Don't freak out don't freak out don't freak out…
Taking heed to the panicked mantra continually played in her head, Katlyn schooled her face to show only curiosity rather than the dread she felt at the Turks potentially already finding her out as she asked, "Yes?"
As the future leader of the Turks adjusted the cuffs of his sleeves, Tseng responded, "May I have a moment of your time? I just want to ask a few questions."
THAT doesn't sound good. "Sure, I guess. What did you want to know?" Katlyn replied, shrugging her shoulders. She once again sent a word of thanks to Minerva's assistants for forcing her to go through all those acting lessons, including the ones on how to lie. Otherwise, she knew she would've been totally screwed, and not in a good way.
"Have you listened to the radio lately?"
Well, she could thankfully answer this one honestly… "Not really. I mean, I've heard a glimpse of it on my way here, but other than that I haven't heard anything. Why, is there something I should know?"
Tseng's face remained impenetrable as he answered, "There is a dangerous monster on the loose that has escaped from Shinra labs."
"Well, that sounds kinda irresponsible of Shinra, don't you think?" Katlyn quipped. "I mean, allowing a dangerous creature to escape! From what I've heard, Shinra has some of the best security on the planet, so shouldn't they be equipped to deal with such monsters?"
Okay, maybe it wasn't the best idea to put Shinra down like that if the narrowing of his eyes was any indication. "This monster is… rather unique. It's humanoid in form."
Cocking her head curiously, Katlyn merely said, "Oh?"
"Indeed… reports claim that this monster looks alarmingly like a human female," Tseng explained, piquing Katlyn's curiosity. Why would Tseng, a perfect example of a Turk, be telling her this information?
However, all she said was, "Really? That's kinda freaky…"
Nodding in agreement, Tseng continued, "Indeed. In addition, we have reason to believe that this monster acts exactly like a human would, as well, and may try to blend in with the populace."
Well, duh. I AM a human, Tseng, albeit enhanced as much as Sephiroth, so why wouldn't I act like one? she thought amusedly. However, her inner amusement faded quickly when she saw the look in the Turk's eyes.
The message she saw in them was clear- she was suspected of being their 'monster'. Looking objectively, she could see his point- shortly after this monster escapes, suddenly a strange female comes walking up to the doors of the place where the last Cetra is found more often than not. If she was in his shoes, she DEFINITELY would be suspicious.
Not to mention that his suspicion was right, after all. However, it would be disastrous for her plans if he were to find out now. Better to play ignorant and reveal it to him when the time was right…
It was a clear warning, and Katlyn fully intended to heed it.
"Really? Well, if I see anything weird I'll be sure to tell you, um…" she responded, faking ignorance as to his name.
The suspicion in his eyes was removed (although Katlyn was sure it was still there- he was merely hiding it for now) as he supplied, "Tseng."
"Tseng? Isn't that Wutaian?" she asked as she cocked her head slightly. Might as well have one of the questions she always had about him answered while she was talking to the man…
Blinking, as if he hadn't expected that response, the man in question finally replied, "Yes, it is. However, if you have any doubts as to my loyalty to Shinra…"
"No, no, I'm sure you're quite loyal," Katlyn quickly reassured him. "After all, I highly doubt that Shinra would hire a Wutaian spy to become a Turk!"
Silence suddenly reigned supreme. Too late, Katlyn realized her mistake at revealing her knowledge of him being a Turk.
Tseng's eyes narrowed dangerously with intense focus.
"And how did you know I am a member of the Turks?" asked Tseng with velvet-lined steel.
"Um…" Katlyn started, her mind racing to come up with a believable excuse. "Your suit?" she blurted out.
Looking rather like a cat that had been bopped on the nose, Tseng's head reared back slightly as his eyebrows furrowed with confusion. "My suit?"
Seizing the opportunity, Katlyn used her game knowledge and elaborated, "Yes, your suit. Someone once told me that members of the Turks always wore suits, and the fact that you're in the slums tells me that it's highly doubtful you're a businessman. Considering that you don't have thugs hounding you at this moment, not to mention the fact that you asked me questions that were Shinra related, this lead me to assume you're a Turk!"
Looking slightly doubtful, Tseng inquired, "And… who was it that told you about the Turks?"
"It was someone who had once worked for Shinra that I had worked with briefly, although they didn't give me details on why they weren't with Shinra anymore," Katlyn bull-shitted. "Oh, what was her name…" She pretended to think for several moments, as if she was truly trying to think of a name, while she carefully watched Tseng's reaction. So far, so good, she thought to herself as he seemed to relax slightly. Finally, she continued, "Well, damn, I can't remember her name right now."
Tseng stared at her for several moments, causing Katlyn to fight hard not to fidget under his gaze. Finally, he spoke, "If you remember her name, will you let me know?"
Internally wiping her brow with relief, Katlyn agreed, "Sure, I'll tell you if I remember."
"Now… can I ask—" Tseng started to ask, however at that moment the Church doors opened.
"Hello? I heard voices…" called out Aerith lightly, poking her head out. Seeing the two standing out on her steps, she exclaimed, "OH! I didn't realize that I'd be having guests today! Who's your companion, Tseng?"
Turning towards the green-eyed Cetra, Tseng answered, "I'm not going to be staying long, and I was just about to ask this young lady what her name was, as well."
As she turned towards Aerith herself, Katlyn volunteered the name that she and Minerva had chosen to be her alias while she stayed on Gaia. "Call me Grace Lunaria."
When her green eyes met Katlyn's brown ones, both women immediately felt the zing that coursed through their bodies. Aerith's eyes widened slightly as Katlyn smirked a tiny knowing smirk.
Aerith stared at the strange woman. She could hear the Planet itself urging her to trust this stranger, allow her to become a friend. Confused, the Cetra wondered just who this Grace Lunaria was that even the Planet (who ordinarily didn't offer opinions, unless it was about General Sephiroth for some odd reason) liked.
"Are you Aerith?" asked said stranger.
"Um… yes?" replied Aerith hesitantly as Tseng turned his attention once more towards the stranger.
Grace's shoulders sagged slightly as she breathed, "Oh, thank goodness." Louder, she continued, "I'm new to Midgar, and I heard throughout the slums that you were the person to see about flowers?"
"Where were you from originally?" Tseng demanded.
Shrugging, Grace answered, "Junon." Aerith, however, had a strange suspicion that it was a lie.
Tseng, apparently, had the same idea if the slight narrowing of his eyes was any indication. Normal people probably wouldn't notice, Aerith mused briefly, however having known him for a while now she could tell whenever it happened.
However, he made no mention that he suspected anything. Instead, he simply looked back towards the Cetra and began, "Aerith, if you need anything…"
"I'll let you know," Aerith finished. Giving him a significant glance, she added, "However, I don't think it'd be necessary."
The Turk's brows raised slightly in surprise at this, for it wasn't often that she implied that she had used the gifts inherent with her Cetra ancestry. Even more surprising- it wasn't a warning like the other previous situations had been. Inclining his head in first her, than Grace's direction, he finally said, "Ladies."
The two women watched as the Turk walked away. Once he was out of sight, Aerith immediately turned towards Grace and demanded lightly, "Now… just who or what are you?"
"That is a long and complicated answer," came the reply. "However, can we continue this discussion inside? The fewer people who hear this story right now, the better."
Katlyn looked around in awe as Aerith led her to the inside of her famous church. It looked almost exactly the same as it did in the games and the movie… minus the hole in the ceiling from when first Zack, then Cloud fell through. The same pews that were eventually destroyed by Tifa and Loz in their battle, the same destroyed altar, and in the area between the altar and the pews…
Kneeling, she lightly brushed a finger along the edge of a white petal. Katlyn wasn't sure what flower it was, but if she had to hazard a guess she would say a lily. As she did so, she looked at all of the other flowers occupying the little patch of life. The effect was simple, yet pretty… a perfect garden for the last Cetra.
"So… who are you really, and what do you want?" Aerith repeated.
Taking a deep breath, the Champion turned and stood as she answered, "My real name is Katlyn Lune, and I've come to ask if I can stay with you for a couple days, amongst other things."
Blinking with surprise, Aerith gave Katlyn a questioning look. "Other things?"
"Listen to your mother, daughter of Ilfana. She'll tell you what I mean," Katlyn responded, amusement coloring her voice.
The green-eyed woman gasped loudly at the mention of her true mother's name (which was understandable to Katlyn, considering that very few people even had the knowledge that the woman Aerith lived with wasn't her true mother… most of whom were Turks). Closing her eyes, Katlyn could faintly hear the Cetra connecting to the Lifestream. Although she could focus her energy more to clearly hear the conversation, the Champion allowed Aerith her privacy.
Suddenly, Aerith's eyes popped back open. "You're the one who's supposed to help me with my Cetra heritage?" she asked with amazement in her voice. As Katlyn smiled and nodded, she continued, "Are you a Cetra yourself, then? I thought I was the last one…"
"And technically you are still the last Cetra," Katlyn replied. "What I am is the complicated part that I mentioned earlier."
"So… what are you, then?"
Walking over to one of the pews, Katlyn sat down as she began to explain, "The short answer is that I am the Goddess' Champion, here to prevent the Calamity from causing more chaos than she already has."
The Cetra's spine stiffened at the mention of the being that had decimated her race so long ago. "The Calamity… the Planet has mentioned that title several times, especially when General Sephiroth is nearby."
Katlyn sighed, "Yes, well unfortunately Sephiroth, along with all of the other First Class SOLDIERs, have the Calamity's cells inside of them thanks to that bastard Hojo. Sephiroth has a LOT more cells in him, though, which is why the Planet is much more leery of him than the others. He has the potential to truly become the Second Calamity if Jenova has her way. Thankfully, though, Lady Minerva has granted me the opportunity, the tools, and the skills to prevent this."
Aerith opened her mouth to ask more questions, however Katlyn raised a hand to forestall them as she commented, "However, that is a topic for another time. The important thing right now is that I have been trained in many of the skills of the Cetra, and now I'm here to pass them on to you in order to give you the best shot at reviving the Cetra race that I can give."
Aerith's eyes lit up with excitement at this. No more will she have to try and muddle her way through the abilities granted to her via her mother… "What kind of skills?"
Smiling, Katlyn explained, "First, we'll develop the skills you already have, namely the ability to speak to those within the Lifestream and the Planet itself. Then, we'll work on how to properly use that White Materia that's hiding in your hair."
From the way her fists lightly clenched, the Cetra was obviously resisting the urge to check to see if the aforementioned Materia was still safely hidden. Aerith raised her eyebrows with surprise at Katlyn's knowledge.
Ignoring Aerith's reaction, Katlyn continued, "Then finally I'll teach you the offensive abilities of the Cetra that have unfortunately been lost due to the passage of time."
"Wait… I thought the Cetras believed in peace and working in harmony with Gaia," mentioned Aerith confusedly.
"Well, how else do you think that your ancestors managed to fight and eventually seal Jenova?"
Aerith nodded, conceding that Katlyn had a point there. "But… why now? Why not earlier, when my mother was still alive?"
Silence reigned supreme for several moments as Katlyn debated how to answer her. Finally, she said slowly, "The only answer I can give you right now is that this was pretty much the earliest I could arrive on Gaia thanks to my… unique circumstances. And please, don't ask about those circumstances, for the time has not yet come to explain them."
The young Cetra stared into Katlyn's eyes for several long moments. "Alright. I'll trust you."
"Thank you," Katlyn responded sincerely. "Now… would it be alright if I crashed with you until I can get a place of my own?"
"I dunno," came Aerith's response. "You'll have to go through my step-mother first."
"So… you claim that Aerith is going to be needed for future events that as of right now you are unwilling to discuss, and so you have come to give her some of this 'training' that she'll need," began Elmyra Gainsborough.
"Yes, ma'am," Katlyn replied, confidence filling her voice despite the rather distinct feeling that she was being interrogated by a school teacher welling up inside of her.
"Not only that, you're asking me if you can stay here for an undetermined amount of time until you can 'find a place of your own'?"
The woman who had taken care of the last Cetra and kept her safe for the majority of her life looked at the Champion with skeptical green eyes. As the three women sitting around the small round kitchen table simultaneously took a sip of their tea, Katlyn suddenly felt nervous. Would Elmyra allow her to stay? Or would she have to find someplace else, and risk capture by Shinra?
Finally, Elmyra said slowly, "I might be amiable to you staying here, if you could provide proof of your claim that you are this so-called 'Champion of the Goddess', Ms. Lune."
"Certainly," replied Katlyn. "Thankfully, I took the liberty of Scanning your home for cameras and other recording devices when I first walked in."
"Wait, you can use Scan materia for those?" inquired Aerith excitedly.
Frowning, Elmyra added, "And why would you think there would be cameras in my home?"
Giggling a little bit, Katlyn answered, "Yes, you can use Scan materia to search for specific items as long as you have the control necessary, and I am well aware that the Turks have realized just who Aerith is and that they have vowed to protect her for as long as they can. Thus, knowing them, I figured it would make sense for cameras and other recording devices to be planted in the place she calls home so that they can be aware of who would be entering her home and why. I did find one camera and one microphone, however a low-powered Thunder took care of them in a way that the Turks won't be suspicious about it."
Elmyra's eyes narrowed slightly in anger at the revelation that indeed her home's privacy had been compromised, however it was Katlyn's assurance that the ones who had done the compromising had done so with good intentions in mind that obviously kept her from saying anything about it. "So… your proof?"
Saying nothing, Katlyn immediately focused her mind to activate the first stage of her Champion mode. The two Gainsboroughs' eyes opened wide as the shine from the golden armor suffused itself throughout her entire being. Remembering the first time she saw herself clad fully in her armor back in the Goddess' home, Katlyn smiled a tiny wistful smile. Never before that moment had she felt so… beautifully powerful, and confident in who she was.
"That's… some proof," Elmyra finally choked out. As Katlyn allowed her Champion mode to fall away, the elder Gainsborough added, "Welcome to our home."
A big smile filling her face, Katlyn responded, "Thank you, Ms. Gainsborough, for allowing me to stay. Now… what else would you like to know?"