Cloud lay on the cold ground.
His body was seizing with unimaginable pain. With each wave, he felt his skin shiver and his insides spin. Everything was changing…transforming into something that he wished no one would ever have to see. His back muscles contorted uncontrollably, causing him to twist and stretch his back to intentionally ease the pressure. His right hand was shaking violently. Cloud tried his best to stop the shaking, but it was no use.
He no longer had any control of his body.
Hot tears fell from his closed eyes as another wave of pain began.
The pain had started a few weeks earlier, but they were simple aches here and there. But things steadily grew worse. Then there were the nightmares, the visions of his past and his greatest fears. Slowly and somehow, the darkness in his heart had manifested itself and was taking control of the blond warrior.
Now, the first realization of that darkness was watching him.
Standing a few feet away, a pair of emerald eyes watched as the young man writhed about on the ground. Long singular strands of silver hair blew in the sporadic breeze. Sephiroth had experienced pain himself, but he had learned to bear it with strength. His own back ached with pain as well, muscles and blood flowing in odd ways. Cloud would just have to suffer through this.
Besides, he enjoyed watching the little runt struggle.
“You should learn to take this pain, my puppet” the silver haired general smugly commented. “This is all your doing…you dabbled with the darkness…and this is your punishment.”
The blond soldier whimpered again. He rolled on to one side and then the other, trying to get his mind off of the pain surging through him. With his strength and will to order his flesh weakening with every attack, he forced his sapphire blue eyes to stay open and his face to look up at the general.
“What…makes y…you….think you…can…understand…THIS!” Another powerful wave hit him and he screamed out the last word.
Sephiroth just scoffed at the boy before him. “Oh Cloud, I am enjoying every moment of this.”
The figure and the warrior were not two sides of the same coin. Neither had purely fallen to darkness or risen to the light. Instead, both had belonged to each side. At some time in the past, Sephiroth himself had aligned with the light…before he had learned of the truth of his past.
He was the chosen one, the one who would rule the planet and universe. He had set his eyes on godhood, to be the creator and destroyer that his mother had wanted to do so very long ago.
He was so close…the status of deity was in reach…
And then that little runt came and ruined it all. That worthless cadet, too weak to be a Solider, too sensitive to be a fighter, someone who should have never had the strength or the will to defeat a 1st Class Solider, the greatest general of all time, destroyed it all.
Cloud Strife became the hero, the world’s savior, defeating the evil Sephiroth. Fate had aligned the two men and had chosen its victor.
But while Cloud had won the battle, he had not ended the personal war. Thanks to some scientific medaling on the part of Hojo, the young man had been injected with Sephiroth’s stored cells, which flowed through his body now, allowing the defeated general to live on in Cloud, like a cancerous tumor.
All he had to do was wait for the right time and seize the moment when the great general could return.
The Sephiroth that was now here, in this form, was the creation of the darkness and manipulation of Cloud’s mind and heart. He was what Cloud really was, is, and always would be…a creature of the darkness.
The sound of Cloud’s moans and grunts filled the air again. Sephiroth cruelly smiled, enjoying every whimper, tear, and jerk the blond made. This was payback.
The general decided that Cloud needed to suffer a few more moments before he was ready for the transformation.
Sensing that he was ready, the general let out a calm, controlled breath. Instantly, as if on queue, a great, deep blue angelic wing sprouted from the left side of his back. The wing unfurled to its complete length before slightly closing itself on the side of the great general. Sephiroth gazed at the appendage as he caressed the top of the wings down feathers.
As he smiled, Cloud screamed. The great soldier was now huddled in a ball on the ground, sweat dripping from his face, soaking his clothes. Mixed with the perspiration were a few tears.
“Oh, simply magnificent. I should thank you Cloud” the general spoke with an air of pride. “I have always thought of myself as an angel.
“Now” he commented as he unscathed the great Matsume blade and directed it at Cloud, “Let’s see what you’re gift is.”
Like a casted spell, the pain in Cloud suddenly magnified. Everything hurt. He bowed his head, and shifted his body until his knees were supporting his weight. Cloud then raised his head to the sky, tears flowing down his face. As he did, he let out an exasperated and horrific scream. It was a scream of pain, torture, and guilt.
His right arm twisted in spasms. In the movement, the bones cracked and reshaped themselves, growing longer and more pointed. The skin in that area darkened until it was fully black and resembled something of a beast or monster. Cloud’s blue eyes were filled with horror as he grasped the morphed hand.
He screamed again, closing his eyes to hide his pained eyes.
This time, his right back was morphing. Part of his bone was pushing out of the skin, growing in mass down his back. The pressure was unbearable.
Sephiroth continued to smile, eager to see what would be revealed.
Cloud released another scream, as the sound of ripping skin and cloth filled the air. Out of his shoulder bone came a large a black, demonic wing. Bony and translucent, the appendage was made entirely of thinly stretched skin, like a bat wing. It fully opened itself, like lungs gasping for a breath of air.
Cloud had become a monster, an abomination.
Finally, the pain dulled. The newly formed wing, as if ashamed of its existence, curled around its master. Cloud, however, was too exhausted to look, as he closed his blue eyes and released a heavy sigh. With a thud, he collapsed on to the ground, relieved that the waves of pain had finally subsided. His wing had moved away and into the air, suspending itself over Cloud. The only movement from him was from the periodic twitching of his wind and the back muscles that made up the appendage adjusting to the new weight.
Then, as if her were cold, Cloud curled his body into a helpless fetal position with his hand and claw pressed against his chest. New tears fell down his face as the grunts and cries of agony were replaced with sobs and moans.
Sephiroth gazed at the newly formed wing and claw with curiosity. Cloud should have transformed fully into a creature of the darkness. There should have been nothing of him that remained human.
It appeared as though the light was still inside Cloud. The general would just have to snuff that bit of light still within him, and Cloud would be his again.
But for now, enough damage had been done. Sephiroth vanished into thin air, bound for another world, leaving Cloud to nurse his body back to full strength. Then…he would return to the darkness. He would heed his master’s call, just like the little empty puppet that he was.
Cloud was left on the ground, his new appendage blowing in the wind, his hands gripping his chest, holding onto the little light that remained in him.
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