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The Phantom of Nibelheim


Hidden in the shadows, Vincent Valentine thirsts for revenge after the Shinra Company's science division locked him away. With his limited freedom, he stalks the organization he once served to pacify the suffering they cursed him with. By chance, the soothing voice of a cherub sparks new hope and longing he thought died long ago. Can a tainted phantom find love with an angel of music? ​The Phantom of the Opera is a beautiful piece of literature, and Final Fantasy VII is perhaps one of the most loved installments of its franchise. What if the Phantom was the hero though? What if Cloud Strife never entered the Shinra mansion? Well, I wrote this crossover to find out! I give you a new spin on two classics! ​ I do not own The Phantom of the Opera, nor do I own Final Fantasy VII. The storylines were altered to create this story. Whether you've heard of The Phantom of the Opera or Final Fantasy VII or not, you might find something new to enjoy.

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Act I

Scene One: Think of Me

“Think of Me. Think of me fondly when we’ve said goodbye. Remember me once in a while. Please promise me you’ll try. When you find that once again you long to take your heart back and be free, if you ever find a moment, spare a thought for me.”

The bar was sprinkled with the usual costumers: village drinkers, a few travelers, and then there were Shinra. It wasn’t a big deal to the town’s people these days. The Shinra, it seemed, had always been in Nibelheim, and whether they liked it or not, the Shinra were there to stay. The town just carried on as usual. Nothing ever changed. The Midnight Star, one of few taverns in town, started its midday rush with little change from any other day. There just seemed to be more Shinra than usual. The bartender didn’t say anything, but she knew something big was about to go down.

“We never said our love was evergreen or as unchanging as the sea, but if you can still remember, stop and think of me. Think of all the things we’ve said and seen. Don’t think about the things which might have been.

Think of me. Think of me waking silent and resigned. Imagine me trying too hard to put you from my mind. Recall those days. Look back on all those times. Think of the things we’ll never do. There will never be a day when I won’t think of you!”

An officer looked at the singer with intriguing curiosity. He mused to himself that he should know her. Smiling and glowing in pleasure, the woman sang on to the dining customers. That was when he saw it. Any other person would have never noticed, but the lieutenant knew the sparkle in those hazel eyes better than most people in that tiny town.

“Can it be…? Can it be Chelsea?” The young man marveled at how his old friend had matured since the last time he’d seen her. She had always had an inspiring smile, and he found himself singing softly along with her melody. “What a change? You’re really not a bit the cocky girl that once you were. She may not remember me, but I remember her.”

We never said our love was evergreen or as unchanging as the sea, but please promise me that sometimes you will think… of me!”

Clapping vigorously, the costumers praised the young woman’s ending to her performance. Curtsying elegantly, the singer blew her audience a kiss before skipping down the stage steps to the bar.

“Great job on the piano, Jessie,” the performer thanked her accompanist, earnestly. The pianist blushed at the singer’s comment. “It really made the performance shine!”

“Naw, you’re superb on stage,” Jessie countered as the singer grabbed a notepad from the top of the piano. “I don’t think I could play the same with anyone else.” Smiling gratefully, the singer waitress went to take orders from the new costumers.

Raising his hand, the lieutenant tried to come up with something to say when the waitress turned his way. He could feel the sweat soaking his collar the closer the woman came to his table. When she reached him, he tried not to stare awkwardly at the beauty.

“What would you like, sir? May I recommend today’s meal special? Chicken and dumplings with our sourdough rolls and any drink of your choosing.”

“Does it come with a stroll up Memory Lane with the waitress?” Stares descended on the officer, but he didn’t take his eyes off the stunned waitress. She blinked a bit in confusion. “How are you, Chelsea?”

“Josh…?” Chelsea stared down at him.

“In the flesh, how have you been?”

“Oh my goodness!” Chelsea Streeter smiled brightly at her childhood crony, hugging him tightly. “Joshua Grazer, is it really you?! What are you doing back in Nibelheim? I thought you left to join Soldier.”

“I’ve been sent back on assignment!” Patting the ecstatic girl on the back, Josh replied with a wide grin, “I never thought you would still be in Old Nibelheim after almost seven years.”

The bartender looked at the officer uncomfortably. Grunting loudly, she reminded Chelsea there were still some orders waiting. Chelsea frowned, standing upright again. Running over to the bar, the waitress apologized for socializing on the job with a prayerful gesture and a pout. The barkeep shook her head, huffing a laugh.

“Just deliver the meals, okay, Chels.”

Chelsea smiled brightly and returned to her work. Setting the special on Josh’s table, she sat across from him, and the two got caught up a bit over his lunch. Suddenly, Josh cursed the sight of his watch.

“Ah! Sorry, Chels, but I have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” The woman smiled and waved as he tossed the money on the table.

Scene Two: Josh’s Mission

“Lt. Joshua Grazer, reporting as ordered, sir!”

“At ease, lieutenant,” an older man replied, looking away from a dart board at the younger officer’s voice. “Welcome to Nibelheim.”

“Actually, captain,” the subordinate corrected the superior, returning his right hand to his side, “this is my hometown.”

“Is that right?” The higher-ranking officer nodded in interest. “Then welcome home, young man.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Motioning the lieutenant toward the front of his desk, Josh sat in a large leather chair. Being over six feet tall, the chair seemed to shrink with him in it.

“What were you told about your assignment, lieutenant?”

“Captain,” the young officer began, “Shinra HQ informed me that I was to assist the base at Nibelheim with a problem, nothing more, sir.”

The older man sighed. That was Shinra, last minute details were how things worked. When would they learn to debrief their people?

“Here’s the situation, soldier. There have been attacks on our base for years, even before my time. After some recent reports though, there’s evidence of beasts and strange creatures being behind the hits. We checked the mountain area around the reactor for any new activity, but nothing was out of the ordinary. Rumors in the town say we’re being attacked by a mysterious phantom. The Nibelheim Phantom, they call him, and his hideous pets.”

“I know the legend, sir,” the young man said to speed things up. “What does that old wive’s tale have to do with anything though?”

“Well then,” the captain felt somewhat relieved, “you are here to find out if these rumors have any merit to them. If there is anything you find, act on it. We’ve lost enough men here.”

“Understood, sir! What are my clearance limitations?” The older man marveled at the young person’s eagerness to begin his work. He’d always thought of this generation as ‘the slackers’.

“Your limits are you, young officer. There’s no limit to how long you take either. Report to me when you find anything, understood?”

“As a crystal, sir! Thank you, sir!” The younger stood up to salute.

“Dismissed,” the older officer said with a satisfied grin.

“Aye, sir.” Turning on his heel, Josh left a very happy captain to return to throwing darts at the wall.

Scene Three: Father’s Angel

“Here you are, Kyle, one light beer.” The feminine man on the opposite side of the bar thanked the bartender with a grin.

“You know, Jade,” Kyle Lytner said rather suggestively, “if you were your twin, I’d eat you up right here. Good thing he’s much taller than you with a very different sense of style, or I would be beside myself...”

“Now, Kyle,” the barkeeper gave a heavy sigh as she rolled her eyes, “I may be bisexual, but I never touch my bro’s territory.”

“Oh, but of course, dearest Jade!” The dressmaker gasped in a dramatic voice. “We must honor my beloved Jasper’s wishes, even if he does neglect me.”

A large hand suddenly grabbed Kyle’s head, spinning his bar stool around. The youthful man planted a hungry kiss on the fashion designer’s mouth before saying the following apology.

“Sorry, Kai; I’ve been - oh - so busy at work I’ve left poor little you purple, haven’t I?”

“I’ll leave you two alone.” Jade Streeter narrowed her eyes as her twin brother flirted with his easy boyfriend. Jasper smiled mischievously at his twin and winked a ‘thanks’ before returning to his stunned lover. Shaking her head, the on-duty tender turned to clean a mug on the back counter.

“Hey, Jade,” called Chelsea, leaning over the bar counter top, “I need a low-fat, fruit smoothie for Scarlet. Okay?”

“No problem, little sis. Coming up in five.”

Loading the blender, Jade hummed the song Chelsea had sung earlier that day. She couldn’t help but marvel at how the once toad-sounding, little girl had developed into the opera material, self lyricists, woman she was now.

“Think of me…” Jade sang, quietly, “Think of me fondly when we’ve said good-bye…”

After the 10 o’clock closing, Chelsea finished wiping down the tables after the last of the customers left. Jasper stacked the chairs up top after her. Jade called to her sister as she walked around the counter toward them.

“Great job singing today, Chels. Another instant hit.”

“It seems only yesterday you were screeching in the shower.” Jasper shook his head in false awe. “You were so cute back then!” Chelsea gagged as the man wrapped her in a playful choke hold. Jade gaped in horror.

“Jasper!” The young man released the girl at his twin’s order. “You know better than manhandle her like that! She’s not little anymore.”

“Why?” Glancing seductively at her, Jasper asked, “Was that your job or something?” The woman glared evilly at his playfulness. “I know. I know,” he laughed lightly, crossing his arms. “You’re going to protect little Chelsea’s wish of finding her dream man. Trust me, little sister; I’m still looking for him.”

Chelsea laughed at her older brother’s whining after Jade smacked him upside the head. The two had always been protective of her. They just had opposite ways of showing it.

“I’m going to head up to bed early. Okay, guys.”

The fraternal twins watched her walk up the stairs without another word, perplexed at the lack of familiar engagement. The singer hummed to herself as she drifted into her own dream world. Closing her bedroom door behind her, Chelsea made her way over to her window and pushed it open. Gazing out into the night sky, she sat on the window sill.

The melody of a street fiddler reached her ears. She let it serenade her soul for a moment. It brought back memories, reflections of her childhood with Josh, Kyle, the twins, her parents...

“Dad used to play his violin like that. Mom would sing along with him.” She closed her eyes as a tear fell at the thought of her late parents. Her soul was so moved that words flowed from her lips.

“Father once spoke of an angel. I used to dream he’d appear. Now as I sing, I can sense him, and I know he’s here. Somehow I know he’s always with me, be the unseen genius.”

Scene Four: Meeting Angels

A dark figure ran through the shadows of the sleepy town. Stopping suddenly, he ducked into an alleyway at the sound of voices. He pulled the neck of his cloak closer to his lower face, letting his head band slip down over most of his eyes. Glaring through the smaller field of vision, the tall figure watched two, Shinra patrol officers walk past his alley. He fought the urge to growl at the insignia on their uniforms, debating if he should cut them down. Seeing their drunken stagger, laughing at some perverted joke, he concluded that he would let them live for another night. He decided to head for home and turned in the direction of his destination.

Suddenly, the voice of a cherub touched his sensitive ears. It sounded too beautiful to ignore. He looked toward a nearby window above and found his graceful deity. There, sitting in the sill, was a dark-haired, young woman, crying as she sang. His heart skipped a beat at the sight of her.

“Lucrecia…?” He whispered to the night. The woman reentered the room shortly after he caught sight of her, much to his displeasure. “I have to see her… just one more time.”

Brushing her hair at her vanity, Chelsea thought about the words she had just sung to the stars. They sounded like a cry out to someone now that she mulled over them. What could have inspired such a heartfelt prayer?

“Mom told me once said the heart knows your soul mate,” the young woman said to her reflection, “Could I have been calling to mine? Is my soul mate my guardian angel Dad use to talk about? That sounds so romantic!”

Standing from her vanity chair, the girl fiddled with her nightgown while she danced over to her dresser. She hoped her daydream would carry over to nightly dreams. Leaning over to blow out her oil lamp, she caught sight of a shadow outside her window in the vanity mirror. She quickly turned to open the pane again.

“Who’s there? I saw you outside! What do you want with me?”

The figure clung to the roof, but his gaze never left the angel before him. As she searched the trees and ground, he dared to creep a bit closer to her. He could smell the oil from her lamp radiating off her loose hair.

“Such a fragile creature,” he whispered to himself. “No angel could match her.”

Ears perked up. The young woman turned in the figure’s direction. Was that a red blob on the roof?

“Is someone there?”

Trying to remain calm, the figure thanked the cruel fates that his face was covered. If she were to see him, that would be the end of this blissful moment. A sudden breeze caught his cloak and made a red ripple on the brown shingles. Silently cursing, the figure waited for the maiden to react. Any ordinary woman would scream at a stalker on her roof...

“Who are you?” The young woman gape at the figure. Hazel eyes shimmered with curiosity.

He was taken aback. It had been an eternity since a person spoke so gently to him. Unsure of what to do, he froze, clinging tightly to the roof shingles.

“If you won’t tell me who you are,” she pleaded, “please, tell me why you’re here.”

Something in his heart wanted to reply desperately, but he couldn’t fathom words to even speak. Her longing eyes bloomed words from his anxious heart, forcing his lips to release them.

“I heard a beautiful voice, calling into the night, and I was compelled to see the angel to match the song.”

Chelsea gaped at the answer, awestruck. A mysterious stranger had loved her singing so much that he’d climbed up onto her roof to see her. He’d called her an angel. What could she possibly say to such a passionate compliment?

The figure gasped in embarrassment at the expression on her face. Instinctively, he shot up to his knees. Sitting on his heels, his own long, black hair flowed on the breeze with his cloak. She gazed in awe at the figure’s silhouette against the starry night’s sky.

“Are you here to…?”

“I shouldn’t have come.” The look in her eyes when she spoke told him she was frightened. His voice was riddled with guilt. Standing quickly, he leaped off the roof, disappearing into the night.

Chelsea looked about wildly. Where had he gone? Why had he left so quickly? She leaned back inside the window, sinking to the floor. Wrapping her arms around herself, sparks of excitement flickered in her hazel eyes. Suddenly, the song she had sung earlier returned to her voice.

“Father once spoke of an angel. I used to dream he’d appear. Now as I sing, I can sense him, and I know he’s here!”

Standing to her feet, Chelsea looked about her room. As the lyrics began to connect in her mind, the feelings of her encounter spun new cords from her throat. She ran over to her dresser and gazed into her mirror. Seeing her excited expression, she finished her song.

“Here in this room, he calls me softly, somewhere inside, hiding. Somehow I know he’s always with me, be the unseen genius!” With her song complete, Chelsea prayed to the muses of music that the stranger would return.

“Please, my angel, come back to me. Someday, come back to me.”

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