Final Fantasy VII, Life Ever After; Chapter 7; Secrets

I have no images for this one either.

Copyright: Characters not mine... blah, blah... you know the drill.

Tseng and Elena... always getting left for dead. And how does Vincent know so much about the Silver Haired Men?

In case you've hit this page from some random link out there on the internet: Chapter 1

Nearly two years passed as Vincent travelled the Planet, searching for the answers to his past, for a way to rid himself of the demons dwelling inside his body, soul, and mind. The people of Cosmo Canyon had directed him towards the Forgotten Capital, the lost city of the Cetra.

He approached the great dead city in silence; nothing stirred. Something was wrong; Chaos tasted blood on the air. How? This was an uninhabited land.

Approaching the giant conch shell, Vincent drew his gun. He leaned against the wall beside the entrance and glanced inside. Horror struck him.

Two people lay on the ground, arms tied behind their backs. A sanguine trail lay across the floor, leading from a blood soaked table to one of the figures. Neither moved, both were bloodied and battered. Vincent stepped inside, looking for others. One person moved suddenly, jerking at the sound of his footsteps.

"I'm not here to hurt you," he said, holstering the Death Penalty. The figure moved slowly, turning to look at him. A woman's face stared up at him from beneath blood soaked blonde hair, blue eyes wide and dark rimmed.

"Help us," she coughed.

"Elena?" The Turk? Could it be?

"Valentine?" she began to cry, sitting up in obvious pain. "Please, please help us, before they come back. He's really hurt. I don't... he's going to die! Please!"

"Ssh," he moved towards her slowly. "What happened? Who is that?" he nodded at the still figure.


The leader of the Turks?! What were they doing here?

He knelt beside Elena, quickly untying the rope around her wrists.

"Tell me what happened."

"Please," she begged, grasping his hand once hers were free. "Before they come back. I'll tell you when we get away. Please, even you can't defeat them."

He nodded; if Elena was in no state to talk then things were dire indeed. Whoever had done this... they were monsters.

"Can you walk?" he asked her, crouching behind Tseng. His body was a mess, Vincent was not sure if he was breathing, but as he pulled away at the ropes, Tseng gave a pained moan.

"Yes but... Tseng?" her voice cracked at his name.

Vincent moved the man gently, lifting his upper body. Eyes fluttered open, one half buried beneath swollen flesh.

"Valentine?" he croaked.

"I'm going to get you away from here. With my help, can you walk?"

"One of... my legs," his eye fell to his left leg, the knee bending at a grotesque angle.

Vincent grimaced then placed his hands on Tseng's leg, one either side of the broken joint.

"This will hurt," Vincent said, studying the disjointed limb.

"No more than... it did the first time."

"Elena, hold him."

The young Turk did as asked, kneeling behind her leader. She wrapped her arms around his chest, Tseng gripped her wrists. Vincent gritted his teeth and twisted Tseng's lower leg with a sudden and violent jolt. Muscle and sinew gave a wet screech, Tseng screamed, fingers digging into Elena's thin wrists.

Vincent waited as the leader of the Turks slowly brought his wits back about him.

"Now," Elena said, glancing at the doorway. "We have to go, now."

Vincent helped them both stand. Tseng leant against him, Vincent's arm around his waist. Slowly, painfully, they left the huge shell and headed into the forest.

Vincent lead them away from the path. If they stayed on the travelled roads they would be easily found. An hour passed, then two, then three. Finally, Vincent decided they had travelled far enough. The going had been slow, with numerous stops. They had not progressed far, but far enough - he doubted Tseng would last very much longer without aid.

Vincent found a patch of soft, dry earth beneath a towering tree and stopped between its great gnarled roots. He set Tseng down there, Elena fell beside him. Vincent sat on one of the protruding roots.

"Will you tell me what happened?" he asked.

"He needs aid," Elena pleaded, but Tseng shook his head.

"Tell him. Nothing can be done now. If you tell him he may be able to get word back."

"You'll die!"

"And what can be done? The Icicle Inn is too far. The archaeologists have finished their dig. There is nothing."

Distraught and dejected, Elena closed her eyes and leaned back against the tree trunk. Vincent waited.

"Three days ago," she began. "We were sent to retrieve whatever was left of Sephiroth and J-E-N-O-V-A. Think what you will of us for it. We didn't ask why, we don't know what was planned for the remains.

"What we found," she scrunched her face up. "Was J-E-N-O-V-A's head. But of Sephiroth... there were three men, young men with silver hair. They had guns and swords and... they were so fast! Reno got away in the helicopter but... we were already lost to them."

Silver hair? "The men," he asked. "Clones?"

Elena shook her head.

"Brothers, they were... they said they wanted J-E-N-O-V-A's head. They said they needed it... for the Reunion."

Reunion! Sephiroth's return, when he would be reborn using the Calamity's power. Then they were Sephiroth Clones, of a sort.

"They are Sephiroth, they will become him," she continued, confirming his suspicions. "Like the Sephiroth you fought two years ago. Made of J-E-N-O-V-A, taking on, mimicking a guise."

"Her Memetic Legacy," Tseng added. Elena looked at him, shocked. So, he knew more than she. "You were not informed," he gave a rough chuckle. "Perhaps I was not fully informed either. “You were not told because the President feared you talking, I wonder if he knew what we would be finding."

Elena clutched her knees to her chest, trying to hide her sobs.

"Rufus is alive?" Vincent asked.

"He survived the destruction of the ShinRa tower. Hojo's experiments were not confined to outsiders like yourself. The first president's son was also a test subject. Even now J-E-N-O-V-A resides within his body, twisting it, killing it.

"Vincent, you have to help us stop them. J-E-N-O-V-A lives within the flesh of people across the Planet. It is drawing them to their deaths so that Sephiroth might be reborn."

"The Geo-Stigma?"

Tseng nodded slowly; "That is everything we know. You have to get word back; their targets are Rufus and now Cloud. They think your friend is their brother, they want his help or his death."

As if to give weight to Tseng's quiet words gun fire bounded through the forest in rapid, angry bursts. Elena squealed, covering her ears. Tseng did not move. This had to be them; the Silver Haired Men. What were they firing at though?

Vincent stood up, unholstering his Death Penalty.

"What are you doing?!" Elena cried. "Don't leave us!"

"Stay still, stay quiet. I will not fight them if I cannot win. I will come back."

He took off at a run, following the sounds of the first cracks of gunfire, his sharpshooter ears able to pick out the true sounds from the echoes. He saw, in the near distance, trees falling, three silver flashes and a familiar face.

Cloud Strife, another of ShinRa's ex-employees, was battling the Silver Haired Men, and losing. Vincent flew into the trees, his body unravelling into a swirling crimson mass. Elena was right - he could not fight these men, but he could get Cloud away from them.
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