The Forgotten City. She was there at last. Aeris was now standing in the very same spot that her ancestors had so very long ago. She took in a deep breath and noticed the air was much better in quality than she had previously known. The polluted air she was used to was no longer evident.
Even though she had never stepped foot into this place before, she felt as if she knew her surroundings. It was almost as if she remembered being there beforehand, which of course was impossible.
Was it the planet showing her the way to the altar or had she really been here before?
Aeris quickly put that thought out of her head. The past wasn't important right now and she needed to focus. She quietly walked down the center path and tried to forget that she would probably die at the hands of Sephiroth.
Not too far away were the trio of Zero, Blaze, and Pulse. They had just begun their descent into the ancient canyon when Pulse suddenly stopped for a moment.
"Guys, my feet hurt. can't we rest for a while?"
Zero turned, intent on saying "No, we must keep going." But Blaze beat him to the punch and agreed with their female companion.
"Why not? a ten minute break wouldn't hurt. Right, Zero?" Blaze said.
"Whatever. If you two want to rest, I won't stop you. But I feel like going ahead anyway. I'll just walk slow so you can catch up. That okay?" Zero replied.
"Fine by me. See ya." Blaze said, waving him off.
Zero laughed to himself as he walked forward into the canyon. He had accidentally given Blaze exactly what he wanted; a chance to be alone with Pulse.
He hadn't gotten very far when the visions started again. His head began to pound to the rythem of his circulitory system. His optical sensors blurred and dimmed. But he could still see. No details, of course, But the fact that any sight was possible at this point was nothing short of remarkable.
Pulse injured...Blaze kneeling above her...Sephiroth looming in the shadows...Avalanche imprisoned...the hunters scattered...and a monsterous being that looked like.....
He suddenly awoke to find Blaze and Pulse above him.
"You all right?" Blaze asked.
"I...I don't know." Zero replied.
"What happened? Did you trip or something?" Pulse asked
"No. I...I had a vision. A strange one at that. But forget it. We have to hurry."
Zero got to his feet and began to run. Though they didn't fully understand the situation, Zero's comrades followed intently.
When they arrived at the ancient city, Zero immediately sensed a problem. They had no idea which way Aeris went, and the only way to find her was to split up.
"Blaze! You go right, I'll go left! Pulse, go straight!"
He felt as if that was the wrong decision somehow. But he shook it off and started running up the left-hand pathway.
I will not let Aeris die.
Cloud said those words over and over in his mind, assuring himself that he wouldn't be too late. He had broken into an all-out sprint as soon as he entered the ancient forest, and Tifa could barely keep up.
In fact, Cloud was barely aware of her presence. When he focused on something, nothing could pull his attention away. He wondered if that was another of the many traits Jenova had given him; then quickly dismissed the thought as he began to see the outline of the ancient city. He was almost there.
He continued to run like an olympian as he descended down the slope that led to the city. It was dangerous to go down a slope like that moving at top speed, but his instincts led him downwards with no problems at all.
Tifa on the other hand was having a great deal of trouble staying in step with him. It occurred to her that she could've waited with the others in Costa Del Sol, but there was too much at stake.
Cait Sith, the one from the future, had told them that Aeris was able to summon Holy before she died. What if she didn't this time around?
After all, X, Zero and the others aren't supposed to be here; their presance may change the course of history.
Why are they here, anyway? And how was it possible to travel through time?
Too many questions. She struggled to figure them out, but ended in dismal failure. Aeris was her main concern now, and continued following Cloud into the City.
Pulse started descending the winding staircase. At first, she was afraid to touch it; it looked delicate enough to be shattered with a footstep. She soon realized that the crystaline steps were sturdy enough and made her way down rather quickly.
The beauty of the forgotten capitol was awe-inspiring. Everything seemed to shine as if it had been for her eyes only. The walls glistened with water droplets, and the floor was carved from fine marble. Another staircase led to the altar.
The Altar. Aeris was there.
Pulse hurried down the steps and approached a set of pillars. She lept from pillar to pillar until she ended up at the base of the Altar.
He knew it was a bad idea from the start.
Zero had expected to find something, anything, on the path he chose. But there was nothing. No signs of Aeris anywhere. And as he saw Blaze running towards him from the opposite direction, He realized that splitting up may have been a big mistake on his part.
Before they could reach each other, however, Cloud's voice echoed through the empty canyon.
"Where is she?" Cloud yelled with a flat, yet caring tone.
Cloud didn't care if they answered or not, because he already figured out where she was. Clutching his mighty Buster sword even tighter, he continued to run down the center path.
Zero and Blaze followed suit, with Tifa right behind them.
Pulse cautiously stepped towards Aeris, fully aware that Sigma or Sephiroth might be nearby.
Just then, she caught the sight of movement out of the corner of her eye. Whirling towards it in a fighting stance, she was relieved to see friendly faces.
Zero, Blaze, Cloud, and Tifa were running towards her in a hurry. They looked relieved as well, glad to see that their comrades were all right.
However, it was the perfect time for Sephiroth to strike.
He lept from his perch and smoothly glided downwards through the air, completely silent to the average ear.
But he did not go unseen.
"Above you!" Blaze yelled.
Pulse had only a split-second to react. She hurled herself at Aeris, hoping to shield the last remaining Cetra from harm.
Sephiroth was faster though, and changed his angle of attack. Instead of impaling Aeris, he whipped his Masamune around and buried it into Pulse's spine.
"PULSE!" Blaze shouted, charging towards the altar.
Sephiroth retracted his blade and grinned. His task was not complete, though. Aeris still drew breath into her lungs.
Before he could finish her off, a swift blow to the head forced him to focus on Blaze. The firey one was in a blind rage; something he could use to his advantage. But when he rose his Masamune to deflect another swipe of the flaming staff, he noticed it was made out of a metal that could rival his own weapon.
Blaze was faster than he anticipated as well. It took a moderate amount of effort to defend and retaliate. It was becoming annoying. And distracting.
During the heat of battle, Aeris had managed to escape the altar and to the embrace of her loved ones.
She had already summoned Holy, though. Killing her would be pointless. Still, there was one other way....
Blaze swung his staff at the silver haired man once more and was surprised to find nothing. Less than a second ago, Sephiroth managed to dissapear from the scene, leaving Blaze alone with his fury.
Aeris was safe, and even Cloud shed a tear of happiness. The two continued to hold each other until they realized that now was not the time to rejoice. They turned towards the altar once more to see Blaze kneeling over Pulse.
"Please don't leave me....I don't know how I would do this without you....no...."
She weakly grasped his hand in hers, and smiled.
And then, she became forever silent. A silence that would become deafining to Blaze.