The truth will transform you…
Drowning in memories, bound to the past, and consumed by mortal regret, the penitent former general seeks the grave and forgiveness of the true mother never known, but not before he fulfills an obligation to the flower girl he once slew.
You must forgive my capriciousness with the title. I truly could not decide between preamble or prelude. I like preamble for its official sounding name and its closeness to the word “ramble,” which I do quite a lot, but the term “prelude” is just so appropriate for what Northern Lights is. So I again I must apologize for my inability to choose between the two.
I am going to lay everything bare, but I realized I can’t do that all at once. No…these things take time; they take patience and strength that has to be gathered. Most of the things I wanted and planned to say in this preamble have been expounded upon in my extensive editing blog, which will be shared after the tale has been laid. I’ve been told you don’t meta-tell a story; you just tell a story. You shouldn’t have to justify; you shouldn’t have to explain; let the words and the work speak for itself. Though in this instance I must preface. I must ramble for a bit. For those of you who aren’t gamers but were or are curious about my tale, for those of my followers who found my #amwriting/#amediting posts fulfilling and expressed interest in my words, this preamble/prelude is for you.
Before I forget Northern Lights should be considered MA. There is graphic violence and a few descriptions of animal abuse. There’s sex stuff, too, but that’s actually tame compared to the violence. Remember this is a romance fic not an erotica.
If you already are well versed on the story of FFVII and have no desire to listen to my ramblings to the same, please feel free to go straight to Chapter 1.
Northern Lights is a fanfiction of my favorite game and all-time favorite story, Final Fantasy VII. Most people respond derisively when you say that you write fanfiction. This is my response to that.
I do not spend my time on trivialities; I do not waste my words on whimsy. As much effort as I put into my original novel and published short I put into this, and I can only hope it shows in the details.
If you enjoy paranormal romance, you will probably like this work; if you wish to read of a fallen angel seeking redemption, then this is the tale for you; if you desire a story where lost truth is revealed, Northern Lights will fulfill that. You do not need to have played or even have heard of FFVII (though if you haven’t accomplished the latter, I will only assume that you are either not a gamer,it is after your time, or you’ve been living under a rock) to comprehend or take pleasure from this fantasy. There are certain subtleties and nuances only those familiar with the original story (which I shall abbreviate OS henceforth) will get, but this should in no way put off any newcomers to the narrative.
This post is merely a foreword of sorts, the preface at the start of the book, the dramatis personae if you will in a play. It’s to bring you into the narrative that captured me back in 1997, that made me care when I cared about nothing for over three years. I am going to lay everything bare…but for now I give you the prelude (and the reason behind my above indecision).
Many years ago I realized there was a story inside of me called Northern Lights. I didn’t know what it would entail or who it would be about; I just knew one day it would come be written. Sometimes I conceive of stories from the top (a title, a theme that manifests downward), sometimes from the bottom (a situation, a scene that becomes part of a greater whole). It’s all the same system, the same rationale, the same mode of thought. Microcosm, macrocosm. The title itself “Northern Lights” is also the British moniker of Philip Pullman’s first novel in the trilogy His Dark Materials, a phenomenal series in its own right. It was inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost, which along with the Book of Revelations also has parallels in FFVII (I have an article about the latter here.) The title Northern Lights came from this along with my obsession with the aurorae themselves.
The overarching theme of FFVII is that there are things that death cannot conquer and that hate cannot wash away. Even though I always knew this inherently, it took me seventeen plus years to be able to put it into words. It’s why the narrative is so important; it’s the reason that it endures. In the OS Sephiroth, who is a genetically engineered super soldier, the best of them all, the most beautiful, the Great General, and an expy of Lucifer/Satan, falls (in this case literally) from glory to kill Aeris, a seemingly simple flower girl from the slums who is the last of her people, the Cetra or Ancients. Her ilk had the ability to speak with and hear the Planet (which I did not err in capitalizing). She is the foundling archetype, invoking the trope of power hidden in an inconspicuous place. The reason Sephiroth murders her (and in the most rape metaphor way possible..much more of that in the fore mentioned editing blog)
is because (and while I fully believe this and cover it in detail later, we are now getting into story interpretation territory) he was mind-raped by an eldritch abomination that crashed into this world over 2000 years ago. This horror, called Jenova, arrived when Aeris’s people, the Cetra, were still alive and it burrowed into their minds and drove them insane. The current humans were the descendants of those who hid and survived, but they had lost the ability to commune with the Planet (perhaps a fitting punishment for cowardice). Aeris was the last of that Ancient line after her mother died trying to protect her, and she was also the only person who could invoke the power of Holy and stop the abomination. She died trying to fulfill that very task (see picture above), but despite her demise, the flower girl’s prayer was answered and the world was saved from horror and destruction (though in the OS prior to any sequels, it was unknown whether humans themselves survived Holy’s judgment…or whether they deserved to for the destruction so inflicted upon the world).
Jenova was discovered in a crater in the north by modern humans, and they used its unique and alien cell structure to create enhanced soldiers…among other things. Sephiroth was the first person to be endowed with these abilities at birth as opposed to being injected with the cells afterwards. He was lied to by his own father who treated him as an experiment and was also told that his actual mother was Jenova, who died giving him birth, when in truth his mother was a scientist named Lucrecia who “choose” to donate her body for this experiment. I use quotes because her husband/Sephiroth’s father, a Josef Mengelesque character and therefore complete monster probably “persuaded” her to some degree. When Sephiroth discovered the “truth” about how he had been created, he went mad from revelation and became the world’s greatest enemy. Paired with the horror from long ago, his goal became to drain the life force from this Planet, a swell and collective entity known as the Lifestream, which contains the souls of all the beings in the world that were and will be born, to become a god. He was also convinced that Jenova itself was a Cetra/Ancient when in reality it had killed or driven them insane. Because of these false belief, he came to hate humanity seeing them as the usurpers of the Planet while he and his “mother” were the dispossessed. His insanity was based on three lies: his mother died giving him birth; she was a Cetra, and her name was Jenova. Within the narrative of the game and beyond he never finds out the truth.
Note about the Lifestream. Enhanced individuals are also exposed to it in a form that’s called Mako. This gives their eyes an ever present gleam that comes off as quite eerie. Also, the current energy source of the OS’s world is the Lifestream of the Planet, literally using the Planet’s blood, which is killing it. Sound familiar?
But getting back to Sephiroth; he rebelled against his creators and tried to become as god. Also sound familiar? In the OS Sephiroth is considered the villain of the tale, but I don’t think this is accurate. You have to ask yourself the question “Who is holding the puppet strings?” They are being clutched and contained by Jenova and the manipulation just trickles down because the fallen general uses his own power of manipulation against the OS’s main character, and this (to some) obfuscates the truth of who is really the enemy, where does the source truly lie?
Think on this, dear readers…let us say you’re told your mother died giving birth to you, and you believe it because you have no other truth. And then let us say you discover one day that she’s not dead at all, and there are things that she wants you to do because you’re her child, and you should obey; you should be a good daughter/son. Even though you now have this cognitive dissonance because you believed all your life that she was dead, but now she’s here, whispering in your ear and telling you to do things…awful things. What would you do? You’re a child that’s been lost for a very long time. No matter how much it goes against everything you’re been told, you’d want to believe it…you’d really want to believe it. I know I fucking would.
Now add to this the fact that this thing can burrow into your mind control you.. Once you introduce the element of manipulation to a narrative, you can no longer take anything at face value especially when characters start acting counter to their previous presentation. If you want another example of this take a look at ASOIAF/GOT, which also has that multi-layered manipulation paradigm. The warging that the Stark’s can do is one layer, but in the fifth book A Dance With Dragons, the prelude chapter has Varamyr Sixskins. If you’re an ASOIAF fan go reread that. There is definite manipulation inception going on. Closer to the source think about FFIV, FFVIII or FFIX, which show there is both a precedent and antedent (yes, I just made up a word) for the paradigm.
So I had to write this, because it bothered me that Sephiroth never had this truth; he never knew who his real mother was (it bothers the hell out of me in ASOIAF, too. I really hope Martin doesn’t leave it unresolved. If you’re an ASOIAF reader or GOT show watcher, you’ll know what I’m talking about; I’ll give no spoilers here). Some of you may be thinking, “It’s a fictional account; it’s…a video game. Why does this matter so much to you?” Because to me the world is made up of stories, and I define and understand it through narratives. I’m always thinking “What if?” and the OS provides this one of many “What if?” scenarios that I just had to explore.
Back to an explanation of the narrative Aeris defeats Jenova in the macrocosm way that the main character of the game Cloud bests Sephiroth in microcosm (the former scenario paralleling the earth gods vs. the sky gods motif).
There’s the seen and the unseen; the covered and the discovered, the shown and the revealed; what is said and what is left to echo in the silence. It’s the silence that truly speaks so loud. I hope I have shown those of you unfamiliar with the OS enough so that you can enjoy and follow this story of mine that has been more than a decade in conception and a year and a half in the making. I shall be posting a chapter here and on various social media every Friday.
Keep these questions in mind as you peruse this tale. “Can the devil ever come back into God’s good graces? Can the fallen be redeemed? Do the horrors from the past have to blight the future?”
A thousand thank yous for your interest. Were it not for the enthusiasm shown for my haphazard #amwriting and #amediting posts on Facebook and Twitter, I would’ve never thought so many of you unfamiliar with the OS would be interesting in what could be considered a fangirl’s fever dream.
I have too many people to directly thank, but I will try to remember them all.
- Amanda for your awesome (and very expedient) help in creating the banner seen above. She often contributes to another geek oriented blog called Nerd-Base
- Kat (a fellow writer and blogger whose page can be found here) for blog set up help and invaluable writing insights. She along with myself and many others also write for The Caffeine Crew, a blog for all your nerdy needs
- Matthew/Nightmare for taking all of my random texts in stride and being able to discuss the finer details of FFVII with me
- Brian, my husband, for putting up with my bullshit and the emotional roller coaster this story put me through
If I’ve forgotten anyone I apologize profusely. I’ll remember you eventually even if that eventually is going to be in my editing blog. I promise you will be a memory.
Note: For those of you familiar with FFVII yes I do know that her name is supposed to be Aerith; however, I abhor that name and much prefer the original despite knowledge that the translation was technically wrong.
So this is my offering, my answer to a “what if” posed years ago, my love song to my favorite narrative, my involuntary toil, my catharsis, my often bane: Northern Lights.
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII is of course the property of Square Enix. I own no right to any of the characters or settings found in any of the games, films, or any other medium own by Square Enix. I do reserve rights to the things I made up in the narrative, which is none of the fore mentioned.
Artwork Disclaimer: I do not own the picture of Sephiroth impaling Aeris above. It was pulled from this website.