CHAPTER 6: A Big Decision
Outside Elmyra’s house, the team had a private memorial service. “Elmyra was a woman with a big heart. If someone had a problem, she’d be more than happy to hear it. But when it came to the death of her daughter, she had to solve the problem of learning to cope with it. Elmyra was a mother, wife and friend until the end.” Tifa began, struggling to keep her composure. A stone had built outside. It featured a portrait of Elmyra. “She wouldn’t have wanted us to remember her death, but she’d wanted us to remember her life.” Tifa finished. Elmyra, I won’t let you down, Cloud promised quietly. Aerith will come home, safe and sound.
“Hey, have you guys heard about this cure for Jenova cells?” Cloud asked at the reception. “Yeah, I heard about that in Edge. Apparently, some scientist experimented with unused cells, and found out that he’d neutralised them all.” Yuffie nodded. “Would you go for it, Cloud?” Tifa wondered. “Hmm...” Cloud began. If I got rid of the cells, I’d be able to live a normal life without Sephiroth threatening it...But those cells made the man I am today...he thought. “This’ll sound weird, but I wouldn’t if there were risks.” he replied. “That sounds some pretty damn smart thinkin’ Spikey” Barret agreed. But where did Aerith go? Cloud thought. “Genesis took Aerith somewhere after Elmyra died, and I’ve got to find out where.” he announced. “Hey, I found something!” Reeve yelled suddenly. “Elmyra secretly put a tracker on Aerith before she was killed. The signal’s coming from the Ancient Forest.” he explained. Cloud grabbed his sword. “Where’re you goin’?” Cid asked. Tifa saw the look in her boyfriend’s eyes. “Go.” she nodded. “What the hell’s up with him?” asked Yuffie. “Cloud’s going to get Aerith. He’s gonna bring her back.” Tifa replied. “Is that asshat crazy?” Barret exclaimed. “Cloud knows what he’s doing. We can’t stop him. All we can do is hope that he comes back in one piece with Aerith.” she explained. “He’s got 5 hours. If he ain’t back by that time, I’M gonna get him.” Barret replied. We know you can do it Cloud. Be careful. I don’t want to be the girlfriend of a dead guy, Tifa thought.
CHAPTER 7: A New Threat
Cloud made his way to the Ancient Forest. He’d used an invention of Shelke Rui, a former member of the DG elite force, the Tsviets, to disguise himself as a DG soldier. Genesis was standing on a hill with a woman standing beside him. “They claim that they want to cure us. But my brothers and sisters, I say to you that we ARE the cure!” he yelled. The crowd cheered. “The world doesn’t need the legacy of Jenova to haunt it, so the people come up with a way to end it for good.” He continued. There was more cheering. “They have their weapons. We have ours.” he smiled, glancing at the woman, who was in fact Aerith. “Is that really you, Aerith?” Cloud whispered. “No-one can stop us. And if any of our brethren stand in our way, we shall use this poison against them!” Genesis yelled. As the crowd cheered, Aerith walked off. Cloud followed her.
“Aerith, wait!” Cloud called. Aerith turned to him. “What do you want, Strife?” she demanded. “Aerith, please come back to Edge. We want to help you.” he begged. She turned away. It’s getting through to her, he thought with joy. But she suddenly slammed him against a tree. “Genesis told me the truth. You all fear me. You’re trying to hold me back. I don’t need you.” she snarled. “What? Genesis is lying to you! Aerith, listen to me...!” he protested. “But she has made her choice. Surely you can understand her wishes.” Genesis smiled. He’d seen Cloud follow her. “You have Jenova cells too. Join us for a better way for us all.” he added. “I may have Jenova cells, but I’ll never be like you.” Cloud replied. So he wants to do this the hard way, Genesis thought. “Eliminate him.” he said to Aurum and Argen. As Genesis and Aerith escaped, Cloud fought past his attackers. As he fled from the forest, silent tears spilled down his face. Aerith...You’re not the way I remember you, he thought sadly. His phone started to ring. “Cloud, are you alright?” Tifa’s anxious voice asked. “Y-Yeah, I’m fine.” he nodded, wiping his eyes. “Is Aerith with ya, Spikey?” asked Barret. “No, she’s not.” he replied. “There’s nothing more you can do Cloud. Come on home” Yuffie said sympathetically. Aerith, what happened to you? You never acted like this before your death. Now the Phoenix and Genesis have turned your love for your friends and family into hatred, Cloud thought. But I’m not giving up! I promised Elmyra that I would help you. I have a promise to keep.
CHAPTER 8: A Final War
At the new WRO HQ, the team was preparing for the biggest battle of their lives. “Here’s the plan. Genesis’ men are on their way to Junon. We’ll stage an attack on their men.”Reeve began. “Tifa’ll take charge of Squad A. I’ll take charge of Squad B. Vincent and Yuffie are in charge of the Special Forces.” Cloud continued. “Genesis’ target is this laboratory. This is where the Jenova cure was created. Squads A and B will lead the first assault. The Special Forces will lead the second assault. Every team has their specific orders. Alright, let’s go.” Tifa announced. “Vincent...Can I ask you something?” Yuffie began as they left the meeting. “Yuffie, can’t it wait until after the mission?” he sighed, loading his gun Cerberus. “But what if neither of us see each other again?” she protested. For God’s sake! Just be nice to her, his mind snapped. “Tell you what, Yuffie. We’ll have a coffee after the mission. THEN you can tell me what you were going to say.” he suggested. She smiled as if to say: Sounds good to me.
At Junon soldiers marched through the town. Genesis and Aerith were at the front row with Aurum and Argen beside them. They had arrived at the lab. WRO soldiers were in their way. “Fire!” the commander ordered. Genesis smiled as he fired magic at the soldiers. “Weaklings...They know not of true power.” he sighed. “Oh man! There goes the defence team!” Yuffie exclaimed. “GO!” Tifa yelled as she and her team began their attack. “You heard the lady! GO!” Cloud ordered. His team joined them. During the battle, Shelke and a few WRO soldiers snuck into the lab and evacuated the staff. “Aerith...”Cloud whispered, spotting her casting fire magic from afar. “Cloud, it’s not her! The Phoenix has taken over her!” Tifa cried. Yuffie and Vincent had gone in to stop Genesis and give cover for Shelke. But during the fight, they were separated. Vincent fired at DG soldiers and one by one they fell. “Come on, Shelke! I can’t keep at this forever...”he groaned as he reloaded. Last clip...he realised. He soon ran out of ammo. “Damn it! I can’t help anyone...”he sighed. Suddenly a shuriken took down the soldiers about to attack. It was Yuffie. “Vincent!” she called. “Yuffie!” he exclaimed. He tossed her a gun from a dead soldier. She loaded it. “You sure took your sweet time!” he yelled. “Sorry! Got tied up. Here!” she replied, handing him some clips. “Thanks.” He nodded. Tossing her shuriken, Yuffie rolled to his position. “I need to tell you something.” she yelled. “I said “Later”!” he replied. “I have to tell you now!” she replied, turning him to her. “Marry me, Vincent!” she cried. “And you’re asking me NOW?!” Vincent yelled, firing at DG soldiers. “I love you, Vince. I’ve loved you since we fought together last year...No, since we first met!” she explained. “So how about it?” she asked. “Nope.” he replied, firing again. “OK, how about moving in together?” she asked. “Nope.” he repeated, reloading. “We don’t have to make it official!” she protested. “Nope.” he yelled, firing at more soldiers. “You’d rather stay single?!” she blinked. “No.” he replied. “Then why are you saying no?” she asked. “Because I’d rather do things MY way.” he announced. “Marry me, Yuffie.” he began. “What?” she blinked. “I’ll say it again: Marry me.” he repeated. She nodded. “It’d be my pleasure.” she replied. “You’d better not cheat on me!”he threatened. “Wouldn’t dare.” she grinned. “I want a REAL wedding with flowers and a cake. I want to be a groom. It’s been my dream since I was little.” he continued. Vincent gazed at his fiancée. “Take me home, Yuffie.” he begged. They kissed. Soldiers were on their way. They stopped kissing and pointed their weapons at them. It was time for war.
CHAPTER 9: A Fulfilled Wish
Cloud and Tifa fought Aurum and Argen. “These guys are tough!” Tifa gasped after Aurum had flung her into some WRO soldiers. “I’ve got an idea.” Cloud began, taking out materia. Using Time materia, he cast Haste on Tifa so she could keep up with Aurum. “Bring it, big guy!” he taunted. He had been given a needle containing the cure for the Jenova cells. Tifa had one too. As the women fought, Cloud leaped as Argen tried to punch him. “Say “bye-bye” to your super strength!” he yelled, sticking the needle in his opponent’s neck. Immediately, his abilities were taken away. Tifa had managed to subdue Aurum, and stuck her needle in her arm. “First you see me...”Tifa began. She punched Aurum. “Now you don’t.” she grinned. Aerith suddenly looked menacing. “Oh no...” Tifa groaned.
Yuffie and Vincent came running out. “W-What’s going on?” Yuffie cried. “It’s the Phoenix.” Vincent realised. “Oh man! Aerith’s gone psycho!” she exclaimed. She spotted Tifa and Cloud and she and her fiancé ran to them. “Cloud, you have to stop her!” Tifa begged. “But...I made a promise to Elmyra.” Cloud protested. “Cloud, listen to me. If Elmyra was alive, would she want to see her daughter killing innocent people?” Vincent demanded. “I know, but...”Cloud replied. Tears splashed down his face. “Aerith has to be stopped, and the only way out for her is death. You know that.” Tifa continued. Aerith...I’m sorry. Cloud took out a knife. He made his way to Aerith. Houses were being torn apart. “BURN!” she screeched. Debris cut Cloud’s face and right arm. Using Shield materia, he got near her. “Forgive me...”he whispered. Aerith felt the stab from the knife. She glanced at Cloud and fell to the ground. Cloud cradled her in his arms. Aerith placed a hand on his face. “Thank you...”she whispered with a smile. Her hand fell away, and Cloud watched as she died in his arms. He held her and cried in grief. Tifa put a comforting hand on his shoulder. “She’s at peace now. Let her go...”she whispered. Everyone watched as Aerith’s body returned to the Lifestream. Cloud stood up wiping his eyes. “You OK?” Yuffie asked. “No, I’m not...But I will be.” he replied. “Where’s Genesis?” asked Reeve. He must’ve escaped when the Phoenix tried to destroy the town, Cloud thought. “We’ll get him. Someday, we’ll get him.” he vowed.
CHAPETR 10: A Bright Future
A week had passed since the war against Genesis. Tifa and Yuffie were starting to make plans for Yuffie and Vincent’s wedding. The two had decided to get married as soon as they felt they were ready. Denzel came in. “Have any of you seen Cloud? He said he was going for a walk.” he asked. Tifa and Yuffie smiled. “Cloud said he needed to say a final goodbye.”Tifa explained. “I don’t get it.” Denzel blinked. “C’mon. I’ll explain it to you while we play some soccer.” Yuffie grinned. “Just try not to break any windows.” Tifa called. She knew where Cloud had gone.
Cloud was at Aerith’s house. Beside the memorial for Elmyra stood a new memorial, for Aerith herself. It consisted of a statue of her wielding her staff Princess Guard. The plaque read “Aerith Gainsborough. The Planet’s Hero. A True Friend.” Vincent came to see him. “Hey Vince.” Cloud smiled. “I had a feeling you’d come here.” his friend replied. “Any news of Genesis?” Cloud asked. “He’s been found at Costa del Sol. The WRO have brought him into custody.” Vincent nodded. “Are you alright?” he asked. Cloud heaved a deep sigh. “Being here brings back memories. I stayed the night here and learnt that Aerith was a Cetra here four years ago. I guess coming here makes it easier to come to the fact that she’s gone, and this time for good.” he admitted. “Come back when you’re ready.” Vincent smiled, walking off. Cloud looked up at the sky. Don’t worry. We’ll keep the planet safe, he promised. And with Genesis in custody the future already looked brighter than ever.