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03 August 2007 @ 02:22 pm
As The Heavens Will Fall (1/?)  
Title: As The Heavens Will Fall (1/???)
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII (Original Game Canon/AU)
Length: 3,268 words
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: TBA

Characters Herein: Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockheart, Reno, Rude, Elena, Vincent Valentine, Cid Highwind.

Summary: Just because Jenova is gone doesn't mean Gaia is in the clear. Something strange is afoot and the truth may be far worse than Avalanche and Shinra could possibly imagine.

Notes: Would you think less of me if I admitted the basic idea for this story came about while driving home from work listening to Nine Inch Nail's "The Fragile"?

This fic is ALMOST ENTIRELY Original Game Canon. I am for the most part ignoring EVERYTHING from Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus. Now, I love the new canon and it definitely opens the entire story up for some interesting interpretation, but it is also limiting in some regards. This story will be picking up possibly at the same time as the events of AC (Two years after the game, more or less) but Sephiroth and his pals? Not around. Geostigma? Never happened.

Still, conventions that were impacted or shed light on by the NEW canon, yet were a part of the game are still valid here. Rufus is alive, despite being blown up. Tseng is alive. Reeve goes on to for the WRO. Rufus is in the shadows being all helpful. Points brought up in AC that logically follow the game without delving into the major plot of either new canon are also present. Tifa has orphens. Edge exists.

So I guess this is OGC, but AU.





AS THE HEAVENS WILL FALL
chapter 1


It was like a sound within a void.

She was calling him again, that much he was certain, but at first there was nothing, just static washing over the silence. It was a calling he felt but could not put into words. Something he knew existed, deep down but could not explain. A feeling that came over him dark and fast in the dead of night, comforting and placid and yearning.

At first there was nothing, but it seemed that the longer he held fast to the voice’s existence deep within his subconscious, the stronger it became. At first there was nothing, but then it almost became corporeal.

And that was when he heard the voice.

It was distinctly feminine, distinctly familiar and it was calling him, still. Something in her tone felt real and true – needing and wanting and there and it was her. Someone residing on the edges of his tired memories. It was a voice that blanketed his mind like smoke and penetrated like fog and he knew, knew if he reached out he could touch it.

And if he could touch it, maybe he could understand it.


Cloud Strife awoke abruptly, though not with a jolt. It was not a nightmare and could not be a recurring dream, despite how often he awoke, reaching and straining only to hear the murmurs of a sleeping Tifa Lockheart through paper-thin walls and the dripping of a sink’s faucet.

He sat up and listened, barely moving or breathing. There had to be something, he knew. If he tried hard enough… But within the darkness he could hear nothing out of the ordinary – just the creaking of aged wood, the singing of night birds.

He sighed, ready to turn in again for the remainder of his night, and then breaking through his senses, it was there. Jumbled words like distorted radio frequencies and static, but there. Proof of existence.

And something deep within told him the answer lay far beyond the reaches of Edge, and suddenly he was dressed and down the wooden stairs, past barstools and bedrooms and outdoors in the mists and waning darkness, motorcycle key in hand.

And then he was gone.



But he wasn’t alone.





Thousands of miles and several time zones away, Cid Highwind was having a bad day.

Shera would probably say something about him getting up on the wrong side of the bed in that halfway chipper voice that made him inwardly groan and outwardly curse. Damned Shera and her metaphors – his bed was against a wall. There was only one way to get out of bed.

Nevertheless…

It began when he stubbed his toe upon getting out of bed – not once but twice. This was of course logically followed by him cutting himself shaving and realizing he was out of his toothpaste and had to rely on Shera’s stripy cinnamon-mint nonsense. To round out his morning, he somehow managed to spill tea all over the table, only to learn that what had wound up dripping down the counter-edges and puddling on linoleum was the last of his Darjeeling.

So when Vincent Valentine showed up at his doorstep unannounced and displaying a certain degree of muted urgency, Cid had to give in. His day would not be getting any better anytime soon. At least he still had another pack of cigarettes left—

Damn.





And that was how Cid found himself rounding up his crew and taking off for the skies above Nibelheim in the less annoying but certainly more aerodynamic Shera, circling down toward what Valentine referred to as “Lucrecia’s Cave.” Cid, himself, had some choice thoughts concerning the verity of calling that cave Lucrecia’s to begin with, but decided to let the issue drop, at least for the moment. Whether or not dead chicks or living chicks or whatever the hell she was could, in fact, stake their claim on territory quasi-owned by the diminished, but still somewhat active Nibelheim government was beyond his realm of expertise and either way it didn’t matter much in the long run.

It was still a little annoying.

“Pain in the ass…” Cid mumbled to himself as the Shera passed over forests, and inwardly being thankful that the cave wasn’t all that far from Rocket Town, anyway. Still, he had to wonder what was going on in Valentine’s head. That is, he had to wonder despite the nagging thought that he’d probably be best not knowing. That was the way it always was, it seemed. Vincent Valentine was standing mere feet away, silently watching the same scenery as he was, although Cid could have sworn he heard a “Hn” or an “Mmm” or whatever affirmative, ‘I’m listening but not caring’ noise he had chosen to rely on in place of actual words.

So Cid did what he always did. He lit a cigarette, leaned forward over the railing, and watched the scenery. In silence. Annoyed.

“Like standing next to a goddamned robot,” he growled mostly to himself.

“Hmm…”

“Aren’t you going to say something?”

“I’m unsure what you wish me to say. Sorry?”

Cid shook his head before taking another drag. It was going to be a long day, it seemed. He wasn’t even sure why they were there to begin with, wasting resources in getting the Shera off the ground over what? Friendship? A favor? The Shera still back at Rocket Town – possibly lounging on the couch in the silence of their home had demanded he offer his services that morning. Now Cid wasn’t even sure why he had actually agreed and how she had actually won. She was getting frightfully good at it.

Which didn’t answer why Vincent had asked him for the ride in the first place. Cid supposed that now was a better time than ever to ask. So he did.

“There was a rumor,” was the simple response, from behind red layers and scarves.

“A rumor.” Cid laughed gruffly. “We’re out chasing rumors now?”

“I suppose, in a manner of speaking.”

“Helluva time for your chocobo to get cold feet.”

Vincent said nothing, merely staring ahead as they passed over mountain ridges, heading toward the lake filled valley just past the highest peaks. Cid couldn’t care less. They’d visited this cave at least twice, so far as he could remember. The last time he had been there had been during Meteor, when Vincent had received that gun he was carrying to this day. And--

“Thought she vanished. Went poof and dead or something.. Never pegged you for the sentimental type.” He took another drag and eyed Valentine sidelong and briefly. No, he most definitely did not want to get into his head. It was probably filled with cobwebs and coffins and those demons he tended to bring out whenever he got really mad.

“Not dead.”

“Oh?”

“She couldn’t die. It wouldn’t let her.”

“Ole Jenova has the strangest fucking sense of humor, I’ll tell you that. So she’s not dead then. You saw it as clear as I did, though. She vanished. Dunno how… Dunno where--”

Vincent seemed to stiffen at the sight of… something. Cid hadn’t even been paying attention, figuring he knew about where they were, what with the way their altitude was climbing a little – making room to get over the highest peaks of that range. They were minutes away from the point where they could lower down in that valley, hovering over the water—

The water.

Seeing everything that Cid had seen in his lifetime, being as jaded and cynical as he tended to be, it took a lot to surprise him. Still, maybe he had grown a little complacent in the two years since they had all vanquished an evil that just happened to come from across the galaxies.

Still, his eyes widened at the sight below them; his fingers suddenly slack and nerveless dropped the remains of his cigarette down the side of the Shera, falling… falling…

To ice.

“Ain’t even fall yet,” he exclaimed in disbelief, eyes unable to fully leave the once clear blue waters. What lay at the mouth of that large cave was now crystalline, sparkling and black. Something felt off… something felt very off.

He had his doubts that it was even really ice.

“This was your rumor?”

Vincent didn’t look at him, choosing to simply nod as the Shera slowly and carefully lowered into the ravine. Cid wasn’t sure if they should get out and investigate or get the hell out of there. God only knew what had gone on down there and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be around should whatever caused that little frost still be there. Especially with only the two of them.

“Ever think maybe you should have fucking said something?”

The man in red finally turned and Cid could have sworn he saw amusement in those scarlet eyes. Bastard. “I wanted to see for myself... if the rumors were true or really just… unfounded horror stories.”

And he kind of wanted to hit him upside the head, but restrained himself.



Shera was a terrible influence.




Elena growled and toed the black and red bundle of Reno with her boot.

Well, maybe not toed so much as pushed. Forcefully.

“Are you done whining, yet?”

It was seven in the morning, not early by Elena’s standards. A decent time, really. Even after the cataclysm of Midgar, she still found herself dressed and ready for the day ahead of her by this time. It was everyday routine for her to awaken refreshed at six or even five-thirty. Even if things had become less formal during the rebuilding process, she still took her position seriously.

Reno, on the other hand…

“If you want to get back to Junon, we need to get this job finished now.

“Alright, alright!”

The redhead growled as he turned over and faced her. he looked rumpled, as always… More tired, really, but rumpled and entirely not put together. Elena had no pity, and made it obvious, glaring.

This really didn’t phase Reno who pulled himself upright and groaned a little. Mornings for Reno, on the other hand, were composed of him pulling himself out of bed – often falling out, throwing on some clothes and then either falling asleep until the last minute, or dragging his carcass out to Shinra.

“I swear… you’re more like Tseng every day,” he growled.

She straightened her posture, watching him rise to his feet from the small Inn’s bed. “Perhaps you should try to learn a thing from him.”

“Learned what’s important.” He grabbed his electro-mag rod from the nightstand, holstering it at his side and then dug around under his pillow for his sidearm. “’Sides… that’s not what I meant. I meant you’re more of a nag with a stick up her ass…”

Elena sighed, quickly going through her internal list of quips and comebacks – something she had learned to compile over the years of working with Reno, only to have her trail of thought cut off by the hulking figure that appeared in their doorway; their other comrade.

“Reno, behave.”

Reno scowled defiantly before heading out the door, followed by a beaming Elena.

“Since when are you takin’ her side?”



Rufus had sent his Turks out to Mideel the night before in order to investigate the validity of a certain rumor that had inched its way down to Junon. Something about the state of the Lifestream. Some said that it had all but vanished in the area – others proclaimed that it was out of control and flooding the small, now rebuilt town.

It was an irksome contradiction. Tseng had been less than amused. Words could not describe Rufus’ reaction. He, himself, had a company to resurrect and a reputation to raise. Foreign aid had been the beginning and in truth much of Mideel’s newly erected buildings and budding economy had to be handed to the World Restoration Organization…

Who of course got their money from Shinra.

Any setback in what the WRO was hoping to accomplish was a setback for the company and a setback for Rufus Shinra and Rufus Shinra hated setbacks, especially when there was nothing he could do about them. So he had done all he could think of doing – sent his Turks out to see for themselves what was going on and bring back any samples and data they could.

Which landed Reno, Rude, and Elena parking their helicopter on the outskirts of Mideel the night before, and trudging into a town that was clearly still in existence. Getting all of the information at the time had been next to impossible so they had two options – either stay in the helicopter or stay in the tiny inn and share a room. It hadn’t been a difficult choice.

Elena surveyed the area before aiming a camera at the Lifestream. “Well, at least there was something to that rumor. Or at least one of them. So we didn’t come all this way over nothing.”

It turned out that the Lifestream that had gushed out two years ago was receding. And not only was it receding, but quickly. It was startling, really. And while Mideel and its people knew they should be glad to have that out of their town it was quite alarming. The obvious response would probably be that it was a good thing, but…

The Lifestream was precious to Gaia. If it was going away… what could that mean?

Reno hopped over a crack in the earth that had probably once bourn the glowing green lifeblood of the planet, and handed Rude a container. “Still,” he sighed, “When I said I was bored and wanted something to do… I didn’t mean this.”

“I don’t think the president would be amused to hear that you’d prefer the days of kidnapping and murder and saving him from assassination attempts,” Elena quipped smugly and shot another picture.

“Neither would Tseng,” Rude added before scooping the viscous glowing liquid into his container and then sealing it up.

“You know what I mean.” Reno rolled his eyes, exasperated.

Rude sighed before straightening up and stepping over another crack in the ground, passing Elena. “I know. Still.”

Elena carefully placed the camera in its bag and zipped it shut, content with her shots. Reno’s attitude that morning had been grating on her nerves, but even she had to admit that she was getting restless. She wouldn’t voice this, however. There was really no point. Sure they weren’t getting all the action and adventure and glory that they were used to but what they were doing was important. This was the future of Gaia, after all, and she had pledged her loyalty to the company. Though it was hanging on by a thread… it was still alive. She had to see this through to the end.

And… something strange was going on. Elena was no scientist. She knew virtually nothing about Planet Life or whatever that old guy from Cosmo had rambled on about, but something in the pit of her stomach told her that nothing about what was going on with Mideel was natural.

And as she headed back with Rude and Reno in tow, passing the inn and exiting the town… she hoped she was wrong.

Even if that meant no daring escapades in the near future.




Back at the Seventh Heaven, Tifa Lockheart awoke that morning and noticed two somewhat startling things.

First of all, Cloud Strife’s bedroom door was ajar.

Tifa prided herself on being at least somewhat decent at understanding people and their motives and their habits. She worked with people on a daily basis, after all. And while oftentimes she found it difficult to understand her own turbulent emotions, and Cloud was even more difficult to read (like classical Wutaian, in a way), she still caught on to a lot of his habits and routines. Especially after living with him.

Cloud was the kind of man who was quiet and introverted and not one to always say what he was thinking, but he was polite. He had good manners, more often than not, and he treated their home with respect.

When she saw his door ajar, she figured it strange, but thought little of it. Perhaps he had been in a hurry and simply forgotten – still, she had to wonder why he had been in a hurry, then. It was when she saw the way his night clothes lay rumpled on the floor and his bed was unmade that she began to question exactly what had happened when she’d been asleep.

It was unnerving, but… Cloud was Cloud, after all. So she made her way downstairs, smiling and trying to shrug off Cloud’s disappearance. It was a weekend, after all.

“Who wants pancakes?” She called down the stairs, waiting for a response.

And that was when she realized how quiet it was.

Startling thing number two – Though she strained her hearing she could not hear Marlene nor Denzel nor the loud explosions and talking animals and screaming magical girls of their Saturday morning cartoons.

And that was when her slow and tired steps became a full run and she pushed her way through the living room doorway only to see…

Nothing.

”Marlene?!” She turned around in a flash and ran back up the stairs. This was…

Cloud wouldn’t take them out without telling her.

”DENZEL?!”

…Would he?

She tore through the hallway, opening and closing doors only to find no one. Not a single clue as to where either child had gone, just two small bedrooms in the same state of disarray as Cloud’s. There was not a soul in her home. She ran back downstairs, terror filling her gut as she finally checked the last place they could possibly be and… There was not a soul in her bar, either. No one.

No, she knew for a fact that Cloud wouldn’t take either of them out without telling her.

Still she grabbed the phone from the countertop and quickly dialed Cloud’s cell, hoping and praying that they were up to something. Something stupid. Anything that would explain where her best friend and her children had gone that morning. When she heard the sound of Cloud’s ringtone and turned around only to see his phone lying in a corner on the floor… that’s when she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something very wrong had taken place.

But there was no sign of a struggle.

None of this made any sense.

Tifa felt numb and adrenaline charged. Still… she reasoned… she hadn’t checked outside. They could – they could be outside. It was possible. And with one shaking hand she unlocked and pushed open the front door of her bar, stepping out onto the wooden planks of its front porch.

And that was when she saw the worry stricken faces of men and women, frantically running to and fro in the streets of Edge, calling for their children.

They were in the same frenzy as she.

And as she took a step back, she was thankful that the wall was there to catch her when her knees gave out. Tifa Lockheart knew she had to be strong. Knew she had to be the one who kept it together. Still, she couldn’t believe what was unfolding in front of her.

Throughout the streets… from the worried screaming of parents who couldn’t find their loved ones to the lack of orphans in the alleyways, it was clear.


Not a single child remained in the town of Edge.

 
 
 
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deepblue) Star: Jenova Boxelvaron on August 4th, 2007 03:04 am (UTC)
I managed to misread one line as: Thousands of miles and several time zones away, Cid Highwind was having a baby. :D

This! Has great and wonderful promise, coupled with great and wonderful writing. (And much love for not killing Rufus off, mm yes).
★ christmas cake ★: [howl's moving castle; howl] such glee!valorously on August 4th, 2007 07:43 am (UTC)
WRRRRRRY. XDD

Less with the cigarettes and flying out to spaaaace, more with the cursing hormonal bitchiness. Cid Highwind would be a scary, scary pregnant... er. Man. I need to get this image out of my head.


(I don't care what AU or canon it is. Less dead Rufuses is a good thing. ^^ )
.:Dead! On The Dance Floor:.mew_magic5 on August 4th, 2007 04:08 am (UTC)
I'm already loving this. So much my brain is already whining for more.

Ah, waiting for future chapers hun! =D

~~<3~~
★ christmas cake ★: [ffvii; zack] isn't everything wonderfulvalorously on August 4th, 2007 07:44 am (UTC)
♥ Glad you liked it. :D
Willow The Strange and Sunlight Deprived: Rufus-Yomamaforgottenranger on August 4th, 2007 06:30 am (UTC)
Oooo!
Its good!
Me wantss more, yess we do.

*flail*

*ahem*

I love the way you're just setting each part of the story bit by bit, some parts there's only an inkling, other parts is simply "dunh dun duuunnnn"

...If you follow me.

Awaiting more, yo!
-FR-
★ christmas cake ★: [ffvii; jenova] OUR LOVE IS TRUEvalorously on August 4th, 2007 07:46 am (UTC)
Oh, how I love dun dun DUN moments. XD

I totally get what you're saying though. (It's honestly strange for me to be getting around to ALL the characters like I'm in the process of doing. I think this is my first ensemble piece, so a bit here and a bit there and some crabby Cid = yesss.)


And <3 your icon.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )