THIS IS A SEQUEL TO FINAL FANTASY7. I DON”T OWN ANYTHING,ALL CHARACTERS BELONG TO SQUARE ENIX….EXCEPT FOR ORION AND CAITLIN. THOSE 2CHARCTERS ARE BORN OUT OF MY IMAGINATION IN A HOPE TO REDEEM SEPHIROTH. I AM THANKFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY,SQUARE ENIX.
Chapter 1. First encounter
Hi! My name is Orion and for the beginning it’s all you should know about me. I’d like to show you some pages from my mother’s diary.
Her name was Caitlin O’Brian and she was a freelancer. She wrote several reports for various newspapers, mainly about the Wutai War. She was in her early twenties, a bold and adventurous girl. She came from a good family, graduated with A+ in high school but then she ran away to see the world and to prove herself. She took several jobs to pay for her needs but kept thorough notices about places and people she met. When she finally settled in Midgar, she had an extensive personal data-base that she could use for her articles.
Being a fresh, new voice determined but compassionated at the same time she quickly became a star. Yet, only her editor and a very few friends knew that the strong voice of O.Brian belonged actually to a young girl.
So when SOLDIER Director Lazard first met the now famous journalist he was in for a surprise. The young woman in front of his desk looked very much like a school girl in her casual clothes and with her short cropped reddish-brown hair, inquisitive brown eyes and full lips smiling at him. But the ID tag on her shirt stated undoubtedly: C. O’Brian- journalist, Midgar News.
“After the first shock, Director Lazard offered to show me around Shin-Ra headquarters. We left his office and crossed the courtyard towards the main building. The perimeter was buzzing with SOLDIERS and MPs. It was quite understandable as the conflict with the Wutai seemed to deepen with each day. We were heading towards the training rooms when somebody called from behind.
-Are you going to join the training today, sir?
The voice was deep and pleasant. Lazard turned swiftly to greet the man.
-General ! Let me introduce you to our newly assigned war correspondent: O’Brian from The Midgar News.
I turned to face the Legendary SOLDIER. It was a brief moment of surprise for both of us . Sephiroth’s eyes flickered then he shook my hand in a professional manner.
-Nice to meet you, Miss…O’Brian.
As for me…well, I had to gather all my strength not to look thunderstruck. It was for the first time that I was face to face with him. For someone mainly known for his fighting and commanding skills, Sephiroth was stunningly beautiful.
Towering at 1,90m above my 1,65m there stood a young man in his mid-twenties. From the oval of his face the most unbelievably light-green cat-like eyes looked at me intently. A thin nose and nicely curved lips completed his features. Long, thick silver strands fell around him like an eerie curtain. His body was well worked out but he looked slim and gracious in every aspect.
I was mesmerized and only my long trained self control and instinct saved me from blushing like a teenager. Sephiroth greeted us curtly and returned to his everyday routine. I followed Lazard down the hall, my inner world turned upside down by this unexpected meeting.
After a few steps, he turned to me smiling amusedly:
-That was quite a performance, Caitlin! You’ve managed to hold your gaze in front of the General, while most of the people-especially girls-tend to burst out in ecstatic cries, much to Sephiroth’ annoyance !
“If only you’d known how much energy took me to perform this…”-I thought but all I managed to say was:
Anyway, Lazard seemed oblivious to my struggle. As for myself, I knew that this was just the beginning. Damn! I was falling in love…Hopelessly…
Though he’s never shown, Sephiroth was slightly taken aback by the encounter with the young journalist. And yes, he was surprised to find out that” the famous O.Brian” was in fact…a woman. A girl. Nobody would’ve guessed. The articles, highly popular among SOLDIER, were powerful and …manly.
Sephiroth tried to gather his first impressions about her. A young woman, likely his age with a boyish allure. Short, ruffled chestnut hair, an oval face, straight hose and smiling, full lips. Sporty clothes and black boots. Friendly and confident manner. A normal girl. Apparently.
There was something about her that caught his attention: her eyes. Big, dark brown that watched him intently. She held his gaze unblinkingly, smiling and Sephiroth could have sworn that there was some playful provocation in those glittering eyes.
“Hmph…” He decided to put aside the thoughts about Miss O’Brian and returned to his own problems. Where the Hell was Genesis?!
As you might know, Genesis didn’t return to SOLDIER, leaving behind two of his best friend deeply troubled. Though even at that time, Angeal Hewley, second in command after Sephiroth, knew something about what was troubling Genesis, he couldn’t share his thoughts with the General.
Angeal was a man with high moral standards, a true man of honor and a loyal and caring friend. The ambitious and flamboyant Genesis was his childhood friend and he took very personally when the latter disappeared with a whole company of 3rd Class SOLDIERS . When he also went missing after a mission in Wutai, I was very disturbed. I liked Commander Hewley a lot. Though the official version was “killed in action” I knew at that very moment it wasn’t true.
For days, the playful and energetic Zack Fair-Angeal’s pupil-looked like he’s lost his compass and I could sense a tension building up in Sephiroth to. He never talked about it, at least not to me but I could feel it whenever I was next to him.
Previously Lazard told me about the close friendship between the three Legendary SOLDIER and I had the opportunity to see at least the two of them interact.
Sephiroth shifted uneasily while Angeal kept talking to her. Uneasiness slowly turned into annoyance and restrained anger though it was difficult to explain why he felt that way. Everyone seemed to be at ease with Caitlin, except, of course, himself.
Relating to women wasn’t Sephiroth’ strong side and this particular one seemed to surface almost everywhere. Ok, it was her job and he had to admit that she was good at it; she had a sharp mind and an even sharper pen. Half turned away, he could sense her eyes fixing him from time to time. She was talking to Angeal but her focus seemed to be on Sephiroth.
-Angeal! We have to go!-grumbled the General trying to put an end to this irritating moment. Good day, Miss O’Brian.
He walked away briskly, dragging his friend with him. For a few moments they walked in silence until he heard Angeal chuckle.
-What’s the matter with you, Seph?
-What do you mean?- grumbled Sephiroth.
-Are you troubled by Miss O’Brian?
-Why should I?- came the swift answer. It’s just that she’s pestering all around…
-She’s a reporter; she needs to be nosy…sometimes. Besides, people seem to like her.
-I know, I know…Well, maybe this war and Genesis missing are finally getting to me…sighed Sephiroth.
Angeal’s face shadowed. “Genesis…”he murmured. He was distressed and he knew Sephiroth felt the same to. Yet he couldn’t notice that his friend somehow tended to snap in Caitlin’s proximity. Was he falling for her? Now that would be a real premiere…
“We’ll see…” he thought and he followed his friend with a grin on his face.
Chapter3. Hyde and …seek
I had a clear feeling that Sephiroth was avoiding me .Though he kept his usual polite and professional demeanor, I could sense him stiffening around me, his voice getting a sharper edge.
I had my own share of misery, my cheeks flushing uncontrollably and choking on my words whenever he was around .Fortunately nobody seemed to notice our struggle or at least that’s how I thought at the time. It turned out later that Angeal was aware that something was happening and that we were driven to each other despite our best efforts to stay apart.
At Shin-Ra headquarters there was never a dull moment and my activity stretched from dawn till late at night .My editor was happy; I kept him busy-the readers as well- with my seemingly endless correspondence of war. I tried to focus on the SOLDIER’s personality, trying to portray each of them with accuracy and empathy.
As any war, this was a brutal and messy busyness. I was taken aback by the fact that many of the troopers were incredibly young, children dropping out of school, running away from home in search for fame and status…then facing the horror of killing and sufferance.
They were under a lot of stress for such a young age and training also proved to be shattering for some of them .Since SOLDIER was considered the Army Elite it wasn’t easy to get admittance.
My young favorite was Zack Fair, Angeal’s protégée. By the time I met him, he has already made to SOLDIER 2nd Class. A handsome boy with sparkling blue eyes, he was friendly and easy going. For his restlessness Angeal affectionately called him “Zack-the-puppy” and took a great pride in training and educating him, watching over Zack just like an elder brother.
Zack worshipped his mentor and did his best to fall in his steps. Angeal was a gifted trainer and easily related with the young soldiers and MPs. They admired him and, most of it, they liked him.
As for Sephiroth, the story was slightly different .He was revered and feared at the same time. He was known to be the strongest and the deadliest of all SOLDIER. At 16 he has made already to General.
It’s not that he wasn’t a good example or a good teacher for his subordinates. In fact I don’t remember him ever loosing his temper during training sessions. He also proved to be a very good tactician and his rank as a General was fully earned. He was skillful, highly intelligent, incredibly powerful and efficient. He really was the TOP SOLDIER of Shin-Ra. No one could match him, not even his closest friends, Genesis and Angeal .Though he wasn’t vain, his personality powerfully radiated around him, warning everybody off. Except for a very few ones people kept a safe distance from him.
I’ve spent a whole lot of time watching him, trying to figure out what lies beneath that cool appearance. One of those watchful moments ended up in a breakthrough in our relationship.
The training room at Level 49 had a small, secret chamber above, well hidden in the building’s structure. I’ve learned about it from Angeal, who took me there once to watch the 2nds and3rds training undisturbed. He also handed me a key-card to have free access whenever I could find a spare moment.
That particular day, the 2nds left the training room early. I was packing my notices when I heard the door bellow open and somebody entered the training room.I looked down: it was Sephiroth. He was alone.
He scrutinized the place then with a swift movement, left his leather coat in a corner and unsheathed the Masamune. For a moment he seemed to ponder about changing the site but he dropped the idea.
He started a series of complicated exercises with his katana and for almost two hours he moved around graciously and ceaselessly, with deadly accuracy. In the vast emptiness of the training room he looked like a silver flame, jumping, whirling, swiftly changing direction until my eyes filled with tears, unable to follow his pace. I watched him in wonder and while my neck stiffened with tension, he never seemed to lose breath or sweat.
I was surprised to see how his knee-long silver hair never got in his way but created an eerie halo around his slender body. It was like an alien creature protecting his symbiotic pair. The air around …them filled with electricity, sparkling from time to time. Sephiroth ended his training session in a burst of light and energy that caught me by surprise. I jumped from my seat, tripping over it with much of noise.
In a flash of a moment Sephiroth turned towards the source of noise, watching intently. His face, magnified by the polarized window was tense, the split pupils suddenly narrowing in search, the look in his eyes pinning me down even at that height.
He turned abruptly and resumed his training. Picking up his coat, he brushed away a couple of loose strands from his face and left the room noiselessly.
I finally caught my breath. God! What was in my head?! Never in my short life have I violated somebody’s intimacy…I never intended to break into Sephiroth’s! Yes, Angeal let me watch the soldiers training but this wasn’t the case. Sephiroth was their General!
So…I must have looked miserable enough when the door cracked behind me and I found myself face to face with a very much annoyed Legendary SOLDIER!
Sephiroth WAS annoyed. He knew about the watching room but no one dared to sneak about him until now. Finding out the identity of that person only added to his frustration. Weren’t she a guest of Shin-Ra…
Anyway, he was about to set things right. This girl has reached his cracking point. So Sephiroth took the flight of stairs in a moment, brushing everybody aside and quickly opened the door. She turned to him with such a desperate and perplexed face that his anger evaporated in a moment and he chuckled.
-Lurking in the dark, Miss O’Brian?-asked him, the deep, pleasant voice tinted with irony.
Caitlin blushed and biting her lower lip, turned away. Tears of shame and frustration filled her eyes. She was speechless. Surprised, Sephiroth watched her, eyebrows arched in curiosity. He never thought that the cheeky and daring young girl can be so easily broken. “ Hmph…” In the silence that filled the room he walked to the window, looking down at the empty training room.
-You seem to have a lot of interest in my doings. Now, why would you do that?
There was no response. He turned towards her, genuine curiosity in his eyes. She sighed, trying to gather all her courage to face him.
-I’m sorry, I’m not proud of myself. I sincerely hope, General that you can forgive my indiscretion…It wasn’t meant to be.
She raised her head, looking straight into his eyes, trying to decipher the future of their relationship. Sephiroth was taken aback by the sudden flow of her emotions. Caitlin looked sincerely shattered and somehow he felt a sudden pang of guilt. After all he might have driven her into this by constantly and unexplainably avoiding any close encounter. He had to admit that Angeal was right and that he’s been running away from her. Unwillingly, she generated certain emotions inside him, ones that he didn’t know how to handle.
-General?-the soft voice seemed to call from far away.
Sephiroth shook his head and smiled briefly. She returned the smile, relaxing for the first time during the last half an hour.
-I might be the one to blame for all this. Let’s make a truce and please, call me Sephiroth.
-I’m Caitlin. Caitlin Saeki. O’Brian is my pen name.
-You’ve managed to fool us all-smirked Sephiroth and for a moment he wondered how easy conversation became.
They left the premises together.
Chapter4. Troubled waters
The time spent at Shin-Ra headquarters proved to be very useful in time. When I was assigned there I already had my doubts about their entire business but I kept them for myself. Even their SOLDIER project looked very close to unethical experiments on humans. The Mako showers used to enhance Soldier’s capabilities gave me the shivers. What was the long term effect of such a treatment? How did those men cope with their civilian life after retirement from SOLDIER?
I soon realized that things weren’t going too well at Shin-Ra. Commander Genesis Rhapsodos disappeared along with the men assigned to him. Commander Angeal Hewley disappeared later without any warning. As a result Soldier 2nd Class Zack Fair was quickly promoted to SOLDIER 1st.After a short time SOLDIER Director Lazard vanished…in the thin air.
These unfortunate events left Sephiroth and Zack deeply disturbed. Sephiroth never complained but I knew that he felt betrayed by his closest friends. They didn’t trust him enough to share their troubles with him. They’ve left behind many unanswered questions tormenting him and he was stuck with a deeply shaken young soldier who had lost his mentor. I did my best to ease their pain. I was there whenever any of them needed an open mind and open ears. Earning their trust was the best thing happening to me.
The new responsibilities helped Zack to mature quickly and he managed well in every aspect. Angeal would’ve been proud of his pupil. The young man became a mentor himself for a young blond MP, Cloud Strife.
As for Sephiroth he was busy as ever and we found hard to get some free time to spend together. Even so those moments were unforgettable. In private, Sephiroth was a very different person from the cold and professional General of the Shin-Ra Army.
It took me a while to peel off the many protective layers to reach his inner self. I’ve learned to read his emotions and to communicate with him without too many words. What I found out about him is still troubling me and it hurts like it was yesterday.
It happens very often that the public image created for a person resembles more to the advertising of a product. It lacks the human touch. It’s more like a “ make believe” than the real thing. Shin-Ra wanted a product labeled “Super Soldier” so they’ve created through media a powerful image about SOLDIER and mainly about General Sephiroth. Unfortunately for him, they treated and also thought about him as a product. Despite their/mainly prof.Hojo’s best efforts to erase any trace of human frailness from him, Sephiroth remained human. His human side was so well hidden that for a long time he wasn’t aware about it himself. From what I’ve learned during our private moments, it was the friendship with Genesis and Angeal that made the breakthrough. Now all the treasure of human emotions was there but the inexplicable loss of his friends left him shattered and somehow unbalanced.
I would have given my life to help him heal this wound; unfortunately time proved to be short and the blows kept on coming. So I kept close to him as much as I could, picking up the pieces, turning him back from despair whenever I could.
When Zack was forced to kill Angeal and inherited from him the Buster Sword, he was blown away for days. It was the gentle care and love of his girlfriend Aerith that helped him out from despair and put him back on track.
On the other side Sephiroth was tormented with pain and anger. The proof of Angeal’s death was a terrible blow for him and the fact that both his friends were showing signs of monstrous mutations enraged him. He was blaming prof.Hollander for his failed experiments and he blamed Shin-Ra for allowing it. Caitlin was devastated to; she kept a vivid memory of the proud yet gentle and honorable soldier. She’d liked the man and it seemed that he liked her to. She couldn’t accept that he might have turned into a monster: he was too strongly moral fur such a sharp turn.
This was the moment when even Sephiroth thought about leaving Shin-Ra. He was fed up and knew that if he wanted some answers, he had to free himself from his oath. This was a crucial moment and if only he would have made that step before the assignment in Niebelheim…
Chapter 5.The road to Hell
At5.30 in the morning it was cold and unfriendly all around. The air was thick and moist and clanged about us. Sephiroth was tensed, Zack was ruffled and sleepy and the two MPs looked lost. I sunk deeper in my coat and sighed. Sephiroth looked at me quiestioningly.
“Nothing. It’s just a feeling…”
-Let’s go. We have a long road ahead.-he said loudly.
We hopped into the army car and our journey to the point of no return started. With 3 other people around there was no intimacy so we were mainly silent. Sephiroth kept on reading his papers about the troubles from the Niebelheim reactor, I was leafing through my notes and occasionally talking to Zack. I tried to lift his mood by asking about his girlfriend, the little flower girl. My intuition proved right and it was really entertaining to listen to his enthusiastic flow of words. Even Sephiroth looked up from his paper from time to time and smiled briefly. My teasing of Zack and his happy chatter eased the atmosphere in the car. Sephiroth relaxed and put his papers aside.
He wasn’t listening to us. His gaze was somewhere out, on the road. I could see some concern shadowing his jade-green eyes, a light stiffening of his jaw and an imperceptible twitch of his lips. He gave a small sigh and turned back and met my eyes.
“What’s wrong?” It was my turn to ask, silently.
“Nothing.” he shook his head with a small grin. ”It’s probably…just a feeling.”
The car halted with a thud. We were in Niebelheim.
The small gathering descended in the middle of the sleepy little town. They headed to the local inn to stay for the night. To reach the reactor they needed an entire day and a good rest for the night. The huge dark mass of Mt.Niebel towering about the city looked very impressive. Sephiroth and Caitlin retired to their own rooms, leaving the younger ones to visit the city or their families. Caitlin unpacked her bag and took a shower to wash away the dust and fatigue of the long road. She was now sitting on the top of her bed, trying to assess her thoughts about the latest developments. It was particularly the short dialogue between Zack and Sephiroth that hung on her mind.
“-What about your parents?-asked Zack.
-My mothers name is Jenova. She died shortly after I was born. As for my father…-Sephiroth gave a short, bitter laugh and resumed his way.”
There was a look of confusion on Zack’s face hearing the name of Jenova but it lasted only for a moment. He saw the silent question in Caitlin’s eyes but he turned away abruptly. She knew from that moment that there was something deadly serious that made the easygoing young man sneak away from her.
This combined with the nagging feeling that something’s very wrong kept her mind tick alarmingly. She decided to try her luck with Sephiroth. She prepared two coffees and knocked on his door.
-Am I intruding? –she asked with a playful grin on her face.
He shook his head, motioning her in. He has just come out of the shower, his long silver hair dewed with water. Dressed in casual clothes, refreshed by the warmth of the water he looked much younger, almost a boy. Only his deep, pleasant voice and the confident moving indicated a young man.
-I thought you might like a coffee break…-she said tentatively.
-Sit. I think I’ve learned those papers by heart-he said, cupping the steaming mug.
Smells good. He looked up smiling and saw curiosity lingering in her eyes.
-There’s something in your mind…he started.
She shifted a little but decided to blurt it out.
-I never knew you were an orphan-she said and her voice trailed off a little.
-And I never knew more than that-he completed, sadness seeping in his voice.
Caitlin knew that Sephiroth’ childhood was spent in labs and training rooms but somehow it wasn’t so striking like now. She just understood that this was a deeply buried wound in his heart and that his childhood yearning for the love of a mother never died, only sunk deeper and deeper, burning a hole in his soul.
-You never talk of your mother. Do you have one?-he asked, watching her with inquisitive eyes.
-Yes. I do. She’s a nice person. Both my parents are. It’s just that they don’t seem to understand my need for globetrotting. They expect me to settle down and get married-she said with a soft laughter.
-I wish I had a mother to nag me…-he sighed.
-I wish you had a mother…said Caitlin, swallowing the lump in her throat. She stood up abruptly and walked to the window. Passing by she put for a moment a hand on his shoulder. It was for the first time that she dared to touch him. He looked up, surprised but…decided to say nothing.
They talked on till the night muffled all the noises outside and a handful of stars spotted the small patch of sky behind Mt.Niebel’s ragged outline. They’ve heard the young soldiers stumbling into their rooms and they decided to part to.
Caitlin picked the empty coffee mugs and turned towards Sephiroth. They stood there for a moment motionlessly, gazing at each other, unable to speak out whatever was in their mind.
-Good night, Sephiroth.
-Good night, Caitlin.
I wasn’t able to sleep. An hour later I was staring at a sickly shinning yellow moon and I felt the headache slowly pressing my skull. In the room the air felt chokingly dense and I needed to break out. I stepped on the hall and I heard some small noise from Sephiroth’s room. He wasn’t sleeping either…I knocked on his door but there was no reply. I cracked the door, trying to figure out what was happening. Apparently Sephiroth was sleeping but it looked like he was having a nightmare.
Beads of perspiration were gathering on his forehead, trapping a few silver strands across his face. I brushed away a rebellious strand, wiping away the sweat. Feeling the touch of my fingers he moaned in his sleep:”Mother?!”
There was so much pain in his voice that my heart fell to pieces. No one knew that this proud, courageous and very private man, a hero in the eyes of many had such a deep yearning for his unknown mother.
Troubled by the intimacy of this moment and of the pain involved, I whispered his name:”Sephiroth”. He woke up instantly, gazing at me through the darkness. There was a flicker in the green, glowing Mako eyes, then their light softened. He watched me for a moment, then took my hand and pulled me down in the bed beside him. The rest was…bliss. The gates of his heart burst open and the turmoil of feelings swept us both…
The rising sun caught us sitting silently side by side in the small veranda of his room. Sephiroth regained his composure: cool, calm and preoccupied.
-Promise me you’ll leave at once if I won’t be back tonight-he said in a strained voice.
I shook my head unable to say a word.
-Listen to me. Please. You’re in danger here. Shin-Ra is bad news for anyone who knows too much about them.
He grabbed my shoulders and turned me towards him.
I looked up in his beautiful eyes. He was deadly serious. Reluctantly I agreed. We held hands for a moment and then he gently whispered:
-You should leave now. Zack would be here in any moment. We have to go. It’s time to begin mission.
Nine month later Orion was born. I named him after the brightest star in the sky. He was a beautiful baby-boy, the living image of his father who was declared “killed in mission”. He was the precious legacy of the man I LOVED, a wonderful man who during his short and tragic life was so many times MISTREATED and MISUNDERSTOOD.”
So this was some of my mom’s diary. And I’m that Orion. I’m 25 and now it’s time to take care about my legacy. I have to find my father. I have to find Sephiroth.