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The Fifth Act, Chapter 36

Title: The Fifth Act

T for violence.

Summary: FFVII Time-travel. Gen. Cloud has an accident with a Time Materia.

Author's Note:  I've reached that stage of a fic where I get insecure and second-guess every single paragraph, so I have absolutely no idea if this chapter is ready for people's eyes or not.  As always, please feel free to point out any mistakes so I can fix them.  Two chapters left!  I'm not sure when they'll be able to come out given my schedule the coming two weeks, I'll let you guys know.

Previous Chapter  




The Fifth Act
Chapter 36


There was something comfortingly familiar about this - floating on the edge of consciousness, with Zack’s constant stream of chatter murmuring in his ears. Except it felt too comfortable, too warm, too dry, too still. Weren’t they supposed to moving, hiding from distant drone of helicopters, sleeping on the cold damp ground?


“-Any luck tracking down Angeal?”


“None.” A pause, the sound of running water, then the shuffle of footsteps.


“Where are you going?”


“Out again. I only returned to see how Cloud was faring.”


Cloud. He was Cloud. He latched onto the knowledge fiercely, uncertain why it was important he cling to it, but knowing that it was.


“Hey, take a break, would you? There’s not much point to finding Angeal before we get the cure anyway.”  His voice dropped. “And I’m getting worried about Sephiroth. He hasn’t come out of the library yet.”


A curse. “Still?”


“Vincent looked in on him earlier, but he couldn’t get a response.”


Sephiroth. A sense of anxiety rose in him at the name. Something… he needed to do something


He couldn’t translate the sense of urgency into movement, and consciousness slipped from his grasp once more. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed when he next drifted close enough to awareness to comprehend what the voices next to him were saying, but the light in the room had changed. He tensed, wary of a threat.


“Is it mako addiction?” A deep, familiar baritone. Cloud relaxed at the sound of it. Vincent. Not the lab. Vincent would never let him wake up in one. The lab? His memories felt muddled, but he picked through them, constructing a disjointed picture. That was right, he’d been in a lab. Not for the first time. This time had been different.


“Genesis thinks its mostly fatigue. The bullet wound’s completely healed. We still don’t really know what went on in there, either. Hojo must have been doing something.”


“Sephiroth hasn’t found anything yet?”


“If he has, we can’t get it from him. Genesis was going to go over later, maybe he’ll have more luck.”


Panic. A groan fought its way from his lips.


“What? Cloud? Hey, you awake, buddy?”


The awareness was short-lived - he never managed to answer. 


Hours passed. Maybe days. He had some vague recollection of being helped to the bathroom once or twice, and liquid being coaxed down his throat, but not much else permeated the haze of exhaustion. No way of measuring, no trust in his instincts – all he knew was that time had disappeared in what felt like an eye-blink. A part of him – a distant part, so quiet and ineffectual under the exhaustion pinning his limbs – fretted at the sensation, worried over a threat he couldn’t collect his thoughts enough to name. All he could do was cling to knowledge that he was Cloud, and sleep, his dreams tortured by an endless sea of mako-green and disembodied whispers.


When he next floated towards consciousness, Zack wasn’t there. He felt a brief spike of panic, but was calmed by a smooth voice, murmuring by his bedside.


“…the fates are cruel
There are no dreams, no honour remains.
The arrow has left the bow of the goddess.

My Soul corrupted by vengeance,
Hath endured torment,
To find the end of the journey in my own salvation.
And Your eternal slumber.

Now what i want most...
is the 'Gift of the Goddess'…


The steady rhythm of words was comforting, and soon lulled him back into a deep slumber. 


More time passed. Time he couldn’t afford, but gathering the determination to force himself awake was like trying to scoop up flan jelly with his fingers.


Until, abruptly, one voice pierced through the murmuring nonsense, clear as a bell.


Wake up. 


Abruptly, he became aware that the room had gone quiet. Zack’s cheerful chatter, Genesis’s lyrical recitation, Vincent’s murmured questions – all were absent. 


You need to wake up now. You’re needed.


It felt like his eyelids had been glued shut, but with some effort, Cloud managed to pry them open. The room was lit a rosy red from the late afternoon light. The chair next to his bed was empty. Unusual.


The difference was alarming enough to fully rouse him. He pushed himself up, blinking as the world spun, fighting down a bout of light-headedness as he took in his surroundings properly.


He knew this place. The inn at Nibelheim. How long had he been sleeping? What had happened? He never came to Nibelheim, not since they’d first discovered the farce ShinRa had set up to hide the truth. His brow furrowed. Although, didn’t he stay here more recently? To fight some dragons… and then the lab. Kunsel. Hojo.


Hojo was dead. Cloud almost felt giddy as the knowledge hit him. Hojo was dead. It must have been Vincent. Vincent had shot him right between the eyes. He’d blacked out soon after, but he’d seen that much – seen the Professor’s eyes turn blank, seen the blood splatter across the wall, felt the thrill of relief knowing that finally, finally something had changed.


He remembered. His thoughts were still a jumbled mess, but he remembered – he’d travelled to the past, and Hojo was dead. This was Nibelheim, before it burned down, and Hojo was dead. His mother was still alive, Jenova was in the Reactor, Hojo was dead, and Sephiroth…


He could sense him. Moving up the mountain. Pressure began to grow in his head, a dull headache that throbbed behind his eyes.


Hojo was dead, but Sephiroth was here, in Nibelheim.


Cloud pushed back the covers and pulled himself from the bed in a daze. He was wearing a standard SOLDIER First Class uniform, but it felt about a size too large – probably a spare of Zack’s. His boots were sitting next to the bed, though – they looked freshly cleaned, so he slipped his feet into them and stood. His legs wobbled as they took his weight, and he stumbled a few steps, struggling for balance. He still felt sluggish, like his mind wasn’t properly connected to his body.


He found his shoulder guard on the nightstand, and fumbled with the clasps as he put it on. First Tsurugi rested in the corner, half hidden by the long afternoon shadows. His materia sat in a tidy arrangement next to it. He left the Chocobo Lure, equipping the materia into the empty slots with quick, practiced movements he could perform in his sleep. Then he hefted the sword onto his shoulder and lurched from the room.


The Reactor. He needed to go to the Reactor. The threat to the Planet. Finish it, end it. His feet plodded forward, almost of their own volition.


It felt strange. Oddly familiar. Like Aeris’s gentle touch on his thoughts, or Zack’s invisible hand, guiding a sword he didn’t know how to use.


It was the Planet, he realised blearily. The Planet itself was reaching out to him. It needed his help. To save her before it all happened again.


Cloud gripped his sword, and made for Mount Nibel.






The sun began to dip into the horizon, painting the sky a myriad of hues.   The temperature dropped with it, cold air rolling in from the shadowed side of the mountain. The chilly breeze stung his cheeks, and its icy fingers ruffled through his feathers. Angeal ignored it – used to Nibel’s weather after the past month and a half scouring the peak. He glided somewhat lazily above the mountain path, confident that Genesis had returned to town, and that the glare from the sunset was sufficiently brilliant for anyone else to dismiss his silhouette as a trick of the oncoming twilight.


He found himself at a loss of what to do next. Strife had been rescued, his nephew safely delivered home, and the Second Class SOLDIER was recovering in Midgar. Zack had made First Class – the sight of the black uniform had sent a swell of pride through him – and didn’t need a mentor to watch his back anymore. 


Lazard had been in contact, but with Hollander’s death it seemed as though whatever plans he’d been brewing lay dormant, and he was more concerned with keeping himself alive and out of trouble now. The Turks must have collared him. He should have known there was more to it when Lazard had been so complicit with Hollander’s scheme – the scientist must have promised him an army. He probably ought to find some way to warn Sephiroth about it, just in case the Director came up with anything else now that avenue had been closed to him.


For the moment though, he supposed all he could do was keep an eye on the group. In his current state he wasn’t able to do much, but a sentry in the sky couldn’t hurt. For just a little longer, he’d watch over them from a distance.


As though summoned by the thought, a glint of silver caught his eye on the mountain below. He wheeled closer, eyeing the figure making his way up the rocky path with curiosity. Sephiroth?


He hadn’t seen the General since the group had first arrived in Nibelheim. Zack and Genesis had been up the mountain several times, looking for him apparently, but he’d made sure to steer clear. He was a coward – too afraid to face their horror or their pity when they saw what he’d become. Zack’s expression when he’d given him the Buster Sword had left a bitter taste lingering in his mouth for days.


Sephiroth’s gaze never wandered towards the sky, though, so Angeal drifted on the wind currents, keeping a lazy eye on his progress up the mountain. What was he doing? 


Perhaps going to check on the Reactor. There were none of the usual monsters in the area to worry about, so he let the General be, gliding back down towards the village. A large part of him detested the crooked white wing protruding from his back and all it represented, but he couldn’t deny that he appreciated the ability to have a bird’s eye view of the landscape. He frowned at the plume of smoke beginning to rise from where ShinRa mansion lay nestled in the steep mountainside. That was unusual.


Before he could go any closer to investigate, though, he noticed another familiar figure heading up the path. This one with spiky blond hair.


The boy? No, he was wearing a SOLDIER First Class uniform. Strife?


The man walked slowly but steadily up the mountain, sword hefted on his shoulder instead of slung in its harness as it normally was. Angeal watched in concern. Physically, there didn’t seem to be much problem, but why would Strife suddenly go walking up the mountain by himself after being bedridden for a week? No, something wasn’t right.


He wavered for a moment, but concern won out. Besides, the guilt of what he’d inadvertently put the blond through in his initial panic over degradation ate at him every day. Angeal owed the man an apology and an explanation at the very least, whether he chose to accept it or not.


The air rushed past as he dove towards the ground, and landed lightly on a boulder a short ways ahead of the blond. “Strife!”


The SOLDIER stopped at the sound of his voice, but Angeal had the feeling that he didn’t see him so much as see through him. “Angeal.”


“You’re back up on your feet I see.” Up close, Strife still looked too pale for his liking, but thankfully in better shape than the Second Class he’d helped out a few weeks ago.


Strife stared at him for a long moment. “Your degradation’s gotten worse.” He sounded distant, as though he were talking to himself.


“Don’t worry about it. I’ve come to terms with it.” His hopes of recovery had died when he’d seen Hollander’s corpse. More importantly, the neutrality of the blond’s response deeply disturbed him. Shouldn’t he be angry with him? “Where are you going?”


His expression abruptly hardened, and his knuckles tightened around the hilt of First Tsurugi. “Don’t get in my way.”


“Get in your- Wait.” Angeal’s eyes narrowed. What was Strife doing that he’d possibly want to interfere with? He’d scoured this mountain top to bottom over the past few weeks – there was nothing up here but bomb-ombs, wolves, and the Reactor.


The Reactor, which Sephiroth had headed towards not that long ago.


Sephiroth,” Angeal cursed, the realisation striking him like a blow. “Strife, you can’t possibly still – after he rescued you-!”


The blond’s only response was to lift First Tsurugi from his shoulder.


It was then that he knew. Strife was deadly serious.


Angeal’s hand grasped at air. Only too late did he realise he no longer carried Buster Sword on his back.






Zack hurried back to the Inn, arms laden with food from the general store. He didn’t like leaving Cloud alone for too long, but the blond had been showing signs of waking up, and he wanted to have some warm soup ready when he did. He’d been sleeping for five days now, and while they’d been pouring water and soup down his throat whenever he was aware enough to swallow, he was really hoping that this time he’d wake up enough to feed himself.


Then he’d have to track down Genesis and make sure he ate, too. He’d probably get Spike to do that. Whenever the kid wasn’t at the Inn watching over his Uncle, he was shadowing the Commander, who tolerated it with uncharacteristic patience. Possibly because the boy was related to Cloud, or more likely because he was a local who could guide him around the mountain while he looked for Angeal.   With the blond rescued, the officer had thrown himself into the task of solving the mystery of the chimera, convinced their other missing friend was in the area. Zack had swapped out and taken over searching from him a couple of times – mostly to make sure he took a break – but getting him to sleep and eat properly was becoming a trial.


Sephiroth wasn’t much better – still holed up in the library. Genesis had displayed a remarkable talent for hypocrisy in spending some time coercing the General into eating at least once a day, but nobody, not even Vincent, had been able to pry him from the mansion.


Five days. Five long, boring days, and Zack was beginning to wonder if everyone was going mad.


Which was why he was really hoping Cloud would wake up today. If anybody could drag Sephiroth from the mansion, it would be Cloud, and Genesis would almost definitely calm down too once everyone else started acting normally again. Then they could finally make a start on getting back to Midgar. He didn’t know what would happen after that – whether the Turks would come through, or if President would declare them traitors and force them on the run, or if the company would just cover it all up and pretend nothing ever happened. 


He didn’t care, either. He just wanted to see Aeris again. He missed her already.


Zack thanked his lucky stars nobody greeted him at the foyer of the Inn, and hotfooted it upstairs before that could change. He bounded inside, dumping the food on the table with a flourish. “I’m back! You hungry, Cloud?”


He hadn’t expected an answer, but then, he also hadn’t expected an empty room. It was silent as a grave, and the bed the blond had occupied not that long ago was conspicuously vacant.


“Cloud?” he called out, reaching for his sword. “You here, buddy?” A tendril of worry and panic threaded its way into his heart, but he stamped it out before it could take hold. Cloud’s sword and materia were missing, as were his boots and shoulder guard. That could only mean he’d woken up – if someone had snuck in and carted him off in his sleep, they wouldn’t have bothered with his shoes and weapon.


Something was off, though. For starters, Cloud hadn’t bothered to put on his sword harness – it still sat drying by the window in the rosy light of the sunset. That implied he’d been in a rush. He should hurry up and find him. He could be disoriented – he might have panicked and made a run for it.


Zack flipped open his PHS to call Genesis, waiting impatiently for it to turn on. He’d been leaving it off to save the battery, since reception in the area was spotty at best and the only mail he’d received since leaving Midgar had been fanclub updates.


As soon as it turned on, his PHS beeped. Message backlog. He skipped past even more fanclub updates – maybe he shouldn’t have joined all of them - then stopped on Luxiere’s name. The Second was wondering if they’d promote Zack to Commander if Angeal stayed on leave much longer. Zack deleted it. Then after that… Unknown number? It looked like it had been sent yesterday. He clicked through.


Zack, it’s Kunsel,’ the text read. Kunsel was finally awake! Zack let out a whoop and grinned, eagerly reading on. ‘I haven’t been able to get through to you, but Aeris told me you guys went to Nibelheim to rescue Cloud. Listen, no matter what, don’t let Sephiroth go to the Reactor. You’ve got to get him out of there NOW. I’ll explain later, just get the hell out of there Zack!’


That was… not exactly what he expected. Was there something dangerous inside the Reactor? Hard to imagine something that could take out the General, though. And why would it be dangerous to Sephiroth specifically?


Kunsel wasn’t the sort to mess around with something like this, though. Zack quickly dialled Genesis’s number as he headed back outside, praying the signal would hold.


He raised the PHS to his ear as he walked, listening to the tone ring and ring and ring, and happened to glance towards the sunset. Sunsets in Nibelheim came early, painting the clouds a vivid mix of orange and pink while casting the town into an early twilight shadow. The contrast of dark purple shade with the still-bright sky created an unsettling effect.


…Was that smoke in the distance?


The call rang out, and his PHS sat silent, awaiting his next move.


The smoke worried him – a thick black smear against the rose-coloured clouds, nothing like the usual white wisps curling from the town’s chimneys. A quick glance around confirmed none of the locals seemed to have noticed it yet. For lack of any other clues, Zack flipped his PHS shut and headed towards it at a jog.


It didn’t long for the fire to come into view. He gaped. It was the mansion! The mansion was burning!


What happened? Massive tongues of flame licked the sky, bursting from the windows, angry flicks of red and orange blending with the sunset. “Shit! Sephiroth!” Was the General still inside? He barrelled through the gates, ready to storm through the flames if necessary. He was SOLDIER – he could probably last about a minute inside – would it be enough to get to the basement?


No time to be indecisive. Zack took a deep breath, held it, then crashed through the front doors. His eyes teared up immediately in the smoke, and he squinted, struggling to see through the heat haze. “Sephiroth!” he choked out, running towards the stairs. He couldn’t hear any response – just the groaning of wood and the blaze roaring in his ears. It felt like he’d walked straight down a dragon’s gullet. Nothing but fire, everywhere he turned and looked. As though Ifrit himself had awoken and unleashed hell upon the mansion.


He ran up the stairs – one shattered under his foot, more flames reaching up from it, blazing hot fingers grasping at his ankles. He jumped up to the next one, swearing, then swearing again when he realised he’d forgotten to hold his breath. Fire under the stairs? That meant the whole place could collapse any minute! Frantic now, he raced up to the second landing, jumping clear across part of the floor that had fallen away.


The doorway to the bedroom was wreathed in flame. Zack paused, the searing heat enough to make him hesitate. Grimacing, he braced himself, and prepared to dive through. The General could be in trouble down there!


He never got the chance. Before he could move, there was a sudden blast of freezing cold air on his face, and the doorway was showered with ice.   A silhouette tore through the flames towards him, grabbed him by the arm, and dragged him back the way he’d come. “Are you an idiot, Zack Fair?” it wheezed.


Zack coughed, blinking smoke and ash out of his eyes. “Genesis?”


The floor began collapsing under their feet – they leapt and rolled as the staircase crashed into a pile of charred, burning wood, with only the banisters still connecting it to the second level. Genesis was up again in moments, grabbing one of Zack’s suspenders and hauling the SOLDIER after him, throwing out Blizzaga after Blizzaga to keep the encroaching flames at bay. A support beam fell from the ceiling, but a quick slash of the Commander’s rapier knocked it away. 


Then all of a sudden they were out in the yard again, the cool air a balm on his face and the overpowering roar in his ears lowering to steady rumble. Zack winced as part of the roof fell in behind them, then wheeled on Genesis. “What’s going on? Why’s the mansion on fire? Where’s Sephiroth?”


“I have no idea. He’s not inside, at any rate.” He looked even more irritable than normal - the tips of his hair were singed, and his red leather coat was streaked with soot. Snarling, he shot a Blizzara at the flames crawling along the grass after them. “When I came in to check on him, the fire was already out of control. I have essentially just ruined my coat for nothing.”


“What about the troopers and scientists?” As far as he knew, they’d been locked in the East Wing so nobody ran off and reported Hojo’s death before they were ready.


Genesis’s silence was all the answer he needed.


“Then what about Cloud? Have you seen him?” Zack urged. 


“What do you mean? Are you saying he finally woke up?”


“I don’t know! All I know is that I left to get some food and when I came back he wasn’t there! His sword and most of his materia are missing too!”


The Commander frowned, and threw a Blizzara at a shrub on the edge of the property that had caught alight. “He can’t have gone far, then.”


“What about Vincent? And Spike?”


“I sent the child home before coming here. As for Vincent, who can say?” He blasted the edge of the creeping fire with ice again, keeping it contained to the mansion. “The man comes and goes as he pleases,” he huffed.


Zack bit his lip. Damn. What to do first? Go look for Sephiroth, or look for Cloud?


Maybe he should head towards the Reactor, to make sure Sephiroth wasn’t there. And if he did find the General, he could ask him to use his weird extra sense to find Cloud! Decision made, he nodded and ran back through the gate. “I’m going to make sure Sephiroth’s not at the Reactor!”


Genesis paused in his casting to send him an odd look. “What about Cloud? And the fire?” he called.


“I’ll leave them to you! I don’t have time to explain! Kunsel woke up and I got a message from him – it sounds serious!”


He ran off before Genesis had the chance to reply, quickly leaving the burning mansion behind. He didn’t know the way to the Reactor, but Cloud’s nephew had shown him a few paths when they’d gone Angeal-hunting – he could figure out the rest from there. He took off at a jog, glowing blue eyes raking the landscape for a glimpse of the General. There weren’t exactly a lot of places to hide in Nibelheim – he had to be somewhere!


The further he went, though, the more unsettled he became. It was quiet on the mountain – too quiet. It freaked him out, especially after storming through a raging inferno mere minutes before. Weren’t there normally birds or something? He remembered hearing some intermittent wildlife calls in the distance when he’d last come this far out, but this time only the cold wind and thudding of his boots kept him company. 


Zack lightened his step, fingertips resting softly on the hilt of Angeal’s Buster Sword. In Gongaga, quiet meant something bad was in the area. Hard to imagine what might spook bom-ombs, dragons, and wolves, though. Certainly nothing so pedestrian as a little fire.


The thought had come too soon. A sudden flutter of wings had the SOLDIER whirling, sword drawn. Instead of an attack, though, he was nearly bowled over by a familiar blur of black fur and white feathers landing just in front of him. “Ack, don’t surprise me like that!”


The chimera tossed its head, thrusting out his chest proudly and stretching its wings. Zack grinned, relieved he wasn’t going to have to waste time dealing with Mount Nibel’s sometimes-tricky wildlife after all. “Where have you been hiding? Haven’t seen you since we got here!” And he’d looked, too. “I think Spike missed you.”


It ran around him in a circle, then loped off, heading further up the mountainside.


“Hey, wait up!” Zack ran after it, scrabbling over the loose rocks and barely keeping the whip-like tail in sight as the chimera bounded ahead of him. Whenever he thought he’d lost sight of it, it would stop, perch on a boulder, and wait with an oddly familiar air of patience. Then as soon as he came into view, it would run off again. He had the weird feeling it was leading him somewhere.


As far as he could tell, they were still heading in the right direction, so Zack was happy to go along with it. Until he turned a bend in the path and saw the body sprawled out on the ground, and he realised what exactly the chimera had led him to.


"Angeal?" Zack yelped.


It was unmistakeably Angeal, but as he’d never seen him before. His hair had turned a mottled grey, and deep wrinkles were beginning to line his face. 


He'd aged thirty years in six months. 


The change was startling, but that wasn’t what alarmed him the most. It was the bleeding wound stretched across his chest.


The SOLDIER rushed over to his mentor, dragging a glove off with his teeth and frantically checking for a pulse. He breathed a sigh of relief when it fluttered against his fingertips. Alive, but barely. The wound was shallow, thankfully. Now that he was closer, he could see burns on Angeal’s arms, and his wing sat at a weird angle, a chunk of feathers missing. It looked like it might be broken. Who could have done this?


A chill passed over him. It couldn’t be Sephiroth, surely. The General had been plagued by guilt over Angeal’s injury – he wouldn’t just turn around and do this, not after they’d worked so hard to find both him and Cloud for the cure!


What to do now? Zack cursed. Angeal needed help, but he hadn’t brought any materia with him – and would Cure even work on his mentor, with the degradation and all?


“It appears I am too late,” a smooth voice intruded on the silence, followed shortly by a red-cloaked man leaping down from a boulder and landing softly – too softly – near them.


“Vincent?” Zack jumped, and very nearly cut his own hand off in his frantic fumble to grab Buster Sword. “You’ve got to stop doing that!”


The former Turk didn’t make any motion that could be construed as either greeting or acknowledgement, his eerie red gaze fixed on Angeal’s prone form. “Who is that?”


“Angeal. My mentor. And what do you mean, too late?”


“Jenova,” was Vincent’s simple reply. “I had not thought Sephiroth would know where to find her.”


“Wait, that lady you said wasn’t really Sephiroth’s mother?” Zack’s head spun. He didn’t like this kind of intrigue piled upon intrigue. Things were already too complicated for his taste.


“Jenova is hidden in the Reactor. Hojo moved her here recently – that was why I called Cloud in the first place.”


His mouth turned dry. Then the reason Kunsel had warned him not to let Sephiroth near the Reactor…


“We had planned to destroy her,” Vincent continued after a beat. “I’d intended to go with Cloud once he’d awoken, but apparently I should not have waited.” 


“What will she do?” Zack asked in a low voice.


“…I am led to believe that it is not Jenova directly we need to fear. It’s the influence she exerts on those who possess her cells.”


Zack looked down at Angeal’s battered form. He still didn’t know everything that was going on, but he’d heard enough. “Then we can’t waste any more time.” He glanced at the chimera, still patiently sitting on its haunches next to them. “Can you protect Angeal? We’ll be back for him soon.” He hoped. But realistically, if he was going to have to go up against Sephiroth…


The chimera ruffled its wings.


Enough of a response for him. Zack gripped the hilt of Buster Sword and stood. “Let’s go.”





It was like no time had passed at all since that day.  The cold steel walls of the Reactor. Sephiroth standing on the stairs, Masamune glinting in the artificial light. And resting at the top of the dais just beyond… Jenova.




The General didn’t turn at his arrival. “Cloud. I knew you’d come.”


Cloud tightened his grip on First Tsurugi.


“I’m glad. I wanted to tell you about it. The ending I’ve decided upon.”


“What ending is that?” The air was heavy with tension. Cloud was poised for battle, and Sephiroth stood with a casual air, unworried by his presence. Arrogant. Self-assured. The General’s back was wide open, as it had been so many years ago. Cloud wasn’t considered a threat. If anything, the man seemed pleased by his presence.


“Shall I show you? The story of a goddess, a monster, and a hero.”

"That's no Goddess," he snarled.  "That is the monster."


“Then Cloud… what does that make you and I?” Sephiroth turned to him then, the glow of his green eyes unnaturally bright in the dim light of the Reactor. “I know, now. Everything. I read all about it. About Jenova… and about you.”


For a moment he was confused, until he remembered - Hojo. The lab. He would have kept notes on the time jump experiments, the same as he’d done with the Jenova Project. All Sephiroth had to do was read them, and he could put two and two together, just like Kunsel had.


“That child… he’s no nephew of yours, is he? He’s much more closely related than that.”


His blood ran cold – when had the General met his younger self? - but it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if Sephiroth knew. So long as everything ended here.


"Tell me, Cloud… what did I do in your future to make you hate me so?”


He’d had enough. “I don’t have anything to say to you,” he snapped. “I’ve come to make good on my word. Your journey ends here, Sephiroth!”


He dashed forward. Masamune flashed, and the clash of steel echoed through the Reactor. He pressed his weight against the block, forcing the General to step back. He’d caught him off-guard, and left him wrong-footed to take the blow.


Sephiroth paused. “Cloud… your eyes-”


Stop himKill him.


His determination sharpened, and his Bolt materia flared to life. The General leapt back, breaking the lock before the lightning could race along his sword. 




Cloud didn’t listen and refused to stop. No room for hesitation, no room for doubts. He dashed forward and struck, and struck again, each blow using all of his mako-enhanced strength and speed. Sephiroth struggled to keep up, Masamune cutting hasty arcs in the air as he fought off each attack.


No holding back. No sparring. No retreat.


Hojo was dead. Now it was Sephiroth’s turn.

Next chapter


( 84 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 25th, 2010 10:57 am (UTC)
*was totally ping'ed*

Sephiroth is sane.
Apr. 25th, 2010 11:16 am (UTC)
Oh! Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!!! Awesome. Love the cliffie at least as much as I hate it XD

So this time, Cloud's the one under Jenova's influence? I mean, the way Sephiroth commented on his eyes and since thhey'ce always been mako bright, I can only think of -one- reason why Seph thought them worth comment... *grins*

I did think it was kind of weird that he Planet would wake him, I mean... is it possible for the Planet to communicate with a virtual stranger? Considering in this story that Cloud's got no relation to it closer than Aeris and, well, sshe's not part of the lifestream, yeah? ...You can tell me if I went off on a completely unrelated tangent XD
Apr. 25th, 2010 11:43 am (UTC)
An interesting tangent none-the-less! :D
Apr. 25th, 2010 11:18 am (UTC)
KYAAAAAAAAA!!!! I've been waiting for this chapter!!! I read chapters 1-35 just last friday :)) I slept at 4 am for it XD haha
Apr. 25th, 2010 11:23 am (UTC)
Two chapters left... it will be hard for me to forget my "frequently-refresh-my-email-every-sunday-night-in-hopes-of-another-update" tendencies. :PP

The way you depicted Cloud's fading in and out of consciousness was great. And the way he kept going on, struggling to never forget his name.

Oh Genesis, you. :33 jsdflksd Reading to Cloud while he's unconscious. It strikes me as really romantic. *swoons* o/////o At least in managed to comfort Cloud to go back to sleep.

The Planet helping Cloud. Awesome. I do think they'd known this was going to happen all along. [Or maybe it's not the planet at all. Maybe it's Jenova. Powering up her other son. Now that he's stronger than Seph. *shudders*]

Angeal's POV. Good to know that he's gotten on all right with degradation, and still manages to watch over his friends. The moment with Cloud, with him buster sword-less and all. Sighhhhhhh.

idk, but I thought it was a real stupid move when Zack rushed into the mansion. He should've at least bought ice materia to stop the fire with. Or something like that. But Zack was panicking, so maybe it's alright that he didn't manage to think it through that much. It's a good thing that Genesis got his back. <3

asjkhsad. The confrontation part was awesooooome. LIKE, CLOUD, SEPH IS TOTALLY SANE, YO.

Sephiroth paused. “Cloud… your eyes-”

Oh no. This isn't what I think it is, is it? [Is it Cloud under Jenova's influence now? Was the voice in his head telling him to wake up, Jenova?] Or maybe I'm just reading into this too much? But if it is... damn. You're really, really, really good at plot twists.

Thank you for your update, it is made of awesome. And genius. And everything. OwO Looking forward to the last two chapters! :D Will be checking for mistakes, now.
Apr. 25th, 2010 11:54 am (UTC)
Hopefully only two. Depends how efficient I am at tying up the remaining loose ends and conversations. ^_^;

XD Your slash goggles are firmly fastened, I see. I guess poetry IS kind of romantic... especially when the other person is sleeping. Oh god, stop making me want to write sidefic.

I based Zack rushing into the mansion off his rush into the burning house in Crisis Core to rescue the kid's mother. But yeah, you're right, totally stupid. BUT A GREAT CHANCE FOR GENESIS TO SHOW OFF. :D Originally I had him stay outside like a good boy but that was boring and not-very-Zack, so the whole scene got a rewrite.

I appreciate your use of white text, but I'm confirming nothing. :3
(no subject) - ixtey - Apr. 25th, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Apr. 25th, 2010 11:44 am (UTC)
Oh, man.
You totally performed a HFS on me there. I genuinely did not expect that. D:

Nice twist in the tail there. C:
Apr. 25th, 2010 11:55 am (UTC)
Forgive my lack of net-cred with abbreviation - HFS?
Apr. 25th, 2010 11:56 am (UTC)
I love it!


WHEEE!!! thank you for updating it was a pleasure to read thankyouthankyouthankyou.

and now i will fall out of my chair and roll around until i get to read the next chapter!
Apr. 25th, 2010 12:25 pm (UTC)
OMG Sephiroth is SANE!

But Cloud! Oh noooes, I'm so sure that the planet's not the one
talking to him. IT HAS TO BE JENOVA since Sephiroth is now a
threat to her and all and she needs Cloud to kill him. Plus Cloud's eyes! Although this is just a theory... Man, I'm in panic mode now, thinking of what could happen next >_<

Anyways... I just loved the fact that Zack just ran into the burning mansion (It's soooo like him to do that, since he did that too in Crisis Core.) and I love how Genesis called him an idiot for that ^_^

Angeal! I felt bad that he was defenseless since he gave up the buster sword. >___<

aaawww... I can't believe there are only 2 more chapters left. I'm gonna miss refreshing the page, waiting for the next chapter. :-(
Apr. 26th, 2010 09:27 am (UTC)
Can't imagine why you'd miss sitting there refreshing a page! You could always just track anything uploaded here with the 'act v' tag to save yourself some trouble?
Apr. 25th, 2010 12:42 pm (UTC)
What is this? I don't even...

You're an evil, evil person leaving a cliffhanger like that, but I guess I can't really blame you since it fits into the story somehow. >.>
Weee! You're too good at writing. *sends you an evil look*

I can't wait for the next chapter. >:D
Apr. 26th, 2010 09:25 am (UTC)
I think I speak for us all when I say: Mwa ha ha ha!

You're right, I shouldn't enjoy cliffhangers so much, I just want to make sure people keep coming back for more chapters. :3 It's selfish, I know.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 25th, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC)
My brain broke.

WHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, SOMEONE SAVE SEPHY AND CLOUD FROM THEMSELVES!!!!! O_O (and make them have hot monkey sex while they're at it >_>)
Apr. 26th, 2010 02:05 am (UTC)
I totally second the hot monkey sex part. :))
Apr. 25th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
Okay, first you drop the bomb that there's only two chapters left, and then you give us this? So not cool!! But at least it's a good chapter, but some confusion on my part.
Sephiroth isn't insane? Then why just randomly burn the mansion without telling the others? He knows that Cloud is from another timeline, but he just wants to know what he did to Cloud? Somehow I thought he would be more curious.
And is Cloud the one who is under Jenova's control now? Did Hojo give him more cells and mess with him even more, because I'm pretty sure that Cloud knows not to listen to Jenova, unless he's really messed up from being unconscious.
Either way, give us more soon, lest my mind goes crazy during the week before finals!
Apr. 26th, 2010 09:18 am (UTC)
Rest assured all of your questions will be dealt with in due course. ^_^ Considering there are only two chapters remaining, in almost no time at all, really. A lot kinder than not explaining how exactly the time travel worked for twenty odd chapters, yes? :) Don't go crazy! (And good luck on finals!)
Apr. 25th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
Oh god. Was Sephiroth up there to destroy Jenova and Hojo did something else to Cloud and that's Jenova's voice he's hearing and Jenova knew that Sephiroth was going to destroy her so now she's influencing Cloud to kill Sephiroth (even though Cloud really doesn't need that much influence) so that she won't be destroyed and then when Sephiroth is dead, she'll take even more control of Cloud and then he'll basically be the past's Sephiroth?

Come on, Cloud, see that he is sane and stop fighting so you can both just destory Jenova. T_T

I completely forgot that Hojo would keep notes about his experiment. >.> And see, Cloud, Sephiroth only burned the mansion after reading all of that. That should've given you a big clue.

And Genesis reading Loveless to Cloud while he's in unconscious. <3 Why do I get the feeling that in between following Genesis, Chibi!Cloud is studying his own copy of Loveless in his room? And Genesis, you are such a drama queen about your jacket. >.> Figures you would turn Zack risking his life for Sephiroth into something about you. And I lol'd about his hair. <3

Wonderful chapter! Can't wait for the next one!
Apr. 25th, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
Why do I get the feeling that in between following Genesis, Chibi!Cloud is studying his own copy of Loveless in his room?

jhfskdfjsd CUTEST IMAGERY EVER. :3
(no subject) - chocolatepuzzle - Apr. 28th, 2010 03:32 am (UTC) - Expand
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Apr. 25th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
Well, buggerall.

As to second guessing and timing, don't you worry about it.
Apr. 25th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)

This chapter is just all kinds of awesome. I love the beginning scenes with Cloud drifting in and out of consciousness. I was antsy the entire time and especially whenever Seph in the library was mentioned. Excellent suspense-building!!

I like how Cloud is so confused but feels safe with Zack. And also how Genesis was able to calm him down with poetry! ♥ There was hand-holding and hair-petting, I just know it. XD

And poor Angeal, he confronted the wrong person. Should've gone for Seph instead. D: As much as I didn't like him for being such a self-pitying bum earlier, I do hope Aeris has the cure for him...

Zack and Genesis, firefighters. *__* Haha, I'd buy that calendar. XP

Urk, so much speculation as to what's going on with Cloud and Seph! Planet influence, Jenova...I just wish Sephiroth has enough sense to run the crap away and leave Jenova there as an open target. Very interesting twist on the usual Nibelheim confrontation. I hope there's no mako pit-falling action in the near future. :O Hurry up, Zack, get here and yell some sense into your boy!

Also: the fight scene totally reminded me of Dissidia. XDD SHIRTLESS SEPH ♥ Though I preferred him clothed in the game...and AC Cloud was my favourite costume, too. No Allure of Honey dress...D:
Apr. 25th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Zack and Genesis, firefighters.

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Apr. 25th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
It is I! (again :)) Keep in mind that this review was written as I read through xD

Seriously, after the cliff-hanger from last week, I was dying to see what would happen, and you soooo did not disappoint!

The planet waking Cloud? Well seeing as he was sent back in time, if the planet “knows” what’s going on, I can see why it wouldn’t want the world to be screwed over again. (But then reading to the end, I wonder- the planet, or Jenova, seeing as that evil BLAH seems to be having some affect over Cloud, so she could be calling to him, maybe?)

Genesis reading to Cloud while he slept? Awwwwwwww....

Seeing Angeal again was cool- as angry as I was ay him before, I sorta softened up to him again after rereading the fic again xD. With thing winding up as they are, I hope he gets a happy ending, or some sort of closure!

By the way, that little aside with Genesis tolerating mini-Cloud- adorable!

And- Oh the sense of urgency!! Numerous mentions of Sephy in the library was making me race through the chapter, then Kunsel's message! GAH!

When I read that the mansion was on fire I was like practically jumping up and down. The Niblhiem incident mark 2?! But then Genesis being as awesome as he is diffuses the situation with: "I have essentially just ruined my coat for nothing." And his pretty hair was all singed! xD

And then- and then- GAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Sephiroth seems affected by his discoveries, though not crazy, and though he was calling Jenova the "goddess" hopefully he’ll keep hold of his sanity as he has so far... Maybe? Hopefully... ;___;

But- CLOUD! Jenova- and his eyes! That evil $£%”^YJTSG!!! (Thus is my rage... and it really, really, REALLY, makes me think that Jenova, that persuasive little “$!””!£%£$ was the one calling Cloud to wake up...) CLOUD YOU ARE NOT A PUPPET!!!!

>> Back to an earlier point- Sephy wanting to know what he did to Cloud to ensure the hated... if Genesis and Zack go to break up the brawl and Sephy DOES find out, would that be enough to tip him over the edge?! ;___;

The end of this chapter came wayyyy too soon :/

But an awesome chapter nonetheless. Thank you for yet another instalment, and I cannot wait til the next one! Sucks that there are only a few chapters left, but all good things must come to an end, I guess.

Keep up the good work!
Apr. 26th, 2010 09:12 am (UTC)
Fortunate for Nibelheim, only the mansion burns this time, and with Genesis's Ice materia on the case...! I like writing Genesis being awesome, there are not nearly enough opportunities. He gets overshadowed by Sephiroth so much (which I suppose is the point, with all the personality problems he developes because of it...)

Better it end with an ending than continue forever until we reach a death spiral in updates times, yeah? :) It would be easy to keep it going, but it would get boring and soap-opera esque then.

Happy you liked it, thanks for commenting! :D
Apr. 25th, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
HELLO THAR. :D One-week lurker here, read chapters 1 - 35 in one sitting (ahh, the pleasures of discovering a wonderful fic a few weeks late~), and, coincidentally, the aforementioned sister of ixtey. :D

I cannot express my bliss at how awesome The Fifth Act is--no amount of bestowed internets would be tantamount to this. My standards in fan fiction suddenly rocketed skyward, and I now understand why my sister frequents your LJ. As a compromise, here, have a dancing milk carton. :3

I share the same theories with the comments above mine, so I guess I'll focus on the little details: one of the reasons why I love this so hard is that you're able to keep everyone so IC, it hurts that it's not canon. D: Like Zack jumping into Shinra mansion without a second thought, and Genesis being all dramatic and cool. I especially loved the part where Genesis reads to Cloud, (another Gen/Cloud convert here), and their small moments from the last chapter. Protective/Possessive!Genesis is irresistible! ♥

I also like how you maintain Vincent's jumping up and about as too softly. When waking Vincent up in the Shinra mansion in the FF7 game, one of the details that stuck to me was the way he floated out of his coffin.

That aside, the plot twists are simply delicious. I didn't think you'd take this path for the story--all of Cloud's laid-out plans backfiring against him--I can understand why you would second-guess yourself. Don't worry! It's perfect, and everything fits in place. I just can't decide if I should be happy or depressed that we're two chapters away from the ending. ._. Sidefics pleaaaase? :D

Also yay for Kunsel! ♥ I hope Aeris already has the cure. Well-done, and so begins another week of torturous waiting~ I greatly admire your self-discipline, btw. It's amazing that you can update this in regular and short intervals, what with real life and other responsibilities. ♥ How do you do it?

Apr. 25th, 2010 08:06 pm (UTC)
And--thank you very much! Have a great week ahead. :D
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