Title: Harrow Children
Fandom: FF7 (Advent Children)
Rating: PG to R, worksafe
Warnings: AU. Also, epic.
Word count: 750ish
Summary: The line between the quick and the dead is thin and blurred, and some fragments of memories live on past death.
Prompt: Zack lives!Advent Children AU.
A/N: Blame chibirisuchan for this. It's all her fault.
In case any of y'all are wondering, the title is not me having thoroughly forgotten my native tongue. I can't claim it's not Engrish, because it is, but if Squeenix is going to Engrish up their title, I can Engrish up mine as well. "Harrow" comes from "harrowing," and more specifically, from "The Harrowing of Hell." Rather than churn out a long-ass author's notes section (this ain't Ein Sof, yo), I will just say, "Wiki is your friend!"
There is...a lot of exposition in this. I'm really sorry. But...it can't be helped. Zack not dying changes WAY too many things (Zack is not, alas, plug and play), and since this isn't FF7 retold but AC retold, yeah, exposition dumps like whoa. Sorry! Likewise, this starts out quite similarly to the movie. Then the Butterfly Effect kicks in--in this case, Zack--and things begin to deviate wildly.
Showing how it starts off similarly: the prologue, I took from a copy of the English script I found online of Advent Children, because I didn't feel like reinventing the wheel and translating it myself. But there are some changes I made based on the original Japanese and changes made to tailor it to this fic. But! Any movie dialogue, yeah, so, those are my translations, because scenes that are from the movie more or less as-is I did while watching it, rather than from the script, because I don't have the movie in English or with English subs. Plus, this version is a revision based on scenes that have been added to AC in Advent Children Complete, and I translated all the dialogue from ACC for those. So, heh heh, yeah.
Speaking of boring shit to get out of the way before we get started, I use "Shinra" as the family name and "ShinRa" for the company, lest anyone wonder why my capitalization seems flaky. There is a method to my madness, promise. I also use "Aerith" instead of "Aeris" since my first introduction to her was AC, where it was romanized "Aerith"...and I admit to really liking the way it looks with the "th." Ironically enough, though, I like the way "Aeris" sounds better, but hey.
That's what we call the river of life that circles our planet, giving life to the world and everything in it. The ShinRa Company discovered a way to use the Lifestream as an energy source. Because of ShinRa's energy, we were able to have very well-off lives. But wasn't that because we were taking away from the planet's life?
A lot of people thought so.
ShinRa used their power to try and stop anybody who got in their way. ShinRa had a special group of fighters called SOLDIERs, and all of the SOLDIERs had Jenova cells put inside of them. Jenova was a calamity that fell from the sky a long, long time ago and tried to destroy the planet.
There was one SOLDIER named Sephiroth who was better than all the rest. When he found out about the terrible experiments that made him, he began to hate ShinRa, and then, over time, he began to hate everything. Sephiroth hated the planet so much he wanted to make it go away.
There were a lot of battles. For every battle, there was more sadness. Someone I loved went back to the Lifestream, too. But someone I love kind of came back from it.
And then that day came - the day of destiny.
In the end, the planet itself had to make the battles stop for good. The planet used the Lifestream as a weapon. And when it burst out of the earth, all the fighting, all the grief and sadness, everything, was washed away.
It's been two years since they told me that.
But it looks like the planet is a whole, whole lot madder than we thought.
Geostigma. There's no cure, but...
But, maybe the planet's not so mad, because maybe there's one person who can fix it.
Please...if anyone can it's you, so please, please find a way to heal it, so the planet doesn't take you all away.
Kadaj's voice was soft, but carried over the sound of the service elevator.
The old ShinRa building was being rebuilt.
As was Midgar--Edge.
It seemed a ridiculous cycle, and that was what prompted his words, prompted his digression from his task. "Destruction and creation. Why do humans keep doing the same thing over and over again? I just can't understand it," he said. He didn't expect much of an answer to his question, nor did he particularly want one. An answer served no purpose, after all. It seemed to have no purpose at all, continuing to rebuilt when it would be destroyed again.
There was a sharp clang of metal as the gate of the service elevator opened, and Rufus Shinra surprised him with an answer.
"Humans are bad with memories, " he said blandly. "That is why we pretty things up, and expand. Pain turns into nostalgia, and we try to overcome the past."
Kadaj pushed Rufus' wheelchair as he thought about this, tried to make sense of it, tried to use that information to make sense of what Rufus had done and why Kadaj himself was here; tie it to the only thing that mattered. His voice was softer, somehow younger sounding than it had been a few moments before. "And are you trying to retrieve Mother because of memories?"
He walked away from behind the wheelchair at stared out at the grey sky, waiting for this answer but not fully expecting one. Humans never had good answers, not when it came to Mother--that much he already knew.
"That is to...eliminate a difficulty."
"Ah, you mean Geostigma? " Kadaj said, his amusement coming out in his voice. A 'difficulty' for the humans, of course, who had never understood Mother. "But if you want to look at the root of that...it's all of your fault," Kadaj said. If anyone was responsible, it was the humans--they had started all of this, after all, and continued to not understand.
All of a sudden, something clicked and he stepped back, turning now to look at the sky. "Ohh, I get it," he said, as it began to make sense--as Rufus and everything he was doing began to make sense.
"You're bad with memories, too."
Rufus let out a low chuckle. "No. I'm just...quite forgetful."
They stared out at the sky, and Kadaj processed this as well as they both fell into silence, the only sound that of the wind rustling through the skeletal frame of what would one day be the ShinRa Tower once more.
Part the First