Disclaimer: I don't own FF7 and I most definitely don't own Squaresoft. All original characters belong to me. Take them and I'll take your kidneys as payment.

oOo

Secrets of the Lost
Prologue: Star Stealing Girl
By Silver Countess

She watched the countless stars, glittering like diamonds in the dark vastness of space. Pinpricks of light from a distance, caught in swirls and streams, galaxies that hinted of solar systems and possible homes for their people to settle.

Soft warm fingers touched the cold glass, even as she sighed her breath fogging the window. She felt so old… How long has it been since they were drifting in space? Forty? Fifty or was it 60? She stopped counting. She gazed at her hands, soft supple as that of a young woman. The face reflected by the window was no different. Waves of long mahogany hair that went past her hips framed a delicate face. Eyes the shade of the most rare and purest emerald, lips of coral and a complexion that rivaled the finest porcelain.

She looked no older than twenty years, but in truth she had been in existence as close to a century and a half.

Behind her she could see the faint reflection of cylinders made of glass and metal, rows upon rows of them lined behind her. She approached one, peeking into the small window to see the face of a sleeping child, a boy no older than three. He looked very frail, undernourished. She remembered his name. "Lain…" she whispered, touching the glass, tracing the outline of the boy's features as she felt the familiar sting of tears. She looked at the cylinder beside him, and the one after that, all of them contained a person inside it.

The room she was in was one of several, all of them like this one. It resembled more of a morgue than the sick bay.

Throughout their journey, many of their people who could not survive without nourishment were put into suspended animation within these "glass coffins". But even, the ship could not sustain so many and in time, she took on the task of staying with them, keeping them company, until the day that the weakest and the aged were disconnected to the life support system. This was to insure that the younger, healthier ones would have a higher chance of survival.

Granted of course, if they would find a planet that was habitable. But as the way things were going, that won't happen for a long time to come and by then, how many

A hand touched her shoulder, startling her from her thoughts. She looked up to see a man with startling blue eyes and hair the color of purest topaz. He would have been very handsome if he didn't look so worn out and exhausted.

"Aerith…you shouldn't spend too much time here," his voice was soft, with a gentle timbre that reminded her of the forests in her home. "It's not good for you to stay here. Why don't you come with me to the hall where it's warmer?"

"You know I can't, Kiel," she sighed, settling down on one of the storage crates pulling her legs closer to settle her chin against her knees. "I can't leave them here alone."

The man called Kiel gave her an understanding smile. "I know how you feel, Aerith, but you can not go on like this…however I've known you long enough to know that how much I yammer on, you'll probably just ignore me." He took out a blanket and a small worn out pillow. "So I came prepared."

Aerith allowed a soft laugh escape her lips, as the blonde man wrapped the blanket around her and fluffed the pillow, turning the storage crates into some kind of make shift bed. "You always looked after me, Kiel, thank you."

"Well someone has to," he grinned as he reached out to gently pat her cheek in a very paternal manner. Of the six of them, Kiel was probably the eldest and everyone pretty much looked up to him. "We are granted by divine right with abilities that our kind could only dream of, but one thing you must remember, dearest child, is that we are not gods. We are considered immortals but we are not completely immune to Death. We can still die…but right now we can't afford that luxury."

Aerith gave a solemn nod, "I know…but I feel so utterly useless, Kiel. Everyone here seems to have a purpose except me. I'm a courtesan for heaven's sake… I'm not a healer, scholar or even a warrior. What can I do…?"

"You are not worthless, Aerith!" the man was astonished, as he placed his hands over her shoulders. "Dear heavens, child, you have done more than you think!" he sat beside her as he motioned to the hibernation chambers. "Who kept their spirits up when times were down? You did. I recall the times when you would sing to the children and hold the dying in your arms when everyone else was too busy to do so. You would sing each to each one who would be placed inside those chambers, hold their hands and even pray to those who have died. That is more…a whole lot more than all of us combined ever did to them."

"But if we don't find that planet soon, then all I've given them is nothing but lies," she whispered. "Are we even going to find our Promised Land?"

"Undoubtedly," Kiel replied without hesitation, his voice filled with conviction and certainty. "The gods are not cruel, we are not Forsaken. I still have Faith…and so should you," he grinned. "Now, shouldn't you be getting that much needed sleep?"

Aerith smiled, a soft laugh bursting from her lips as she fluffed the pillow. She was about to give him a playful retort when someone burst into the room.

"Kiel, Aerith…!" the young man panted, his handsome face was flushed, his sea green hair unruly and he had that look of excitement in his face. "Come to the bridge, you must see this!"

The urgency from his voice pushed whatever fatigue and gloomy thoughts from her head as she stood up with Kiel's help. "What is it, Vien?"

"You must see this for yourself," he took hold of her hand as he gently if not quickly led her to the control deck as he clicked something to display the image he wanted to show them on to the screen. "All our hopes, Aerith…they're coming true."

Aerith tried to stifle her gasps, her hear pounding as she stared unbelievingly at the image in the screen.

It was a planet.

Swirls of white clouds draped themselves over oceans of blue and green. Snowy land crowned each pole, as she stared at awe at the moving swirling colors. It was like an artist's canvas, only far too beautiful…too perfect.

Her eyes were questioning even as the green haired man grinned even wider. "Our scanners indicate oxygen and water, not to mention land." The screen zoomed closer to the image. "We've sent some scanning drones to double check our initial finds, that and to search a suitable place for us to land."

"How long?" her voice was breathless, her eyes were filled with so much joy and her heart…it wouldn't stop beating so fast!

"Five hours more or less."

It was over…it was finally over. After so many years, their searching was over. "Our Promised Land…" she whispered, tears streaking down her cheeks. "We've found it, didn't we, Kiel?"

"Aye," the man replied, his voice thick with emotion. "We've found our home, Aerith. We have not been forsaken."

We're home…our Promised Land…

oOo

A child dreamed, bundled up under a warm quilt, the soft lights from under her door the only source of light in this darkened room.

The little girl stirred, brown curls framing a cherubic face, a small white Materia rested against her chest, held by a leather string that was tied around her neck. She murmured softly even as she dreamed of spaceships and stars, of planets and immortals, of a Fairy Queen and her glorious Knights.

She will dream of a dying world, of confusion and death. She will dream of a Promise, and see its Fulfillment. She will see the Past and the Future, of Hope and Despair and ultimate Triumph.

But this will mean nothing to the little girl when she wakes up. She will remember nothing of her dream that night, for tonight was the night Fate's wheels have begun to turn for her.

Right now, the door opens quietly as she is awaken by familiar hands and urgent whispers. Hazy memories of running…falling…and tears as she presses her mother's cold hand against her own small ones.

Awaken, my child…

She will remember nothing of the Dream, but her heart will remember for her.

Open your Heart to me, my Daughter…

And there will be those who will also Awaken and know the Coming is at hand.

Listen to my pleas, Chosen One…

What was once was, will rise again. The Crisis has returned.

Awaken, Awaken…

A soft plea, a silent prayer.

Wake up…

A power beyond reckoning.

Wake up…

Light and Dark shall meet one last time.

Wake up…

Wake up…

That Time is now.

Wake up…