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The Phantom of Nibelheim


Scene One: Collision

Dark eyes fluttered open as the sunrise awoke the sleeping woman. Chelsea sighed heavily, wondering if these past nights had been real or just a dream. For four months, her mysterious angel of the night, Vincent Valentine, had taken her to his home in the basement of Shinra Mansion every night, and every morning, she awoke in her bed.

He was so romantic and gentle, yet he also seemed shy and uncertain. After four months, they still hadn’t kissed or done anything physical, except – well – hug. Despite the waiting, Chelsea felt they became one every time they sang one of their songs together. Rising from her pillow, the love stricken woman clasped her hands together.

“Oh, Deities of Love,” she prayed, “If these nights have been nothing but dreams, strike me with eternal sleep to be with my angel!”

At work, Chelsea sped around with her unending energy. She’d been like this for the last, four months. Jade and Jasper gaped in confusion, trying to figure out what had gotten into their younger sister. In her energetic mood, Chelsea didn’t notice two hands reached from behind her, covering her eyes. She froze instantly.

“Guess who?” a voice from behind asked.

Her fear melted immediately, and she answered with a wicked grin.

“Joshua Eros Grazer.”

“Chels!” The officer dropped his hands in shock. “You promised never to say my full name again,” he whispered.

“You asked me to guess who you were…” Making a cute face, Chelsea looked behind her, “...and I guessed right!” As the waitress giggled at her old friend’s embarrassment, Jade glared at the young man near the entrance with nothing short of spite.

“How dare he show his face in here,” she fumed silently, “after he betrayed us all like that?”

Jasper caught her glaring again from his dish washing station – punishment for smacking Chelsea’s butt – in the kitchen. His expression became serious as he observed, which was something he rarely did these days. Being her twin brother, the man knew Jade better than anyone. He could feel when something was up, positively or negatively. That wasn’t what was bothering him right now though. Jade used to always talk to him, but on this issue with Joshua, she had closed herself off.

“What’s wrong, Jade?” he muttered softly. “You used to rant about everything with me, even girly things. Why have you turned me away all of a sudden? Did I go too far somewhere...”

Taking his usual seat, Josh noticed the cold stare from the bar. Jade didn’t look away like usual. Instead, she locked his gaze. The young man didn’t take well to threats, and barkeep’s eyes held pure hatred in them. After about sixty seconds, Josh couldn’t take anymore.

“God, what is your problem, Jade?! You haven’t even yelled at me since I got back! What did I do to get the cold shoulder and death glare, huh?!”

“Don’t you dare talk to me after what you did.” Closing her eyes, Jade growl back at him, “Damn trader...”

Jasper exited the kitchen to see everyone staring at the two quarrelers. Josh was making an angry, confused face at Jade, clearly unaware of what she was talking about. His sister was trembling, gripping a rag in his white knuckled firsts. Jasper walked up to his sister, reaching his large arm across her chest to her opposite shoulder.

“Jade, relax. Everything’s okay-”

“No!” Jade yelled in a painful voice, “Everything is not okay, Jasper!” All eyes turned to Jade, head still hung. Pushing her twin backward, she looked directly at Josh, screaming at him. “You dare walk in here, wearing that uniform and insignia! Don’t you realize what you’ve done, or does Shinra brainwash their employees, so they don’t notice they’ve become their lapdogs?!”

Jasper and Chelsea gaped at their sister’s hateful words. Josh’s face softened a bit. He paused in thought. She used to always bash the name of Shinra when they were growing up. Why was that again? Jade began to shake as she tried desperately not to cry.

“Heartless bastards, that’s all the Shinra are! They don’t care about anything except their own asses! They don’t care what it takes to protect themselves! They don’t care about the innocent lives caught in their cross hairs!”

Cross hairs? Josh gasped as he suddenly remembered such an event fifteen years ago. Gaping at the angry woman struggling against her twin from clamoring over the bar, Josh listened to her last words before hauling ass out of the tavern.

“You’re all scum! Damn the Shinra Company! I hate you all! I hope Red takes all of your heads!”

Scene Two: Agent Heart-Throb

Cursing himself for his forgetfulness, Josh dropped into his chair back on base. Slamming his fists on his desk, he grunted, frustrated by his irresponsible ignorance. No wonder he was getting no where with the Streeters...

“God damn it, Joshua! How could you be so stupid?!” He yelled at himself. “You know how much they hate the Shinra! Who cares if Soldier is a different branch?! So what if it was the only way to make a decent living?! Why’d you have to dig up such old, painful memories?!”

Sighing heavily, the lieutenant decided to try working on his case. The past five months of research had turned up nothing, so he knew it was time to change his approach. Instead of talking to people, perhaps the Shinra Company data base would shed some light. He didn’t expect much, but what did he have to lose at this point?

As he scrolled through the information banks for Nibelheim related files, he hummed a song Chelsea had sung back at the tavern. It reminded him how he’d run out on breakfast, but he figured he’d skip a meal or two to avoid Jade’s rage. The song was about a valentine from a vampire. He couldn’t help but chuckle at the woman’s supernatural lyric themes.

Since he was bored, the young officer decided to do a search of valentine vampires. He grinned at the random junk he found in the results about Valentines’ Day crimes and vampire monsters made around the reactors. Taking a sip of his coffee, Josh almost choked at the sight of a Turk file in the search results.

“What the devil?! You don’t see the name Turk unless it’s serious!”

Clicking the file, he was asked for top security clearance, which he typed his new password without a thought. After a strange wait, the history file of an agent appeared before him. Agent Vincent Valentine’s picture loaded beside his file. Josh read a bit into it, learning his code name had been Agent Heart-Throb, and looking at the file photo, the lieutenant had to agree with the nickname.

“This guy was one of the best at the age of… 18?! He wasn’t a push-over either from these numbers. There’s no deceased date recorded, but it says he was born over a hundred and fifty years ago.”

Scrolling to the end of the file, Josh discovered a link to some research projects. The Turk must have been assigned to security or something. There was something about the man’s brown eyes that goaded the soldier. Grinning, the young man thanked his dear Chelsea for her divine intervention.

“Now,” he said, pressing the download button before clinking on the link, “I can finally start working.”

Scene Three: Memories

It was just after the midday rush. Things were finally calm enough to recover. Jasper waved Chelsea to the bar.

“What’s up, Jazz?” asked the waitress. She watched him thumb toward the stairs, the man whispered.

“It’s after lunch, and she still hasn’t come down since Josh left.” Chelsea nodded and sighed heavily. “I’m gonna go check on her. If anyone asks for a drink, get Cookie.”

“But…!” The singer bit her lip as she whimpered, “But… but… that could poison them.”

“We’ll blame the customer.” Jasper patted the girl’s head innocently with a grin. “Now, I’ll be back in a little while, okay? Mind the tavern.”

Chelsea nodded so cutely that Jasper worried would turn him straight one day. Shaking his head, he walked up the stairs to their home. Once he left, Chelsea gazed at the few customers, hoping they wouldn’t order a drink.

The tall man climbed the stairs, two at a time, to the bedrooms. He made his way to his twin sister’s room, which had at one time had been their parents’ room. He lifted a hand to knock softly.

“Jade,” he called inside, “you okay in there?”

There was a soft, clicking noise before the door opened, slowly. A tired-looking Jade looked up at him, eyes bloodshot from crying. It was a rare moment for her to look relieved to see her troublesome twin.

“Come on in, Jazz.”

The man closed the door behind him when he entered. Jade went back to sitting on the bed. Walking over to a stool, Jasper took a deep breath as he plopped down for a lengthy chat.

“You feel like talking yet?” He asked in a quiet voice. “I don’t have a problem sitting a while.”

Jade didn’t look back at him. She just sat there, covering her mouth with her palm, and stared into the abyss. Jasper continued to sit silently, waiting. Finally, the frustrated woman gave in.

“How could he do that?!”

“Do what, Jade?”

Jasper looked back at her calmly. She turned her head toward at him from facing the wall. Tears of anger were streaming down her face.

“I remember it like it was yesterday, fifteen years ago! How could he just forget it happened, Jasper?!”

“I remember, too, you know? I was back in the storage room. Dad used to send me back there to learn patience,” the man replied, sadly. “Now that I think about it, I guess I did learn something out of it. I heard the gunshots faintly outside the tavern. Mom was yelling about the damn Shinra taking their fights anywhere they wanted. Dad just said to calm down. But for some reason, he went outside.”

“I was watching from the kitchen…” Jade grunted through clenched teeth. “His body just... fell to the ground. That was when Mom ran out. Dad didn’t make a sound, but I can still hear Mom’s screams ringing in my ears. You wouldn’t let me go until the shooting stopped.

“That’s what angered me the most...! They just kept shooting! By the time they stopped, our parents were lying dead in a pool of their own blood! And for what?! A god damn beast hunt they weren’t supposed to shoot!”

As the tears poured from her eyes, Jasper stood to approach. His sister’s shoulders were hunched forward as she gripped the quilt beneath her. Wrapping his arms around her, he knew she needed to speak these words she'd bottled up.

“Why?!” She begged into his shirt, “Why is he working for their murderers? How can he work for the same people that took our parents, Jasper?!”

“It hurts me, too,” Jasper whispered in her ear. He rocked his sister gently, reflecting on the day their parents died. “I miss them every day. I wish they could have been there for us growing up, but you can’t long for the dead, sis. We have to accept that.”

After the emotional fit, Jade suddenly stopped crying. Jasper looked down to see what was wrong now. Her facial expression seem focused on something else.

“Red will get our revenge. I know he will.”

“Who is this Red character you’ve been mentioning lately?” Jasper huffed down at her. “Yet another secret you’ve kept from me. As your sole confidant, I’m genuinely hurt, J.”

“Jasper,” she turned her face up toward her brother's, “you remember the night before Mom and Dad died?” Jasper gave her a confused face, but she ignored it to continue. “I was sweeping outside the tavern, near the ally. Down the street, a cloaked man in red and black was running from some Shinra. I called to him, pointing for the alley. He looked my way, then the corner where the Soldiers were coming from. He jumped over me into the shadows just before the men rounded the corner.

“I told him I’d handle them, but he just stayed quiet. When the Shinra saw me, one of them asked if I’d seen a red caped figure come my way. I told him no one had come my way for a while. One of the other Soldiers said I’d better not be holding him. He threatened me, saying he could beat me up for that.”

Jasper snorted at the man's words. Everyone knew that Jade Streeter was a kick-boxing champ. She'd been educating jerks since grade school, and she had no problem educating idiots from a young age.

“I stood my ground, unafraid, and told him if he was going to try something, I’d get my father. He tried to hit me, but the first officer stopped him. He said I wasn’t worth it. I was so proud of myself as I watched them walk away.

“That’s when the man came out from behind me and started walking away. He’d dropped his headband next to my foot, so I picked it up. I called to him, and he turned to look at me. I held out the piece of cloth to him. His red eyes got big, and he covered his face with his cloak. I thought his face was handsome: red eyes, a pretty face, and a pale complexion. I gave him the headband and smiled up at him.

“I said he must have trusted me a lot to stay behind me till those creeps left. He gave me one of those ‘oh really’ faces and said he stayed cause the alley was a dead end. Needless to say, my pride was crushed. He smiled as he knelt in front of me. He thanked me, saying it wasn’t everyday a pretty, young lady saved him. I laughed and told him to go get them for us. He stood up and told me he would, just for me. He ran off quicker than lightning into the night. I never saw him again, but I’ll never forget him.”

Jasper blinked at the recounting. He had never seen his sister look so blissful. He had always thought she had a little sister complex, but now, it seemed she had her heart set on a thief in the night all these years.

"This is why you're single, J."

"You're probably right..." She burrowed her face in his stomach to hide her flushed cheeks.

Sitting next to the large candelabra in the back of his room, Vincent thought about his beautiful angel. He wasn't alone though. His bats were keeping him company.

“She’s the second person to be so kind to me, Philippe,” he said to the bat on his knee. The little creature tilted his head as if the last statement had been unclear to him. Smiling, the man stroked the little animal’s back with his finger. “You wouldn’t remember the other person. I met her sixteen years ago, before you were born.”

The bat sat up and squeaked at him, the bat’s form of laughing. Vincent felt sweat forming on the back of his neck.

“She was a child, a little girl! For the love of the gods, I’m not that depraved!” The mischievous bat seemed to laugh at his friend’s awkward comeback. Sighing at his reaction, Vincent petted his little friend on the head.

“Very funny little one. Your antics are amusing when thought about for a while. That child was not so much unlike you. She used sarcasm to throw the Shinra off my trail, and when she saw my face, she was unafraid of me. All she asked was, ‘Get them for us.’ She wanted me overthrow the Shinra for the people of Nibelheim, and I intend to do that. I can’t allow Shinra to destroy more people’s lives. That is why I must fight. I can’t falter if I want to protect those two women.”

Vincent could feel a sense of calm had come over him since he had met Chelsea. A calm he thought he’d lost many years ago. The rage-filled vengeance was pacified by her memory alone. It baffled his intellect, yet the cause didn’t matter to him. Leaning against the cold stone wall, he prayed to the gods that he would never lose her.

Scene Four: True Colors

Dinner time came for The Midnight Star, and everything seemed to go back to normal. At least, Jade was in a decent mood and back behind the bar. Aside from that, things were getting rocky in the tavern. Jasper kept a close eye on the Shinra group in the center of the room. They’d had a little too much to drink, and it showed. Poor Chelsea appeared swamped by their lewd behavior.

Holding her emotions in check, Jade kept telling Jasper that they hadn’t done anything yet, but the young man felt something as going to happen if they stayed much longer. As if to eat up Jade’s patience, Josh arrived for dinner. It was Jasper’s turn to hold his twin back.

“Hey there, Miss Lady,” one of the drunken soldiers called to Chelsea. “Go get Big Daddy another beer!”

“Coming, sir.”

The waitress gulped in disgust. Approaching the bar, she asked Jade for another pint of beer. Josh took a seat near the door, watching Chelsea bring the new mug over to the loud table.

“Here you are, sir. One-”

She stopped short as a hand touched her lower back. Jasper nearly leaped over the bar if Jade hadn’t stopped him. Josh just sat in his chair, wishing he had the guts to do something.

“Now then,” said the man, “why don’t you sit on Papa’s lap?” All eyes descended on the waitress for a reaction.

“Don’t call yourself such an innocent name and act like such a desperate pervert.” The man dropped his hand at her statement. “I’m here to serve your meals and drinks,” Chelsea glared down at him, “I’m no whore off the street to help with your blue balls.”

She turned to serve another table. The entire room sighed with relief that Chelsea had gone easy on him.

“I thought I was going to have to pull her off.” Jasper blinked in surprise. “Our little Chelsea has quite a tongue, and boy, does it sting.” Josh just continued to sit quietly, making mental note never to tick her off.

Some time later, the dismissed Shinra thought of a comeback. He did not appreciate being called out in public, and what drunkard kept his mouth shut? Standing from his seat, he barked an inaudible word toward Chelsea.

“What do you want Shinra drunk?” she asked, sick of the whole group.

“Is that it?!” The man asked angrily, “You a Shinra hater, pretty girl? All you Shinra haters are all alike! I bet you’re all behind those phantom attacks and made up that stupid ghost story to get away with it!”

“The Phantom’s as real as my boot,” yelled an old man at the bar.

“Yeah,” a group from a couple tables away cried.

“Even the higher ups consider the Phantom a credible threat,” Josh spoke up at last. Standing from his seat, he glared back at the lower ranked Soldiers. “No human being could reek such destruction and disappear without a trace!”

Several other customers shouted their agreement, claiming the Phantom really did exist. The drunk was gawking at the hysterics in the room. His nerves were shot, and his tongue ran wild.

“If that’s true,” the drunk countered, “then one day, he’s gonna turn on all your asses and show the monster that he is! You’ll see! You’ll all-!”

He was suddenly cut off as Chelsea’s serving tray hit him in the head. Her body trembled with anger as she stood up from throwing her tray. The same rage Jade had displayed earlier was reflected in her dark eyes.

“Don’t you ever say anything against the Phantom, you drunken murderer!” She ran for the stairs, crying.

Kyle had been the only quiet soul in the tavern. Blinking from his stool after the waitress, he wondered how these siblings ran a business with Shinra walking in all day. The dressmaker sighed lightly.

“This day will be recorded as ‘The Day of Tears’ in my diary.”

In contrast to Kyle’s remark, Josh stormed toward the bar. Jade and Jasper seemed confused by the reaction. Looking the twins in the eye, the young man pleaded.

“Please, let me go see her.” Jade glared at him coldly. “I know I don’t have any right to ask after rubbing salt in the wound this morning, but I want to help Chelsea. Even if she doesn’t see me the same way, please let me at least be there for her.”

Jasper and Kyle looked at Jade for her answer. They knew she would be the final say on anything related to her treasured sister. Narrowing her eyes, Jade locked the young officer’s gaze.

“Go before I change my mind.”

Scene Five: All I Ask of You

As soon as he’d gotten the word, Josh hauled ass up the stairs. He remembered exactly where the young woman’s room was, and he didn’t waist any time getting there. He could hear her crying from the hall.

“This is your chance, Joshua. Don’t screw it up,” he told himself silently. Pushing the slightly ajar door inward, he saw Chelsea sitting in front of her vanity, crying.

“Why, Angel? Why are people so dark, and they still blame others for their sins? Oh Angel, come for me, my angel of music. Come for me.”

Something inside Josh moved at her heart felt pleas. He walked over to her, placing his hands on her shoulders. As he had with this family in the past, he started to sing...

“No more talk of darkness. Forget these wide eyed fears. I’m here. Nothing can harm you. My words will warm and calm you. Let me be your freedom. Let daylight dry your tears. I’m here – with you, beside you – to guard you and to guide you.”

Chelsea felt words enter her soul. They were so beautiful and heartwarming. It had to be her angel. Without opening her eyes, she sang her reply.

“Say you’ll love me every waking moment. Turn my head with talk of brighter times. Say you’ll need me with you now and always. Promise me that all you say is true. That’s all I ask of you.”

Josh took her hand as he knelt to look at her dreaming face. His heart was grateful at the thought of bring her comfort. Stroking her hand, gingerly, he continued his verse.

“Let me be your shelter. Let me be your light. You’re safe. No one will find you. Your fears are far behind you.”

Chelsea fell captive to the lyrics that caressed her spirit. She could feel the love and care in his voice. All she wanted was to be swept away again.

“All I want is freedom to stay here in your arms, and you always beside me to hold me and to hide me!”

Pulling her upright with him, Josh stroked her cheek. She was open to his song. Was there hope for them after all? In a pleading voice, he sang.

“Then say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime. Let me lead you from your solitude. Say you need me with you, here beside you. Anywhere you go let me go, too. Chelsea, that’s all I ask of you.”

Chelsea was smitten by the words. She truly believed she was with her beloved angel. That’s what he would say to her. Had he come to take her away at last?

“Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime! Say the word, and I will follow you! Share each day with me each night each morning! Josh held her close to him as she nestled into his chest. “Say you love me…”

“You know I do...”

As they held each other, their hearts became one for a single moment. Entwined in the connection of longing, the two young people cried out to one another.

“Anywhere you go let me go too! Love me, that’s all I ask of you.”

With the girl in his arms, Josh leaned in for the kiss to make the moment complete. This was it, he thought wildly. His beloved Chelsea was finally his!

Suddenly, something in Chelsea’s soul screeched in horror, breaking the connection. She jerked backward. Staring at the officer, Chelsea blinked shock.

“Josh? What are you doing? What are you doing here?”

“I was about to kiss you...” The young man looked at her a bit confused. He decided to explain, “I came to see if you were okay after what happened downstairs.”

“Where is he?!” The singer yelled at him. “He was just here! I was just in his arms!” Josh stared at her in bewilderment of what she was talking about. “Was it all a dream?” she mused aloud, “Did just imagine I was singing with him?”

“No,” Josh got defensive at the statement, “it wasn’t a dream. We were singing together. I held you! You held me! I was about to kiss you! It was all real! God damn it, it was real!”

“You came up here?” Chelsea stared at him, pantomiming a diagonal walk with her fingers.


“You were the one singing with me just now?” She pointed at him.

“Yes!” Josh was getting edgier by the question.

“You...” Chelsea asked, slightly irked, “You tried to kiss me?”

“Yes, and I’d do it again,” Josh clasped her head in his hands, trying to make her understand. “Chelsea, I love you!”

“YOU JERK!!!” The waitress slapped him across the face before beating his chest over and over. The impact forced the young man back toward the door.

“How dare you take advantage of me like that! Don’t tell me you still have a crush on me?! Get out! Don’t you ever try to make me betray him!” Slamming the door, Josh just stood there, trying to figure out what had just happened.

Scene Six: Curses

Seeing the Shinra seduce Chelsea with song, Vincent’s heart shattered at the sight of him closing in on the kiss. He tore himself away toward home, tears in his eyes. When he reached the mansion, the broken man fell on his face, weeping bitterly.

“Why?!” He cried out to the fates, “Why do you do this to me again?! Have I not atoned for my sins enough?! Why a Shinra?! Of all the men to take her from me, why did it have to a Shinra?!” Grasping his head in agony, he let the tears flow a moment more. Turning to the stars above, Vincent sang to the keeper of his soul.

“I gave you my music, made your song take wing. And now, how you’ve repaid me, denied me, and betrayed me.” Thinking about the man that dared touch his savior, he realized he must have noticed her bliss, drawn like a moth to her light. “He was made to love you when he heard you sing. Chelsea-”

Vincent dropped his face to the dirt, quieting his sobs. It was happening again. The woman he cared for more than his life was being taken by Shinra. He could see it all now, just like last time. She would be happy for a while, yet in the end, the Shinra would ultimately destroy her... just like Lucrecia. The very thought of that brought their voices to his ears.

“Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime. Say the word and I will follow you. Share each day with me, each night, each morning…”

Vincent gasped in pain. He could feel his body trembling. The pain in his chest grew along with the pain in his soul. He rose to his knees, grabbing his chest. He would not let that Shinra man kill Chelsea. That’s right. He had to destroy Shinra, destroy it before it destroyed her. In his fading sanity, Vincent Valentine saw the face of the Soldier that had been with Chelsea. As if he were speaking to him, Vincent cried out, in vengeful song, a curse upon the man.

“You will curse the day you did not do… all that the Phantom asked of you!”

As he screamed, Vincent’s shaking body transformed into a titanic, purple creature. Red bat-like wings ripped from his back. With the morph complete, the devil-like monster spoke to his host.

“Yes, your rage and pain are pure, Vincent. Chaos shall spill the blood of those who created us as I vowed!” The beast rose into the sky, howling his evil cry. He flew toward his hit for the night.

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