On the world of Gaia, fifteen years have passed since the event now forever known as Meteorfall. For most of those fifteen years there has been a relative peace over the world and its inhabitants, including those heroes who had risked their lives to fight the psychotic Sephiroth.
However, nothing lasts forever in any world, especially peace...
For thousands of years, a majestic waterfall held a closely guarded secret for the planet which had created it. It was a hidden cave that served as a treasure box where Gaia stored some of her most prized and powerful possessions. Though the torrential waters that barred the cavern's entrance were an incredible deterent to most creatures, if they even knew of the entrance at all, the cave itself was filled with a multitude of luminous mako crystals that emitted an aura of warning and danger to any animal that wandered too close.
However, the human race did not seem to possess the basic cautionary instinct to warn them away from this place that even dragons and behemoths would shy away from. Their greatest gift and their greatest curse was their almost insatiable curiousity and their desire to explore and investigate where all others feared to tread. "Consequences be damned" seemed to be an unshakable maxim for a fair number of humans. When Gaia first created her treasures and the box to contain them, she had thought a wall of water and a menacing aura would be enough to dissuade the inquisitive. Had the Planet herself known then what she knew now, she might've realized that a wall of stone or even crystal would've worked far better.
Several years ago, two humans, a pair of scientists, had discovered the secret of the waterfall. They entered the cave full of awe and wonder and curiosity. So much curiosity... Just like Pandora with her pretty box on another planet somewhere far away from this place. They found the secret treasure hidden among the mako crystals, and, like children without a care in the world, they took it out of its cave and brought it into the light so that they could see it more clearly.
However, what they failed to realize was that there was a high price for taking such a dangerous treasure out of its box without Gaia's permission...
Like the afore mentioned Pandora, they were forced to learn this lesson the hard way. What the scientists had originally thought was an incredible treasure had quickly become a horrible curse for all those who were unfortunate enough to cross their paths. Death and suffering followed wherever they went and would cling to the lives they'd touched for decades to come.
A scant few years after the two scientists had discovered the cave, the only survivor of the pair finally returned to the crystaline cavern. She was a broken shell of a woman. What had once been a beautiful white wedding gown had suffered horribly during her journey to the cave. The material had been ripped or torn completely off in places both in the midsection and her skirt. The remaining cloth and her long brown hair clung to her body like a second skin due to the drenching she'd received upon passing through the waterfall. She gasped for breath as she clung to a nearby pillar of stone and crystal. There was a weary desperation radiating from her trembling posture. Then a dam in her mind suddenly burst open and a flood of memories beat upon her conscious thoughts just as the unforgiving waterfall had pounded on her frail, pale body...
A heartbreaking death of a beloved mentor who gave his life protecting her worthless one...
Raw memories of torturous injections into her and the baby growing inside her...
Horrible nightmares of the atrocities her son would commit once he was grown...
The murder and desecration of the man she loved, and how she had to make him a monster in order to save his life...
Visions of her newborn child stolen from her before she could even hold him...
So many horrible things had happened to the people she loved most in her life...
...and it was all her fault!
The woman stiffened when the mental images assaulted her initially. Then she crumpled to the floor with a long, keening wail of despair. The sound of her cries echoed off the cavern walls and reverberated against the glowing mako crystals. She grabbed tight fistfuls of her hair and shook her head, trying to banish the memories away, but they would not be dismissed.
Something lurking in the darkest recesses of her mind kept throwing her agony and sins back into her face. It delighted in the grief it inflicted. It enjoyed this game of weakening of its host's fragile mind. Soon... Very soon... The conscious persona known as Lucrecia Crescent would shatter, and the ancient being known only to the scientist as "JENOVA" would finally be able to take control of this supple mortal form for itself. Once that was done, it could finally finish what it had started over two thousand year ago, back when it first came to this planet from the cold vaccuum of space, and before its plans had been derailed by those infernal creatures called Cetra.
After her wailing had dissolved into much quieter sobs and she was finally able to calm her frayed nerves, Lucrecia slowly began to realize that something strange was taking place around her. The fractured remains of her scientific, analytical mind picked up on the gradual changes in her surroundings. The thoughts nagged at her consciousness until she finally rubbed the tears from her eyes and lifted her head to look around. Lucrecia's eyes widened and she was jolted from the stupor of her dispair when she saw that the crystal cave had disappeared! The vast, endless black above her was filled with a multitude of twinkling stars as far as the eye could see. Looking down and around her, Lucrecia saw she was sitting on what seemed to be a dark island surrounded by a sea of luminous green, smoke-like tendrils. She'd seen a otherworldly light like this before, the not-quite dead scientist within her realized.
"Mako," she whispered in awe. "An ocean of mako..." Then a thought gave her pause. "No... Is this... the Lifestream...?"
The dark entity lurking in her body stared at the mako through Lucrecia's eyes as well, still and quiet within the woman's mind for the first time in months. Inwardly, JENOVA seemed to salivate hungrily at the sight of all this mako, as if it were looking at a scrumptious feast laid out before them. However, it was wary and didn't reach out immediately for the waves of glowing nourishment. Something felt amiss to the ancient being, which set its proverbial teeth on edge. JENOVA's hunger eventually got the better of its caution, and with a dark purr it tried to force its host forward into the Lifestream so that it could finally feed.
Lucrecia struggled against JENOVA's will as best as she could.
"No... You can't... I won't let you..." she argued aloud weakly. Furious that its host would dare to deny it anything, the dark entity struggled violently within Lucrecia. It painfully twisted up the woman's inner organs and would've caused her to empty the contents of her stomach had she eaten anything in the last few days. Lucrecia collapsed onto the ground, curling up into as tight a ball as she physically could in a futile effort to lessen the agony.
Then the pain stopped. Without any warning, it was just gone.
It was enough of a jolting experience that it made Lucrecia's head swim. JENOVA's presence was still there, of course. It was always there and growing stronger every day. But it wasn't interested in the Lifestream anymore. Something else had caught its attention and immediately put it on the defensive. Lucrecia then realized that they were not alone in this strange, warped space.
A short distance away, standing at what seemed to be the source of the swirling ocean of mako, was a strange woman clad in shining armor of gold, black, and white. She had long blond hair, several sets of angelic wings, and eyes the color of the Lifestream. In one hand she carried a massive round shield, and in the other a long bladed halberd. There was no doubt in the former scientist's mind that she was in the presence of a powerful being. She was like a holy valkyrie, or perhaps even a divine goddess. Even as JENOVA drew away from the battle-ready warrior angel, Lucrecia eyed the keen edged blade of the halberd longingly.
"Are you here to end it?" she asked the goddess hopefully. JENOVA tried to paralyze its host with pain once more, but to no avail. So desperate was Lucrecia for the blissful release of death that she grit her teeth and crawled on her hands and knees to the goddess's feet. "Please," she begged tearfully. "I--I can't endure this anymore. I can't commit suicide. JENOVA won't let me. It keeps healing me. It is taking over and I can't hold onto myself for much longer. I want to die! Let me pay for my sins! Please let me die and JENOVA with me!"
The goddess studied Lucrecia with a long, unblinking gaze. Then, solemnly, she shook her head.
Lucrecia's heart sank to the pit of her stomach, and when she found her voice again it was tainted with confusion. "Why? I don't understand?"
Without speaking a word of her own, the goddess waved her halberd, directing Lucrecia's gaze to the Lifestream coursing around the two of them. The woman's scientific mind studied the flow of the mako, and to her surprise she noticed something she hadn't before. As the goddess stood within the Lifestream, the glowing green tendrils of pure energy swirled closely around her legs as if she were standing in an actual body of water. However, when the Lifestream approached Lucrecia, the mako went out of its way to flow away from her and avoid any physical contact. The green waves were repelled by her. Even when she reached out to touch the Lifestream, it altered its course to avoid contact. She drew her hand back and held it against her chest as she processed the new information.
"The Lifestream doesn't want me?" she asked with a lump rising in her throat. "Even in death, it won't accept me?" Lucrecia looked to the goddess, with dispair. "Is it because of my sins? Of the suffering I've caused to the ones I've loved?"
The angelic goddess's stoic face softened with a measure of compassion as she shook her head, which left Lucrecia even more confused. "What? But if not because of the sins on my soul, then what...?"
Reaching into the Lifestream, the goddess formed a small ball of mako the size of a plum. She held it out towards the scientist.
"You want me to touch this?"
Curiously, Lucrecia reached out with her hand. Though the mako tried to flinch back, the goddess kept it firmly in place so that it could not retreat from the human's touch. When the woman's fingertips made contact with the mako, Lucrecia felt a sickening, almost triumphant dark surge course through her arm and into mako. The sample of the Lifestream convulsed violently as what looked like a putrid black disease infected it, devouring the luminous mako voraciously before returning to Lucrecia. Now that it had been fed, JENOVA felt a little bit stronger now. Even as the dark presence exulted, its host became violently ill.
"I see," Lucrecia said after her stomach had finished its bout of dry heaves. She was crying openly now that she realized the truth revealed to her. "JENOVA hasn't just poisoned my body. It's poisoned my soul. If my soul enters the Lifestream, JENOVA will infect it like it has me and devour it whole." She tried to wipe the tears from her eyes before looking to the goddess. "This... abomination... isn't one of the Cetra, is it? It's some sort of monster?" When she got an affirmative nod from the divine being, her despair overwhelmed her and she buried her face in her hands. "What have we done?! What have I done?! If I die or if I live, JENOVA will wreak havoc on the world. Is there nothing that can stop it?"
When the goddess touched Lucrecia's shoulder, she felt JENOVA lurch back into the deeper recesses of her mind as a comforting warmth soothed her broken soul. Looking up, she watched the silent goddess tap one of the larger mako crystals, making it ring beautifully. She gasped as she remembered something. "Back then, you... or the Cetra... or someone... knew JENOVA couldn't be destroyed. It could only be contained." Lucrecia remembered where it was that Shinra had found JENOVA . It had been excavated out of a formation of solid mako crystals, like an insect trapped and preserved in solid amber. For the first time since she left Shinra, Hojo, and the JENOVA project in Nibelheim, Lucrecia Crescent felt something akin to hope.
"Can you do it?" she asked softly, calmer now. "Can you imprison JENOVA and me inside a mako crystal, so that it can never hurt anyone anymore?"
The goddess nodded.
Lucrecia took a deep breath and sighed as the vision of the Lifestream faded back into the reality of the crystal cave. Since JENOVA seemed to fear the goddess, the scientist felt more like herself than she had in over a year. Resigned to a fate that was something between life and death, she almost smiled as she felt the herself being cocooned by the warm, rapidly growing mako crystals. The last thoughts that passed through her mind before she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep were for the infant son she would never have the opportunity to know.
"My dearest Sephiroth... Please forgive me for not protecting you as I should have... Grow up to be a strong and honorable man... Please don't let JENOVA dictate your destiny... Please be stronger than this despicable creature... Don't let her control you..."