Rising From The Ashes

CHAPTER 1: A Painful Memory
A young flower girl knelt on the floor, her hands clasped together in prayer. Her name was Aerith Gainsborough and she had no idea of the cruel fate that awaited her. Cloud Strife, a mercenary she’d met at the city of Midgar, dashed to her. But no sooner had he arrived at the altar she was praying at, a strange force took over his body. Drawing his sword, he resisted with all his might to stop himself from harming her. He was about to strike her before his friends intervened.”Cloud!” Vincent Valentine shouted. “Stop!” screamed Tifa Lockhart. Cloud stepped back. “W-What are you making me do?” he cried. Aerith stopped praying and looked up to him. She smiled. Suddenly a large shadow loomed above her. It was Sephiroth, a former SOLDIER bent on destroying the world, and he’d drawn his blade Masamune. Before the eyes of her horrified friends, Sephiroth stabbed Aerith straight through. A wicked look in his eyes, he pulled out his sword. The young flower girl started to fall. She was already dead when Cloud caught her. After fighting an incarnation of the entity Jenova, Cloud, Vincent and Tifa said their final goodbyes to Aerith. Cloud carried her to a pool of water outside, and laid her body to rest.
Cloud woke up with a cold sweat. Every night...he thought to himself. Tifa lay peacefully asleep in the bed next to his. A month earlier they had got engaged, and their wedding would take place six months later. He decided to drink some milk. Tifa woke up and realised his bed was empty. She came downstairs. “Hey.” she smiled. “Hey, Teef. I can’t sleep.” he replied. “That dream again, huh?” she asked sympathetically. Cloud nodded. “I don’t get it. Since we got engaged, every night I’ve had the same dream.” he explained. “Maybe it’s your sub-consciousness reminding you that you’ve moved on from Aerith.” she suggested. “Maybe...But there has to be something other than that.” he replied. Could Aerith be trying to contact me from beyond the grave? he thought. “Well, we can discuss it tomorrow. You’d better get some shut-eye if you want to speak at the memorial service tomorrow.” Tifa added, going back to bed.

CHAPTER 2: A Horrifying Discovery
Cloud pulled on a jacket over his suit. He sighed. It’s been four years since that day...he thought. Tifa glanced at her boyfriend. She was dressed in a blouse and black skirt with matching jacket. “You OK?” she asked. He turned to her. “Tifa...I don’t know if I’ll get through this.” he confessed. Tifa walked over to him. “It’s not too late to back out. I’ll do the speech for you if you want.” she suggested. “No, it’s alright. But, thanks for offering.” Cloud smiled, delicately brushing his fingers through her hair. Tifa looked concerned. “Well, OK...If you feel you want to do the speech, then do it.” she nodded. Cloud kissed her on the cheek. “As long as you’re there to support me, I’ll get through today.” he beamed. Tifa smiled. “We’d better get going. The service starts in 1 hour.” she added. “Denzel, Marlene, come on!” Cloud called. Denzel, Tifa and Cloud’s adopted son and Marlene, the adopted daughter of Barret Wallace, hurried down. Denzel was dressed in a smart suit like Cloud and Marlene was dressed in a black dress. “You two ready?” Tifa asked. They nodded. “Alright, let’s go.” Cloud said. Tifa flipped the Open sign on the door to Closed and they set off for their journey.
At the Forgotten City, a small crowd had gathered around the pool of water. “I can’t believe we’re back here...” Tifa whispered. Her teammates had arranged a memorial service for Aerith. Cloud stood up. He glanced at Tifa. ”Go for it.” she mouthed. He cleared his throat. “There are many words that can describe Aerith Gainsborough. But she can be mainly described as one thing and one thing only; Aerith Gainsborough was a hero.” he began. “She always smiled until the end. Aerith knew that everyone needed to make sacrifices at some point in their lives. Four years ago, she made the ultimate sacrifice; her life and her future. Aerith died so that others would live. None of us would be here, celebrating her life, if it hadn’t been for her.” he continued. Elmyra, Aerith’s foster mother, and Marlene, who’d looked up to Aerith, were in tears. Tifa spotted something slumped on the ground near the edge of the pool. She got up. “And so, I ask you to remember Aerith not by how she died, but how she lived, as a friend, daughter and sisterly figure.”Cloud finished. “Cloud! Come quick!!” Tifa yelled. Everyone ran to where Tifa was kneeling. “Oh my God...”Elmyra gasped. “This has gotta be a trick!” Barret protested. But it was no trick. Someone was lying there. “Aerith...” Cloud whispered. Aerith opened her eyes. She looked around and suddenly screamed in terror. After she finished screaming, she fell unconscious. “We’d better get her back to Edge, immediately!” Tifa suggested. “Barret, call for a doctor. She’ll probably be suffering from shock.” Cloud demanded. She’s not the only one...Tifa thought to herself.

CHAPTER 3: A Solved Mystery
“That’s impossible!” Yuffie Kisaragi exclaimed. “You, Tifa and Vincent were with Aerith when she died.” added Reeve Tuesti. “Yeah! Are ya sayin’ she somehow survived that Sephiroth kook killin’ her?” Cid Highwind demanded. “I’m not lying! Sephiroth struck Aerith straight through the stomach. She died instantly.” protested Cloud. “Cloud, we know you’re telling the truth. It’s just that there are no spells that can awaken the dead.” Red XIII replied. “How can you be sure?” replied Vincent. “Yeah, Red! You’re supposed to be the damn genius around here!” yelled Barret. “WILL YOU ALL CALM DOWN?!” Tifa screamed. Silence fell across the room. So much for a memorial...she thought. “Umm, guys...She’s awake.” announced Marlene suddenly. “I’d better go talk to her. She is my daughter after all.” Elmyra suggested. “Good idea.” agreed Tifa.
Soon the rest of AVALANCHE was searching for clues to solve the mystery surrounding Aerith’s sudden revival. “Hey, listen to this.” exclaimed Yuffie suddenly. “Some of the Cetra were believed to have been more powerful than the rest. They had a gene called the Phoenix gene.” she announced, reading from one of the books they were researching from. “Phoenix gene?” Cloud asked. “Those born with this gene would at some point die and after some time would be reborn again as they were at the time they died. But, they would have no recollection of the events leading up to their death.” she explained. “Elmyra asked Aerith about what happened at the Forgotten City four years ago, but she doesn’t remember anything.” Tifa added. That means she doesn’t remember praying for Holy either ...Cloud realised. “So...you’re sayin’ that she’s a Phoenix Cetra?” Cid asked. “Hang on, there’s more...The Cetra with the Phoenix gene start to experience multiple personalities. The Phoenix personality is the opposite of the formerly deceased Cetra’s own personality. This side is mainly active if the Cetra feels great feelings of jealousy, anger or desire.” Yuffie continued. So there’s a dark side to Aerith Gainsborough after all...born from this...Tifa thought. Elmyra came downstairs. “Cloud? Aerith wants to see you.” she announced. “Be careful. The girl you knew is still there, but she hides something dark behind that look of purity.” Vincent warned. “I know.” Cloud nodded.

CHAPTER 4: A Desperate Plea
Aerith was sitting up in bed. “Hey, bodyguard.” she grinned when Cloud walked into the room. She remembers the job I took from her, Cloud thought. That’s a good sign. “How’re you feeling?” he asked. “Well, a bit confused, but apart from that, I feel terrific.” she replied. “I know how that feels” Cloud smiled with a worried look. “What’s up?” Aerith asked. She has the same cheery smile, the same bright attitude and the same innocent eyes, but I know that behind those eyes lies something darker, Cloud thought. “Hello? You still alive?” she called. “Huh? Y-Yeah, I’m OK” Cloud smiled. “So...I hear you and Tifa got engaged last month. Congrats.” she smiled. “Yeah. The wedding’s in six months.” he replied. But as he finished his sentence, Aerith passionately kissed him. Cloud, horrified, gently pushed her away. “Aerith?! What the hell are you doing?” he demanded. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell Tifa.” she replied, with a strange look in her eyes. Then he remembered what Yuffie had said earlier: “The Phoenix personality is the opposite of the formerly deceased Cetra’s own personality. This side is mainly active if the Cetra feels great feelings of jealousy, anger or desire.” It was the Phoenix who’d kissed him, not Aerith. Aerith suddenly looked horrified. “Oh my God!” she gasped. ”I can feel pain. So much pain...It’s burning me!” she screamed, suddenly bursting into tears. “Aerith, the Phoenix is trying to control you. We can help you. Stay with me!” Cloud begged. “Please...kill me.” Aerith begged. “Aerith?” Cloud began. She smiled cruelly, and pushed him back with an inhuman amount of strength through the wall. He slumped to the ground. Turning to the wall behind her, Aerith sent a shockwave against it and walked away. “Aerith...” Cloud groaned as he fell unconscious. The last thing he heard was Tifa yelling for help...
After regaining consciousness, Cloud explained how Aerith hadn’t been herself when he had talked to her (“She KISSED you?! Who the hell does she think she is?” Tifa yelled, hearing about the kiss. “Teef, she DIDN’T kiss Cloud, Phoenix did.” an exasperated Yuffie protested) “Aerith needs our help. The Phoenix...I don’t think she can control it. She wanted me to kill her.” Cloud continued. “That Phoenix is an asshole messin’ with her head!” Barret added. “If a teammate’s in danger, we’ll do our best to help them, even IF they kissed their best friend’s boyfriend.” Tifa agreed. And I will help you Aerith, without killing you, Cloud promised to himself. “Alright, here’s what we’re gonna do...” he announced. He started to explain a plan to try to get Aerith help by searching for her in Midgar and in Edge. “Remember to keep your mobiles with you in case any of us find her.” he added, as they set off.

CHAPTER 5: A Cruel Fate
The team searched throughout Edge and Midgar for Aerith. But there was someone who’d heard that there was a Phoenix Cetra around, Genesis Rhapsodos. He seeked to use the power of the Phoenix to make the world his own, but he had been in hiding for the past year after the Omega WEAPON crisis. Now Genesis had received some news, a cure had been found that could neutralise Jenova cells. “Without the cells, I will be a normal human being. But why would I want to be rid of the one thing that has made me the warrior I am?” he wondered. The Phoenix Cetra will prevent this cure from spreading far and wide. I must find her...he realised.
After a few hours, the team met up. None of them had found Aerith. “Where could she be?” Cloud thought. “She’s not in Midgar.” Vincent began. “And she’s ain’t in Edge.” Cid added. “If I were Aerith, where would I be?” Tifa wondered. ”I checked the church. She wasn’t there.” Yuffie announced. Of course! The house she grew up in! Cloud realised. “Spikey? You got any damn ideas?” Barret asked. “I do.” Cloud nodded. With Elmyra, Cloud and Tifa returned to the house that Aerith had lived in during her childhood. “Wait, what’re THEY doing here?” Tifa demanded. Near the door were Deepground soldiers. Elmyra went inside, wearing a materia that gave her the ability to communicate telekinetically. Cloud and Tifa waited outside. “Aerith?” she called. She found her daughter in the front room. “What do you want?” Aerith demanded. “Aerith, there’s something inside you that you can’t control. You have friends who want to help you.” Elmyra begged. “Help me.” she replied. “And why would she need help?” Genesis asked cruelly. “Who are you?” Aerith asked. “My name is Genesis Rhapsodos. Aerith, they don’t want to help you. They fear your power.” he replied. “Stay out of this. This is between me and Aerith.” Elmyra snapped. “See? They’ve turned your own foster mother against you.” Genesis smiled. “Genesis, that’s enough!” Elmyra yelled. She ran to her daughter, placing her hands on her shoulders. “Aerith, don’t listen to him!” she begged, using the materia. Suddenly, the lamp behind them smashed against the wall. “Get out of my head.” Aerith snarled. She stood up. All around her the belongings lifted up. Hearing the chaos, Cloud and Tifa fought past the DG soldiers. But Genesis’ bodyguards were waiting for them. One had superhuman strength, a man named Argen, while the other had lightning quick speed, a woman named Aurum. Genesis had managed to make a shield to protect himself from the Phoenix’s powers. Aerith’s eyes turned completely black and she looked at the woman who’d raised her. “Don’t let it control you.” she begged, before Aerith burned her to death. Genesis held Aerith as she looked horrified by her actions. ”Come. I will help you to control the Phoenix.” he smiled. As soon as they’d gone, Cloud and Tifa ran into the room. “Elmyra, where are you?” Tifa called. “No...” Cloud whispered, picking up the materia. They cried uncontrollably in grief.