Chapter One: Peaches, Clamshells and Glitter
* * *
The cat purred from the peach tree. A young girl, dressed in a waitress uniform, apparently from a sushi bar, looked up at it,
"If you say 'We're all mad here.' I swear to gawd I'll-" the cat jumped to the ground, looked at her, blinked. She laughed. Yeah right. Talking cat. I can't believe I-
"You'll do what?" it asked. Risa mumbled something incoherent, then sighed.
"Why am I not surprised. I should have expected it from this place... Speaking of ... where am I? The last thing I knew, I was flirting with this cute customer, and now I'm here?"
* * *
(outside of the clamshell)
Tomo gloated over the shin,
"That's what she gets for hitting on my Naka-sama," Nakago chose that moment to return from the bathroom.
"Oh ... where did that girl go."
"Oh, um, Naka-sama-"
"Don't call me that!"
"She said she had to um ... run. Uh ... previous ... engagement. Something about being stuck in a maze...?" Nakago blinked. He'd learned long ago not to ask.
"Ah ... too bad. She *was* cute..."
(back in the clamshell)
"So... a talking cat, hmmm? Boy did I take the low road or what. Hmmm..." she studied the cat, who squirmed slightly under the scrutiny, "What's your name?" the cat blinked owlishly, "Okay then... How about I call you Sammy? How do I get home Sammy?"
"Sure. Fine. Whatever. But I don't know how to get home."
Both cat and girl turned their heads as the sound of a vicious sword fight drifted to their ears. Risa ran up the side of a nearby hill and peered over the edge.
On the other side of the hill, a tall silver haired man with aqua eyes that shone eerily from within. Risa was completely mesmerized by him. Just as she rounded the top of the hill, he ran the other man through. The other man vanished as he did. An illusion! The silver-haired man sheathed his impressive sword as Risa approached and turned to face her.
"Are you another illusion?" he said, brusquely.
"My name is Risa, pleased to meet you. As far as I know, I'm real. Who're you?"
"My name is Sephiroth."
"Sephiroth ... gawd ... that's an odd name. How'd you get here?"
"Well ... fine. But we are in this together"
* * *
(outside the clamshell)
"Yes, Naka-sama?" Nakago decided it wasn't worth correcting him.
"Does it seem odd to you that four people who have been hitting on me have mysteriously vanished?"
"No ... should it?" Tomo was the picture of innocence.
Meanwhile ... somewhere far away from all this insanity...
"What do you mean? Who's Tomo? What kind of a name is that anyway?" he asked the girl, trying to get more information about the insane thing that she was talking about.
"I will explain in time."
"No! Tell me now!"
"I can't. You haven't been- oh never mind, I just can't tell you."
"Fine. I'm not even gonna ask. What do you want me to do?"
"Just come with me. And try to trust me."
"Trust you? You've just told me this utterly incredible story, and I don't even know your name."
"I know how strange this is, Father Sean. My name is Buffy."
(inside the clamshell again!)
"So I'm going to assume that you're here for the same reason I was."
"Yes. We both appear to have been attacked by a clamshell."
"Did you recognize the man wielding the clamshell, Sephiroth-sama?"
"No ... but we *will* find him," for the first time, Risa could see the wheels in Sephiroth's head turning. It was then that she began to expect that she was standing right next to a cold blooded killer. Gee ... she wondered what that nice blonde man would have been hanging around such a dangerous man for. Just as her nervous tension grew to momentous proportions, a young boy, carrying a basket of peaches ran through, followed by an insane high school girl bearing an axe. They ran from one side of the clearing to the other and disappeared over the next hill.
"Meow..." cat for 'Well...'
Luc stood on top of the hill, gazing into the sunset despite repeated assurances that someday, he'd go blind doing that. The wind blew his long black hair around, giving him a sort of gothic look. He just stood there- somber, cold, imposing. In his hand he holds a small object ... it appears to be a clamshell, though it is impossible to tell. He whispers one word into the night air, that word a promise that someone would meet his maker soon,