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The Aeon Beyond Time

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The walls of Yuna’s house were covered with mementos of her life. There were pictures from her journeys, a sword that belonged to her first love, an ornate fan from Guadosalam, a painting of the Aeons that her niece had made when she was a child, those and more decorated her last home. A small, fancy mirror on a shelf reflected Yuna’s grey hair and wrinkled face.

She removed her heavy coat and hung it up, shaking the snow off. Yuna sat on a simple but comfortable chair and started the arduous process of unlacing and pulling off her heavy, fur lined boots. The snow was falling outside of her home. It would probably continue snowing for hours. Even after living up here for decades she had not exactly grown used to the cold weather that was so different from where she grew up. Once her outer clothing was off she leaned back in her chair, enjoying the warmth inside the house. Her eyes closed and she breathed a little slower. It would have looked like she had fallen asleep until coughs began wracking her body once more. The heavy lids opened.

Yuna rose from her chair. It was too soon. She still had one last thing she had to do before it was her time. The old woman walked through a door and into a back room. Her movements were slow, but still retained some of the grace of her youth. The small, round object was right in the box that she thought it would be in. She held the blue sphere in one hand. There was one person she needed to thank properly and explain herself to.

Going back into the main room, she sunk into her most comfortable chair. She covered her legs up with a blanket, they were starting to feel cold again. She sat there, thinking about what exactly she wanted to say to him. At the edge of her mind she could feel his consciousness. He was silent, but he was silent about most things. She could feel he was uneasy about this.

She laughed and said, “Really now, how would you know what to do if I didn’t leave you a message? I’m an old woman. I won’t live forever. I will be long gone before even your parents are born.” Yuna could have mentally directed it at him, but she preferred speaking out loud.

She studied the sphere through the snow filtered light coming in a thick window. As she rocked it back and forth the light skittered over the smooth surface. She smiled down. This sphere had built in recording capabilities, just like the one she had used on Mihen Highroad all those years ago. She turned it on with her thumb.

“Hello Vincent , my name is Yuna. You haven’t met me yet…”

 

Nanaki, known as Red XIII to some, sat on a blue cushion. He had his legs sprawled out, trying to diffuse the heat from his body. The cold stone walls helped a great deal. With every breath he willed the warmth out into the dry air of Cosmo Canyon.

A tanned man walked in. His rough jeans were caked with dirt from repairing the stairs leading up to the town. The man stepped inside and leaned against the walls, closing his eyes as the heat was whisked away from him.

“Did you want something?”

“There is a woman here to see you.”

He pushed himself up and onto his paws. “I will go speak to her.” Nanaki began to walk out, glancing over his shoulder at the man who made no movement to leave the coolness. There was only a little bit of jealousy directed toward him for getting to stay inside.

Harsh sun tried to beat him into the baked ground the second he set paw out of the cave. The sun looked red through the dust. His head swiveled from side to side. He was expecting to see Tifa, Yuffie or maybe even Shelke. He was not expecting to see a blonde woman in a suit.

Seeing her sent him back. Elena looked so much like her older sister, the Turk that had captured him for Hojo. While they looked alike, the younger sister was far more impatient. She was tapping her foot and fidgeting. The sweat was visible on her face. It would be worse against her suit where the salty liquid would be making her itch.

“I am surprised that it is you,” Nanaki said as he approached her.

“The president ordered me to deliver this to you,” she held out a suitcase. “It is a family antique that has been passed down in his family for generations. He told me to tell you that and make sure you got it.”

“I see. Would you mind opening it for me?”

She nodded, setting the case on the ground. Elena kneeled as she unclasped the small suitcase and opened the lid. Inside was a round object, almost looking like material. It was surrounded by a ring. The original color was long gone and all that was left was brown.

“A sphere.”

“A sphere?”

“Yes, spheres were very common back during the days of the Cetra. They used them for everything from recording messages to playing sports. Thank Rufus for me. This is certainly an unexpected delight.”

Elena nodded to him and stood up, leaving the suitcase where it was. “I will be leaving then.” She turned away and walked down the crumbling steps to where the helicopter was waiting for her.

Nanaki’s tail excitedly waved back and forth no matter how much he did not want it too. The thought that there could be a surviving recording in the sphere excited him. There were many oral legends of his tribe dating back that far. Maybe he would even get to see one of his ancestors.

He pushed the suitcase shut with his front paws. The clasps shut automatically with a click. Grasping the handle between his jaws he ran inside to unravel the secrets of the mysterious sphere.

 

The night air felt good on Yuna’s skin. She was lying on the roof of the Celsius. Her hands were between the back of her head and the metal. Paine was sitting up. Rikku was bouncing around like a little girl. Buddy and Brother talked in hushed voices. Barkeep and Darling were making out.

Yuna’s eyes focused on the sky overhead. Countless stars were falling from the heavens and disappearing before her eyes. It was beautiful. She could not get rid of the sickly feeling in the bottom of her stomach. Yevon’s teachings had said that shooting stars were a sign of imminent disaster. Even though she had long left following Yevon, growing up in a temple made it rather hard to ignore those particular lessons.

“Hey lookie, that one didn’t disappear,” Rikku pointed at one.

Yuna sat up. One of the falling stars really was still there. It looked like it was going to touch the earth. Her mismatched eyes followed its trail until it was out of sight.

The sound of the explosion took a few minute to reach them. The Celsius rocked back and forth in mid-air. Everyone reached for something to grab hold of. It lasted a few minutes and everything was calm. Eyes met and parted, then met with another pair. They all rushed for the elevator to head back inside.

By the time they made it to the bridge Shinra was already there in his pajamas. He was at his panel and pressing all sorts of buttons and turning brightly colored knobs.

“The shaking and the star, what was that?” Buddy asked with appropriately dramatic hand gestures.

“It looks like it was a meteor. Crashed into the northern continent.”

“That’s a relief. No one lives there,” Yuna said.

“Not really. The impact would have caused earthquakes and tsunamis. There could still be a lot of damage,” Shinra said.

Yuna should have realized that falling stars were still ill omens.

 

Vincent edged around the corner of the black cave. He held his gun out and pointed at the ground. He was ready to raise it to shoot at whatever monster would be just out of his sight. His breathe came out in almost silent puffs. There was a peculiar high pitched sound that he almost could not hear, a sign that the lifestream came up particularly high in this area. He rolled out into the open and fired two shots right into the face of the unsuspecting monster. He rose to his full height and approached the corpses, searching them for anything useful.

He cleared the rest of the interconnected series of caves with similar skill and efficacy. It was not a particularly hard job, but it was beyond the level of the villagers of Cologne. Vincent honestly had found far more Gil in the cave than the people had offered him for the job. It did not matter, he was glad to help even if he did not show it.

Vincent stepped out of the cave and into the warm glow of the sun and meteor. He did a double take as he looked up into the sky. Meteor was in the sky as clear as day. This was completely impossible. The Black Materia was kept under tight lock and key.

He reached into a pocket and pulled out his phone. Vincent would have called Reeve if it were not for the small fact that it said that there was no reception here. It was a bit odd since Cologne had just built a tower and he had perfect reception before entering the caves. Vincent put the phone back in its pocket home. With haste he began to make his way toward Cologne.

 

Cid fiddled with the circuitry of Shinra No. 26. If he were completely honest with himself he would admit that there was nothing that needed to be done on her at this present second. No, he was nervous. The young President Rufus Shinra would be coming today. It meant the possibility of getting funding for the space program again. Spending time with his girl was his way of trying to force good luck on the meeting. He did not know how much longer she would last like this.

The sound of heels on metal echoed out, telling him early that someone was coming. Cid felt a feeling of déjà vu wash over him. It felt so familiar. Of course it felt familiar, that dumbass Shera would climb up every day to bring him lunch. He still found himself turning around to face the open door.

There would be three of them. One of them would have hair that would make a chocobo cry in shame. One would be wearing pink, but she would be surprisingly outgoing despite her delicate and fragile appearance. The last would be a cat with a moogle. The feeling that these would be the people he would see was so strong that when a leggy redhead stepped in he felt something that was almost like whiplash.

“Cid Highwind, it is good to see you again,” she said with a small smile but oddly stilted speech.

“Jus’ who are you? I think I woulda remembered someone looking like you.”

“You have not met me yet, but I know you very well. My name is Shelke Rui. I need to talk to you of something that is of utmost urgency.”

Cid’s mind quickly put things together, a woman that knew him, today was his meeting with Rufus, she needed to talk to him and it was urgent. She must be with Shinra. Of course the new president would send such a beautiful official ahead of him to get everything worked out.

“How about we talk about it over tea? Head over to my house. It is-“

“I am well aware of which house is yours, Cid Highwind.”

He heard her step outside and walk away. Cid turned back to the panel and began reconnecting all the assorted wires. It took about ten minutes. He screwed the panel back into place. The second everything was put away he was out of there like a shot. He almost lost his footing on the ladder leading down the height of the rocket. It would have not been good to fall and break his neck on the day he was going to get his dream back.

Cid ran back to his home at full speed. He threw the door open. Shelke was sitting on a chair and drinking her tea. That was not what made his jaw drop. A very pregnant Shera was playing with a Wutaian girl that could not have been more than ten.

“What the fuck is going on? How did you get your dumbass self knocked up in a few hours?”

“But, Cid, it is your baby?” Shera said, she looked hurt from his words.

“Hey, don’t talk to Shera like that. The great ninja Yuffie will not allow it.” The little girl stomped her foot and had her hands on her hips.

“The great what? Who let the brat in?”

“Cid Highwind, please allow me to explain,” Shelke said in entirely too calm of a voice.

“You better,” Cid dropped into a chair “Shera, tea.”

Shera looked over at Shelke. There was a small nod given. Shera turned away and began to prepare the tea, stifling the sobs.

“Time has become fragmented. Different points of time are all coexisting at once.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Didn’t you look up at the sky when you were outside?”

Cid grumbled some obscenities as he got up from his chair. He had not looked up at the sky at all when he had been rushing back. One gloved hand pushed aside a curtain. In the sky, like a great pimple, was a meteor. Cid moved back and dropped into his seat. His shaking hands pulled out a cigarette and struggled to light it. When he finally succeeded he immediately took a long draw from it.

“I’m listening.”

“The past was changed. Because of that the present has become a patchwork of different time periods. In relation to your personal frame of reference the meteor is from several weeks into the future, I am from thirteen years into the future, Yuffie is from seven years into the past and Shera Highwind is from two years into the future.”

“Wait, what? I’d never marry that broad!”

“You are focusing on the wrong part of my explanation, Cid Highwind.”

“I got it, I got it, time is like some mismatched jigsaw puzzle and I marry that useless woman. Not like there is anything I can do about it.”

“There is actually one thing you can do about it, Cid Highwind.”

 

Dona blasted Jenova with a fire spell. Issaru put up shell just in time to intercept an attack from that monster woman. Yuna ran forward in thief dressphere, dodging attacks. She leapt into the air and changed to samurai, bringing her heavy sword down on Jenova with the full force of its weight.

Yuna was knocked back by one appendage. She hit the wall hard, the heavy sword slid from her grasp. She shifted back into gunner, the distant sword disappearing. Yuna pushed herself to her feet. She locked eyes with Jenova.

Jenova, the creature that had dragged its body from the Northern Crater, she had come with promises of peace and friendship. Then people started disappearing. Most of the Guado were gone before they had caught on that it was Jenova killing them. They found out too late that she could change her form and trick their minds.

She had killed so many. Many of the humans from the former Yevonite lands were dead. The Al Bhed only escaped because of their scattered numbers. Cid and Rikku had helped what they could evacuate into caves and other hiding places.

Yuna raised her guns. She did not have Aeons anymore, but she was still a summoner. It was their job to protect the people of Spira. She let fly a flurry of bullets. Even if she and the other summoners died, if they stopped Jenova it was worth it.

 

Vincent looked up. A very familiar plane flew overhead. He could not place where he had seen it before. That was because he had never seen it flying before, he had only seen it in water. When the Tiny Bronco landed he finally recognized it.

The blonde pilot pulled his goggles down and looked over at Vincent. “So you’re the bastard I was sent to get.”

“Hello, Cid,” Vincent said as he climbed into the back seat.

“You another one of those future people?”

“Future people? Are you drunk?”

“I’ll explain it best I can,” Cid started up the Tiny Bronco. “Next stop: Cosmo Canyon.”

 

“Vincent, I wasn’t expecting you,” Nanaki said.

“I was not planning on coming. Cid was sent by Shelke to take me here.”

“I should have known that there would be people from our future that would know what is going to happen and that I needed to see you.” Nanaki pushed an object that looked almost but not exactly like material toward Vincent.

“What is that?”

“It is called a sphere. It was used to record information a long time ago. This one is a special one. It has a message on it. Just let me turn it on.” Nanaki fiddled with it and an image of an old woman appeared.

“Hello Vincent , my name is Yuna. You haven’t met me yet, but I know you very well. A meteor crashed into the planet, on a continent to the north. Inside was a being called Jenova. She killed so many of us. You told me once that in your time my people are called Ancients or Cetra. We had a skill to summon beings called Aeons. It was our most powerful magic, but we don’t have any Aeons any more to summon. Jenova would have destroyed all life on this planet. I need you to become an Aeon, I needed you to stop Jenova and seal her away. It took a lot of time, but also on this sphere are instructions on how to become an Aeon. If you follow them you will become Cerberus, the Aeon that exists at every point in time.” When the message ended the image of the old woman disappeared.

“Where did you get this?”

“From Rufus. I did some research and an ancestor of his was a friend of hers. They have passed that sphere for centuries until it could go to you.”

“You make it sound like she is famous.”

“She was an important mythological figure for my tribe. According to our legends it was her and the noble Kimahri, a mythological common ancestor of my kind, that saved the world. Knowing that she was real is very exciting for me.”

Vincent reached into his pocket and pulled out his black phone. He stared at it. It was just a piece of technology, but it represented the bonds he had to the others of this world. Vincent set it down on a table in Nanaki’s home.

“Do you have those instructions?”

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

“I’ll exist at every point in time. I will still be here. Besides, it isn’t like I can get out of saving the world. It won’t let me.”

“Alright, then let’s get started.”

 

Yuna could not move. Her body was just too battered and broken to even find the strength to drink a potion. It was all over. Around her were the bodies of other summoners. They had failed. Without Aeons they were no different than anyone else. At least she knew that she had bought time for many of her friends to escape.

She could feel the Hymn of the Fayth in her body. She hoped that she would not become unsent. Becoming a monster was the worst thing she could imagine happening to her. She wanted to go to the Farplane, the promised land after death. She started to hum along to the song. The hymn was not just in her head. She looked up. She could actually hear it.

Yuna tried to get up but only fell back down again. So, she crawled. She focused entirely on the song as it grew louder ahead of her. Blood on the ground marked her slow progress. Only when she felt the music all around her, reverberating through her soul, did she stop. She looked up.

A translucent man hovered over his statue. He had dark hair and red eyes, reminding her of Lulu. He wore clothing that was foreign to her, but the weapon in his holster she did recognize.

“Hello Yuna, I am Vincent.”

 

Yuffie lifted Mid onto her shoulders.

“I can walk, auntie Yuffie.” Mid said in that annoyed tone kids get when they think they are being babied.

“Course you can. I just thought you wanted to see a very special friend of your pop’s.”

“I want to see Daddy’s very special friend,” Rikku said.

“It is a shame that you did not get to meet him, Rikku Highwind.” Shelke held the little girl’s hand. While Shelke had not caught up with Yuffie yet, WRO scientists had figured out how to allow Shelke to age again. She was already physically in her mid-teens.

The two young women, on babysitting of the Highwind twins duty, led the children down the street and up the stairs to the museum. Nanaki had helped with putting together the Natural History Museum. It was the first of its kind. The museum was crowded today like it was every other day.

Crowds of normal museum patrons were nothing for these young ladies. They expertly weaved through the crowd using the skills of Deepground and Wutai. They knew exactly where they were going and bypassed all of the other exhibits about Zanarkand and Sin and went right to the one about the Calamity from the Heavens.

They stopped in front of a statue. It was a merging of a man in red and a canine with three heads. If you listened you could sometimes hear an ancient song. The crowds made it hard to do today, but even the untrained children were able to hear it when they tried hard enough.

“Mid and Rikku, I want you to meet uncle Vinny.”