Chapter 7

Yuffie hadn't been sleeping well lately either, and in the dark quiet of Nanaki's room, she drifted off, too.

This time she was sitting on the riverbank. Overhead, the sky held a tinge of color. Something had changed.

The bank was steep here, and Yuffie slid down it. Some of the earth came away with her, bits of brown dirt scattering into the dry riverbed. Her bare feet touched the smooth stones of the bottom, and her toes curled around them.

They felt cool, the kind of cool that came from moisture. She dropped to her knees and pried up one of the stones, and just beneath it was a trickle. A tiny thread of water winding its way downriver.

A hand came to rest on her shoulder. Yuffie looked up to find her mother crouched beside her.

"It's not enough," she said.

There were voices in the distance. Her mother never broke her gaze, but Yuffie looked up.

She woke.

The voices were coming from the pub down the hall. They filtered into her understanding, and she sat up with a start.

"...sure he knows what I'm talking about," Tseng was saying. Tseng! What was he doing here?

"Have you no feeling at all?" Elder Bugah replied. "Not even an ounce of patience? I've told you, he's in mourning."

"Nanaki," Yuffie said urgently, but when she looked, he was already alert and listening.

"I was just about to wake you," Nanaki said. "They're asking Bugah about the Huge Materia."

"What?" she said. "How did they even know it was here?"

Nanaki only shook his head.

It couldn't have been anyone from the canyon, she was sure of it. They'd never betray Nanaki or their home like that, and most of them didn't know about it anyway. "Has there been anybody new hanging around?" she asked.

"No. Not since we took in the survivors from Nibelheim."

And like hell would any of them have loyalty to Shinra, Yuffie thought. The information had to have gotten out some other way.

"I don't think that's what's most pressing now," said Nanaki. "Bugah won't delay them much longer. You need to hide."

"What?" Yuffie looked at him indignantly. "Hide?"

"From the sound of it, he's brought quite a few men with him. We can't fight them, and... I don't want them taking you prisoner."

"Well, what about you? You gonna volunteer to be a lab rat again?"

Nanaki's ears twitched. "I doubt that's their intent. They don't have the lab in Midgar anymore."

"But..." Yuffie faltered. "You're still part of AVALANCHE. They could take you for that just as much as me."

"But they don't know you're here."

Yuffie bit her lip, but she heard the door out into the pub opening in spite of Bugah's protests, and she nodded.

There was space beneath the bench, but if Tseng's men searched the place, they'd look there. A series of beams stretched overhead for the tapestries that hung there. Yuffie climbed onto the bench, leapt up to grab the nearest beam, and pulled herself up just as the door opened. She stilled, counting on the dim and the tapestries to obscure her from view.

Tseng stepped into the room, flanked by two uniformed soldiers.

"I'm sorry, Nanaki," said Elder Bugah from behind them. "They insisted..."

"It's all right," Nanaki said.

Tseng stopped just before Nanaki and folded his hands behind his back, all business. "I'm sure you know why we've come."

"Do I?"

"Please don't embarrass yourself by attempting to lie. We're well aware AVALANCHE came here last night with the Huge Materia collected from both Corel and Mt. Nibel."

"And they left this morning," Nanaki stated.

"Yes, but they left one of the Huge Materia behind so that your people could study it. I've come to retrieve it."

Nanaki said nothing. His tail swished.

"That materia rightfully belongs to Shinra, Inc," Tseng went on. "You would be assisting in the restoration of stolen property."

"Are you really attempting that argument with me?" Nanaki asked archly. Like they hadn't straight-up kidnapped him from his own home a couple years back.

"Very well. I have thirty men under my command. They've already begun a search of the canyon. We'll find the materia with or without your cooperation, but I imagine it will be upsetting for your people to have soldiers ransacking their homes. Especially so soon after your recent loss..."

Yuffie wanted to leap on him right then and there. Her fingers clenched, and Nanaki's tail swished again.

"There's no need for all of that," he said, his voice all strained politeness. "We'll cooperate. Please, call your men back, and I will speak to Elder Hargo. I believe it was left in his care."

"Thank you," said Tseng.

No way! Yuffie thought. They could take him! Yuffie had left most of her gear at the inn, but she had her materia on her. Those two soldiers would go down easy, and between her and Nanaki, they could take a Turk!

But... in her gut, she knew Nanaki was right. It wasn't just Tseng, and it wasn't just them either. The canyon was full of easy hostages. Even now, all Tseng would have to do was grab Bugah, and the fight would be over. Cooperating was the only way they had to protect the canyon.

And, she realized, they couldn't afford to make Shinra waste their time searching the whole place either. They didn't seem to know the Black Materia was here, but if they kept looking, they'd find it eventually. That was a worse thing for them to get their hands on than the Huge Materia. If they could power some kind of weapon with that...

"Oh," said Tseng. "There is one more thing. The Kisaragi girl stayed behind, too. I would appreciate it if you brought her out of hiding as well."

Yuffie quietly stuck her tongue out at him. 'The Kisaragi girl'? Like she'd answer to that.

Nanaki shook his head. "Yuffie isn't here," he said.

"I asked you not to lie."

"I'm not. Yuffie only stayed until... until Bugenhagen passed."

"You want me to believe your friend left you immediately after the death of your grandfather?"

"I asked her to," Nanaki said. "I realized... I wanted to be alone. So, if we could settle this quickly, I would appreciate it."

"Very well," said Tseng. He still sounded skeptical, but he turned for the door without pushing it. Bugah stepped out of the way, and the soldiers followed.

Nanaki paused in the doorway. He didn't glance back at her, but his ears swivelled in her direction, and his tail flicked, as if to tell her to stay out of it.

Like hell she would.

Yuffie waited until she heard them pass through the outer door into the pub, and then she dropped down from the ceiling. The cushion beneath muffled the sound. She went to the door, putting her ear to it, but Tseng and his men didn't linger. Nanaki was leading them outside.

She was about to step into the hall when she heard the pub door again and a single set of hurried footsteps approaching. She ducked back so she'd be behind the door when it opened and readied a Silence spell.

But it was the barkeeper who opened it. Yuffie relaxed and stepped out of hiding, which startled him instead.

"Oh!" he exclaimed softly. "I was sure you were back here, and then Nanaki gave me this look..."

"He wanted you to come check on me," Yuffie concluded. "Look, I'm sure he wants me to stay outta sight here until they leave, but I'm not about to let them get away with what they came for."

The barkeeper stared at her, obviously alarmed by her declaration. "There are too many of them!"

"Relax, I'm not talking about fighting 'em all. I've got a disguise that'll let me blend right in, I've just gotta get back to my room."

He shook his head. "There are still soldiers at the inn. I heard that man say he'd call off the search, but no one's gone to tell them."

"Shit," said Yuffie. "If they find my stuff, they'll know I'm still here."

She pushed past him out into the hall, and he followed anxiously.

"Isn't it worse if they see you?" he asked.

"I can handle one or two," she said. "Don't worry about it."

She opened the door a crack to scan the pub before she stepped out into it. The innkeeper and a few residents stood near the entrance looking outside, but it was clear of Shinra. Yuffie moved past them, up the stairs to the inn. Reaching her door down the hall, the room she'd never actually slept in, she could hear someone moving on the other side.

She turned the knob.

A Shinra soldier was rifling through her bag. He turned as Yuffie entered, and did an impeccably comical double-take between her face and the fake ID he'd just tossed aside.

"You're--" he began, but her Silence spell hit him before he finished his sentence.

His rifle was on his back to free up his hands for the search. Yuffie charged him, and he reached instead for the baton at his hip. He got hold of it in time, but he was clumsy, not well-trained in close combat. His whole body telegraphed his movements.

Yuffie dodged his swipe easily and kneed him in the groin.

His face contorted in pain, and she swept his legs out from under him. He went down, but he swung his baton wildly when she reached to disarm him.

Yuffie danced back, spotted her shuriken where he'd left it on the bed, and grabbed it. She swung down, trapping his wrist against the floor between two of the points. He had to let go of the baton to pull his hand free. As he started to get up, Yuffie jerked the shuriken up, bringing one of the blades dangerously close to his throat, and he froze.

"That's what I thought," she said.

She couldn't get a Sleep spell to take hold--the guy was too keyed up--so she carefully relieved him of his gun, dug some rope out of her bag, and made him tie himself to a bedpost. She almost started asking him questions, but he'd be unable to talk for a while yet, so instead she dug through his pockets until she found his ID.

"Jensen, huh?" she observed. "Good to know."

She tugged his helmet off and blindfolded him with a pillowcase, because she still had to get changed. She pulled on her stolen uniform, repacked her bag, and stepped out into the hallway.

Another soldier nearly ran into her. "Oh," he said. "They asked you to help look, too?"

Yuffie shook her head. "No, I was lookin' for you actually. They're cooperating, so the search's off. I already let Jensen know. No sign of anything here anyhow."

"Oh, good," he said in relief. "I always hate doing this sort of thing, pushing civilians around. I mean, I know they were helping criminals, but how are they really going to say no to a group like AVALANCHE?"

"Yeah, they're in a tough spot," Yuffie said, but beneath her helmet she was rolling her eyes. "Anyway, it was just you and Jensen back here, right?"

"That's right," he confirmed, and she followed him back down the hall. In the pub, she let herself fall behind, and he went on outside without her.

Yuffie stood with the locals, looking out onto the commons. It was growing dark outside, but a small knot of soldiers mingled near the bonfire, and she made out another group stationed near the gate. Tseng and his escort had passed out of sight, probably somewhere in the tunnels higher up the canyon.

"You know how they got here?" she asked the barkeep.

He gave another start and gave her a hard look. He clearly hadn't paid much attention to her approach. "I'm not sure," he admitted.

"I saw them," said a woman, one of the ones from Nibelheim. "There was a big army plane that set down in the valley."

"A Gelnika," Yuffie concluded. It was the only thing that really made sense, with how fast they'd gotten here. Even then, they must've set out the second they got the news from their spy.

She turned to face the barkeeper. "I don't think I'm gonna get a chance to talk to him, so you're gonna have to give Nanaki a message for me. The Shinra are gonna take the Huge Materia outta here on the Gelnika, but I'm going with them. I'm gonna try to get it back from them before they reach Junon."

"All on your own?"

"Yeah, well. It's kinda my thing. Make sure he lets Tifa and the others know, too."

The man hesitated, but he nodded. "I'll tell him. Be careful."

"Oh," she added, "and there's a guy tied up back in my room. You're gonna have to do something about him."

The barkeeper nodded again, and Yuffie stepped out into the commons.

It was basically the same mission she'd originally signed up for, she told herself: act as a fail-safe in case the Shinra got the Huge Materia. The only difference was, she'd be aboard the Gelnika, and not the cargo ship...

None of the soldiers stationed around the canyon seemed to be leaving it just yet, so Yuffie positioned herself within earshot of the group by the gate and waited. In the deepening twilight, she spotted Nanaki easily by the light of his tail when he reappeared outside. The Huge Materia was easy to spot, too, the light of nearby torches glinting off of its surface as one of the soldiers in Tseng's escort carried it down with them.

Tseng stopped near the gate as if to go on speaking to Nanaki, but first he ordered the soldiers to take the Huge Materia on to the Gelnika. Yuffie fell into step with them, leaving before Tseng could get any sort of look at her. She resisted the urge to glance back at Nanaki as she went. She thought he was right, that they weren't after him today. He'd be okay.

For a while, like her, he'd refused the title of AVALANCHE member, and maybe the Shinra had decided he wasn't one of them any longer. He'd settled back in his homeland, as if he'd only been in it with them to defeat Sephiroth. If that was what they thought, that was okay. Yuffie knew better.

It crossed her mind to attack the soldiers on their way to the Gelnika, but there were a few too many of them for her to take out quickly, and the commotion would undoubtedly draw reinforcements. She'd have to wait for a better moment... if one was even coming.

What if she couldn't get it back? All those people in Midgar... She wouldn't have thought much of them just a few months ago, but if she could forgive her friends for letting Shinra deceive them, then those people weren't any different. They'd thrown their lot in with Reeve and AVALANCHE now, and Yuffie didn't want there to be any doubt in their minds that that was the right choice.

They were probably counting on her more than her own people, right now.

And it had been her idea to leave the Huge Materia in Cosmo Canyon, where Shinra could just come in and take it like this. If they built their bomb with it, it'd be all her fault.

They boarded the Gelnika through the open mouth of its cargo hold, which Yuffie took note of. Plenty of places to hide out in there, while being close to the exit.

The soldiers continued deeper into the ship, though, and Yuffie followed long enough to see one of them open a particular room with a key card and carry the Huge Materia inside. Another soldier posted herself outside the door, while the rest dispersed to other parts of the ship.

"Authorized personnel only," the guard barked when she noticed Yuffie lingering.

"I know," said Yuffie, "but aren't you curious?"

The guard shook her head. "Above my pay grade."

Yuffie shrugged as if letting it drop and left the corridor for now. The Gelnika took to the air less than half an hour later, and she saw Tseng make his way towards that secure room. Later.

She took the lay of the ship first, exploring wherever the real soldiers seemed to go casually. She didn't have access to the cockpit either, but everything else was fair game--not that there was much to look at. It was definitely more of a transport ship than a passenger ship--or at least, no one expected the passengers to be VIPs. She located a cramped mess and sleeping quarters, and an arms locker full of weapons she didn't care to use.

The cargo hold remained the most interesting, and she made a slow circuit of it, picking out a couple choice hiding places.

What she couldn't find was a good spot to stake out the room where they were keeping the Huge Materia. She'd noticed pipes running along the ceiling, but the guard had a clear view of the entire hallway; no way to get up into them without her seeing. Besides, the ceilings were low, which made people pay them more attention.

But at least she knew one soldier who had the right key card, if she could find him again. She didn't think he'd left the room yet.

They'd be flying overnight back to Junon, and Yuffie hoped that meant at least some of the crew would opt to sleep through it. The mess was on the way to the sleeping deck, and even though she absolutely didn't feel like eating, she staked out a spot there near the door. It tended to open whenever anyone walked past, and she kept an eye out for her guy.

It was a while before he showed, but once she saw him go by, she waited a minute, made a show of yawning, and got up to follow.

Just as she thought, he was turning in. She caught up to him inside the sleeping deck, where he stood surveying the room for an empty bunk. Yuffie yawned again, brushing past him as she did.

"Oh, sorry," she mumbled when he glanced at her, and she was already tucking his key card up her sleeve.

She continued on to an empty bunk against the wall, flopped down onto it, and turned to face the wall as she tugged her helmet off. Someone was snoring softly, which gave her a convenient excuse to pull the pillow over her head.

She didn't go to sleep. That would be stupid, right now. She just needed to kill some time, because if she was going to make a move, it had to be as close to when they reached Junon as possible, to give them the least amount of time to realize what she'd done and search her out. She had nowhere to go until they'd landed.

She was grateful for her earlier nap, though. She always had a hard time sleeping on ships, but without that she probably would've been exhausted enough to pass out anyway.

Instead she lay there listening to the sounds around her, and it gave her the space to reflect for the first time since she'd woken.

The dream had been different, this time. Why? She hadn't done anything except hang around in Cosmo Canyon, powerless to keep an old man from dying. Would anyone there have been able to explain it to her?

She thought about what Hargo had told her. Maybe locked away inside the Huge Materia was some knowledge the Planet had lost... A memory it knew it was missing. Was Leviathan trying to lead her back to it? Could it be restored?

Yuffie kept count of each soldier who entered, tallying them against the number of people aboard--closer to forty, when you counted the crew who'd stayed with the ship earlier. The hours passed late into the night, with more of the crew conking out for the trip. It must have been the early morning hours when the door opened again, and she heard what she was waiting for.

"Gods, Tseng's such a slavedriver," one man muttered. "I'm gonna get all of thirty minutes before we land, and I'm scheduled for base duty..."

"You think you're the only one? Quit complainin.'"

Yuffie waited for them to settle, then pulled her helmet back on and slipped out of bed. No one remarked on her exit, but she wished she knew how to lock them all in. That would've been a handy trick.

She wondered if what they'd said meant that Tseng was--

He was in the hallway, walking in her direction. Yuffie fought down her startle response and managed to get her feet moving. He wasn't walking towards her, he was just walking. They'd pass each other like two completely legitimate Shinra employees who didn't have any concerns about the other.

Tseng passed her without a second glance, headed up towards the cockpit, and Yuffie let out a silent breath as she continued down the corridor. He hadn't recognized her.

Yuffie had had plenty of time to think about that hallway outside the secure room, and she'd realized there was exactly one small blind spot for the guard: the ladder coming down from the deck above. Because of how the ceiling was, Yuffie wouldn't be in view until she'd climbed all the way down.

She only needed a second or two unseen. Listening at the top of the ladder, she didn't hear anyone below, so Yuffie climbed part of the way down, hooked her knees over one of the rungs, and eased herself down until she could just make out the guard past the dip in the ceiling.

The guard was trying to stifle a yawn. Perfect. Yuffie's Sleep spell took hold without any trouble, and the guard slumped to the floor. Yuffie pulled herself upright and dropped down into the hallway.

She readied another spell before she used her pilfered key card to open the door, but the room beyond was empty. It reminded her of some of the things she'd seen when they'd rescued Tifa and the others from Shinra Headquarters--lab equipment, some kind of mobile research room. The Huge Materia glowed dully from within a big glass tank. Yuffie went to the controls, but it wasn't immediately obvious how to open it.

Could she smash the glass? It looked thick, but maybe with magic...

The door behind her opened.

Yuffie spun. One soldier stood in the doorway, and she could see another just behind him crouched beside the sleeping guard.

"You're not authorized to be in here."

"Huh?" said Yuffie. "Sure, I'm authorized." Shit, she thought. This wasn't going to work. There were few enough who had access to this room that they probably all knew each other.

There were only two, so far. If she got past them, she might be okay.

"I think this is a Sleep spell, Cooper," said the other soldier. "She won't wake up. You don't think that person's--?"

"An impostor," finished Cooper.

He reached for his gun, and Yuffie hit them both with a Bolt spell. They flew back from the door, collapsing against the far wall of the corridor. Yuffie threw the Huge Materia one last look before she dashed out after them.

A few other soldiers had just climbed down from the upper deck, but they looked confused as they took in the scene. Yuffie turned the other way and ran.

"She's an impostor!" Cooper cried to the newcomers as he started to pick himself up, but Yuffie was through the next door before they could rally after her. She spun and cast an ice spell; it would only block the door a few extra seconds, but she needed every one of them.

She raced down the corridor to the cargo hold door, but forced herself to slow just before she entered, not expecting it to be empty. Nothing had come over the intercom system yet, so they wouldn't know to be suspicious unless she acted like it.

Yuffie stepped out onto the upper catwalk. All her hiding spots were down below, and the distance to the stairs... it stretched out too long. She walked briskly, but she'd only just reached the top of the staircase before her pursuit burst through the door behind her. She ran halfway down and leapt over the rail, dropping to the level below as bullets pinged off the metal above her.

Shit, shit, shit!!

"Get her!" someone shouted to the soldiers in the cargo hold. "She's an intruder!"

One of them was near enough to open fire on her, and she dove behind a nearby stack of crates. She dumped her pack and unslung her shuriken from beneath it. Peeking up from behind her cover, she took aim and threw.

One down.

But what good did that do her? Even if she could miraculously take out every soldier on board, including Tseng, they were about to land at Junon base. Her heart sank with the realization that there was no way out of this. She'd be captured for sure--or killed.

But what, was she going to surrender? Go down without a fight? No way.

Jessie's birthday gifts had all been of the practical variety. As a knot of soldiers neared her position, Yuffie hurled a flashbang over the crates and braced herself. She leapt out after the bang, her shuriken flashed through the disoriented soldiers, and she ran for better cover. Someone fired at her from the catwalk.

"Watch your aim," she heard Tseng say from above. "We want her alive."

For what? Yuffie wondered. Information? Leverage against her friends? A public execution?

She didn't want any part of it.

She got a bead on Tseng's location and hurled a Bolt spell at him. One of the soldiers beside him went down, but Tseng dodged it. Yuffie ducked back down.

Only for a Bolt spell to hit her in turn. She was on the floor before she knew what had happened, and she felt it in every muscle. Her hand had a death grip on her shuriken, but she couldn't get herself to move before another knot of soldiers had reached her. Two of them grabbed her and hauled her up, while a third pried her shuriken from her fingers.

Finally she managed to jerk her arms, struggling, but it was too late. They had her.

"Have you got her materia?" asked Tseng, coming down the steps to join his men.

Her materia! Her mind was sluggish as she tried to pull a spell together. One of the soldiers found her bangle and pulled it off her wrist. The spell fell apart.

Tseng pulled the helmet from her head. "So," he said, "I suppose you were still in Cosmo Canyon after all. Stupid move, trying to do this on your own."

"Bite me," Yuffie retorted.

"I'll let the President decide what to do with you," Tseng said. "I'll be speaking with him soon enough."

Yuffie could feel in her stomach that the Gelnika was in the last stages of its descent. She considered throwing up on the soldiers restraining her but decided it'd be about as unpleasant for her as for them.

The wheels touched down on the landing strip. Yuffie shut her eyes.

When the cargo hold opened its doors, the sound of rain reached her ears. A downpour darkened the early morning, and standing outside the ship waiting were more soldiers, one of them carrying an umbrella for someone else.

It wasn't Rufus.

A woman in a red dress. Yuffie had never seen her before in person, just in pictures and TV clips from before Holy. Everyone had thought she was dead, and even through the rain there seemed to be something strange about her face, like a scar, maybe.

"What's this?" asked Scarlet.

"An intruder," Tseng answered her, and as he motioned, the soldiers began to manhandle Yuffie from the ship. "I'd guess she's the one who found out about our plans for the Huge Materia, but we'll have to question her to be certain."

"And did you get it? The Huge Materia?"

Tseng nodded. "It's secured on board."

"The Huge Materia and an interrogation to look forward to... That's just the pick-me-up I needed."

Yuffie glared at Scarlet as the soldiers dragged her past, but the woman wasn't looking at her. Neither was Tseng. Like she wasn't a threat any longer, just another piece of cargo to be catalogued by their underlings.

They weren't looking at her.

The rain drenched her almost instantly, matting her hair to her head and running down her forehead. The temperature couldn't be far above freezing, and she started to shiver, but she wasn't worried about that yet.

The airfield wasn't just built over the town below, it extended out over the ocean, a little ways. Was the water deep enough? How high up were they? She wished she'd studied the base schematics thoroughly enough to know. Jessie would have.

Yuffie struggled against her captors, slowing their progress towards the base, trying to buy herself time. There was water everywhere. She was, literally, in her element.

She thought back to that day by the river. The water slowing, starting to freeze.

The water turned to ice beneath the soldiers' feet and they slipped. They took her with them when they fell, but they lost their hold on her. She pulled one of their batons from its holster as she scrambled to her feet, and knocked back their grasping hands. People began shouting. Yuffie raced for the edge of the airstrip.

Oh Leviathan, at least let it be high tide, she thought. Rifle fire sounded behind her, and she leapt.

Something struck her side before she dropped. She fell with the rain, and the water beneath slammed into her, a wall of cold breaking against her body. Her world went black.

Warmth enveloped her, like floating on the river in the dead of the summer heat.

Yuffie opened her eyes.

She floated some meters beneath the surface of the ocean, the rain making endless patterns on the waves above. It should have been dark and turbulent, but it was neither. Floating not far above her was someone else, a familiar figure.

"Mom!" Her voice rang out clear through the water. She didn't give a thought to breathing.

The warmth of her mother's smile was like the warmth all around her. "Yuffie... I'm so glad we can finally speak."

"There's so much... I wanna ask you," Yuffie said, her thoughts racing. She'd barely had the chance to know her mother. Those too-short days together between war campaigns, naming the fish in the koi pond together as her mother carded her fingers through her hair... There were things in Yuffie's basement, the basement of her mother's house, that must have had a history, but Yuffie didn't know it.

What did she think of what Yuffie wanted for Wutai now? Was she proud?

How had she died?

Godo had never told her. No one had told her. Yuffie had made it up over the years, imagining an ever grander final stand. She'd gone out fighting. She must have.

"I don't have all the answers." Kasumi's smile grew rueful. "You're my child, and I am your mother, but I'm also not. Things are fluid here. Wishes and memories are shared, and... slip away."

"Are you... talking about the Lifestream?"

"The Lifestream is an ocean," said her mother, "and Leviathan swims its currents. You were so small when I had to leave you... but those currents connected us even so."

Yuffie felt the thought take shape, slowly. Her mother was in the Lifestream, a part of the Planet, just like Leviathan was a part of the Planet. The dreams of her mother, the feeling that Leviathan had been trying to talk to her, they were one and the same. Her mother was a part of Leviathan?

Her mother's smile held the answer, even though Yuffie hadn't voiced the question aloud, and her mother didn't say it.

"Yuffie," she said instead, "the Planet is in danger. I think you know that. With everything it's lost, new life won't grow quickly enough to restore it."

Was she saying the Planet was dying? Yuffie shook her head, feeling her hair sway through the water with the motion. "Aeris would know."

"There's still time."

"But you said--"

"Listen," Kasumi interrupted. A command, gentle but firm. "In Wutai we know this, too. All things are meant to return to the ocean. Everything connected, flowing into each other. Even the gods ebb and flow with our lives. The Planet's knowledge was never meant to be captured, unchanging."

"The Huge Materia..." Yuffie murmured. "We have to return it to the Planet."


"But how? No one knows how to do that."

Her mother floated closer to her, and laid her hand against Yuffie's cheek. "Listen closely..."

< Chapter 6 | Contents | Chapter 8 >