled deeper into her embrace, but it wasn’t what it used to be. He felt the warmth from her body but it wasn’t comforting, he felt her kisses but what he returned was not passion. He felt her infatuation but it left him… numb. Cloud scolded himself inwardly for being a hypocrite as he used Tifa’s heat to kill the cold inside his soul. It was unforgivable. The truth was, their relationship had deteriorated since that day of victory and Cloud wasn’t sure they were going to be able to hold on in the long run. He stared up at the ceiling going through previous conversations that had rooted in his mind the past weeks. The summary of which was painting an alarming picture of a possible future with a bitter aftertaste. They had been sitting in the kitchen talking.

“You said, ‘I think I know how you're feeling’,” Tifa began and then added sullenly, “but I doubt it, Cloud. You don’t.”

No, it was true, for if he had known anything about her qualms and emotions, they wouldn't be here at the end of everything; occasionally reuniting over a cup of coffee to recall of what the past was like. The questions that bloomed through emotional turmoil were:

“What’s happened to us, Cloud? Did we grow apart, did we do something wrong, or did we simply never grow together?”

Cloud had been lost for words. He had an urge to live his dreams but that came at a cost; the cost of his relationship. He wasn’t ready for the stability Tifa was seeking. His life was high-paced and his lust was hiding secret images of forbidden passion not to be exposed to the world. Images he had kept locked within since the awakening of entangling and strange desires; shrouded for the shame and fear he wanted to avoid by sealing his lips and building a wall around himself. At times when Cloud came home late at night, watching Tifa sleeping on the couch, the flaxen beauty realized that their love had become nothing more than sacrifice and in that split second he was no longer sure that they would remain together for very long.

“Where do we go from here?” Cloud had asked in return and strangely the smile he received in response did not carry testimony of a sad girl.

She was tired, but not sad. She was strong and it made him feel ever so safe. That was Tifa’s strength. She took the edge of his worry. It no longer mattered if their ways converged or if it separated to nowhere, because somehow their path would still intertwine. Cloud was sure of that. Their future was obscured in mystery; a mystery akin to the hidden meaning behind the nightmares that currently plagued Cloud every night. The only emotion he could identify with was guilt because it was always present.

Cloud attempted to defend himself in the face of guilt, which kept staring back at him each time he closed his eyes; repeating over and over that it was the only thing he could do. Kill the spawns, kill them both, kill them all if necessary. In fact, the disease had receeded the moment Kadaj’s spirit merged with the force of life and Sephiroth dissolved into people’s memories.

It was good; Cloud had done what had been expected of him. He had done the right thing. That’s what they all chanted, that’s what they all said, and that was what Cloud now questioned every waking moment. In Death, these spawns had become more powerful it seemed. Something about them was not letting Cloud go and anguish was his daily bread.

It all began only a few months following the destruction of Sephiroth… the nightmare… the nightmares. They began shortly after Kadaj gave up his last breath. Cloud had held the spawn of Jenova until the wild heart stopped beating, the lungs collapsed and the limpid emeralds had lost their shine. Cloud had never spoken to anyone about it, not even his young love Tifa, but guilt troubled him and his arms were longing for a slight tremble of a phantom body to assure he hadn’t been the bringer of Death. At times he even managed to delude himself into believing he had done the right thing, but those delusions only lasted until he closed his eyes, then the nightmare came to wake him up to reality.

After a few minutes attempting to sleep, Cloud realized it was but a waste of time and effort. With a deep sigh the blond got out of bed and went into the kitchen. With automatic, almost robotic movements his feet trod the path that led straight to the refrigerator and a bottle of milk was emptied into a large glass. Cloud sat down at the kitchen table near the window and stared into the slowly waking sun beyond the horizon. His mind was tired, the nightmares were draining him of focus and his sanity, for at times Cloud found himself lost in daydreams that seemed so real he could have sworn it was so. The emotions that flowed freely through him, the confusions and the anguish were all so genuine it made his skin crawl just thinking about it. But they weren’t his thoughts, his dreams. He was most certain about that, for he had never before encountered situations that would seed such terror inside him as these daydreams and nightmares did.

His beautiful sapphires, stained with patches of teal, blinked a few times and then shut their marvellous portals simultaneously with a relieving breath. When Cloud opened his eyes again, he saw the marble whiteness of the buffalo-milk swirling to the motions of his hands. He lifted the glass to his lips and took a sip, then without removing the glass, he took another guttural gulp and yet another. It was cold and soothing and his upset stomach welcomed the white balm sinking into the depths of the young man’s belly. The glass was half empty when Cloud removed it from his lips and set it down on the polished, metallic surface of the table.

Metal. It was so sterile… so cold. Cloud hated it. He hated metal. Everything in life that was associated with pain had come in the form of metal and he was glad to finally discard the Ultima sword for good. As the images of the devastating power of the sword flashed before his eyes, a sudden ring of singing crystal hit him from the great beyond. The glass shattered in his hands and the milk spread over the table, dripping over the edge of the metallic surface like white blood over the edge of a knife. White blood… like the blood of an angel. Cloud was slowly losing himself in the trickle and pelting of the thick liquid, listening to every drop seemingly echoing from the floor as if his small kitchen had been in the belly of a vast cave. Drip-drop… drip-drop… drip-drop… drip-drop….

A terrible thud crashed against his eardrums and a flicker of a shadow was cast over the table, remnants of a black pigeon that flew into the window and pierced its own chest with its sharp beak at the moment of impact. It was lying on the windowsill, struggling to hold on to its last breath whilst its eyes turned opaque and cloudy, and the essence of life left its body with the blood pouring through the gaping wound in its chest. Cloud shivered beside himself.

This was not the first time. Since the nightmares began, the bed of lilies under his window, a gift from Aeris, had turned into a graveyard for birds. Tiny bodies piling onto the ground, falling from the skies like tears of angels. They were all black, tears of tar, saturating the ground with blood until the lilies had turned red. Cloud removed them in the morning, but by nightfall, the lilies were once again buried under flesh and blood.

Drip-drop… drip-drop… drip-drop… drip… drip… drip… no more. The tears stopped falling. Deafening silence settled around him and nothing of the mortal world could penetrate the bubble of thick, frightening stillness. Cloud felt his heart increasingly hammering against his ribcage, threatening to break through as this creeping inertia came over him to taint the peace out of his mind once again. Cloud was trying to gain control over his stolen breath, but to no avail. Immobilized with dread, he watched as the ghosts of his past, abominations of Nature, breached the mortal dimension and called for him with shivering whispers that would ring in his ears as delicate chinks long after the end of the nightmares.

Trapped beneath the opaque liquid spreading over the table, a familiar face of another man took form, and even though the details of the features could not be discerned, Cloud recognized the relief protruding from the surface. The blond warrior was trapped in a hypnotic state by the pulsating white flesh before him. It was reaching through the cover of milk as if it had been a living person breathing beneath a silk veil. It was the face of the one he had despised.

“Forgive me, brother,” Cloud whispered as tears appeared in his eyes. The salty water was hot and burning his cheeks in streaks of lava as it ran down his face. “Forgive me, brother.”

Repentance came too little too late, death had been delivered through odium; not from a heated war, but sprung from a hate-filled heart. Cloud’s heart. Kadaj had slipped into the Lifestream; in repentance of faith, repentance of hope, repentance of hate. It had not been his war at all, yet he paid the price. The price of Sephiroth’s sin, and though the air was still outside, the ether inside Cloud’s head was vibrating to the thumping of Soldiers marching on.

“On your feet!” resounded between the swaying walls and crisis was at hand as the ceiling dissolved into a boiling silver sea of despair in which a young child was drowning. Cloud lifted his head, watching the child as he fought to keep himself afloat in the heavy sea that drew him in like a hungry beast. Born from stillness, the ripples and waves advanced towards the child, moving with the edge of Masamune, brushing gently against the toddler and slashing his little body with gentle strokes; sadism in the kindness of a gentle touch.

The face of the child was stale and expressionless, his tormented eyes etched into the brain of the blond, settling there to become a part of his reality. The silver haired little boy fought bravely against the dread he faced, but quite soon his arms were turning numb and his muscles were aching with fatigue; the battle was unfair. Instincts told him to fight and to keep afloat, but each movement stirred a blinding white glow into the sea, like the fragile crust of molten rock bursting open for the lava to pour out of the wound.

Cloud sensed increasing heat against his skin as his body floated off the ground. The molten sea was becoming increasingly lively as if it had a life of its own. Heat rising, devouring space. Scorching steam escaped from the effervescent surface, coiling around Cloud like a parasitic vine and reaching inside every crevice of his body. He was overwhelmed by the ache from the cramps destroying him from within with violent onslaught, the dread of suffocation and his lungs shrivelled under the implosion of his chest as if it had been him drowning in boiling metal. He couldn’t tear his eyes from the child.

The skin of the child was scalded and burned and his eyes were widened with the dread that raped his soul. Each movement he made ripped the skin wide open to expose the hurt that was coursing through his body. The head on the table started mourning in the weeping of a grown man, partly muffled by the wrapping of the veil that allowed only for whimpers of shame to reach daylight.

“On your feet soldier!” the child shrieked in concordance with the tortured face that had bled through the heavily wrapped veils and soiled the milk with blackness that was spreading in a mesh of veins and tendrils over the table; growing like cancer and infesting Cloud’s mind with obsessions.

“Crisis at hand! On your feet soldier!”

Instinctively, Cloud reached towards the child as it disappeared beneath the surface of the steaming ceiling. There was no up or down anymore, there was no order, there was only chaos around him. As Cloud pushed his fists against the rippled surface, the blank metal sea turned into a crypt of needles and splinters of sharp slivers and shrapnels, jutting beyond the surface and causing him so much pain that he was forced to pull away. He made another attempt, slashing his own fists over and over, breaching the surface of knives and daggers, but he could not feel the child anymore. He was screaming, calling, swallowing his pain and shedding blood to save the toddler, but to no avail. It was futile. He had failed before… and he was failing yet again. Once he removed his hands, the child surfaced, face covered in deep cuts.

“See me!” the child screamed and reached out for Cloud, but the blond only responded with a wordless shake of the head.

His denial boosted the violent battle within, but he knew that no matter how badly he wished to save the child, he was doomed to fail. Guilt was fettering him, and Fear was pushing him down and turning him into a witness encased in a helpless state.

“They are hurting me!” the boy cried and held out his slit wrists.

Cloud focused his feverish eyes on the gaping slashes on the little arms and spoke as calmingly as he could manage.

“It won’t take long now. Shh. Just be still, it won’t take long now…”

“Please, make them stop!” the little one begged, at first with a humble plea, but then his voice grew steadily into a piercing shriek. “Make them stop, make them stop, make them stop, make them stop…!”

Powerlessly, Cloud witnessed as the slivers and knives dug under the crusted, burnt skin of the child, scratching and cutting the aching sores and turning a tortured body into an open wound. The pain and screams of the child were unbearable to the point where Cloud broke free from his bonds only to cover his ears, defiantly and demonstratively refusing to be part of the nightmares that haunted him.

“Shut up!” echoed inside the head of the blond. “Just shut up! Leave me alone! Just shut up! Shut up!”

The plea in the eyes of the child was unmistakable as he ripped his own tongue out at the root in agony, suffocating his own desperate cries for help and obeying Cloud’s command as with so many others before him. The wrapped face under the veil wept with abandonment until the boy dissolved into those drops of blood remaining on the surface of the splinters and blades; then suddenly, everything went silent.

Cloud jolted and awoke to the sound of milk pelting against the floor. It was a dream… another nightmare of the tortured child without a voice. The tortured child without a voice.



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