A Warrior's Redemptionby Artiles
MEMORY NINE: THE WARRIOR AND THE ANCIENT
Varlus opened his eyes. He was expecting to face the bedroom's wooden ceiling, but instead, found nothing but darkness. Everything was pitch black. He tried to get up, but for some reason, he couldn't move a muscle.
"Don't be afraid, Varlus. You're still asleep. I'm only using my powers to connect to your conscience and be able to talk to you."
What the hell? He never heard of something like that.
"Lucky I could establish contact at last" said the voice, definitely feminine. "Can you imagine how hard I tried? Yet, this is the first time I'm able to."
Then it dawned on him. There was only one person who could do that. And besides, the voice was strangely familiar...
"Ifalna?" he asked, tentatively. The voice giggled comically.
"Right here, darling." In front of him, a white light flashed for an instant, then his wife's figure walked out of the darkness surrounding him.
"Ifalna... H-Honey, are you alright? Is Aeris alright? Where are you? Ifalna, you must--"
Ifalna raised her hand gently, stopping Varlus.
"Calm down, my darling" she said, with that smooth voice that Varlus loved. "I am alright, and so is Aeris. We're fine, hoping to see you again. Now, what was it you wanted to tell me?"
"Ifalna, Shinra's after you. They are looking for the last Cetra alive..." Varlus felt a knot in his throat.
Ifalna sighed heavily. "I knew this moment had to come... But tell me, how do you know this? What has happened since you left for Wutai?"
"Wutai's siege was just an excuse to get me out of the way" said Varlus hastily. "After we defeated the Wutaians, the President himself showed up and confirmed a rumor one of the SOLDIER lieutenants told me: that the Jenova Project is already on its way, and that they need a blood sample of the last living Ancient for it to be successful."
Ifalna shook her head in disbelief. "But don't they know Jenova was not an Ancient? Are they really that dumb?"
"After hearing that" continued Varlus, for he had much to tell his wife and wasn't sure how much time he had, "I fled from Wutai, deserting the Shinra Army, together with a rookie private I managed to pull away from that hell. Then we escaped through the Wutaian mountain range, and located a dock base of Shinra. I knew our only chance was to infiltrate those docks, hijack a ship and sail for the Middle Continent. Once we successfully made it into the base, I read a journal from some Professor Hojo of Shinra, where he wrote they'd already researched on you, knew your name, where our house is, and that he needed you alive, and possibly Aeris too."
Ifalna gasped. "Oh my goodness..." She took her hand to her mouth, horrified. "Hojo... I've heard that name before..."
"Who is him?" asked Varlus, though he wasn't sure he wanted to hear the answer.
"He's a mad scientist... Word has it, he performed sadistic experiments on his test subjects, trying to create a new life being composed entirely of Mako energy... He's a monster."
"Damn!" cursed Varlus.
"Varlus, where are you?" asked Ifalna.
"In Costa Del Sol... Ifalna, I've met with Roland here, but he said trading vessels are off until Friday..."
Ifalna now looked extremely worried.
"Listen, Ifalna... I need you to flee from home. Stay as far away from Junon as possible: by now the whole Shinra army is alerted to this situation, and the price on both our heads is probably sky high. Don't even think about taking a ship here: you won't make it."
"But, Varlus" said Ifalna, interrupting him, "what about your friend at Shinra... Krianna, wasn't her? Can't she help?"
Varlus stood silent for a while. How to tell her what happened?
"Darling, what's wrong?" asked Ifalna, looking directly at his eyes. Varlus breathed deep.
"Krianna... is dead, Ifalna. I... I had to kill her."
"What? But... why? How?" Ifalna seemed horrorstruck.
"She... thought the only way to make up for her mistake was to fight me, and prove me she was worthy of being a warrior."
"I don't get it" said Ifalna, puzzled. "What mistake?"
"Falling in love with me" sighed Varlus. This was a hard topic for him already, and talking about it to his wife made it much worse.
"I understand" said Ifalna, but Varlus felt like hell.
"I didn't want to!" he said, louder than he'd wanted to. "She forced me to do it! I tried to convince her otherwise, that fighting wasn't necessary, but she just wouldn't listen!"
Ifalna stepped back, scared. "Calm down, my love, please--"
"I DIDN'T WANT TO KILL HER! I DIDN'T WANT TO, DAMMIT!" And Varlus wept, his warrior's pride and toughness seeping away along with his tears, as he grieved for his friend. He had shouted at Ifalna, but in fact, he had shouted at himself, shouts not of anger, but of despair, maddening despair eating out his brain, his mind, his soul... Horrible guilt torturing him every single moment he thought about Krianna... It was enough to lose all signs of reason.
Then, Varlus felt Ifalna's hand caressing his cheek, and looked up through watered eyes. There she was, his only love, his wife, the most beautiful person in Earth...
"My love" she called for him, softly. "I don't know what reasons made you fight her and end her life, but whatever they are, I'm not going to question them nor condemn her. Varlus... Krianna's not gone. She has returned to the Lifestream... where she will find peace and calmness. When the time comes, my love, you will join her there... And both you and her will make peace with each other. She doesn't hate you, Varlus... of that, I'm certain. You can never hate someone you love, even though your love doesn't get an answer."
Varlus was still crying silently, as he laid his head on her shoulder.
"Ifalna... please... don't hate me" he pleaded desperately.
"That's something I never learnt to do" she said.
"I'm... I'm not a mindless killer... I grieved for her, cried for her... She... she was my friend... my most trusted friend..."
"I know, my love." Ifalna kissed him softly, and Varlus felt the taste of her lips as a rejuvenating force flowing through him.
"Forgive me, Ifalna. Please forgive me."
"There's nothing to forgive, my darling. You're a warrior, and I understand it. Always did, always do, always will."
Varlus faced his wife.
"Flee, Ifalna" he said. "Get somewhere safe, I'll look for you wherever you are. Don't stay home. Both you and Aeris are in danger."
"What has to come, will come, Varlus, and I'll face it."
"No! Ifalna, you'll be caught! Flee! Go far from our house... far from the Shinra!"
"I don't fear them, my love." Ifalna smiled, but Varlus was restless. "In my own way, I'm a warrior too. I can't fight with swords or guns, but I'm an Ancient. I'm not defenseless."
"These guys are pros! You won't stand a chance!" Varlus was desperate, wanting his wife to understand. Ifalna kissed him again.
"Do you have that little faith in me?" she said, smiling. "Don't worry, we'll be fine. But do hurry, my love. We'll be waiting."
"IFALNA!" he bellowed, but his wife backed out from him.
"Wake up, Varlus" she said.
"Wake up, Wolf!"
Varlus stirred, and woke up with a sudden move. He scanned the room, and found Roland standing in the doorway, fully geared for battle, his red vest reflecting the corridor's lights, his helmet under his right arm.
"Red Dog?" Varlus asked, still sleepy. "Why are you wearing that vest? Is something wrong?"
"Damn right it is!" he said. "The Shinra are here. They're looking for you and the rookie, Wolf."
"Damn!" said Varlus, standing up. "How did they get here?"
"Ship, of course" answered Roland. "About two full squads. They look green to me, but we're really outnumbered."
"I'll do whatever it takes to take one of their ships" said Varlus in a hard voice. After what Ifalna had said, he needed to act quickly and precisely.
"Knew you'd say that" snorted Roland, and threw a battle gear at him. "There: I've kept this for you all these years. I think you'll find it suitable for this situation."
Varlus examined it, and couldn't help but smile. It was his old gear, the suit that earned him the title of Emerald Wolf. The white wolf outlined in the vest was intact, and as for the rest, it was as good as new, save for some scratches here and there.
"I thought you'd have thrown this in the fire" said Varlus.
"No way" replied Roland. "Get that shitty Shinra uniform outta my sight, and put on your gear. There's your AAC-10, fully loaded."
Varlus grinned, as he took off his Shinra Commander uniform and began to put on his old uniform.
Five minutes later, Varlus was ready, helmet in hand.
"Now that's more like it, Emerald Wolf" Roland said, smirking, as Varlus reached for his AAC. "Let's give those Shinra sissies some hell from us!"
"Oh yeah" replied Varlus, exiting the bedroom.