, and what would have been his future, but that future seemed to haunt the
future he so desired now.
"I...I'm sorry I brought that up, I didn't mean to remind you of your dark self."
"No...it's okay, I'm tired of running anyway, it shouldn't hurt me. It can't hurt me, I haven't nor will I ever do those things. Pain is real, but that future isn't, not for me, not anymore."
"I've been running too, ever since I battled myself, I've been haunted by my past. You see this armor," she said as she took off her breastplate and other pieces, "this isn't me. I've been hiding behind this for years,"
The armor now thrown aside, Agrias revealed the beauty of a young slender, yet strong, woman to Sephiroth.
"What are you doing, Agrias?" Sephiroth was surprised at her actions, unlike the warrior he knew her to be.
Eyes closed, holding back a woman's tears, Agrias grabbed the last shred of armor she had, her sword, and threw it on the ground, "There .it's done."
Speechless, yet understanding, he took off his armor too. Masamune lay along side the Save the Queen, motionless.
He then broke his silence, looking into her eyes, "We've fought for too long, it's all we know."
She stepped forward, took his hands in hers, and placed them tenderly upon her chest, allowing him to feel her womanly form.
He seemed alarmed at first, but only at first, the touch seemed to calm him, and the two embraced.
Among the darkness and the stars, a wild wind whipped through the sky and blew through the hair of the two warriors. Both now open and free from their burdens, the burdens of time, of an old, ancient war that none should have belonged to, and of the burdens of being warriors, just a man and a woman.
And for the first time in each other's lives, they kissed.
Watching quietly by the fire, Cid spoke up to Nanaki.
"What'd I tell ya! Red, ya really gotta trust an old man's gut!"
With a sly smirk, Nanaki replied, "Well then, let's just see if Seifer gets any, there's only 13 you know!"
"Ha! Look who the cynic is! And you call yourself a prophet!"
The two laughed off into the night, enjoying all the time in the world.
The next morning, the group was met by a resounding applause and cheers.
"What's this all about?" Zidane asked.
Nanaki replied, "These people are wishing you well on your journey, your actions against the demon
Altima don't go unnoticed. In case you didn't know, you are slowly liberating all of time from the grip of fiends."
Delita bowed in respect to the people, but his bow only met with more cheering.
"Well," Seifer said, "I guess we could use an ego-booster."
"Come on, Delita," Ramza said, "Let the people know where we're going."
Delita looked across the large crowd now pushing in for what he had to say.
" We, that is the Zodiac Braves, are, as you know, on a mission to destroy Altima and her threat to time, in all eras, ages, everywhere...we fight to restore the four elements, Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water..."
"Fire and Water have already been restored, now we seek to defeat Jenova the fiend of Wind, and Necron the fiend of Earth. We don't know exactly where to look for Jenova, but I'm sure the Zodiac Stones will help us, as you have helped us "
At this speech, the crowd roared, and anything anybody in the party said was drowned out by all the noise.
Nanaki walked up to Delita and spoke with him, "You have become quite the leader, Delita, even when Ramza took over so many times. I commend you."
The sagely beast then looked deeper into Delita, as if reading his thoughts, "I think you may need my advice for the upcoming road ahead though. Come. We have battle plans to discuss." The two stepped inside one of the huts and began the meeting.
"Delita, I must be frank with you, the next part of your journey is most treacherous, you will have to descend into the massive crater to the north, the Wind Maze is there, plus you will have to go down into the planet's core to find Jenova. We, that is I and Cid, can only take you as far as the northern heights of the crater. You and your party will have to descend the rest of the way. I do not know if there is a time gate at the planet's core so I am not sure how you would leave. But I trust you."
"Don't worry, Nanaki, we discovered that now that there are 13 of us, the complete circle can now warp anywhere in time or place, as long as we're together."
"You are, as you already know, the planet's and all time's only hope. You cannot fail."
"We won't, I promise."
Chapter 53: Strong Storms Ahead
After what seemed to be a lengthy, two-day rest, the braves were now itching to go fight, and Delita was no exception. A quick prayer before climbing the airship for safety and they were off.
"This ship's in for one hellova ride, kids, hang on!" Cid said.
And they did, and it was, and Cloud and Ramza once again puked off the side.
"Do they always do this?" Aeris asked.
Cid replied, "Yeah, but not as much as Cloud used to."
Walking over to Cloud, Aeris put a soft hand on his back, and he seemed to perk right up.
Looking genuinely at her, he said, "You once asked me to ride in this airship, I guess I got to keep that promise after all "
The two laughed, even though Cloud was rather sick. In the rear platform, if anybody ever bothered to look, you could see Sephiroth and Agrias holding hands and enjoying the wind and clouds blow past them.
Finally, it was time for them to drop down into the crater.
"Wish us luck, old man!" Seifer said.
"I'll wish your friends luck, it seems to me you got enough of it if you stayed alive with them for so long."
"Very funny, old coot." Seifer smirked as he climbed down the ladder.
As the group touched down, a light whirlwind howled in their ears, and they had to cover their faces to avoid being blinded by the mini sandstorm that seemed to swirl about them.
Delita shouted over the noise, "We have to find lower ground, get under the wind!"
Cloud suddenly took the lead, "Delita! I can guide us down there, I've been down here before!"
Zidane elbowed Cloud, "Why didn't you say so before!!"
"Cause I forgot!!!"
The party, under Cloud's memory, marched down through several rocky spirals till they found an odd glowing phosphorous light deep down in the core.
"That's the lifestream! Jenova is down there!" Cloud said.
Marching on, they encountered several things that could only be described as 'Wind Barriers' one at a time, they each crossed these between gusts. As Cloud had said, "You get hit by those winds, you're in for a long fall."
As they got deeper down into the core, the party seemed to notice something odd between Cloud and Sephiroth, Cloud seemed to be eyeing Sephiroth warily, while even Sephiroth himself appeared to have some fears of his own.
Agrias was the one to walk up the Sephiroth and ask him what was going on in his mind.
"She's down there. And I have to kill her."
"...my mother "
At this Cloud drew his sword, not necessarily out of caution, but more as a security.
Sephiroth closed his eyes, as if trying to hold back any possible monsters that would escape his mind.
The intensity in Cloud's eyes grew, as he remembered the old battle.
Memories flooded his mind: the magical strength of his foe, the whip-cord power from the wings of the one-winged angel, the burning Supernova, the intense pain in his mind and heart, and then the rage.
Cloud, as did Sephiroth, locked those memories of their past away. And then proceeded further down into the pit with his party.
Closely following behind, Aeris felt a tinge of fear in her mind as she watched Cloud lock away those demons once again.
Further down, the party descended, walking along decaying bone fossils, strange glowing gems, and odd smells and sounds that erupted from the pit.
It wasn't really hot as they had supposed would be at the planet's core, but more of a foreboding chill that surrounded them.
That's when they saw it.
The rocky spiral stopped, and what continued was beyond their imaginations.
"Floating...stones!?" Delita asked.
"The mako energy build-up in them is what makes them float." Cloud said, "we just have to hope they stay up long enough for us to go down there."
The party began to draw weapons and stones, each knowing that what was ahead would be a stronger force then they had previously reckoned.
A hand touched Delita's shoulder, he knew whose it was.
"Delita," Teta said, "Don't think you can defeat it alone, remember your allies."
"That's right," Ramza said, "Save some for us!"
"And lighten up a little." Zidane said.
"We trust you," Cloud said.
"All of us," Aeris said.
Alma showed him her stone, "Its glow tells me that no matter what, I'll always be with you."
"All right, everyone," Delita said, drawing Legend, "We have a fiend to kill, let's go!"
Hopping from stone to stone really wasn't that hard, only Garnet and Aeris were a little nervous, but only because of the height.
The stones spiraled down towards a platform of some kind, formed out of rocks and stones of all shapes and sizes.
"This .was the last place I fought .Jenova in." Cloud said, sword tightly in his hand.
" S-she's coming .toward us....!!" Sephiroth yelled.
Then, almost simultaneously Cloud and Sephiroth collapsed in something like a synchronized spasm.
"Oh no! Something's wrong!!" Aeris screamed.
Agrias quickly turned Sephiroth's body over, he and Cloud were in some sort of coma. No telling if they would awaken at all.
Delita began to take charge, "Bring Cloud and Sephiroth to the rear! We don't want to lose them during this fight!"
Just as he said those words, a massive feminine-like creature floated up from the depths, it could only be Jenova herself. Basically it had a woman-like frame, but behind it was a massive orb filled with something like energy, and it had four whip-like tendrils.
Jenova spoke inside the Braves minds: "I have come for my children! Bring them back to me!"
"They aren't yours to take, they're braves!" Ramza said, Chaos Blade gleaming.
"Give them to me, Now!" it screeched.
"Sorry," Seifer said as he drew Griever's Blade from out of his holster, "That was the WRONG ANSWER!!"
"You're gonna pay for knocking out my guy!!" Aeris yelled. "Rage, fill these Braves with Strength, Fury Brand!"
A massive red aura surrounded the knights, and they felt massive energy coursing through their veins.
"I kinda liked Sephiroth, so yeah, you're on my shit list!" Agrias charged.
Blades carved away at Jenova, her tendrils whipping wildly trying to trip up the warriors, or give them a sound beating. But the speed at which they were moving, she couldn't catch up. Slash marks scorched or froze all over its body. Despite all this, Jenova wasn't about to give up yet.
Whipping its tendrils in upward arcs, it created several tornadoes and thrust them at the Braves. Delita was the first to be affected by the strong winds, but he simply dug in his sword in the rock and hung on. The other few who had a sword did the same, while the rest simply hung onto them.
" You'll...never win " Delita said, charging up his Legend sword, he fired a massive ray of light upon Jenova, which appeared to have knocked it off the platform. As it fell, it performed one last hurricane attack in an attempt to lift its enemy off the platform and into the abyss.
"Everybody grab onto me!!!" Delita said, as the group grabbed Cloud and Sephiroth, who coincidentally awoke after Jenova had fallen, "Use your stones! We need to warp out of this place before it collapses!"
Making the shortest wish in history, the party vanished in a flash of gold light, just as a massive boulder came crashing down where they stood.
The warp placed them back at the edge of the crater, where what they witnessed, was the essence of chaos itself. What was once a massive crater dissipated into nothing but what appeared now was a massive Mako volcano.
"So much for Jenova," Delita said, "but what happened to Cloud and Sephiroth?"
"...I can explain," Sephiroth weakly replied, but gaining strength, "Jenova's DNA was recombined into a humanoid form at Shin Ra labs, it was also injected into experimental subjects called project S.O.L.D.I.E.R. Cloud and I were the results of those two experiments with Jenova's DNA therefore we had a psychic link with her, that's why she was able to disable us. She was, in effect, calling us home, we had no choice but to comply."
"But now she's dead, finally, and for all time." Cloud finished with a sigh of relief, "Like he said, I was to partake in the military injection of the steroidal compounds found in Jenova to be the strongest soldier ever, while Sephiroth was cloned right from Jenova's DNA and combined with a human ovule."
Sephiroth continued: "S.O.L.D.I.E.R. means Strength Optimum Latency in Direct Injection of Extract Reservoirs. Basically, when a man was injected with Jenova cells and infused with Mako energy, he was supposed to be an unstoppable killer. The perfect soldier, but when several tests failed, they created me directly from Jenova cells, Cloud just happened to be the last to be injected with the cells and the DNA bonding process was successful."
Cloud continued, "The only side affects I ever received was a splitting headache and nausea, this to cope with the mutated psychic implants that grew in my brain."
"So basically," Alma speculated, "Your mind and body have some form of Jenova cells in them, is that bad?"
"Not really," Sephiroth said, "Jenova was simply an Alien species to begin with, that humans discovered descended from an advanced race. But when Altima manipulated it, it became much more, then it manipulated the old me, and tortured Cloud."
"I just wonder how Sephiroth could know all this, when Cloud never told him." Zidane pondered.
"Hmm, clever," Sephiroth winced, "my dark half told me the truth...but..." he smiled, "despite that, I'm with you guys."
At this, Cloud grinned broadly at Sephiroth. "Good to hear, Sephiroth, you finally beat the truth!"
"So then Altima was behind it all, huh?" Ramza concluded, "Then she's going down!"
"So where do we go now?" Zidane said, "We killed the fiend of wind, so I guess we need to restore wind."
"I don't think that's possible in this era," Alma said, "if we restore it here, the only era it will affect will be the future, if we restore it in our era, it should be more affective."
Beowulf spoke up, "But what about Necron? We'll have to beat him first."
"Okay so we'll beat him first, then restore Wind, okay!" Ramza yelled, a little miffed.
"So everybody get ready to time jump again, this time into the furthest past we've been to, my era!" Delita announced.
The 13 Braves raised their stones and weapons high, and with another aura of golden light, warping back to the mystical lands of Alexandria and Ivalice.
Chapter 54: Back to the Beginning
As soon as they appeared in the old time chamber that sent them off on their quest in the first place, they looked up, a long, long way up.
The first thing they noticed was that the chamber, was no chamber at all anymore, but now the top of a massive Cathedral-like tower, thunder and lightning filled the skies, and what descended from the black clouds was not who they wanted to see at all.
" .Necron ." Zidane said half whine half yell, "I KILLED YOU ALREADY!!!!!"
"So did I! I thought!" Garnet chimed in.
"Apparently not ." Seifer wryly remarked.
"Did I not say I would return? Did I not say I am eternal? As the angel Altima is eternal as am I, for I am the essence of death and destruction!!!"
" Yeah well you can forget about the talking about 'cleansing this world of corrupt substance' crap, cause we're taking you down!" Zidane stretched out his Tower and prepared to fight.
"You think a little vermin and his friends can defeat Death itself, I mean, what can you do, in fact, why bother? I helped you defeat Chaos didn't I? Without me, Chaos would still exist."
"What?" Teta was shocked beyond belief, "I summoned that monster as a spell?"
"That's right child, you summoned me!! Now you seek to destroy me!! You can't destroy that which is so part of you, or the nature of you."
Delita's Serpentaurius stone flashed wildly, "You're not death, I KNOW death, death is impartial and does not heed the commands of the eternal, it isn't even a being or substance, death is a LAW!! You may have the power of death and destruction at your command, but you are not death." A single solitary tear fell from Delita's eye as he said this. "We don't seek to destroy death, we seek to destroy the bringers of death, such evil as you!!!!"
With a cry of rage, Necron attacked, creating masses of earth, and sending them to crumble upon the Braves.
The strongest of the warriors used their swords to cut any large falling debris in half while the mages used combustion spells to destroy any dangerous rocks.
Cloud and Sephiroth were the first to recover from the barrage, quickly readying his Ultima, and Sephiroth his Masamune, the two performed the most unthinkable attack ever attempted:
Simultaneously they shouted, "DOUBLE OMNISLASH!!!"
The attacks on Necron were in perfect tandem of each other, each slash a step of choreographed combat, anything else would not have survived, but they knew simultaneously that their attack was not successful.
The next wave of earth came crashing down on the party, Alma, Garnet, Aeris and Reis were busy healing the party between strikes, and threw in an occasional soft for any petrified members.
Just then, Beowulf had a crazy but new idea.
"Reis!! Let me hold onto you as you jump!!"
"What!? Are you crazy! You'll fall to your death!! Only Dragoons can--,"
"Hold that thought, Reis," he touched a finger to her lips, "If we don't do this, I don't know what else will work."
So he grasped her around her waist, and she bent her knees as low as they would go to compensate for the weight. And up they went.
High in the air, Beowulf spoke to Reis, as if the flight would last forever. "So this is what it's like to truly fly on the Wind, we should do this more often " Then after a short kiss and drawing his sword, Excalibur II, he and Reis aimed their weapons at the floating Necron below.
"This is gonna hurt him more than it hurts us!!" Beowulf said.
They plunged, and the strike hit home.
A roar of pain signaled they had done damage, the force of both the Holy Sword and the Spear, punctured a massive hole in the hide of the fiend.
Bouncing off Necron and landing back where they had stood, Beowulf winked at Reis as she readied her spear, and felt that she was actually blushing.
"There's an opening!!" Delita said, "We strike there,"
"Ooh! I like openings!! Let's bust it open WIDER!!" Zidane yelled in glee.
Three spells rocked the hole that Reis and Beowulf made, a Flare, Holy, and Ultima seemed to work well at weakening Necron further, but now they needed other strategies.
Necron seemed to get really angry at that point and was sending barrages of meteors their way, not a good thing to deal with, but the mages were keeping the warriors in tact.
"Time to get nasty," Seifer yelled, "Griever!! Beat the crap out of him!!"
The Lion being appeared and for an moment it looked like the fight was completely unmatched, but suddenly, Necron pronounced an idyllic incantation, and Griever was gone.
"Wha--? That's not fair!!" Seifer yelled. "Now you've gone and done it!!"
Sensing danger, Necron created a wall of earth as Seifer charged at it.
"Rrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggghhhhhh!!!!!!!" In rage and a little less sanity, Seifer flew at the wall.
Like a wild animal breaks through its cage Seifer used his gunblade's Blasting Zone like a massive battering ram. He blasted through the wall like it was nothing.
"YOU CAN'T HIDE NECRON, YOU'RE MINE!!!" Seifer, even though he was powerful, was somewhat going berserk at that point, attacking everything in range, so the party had to hold him back till he calmed down.
Focusing her Holy Sword energies onto Sephiroth's Masamune, Agrias prepared Sephiroth for a Holy Explosion on Necron up close and personal.
Charging forward with the Masamune channeling with Holy Power, Sephiroth struck the hole. It seemed to work, except for the fact that the force of the explosion knocked Sephiroth away from the rest of the party.
Zidane was starting to get worried "We've lost two braves, a GF, and some spell casting, Delita, how do we stop this thing?"
"We do what Braves do...we FIGHT TILL WE DROP!!"
"Ulp, I guess so " Zidane said. "But not till we win!"
The battle was starting to come to a head, but both sides were starting to really get weary. Necron, it was noted, was really hurting, but some of the party members were separated during the battle.
Agrias had to go looking for where Sephiroth landed and protect him, while Garnet had summoned Bahamut once again. This, however, seemed fruitless as just as he was summoned, Necron 'Banished' him. Teta was running low on magic power, and the only warriors who could've seriously done critical damage was seriously wounded or mentally unstable. Reis couldn't attack due to the fact that she was busy reviving and healing, as was Alma. Aeris was busy throwing up barriers to protect against anymore 'Earth Attacks', and Ramza was wounded and could barely stand. Zidane was attacking, but his strikes weren't that affective.
Pulling his Zodiac stone out of his pouch, Delita thought about the promise he had made to God and to his people. Then he looked at his own glowing stone.
Serpentaurius--Deceiver. The Thirteenth Brave. The Wanderer.
Disappointed at how his life turned out Delita cried out in a form of strong anguish. The pale, filthy green of the stone, seemed to now change color.
"I'm a monster, worse than all those who are falling in my party " his soul spoke to him, deep in pain, deep in sorrow.
"But I will make it right!" the voice from his heart cried out so loud, his voice spoke it out.
Standing up, his armor began to glow a golden color, that of a bright Platinum. Brighter than anything anyone had ever seen.
He looked at the sword, Legend, it was reacting to the stone!
"Inside Me! The Whole time!" He placed the stone next to the blade known as Legend and a bright flash of light filled the sword. And both the Zodiac Sword and the Zodiac Stone became one.
Words began to fill his mind and he spoke them in unison: "I am Avatar, the one who sought the stone, yet obtained my heart, who sought a sword but found I am the Blade. I am he who would bring about the peace of all time. I am the chosen one. The fallen angel, fallen to save the world, and bring it back to God."
Grasping his new sword, which now had a new name: Legacy, Delita pointed the blade upwards toward Necron.
"By the power of life you shall be destroyed HOLY SWORD OF LIGHT, SHATTER THIS DARKNESS AND BRING NEW LIFE!!!"
A massive beam of light erupted from his sword and tore through Necron, burning as hot as the sun itself. The light was so tremendous that it parted the clouds and lit up the whole sky. Necron was destroyed, and the battle was over.
Exhausted, Delita fell to his knees, his new sword the only thing holding him up.
Stunned, half blinded, the Braves gathered over to Delita and simply stared.
Weakly, Delita mumbled, "What are you all staring at? You look as though you've never seen a Paladin before?"
"Some Paladin you are!!" Zidane exclaimed, "We were almost goners and you wiped the floor with him!!"
Seifer had calmed down a bit, but was still rather angry, "I guess even Grievers Blade isn't as strong as I thought, that bites, man!"
Delita laughed weakly, and so did the rest of the party.
After a full recovery, and after Delita was rested. The party began the preparations of restoring Wind.
Making their wish, Ramza, Zidane, and Reis waited, for a time, it was rather foggy and misty. But a little gust of Wind restored the parties' hopes.
"I guess it just takes a while longer " Ramza commented.
"But what about Earth?" Aeris asked, "How do we restore that."
"I guess that there's another era we have to go to." Alma replied.
"Some time before our era ." Delita said.
"First we have to check on Alexandria Castle and Hyral Castle." Garnet said, "I wish to look upon my subjects once more.."
Marching down from the platform, the party noticed that the crystal barrier that they had thought would hold Necron in was broken through.
"I guess..he did invade Alexandria, he must've been too powerful for them to face." Zidane said.
"We should check the extent of the damage done..," Delita said.
As the party marched through the main portion of Alexandria Castle they saw debris everywhere, but no one to be found. Then they found a tattered and battle-worn Steiner, sword in hand, but barely.
"M-my queen ," he said, nearly collapsing. Zidane caught him.
"What has happened here?" Garnet asked.
" .the demon .Altima invaded destroyed most of Alexandria...nearly all the Alexandrian Fleet and the Knights of Pluto."
"That monster....," Delita said, eyes flashing.
" .how did Necron come here?" Garnet asked.
" .set up as an evil garrison, took over here, no one could stand up to him."
"Don't worry, Sir Steiner, we bested him in combat, he is no longer a threat to this kingdom." Delita said.
"...oh thank God..." He said as he sighed in relief.
"Where are the other knights?"
"Repairing what they can of the city, we have done our best m'Queen."
"Yes, and you shall be commended for your efforts once we defeat Altima."
"W-what? My Queen, how can one even stand up to her ?"
"Do not fear, knight, we are not just a band of warriors, we are the Zodiac Braves and we will defeat Altima "
"Do as your Queen commands this day: rebuild and protect our beloved Alexandria, as long as it takes " an unknown resolve seemed to fill Garnet's voice then.
"We shall be leaving Alexandria quickly, prepare a battle ship for us to travel in "
"As you command."
The party was soon once again in an airship, but this time with Lady Beatrix at the helm.
"Pilot us to Hyral Castle...I have to check on things there " Delita wondered if the caslte still stood.
Chapter 55: The King Returns
The flight was slow-going at first, but they managed to get a bird's eye view of Alexandria. Garnet looked across the land she knew with sadness.
"I will avenge your destruction, Alexandria I promise.."
Zidane put a hand on her shoulder, "As do I "
As they reached the former Hyral Castle, they noted two things, one, that the castle itself was standing, two, another airship was there.
As they pulled up alongside it they recognized familiar faces.
"Ahoy, Baku!!" Zidane yelled, "How are ya, ya fat oversized tub a lard?"
The yell was replied in turn, "Good to see you too, you young fool!! We're staking out the castle!"
Now it was Delita's turn to be surprised, "Gildenstern? Is that you?!"
"Yes sir," the mage saluted, "we've been expecting an attack, but none came."
"What attack?" Delita asked, "What are you talking about?"
"You didn't know?" he said, "Altima has taken over as Queen of your Castle!"
"We think so, so as soon as she comes out, we nail her with Baku's secret weapon!!"
"I really don't think that's going to work " Ramza said, "She would probably know you were out waiting for her. And she's probably never coming out."
"So, I'm afraid, we'll have to go in after her, Gildenstern,"
"As you wish, sir, we trust in your judgements."
"Yeah, so don't screw up!!" Baku jibed at Zidane.
The party's ship landed, and they stepped cautiously over to the castle. The gate was completely sealed off, but not something they couldn't bust into.
"Good thing you have me around, brother!" Teta said, and with a flick of her hands, she cast a Demi spell on the gate, its crushing force ten times that of any battering ram.
"Whoa!" Zidane yelped. "Nice entrance."
Crossing the bridge and through the gate, the party seemed to feel the sensation that no one was even in the castle.
"She might still be here," Delita said, "so we keep looking."
"Well she better be here," Seifer said, "cause I'm getting bored really quickly."
"We can't let our guards down for even a second," Sephiroth warned, "she might play a mind trick on us while we're in here."
All of a sudden the lights of the castle went black.
"We're going to have to use magic to see." Delita said, "She's trying to wear us down."
So at that point, Teta cast Fire, Alma cast Holy, and Delita just raised his sword.
"There, at least now we can see."
There are many things that change, when a group of people are in the dark.
Looking about, Garnet noticed some gargoyle - like statues, and their eyes seemed to be glowing red, staring at them from the dark, "I don't think I like this very much."
Ramza commented, "Demons fear holy, even if Altima controls them, they won't bother us."
"Who says these are regular demons?" Alma said, "She might have created these just to guard the castle and kill anyone in it?"
"I don't know about you, but I'm eager to kill some demons!" Cloud said drawing his sword.
At the sign of trouble, the former statues unfolded their wings and swooped down for an attack. Cloud already saw this coming, and with a quick thrust and leap, his Climhazzard cut one being in half nicely.
Meanwhile, the remaining pack of gargoyles flew away in terror, luckily Alma mangaged to catch them in a Holy Spell and they disintegrated.
"These gargoyles might just have been the first wave " Sephiroth warned, "We don't know what kind of monsters are in here."
"I can't believe they did this to my castle." Delita said, "Altima has much to answer for."
As Delita led them into the throne room, they noticed something different, there was light in the room, but not from their spells, the light came from what appeared to be a massive portal into some odd, dark world.
Before they could examine the portal any further, several knight armor statues came marching down the hall, but no one was in them.
"Dullahans .spirits inhabiting the suits of war " Alma said, "We can't kill them, we'll just have to slow them down."
Taking his gunblade and slicing it in a quick motion, Seifer yelled, "Fated Circle!!" the energy wave that erupted from his gunblade knocked all the armor to the ground.
"I'm thinking she's herding us into that portal " Agrias said, "You think that may be where she is?"
"We've been everywhere else ," Reis said, "It has to be "
"Then it's settled," Delita said, "We portal jump, even if it's in another time."
Each warrior held their stones tightly, illuminating the portal further.
The gateway, upon recieving the light from the Zodiac Stones, seemed to react by swallowing the Braves whole.
All that could be seen was perfect darkness, the only illumination they saw was a small object off in the distance.
The silence was deafening, but as they marched, slowly onward, the small object got larger and larger, till what it was could be visible.
It was a throne.
With Altima sitting upon it.
"I knew you braves would face me, you have bested the likes of all my fiends and now you wander all this way just to be destroyed."
" Why ?" Delita asked half enraged half in confusion, "Why have you tortured our lives so ? What has mankind ever done to you ?"
"The stench that is you and your friends has bothered me since the day God himself created you. I merely wished to rule earth, I hadn't even threatened God, but he seemed to disagree with me, and cast me into this place." Uncrossing her legs, and stretching her bat-like wings, she seemed to be at some point beautiful in her existence, "So the only way I could obtain power was through time itself. But if I interfered with time, I knew you would come and try to destroy me. So I had to interfere with your time-lines."
"What!?" Ramza said as he drew his sword, "The only time I ever saw you was when I faced you in Murond Death City."
"That was but a fluke, all you saw there was my spectral self awakening into the physical, when I had asked for more power from the underworld, it was not to destroy you, but.."
" to allow you to manipulate our eras, the Lion War, manipulating Jenova, Sephiroth, and Cloud, killing Aeris, the Lunar Cries, all of it ..you..."
"Yes, it was me, but somehow all of you managed to bend time despite my interference, and it is about time I rectified those 'mistakes.'"
Delita drew his sword, "Those 'mistakes' were human lives you demented monster!!"
"What does it matter to me? I'm not human, so I don't really care!!"
"I may have been a king at some point and that may be my throne," at this comment Altima reclined lazily upon the throne, as if she wasn't planning on leaving it for quite a while. "but the past doesn't matter, I and my friends will free time from your grasp, forever!"
"Tell me, Braves, why do you fight, what do you fight for that you're so willing to die at my hand?"
At this all Thirteen Braves responded in an erupting power through their stones.
Aquarius - Sincerity: "I fight for the Earth, my people, and those who gave their lives for the life stream."
Cancer - Resilience: "I fight for the peace of past and present, those who would sacrifice their lives for peace, and those who would endure hardships to obtain it."
Libra - Judgement: "I fight to cease pain, to end suffering, and for God; I come to judge the wicked and those who embrace death as their false god."
Aries - Warrior: "I fight for the lonely heart; the wandering souls and those who fight for any cause they deem worthy.
Pisces - Love: "I fight for my kingdom, and those innocent people who strive for peace there."
Scorpio - Chivalry: "I fight for honor and justice, kindness and peace, those who would do evil will fall, and those who would be unrighteous will be undone."
Sagittarius - Grace: "I fight for Life, the sanctity and peace of all living things, and by the Fire of the Phoenix you shall be destroyed."
Taurus - Strength: "I fight for the weak, those who have the heart to stand up against evil, but not the power. Those who seek strength, but have not the will."
Gemini - Balance: "I fight for the spirit of equality, no power should ever oppress the weak, nor the rich oppress the poor. I seek to balance time."
Virgo - Beauty: "I fight for the sake of Nature, the serenity of the land, and the peace of all time."
Leo - Courage: "I fight for the fearful, the innocent, and those scarred by war; and those who seek nothing but peace."
Capricorn - Generosity: "I fight to aid my friends, even if I fall, my life will not have been in vain."
Orpheucus - Avatar: "I fight you for the sake of Light and the Peace of all Time, we, the Braves of the Zodiac will destroy your Darkness here Forevermore!!"
"Such noble ways to die, I'm impressed, but this comes to naught: Know you not that you are fighting the powers of Heaven itself?"
"Even if we had to face a Legion of Angels, Altima, we would still defeat you."
Chapter 56: Battle of Destiny
Altima simply sat there, taking in all the things the Braves had said, then a red glow flashed across her feminine eyes.
And with a wave of her hands the throne was gone, and she was hovering, another wave of her hands seemed to transport them all to a strange stone platform, an amalgamation of the Zodiac Table and some sort of devil's pentagram.
"Enough of this prattle! If you're so eager to die then I grant you the first strike!!"
The platform seemed to send red energy up to Altima and her red wings unfolded to a full battle stance. Her arms strangely lengthened into grotesque claws. Possibly sharp enough to cleave anything in two.
Flying forward in a rage, Cloud was the first to attack, using his Ultima Sword he thrust and cleaved multiple times, but it seemed that the now massive claws of Altima were parrying every blow.
"Have you no more strength, Soldier?"
Cloud was tired, but he wasn't about to lose to her. Charging up his sword, he performed possibly the most perfect Omnislash ever, but Altima seem to just sit there, bleeding.
The blood seemed to coat her entire body, coalescing into what appeared to be a form of organic armor. Cloud just stared in shock.
"The sages were correct to call me Bloody Angel, should I ever shed my blood, it becomes my armor."
In an instant her massive claws we grasped around Cloud's throat, not enough to choke him, but to surprise him.
"You are lucky, you know, your death will be first "
With that, the claws extended like massive bladed tendrils and impaled Cloud right through the abdomen, all the while Altima held him. Blood gushed out in gallons. And Cloud's eyes had a frozen expression on them. He was dead. But in the next instant his body seemed to have warped from her hands.
"I've sent him back to his own era, dead, so the powers of the Phoenix are no threat here. Care to try again?"
It was Aeris this time, in tears, breathing heavily as if a part of her were instantly severed. Thrusting her hands into the sky. She performed a lengthy spell. Using the White Materia on her hairband, she cast the most powerful version of Holy.
The White energy was a total contrast to the battle scene, and the power seemed to hurt Altima severely as she became haunched over.
Suddenly, she to lurched back up, spit up more blood, as if she did in fact simply would drink her own blood.
"Ah, pain, it's been awhile, when I receive pain, though, I tend to be generous in sharing it with others."
In another flash of red demonic light, Altima was gone, then reappeared in front of Aeris. Gently grasping Aeris shoulders like a light caress, she pressed Aeris up against her body in the most disturbing of hugs.
The Blood-Armor coalesced again, completely enveloping Aeris' body inside Altima's blood, swallowing her whole.
The blood absorbed lithely back onto Altima's body and Aeris was completely gone. Like she was absorbed into Altima's body.
"In case you haven't noticed, this is my beauty secret, I absorb human girls for my feminine figure. Next."
This time two warriors attacked, Sephiroth and Agrias. With his lengthy Masamune, Sephiroth charged forward and cleaved Altima's midsection, sending it flying, but to his surprise the blood was very stringy, and she used it to bungy back onto her midsection. No less for wear.
"The concept of death has no meaning for me, don't you know that?"
"Maybe so, but Holy powers might," Agrias yelled, "Destroy all minds of evil, and purge this darkness, Holy Explosion!!!"
A shockwave of light erupted from Agrias sword, aimed straight at Altima's heart, but she somehow sidestepped it.
"I hear that when a man and a woman love each other, they like to embrace " Altima taunted.
In an instant, it appeared that Sephiroth and Agrias were hugging each other, almost tearfully, looking down, they noticed that both the Masamune and Save the Queen were impaling both their hearts, each blade slid through both of them.
Stuck in an embrace of death.
In an instant, just like Cloud, they were gone.
"Now you've got me going, I think I'll kill the rest of you just for the poetic tragedy!!"
Beowulf and Reis were next, Reis spoke, "You may take our lives, but you'll never have our hearts!!!"
Beowulf ran forward slicing and attack Altima with Excalibur II, the attack seemed to be affective, but she seemed to leave him openings to attack.
Reis jumped. Perhaps the highest jump she'd ever make in the history Dragon Knights, aiming her spear down toward Altima's heart. Altima appeared to open her arms wide, as if accepting an offering of pain.
The landing thrust was solid with a loud crunch, and Altima appeared to stare at Reis and smile evilly.
"Like I said, what poetic tragedy!"
In an instant Altima's face faded away, and Beowulf's face appeared, looking down, Reis realized, too late that she had impaled her lover, and that he had impaled her.
"I-I'm sorry, my beloved." She croaked out.
"As am I, Reis," their final words as they faded away. Leaving rage and anger in the remaining braves.
Altima appeared once again and gracefully sauntered up to them. "Who wants to die next?"
Seifer was the one who sat there, sadistically grinning,
"I've killed Sorceresses before, I can kill you. Raising his gunblade to the sky he yelled, "GRIEVER, SOULS OF LOVE AND LIONHEART, LEND ME YOUR POWER."
As he said this a strange silver aura began to glow about him and the Lion Amulet the Squall used to wear appeared around his neck.
Charging forward, Seifer raised his gunblade Grievers Blade high, slicing Altima down the middle, as she reconstructed herself, he cut again, this time pulling the trigger, blasting pieces of Altima in all directions. Her blood splattered all over his coat and gunblade as he maniacally slashed away at her remains.
"I should have asked you to be the Chaos Knight, you would have been more effective. Too bad, eh, that I have to kill such a handsome boy?" The voice echoed inside his head in laughter.
"Where are you, you witch!!!"
Suddenly, the blood that caked Seifer's coat and blade came to life, wrapping him up in monstrous tendrils, the blood pierced his hands and feet, and hung him high in a distorted crucifix fashion, two massive tendrils pierced his heart and side as he screamed in agony.
"So much for your dream!" The blood seemed to say, and in a flash of red light, Seifer was gone as well.
The blood reformed back into Altima, now whole again.
"That was fun!" she said playfully putting a finger to her chin, like a grotesque queen. "Maybe I'll go back in time before he died and do it again!"
The rage in Delita's heart was beginning to overflow and escape his mouth as he gripped his Legacy with white knuckles "No more! NO MORE ALTIMA!!"
"Oooh, did I get the Paladin mad! Oh I am so sorry!!" she said mockingly. "Maybe you want to be next!! Or should I torture your friends some more!!"
Delita began to growl and grit his teeth with such ferocity, he could've been mistaken for an animal.
It was now Garnet's and Zidane's turn, the two knelt down and prayed for the last summoning. Looking up they saw who they summoned; the mighty Bahamut.
"Ah, so the dragon wants to play, eh?" Altima smiled in contempt. But when her eyes glowed white, Garnet and Zidane noticed that so had Bahamut's.
"Time to turn the tables!" and with that Bahamut swooped blindly toward Garnet and Zidane and with one quick blast of his Terra Flare, both Braves were gone.
"Don't think I'm done with you, Dragon King!!" She smiled and waved her hands. Effectively sealing Bahamut's mouth closed, and he once again attempted Terra Flare. This time the terrible force sealed inside himself had no place to go, so he simply exploded.
Delita could no longer hold back the tidal wave of dispair that hit him. Looking down, he saw his sword Legacy give off an eerie glow that was different, it seemed to reflect the sadness in his heart back at him.
It was Ramza who spoke next, "Delita, you know that we are destined to fight in this battle, even if we lose, it's our fate. Whatever happens, Delita, my best friend, I will always be glad I spent my last days with you. And as for her: SHE WILL DIE WITH ME!!!"
Using all his strength, Ramza raised his sword high, waving the remainder of his allies away. Running off, and at a save distance, Delita, Alma, and Teta watched as the most courageous of the Zodiac Braves, cast his final spell.
"I call forth the spirit of life within me, the force that gives me strength and courage destroy the evil that is Altima---ULTIMA!!!!"
A massive green force erupted from within Ramza's heart and erupted through his body, sacrificing all his life, the most powerful of Ultimas.
"You think that spell of yours will kill me in one shot! I thought I mentioned that I can't die!!! What? What's that energy, no!! I can't contain it!! The power!!!"
Altima tried to contain Ramza's life force but the immense powerful light was just too much for her and she seemed to vaporize in the blast.
After a long moment of silence, Delita looked about to see nothing but haze and smoke, nothing visible.
Managing to find both Alma and Teta was easy enough, but the sacrifice of his allies was far too great, and he knelt in silent mourning.
A bloody crusted foot stepped where he knelt, and a feminine voice choked out, " Your friend was strong .I was wondering when I would feel some real pain. And when you would bow to me "
Looking up he saw nothing but the evil malice of a bloody fallen angel. She stared at him with an insane grin upon her mockingly beautiful face that concealed the monster beneath.
".N...no...," was Delita's desperate response, and he instinctly thrust his sword into her stomach with a wet thrust.
"Hmmm...it seems as though you still don't get it yet? Do you?"
The sword still in her stomach she picked him up by the throat and threw him across the battle field colliding with Alma and Teta.
"Ironically, you are the only three that have yet to die, the warrior, the lover, and the sister. You know what? I think I'll treasure this 'little war' between you and me. In fact, I think I'll treasure this pain forever, however insignificant it is, I'll keep this sword in my stomach just to remind myself that you had the gall to fight me and yet your courageous attempts fell before me."
"You may have his sword," Alma said, "But that's not the only weapons we have, let's hit her!!"
And as the two women raised their hands to the sky, they cast a powerful combination spell, unheard of in the laws of balance, the most powerful of black magics, mixed with the most powerful of white magics, seconded only by Ramza's Ultima, the Holy Flare!
As the spell connected it seemed to have a double effect, it burned away at Altima's beautiful skin, and the holy light engulfed the evil blood that coated her body. Making her reveal what kind of creature she really was.
"NO!! My Beautiful face!! My body!!! YOU WITCHES WILL PAY FOR THAT!!!"
The now undead-looking fallen angel warped in front of both women and grasped their necks like rag dolls, flying upwards the demon-queen smashed their bodies together repeatedly until a rain of blood and body parts poured upon the stone floor.
She silently floated back down, as if to retain her feminine grace and so-called composure. "What a pity I had to destroy such beautiful women, I could've used them for my cosmetics!!"
Delita was heart-broken, and a single tear fell from his eye as he spoke, "You will SUFFER for the pain you've caused me and my friends."
"Of course I will...as long as I get to be with you."
"You think Teta was your sister? You think you're human, just a Black Knight-turned-Paladin? I just got rid of them for the both of us, I lied when I said I wanted to make you suffer "
"What are you saying?" Delita said, dumb-founded.
"You don't remember do you? How you and I used to play in the Palisades and Glades of the Heavenlies? You promised me you'd come back once you helped win the war, but you never came back, HE said he had a greater purpose for you. I HATE HIM! I HATE HIS JUST CAUSES! I HATE IT THAT YOU HAD TO LEAVE! WHY COULDN'T YOU JUST COME BACK TO ME?"
"Are you saying that we knew each other? In heaven?"
"Yes, you and I, we are Angels! The highest ranks! We could have succeeded God himself! Come join me! Please, don't leave me again!"
"Angel? Me? How can I be an angel? I grew up on a Horse Breeder's ranch? And how could I ever love you?!!"
Altima seemed to start to cry, but since she was beyond tears, they didn't come.
Instead a red mark appeared upon her forehead and a small beam hit Delita's mind:
Images of a bright place, a beautiful woman, falling, a farm, a little girl named Teta, serving the master's horses, training in the Academy with Ramza, graduating, finding Algus, Teta killed by Algus, striving to be a king, killing killers, killing innocent, shaking hands with the only man he trusted, being crowned king Hyral, the hatred for guilt and God. The five lonely years and the quest meeting up with all his friends that brought him to the present.
"I...know Now. I remember!"
"Do you remember our love?"
With those words, Delita's eyes flashed a bright white, and golden angelic wings erupted from his back. Standing back up, a golden aura about him, his eyes opened and he spoke.
"I did love you once, but being human for a time has granted me a new sight, a new view where I was blind before...before I was hungry for power .Now I have humbled myself and I swore an Oath to God. That I would defeat all evil."
"But, my love, you can't forget me! I'm the only one that ever loved you!"
"You might have been, but God showed his love for me and so did my friends who you butchered, and I don't think you know what the meaning of love truly is."
Stretching forth his hand, his sword, Legacy glowed white hot in Altima's stomach. The burning caused her to screetch inhumanely. Then with a quick movement of his hand, he telekinetically pulled the sword out of her.
Enraged, Altima charged up her powers to their maximum. "I may have loved you once, Dear Delita, but it seems you have betrayed me for the lowly humans! I will not forgive you for that!!!"
"Father forgive her she doesn't know what she's doing." with a wave of his hands, he trapped Altima in a green Earth crystal. The crystal glowed an even brighter color as it obsorbed her power.
"Her spirit was as a bright flame, Lord, I cannot kill her, so I will trap her in the Earth crystal, so that she can sleep for all eternity while her spirit becomes pure again, such blindness must not be unleashed upon the world. And God help me, neither must my power "
Closing his eyes, the golden wings disappeared. And he returned to normal. Marching alone he stepped outside the black hole that was the dimension, and all the evil that filled his old castle seemed to flow out, but the structure was collapsing. Still marching down the hallway, everything was falling around him and not on him.
Stepping outside the gate, it was now apparent that the entire castle had collapsed.
"So, I'm alone again, and yet not so alone "
"Sire! Your castle! Are you alright!" came a voice. It was Gildenstern.
"Sire! Where are the other Braves? What happened!!!"
As the airship landed, Delita stepped aboard, all the crew was silent.
Looking around, Delita said, "Don't worry, I know where they are "
"Where did you go sire? And what of Altima? Is she defeated?"
"Yes, you could say that. I sealed her up in the Earth Crystal at the beginning of time."
"What of the other braves?"
"They're alive. Just somewhere else right now."
"I don't understand."
"Look around you, Gildenstern, see my castle?"
Looking back the crew watched in shock as the massive ruins of the castle just seemed to fade away.
"Time is changing we altered it they just came back to where they were."
"So that means, you're not a king anymore right?"
"Yes, but I never wanted to be king in the first place "
"I still am confused "
"Just take me to the time gate in Alexandria."
"Yes, sire--er, Delita.."
The ship's crew had a lot of shocks along the way toward Alexandria, the most noticeable was the fact that the land was not scarred by blood or cannon fire. It was as if the Earth never saw a war ever before.
"I guess we did restore earth," Delita said thoughtfully.
The crew was in for an even bigger shocker; the broken ruins of Alexandria were now restored to their former glory, even the castle was completely restored.
Marching up to the time gate, the crew followed Delita anxiously, wondering what he was doing.
As they reached the platform where he would transport through time, he spoke.
"Now, I have to leave for a while I'll be back though it's only a matter of time."
Standing in the middle of the platform, Delita raised his sword Legacy and plunged it into the anvil, thinking only of his friends.
"Please be there waiting for me, Ramza, Alma, Teta, Cloud, Sephiroth, Reis, Beowulf, Aeris, Agrias, Seifer, Zidane, Garnet."
In a flash of gold light he was gone, and leaving a completely confused group of Airship crew members.
Delita woke up in the ancient forest as he had with his friends so long ago, and took off full sprint for Cosmo Canyon.
"Please be there my friends we promised if any of us got separated, we'd come back to the candle "
Practically out of breath by the time he got there, he knelt down on the front steps to the canyon.
"Hey, what took you so long?" said a familiar voice.
"..huff .Ramza? Is that .phew you?" Delita said with a hoping smile.
"Yeah, we've been waiting for you, we can't start the party without you!"
Taking a short jog up to the 'Cosmo Candle' Delita finally got to sit and chat with his old friends.
And sit with Alma, who now gently nestled herself in his arms.
He looked about in quiet appreciation of his friends, but noticed something different about them, that time had changed them, and yet they were still his friends, and that they all came back here
He noticed Teta, now fully alive, and playing with Ramza's devil-may-care hair.
He noticed that Agrias and Sephiroth were sitting together, and Agrias was in a full dress! While Sephiroth had his arm around her.
Cloud looked directly at Delita and said, "Wanna come to our wedding?"
"What?" Delita said, shocked.
It was Aeris who shyly showed Delita her new ring, with her White materia embedded in it surrounded by a ring of diamonds.
"Well, sure!" was all he could say. And the whole group laughed.
The next thing he noticed was that Zidane and Garnet were both wearing crowns, like a king and queen. Zidane just laughed it off, while Garnet elbowed him playfully.
Beowulf and Reis were silently staring at Delita, but this time Reis was in her dress which she found at Esthar while Beowulf was in plain clothes.
Then he looked at Seifer who shook his head and crossed his arms, "Don't look at me! I'm not into that mushy stuff! Look at yourself, you're the weird one!"
Looking down at Alma, for the first time he noticed that her eyes were full of total love for him. She looked up at him and gave him a brief kiss and said, "You are kinda weird, but you're my angel."
"Angel? How'd you know?" Delita said, surprised.
"Well isn't it obvious?" she said smiling.
Looking over his shoulder he noticed that his gold wings had come back and that he was now glowing from head to foot in Heavenly Glow.
"Well, I guess now you know " he said, blushing.
"It really explains a lot, you know, but its not like you needed to keep it from us, you did know yourself." Alma teased.
I wonder why I forgot my past?
More than likely it was erased for good reason. Alma poked his nose playfully.
"Precisely, that's why he had you do it." Said a familiar voice.
Looking behind him, he saw Nanaki perched on a semi-tall rock, about to lecture again as he always did.
"When it was given me the power to foresee into the future, I was also given the power to hear God. He knew Altima would try to overthrow him and that she would fall, but he knew that you would never abandon him. He's kinda proud of you, you know. Oh, and he says you can stay on Earth for as long as you want."
"Well, isn't that nice?" Alma said, "Now you can stay with us."
"Yeah, but for how long? I mean I'm eternal right?"
"We don't know that part." Nanaki had an odd expression on his face.
Hmm. Delita wondered the implications of what he could and could not do.
After a moment of silence, it was Cid who spoke up, "If yer the ones who saved all time, than by all means, have fun, Nanaki forgot to mention this, but the Almighty spoke to him concerning your generations and asked that you--um--," Cid was having trouble finding the words.
"I think we catch what you mean of course...if that's what this world needs, another band of light warriors, just in case evil should rise again." Ramza smirked at Teta.
"We for the most part aren't going to live forever, then..." Delita concluded, "That part's obvious, so I guess we pass on what we know to our kids."
"Oh no! Not me!" Seifer stood up, almost indignant, "I'm not gonna be a parent no sir!"
A beautiful woman peeked out of a nearby tent with a sly smirk that seemed familiar, "Oh is that so? Come here! Seifie!"
"Eep!!" Seifer yelled and ran, the woman chasing him, "Come back here! You womanizing gunblade freak!"
The whole group of friends laughed aloud at this quaint little scene. And couldn't help but stare at the stars of a new, free sky.
"So what do we do now?" Alma said quietly to Delita.
"We're the masters of time aren't we? We have all the time in the world." Grabbing Alma up in his arms, he opened his wings, and ran forward at high speed off the red cliffs of Cosmo Canyon. Soaring high in the sky on his new set of wings, the two of them enjoyed the cool breeze of the night.
FINAL FANTASY TACTICS
THE ZODIAC WAR
Copyright 2003 Squaresoft