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CH 4: Nightmares

Darkness.... Something...coming into focus.... A jumble...of images.... Temple of the Ancients...City of the Ancients...Holy...Meteor.... Sephiroth falling from above...stabbing her.... The Northern Crater...Lifestream.... Hojo...Jenova.... Sephiroth.... Cloud?

Aeris awoke with a jerk. Sitting up from the hotel bed, she noticed that her hands were shaking. She was having those dreams again. It seemed that Aeris began experiencing these dreams-no, premonitions-ever since she had met Cloud. Was it a coincidence? Aeris couldn't think right now. It was far too early in the morning. Daylight hadn't even broke yet. Maybe she should just get something to drink. That should calm her down. After getting up out of her bed, Aeris cautiously walked across the suite, as to not wake Tifa and Yuffie, whom she had been sharing a room with. It was funny. Aeris had only known Tifa for a few weeks and they had become the best of friends. Almost inseperable.

Upon entering the mini-kitchen, Aeris opened the odd-shaped refrigerator. She observed that the Gold Saucer kept a wide variety of foods and drinks stocked. Grabbing a Wutai Cola and a Moogle Pie, Aeris sat at the two-person table the suite provided. Aeris remembered how off Yuffie was when she saw this "Wutai Cola" and couldn't help but laugh. After the meaningless war, Wutai had been turned into Shinra's merchendising phenom. Everywhere you looked you saw something "Imported from Wutai" or "Made in Wutai"; Yuffie wasn't too pleased when she found out her hometown had become a tourist attraction.

"A...Aeris?"

The weak-sounding voice startled Aeris until she realized it was Tifa, standing in the doorway.

"Tifa? What are you doing up?" Aeris asked.

Tifa smirked.

"Heh. I could ask you the same thing." Tifa replied as best she could without sounding tired.

"I heard someone fumbling around the kitchen. Figured it was you." Tifa explained.

"Yeah, well, I was thirsty." Aeris said, trying to cover up the real reason.

Tifa eyed Aeris' hand, which was still shaking slightly.

"You've been having those nightmares again, haven't you?" Tifa said.

Aeris lowered her head and nodded. She had told Tifa about the dreams long ago. The dreams had become a lot more frightening then when she first started having them. Tifa was always there, though, to comfort her when needed. She couldn't tell anyone else; especially Cloud. She just felt...safe...whenever Tifa was around.

Tifa pulled out the other chair and sat next to Aeris.

"Are you okay?" Tifa asked.

"Yes. I'm...fine. It's just that this time I...I saw Cloud in the center of the whole mess, like he was more involved than he thinks."

Cloud claimed he was in Nibelhiem when the Sephiroth incedent occurred, even though Tifa could have sworn he wasn't. Could Aeris be referring to that? If so, how was Cloud more involved? Tifa began to get worried again.

Tifa gave her a sisterly hug, more to comfort herself than Aeris.

"W...what are you guys doin' up?"

Tifa And Aeris turned to see Yuffie, desperately trying to keep herself awake. She always wanted to be more of an adult, but the girls never treated her like one. Maybe they would let her in on something for once.

"Nothing, Yuffie. Go back to sleep." said Tifa.

"Whatever." Yuffie said, turning back towrds her cot.

Stupid Tifa.

**************************

Alright, everyone. We're heading to the Temple of the Ancients. Who's coming with me?" Cloud said.

"Oh, me! I'm definately going!" Aeris said.

The Temple of the Ancients. That was in her dream. It frightened her, but she knew she had to go. Something was calling her.

"I'm comin' too!"

The voice was Cait Sith's, but it didn't come from the cat standing directly across from him. It came from the doorway. Confused, Cloud glanced at the door of the Ghost Hotel.

Standing in the doorway was a second Cait Sith, with four odd-looking people behind him.

"What in th' hell!?!" Cid yelled.

There's two of you fatboys!?!" Yuffie exclaimed.

Cloud and Vincent were the only ones not surprised. Cloud had learned the night before that Cait was a highly-advanced robot; It wasn't shocking to him that there were more than one built. Vincent, however, was never surprised by anything. He remained cool, although he was a bit curious as to whom those strangers were behind the second Cait.

"Okay, okay! Calm down. I can explain."

"Better make it good, cat!" Barret said, pointing his gun-arm at the second Cait.

"Hold it! I'm not a threat! Don't get violent! Cait #2 said, cowering before Barret's weapon. "You guys ain't gonna believe a word I say, so hear me out. Please?"

Cloud's Eyes never waivered. They were fixed on the second Cait, and at the drop of a hat he could attack. But this robot seemed like he was genuinely afraid; plus he had backup. It would be wiser to hear him out.

"Okay, go ahead. Make it quick." Cloud said.

When Cait began his story, Cloud knew right there that it wouldn't be as quick as he thought it would be.

*****************************

"What in the hell is gil?" Zero yelled.

The shopkeeper stared at the crimson stranger as if he was from another world; which of course was somewhat true.

"Look, are you trying to tell me that you don't know what money is?" the shopkeeper said sarcasticly.

Money? Damn. How could he get some?

"If you need money, you can always sell something." the shopkeeper said, sensing Zero's problem.

That gave Zero an idea. X had started a rock collection while walking to Gongaga. Zero couldn't begin to understand why. Maybe X's odd tendancies would come in handy for a change. Zero bet ten to one that he had materia in his possesion. Chances were that that stuff would be valuable here.

"Hey X, let me look at your bag of rocks."

X didn't hear him. He was standing across the room, sighing at the fact that he had become a reploid dress-up doll. Aurie was giggling with glee as she slipped a pair of silver glasses on him. Pulse was downright histerical as she fastened a white cape to his neck. Along with the headband, necklace and ring, X looked like some loser superhero.

Normally Zero would have laughed his ass off, but he was the one in charge and they needed money.

"Gimme that."

Zero swiped the pouch hanging from X's side. X didn't even notice. Zero rummaged around through it until he found one that looked expensive. It was yellow and shining brightly.

"What can you give me for this?" Zero asked.

The shopkeeper studied it for a minute.

"Well, it looks like you have yourself some deathblow materia. It's quite common, though. Do you have anything else?"

Zero pulled out a red piece of materia. It had a more dull glow, as if it had been used and discarded. The shokeeper stared at it with awe. Summon materia was rare. You couldn't find any in stores.

"What have we here? This appears to be titan materia, though you can never be too sure who will come if you use it."

"Whatever. What can you give me for it?"

"I'll give you 20,000 up front, no questions asked."

Zero's eyes lit up before he realized the shopkeeper could be swindling him.

"Make it thirty, and throw in a couple of tents while you're at it." Zero said, trying to haggle.

"Ooh, ooh! Can we get this stuff too?" Aurie said, piping up from the back of the room.

Zero rolled his eyes.

"Tell you what. I'll give you 20,000 gil, two tents, and any three accessories they want, one each. Deal?" said the shopkeeper.

"Deal. And a damn good one, might I add." Zero said with a smile on his face.

****************************

"It is time." Sephiroth said.

"Time for what?" Sigma said with annoyance.

Sigma had begun to get off just yesterday. Sephiroth wanted him to wait for something; he hated waiting. During that time, though, he had managed to fix his beam sabre as well as some other basic things.

"Cloud is going to the Temple of the Ancients. You must go and make sure he succeeds in aquiring the Black Materia. Then, under my influence, Cloud will give it to you. Then you are to return here with it and and give it to m. Do you understand?" Sephiroth commanded.

"I thought this was a partnership. I don't take orders." Sigma remarked smugly.

The solid projection of Sephiroth stared at the soulless being before him. He must go, otherwise there may be...complications. Sephiroth had to make Sigma understand.

By any means necesary, if needed.

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