The Maiden Who Travels the Planet


Aerith stopped in her tracks as she heard laughter that sent chills down her spine.
Even as Cloud and the others fought to find a way to break into the Northern Crater on the surface, she continued to travel through the Lifestream, trying to find some tear in Sephiroth’s barrier or some opening that would let her free the suppressed Holy. But she found none. Having fully unveiled Jenova’s powers, Sephiroth was firmly protecting the Crater that was going to become his cocoon, especially from any forms of approach by the Lifestream. By doing so, he could avoid the will of the Planet that had grown wary of Jenova for all these years and, hide from the eyes of the Weapons that were born to expel any foreign bodies from the Planet.
If Holy didn’t work in time then… Just as Aerith began thinking about the situation, the laughter echoed again.

A new soul had just fallen into the Sea of Mako. It was a hunchbacked man in a lab coat who had a face filled with thin nervous veins and a deranged laughter – Originally under the authority of Shinra, he was a mad scientist that performed unethical human experiments repeatedly. Hojo slowly turned his attention to Aerith.

“Professor Hojo…”

“Ah, the daughter of the Ancients. I see. As long as the Cetra has the will power they can exist in the Lifestream without letting their conscious be scattered. They only lose their ability to be human… Hahaha, very much like Jenova and Sephiroth you could say.”

“Don’t put me together with them. And you still don’t remember my name.”

“That doesn’t matter. It’s far more appropriate to call you the last remaining Ancient than any other name so that it reflects your true unique nature. Oh yes, your difference in my samples coupled with my numbering would have been sufficient enough to distinguish you…”

“Are humans and all living things just test subjects to you? You still can’t change even you’re here as a soul?”

“Hahaha… Kyahaha!”

As if he was told a funny joke, Hojo laughed out loudly as if he was possessed.
“…Heehee, heeheehee. No, I have changed. I’ve changed a lot long before I fell into this Lifestream. You don’t understand do you? Ah, this lab coat is in the way.”

Hojo wrapped his fingers on the lab coat he was wrapped in and tore it off vigorously. The image of his lab coat was torn into thousands of pieces, flying away wildly like feathers, exposing the body of flesh that was hidden underneath.

Aerith gasped. The body before her was not human but was composed of Jenova’s cells, a sight that she had seen many times. Hojo had grown tired of experimenting on the bodies of others and had turned himself into a subject for his corrupted experiments.

“Heeheehee. In other words, I’m no different from a sample now. Even you never imagined that had changed this much, did you?”

The thoughts that Hojo emitted was pure madness and it wasn’t like the madness that Dyne needed to be intoxicated. Unlike President Shinra’s ambitions, the end point of his goals was of certain destruction. Hojo was like a living corpse. He had become a slave to knowledge, possessed by his own madness for science, with no regard of life or his future.

“Now this proofs I have far surpassed Gast who was recognized for his talent, even though he tried to flee from science like the coward he was. If Gast was in charge of the Jenova Project now, he surely would never have reached this stage… Haha, yes. Professor Gast was your father, was he not?”

“…Father realized that the Planet was more important than science.”

Aerith found out when Tifa and Cloud’s memories merged with the Lifestream when they fell. She also found out that it was Hojo who shot her father when he tried to stop him from taking her as a newborn sample.

“Ha, that was the limits of Gast. Stopping and not doing what remained to be done was blasphemy to science… Heh, it’s time for our talk to end.”

Without showing the least bit of guilt, Hojo turned his head in the direction of the Northern Crater in the distance.

“My son- Jenova’s ruler is calling. He’s asking for more life energy. Hahaha, I shall offer myself. Then he will become one with me, the one who he hated the most and looked down upon. This will be our reunion.”

Hojo, who had merged with Jenova was drawn away just like President Shinra that time. Laughing happily with madness, he was sucked towards the bottom of the gravity well.

“Let me give you one last piece of advice, Ancient. No matter what you do, it’s futile. It’s all part of this Planet’s system. Many foreign entities from the skies fall into the Planet’s life cycle unknowingly and now Jenova’s in there. So where does its soul go? Even if you try to destroy it, it will never disappear. It has merged with the Sea of Mako, drifting through every part of the Planet through the Lifestream. One day, you will all have to live as part of Jenova. Hahaha… It’s only a matter of how soon that will happen.”

“I will never let that happen!”

“You too will understand someday. Hahahaha-!”

Leaving only his sneering laughter, the thing that was Hojo disappeared outside Aerith’s conscious. And then Hojo became a sacrifice to Sephiroth with an expression dyed with joy and madness. Until the last moment before his soul was worn away, he showed no regrets or shame.

Aerith knew that Hojo’s death meant the end of Shinra. In that case, Cloud’s decisive battle drew near.

She started to run. If Hojo could die to support Sephiroth then there must be something that they could do to save the Planet.

That’s what she believed.

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