Chapter 1: Prologue
"Days after Omega, The Ultimate Weapon, had been defeated by Vincent Valentine; The world still reeling in shock. Five People could be seen standing in front of the Shin-ra building in grave silence.
Reno solemnly states. "Geez you'd think we'd been punished enough, What with the "Jenova Wars" and the "Remnant Battle"; But to have OMEGA resurrected, taking the lives of so many people and then to have it come crashing through Headquarters... It just ain't fair!
Rude stoically states. "Not much left!"
Tseng calmly adds. "Mostly a twisted pile of steel and rubble"
Elena just stood there staring at the place she had come to call home.
Rufus cuts the silence, vehemently stating. "But this is our Punishment! For standing idle this past year and doing NOTHING!" His normally calm voice rising ever so slightly.
The four TURKS turn to him. "But BOSS, What about the Airship?"
Looking at the four people standing with him Rufus replies. "But was it truly enough? I have the means and resources at my disposal. I still have the authority of this company and yet I have done nothing to truly help the people of this world; the people I should be governing and helping to rebuild their lives."
Rufus snorts with disgust. "I am acting no better than my father." A man who Rufus had come to further despise the more he had learned about the man who had been 'The President'. "We took ownership of our part for the tragedies that have plagued humanity these last few years but we've turned our backs on our responsibilities!" A fierce light blossomed in Rufus' eyes; his right hand clenching as he remembered how his father had felt about 'The Common People'. Of how they were only mindless tools to be used to further his gain. Flushing with anger but in a calm almost deadly voice. "I AM NOT MY FATHER!"
The four Turks jump a little, startled at the vehemence in his statement.
"I know the people have names, faces, and stories." The memories from when he had been 'kidnapped' rising to the surface of his mind.
"They have just as much right to luxury as you or I!" Determination making his voice hard like steel. "They are no different than us. There is nothing that makes me any better of a person than them!"
Focus and resolve in place; a determination bred into the very core of his soul he simply states.
"I can see a future! A future where Shin-ra will guide the people; being not above them but apart of them! A future where Shin-ra is respected by all the people; not something to be hated and despised ."
Pausing a moment to order the thoughts in his mind. "No longer will I stand on the sidelines; comfortable while humanity suffers."
He turns and looks at these four people who stood with him, their loyalty unwavering. " I will not demand you to follow me. I will only ask that you continue to stand with me?"
The four Turks, having worked for this man for nearly seven years, had at first done so because he was 'The President' and they worked for Shin-ra but now it was because they had developed such a strong bond of mutual respect and admiration. He had become more than just their employer; in a way, he had become family. They each of them would go to the ends of the world for him, lay down their lives to protect him and laminate they couldn't have done more. And Rufus, in his way, would do the same for them.
Tseng spoke for them all. "Rufus, you have only to ask!" The rest nodding their own agreement.
Feeling truly humbled he bowed his head. These four people were the only people that he felt comfortable enough to drop the facade of 'President'. But as the moment past the mask slipped back into place and he distanced himself slightly.
"Then let us begin! Reno, Rude. Go find Cloud and his two companions; I believe their names are Barret and Cid. Request the presence at Healin. For now, we will continue to use it as our base of operations. Tseng; you and Elena Travel to Junon and speak with Reeve. Tell him that I am also requesting his presence at Healin. Tell him that I would like to speak with him on matters concerning what is left of the standing army... Now Go!"
"Yes Boss!" The four sounded and all turned to go carry out their assignments.
Rufus stood there looking at the old Shin-ra building. The vision he had for the future overlaid this stark reality. "I will be a better person than you ever where father!
Chapter 2: Awakenings
Life adopts a pattern of normalcy and The Cetrian Legacy is passed on!
It has been five years since 'He' last tried to destroy the planet and four since Omega was called forth; but just as all lessons taught and learned, it has brought about a profound and lasting change for the greater good of us all.
President Rufus Shinra, having been a young man full of bitterness and an over-inflated ego when he first took up the reins of leadership for the company his father had built. Now has realized the real responsibilities he had inherited; To guide and support the people of our world. He and his team, The TURKS, have lead and guided us into a way of living that allows us many of the comforts we had before the Jenova Wars; while maintaining the utmost respect for the delicate balance of the planet. His first task, after rebuilding and reestablishing The Shin-re Corporation, was to order and categorize each division and assign Commanders to them who would report directly to him.
Reeve, having established and lead a military order under the name 'WRO" World Regenerate Organization. Now is officially the Commander (taking Heidegger place) of the Shin-Ra Military. This division of the company is responsible for recruiting and training personnel in many different areas from policing, security and infantry. The headquarters was re-established in Junon.
Tseng is still the leader and most senior member of the TURKS. Their division although apart of the Military is a completely separate branch and has been redefined as The Elite Security Force. Still small in numbers it has grown to be larger then it had been in the previous president's time. Their primary objective is the safety and security of The President and Shin-Ra employees. Although they may be tasked to help in other duties.
Cloud is now officially SOLDIER 1st class. and holds the Rank of Colonel. Having taken the position at Rufus insistent urging. The class of SOLDIER, no longer is a group of infantry personnel who exhibiting exceptional combat skills, are turned into Super Soldiers by infusing them with Mako; Or by genetically manipulating them. It is given to those people who show high aptitude in leadership, strategy, and skill in combat.
Uncle Vincent, Strangely enough, has agreed to resume his potion within The TURKS. He is a senior member and head of security in Nibelheim. President Rufus, after having many long talks with Vincent, agreed to convert the Shin-Ra Mansion into the largest library and research facility in the world. Here Vincent and his adopted daughter Shelke gather and store information, much of it sensitive. Yuffie also works with Vincent, now as a field agent. Gathering as much information as she can on why we no longer have any active Materia.
Daddy, Uncle Cid, and Shera are the heads for the Department of Exploration, Research and Development for sustainable energy. Daddy now has a team who all work together to find sources of usable materials like coal and oil. Uncle Cid is the Commander for the Shin-Ra air fleet and provides air transport for many departments. Shera is the head scientist in charge of developing the ways and methods to safely convert these methods into usable energy. To that end, many of the old Mako reactors have been converted into energy stations. This alone has created many new jobs and people who didn't know what their futures held, now being able to work, have had their hopes restored.
Cloud and Tifa, Denzel's' and my foster parents. Still, own and operate the Bar/cafe 7th Heaven and Strifes' Delivery service. I help Tifa a lot during the afternoon as my mornings are dedicated to school. Denzel, despite his youth, has taken over much of the running of the Delivery business. With the help of Uncle Cid, he has turned it into a worldwide success.
The best part though was when Cloud clued into reality and proposed to Tifa. Yes, he did. It was right after they had all defeated Sin Bahamut, The Remnants and 'Him' and the children who were left with Geo-Stigma had finally been cured. Just before everyone departed to go their separate ways Cloud said he likes to talk to everyone first. Having everyone's attention; He got down on one knee, holding a ring in the palm of his hand, and quietly states. "Tifa I have carried this ring with me for a long time now... At one point I had forgotten why I even had it but I still hung onto it hoping I would remember" Looking up into her eyes "Will you agree to become my wife?" It took a whole five minutes, all of us so quiet, afraid to break the spell before she replied (very enthusiastically) "YES!"
The wedding was a small quiet affair. Denzel stood with Cloud and I stood with Tifa, a witness to their vows. The few close friends they have where all in attendance. It was truly beautiful in its simplicity. And now Tifa is gonna become a mom for real; but she has had so much practice with Denzel and me, I know that she is going to be an amazing mom. I am so excited to have a new baby brother or sister.
It was after the wedding that The President (who was also in attendance) took Cloud aside for a private talk. The result was Cloud received The rank of Colonel and promoted to SOLDIER 1st Class, and was now employed by Shin-ra. It does seem strange that after every that has happened that Cloud would have agreed to this but you know it truly seems as if he has found a sense of true peace within himself and is honestly at peace with himself.
And last but not least Nanaki, he still travels the world; looking to gain wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. And possibly to find a mate for himself. We do see him from time to time but those visits are brief and few. I do find I miss him and the stories he has to tell. It seems to me that he is one of the smartest people I know.
And me?... Well, so much has changed for me in these last few years. I am sitting here in this garden; where her flowers still bloom. The Lifestream still reaches through the small pool of water that was left behind after the last conflict. The waters of the Healing pond, now open to the sky, reflected in the sunlight. Sadly the church that once stood here has been taken down. Its' structure has become too unstable and unsafe. I am now its' caretaker in honor and memory of Aerith.
At first I had started coming back here because I didn't want this garden, the brightest spot in Midgar, to wither away and die. But as I grew older, I realized the gentle whisper in my mind was Aerith speaking to me; teaching me and guiding me. "Listen, Marlene, listen to the voices of the planet with your heart not just your ears. Look with your mind not just your eyes. Open yourself to the mysteries of life and you will be able to understand. Feel the thoughts, more then just words, that is the heartbeat of the planet. For within all humanity there reside a piece of the Cetra!"
It hadn't been as easy for me as it was for Arieth but she patiently leads me through the process of being able to hear all the voices that make up our world, how to differ one voice from another, and how to communicate back. It was frustrating at first and I was slightly overwhelmed but now it is as easy and as natural as breathing.
(If anyone, at this moment, who had the 'sight', had been watching her. They would have seen her deftly pulling strands of the Lifestream and using them to infuse the flowers, grass, trees; the birds, mammals, and insects that now made up the garden.)
I now possess the materia 'Holy'. How? I'm not too sure really, it was just here. SHE has asked me to safeguard it and so I do! SHE also told me that for my protection to tell no-one of this or that I can commune with the planet. So it has been my cross to bear; Denzel being the only person with whom I have entrusted this secret with as the children who once heard her voice no longer can.
Normally this is the one place that I can go to, to find peace and tranquility. But of late there has been a strange current running through the Lifestream. Darkness trying to thread its' way into the fabric of existence.
Chapter 3: Darkness Desends
Not being able to become the hero he wished to be! Genesis remained in stasis. This act though had allowed for a tormented soul to take possession of him
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The Entity, no longer having form; its' bonds to mortality and reality having been shattered by the 'Stars' Light!
It flowed aimlessly through time and space. Its' anger and hatred a seething mass of destruction.
As it drifted near an unknown planet. An energy force pulled it closer to its' surface!
Now curious to this planets origins. The Entity allows itself to be drawn in.
"It is Life Energy!" Sadistic pleasure burst forth from this being. "I can use this for my purpose!"
Allowing itself to be drawn into this Lifestream but not to be absorbed by it. For this knowing who he was. Knew where he had come from. And knew the purpose for which it had clung to for centuries.
First he would have to find himself a suitable host and make it his own. He would then be able to taint this energy and manipulate to his end; becoming strong enough to go back to the time and place where he could exact his vengeance on those who not only betrayed him but who had cursed him to this existence.
So not allowing himself to be diffused into the Lifestream. This malevolent Entity used it to find itself a suitable host.
Unfortunately, far below what is now known as Shin-Ra Prime. There were still laboratories, once known as Deep Ground, where human genetic research had been conducted.
Originally Deep Ground had been established as a hospital. To treat severely wounded military personnel. But like all things Shin-Ra the facility had become an area for further experimentation and genetic manipulation on human specimens. Trying to take the SOLDIER project to the next level. They were conducted by scientists who were more concerned with glory and was funded by military leaders whose ultimate goal was world domination and suppression of the human populace.
It was here the Entity found itself being drawn to. The pain and anger; the battle energy and blood lust of those who had lived and died here; was like a beacon. Smiling he draws these emotions into himself. Like drinking a glass of water, they fill him, giving him substance. Providing him with a semblance of form!
He enters a room that contained three pods like capsules filled with a blueish substance and emitted a soft glow. Each of these capsules contained a human.
Curious he goes over to them. Laying a hand on the first one; he perceives that this one to be a female warrior. Skilled yes but emotionally fragile. She would break too quickly. There was an emotional bond, a debt! tying her to one of the others and it was very strong. The Entity would be able to use her just not directly.
"I can use her as a tool. She can be my eyes and ears in places that I am not able to go." He mused to himself. So he implanted a mental tag into her mind; thus allowing him to control her at any time he chose.
The second held a man of great physic; battle-hardened but young in appearance. He would have been perfect but he had been dead for far too long thus making him unsuitable as a host; having no existence to which the entity could attach himself to. But he would make a perfect vessel for one of the Entities 'pets'.
Laughing cruelly, he called forth a 'shade', a minor demonic entity that could be easily controlled. Feeding it some of his energies; he then commanded it to enter this body and give it 'life'.
Turning to the third capsule; once again laying a spectral hand upon it. He got the most pleasant surprise.
Here was a man in a stasis sleep, who not only was a warrior in his prime; but his mental pathways where opened up to mage energies.
His emotional state was in chaotic flux. Being worshiped as a Hero, honor, and pride as a soldier, profound guilt, raging anger and betrayal and a deep sense of loss. A standard of conduct not yet achieved.
So much delicious torment. But what made him a perfect host was this man was, in essence, a good person. A warrior with high moral values.
But the Entity could and would anchor himself and this man to all the negativity experienced in his life. He would twist the good memories with doubt and guilt. Tying him to emotional strings that he could pull whenever he wanted.
Then when this man was broken The Entity would then be able to assume full possession, thus trapping the soul and binding it to him for all eternity. By the time this man realized what had happened, he would be helpless to do anything about it.
He would exist in despair having to 'watch' the devastation and destruction the Entity planned to wreak on this planet before he left. Using the new energy, to continue his objectives. So the Entity settles into the recesses of this warriors' mind; A place where the man would not notice him of his influences and proceeded to wake him. to observe this hosts interaction before taking a decisive course of action.
Genesis opens his eyes and surveys his surroundings; letting memory catch up to him. He was still in the Laboratory he had brought himself and the others to. Not sure what he had been hoping for, at that time, but knowing if he had stayed on the surface with Cissnei and Weiss, They would have been killed outright. So he came back here looking for a safer option. That had been the right choice as it seemed they had been left undisturbed.
He hit the internal release that would allow the Mako to drain and open the door. He steps out of the cell looking at the readings on the other two capsules. There was still no readings for Weiss. The Omega conflict had ended his life. A sense of defeat momentarily washes over Genesis, followed quickly by the anger that consumed him when he thought of the people who were responsible for this. Shin-Ra, Their President and scientists who so blinded by their greed and desires had exhibited such disregard for humanity and treated them as nothing more than pawns to be manipulated to their self serving ends. Hojo has been the worst for using Weiss as his vessel to summon Omega. Still flushed with anger he looks at the cell that Cissnei slept in. Here the readings showed to be normal and that she still slept. A sense of relief now overcame him. She had made it. He had found her in Benora. Lying on the ground broken and bleeding.
Wondering at how much time had past and what if anything was left. Genesis went over to one of the computer terminals. Turning it on he watches as it powers up.
A moment later the Shin-Ra main page flashes on the screen and then the log-in section appears. Taking the chance that it might work; Genesis puts his log-in information and is somewhat surprised when he is directed to the Shin-Ra main database.
Seeing the time and date stamp he is somewhat shocked to realize that it has been four years since he had gone back to sleep. And almost eight years since he had found Cissnei. So many years wasted, so much time lost. Shaking his head as if to deny the truth he continues his search on what has happened over the past few years.
He was so focused on what he had been reading that when he went to the next page he was completely caught unawares. As the file opened up in front of him he was unprepared for the flood of emotions that assaulted him. As he read, tears of longing, frustration and betrayal form in his eyes.
Ruthlessly he swipes them from his eyes. This was an old wound, one that it would seem, still refused to heal so he shoved the pain of it back into the shattered pieces of his heart as he let the one black wing, the sole reminder of his loss of self, unfurl and wrap itself around him.
Closing that page; he continues reading.
I started writing this story before Episode Ardyn was released. So this is the theory I will continue to use!
Chapter 4: A Hero Reborn
The Spiritual Essence that was Sephiroth, hadn't defused into the Lifestream! It had been trapped by unforeseen circumstances and guarded by an unknown ally. The journey to redemption is long and painful! Will he have the conviction to right the wrongs he had committed? Will he become the hero everyone had thought he had been?
Aerith, the last Cetra. Her life was given in the protection of the planet. She now existing as pure spirit energy within the Lifestream. A singular consciousness not to be defused. She did have some regrets but on the whole, she was content. She had grown stronger in the knowledge she had gained of who she was and the 'Duty' her people had been tasked with.
She flowed through the Lifestream, helping those who needed it. Learning from those who would share with her. And always keeping track of those friends she had left behind. She had truly come into her own and was now able to ascend to the surface and interact with those who were sensitive to the planet's energies. Marlene, the little girl she had helped save all those years ago, was one of the strongest ones. And because of this, even though it had saddened Aerith, she had placed a great burden on this young girl's shoulders. But had continued to watch and guide her carefully in understanding and developing her capabilities.
As each member of this united circle of friends had come to see the garden that Marlene had taken upon herself to maintain. Aerith had been able to mentally 'tag, them with a small 'spark' of herself. Giving her an anchor and focus. A reminder that her work was not yet done.
Deep n thought she feels a gentle tug from one of her friends. Smiling when she realizes it's Cloud. He had come to the garden to speak with her, or at least that is what he believed; As he had no real idea she was still' here'. It wasn't like it had been before when he had been so consumed with an overwhelming quilt at her death. Now it was like a way for him to think his problems out load. Like he was talking to a trusted friend about things he wasn't comfortable with letting others know about.
Rising to the surface she sees his beloved face. He is excited because it is almost time for his child to be born. But he also very nervous over this prospect. "Aerith, It is almost time and well. What kind of father can I be?... I just don't know!" Aerith could hear the fear and doubt in him and that he was scared about becoming a father in truth so she slips this thought into his mind. "What about Marlene and Denzel?"
"Ya, I guess I've done right by those two. They sure have grown up a lot!" Aerith smiled to herself. Now that Clouds' thoughts were going into a positive direction he would be Ok. But Aerith would never let him know that it was her that helped him at these times. It would be too painful for both of them.
She listened to him talk for a while longer; when she feels a wash of negative energy flow through her and though she was loath to leave she knew she had to go and investigate. Letting herself be drawn to the source. She is surprised to realize that she is under the Shin-Ra main building. A place where a great evil had once lived, seething in hatred and animosity.
But Vincent had vanquished that foe! She shouldn't be sensing anything let alone something like this. Similar to before but different and strange. It felt Alien to this world. Could it be another of Jenova's kind? No, this felt different. Now confused and a little scared; Arieth tried to go further in, to investigate but she was immediately blocked by an invisible force that made her feel sick the moment she touched it.
Now completely alarmed and not knowing what to do; She lets out a purely mental shout "Can anyone help me?" A pause and then a moment later she was being pulled, like a rocket, towards Mt. Nible.
Images of death and destruction flare within the sphere of consciousness. Misery, despair and overwhelming grief where the emotions it had invoked when it had been alive. The knowledge that it had revealed in the pain it had wrought now brought disgust to the very core of its being. "How could I have done these things? Why had I done these atrocious acts? Who am I? What am I?" There was no answer to these questions! There never was! So shame followed guilt until It despaired. Never knowing why. Only the certainty that it had tried to end the very existence of this planet. Then the cycle of memory would repeat itself. Relentlessly showing the same images over and over adding to the torment of its already bruised soul. As it was already dead and no longer had the physical ability to atone for the grave mistakes it had made in life. There would be no chance of forgiveness!
Aerith meets Sephiroth
Aerith floated silently in front of this tortured being. Watching and listening as it cycled through this loop of fragmented memories. Spectral tears forming and falling as she realized who this once was. Gone was the man that had been so full of hatred and betrayal and in its place was the 'True Essence' of the person he had once been. And now He was so revolted by all that he had done that he was not able to diffuse into the LifeStream. She was further saddened by the fact that this was the first time in four years, she was aware that he still existed and still tied by the bonds she had inadvertently created. This was the man who had taken her life; Sephiroth!
Seeing the mental war being played out in his mind she could tell he was no longer gripped by the insanity that had guided him previously. She could now perceive the goodness within him. Not yet knowing how or why he was the one to help her, but having the surety of knowing that it was so; she reached out and 'touched' him. Projecting calm and adding her 'spark of life'; she softly whispers "Sephiroth, wake up!" Watching the chaotic ball of emotion still. She waits for him to acknowledge her.
"What, Who? That voice!" And all at once the seething mass of bleak emotion did still as he became aware of the brilliant but calming light of energy that was with him.
"End this, please! Help me end this madness!" He pleads with this new voice.
"I can not! Only you can do that." Aerith replies sadly. Startled by this He asks. "How can I end this? Will I be able to move on?" Aerith stares at him her heart full of sorrow, she replies. "Yes, I believe so but first, you must realize who you are; acknowledging your past and deal with this guilt that binds you here. Until then you will be trapped here by your mechanics." He knew he could remember next to nothing about himself. He had been replaying the same event over in his mind for so long that any knowledge of himself seems to have just floated away into the Mists that enveloped this plane. He knew he needed more information.
"Did I, Do I know you?" He asks quietly.
"In a manner of speaking" Aerith gently responds. Frustration and confusion making his temper short, he snaps back.
"And what is that supposed to mean!" Sighing softly Aerith calmly replies. "Look into your memories, for you do still possess them, the knowledge you seek lies in them and you must be able to find them on your own!"
Sighing in exasperation, he begins to wade through the tangled mess of memories. Seeking one that would identify her. After a time it finally came to the surface of his mind. She was Cetra, protector, and guardian of the planet. She had been the last of her race until HE had struck her down! The image of him taking her life came to him in vivid and horrific detail.
"No! Why? For Gods' sake, Why did I kill you?"
"To try and stop me from calling forth the Holy magic that could stop the black magic you had summoned!" Anger and bitterness making her words sharper then she had intended... He flinched at the honesty of her words. Knowing he deserved no less. The memories of him summoning Meteor became clearer. But instead of letting it send him into a spiral of despair he confronted it head on and accepted that he had done this willingly even though he could not remember why he had done this.
"This is not the person I truly am, I know this! It is not the person I want to be remembered for! I wish I could undo this."
Aerith, a sweet and gentle smile on her face, watched the struggle within him. Seeing his honest and true desire to conquer his demons. As memory catches up to him; She knew she would aid him as much as she was able.
"Your name is Aerith?"
"You are Cetra! You were the last of your kind?"
"Yes and No!" Startled by her response he questions her. "I'm sorry? What do you mean by yes and no?"
"Yes I am the last Cetra but I am not the last of my kind! I have learned that many people have the same abilities as the Cetra and can be taught how to use them. There is a young Lady who I have been guiding in this and she is a very remarkable child." He noticed that Aerith had chosen not to mention the name of this child but he realized that this might be more to do with protecting her than anything else. So he did not ask for further clarification.
In a moment of Insight, he realized how profoundly he wanted this woman to know how he felt. "Aerith I know I do not have the right to ask for forgiveness! But I want you to know that I am truly sorry for taking your life. I wish I knew why I had done this for the thought of it now make me despise myself." Sadness and quilt filling him wholly. Aerith having learned so much over the years was able to reply without rancor. " I know! I can perceive the truth in the words you speak. And I do forgive you! I know the fault of your misdeeds is not only your own. There where many circumstances that brought you to that point." Laying a gentle hand on him. "Sometimes the greatest tragedies open the way to the greatest successes. By not being bound to a mortal existence allowed me to help save this planet and my friends far more effectively then I could have had I been alive. It has also allowed me to continue to do so, but now I need your help!"
Stunned by this admission he clung to the one statement that freed him. She had forgiven him. Strangely it felt like the sun coming out after a long cold winter; bathing him in warmth and brilliance he knew he had rarely experienced before. Seeking a solid foundation to 'stand' on he asks, somewhat shamefully. "Do you know my name?" Smiling a little at his discomfort she replies. "It is Sephiroth."
He let his name fill him and with it came images; to faint to be called memories but they felt right; a part of him. They became the first spark of recognition of who he truly was. "You said you need me? I do not know how but I will do what I can for you!" Aerith replies with. "I have perceived an Evil presence of Alien origins but I am unable to discern its true form. There seems to be a barrier shielding it and I can not pass!" shrugging helplessly "So when I sought for help, I was brought here! Other than that I just don't know."
A flicker of memory. He was like her... No that wasn't quite right. What was it? But before he could fully grasp it, it slipped away. Growling slightly, in frustration Sephiroth states. "I am not like you Aerith. And I fear I will not be able to exist for much longer. I believe the time has come that I moved on." Frustrated by his apparent willingness to give up; She retorts sharply. "But you are like me! All humanity is like me Sephiroth, you only need to see it for yourself and yes I can help you"
She knew how to preserve the essence of the soul. She had already done this. She also knew how to wake the awareness of the plant in a person. Marlene is the result of this. So reaching out with 'spectral arms' she holds him tightly and infuses him with an essence akin to the life energy of those newly born. Using the memories he had already gained and the ones she had of him she bestows a type of blueprint into him to hold onto.
"There. Now you should be able to retain your 'Self' long enough to see this through to the end. But you must be diligent; seek out who you truly were and the reasons for why you became the way you did. When you find these answers; I believe you will be strong enough to help in this fight." In a quiet, almost childlike voice Sephiroth asks. "Can you not just tell me?" The plea almost undid Aerith but she knew she had to be firm in her resolve. "No Sephiroth I can not as I did not witness many events in your life. This is a journey you must take on your own because you want to do this for yourself not because others want you to do it." Somewhat dejected Sephiroth nods. "I believe I understand. And thank-you."
"I must go for now but if you are truly in need just call for me. and I will come. Sephiroth, you are not alone in this. Others will be there for you." And with that said she disappeared into the LifeStream.
The phrase 'You are not alone' triggered such an intense feeling within him that it left him feeling bewildered. For somehow he knew that for most of his life he had felt alone. Whether in thought or actuality he has always been apart from society and its' norm. There were no real memories yet just a feeling that this was true. He felt a new hope blossoming inside of him as he let himself drift into the LifeStream in search of the answers he needed to find.
Chapter 5: Magic Returns
When Vincent Valentine defeated Omega, returning it and Chaos to the planet, drawing the Lifestream back into the planet. Magic ceased to exist. Four years later, The Lifestream has returned to a normal pattern and magic once again becomes usable but it is different than before.
In the new tower, now known as Shin-Ra Prime; President Rufus Shinra sat at his desk, in his private office going over paperwork that needed his approval.
It was late in the day and his eyes kept blurring, refusing to focus on the words in front of him. He didn't enjoy this part of his job but he refused to be like his father! Delegating projects to his subordinates without consideration of the consequences. Rufus was going to know what was going on within his company at all times.
Muttering to himself he states. " I will not be like you Father! I will not lose touch with the employees of this company or with the populace that I now govern. I will not become blind and deaf to their needs, desires, and dreams; having them despair to the point of revolt!"
Setting the documents aside, for now, he looks around his office. It wasn't the grande executive suite of his fathers' time but now was a simple, well-ordered office. Reflecting the businessman he had become.
Staring out the windows of this suite he notices that night was fast approaching so he decides to break for the day. Buzzing his Aid; one of the few luxuries he allowed himself, he requests a meal to be brought to him. As he ate, he contemplated how different his Company had become from the one his father had run.
His father had viewed the population as nothing more than mindless sheep, to be used to suit his whims. Mako was an endless commodity used to, not only put him into a potion of power but to keep him in that potion! Rufus, on the other hand, had learned some valuable lessons from the disasters that had ensued because of his father's lack of insight. It was the people who made and kept Rufus as President. Mako was the lifeblood of the planet, not some disposable commodity.
When he had finished eating he called his Aid to come and take the dishes away and that he wished to not be disturbed.
He takes off his blazer and pours himself a drink. Dimming the lights he then turns on some music and sits down in one of the reclining chairs that face the windows and lets himself relax. Now he doesn't have to be 'The President' he can be just 'Rufus'; a man few people knew existed let alone got to see.
As he starts to unwind; his mind begins to drift recalling the events of the last few years. Of how perilously close this world had come to total annihilation. Of how his company had been responsible for many of these tragedies that had occurred. But with those memories came the realization of just how strong the human spirit truly was. Of how, despite their differences, they had all come together to rebuild not only Midgar but Shin-Ra as well.
Humbled beyond words for the trust of these people he had earned. Grateful beyond measure for their forgiveness of his earlier mistakes. But most importantly the awareness that he wasn't just his father's son and heir. That, in truth, he was his, own person. And capable of governing not only this company but the people of this world as well. And he would fight to ends of the earth to protect all they had accomplished.
Picking up the Materia he had found as a child. He could now feel the warm approval of the entity that resided within. Alexander, Supreme Judicator. Yes, if anyone tried to take away or destroy what they had built. Rufus now knew he had the power to protect it!
Vincent was sitting in the office/laboratory, that once had been Lucrecias'. He was going over research files left by his father Grimoire, on the Chaos theory but he words kept blurring into each other. He so desperately wanted to not only learn more of the Entity that had resided within him but more of the man who was his father. What passions had drove him time and again to leave his wife and child in pursuit of 'The Truth'. But the words in front of him could have been written by the Cetra for all the understanding they gave him. Banging his fist against the desk and sighing in frustration he sets them off to the side.
He turns his attention to one of the ledgers that he had found a short time ago. Hojo personal diaries. Here was something he had not expected. He knew that Hojo had kept a personal account on events. Keeping personal opinions separate from scientific facts. But Vincent had assumed they had been either lost or destroyed, having not found them in the initial conversion of the manor.
Yuffie, during one of her house exploration searches, had gone up to the attic and had come across them shelved in a bookcase that had been stored up there. Knowing that they could be invaluable she had brought it to Vincent's attention. After going through them Vincent own world was once again sent into turmoil. Many of the truths he had come to believe turned out to be not so. It seemed that many of the memories he had where fragments of reality; influenced by his own emotions and melded together. But there where secrets in these volumes that could destroy others and as of yet Vincent was unsure what to do with them.
The last item on his desk was a piece of materia he had come across the other day when he had been on his way to his 'thinking spot' high in the peaks of Mt. Nible. He now took the time to study it. Looking deep into the materia he can feel the familiar presence. Shaking his head in denial; This could not be! Chaos had returned to the planet with Omega. But since Omegas defeat and Vincent's subsequent merging with the Lifestream; he had developed a new awareness of the environment, a stronger connection, if you will, to the planet. And here in his hand was Chaos! Feeling restless he began to pace. He could feel 'A' darkness looming but with no origins; and this made him nervous.
He looks over at the Mako regenerative pod. It was the one he had been in. Now it was a child/woman who slept within it. He smiles. Shelke! This was one of the few truly good things in his life. She had become his daughter not by blood but of the heart and Vincent was very protective of her.
A child of about 10 when she had been abducted by Shin-Ra and used as a human experiment in the 'Deep Ground' project. She had become a Tsviet (The Elite group of Deep Ground) because of her unique ability to merge her consciousness with the 'Net' and conduct a 'Synaptic Dive' to retrieve any information that is stored in data files world wide. She was also able to store this information in her mind and retrieve it at will. But the experiments had left her trapped in the body of that 10-year-old. Now 23 years old, she still needed Mako infusions to stay alive. Thankfully she no longer needed them daily as she had when she was in Deep Ground. So maybe a day would come when she wouldn't need them al all.
A loud pounding on the door startles Vincent out of his reverie. A little angered at the interruption he snaps. "Who is it?"
A young woman's voice replies; "It's me, Vincent!"
Smirking, Vincent realizes its Yuffie. Talk about maturing; here was a perfect example of 'NOT' maturing but that was also her charm. An unrestrained enthusiasm and passion for all things and people she truly cared about! But her true gift and passion for Materia; was what made her invaluable.
Since the return of Omega to the planet. Most of the world's materia has ceased to function becoming nothing more than inert orbs of glass. The Mako reserves, wells and springs had dried up and no new materia could be found. Magic, for the most part, ceased to function. There very few places where the lines of Mako energy ran near the surface and where now being used cautiously to power Mako regeneration pods, like the one Shelke was currently in.
Yuffie, with her boundless curiosity. Had taken it upon herself to find out why! To that end, much of the new information the Facility now had on this phenomena, was due to Yuffie's dedication.
Bringing his thoughts back to the present; he noted that she had knocked and announced herself and not barged in. That was so unlike her; Vincent's curiosity now peeked. "Come in Yuffie"
The door opens and in steps, a young lady in her early 20, dressed in her Martial Arts garb. So she had just come in from a field assignment. But the look on her face sent a wave of dread through Vincent.
"Yuffie,! What is it? What's wrong?" In response, she holds out her hand. There lies a red ball of Materia pulsing with life.
"I found this on the main trail of Da-Chao Statue. He says he is Gilgamesh and that he has chosen me!" She looked scared but also strangely elated. "In a time of great need; A Warrior, True of Heart, shall have the right to call me forth into battle. And I will strike any or all foes! It is a passage in one of the diaries father keeps in the Pagoda. Vincent. That diary is close to 200 years old!"
Vincent watched the child very carefully as she did have an annoying habit of hugging people when she became too excited and those types of hugs tended to turn into strangleholds! But she looked up at Vincent with soulful eyes. "And that's not all!" She hands him a folder containing her notes, documentation, and photos from the last three months. "All of the natural Mako springs and reservoirs are all active. And Vincent, you can see materia condensing in some of them!" Squealing in delight Yuffie swings around, hugging Vincent around his shoulders, catching him unawares. "Isn't this exciting?"
Vincent let out a very undignified grunt of surprise. He then replies with; "Yuffie what did we say about personal space?"
Hanging her head a little she dutifully replies "Respect each person space. And I'm sorry Vincent, but this is just so AWESOME!" Smiling a little Vincent acknowledges Yuffies' excitement.
Holding up his own Materia, Vincent ponders the significance of this new development. Why after four years would this reoccur? Yuffie awed voice penetrated Vincent's thoughts. "Vincent, who it that?"
Looking up at her he replies; "It's Chaos!"
Eyes wide and in all seriousness Yuffie exclaims "Oh My God Vincent. Are you serious?" Vincent nods an affirmative. The feeling of dread he had felt earlier solidified within the pit of his stomach.
"Yuffie please stay here with Shelke until she wakes up. Tell her everything you have just told me. I want you both to gather as much information as you can!"
"Where are you going?"
"To Edge and then to Shin-Ra Prime!" And with that, he picks up The journals and Yuffie's findings; and heads out the door with no further explanations.
Stomping her foot in frustration "Damn-it Vincent! Why do you have to be so dramatic?" And with that, she throws herself into the chair Vincent had just vacated and puts her feet on the desk. She waits for Shelke to wake.
Nanaki stood proudly beside the stone statue of his father; surveying the lands surrounding Cosmos Canyon. It had been some time since he had last been home and he felt good to be back.
He was pondering the events of the last few days. He had been spending time living in the forest south of Gongaga when he had gotten a feeling of darkness and then a scent akin to death. Concerned he had started to head home. On the way, he had come across an active Mako well. Intrigued to see this he had stopped to investigate. It was at that moment of a piece of Materia had fallen out of the well and rolled to him. Automatically he had stopped it from rolling away, And the moment he had touched it; he had felt a warm glow of acceptance. It had felt strange like it wasn't of this world but yet was oddly comforting. It then merged with a paw and he could hear a gentle whisper in his mind. "We are the Sylph. We wish to help you!"
Now standing on the cliffs' edge. Nanaki was able to get a clearer perception of the feelings he had perceived earlier. It was coming from the direction of Midgar and Edge. He needed to go there to find this source of malevolence. And with that, he loops off in the direction of Costa-De-Sul; where he would be able to get transport to the Eastern continent and then to Edge. He would bring his concerns to Cloud and see if they held any merit.
Cid & Barret
Cid and Barret; having concluded their business. Where now standing outside the Correl Reactor, taking a moment to watch the sunset over the mountain range. Cid breaks the silence with a cough. "So you'll be leaving in the morning to go see Marlene?"
"Yep! I know she's in good hands with Cloud and Tifa. And holy hell would descend if Denzel ever finds out that someone had hurt her. But she is my daughter and I miss her!"
"Ya, I hear ya. Kinda miss the little mite myself. Her having made me her Uncle and all." The two turned and looked at each other then burst out laughing. Remembering the day; five years ago when little Marlene had marched up to Cid, put her tiny hand into his, boldly looking at him and stated! "So I am Marlene and being that you are good friends with Daddy, Cloud, and Tifa. That makes you my Uncle!" and with that, she had wrapped her arms around his waist and refused to be budged for the next hour. Cid truly not having the heart to dissuade her; graciously accepted the role of 'Uncle'. "It's been a while since I've been there. Think I'll tag along and see how everyone is doing!"
"Fine by me! Know Marlene would love to see ya. Denzel, if he is home, will want to go over the business with ya. Tifa should be near her time. So it'll be good for ya to come along."
"Good, it's settled then. I'll let Shera know what's going on and I'll send messages to the managers and give them a heads up!"
"Sounds good to me. Well, I think I'll be calling it a night."
"Ya me too." And with that; the two men headed to their suites in the executive building outside of the Reactor.
Barret laying on his bed was holding up the Materia he had found last week. He had been investigating a cave system for the potential mining of coal. When he saw a glow in a recess in the wall of the cave. When he had extracted the item he felt this overwhelming sense of acceptance. Then a voice, like the sound of rocks rolling down the hillside, had said. " I am Titan! And am now your ally."
Barret was beyond words. So stunned he had just put it into his pocket. But now he felt the need to ponder the meaning of this. There hadn't been any usable materia for about four years now. But here, in his hand was not only an active Materia orb but it was a Summon!
Barret was familiar with the use of Materia and magic; having used it extensively when they had all been fighting Jenova/Sephiroth. But this felt different, personal! Kinda like he had just met up with an old friend that he hadn't seen in a long time. And Barret could only wonder at the significance of this.
Cid had just gotten off the phone with Shera and was satisfied that all would be taken care of in his absence. Leaning back in his chair, feet on his desk, he lights a cigarette. Holding up this red, glowing orb, now pulsing with life.
He had picked it up in Rocket town. Thinking it would make a pretty pendant for Shera but he set it aside, at that time, having so many projects on the go. He had come across it earlier today when he had been going through his desk looking for some paperwork he needed. Picking it up, it had come 'alive'. And damn if it didn't feel like he had just gotten a Bro hug from a friend he hadn't seen for years; for all that this Entity was Female! "I am Tiamat, And I have come to aid you!" Well if this wasn't a quandary. So he had decided to join Barret this time and have a chit chat with Cloud. See if he might have any insights into this new development.
Reeve was standing in front of the huge bay windows, in his office in Junon. Staring out at the ocean, deep in thought. He was now officially in charge of the Military. It was still titled the W.R.O. And its' headquarters was in Junon but it was the Military division of Shin-Ra Corporation. He often wondered at the wisdom in this. It had been four years since Rufus had come to him with this concept of bringing the W.R.O. Under Shin-Ra and have it be responsible for developing and training for all branches of military, policing and security. So far it had worked out very well so Reeve had held his peace.
Going back to his desk, he picked up the three personal folders he had judged ready for advancement. Two would go to Cloud as candidates for SOLDIER. The third would go to Tseng as a candidate for the Turks. Calling his second in command into the office he addresses her. "Captain Hale, I am planning a trip to Midgar and will be leaving you in charge of operations until I return!"
"YES, SIR!" The young woman stated briskly. "May I inquire about the reason for this? You don't normally enjoy being in Midgar!"
Hearing this Reeve smiles. It was a well-known fact that Reeve did not like having to go into Midgar, all though few knew the truth as to why. With a bark of laughter, he replies. "I need to speak with Rufus personally on some matters; I can, therefore, deliver these recommendations personally. But most importantly I wish to be present when Cloud and Tifa child is born."
"I see. How long do you intend to be?"
"I am not sure, but I will send word once I know. Here is the signed paperwork transferring limited power of authority over to you." Handing her the folder and access key card, Reeve looks at this young woman who had been apart of the W.R.O. Since its conception. Disciplined didn't even begin to describe to adequately describe her. She was the perfect model of a military officer. Dedicated, hard-working and efficient. Reeve had come to depend on her greatly.
"Captain Hale I have faith in you! So much so that I am recommending you for SOLDIER."
"But Sir; My job is here?"
"It always will be! I just want you to have the opportunity to advance further if you come to decide to."
Flushed a little by her Commander's praise and confidence in her. She salutes him. "Yes, Sir! And thank you, Sir! Safe travels then."
Nodding Reeve leaves his office and heads to the Helo pad.
Chapter 6: Genesis Becomes the Puppet
Even though Genesis had been healed of his Degradation by the Goddess Minerva; the scars in his mind and his heart never truly healed! This allowed the Spirit Energy, that was Ardyn to take possession of him. Having been strengthen as a SOLDIER, he physically was the perfect vessel for this Demonic Energy. Sadly Genesis unwittingly becomes what he had fought so desperately to break free from. Being the pawn of another mechanics!
In the laboratory Genesis sits, staring numbly at the screen. Gone, everything that had sustained him was gone! DeepGround had been annihilated, most of these people had never had the chance to live a normal life. All of the scientists including Hojo, who had been responsible for the creation for projects Like 'G' 'S' and 'Deep Ground' were now dead. The man, whos' company had funded these projects was dead. Even though it appeared that his son has taken over running the company but...? And the one who had turned his back on him when he had been so desperate; so in need of help! Was DEAD!
There was nothing left. Nothing for him to fight for! Genesis was just about to go back into his Mako tube when new thoughts began to penetrate the fog of despair in his mind.
The Entity having panicked when it had realized what this man was about to do, quickly flooded his mind with; 'But what of the one you call sister? THEY still live and should know of their failure!... It may be a new President! But he IS HIS son! Surely he isn't innocent in all of this!... And what of the one who claims to be SOLDIER? He is responsible for his death and he should be made to pay for that crime!'
So deft was the Entity at inserting these thoughts into Genesis' mind; he had no clue that they weren't his own. So as these thoughts settled into Genesis' mind; new malice grew once again. The Entity drank in the intoxication that these feelings provided. Feeding back the negativity into this man; making him burn with the need for vengeance.
Genesis smiled cruelly. Yes! There where still those who were left that bore the stigma of guilt and they would be made to realize their mistakes! The memories of the pain and anguish he and his companions had suffered from for so long momentarily blinded him; tried to send him into an uncontrollable rage. No! He would not be that person! He would not allow himself to be manipulated by others. Genesis was able to reign in these emotions, containing them for the moment.
Getting up from the terminal; He goes over to the pod the held Weiss. Looking at him, Genesis allows the memory to surface in his mind. He had woken up from his initial state of sleep by an extreme surge of energy in the Lifestream; seeing this man, whom he had called brother, lying on the cold stone of the cavern; clinging to the last threads of life. Genesis was taking him to a doctor to see if there was anything that could be done to save him. But before he was able to do this, the strange events of the last few months and Weiss and Nero's involvement where all that was being talked about. And people where angry! Not knowing the full details Genesis felt that it would be best for all of them if they stayed hidden and safe from the world.
Genesis could sense the 'Shade' that resided inside of Weiss but for some unknown reason was unconcerned.
He then goes over to the pod that held Cissnei and smiles tenderly. The two personalities, his own and the Entity's, were momentarily at peace as he remembers the day he had found her. After realizing what Deep Ground was; what they had wanted of him and wanting no part of it. Genesis had decided to sleep until a time came when he would be needed. But before going into that state of slumber, he had returned to his hometown of Banora. His intentions? Now that he had been purged and healed by the Goddess and was in a saner state of mind. He had wanted to go back to say goodbye and close the book on his own life.
When he had gotten there; he had heard the quiet moaning of a wounded person. Upon further investigation; he had found this woman lying on the ground, almost in the same spot by the chair that Zack had left him, she was bleeding so bad it was a wonder she was still alive. He noticed she was dressed in the uniform of The Turks. As he got closer he could hear her crying pitilessly. Kneeling by her side he asks. "Who has done this to you?" He did not expect her to answer but she manages to reply. "I do not know but they were strong! Far stronger than even those of SOLDIER." The last came out in a whisper as her strength slowly left her. Genesis concluded that there were others, probably from Deep Ground, who had orders to eliminate any who came to this place. But it mattered not as she would in all likelihood die in this place.
She opened her eyes and looked into Genesis's. Her own eyes widening in shock and recognition, she gasps. "Genesis? You're not dead! Good, there already have been to many who have died because of this madness!" Pausing she had struggled to catch her breath. "Please, will you stay with me until the end? I don't... I don't want to be alone!" She then did the most unexpected thing. She took hold of his hand as the tears fell from her eyes. "They never came for me. Tseng, the others, they didn't come."
The old anger for Shin-Ra surged through Genesis. "What is your name?"
"Then Cissnei hold on just a little longer. I will take you with me and you will heal. Then, my sister, the day will come when you will be able to seek your vengeance!" He imbued her with healing magic. Just enough to help her make it till they reached their destination. He then very gently picked her up and unfurling his 'One' black wing he took to the sky and then to Deep Ground. Here he oversaw that she was treated and healed but when talk turned to use her in their experiments; Genesis took her with him; deep into the caverns. And together went into a status sleep.
Genesis sought out the mental link that had been established between them while they had slept. "Cissnei, can you hear me?"
"Yes, Genesis" Sending a surge of warmth through the bond, Cissnei replies.
"I must go for now. There are some matters I need to look into."
"What would you have me do?"
"Wait until you are awoken. I don't believe it will be too long. Go with them for now and observe. Learn all you can about Rufus. He is now president and I don't want any surprises. When I get a safe place established. I will come and get you!"
"I will do as you ask"
"Stay strong my sister!"
"And you too my Brother"
With that done. Genesis gets up and leaves the underground laboratories. Stepping out into the night and seeing the tall structure that still bore the Shin-Ra emblem. Genesis heads in that direction.
The Entity wonders at this bond these two shares for each other. For it seemed they should have been rivals, not friends. But the Entity was unconcerned as these two where firmly his puppets. Their strings may have been invisible but they were his to manipulate whenever he chose. And now Its desires would become a reality./p>
It was not yet full night as Genesis walked into the main lobby of what was, for him, the new Shin-Ra building. Smirking as he looked around seeing the plain simplicity of this new design; Welcoming, not intimidating as it had been in the old Presidents' time. Genesis got the impression that Rufus had become soft and weak if this is how he chooses to present his company. Well, he had come home but it wasn't yet time to make his presence known. He quickly flicked his hand, magically disabling the security cameras. He then, quick as lightning, sends out tendrils of energy. Striking three employees, the two security guards, and their dogs. They all went ridged as their life force was pulled from them, slumping forward, dead.
Stepping into the lobby proper, with a mocking bow proclaims. "I have returned!"
He looks at his audience, sneering, he states! "What no hero's welcome? No adorations from the fans? No parade of welcome?" Sighing in exaggerated theatrical disappointment he admonishes. "Ah well. There will be time enough for that later." He then proceeds to walk over to each of them; placing a finger upon their forehead, he utters words spoken in an Unholy Tongue. The bodies begin to emit a sickly, pulsing light. As one by one, they open their eyes and look towards Genesis. "Should any seek to follow me; Stop them at any cost!"
"Yes," they chorused, in an eerie echo. Their voices sounding flat and monotoned. Taking a perverse pleasure in their undivided attention. He bows mockingly and makes his way to the elevator.
The Entity inside of Genesis draws the life force of these beings into the void he had created. Preventing them from 'moving on'. The silver cord that joins the spirit to the body still linked them to the mortal realm but they where no longer able to influence their actions. Success made the Entity gloat. He would create pawns to dance to his will. Soon he would be able to call forth fiends of greater power than the ones he had already had.
Once inside the elevator, Genesis again disables the security camera while reenabling the ones out in the Lobby. Pushing the button for the 12th floor; the panel flashes with a request for security clearance. This was new, to reach the floor that had housed all SOLDIER personnel, while in Midgar, had never needed security access before. This was certainly interesting. Taking a chance Genesis uses his code adding a wisp of magic to the panel as he does this. The thought in his mind is that he was still an active and recognized member of SOLDIER. The panel lights up and the elevator shudders as it begins its ascent. Pleased with this success Genesis leans back against the wall and waits for his next destination.
The Entity crowed at the vain pride of this young Peacock. "Mayhap I will have further use of him; once I have accomplished what I have set out to do here. His personality is intriguing. His memories, such delightful torment!" It pulls on the memories of 'Project G'.
Anger and rage surge violently through Genesis. His beautiful face contorting into a mask of rage, making appear feral. He snarls viciously as the memories of what had been done to him replay in his mind; of everything they had taken from him. He would make them pay!
They Entity momentarily flairs. His spectral 'self' superimposed over the mortal body and It revealed in this man's agony. The emotional outburst provided a pleasant source of substance and it drank deeply of it.
By the time the elevator stopped on the 12th floor; Genesis was able to get himself under control. Stepping off the elevator he was faced with a code locked Blast door. Quickly he keys in his code and with deft use of magic, the door slides open before him. Sneering at how easy it was to manipulate this technology; he steps into the common room of the SOLDIER dormitory.
Couches and chairs for lounging. Work stations and dining area. Genesis stood there staring. Aside from a layer of dust nothing had changed. And then the memories assaulted him. Standing with Angeal preening at the attention he got from the others until HE came in. One of the few 2nd. Class SOLDIERS who refused to defect with him, Emily. How he had hated her but he could never speak of this; Could never admit to the reasons why he had begun to despise her. Of the pain the ripped through his heart every time he saw them together. Irrational he had become and often threw himself into a child-like fit of temper and even now, years later the despair he felt; the hopelessness that invaded his mind took hold once again. And in response, the magic, that was inherent within him, came forth in an uncontrolled burst of energy; smashing into one of the lounge chairs. Seeing the destruction he has created he quickly pulls himself together, while the beast that was inside of him roared to be released. "Humph, what a fool I was!"
Walking to the door on the right, he keys in the code, as this was the entrance to the 1st. Class suites. 3rd and 2nd could not gain entrance without permission. The only other person who knew the code for this door had been Director Lazard and the senior cleaning staff. As he steps through the doors into the hallway; an unwelcome feeling of nostalgia overwhelms him; how many times had he done this! A feeling of true homecoming did engulf him but as he strode forward his boots echoing eerily of the walls he tries to distance himself from this painful past.
Coming to the last door at the end of the hall, the nameplate still in the holder. He keys in his private access code. Hearing the click, as it unlocks, he turns the handle and steps in. The room had been left completely untouched. His bed was still made. The weapon stand that held his sword when he was here. The wall-mounted bookshelf still held all of his books. The desk underneath it, strewn with the paperwork he had been working on. The double wardrobe that stood on the opposite wall. It was all still here; like time had frozen the moment when he had learned the truth about himself and Angeal. The moment when he had fled Shin-Ra and SOLDIER!
He walked calmly over to where his bookshelf and desk were he runs his finger over his beloved books. The picture of the three of them posing for a young lady who had asked for a picture for her son. Moving the papers on his desk; he comes across an almost forgotten picture.
The Entity wondered at the emotions this room provoked in this man. Strength, pride, and success on one hand. Anger, jealousy, and betrayal on the other. So tantalizing where these twisting, tormented emotions this man continued to put himself through. The Entity could not have picked a better host! As Genesis had no realization that he was making it all the easier for the Entity to take over fully. So with grim pleasure, he let this man continue to pursue the memories of his past.
As Genesis picked up the picture off his desk he stared at the beloved image before him. As the suppressed feelings welled up inside of him; his eyes begun to blur as tears filled them. A longing so powerful it could no longer be contained. And in the quiet solitude of this room he had let the damn break and the floodgates open. All of the pain, hurt and quilt came forth and bending on one knee he let the sobs rack his body as he tried to purge this memory.
Chapter 7: More pieces fall into place
Sephiroth is confronted with the reality that his two best friends are dead and he is forced to accept his part in the tragedies that befall Gaia!
First of all, I would like to claim ignorance in naming the two TURK operatives who had lost their lives in Benora. I can not recall if they were ever named, so I used my discretion in naming them! Secondly, I know that in referencing the ages of the three 1st. as I have, goes against Cannon but there is a reason I do this! Shin-Ra cover up! Lastly, I have converted the dates into Earth Years using 1997 (FF VII original release) as a point of reference.
Sephiroth let the memories he had gained, flood his consciousness. He is a man named Sephiroth! He had been, for many years, a member of SOLDIER! Genetically modified to be a Super-Soldier; to fight the enemies of Shin-Ra. The realization that the definition of 'enemies' had become anyone who stood up to or even questioned Shin-Ra and that this company had been so responsible for not only the death of but the ruination of so many people, left him not only angry but sick. He knew he had never questioned his orders. But had followed them with a single-minded determination. It wasn't until Genesis and then Angeal had defected; having been told the truth about their past, that he had started to question his employers and their motivations. Had started to question and doubt himself. But by then it was too late.
At first, he had refused all missions in regards to his two friends because he wouldn't be able to be objective. The truth though had been his doubts had started to send him into a depressed state. He didn't want to be the one to have to end the life of either one of the only two people in the entire world who had meant anything to him. And he couldn't understand why neither of them had come to him first, asking for help. In the end, he had become involved because he wanted to help them. To find out the real reason why they had abandoned Shin-Ra and in a small part had abandoned him. He had never admitted this to anyone but he had missed them. He still did and wished there was a way he could see them again. That thought brought a gentle 'tug' on him. Letting it pull him; he found himself manifesting on the surface.
Looking around he saw he was standing in the center of what was now an abandoned village. Buildings in ruins, vegetation growing over much of the remaining structures. A few trees forming arches and bearing fruit. Walking over to them and seeing what it was, Sephiroth starts to laugh. It was a Banora White apple tree. The locals referred to them as Dumb Apples, as the tree bore fruit at random times. And it was a favorite symbol for Genesis. Often using it as a symbol of The Gift of the Goddess.
Unbidden, Sephiroth hears a voice in his head. "Even if the morrow is barren of promise. Nothing shall forestall my return!" Smiling now in fondness Sephiroth replies to the comment. "Yes, my friend. Your life was a stage and we all where your audience." Laughing at the remembered antics of Genesis. He had been quite a character. Always performing for his fans. Shaking his head he went to further investigate the village.
"So this is what has become of Benora." He notices a pile of stones. Upon closer inspection. He sees that it is a grave marker.
Here lie THE ADOPTED PARENTS OF SOLDIER 1st. Class Genesis Rhapsodos
On the other side of this were three more stone tablets laid into the ground. Kneeling so he could read what had been written into them:
TURK Operatives: Two Guns, Fists.
Angeal Hewley: SOLDIER 1st Class. D.O.B. 1968; D.O.D. 1993
Genesis Rhapsodos SOLDIER 1st Class SOLDIER. D.O.B. 1969. M.I.A. presumed dead
And at that moment, seeing concrete evidence, Sephiroth did something he had never allowed himself to do in life. He began to cry. And as that first tear fell, it released a floodgate of emotion so profound it rocked him to the very core of his being. He didn't let it stop; he let the memories wash through him. How they had met. Of how their friendship had come to be. The knowledge that he had chosen to turn his back on them both when they had needed him the most, felt like a hot knife being driven into his heart.
Time past but it seemed to have no meaning. As the maelstrom of emotion slowly ebbed; Sephiroth became aware of another presence. There was no 'substance' to it what so ever. So he held his hand out in entreaty. The tiny orb of spirit energy floated down unto it. The moment it touched his hand, Sephiroth felt the 'personality' and forgiveness it had for him; Angeal!
"Sephiroth! My death is not your fault. Do not carry the guilt of it with you! It was my own choice. I could not live with what I had become!" Sitting very still; afraid to lose this moment. He quietly asks. "Angeal?"
"In essence only. And only for this moment!" Calming himself further, Sephiroth continues. "Why Angeal? Why did this all have to happen? And how am I to help?"
"It started because people of like mind had the power to manipulate events and people to their ends. It then continued to spiral out of control because we, who had the strength, allowed our demons to control our actions" Having still so many missing pieces to this puzzle Sephiroth simply states. "I am sorry I'm not sure I understand." Fondly and patiently, as if he was talking to Zack when he had first become his protégé, Angeal replies. "Shinra wanted to rule the world and to that end, it used us to help 'pacify' those who would not comply. But we let what we feared, control us and dictate our actions. Genesis so badly needed to be recognized, he let his pride get in the way of what was truly important. My Honor became so great a burden that I doubted the very reasons why I chose to fight. You let your sense of duty come before your sense of humanity. You never questioned what you were told to do. And because the three of us where SOLDIER; even though we were friends, we only relied on ourselves. When we should have been relying upon and supported each other."
Sephiroth got the sense of what Angeal was trying to say to him. They weren't just SOLDIER and leaders! They where also friends and should have come together when their worlds began to unravel. But they hadn't and in letting their doubts become reality; they had become the 'Monsters'. And the true 'Monsters' had become the people's saviors. "I should have stood with you both from the beginning. For that I am sorry!" With that true admission; the energy that was Angeal merged with Sephiroth. Adding another layer of substance and understanding of his being. Still kneeling, with sadness and regret he says good-bye to his two friends.
A moment later Sephiroth is dragged violently through the Lifestream; to be deposited at the feet of a young man; who was now standing in front of a very pregnant woman and two older children. Disorientated but still quick to react, he stands, hands out entreaty of peace. He was about to say something when he remembered that he was only substance, with no true form. They shouldn't be able to see or hear him. But here was this man, massive sword drawn, standing in a full offensive stance. Looking around for whatever had alerted him to danger.
With a shock of recognition, Sephiroth realizes that this man is Cloud. The friend who had been with Zack in Niblehiem. A little older in appearance than those of Sephiroth memory. And his eyes were now the same vivid blue as Zack's. So this man had been or now was SOLDIER. There was a strange feeling of familiarity with him but Sephiroth was not able to recall any memories to support this feeling. Curious he steps into the background to observe.
"Cloud put your sword away! There is nothing here." The young girl states. Even though she seemed to be staring straight at Sephiroth.
"I felt something from the pond! I could have sworn...?" The women placed a gentle hand on Cloud's shoulder.
"Cloud, Sweetheart! just relax! Okay? Marlene is right. There is nothing here!"
Putting his sword back onto the harness on his back, he relaxes his stance but not his vigilance. Smiling fondly but a little exasperated Tifa replies tartly. "Did you have to bring that with you?"
Turning to face her, Cloud smirks and states. "I'm still on duty!"
"Well, maybe you should see about taking a day or two off. You've been very jumpy lately."
Absently Cloud replies. "Maybe?"
Tifa sighs. "Always the same!" As she places a quick kiss to his cheek. The young girl, Marlene, giggles. The young boy groans. Then they all started to laugh, having shared in an ongoing joke.
Sephiroth smiled to himself. Here was a family who had great affection for each other. With that thought came the complete knowledge that this was something he had never had but was something he had desired. So starved for human contact; Sephiroth stood and continued to observe this family.
The young girl continued to look at him. She seemed to be trying to not burst out in laughter and only barely succeeding. And for the life of him, Sephiroth couldn't fathom what was so funny.
"Marlene when you are ready?" Startled back to the present, Marlene smiles sheepishly. "Sorry, Denzel guess Cloud has me jumping at shadows." And before turning back to the group she deliberately winks at Sephiroth. The little minx! She could see him. But how? Not wanting to interrupt but greatly curious about this revelation he continues to watch.
The four of them proceed to take and light candles that had been shaped into flowers. Setting them to drift on this tiny pond. They each held a pink ribbon that was tied into a bow; bowing their heads they stood in silence. At that moment Sephiroth's' conscience was filled with the memories these people where remembering.
Cloud Standing behind Aerith, his sword held high, was fighting the compulsion within himself to slay her. Only to watch Sephiroth descend from the sky and impale Aerith. The pain that this man had experienced seared his soul and almost destroyed him.
Tifa; Watching from the stairs in that ancient building; Yelling at Cloud to stop. Her own emotions where torn and conflicted but she didn't want this! Then silence, as she watched Sephiroth descend; his massive sword piercing through Aerith's body. Aerith falling limply to the floor as her lifeblood flowed out of her. Tifa could only cry out 'NO!'
Denzel; Orphaned, lost and lonely, so very afraid, had finally given up on life! There wasn't anything left for him to live for; that was when Geo-Stigma took hold of him! Making his way to the sector five slums, he sees the church and feels an overwhelming urge to go there. It was here that Denzel had found salvation. He had found a family and a place to call home. Even though it had taken another two years; it had been Aeriths' parting gift; The healing rain and the waters in this pond that had total cured his and many others of their Geo-Stigma that had been a true blessing. And as Denzel stood in that pond on that day Aerith briefly spoke to him "Take care of each other!"
Strangely Sephiroth could only sense peace and calmness from the young girl. As these thoughts continued to circle within Sephiroth's mind he knew he had been responsible for these actions. He remembered that he wanted to take control. He wanted to cleanse this planet, but he also realized that this person he had become WAS NOT truly him! He could also perceive that there was more between Cloud and himself. An intangible connection that seems to bind the two of them. Delving ruthlessly into his memories he searched for clues as to why. He had become so engrossed in this task he hadn't realized that they had all left. All, but the young girl. So when she spoke to him he was so startled that he forgot himself and swore a blue streak. "For the love of all that is holy, you shouldn't sneak up on people like that!" Sephiroth stated. Glaring at her, but not with anger, only embarrassment.
Marlene giggled; laughter and joy lighting her face in mischievous innocence and in that moment endeared herself to him. Sephiroth knew he would slay anyone who tried to harm this child! "You sounded just like Uncle Cid when he thinks I'm not around. And that is what you get when you let yourself become too distracted Mr. SOLDIER!" Marlene replied tartly.
Sephiroth started smiling as a strange sense of freedom filled him he replies. "Yes, I guess it does! So you are Marlene and you are aware of me? Of who I was? May I ask how?"
At this, the child grew serious and appeared to be far more mature then her years implied. "Yes, Sephiroth! I know who you were and I know some of why you are still here." Spreading her arms wide. " This is what has become of the Old church that was Aerith's' sanctuary. It is my garden now and where I feel the closest connection with her. I have been coming to this place for close to six years now. Learning the person I am and Am to become."
Falling silent, Marlene stared at the floating candles. Quietly Sephiroth asks. "You are the one who Aerith told me about! The child who can speak with the planet?"
"Yes. And it was she who asked me to watch out for you and help you if I can!" Taking a deep breath she forges ahead. "I know who you were when Cloud, Tifa, and my daddy; their new friends and allies, Uncle Cid, Uncle Vincent, Yuffie, Nanaki, and Reeve all took up arms against you in defense of the planet. I knew you when you tried a second time to take the planet by infecting people with Geo-Stigma and Cloud battled you once again. Marlene was careful not to mention either Jenova or the remnants, as Aerith had said that Sephiroth had not yet remembered any of that.
All of these people who had come to fight him! To try and stop him from destroying them and their world. Cloud and Tifa he now had faces, to put names to but sadly that was all. Other then a vague recollection of Cloud confronting him at Niblehiem; he could find no real memory of either of them. The others were strangers, faceless in the fog of his mind. Trying to not allow the despair to take hold he continued to listen to the child.
"They went to war against you!" Hearing the profound sadness in this child's voice made him even more aware of how much devastation he had caused and how great an impact it had even on this child.
"Do you hate me?" Looking him squarely in the eyes and with some temper to her voice she replies! "I should! I should hate you, just like I should hate Shin-Ra!" Taking a deep breath she continues a little more calmly. "But I don't! I know people can change. Rufus Shinra truly has. Aerith and Zack both say that you have. That you are seeking the true essence of your former self"
"Yes, I am. I know the person I had become is not the person I truly wanted to be. I have begun to realize that person, was born out anger, hurt and betrayal! I still am not able to remember everything but I do know I never want to be that person ever again!"
Smiling in relief at hearing the conviction with which Sephiroth had said this Marlene replies. "Good! Is there anything else you would like to know?"
"Cloud! I sense there is more to this story between him and myself then meets the eye?"
Her good humor restored she smirks and with a bit of sass, she replies. "Ya think? Cloud had to kick your aaahhh.. butt! on more than a few occasions!" Sephiroth eyes widened in suppressed humor. She was a spunky little thing. "OH really? Do tell!"
So Marlene sitting at the edge of her pond, told Sephiroth all she knew about his and Cloud's past. It took awhile in the telling before she was finished. But when she was done Sephiroth had a clearer image of his memories as they surfaced from the recess of his mind. A better understanding of the man who had fought him and the reasons why he had.
"Thank-you Marlene. You may be young in years but you truly have a wisdom that far surpasses them!" Blushing slightly at this unexpected compliment she stood up, seeing as night had fallen.
"I've got to go now it's getting late!" And as if on cue Denzel could be heard calling for her. "Marlene, come on now it's time to go!"
"I'll be right there!" Turning back to Sephiroth she continues. "You are on the right path; just keep going forward!" She then did the most unexpected thing. She leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss upon his brow, thus adding her own 'spark' to his consciousness. He watched her go as she ran to the now visible form of the boy Denzel.
In shocked wonder, he realized he had felt that kiss! There was something very special about this girl, and Sephiroth vowed that no harm would ever befall her.
Chapter 8: Book 2 - Paths that Merge; Chapter 1: Meetings
So now that a new threat has emerged, magic has returned to Gaia! Once again, our heros find themselves being drawn together but unforeseen circumstances.
So to not confuse everybody. I found that when writing this story, it has segmented itself! This is the started of the second segment, hence Book 2. I love to hear your thoughts, comments, and critiques. MSR
Marlene: It is strange how in times of need; the unseen forces of our planet draw us together so that we can unite and stand together. To weather the storms that break!
Vincent, having just arrived in Costa-De-Sul, knew he wouldn't be able to get passage to Junon until morning. So he decided to go to the local bar, get a cool drink and listen to the conversations. This was one of the methods Vincent employed to gather intel.
He did not come here often; preferring the cooler climate and tranquil solitude of the Manor. So as he made his way to a table at the back of the room; heads did turn but conversation resumed once he had seated himself and the waitress had brought him his drink. So absorbed in his task of listening that he did not at first perceive the presence that had softly come up beside him.
"Well Vincent, it has been many moons since our paths last crossed and the strangeness that it should do so here!" Vincent hand twitched a little but quickly relaxed as he recognized the speaker. With a slight smile, he turns to face his friend. Who was presently doing a very good imitation as a rug; laying as flat as he could against the cool stone floor only slightly panting. Vincent, shacking his head replies.
"Nanaki, it has been too long. Almost two years I think." Giving Vincent a very Lupine grin he counters. "Two years, one month, and three days to be exact. Since you've graced us with your presence at the Canyon!"
Laughing quietly at Nanaki dry humor Vincent replies. "Yes it has been a long time and I do apologies, but it seems that days flow into weeks and weeks flow into months. Time rushes forward into the future and before you realize it; the future is the present!"
"Yes, I hear the truth in your words, my friend. For it is so with me. I journey here and there gathering knowledge and learning and before I know it your an old man." Both laughed wholeheartedly at this as neither would likely be; let alone look like 'old men' for a very long time!"
"So Nanaki, what brings you to this town at this time of year?" The light of laughter dimmed in Nanaki's eyes. A serious posture alerted Vincent that something was wrong.
"A week past I had been in the forest South of Gongaga and I perceived a foulness in the air and headed home. On my way there I came across an active Mako fountain and this rolled out of it." Briefly, Nanaki shows Vincent the magic contained in his paw. "It is new and different from before but it is strangely familiar and comforting." The materia now merged into Vincent's on hand. Pulsed in recognition. Nanaki eyes widen at this.
"Oh! and that would be?"
"Chaos! And yours?"
"They say they are known as The Sylph. But I have not yet called them forth!"
Vincent nods; "Nor have I!" They both fall silent as they ponder the significance of this. After a moment Nanaki returns to his tale.
"As I got home I went to where my father stands and surveyed the lands; felt the earth beneath my paws; and scented the wind that blows through the Canyon. This then, I was able to perceive an evil presence coming from the North East. From where Cloud, Tifa, and the children live."
"So you've come here to board the ship to Junon?"
"Yes, Rufus has left standing orders that if I have the need. I am to be granted passage with no questions." With the President's name mentioned, Vincent becomes thoughtful.
"It is strange that this man, who seven years ago, wanted to rule this world through an iron fist of fear. Changes, within two years, to accepting his and his company responsible for what occurred and becoming the most admirable leader... And even though I technically work for this man; I often when the other shoe is gonna fall?"
Nanaki looks at Vincent, his eyes appearing to hold wisdom for beyond his years, states. "For the same reason, you do Vincent!" Startled by this. Vincent's eyes narrow and with some heat, he asks. "What do you mean?"
"Redemption! And an honest desire to never see those mistakes repeated. Just as you have willing resumed the mantle of your former self so that you are in a potion to prevent the mistakes of the past." Nodding in acceptance Vincent remains quiet as Nanaki continues.
'Seven years ago, we awoke you from your sleep. And because of the demons that haunted you, you joined us in our efforts to defeat Sephiroth and save the planet. The two years that followed you roamed the world, helping but becoming not truly apart of society. But when Cloud needed you, you were there and together we helped support him in the conflict with the remnants. A year later we all came together to support you as you come to terms Chaos and the subsequent battles with Deep Ground and Hojo, Wiess, and Omega. It was at that point where you truly accepted yourself for who you are and the mental chains that bound you for all these years, finally broke and freed you. Ever since then you've devoted yourself to giving back. Even though you may not wish to admit this!" Nanaki panted with laughter at Vincent's sardonic glare but continues.
"So it is with the President. He was conditioned by his father to believe that 'people' where tools to be used for their gain! And for so long this is how Rufus treated people! So when he finally became President he was so full of anger and, I believe, a driving need to prove himself better than his father that he lacks human compassion! Yet his journey to get 'here' was so fraught with painful lessons; The destruction of Shin-Ra and Midgar. His own experience with Geo Stigma. Witnessing the death of people who also bore this disease. The realization of how close Tseng and Elena had come to death. And the hundreds of lives lost from Kalm and Edge. The people went from being 'them'; nameless and faceless, to become real people. People who for better or worse looked up to him. He was forced to grow up Vincent! His eyes were opened to the stark reality of what it meant to be him."
Stunned Vincent realized that Nanaki's observations held a ring of truth in them that he hadn't admitted to. Nodding he replies. "I guess you are right! Redeeming one's self is a powerful motivation." The two companions slipped into silence; each contemplating the events of the last few years and how much had changed when a slight commotion at the door drew their attention to the front.
Two men walked in, laughing in comfortable companionship. Startled Vincent and Nanaki both state "Cid? Barret?" As the two men heard their names; they looked around for the source. Noticing the two figures sitting at the table in the back of the bar. Both momentarily shocked at seeing them.
"Vincent? Nanaki?' Cid and Barret walk over to the table to join their two friends. And as each made eye contact; The materia, each of them now possessed begun to resonate. They all knew that this meeting wasn't a coincidence; trouble was coming!
'Well, looks like the train has already left the station!" Barret states solemnly.
Chapter 9: Book 2; Chapter 2: Uncovering the Darkness
Events conspirer to lead our party into areas that had been sealed. They must find out who or what is trying to threaten them.
Rufus stood staring at the terminal in utter disbelief. How could this be possible? Punching the intercom:
"Reno, Rude, Get in here!" The two Turks had been lounging in their quarters but quickly jumped to do their employers bidding. Taking the set of stairs that joined their residence to the Presidential suite/office; they emerged into the room with, "Yes Boss?" Turning the terminal towards them Rufus asks. "Look at this! Tell me what you see? And what do you make of this?" The two looked at the terminal and then at each other in confusion but Rude calmly replies. "The obituary for your father!" Looking up at his two subordinates as if they where the daftest pair in the world, Rufus sighs with exasperation. "No, you idiots! The damn log-on access!" The two knew that Rufus was very agitated as he rarely resorted to insults. Now they knew exactly what their Boss wanted of them, they looked at the log-in code. Genesis_R_S1. Stunned they both replied in unison. "Shit! How? Who?" Running his hand through his hair in frustration Rufus replies. "I don't know!" Reno blurts out "Where was it accessed from?" looking up at the pair. Rufus takes a deep breath and replies. "Deep Ground!" The two just stood there quietly waiting for there orders.
"I want you both to go to SOLDIER headquarters and get Cloud. The three of you are to go and investigate the lab in question. Here is the Key Card you will need to be able to enter. And for God's sake, DON'T LOSE IT!" Rude takes the card and puts it into an inside pocket of his blazer. He then takes the envelope that Rufus hands to him with the official Shin-Ra stamp.
"Yes, Boss!" And with that, the duo left to carry out their assignment.
On the elevator ride down to the lobby Reno states. "Sheesh, the Boss sure is on edge!' Looking at his partner Rude replies. "Ya!"
"I wonder why?"
"Something about this has got him spooked!"
"I wonder what?" Rude looks hard at his partner and best friend; They had been together for a long time. And as fond of him as he was, there were still times Rude wondered at how dense Reno could be. Shaking his head he simply states. "Dunno"
"Huh!" The two exit the Shin-Ra building and head over to the SOLDIER main office.
Cloud was sitting in his office. He should have been going over the folders Reeve had just given him but he just stared at the materia in front of him.
He had gone to the now rebuilt Sector six park the other night. Now that ' the slums ' no longer existed; Cloud often came here when he felt the need to be alone to think. He had just left 'The Garden' in what had been sector 5; and even though it was late, Cloud still felt restless. So he had decided to walk off some of his energy. He had just stepped through the gate surrounding the playground when he hears a very deep authoritarian voice in his mind.
"I am still with you my friend!" Startled Cloud looks around but there was no one to be seen! He notices, by the fence, a red ball illuminated by the moonlight. A strange sense of De ja Vu comes over him as he kneels and picks it up. A warm feeling of recognition spreads through, Cloud. "Odin?"
"Yes, young Warrior! And I chose you!"
"All will be explained in due course. For now, know that I am with you!" And with that Odin fell silent but Cloud could still feel the presence of this summon; familiar but different.
What this could mean? Cloud had no idea; but if the guardians of this planet were awakening, then there would be trouble not too far off! Sighing purely to himself, Cloud headed home to tell Tifa what had happened. They no longer kept secrets from each other, especially when lives could be in danger. And right now Cloud could 'feel' a storm threatening to crash over their heads.
A loud knock startled him out of his thoughts. Recognizing it as 'Rude'. He quickly picked up the materia and watched it merge into his right hand. Startled but with no time to contemplate this development he says "Enter!"
Reno, being the first to step into the room, acknowledges Cloud. "Hey, Cloud how's it been going?" He then proceeds to make himself comfortable in the only available chair. Cloud just stares at him, waiting. Rude steps forward with the envelope and hands it to Cloud. "Orders from the Boss! And a request for your assistance?"
Ever since the 'Remnant Battle" Rufus had only ever shown Cloud the utmost respect in his dealings with him. Even when he had privately discussed, with Cloud, his new vision for SOLDIER and his reasons why he wanted Cloud to be in charge.
Cloud knew Rufus wanted to put in 'safeguards' to protect the people from anything like Jenova, Sephiroth or Omega from ever happening again; And if it did; he (Rufus) wanted people like Cloud to be ready to protect them. Even though Cloud had wondered at this change of heart in Rufus, he was privately relieved at this.
This and the realization of what it truly meant, for Cloud, to be SOLDIER. It wasn't having the STRENGTH to protect the ones he loved! It was having the conviction and confidence in himself that the STRENGTH he had would be enough to protect them! That had been what made Cloud accept Rufus offer. It would also mean that Cloud could teach, train and pass on his knowledge to the next generation. Just as Angeal had for Zack; Zack for him and... And how Sephiroth had done for Emily!
Reading the letter, Cloud's eyes narrowed slightly but he says nothing else. Picking up his phone he calls home. "
"Hey Cloud, What's up?" Tifa answers.
"Tifa, I'm sorry but I'm going to be late. Something has come up and Rufus needs me to look into it. Don't hold supper. I'm not sure how long this will take."
"Oh Cloud? Can't you give it to someone else to do?"
"Sorry, Tifa. Not this time! No one else high enough security clearance but me."
"I see, Okay then. Just do me a favor and take care and come home safe! Okay?"
"I always do!" Smiling slightly, Clouds ends the conversation.
Reno smirks and somewhat mockingly states. "Little lady sure has you trained!" Cloud glares at him as he pushes Reno boots off his desk and Rude smacks him in the back "Ouch! Hey man, why did you do that for" Reno asks his partner? "Show respect!" Rude simply replies. As Cloud states.
"It's called consideration and yes respect! Something you could do with more of!" As Cloud turns his back to Reno, he smirks to himself.. Reno wasn't a bad person. Just insolent at the very wrong times.
Walking over to his weapons stand, Cloud picks up his sword and holsters it onto his back. Bowing to the door he states. "After you!" And the three-headed out of the building into the early night; and made their way to the entrance that leads to the 'Deep Ground' Facility.
Chapter 10: Book 2; Chapter 3: Loyalty
Reeve Tuesti, having established the WRO was at odds with Rufus Shinra and his suggestion of bringing the organization under the Shin-Ra banner. Reeve worried that Rufus would follow in his fathers' footsteps. But for financial reasons, he agreed to become part of the corporation! Four years after the conflict with Deepground and with this new threat looming over their heads, Reeve finally accepts that Rufus is a changed man and he earns the respect and loyalty of the older man.
Rufus, using video surveillance, watches as the trio enters the underground facility. A feeling of apprehension comes over him. From this point on he had no means of communicating with them. As the facility was designed to block cell transmissions and there were no longer any video or commlinks from the Shin-Ra main building to the Deep Ground facility.
Reeve, sitting quietly watched Rufus. The anxiety that crossed the younger man's face was a real response to what he was watching. The worry lines etched into Rufus' face gave him a more mature look. He had changed from the callow youth who had plotted to overthrow his father and even so from the young man who swore he would rule the people through Fear. He had grown up to become a person that Reeve could respect and even follow. So he tries to ease the younger mans' anxiety.
"They will be fine!"
"I know they will. It just not knowing..."
"I wish we had one of your damn toys"
A bark of laughter escapes Reeve. "Ah but when it comes to any combat situations they have proven to be more of a hindrance than a help."
"This is unfortunately true. Have you had any further luck in communicating with your H.Q.?"
"As of yet, No! And that does concern me! But Captin Hale is the most competent person I know. If something is truly amiss she will find a way to let me know."
Rubbing his right hand in reflex Rufus states. "It is good to know you have someone of that caliber in charge."
Nodding in agreement Reeve states. "I have recommended her for SOLDIER. I wish for her to learn to stand on her own two feet with confidence and not just follow orders."
"Ah, I see. Well, Cloud will be able to push her into that direction."
"That is my hope. But what of these Labs? I had thought you had them all shutdown and permanently sealed?"
"The main sanctum I had! But these labs were deemed safe and I had other things at hand so I had left them. Mayhap I shouldn't have left it for so long." Rufus turns back to his desk and pushes the intercom to summon Tseng; Leader and Director of the Turks. A few minutes pass and Tseng enters the office through the side panel that concealed the private entrance that linked the 29th and 30th floors.
Seeing Reeve, Tseng briefly nods to him in acknowledgment. "You need me, Mr. President?" Rufus shoots his friend a baleful look. "It is Reeve and we are in the privacy of this office! Please address me by my name." Tseng bows his head to hide his smile and simply replies. "Yes, Sir!"
It had come in silent acknowledgment that when in private they could and would dispense with the formalities of rank. As the long years of association; they had developed a solid relationship of mutual respect and understanding. And then, more recently, they had become more then just friends. Tseng was truly the only living being that Rufus trusted completely.
"Tell me, the new additions to your Divison, how are they doing?"
"Very well indeed. There are four who are ready to start supervised fieldwork. One of whom I feel confident enough in his skills, I would even assign him to a partnership."
One of the new 'Codes of Operations and Conduct' that Rufus had established and was adamant about was that; No operation, no matter the division, was to be conducted solo. Teams had to consist of at least two people.
"Good! It is past time Elena takes the lead!" Tseng raises an eyebrow, a smile twitching the corner of his mouth.
'I wish for you to pair this new one up under her tutelage." Pausing he waits for Tseng to provide a name.
"He goes by the name Shadow. Male 23 years old. Specializes in stealth attack and boxes for fun."
"Excellent! He will provide hand-to-hand back up for Elena. I wish for the two of them to seek out any Bio-Teck scientists that are left and have them brought back here. This isn't a covert operation."
Shocked at hearing this; Tseng let none of it show on his face. Rufus knew though; as a slight tick occurred under Tseng's left eye when he became nervous.
"Do not worry my friend I have no intention of picking up where my father and scientist like Hojo, left off. But I have been negligent in dismantling what is left of Deep Ground! There has been a security breach in our private network. It originated from one of the labs there. The security clearance code that was used was SOLDIER 1st class Genesis!"
Tseng almost lost all of his normal composure at hearing this. His eyes widened and he blurted out. "That not possible! I deleted ALL files on or related to him and removed his access code from the system. It was standard protocol for any dead M.I.A. Or presumed dead operatives. That code hasn't been active for seven years. Rufus, do you wish me to investigate this?"
Relieved by Tseng honest answer Rufus replies. "No. I have sent Reno and Rude under Cloud's supervision to investigate the situation."
Composure now in place in place, Tseng nods. "Cloud has proven invaluable as a true SOLDIER but more than that he has the knack of keeping those two out of trouble!" They were like brothers to Tseng but for the love of the Goddess; those two could get themselves into trouble with no effort at all.
Smirking at Tseng's reply, Rufus continues. "I require people with knowledge of this type of equipment who can advise on how to properly dismantle and dispose of it. Niblehiem was bad enough when it was converted into the new energy reactors. I do not wish for any surprises to come out of here! And I do not wish to put this off any longer."
"Very good Sir, I will go see to this immediately!" And with that, Tseng let himself out of the office and went in search of Elena and Shadow.
Pouring two glasses of wine, handing one to Reeve, he simply states. "And now we wait!"
Greatly impressed and seriously relieved by Rufus' actions. Reeve accepts the glass and leaning back into his chair he replies. "Yes, I guess we do."
Chapter 11: Book 2; Chapter 4: Home Comings and Awakenings
As Sephiroth pieces his memories of his past together, he finds himself walking through the SOLDIER floor at Shin-Ra. As he reminisces, he realizes he isn't the only one to revisit this place
Sephiroth, still only a conscious entity, had gained true form. A ghost compared to Aerith or even Zack but it was a feeling akin to realizing that you were well again after having been sick for a very long time. The interactions he had witnessed between Cloud, Marlene and their family made him wonder what home had been for him. So he cleared his mind of all thoughts and focused on that singularity. He felt movement as he was pulled through the Lifestream. In less than the span of a heartbeat he stopped. Opening his eyes; he sees he is standing in the center of a common room.
Standing still, he lets this scene draw up the forgotten memories in him. Ghostly images appear of men and women walking through this room. Some heading to and from the elevator; others heading through the doors leading into the sleeping quarters. Others still sitting at tables eating, studying or lounging on the couches talking with each other. Some dressed in the varying types of SOLDIER uniforms and some dressed in civilian clothes. But even here things were still ordered, disciplined and quiet. Some of the faces where familiar but names seemed to elude him. An intense feeling of longing washed over him. This was home! This level in the Shin-Ra building was where all soldier members lived when they were not deployed. And the only place that Sephiroth truly had felt at ease.
His memories seemed to come with more ease now. Third and Second Class members had the dorms to the left. First Class had privilege by having suites accessed by the door on the right. Female members were set up similarly but their access door and quarters were the circles in the center, as there seemed to be fewer women who became SOLDIER and most only advanced to 3rd. class. The room he was now was standing in was the common area where they could mingle in an unofficial capacity. And here he was hit with a memory so hard it nearly sent him fleeing back to the safety of the Lifestream. A woman. A second class SOLDER who was his protégé; Emily!
In the next instant, it was as if his mind became a kaleidoscope of images. One flowing into the next. Lazard introducing them. Taking her to the VR room and running her through a series of exercises to determine how to best train her. Her becoming somewhat friends with Zack, although their interactions were closer to a brother and sister relationship. Finding reasons to watch her train. Trying to be more social in her presence. His few attempts at flirting with her. Sephiroth started laughing. How this woman had fascinated him and intrigued him. Sobering a little. He had come to care for this lady a great deal and had tried to show her, in his way, just how much. But it would seem that there were no more memories of her forthcoming at this time. A smile on his face he turns and walks towards the door to his right. This was where he had found permanency; as having been in the field when he was Third and Second Class; fighting in the Wutai War, He hadn't returned to Midgar very often during that time.
Stepping through the main door he sees the hallway that curved to the left. Doors on the right-hand side that lead to individual suites of the few who made it to SOLDIER First Class. And on the left 'The Baths'. A large room dedicated to the illusion of privilege. Baths of varying temperatures used for soaking; alcoves designed with waterfall-like structures used for quick scouring. Second and Third class had cubicles like stalls with an overhead sluice. It was in this room that conversation flowed. But even in here Sephiroth had maintained a distance demanded of his rank. He was perceived as the 'Leader'; 'The Alpha male'. And thanks to Shin-Ra propaganda; He was the one everyone looked up to. The one everyone wanted to emulate. The one many had come to envy. God, how much he had hated it. How uncomfortable it had made him feel. But he had learned to never let it show; as he would let a cool mask of indifference slip over his face. He was SOLDIER First Class and therefore had a level of standard to which he was expected to live up to! Most gave him a wide berth and worshiped him from afar, and he had truly hated it! Not even Angeal and Genesis truly knew how deeply he felt on this.
Continuing his journey down the hall he comes to the last set of doors. The third to last door still had his ID plate on it. Stepping through the door felt like stepping into the past and another mental dam collapsed beneath the onslaught of memories that flooded his mind. The sight before him took him back to the last day he had been here. The day before he Emily and Zack were to transport to Niblehiem. The day before his world begun to unravel.
He had been having so many doubts since both Genesis and Angeal had gone missing. The few encounters he had had with them had run counter to what Shin-Ra had wanted people to believe. Who was telling the truth and who was lying? Sephiroth had not been able to tell. And then confirmation of Angeal's' death. Genesis was MIA and presumed dead. Copies of both appearing. Monster activity increasing. Secret meetings between Hojo and the President. And then he was ordered on the mission to Niblehiem. Which included orders to monitor Zack. The company didn't fully trust him. The final conflict Zack had had with Angeal; the fact that Genesis continual evaded capture; And for unknown reasons the company wasn't trusting the TURKS to complete their orders. So He was to eliminate the target if necessary. And being a soldier and a SOLDIER; Sephiroth could and would follow orders! But this time it felt wrong! And for the first time, Sephiroth was truly in conflict.
Coming back to the present, Sephiroth brought with him the knowledge of so many pieces of his fragmented memory. At first, he wanted to run from them. To hide from the pain that these memories inflicted. To stop the soul-searing knowledge that it hadn't been Zack that had needed watching. That in truth it should have been him! But he stayed there, standing just inside his room as the memories crashed through him. At that moment, Sephiroth accepted that he and he alone had forsaken his humanity for revenge!
Time seemed to slow, as he watched images of himself in this room. Sitting at his desk drawing, lying on his bed reading; or just standing at the window staring out into nothing. The few times he, Angeal and Genesis were on leave together. Sitting here laughing, talking, joking around or just sitting together in silence. The times Genesis would become excessive theatrical and start reciting poetry, usually Loveless, in comical voices; and he and Angeal acting the adoring fans. The very few times they had gotten rip-roaring drunk. The talks he and Angeal would have about their proteges. They all happened here, in these three rooms. Where they could drop the mask of SOLDIER and just be themselves. Because the minute they walked out of these doors, they were on-duty.
Walking further into his room he notices the picture sitting on his desk. Walking over to it he remembers the day it had been taken. It was one of the rare times that the three of them were in Midgar together and had been on their way to a favorite Café; when this young woman approaches them. She nervously asks if it would be okay if she could get a picture of the three them together. She explained that her son was very interested in joining the army when he became of age and how much he idolized the three of them. Her sincerity and respect at asking for permission made it easier for Sephiroth to agree. Angeal also agreed. He usually suffered through these as he felt it was his responsibility. Genesis? Well, he bowed to the lady, gave his most winning smile and replied. "Anything for a future comrade." So the three of them had stood together and posed for the picture.
About a month later, they had received a picture of a young boy; who was lying in bed very ill. He was holding the picture his mom had taken and the smile he had lit up his face. With the picture, there was also a written letter. "SOLDIER 1st Class Sephiroth. Thank you for the picture. I have had it framed and it is sitting on my bedside table; so it is the first thing I see when I wake up and the last thing I see as I go to sleep. I have sent you a pic of me so that maybe you will remember me and know me when I join. Sincerely Yours; Johnathan. On the back of the picture, in different handwriting was Johnathan Hale: March 21, 1982, to July 16, 1988. Thank you for giving my son this precious gift.
It was now two weeks after the day the boy had passed away and there had been no return address. So the three of them had agreed to have their picture framed so that they would remember this boy's dream and as a reminder of why they had become SOLDIER. To protect those who could not protect themselves. "Well, my little friend. I am afraid I have disappointed you. I hope you can forgive me?" Sephiroth thought to himself. With a heavy heart, he continued the perusal of his room.
His gaze alighting on the weapons stand that had been designed to hold his sword; The Masamune! It had taken many hours of practice in the V.R. Combat training room to master the use of this sword.
When he had transferred into the Midgar Military Academy and begun learning about different military arts he had fallen in love with this sword. And so, being the 'teacher's pet' he had asked for permission to load scenarios from the database that would instruct him in the use of the weapon. Having full confidence in him they had allowed it under the conditions that he had to have an actual instructor with him and that it didn't interfere with his studies. So Master Fallon, one of the greatest swordsmen of his time; SOLDIER 2nd Class and semi-retired agreed to instruct him.
Sephiroth had started learning, using only small training blades but quickly mastered them and advanced to the next. So focused and determined was he that it wasn't long before he was adept at using a blade that was the same length as he was. In a very short span of a couple of years, Commander Fallon stated that there was nothing more that he could teach him. That the student had indeed outstripped the Master. As a parting gift, Fallon had designed a V.R. Program that would test the very limits of Sephiroth's skill. So for one last time, Fallon ran Sephiroth through a series of trials that would continually hone his skills. As the memory played through Sephiroth's mind, he remembered what it felt like to weld his sword. That it was a perfect extension of his arm and hand. All of his senses attuned to the enemy; aware of every move it was going to make before it did. A spiritual dance, lethal in its intent. A lesson that very few people knew; your weapon, no matter what it was, was apart of you!
Bowing his head in shame, as he remembered the many lectures of moral conduct that Master Fallon had also imparted. "Thank-you my teacher for the many lessons you had taught me. I am truly sorry that in my arrogance, I had forgotten them. I hope that you too can find it in you to forgive me?" After a moment of quiet reflection, Sephiroth inhales deeply, resolve firmly in place, he looks to the weapons stand and watches as his blade materializes from what appeared to be thin air. Laying his hand reverently on the blade, he vows. "I will be that person whom you can be proud of!" and with that thought, he passes through the wall into the next room. And here Sephiroth starts to laugh.
Everything neat and tidy. Books shelved according to size. Bed made so tight that an ant wouldn't be able to crawl into it. Notes and paperwork stacked neatly on his desk. The framed picture set at the perfect angle on the nightstand. Another picture of Angeal and Zack sparring sat on the other nightstand set in a matching angle. Shaking his head and smiling in fondness. "It is funny Angeal, just how ordered you where. Even in battle, Stay focused! I am so sorry you are no longer here. I believe I could greatly benefit from one of your talks!"
On the heels of that thought, there could be heard the heart-wrenching sobs of a man and it was coming from Genesis's room!
Chapter 12: Book 2; Chapter 5: The Truth Revealed
As these four men arrie in Junon, they are confronted with the reality that there is a serious situation evolving but more than that; they are shown that there are still people, years later, who still remember and look up to the first 1st. Class SOLDIERs and what they had originally stood for!
The four men had arrived in Junon. They disembarked and were greatly surprised to be personally greeted by Captain Tamryn Hail; Reeves 1st. IC. Briskly and with no-nonsense, she addresses them. "Gentlemen if you will please follow me!"
They were confused but did as she asked. As she leads them through the upper level of the city, she thinks to herself. "These are the people that Commander Reeve said to trust? My God!" Shaking her head she takes them up to the W.R.O. Headquarters. She spoke not a word until they had all entered Reeves' private office and secured the door. When she turned to them, they could see she was deeply concerned about something. "Please, gentlemen help yourselves to any refreshments and then be seated." They all grabbed something to drink, an after effect from being in Costa-Du-Sol was a continued thirst, and then sat down. Vincent taking the chair in front of Reeve's desk; Nanaki sat beside him on the floor. Barret leaned against the wall closest to the door; Being in Junon still had the effect of making him feel as if he was once again walking to his execution. Cid leaned against the other desk in the room. The four of them waited patiently as Captain Hale paced the floor while she gathered her thoughts as best as to how to proceed with these men.
A picture on the desk catches Cid's attention. Picking it up, eyes narrowing in anger, as he sees who one of the three men posing for this picture is. Captain Hale seeing this stops and politely but very quietly asks. "Please, can you put that down!"
Cid's head snaps up at her words but he replies, somewhat sharply. "Why in God's earth would you have a picture of HIM? Do you have any idea who this is and what he is responsible for?" Tears shining in her eyes she walks over and takes the picture from Cid. Looking at it like it was the most precious thing in the world, she replies.
"Yes, I do! It is a picture of SOLDIER 1st Class Genesis; SOLDIER 1st Class Angeal; and SOLDIER 1st Class Sephiroth." When she looked up onto Cid's eyes, the tears were now falling freely down her face. "This picture was taken just before the mass desertion of SOLDIER at Shin-Ra! My family and I lived in Midgar at that time. Sector 5 of the plate, my father having been employed by Shin-Ra. My mother had seen the three of them together and asked if she takes a picture of them to give to my brother. He idolized them; wanting so bad to become SOLDIER himself. But he had been sick for a long time and mom had thought this would cheer him up." She paused for a moment, her head bowed, shoulders shaking.
Cid now feeling like a heel, lays a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry I didn't know. I didn't mean to upset you, It's just" His words trailing off, But Tamryn, somewhat composed, continues. "I know and It's alright. With how everything happened many people either didn't know or had forgotten that these three men where highly respected members of the Shin-Ra army. And they were mine and my twin brother's heroes! The day mom showed him this picture he smiled and was able to write them a thank-you letter, A week later he passed away. This picture is all I have left and the reason why I joined the W.R.O." A heavy silence descended on the group as the four men digested this woman's story. None of them knew what to say because they too knew that at one time these men, Sephiroth included, had been Hero's to many of the people of Gaia.
"But that isn't the reason why I've called you all here. I have a situation!" Looking at the four of them she was unsure how to continue. "Damn it I don't know who else to turn to!" Frustration giving her voice a desperate edge. Vincent understood her dilemma straight away. She conflicted with her orders and unsure as to how to resolve this situation she had found herself in. Vincent was technically the higher rank in the Shin-Ra Hierarchy and seldom if ever used it but this time he did. Standing in front of the women he simple states. "Captain Hale, as Head of Security for the Niblehiem Research Facility, I outrank you! I, therefore, order you to disclose any information you seem to conflict with!" At hearing this her head snaps up, eyes wide, she blurts out. "Your Vincent Valentine!" Smirking slightly at the stunned women's disbelief, he nods. To herself, she mentally started to babble. " This is Vincent? A TURK! Oh my God; He looks more like something that just came alive from my worst nightmare." Giving him a second glance she did have to admit he was very handsome and his voice did have an almost hypnotic quality to it! And those thoughts brought a blush to her face. With that realization, she gave herself a mental shake. She was acting in an unprofessional manner!
Nanaki, having scented her discomfort. Grinned and let his tail thump the floor as he tried to suppress his laughter. Vincent glared at him but Nanaki refused to say a word. Captain Hale, having reigned in her wayward thoughts continued.
"Commander Reeve left for Midgar by Helo two days ago. I haven't received any word from him and I should have! I have tried to contact SOLDIER headquarters but with no success. There seems to be no active cell or Net signals outside of the village perimeter. Two-way radio still seems to work; as that is how I was notified of your arrival. Matters have become even more strained; I have had to pull all squads in to patrol the perimeter of the Junon village."
Unease now crept up Vincent's spine. He asks; "Fort Condor?"
"I don't know Sir! And until I can establish reliable communications; I am loath to send a team out.
Cid spoke up. "Why the heavy security around the village?"
"Because there seems to be an increase in monster activity." A pained expression crosses her face. "Also there seems to be a new type of monster species!"
Alarmed Vincent inquires. "Of what kind?"
Tamryn takes a deep breath but forges ahead. "They are a dog-like in appearance, but larger than any type known to us. They are skeletal thin. The flesh hangs off them grotesquely. The eyes are white with no pupils. They cast a yellowish glow. And the stench they emit is like nothing of this world; It's like rotting flesh of a hundred beast in high summer. Trying to kill one took three of my men striking in unison to bring it down. It then melted, faded? Back into the ground. Fortunately, they only seem to appear at dusk. I've lost two soldiers already and I'm not taking the chance of one of them slipping into the village and attacking civilians."
Nanaki now speaks with urgency. "Vincent, we need to make all haste to Midgar!" Vincent nodding replies. "Yes we do but first." Taking out an odd device; he punches in a number and waits for a reply. A moment later a young woman's voice could be heard. "Vincent is that you?"
"Why are you using the P.H.S.? I'm not out in the field!"
"It would seem communications are sketchy right now and right now I need you to pay attention!" The last, he said in a stern voice.
"Yes, Sir!" Yuffie chirps.
"Yuffie!" Vincent growls in a very dangerous voice. "Now is not the time!"
"I'm sorry Vincent."
"Is Shelke with you?"
"Yes, Vincent. I am here"
"Good I need you both to keep track of all infantry teams stationed in Niblehiem! If you can find any two-way handheld units give them to the unit commanders. If you lose contact with any units; DO NOT attempt at the rescue!"
Both girls coursed in unison, "WHAT?"
Vincent growls. "LISTEN! Make note of who and where the unit was and contact me immediately!" Very subdued, as Vincent rarely if ever treated either of them like this. The girls replied, "Yes Sir!"
"Also I want you to immediately put both the reactor and the Manor on code Yellow! If either facility is breached; put them into lockdown!" Shelke and Yuffie looked at each other a little scared by Vincent's extreme orders and the fact that this was Vincent the TURK; not the man who was more a father to both of them. Shelke replied for both of them. "We understand Vincent!" Her tone implied she was disinterested as she still had a difficult time expressing emotion, but that was far from the truth. Vincent looks at Cid questionably holding the P.H.S. Out. Nodding Cid takes it from Vincent. "Yuffie you still there?"
"Heeeyyy!" Yuffie's s natural response in greeting. Shacking his head Cid continues. "Contact Shera in Rocket Town for me. Give her the same orders to give to The Corral and Gongaga Reactors on my behalf. Let her know I'll get there as soon as I can."
"Okay, Dokie Cid will do!" Smiling fondly he gives the P.H.S. Back to Vincent. Solemnly Yuffie asks. "Vincent, can you tell us what's going on?" Are Cloud and Tifa Okay? Should we send out messages to the others? What's going on?" This verbal tirade brought a pained smile to Vincent's face. The four were well aware of how Yuffie handled stressful situations but Captain Hale was left somewhat dumbfounded by this girl's rapid rate of speech.
"Don't worry Yuffie. I am in Junon with Cid, Barret, and Nanaki. Our paths joined up in Costa-Du-Sol. I will continue to contact you this way. Until I can get further confirmation I will only say what I have! When we get to Edge I will contact you again. Is this understood?" His voice becoming stronger than normal to emphasize his point.
"Yes, Vincent." The girls replied.
"Fine then. Contact me only if the situation changes!" He then proceeded to disconnect before Yuffie had a chance to catch her breath. Barret amazed asked. "You kept the P.H.S.?"
Laughing Vincent replies. "Yes! It has come in handy; as it is the only way I can keep track of Yuffie when she is out on assignment. Many of the places she goes tend to dampen cell signals so..."
Cid laughed, "Still trying to prove she is the greatest warrior to come out of Wutai?"
Grimacing Vincent replies "Yes!"
Nanaki retorts, somewhat dryly. "That child is a test to anyone's patience." And then the four men broke out into laughter.
"But I wouldn't have her any other way. Her and Shelke have become like sisters and it does each other well." Vincent replies.
Smiling also, Cid nods. "Well and good! It seems your influence on the child has mellowed her somewhat." At that Vincent nods.
Captain Hale stood there looking very confused, as these men were less disciplined than a group of school children. And nothing like the ones, she thought, was responsible for the defeat of Sephiroth, Jenova, The Remnants and Omega. Noticing her discomfort, Vincent spoke up. "Captain Hale. We have been comrades and friends for quite a few years now. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses; and how to support each other. Military rank and structure, for us, is more of a hindrance. It would only get in the way!"
Surprised that this man was so intuitive to her unease, she replies "Oh I see."
Barret having been quiet for most of the discussion interjects. "The two girls with whom we were just speaking with; were very young when they joined us in our fight. And because of their circumstances, have adopted us as family. Vincent, being the constant in their lives, has been gifted with the role of 'Father." Captain Hale's only reply was to nod.
Vincent knowing that time was no longer on their side interrupts, effectively ending the conversation. "Captain Hale. I am going to suggest that you evacuate the civilian population from the village to the upper levels. I am hoping it will be easier to protect them!" At her nod of acknowledgment, he then asks. "Is there still a Helo available?"
"Yes of course. The one the Commander took has returned. So I do know he arrived in Midgar and is Okay."
"May we use it?" Vincent queries.
"Of course. Just give me a minute." Flipping her cell on; She gives the order to have the Helo prepped and ready for transport. "Gentlemen do you know the way" they all nodded.
"Please feel free to depart when you are all ready!" The four men, having been dismissed, filed out of the office and headed to the Helo pad.
Once out of earshot Vincent calmly asks Nanaki "Will you please tell me what you found so humorous about the Lady's reaction to me when she realized who I am?" Nanaki' s tail twitched, as he panted with laughter. His mind voice rich with amusement, he replies. "Her realization that past the nightmare is a very attractive man and her inevitable physical reaction to that thought." Vincent stops walking and stares at Nanaki, in complete shock; who at that moment loses all control of his mirth and lays down, sides heaving, he was laughing so hard.
Starting to walk again, Vincent briskly replies. "She is just a child!"
Cid not being able to resist the opportunity to tease Vincent retorts. "Not from what I could see! Although the uniform is quite severe."
Barret barks with laughter and slaps Vincent, good-natured, on the back. "Yep! Most definitely not a child!" Vincent, not wanting to encourage them any further, wraps his cloak tightly around himself and purposely strides to the Helo pad. The sound of masculine laughter followed him, as they all headed to the launch pad.
Tamryn, standing in the office holding the picture of the three 1st. Class SOLDIERS; confused beyond belief about this encounter. Her life had always been about discipline and structure. But here was a group of warriors who acted just like normal civilians. She truly didn't know how to relate.
Chapter 13: Book 2; Chapter 6: An Unexpected Reunion
Cissnei had been ordered back to Benora to varify the town had been destroyed. The reality was President Shinra, being displeased with the insubordination of the TURKS, had judged her and sent her to her execution. Fate or Minerva had intervened and Genisis had shown up one last time, taking her back to DeepGround and then into Mako Hibernation. Eight years later she is found by those who she believes abandoned her in her time of need.
Weapons were drawn, postures tense, eyes scanning. Cloud, Reno, and Rude walked down the long sloping corridor that led to the first group of labs. Everything was dimly lit; it was hard to tell shadow from the darkness. So oppressive was the atmosphere that even Reno refrained from acting his normal, exuberant shelf.
Upon reaching the main lab area Cloud asks. "Rude do you know where we should be headed?" Checking the tracking beacon on his phone. Pointing to the right, he responds. "Follow this hall until we get to the third door. It should be that room."
Reno solemnly states. "Wish the Boss had included a couple of Infantry. This place is like a maze, and it's freaking me out!" Hearing the real fear in Reno's voice; Cloud automatically snaps him out of it with a bit of sarcastic teasing. "What's the matter Reno? Fraid Sephiroth gonna jump out and bite ya?"
Whipping around to glare at him, Reno very promptly responds with. 'Fuck off Cloud! That isn't even remotely funny!" Rude could be heard chuckling softly, but the anger burned through the fear that had tried to take a hold of Reno. Cloud smiled to himself. Having worked closely with these two men these last three or so years; they had built a solid foundation of not quite friendship but more Brothers-in-Arms. And they worked well together. Their fighting skills complemented each other; Even if their personalities clashed.
Having reached the room, indicated by the tracking beacon, they stepped inside. And as they entered an overhead light turned on automatically, momentarily blinding them. When their eyes adjusted they could see three Mako cells. The first one had been drained and opened. The other two contained bodies.
Reno, slightly ahead of the other two, saw her first. His heart dropped to the pit of his stomach. "Cissnei!" Rude, only a second behind him; grabs hold of his partner. "Wait!" Shaking him as Reno tried desperately to escape Rude grasp. "We don't know what's going on. Just wait!"
"Rude she's alive!" Rude seeing the desperation in his partners' eyes, knowing his own reflected the same; he turns to look at Cloud. Pointing to the computer terminals he asks. "Can any of this tell us what's going on?" Nodding, Cloud goes over to them, he punches in his access code, gaining access into the system. "This is patched into the mainframe of Shin-Ra!" Quickly searching for the information he needed. "They are labeled as 'Hibernation Pods' The Mako level is extremely low. These are meant to keep patients in a stasis sleep while they are being treated and heal. But other than vital states there is no other information on them. Cloud face flushed with anger as the vague but real memories surface from the time he and Zack had been new test subjects in Hojo Jenova Project.
Rude looking closer at the second tube "Is that? No!..." Reno, now calm, looks at what caught his partners' attention. "Holy shit! It's Weiss." Seeing the person who had been used as the vessel to bring forth Omega brought home the fact that events of the past where influencing the events occurring now.
"What about her?" nodding his head towards the last cell. Reno and Rude turned and looked at Cloud as is he had just grown two heads. "You don't remember her?" Cloud goes over to the pod to get a better look at her. But nothing came to mind. "I'm sorry, I don't! Who is she?" Reno seemed to have lost his ability to speak. He stood there his mouth kept opening but no words came out. Rude taking pity on him replied. "She was... Is a senior field agent with the TURKS. She was assigned to apprehend you and Zack. She was also responsible for reporting on any sighting of Angeal or Genesis copies. In reality, she only monitored your movements. Tseng not having a good feeling about the whole situation as the order to apprehend the two of you came from Hojo and not the President, he had us not intervene directly" Here Reno continued. "After the final order was issued for you and Zack and we had failed to find you first. Cissnei was ordered to Banora to verify that the town had been 'purified'. That there were no survivors or Genesis copies left. She missed her rendezvous! We were told that an infantry unit had been sent in to find her but there was no trace her."
Cloud, deep in thought, let the images from when he and Zack had been on the run from Shin-Ra, came to the surface of his mind. But try as he might she was not one of them. Voicing an opinion he calmly states. "Maybe Hojo had her brought here to be used in his experiments?" A sadness filled Cloud at this thought. How many people had lost their lives to this man's madness? But they had to deal with this situation so; "Whoever was in the first tank is alive and out there somewhere! We should focus our efforts on finding out who it is and where they are!"
Reno, not one to show the more mature side of himself; turned a looked at Cloud and replied in all seriousness. "I know Cloud, but if we wake her; she could help us make sense out of this. Like how she got here, who was with her. Please, Cloud! I... We failed her once already. Please don't make us do this so for a second time!" There is defiantly more to this then they two TURKS were letting on but Cloud agreed. So he initiated the release sequence; They watched as the Mako slowly dissipated. The locking mechanism clicked, and the door slid open, Reno and Rude damn near knocking each other out trying to get to her before she fell unto the floor.
Rude being slightly ahead catches her as she falls forward. He gently slaps her face and calls her name. A few minutes pass before she opens her eyes and responded. "Rude ?" Unexpected tears fill her eyes then Reno pops into her view. "Reno ?". She hadn't expected it to be these two who would find her. "How, Where?" the effort to speak seemed to sap the strength out of her but the moment Cloud stepped into her field of vision there was a flash of anger in her eyes but, it disappeared just as quickly. She then fainted.
Reno takes off his Blazer and wraps it around Cissnei and takes her from Rude. "Quickly we need to get her out of here!" and heads for the hallway leading back to the surface stating. "We'll use the Back Door its closer!"
Running to keep up with him; they all burst out of the entrance into the night air. Taking a moment to orientate themselves, Cloud realizes it is quiet. Too quiet! Automatically he draws his sword and assuming a defensive stance he scans the area. "Don't move!" And then a growling could be heard echoing off the walls of the surrounding structures. Rude readies himself for a fight; while Reno adjusts Cissnei over his shoulder and pulls out his weapon.
The shadows seemed to move as a dog-like creature forms and detach itself from thin air. It begins to menacingly advance on the trio, growling deep in its chest. It was a creature that none of them had ever seen before. It looked like a corpse dog; glowing with a faint sickly yellow light. When it got to within a few feet of them; they were overcome with an awful stench of decay. Gagging somewhat, they stepped backward.
Reno states "What in the Hell is THAT?" and Cloud replies with. "I don't know! Reno, Once Rude and I engage this thing; I want you to make, a break for the main building. And hopefully, there isn't anymore!" Shocked at being told to leave Reno sputters "Bbbut?" Cloud briefly glancing at Reno and firmly states. "You need to get her to safety! And someone needs to let Rufus know what is going on!"
"Fine!" Shifting Cissnei a little he readies himself to run. As soon as Rude and Cloud attack the beast; he bolts for the 'Backdoor'; the secret entrance into Shin-Ra Prime. The only people knowing of its existence where The President and Senior members of the TURKS. Quickly he palms the hidden access panel open and inputs his identity code. The hidden door opens revealing a lift system. Quickly looking back at where he had left Cloud and Rude; he could only see, darkness, deeper than the area surrounding it. The sounds of fighting loud in the night air but not a trace of his two friends!
"Damn-it, What the hell is going on?" A sick feeling started to form in the pit of his stomach. He needed to report this. And he needed to get her to safety but how could he not support them in this fight. A strange feeling of what felt almost like sadness filled him as he entered the lift. And as the doors closed it felt like he had just condemned his two friends to a death sentence.
Standing now on the platform as the lift automatically engages and begins its ascent to the 30th floor. Once the lift had been activated, it would also alert the President. A moment later the intercom buzzed to life.
"Identify?" The president's voice echoed into the lift.
"Trouble Boss. Real trouble!" Reno then proceeds to fill Rufus in as he ascends to the upper levels, holding Cissnei tight in his arms.
As Rufus listened to Reno's report, he went into action. Dispatching orders for a medical team to come to his office. He sent orders to the standing Infantry unit in Midgar, to locate Cloud and Rude, at these coordinates and assist them. He sent alerts to all other law and security personal in the Midgar and Edge to be on the lookout for other beasts of this description. And finally, he issued a static alert, which would notify all citizens that there was a situation and to remain indoors until further notice.
Reeve stood quietly to the side watching Rufus as he took charge of this situation. This was something his father would never have done. The late and un-laminated President would have left it to his subordinates. If he cared at all. But here was Rufus, a person Reeve had known as a child, calmly and efficiently ensuring that everyone's safety was being taken care of. Rufus Shinra was no longer a pawn or a puppet who danced to the teachings his father instilled in him. He had become true a true leader. And that night, Rufus earned not only Reeves' respect but his loyalty.
Chapter 14: Interlude
Interlude: Can't Let This Happen Again!
Sephiroth stood there staring at Genesis having no idea what, if anything, he could do to help his friend. This was not the confident, self-assured man he had known. The arrogant and somewhat vain individual seemed to no longer exist; in its place was this man who's sorrow was so great that it appeared to be consuming him. Add to the fact that Genesis was still very much alive and that no one knew of this; gave the encounter an ominous feel. As Sephiroth stood there, watching his friend, he wondered at his feelings towards this man. As more memories of their friendship went careening through Sephiroth's mind. Genesis had been his friend, comrade, and a confidant and his closets rival but in the end, Sephiroth had believed that Genesis had betrayed him. And even though all of these thoughts and feelings still confused Sephiroth, he had this overwhelming desire to console his friend. He stepped forward with that intent when there came a shout from the hallway. "You are in a restricted area!"
Genesis, being jerked suddenly back to the present, snarls in a violent rage. The picture in his hand bursting into flames. Rising up and in one swift motion, lunges at the security officer, grabbing him by the face. "HOW DARE YOU!" Being fueled not only by the rage inside of him but by the Entity's will; the man's face caves beneath Genesis's grip. Genesis, unknowingly, pulls the life force out of the mans' body, thus feeding the Entity inside of him. Once dead, the life force completely drained, Genesis lets the corpse drop to the floor. He then storms out of the room.
Sephiroth could only stand there trying to come to terms with what he had just witnessed. The moment Genesis had taken that man's life; Sephiroth had seen the Dark Entity, superimposed over Genesis. And that IT was the Master and it was the one who manipulating Genesis. Sephiroth had to do something! He flees back into the Lifestream calling for Aerith.
Chapter 15: Book 2; Chapter 7: Conflicted and confronting the enemy
Cissnei has returned to the land of the living. Locked and coded floors are mysteriously being accessed. Shin-Ra employees becoming undead monsters and a young girl reveals an incredible power!
When the doctor had finished examining Cissnei, he turned to address Rufus. "Her vital signs are stable but she is malnourished, to say the least. I will know more once we get the blood work back."
Rufus looked at Cissnei. He knew who she was but had had little contact with her before she had gone MIA. To know that she had spent quite some time in a Mako chamber made his blood boil. Unfortunately, Reno had said there was no information as to why she was in there and with, of all people, Weiss! Not knowing made him nervous but he continued to show nothing but a calm face. "Thank you, Doctor! As we do not yet know the full circumstances of her situation; I would like to keep her here where she can be guarded!"
The Doctor nodded and replied. "That's fine! I can have everything set up here in just a few minutes." He then sent a few text messages to his staff to bring up the necessary equipment. Once that had been completed, he and his staff left.
Rufus now stood at her bedside with Tseng, Reno, and Elena. "Elena, stay with her until she awakens! Tseng, go and find out if there is anything that would explain this. Reno, you're with me!" He then turned and headed back up the stairs to his office; knowing full well that his team would follow their orders.
Shortly after they had left; Cissnei woke up in a strange bed, feeling sluggish and disorientated. She quickly realized she was hooked up to an I.V. and vital sign monitors. Giving herself a moment to let her mind clear, she opened her eyes. Genesis's last words came to mind "Do nothing but observe!" And so she would. But the shock of seeing Reno and Rude and the concerned looks on their faces almost had her bawling like a baby. She hadn't realized how much she had missed them. But why hadn't they come for her? Before she had the chance to ask, 'HE' had come into her view! The grunt she had spent months chasing. The one Zack refused to leave behind! It should have been him who had died. Not Zack! Anger burned in the pit of her stomach. But here HE was, parading around in what looked to be a new variation of the SOLDIER uniform. Blinded by the white-hot rage inside of her; she clenched her fists.
"Ah, so you are awake!" A slightly breathy voice penetrates Cissnei's thoughts. Turning her head, she sees a slightly younger woman, sitting in a chair beside her bed. Her back was to the wall and her feet propped on a stool. Her features where delicate, her hair shortly cropped but so blond it appeared white. She looked, to the casual observer, to be quite relaxed but Cissnei knew better. This woman was a TURK and her posture belied the fact that she was coiled like a snake; ready to strike any threat. So this was the woman who had replaced her!
"Yes, I am! And you are?"
"Elena. And Yes I know who you are Cissnei!"
Great, the woman was already two steps of her. Oh well, there was nothing for it. "Where am I?"
"You are in our private residence."
"Pardon?" Now Cissnei was confused because all Turks had been issued private living quarters outside of the Shin-Ra building, but from what she could tell this looked to be more of a dorm.
Elena gave Cissnei a look of pity. It was obvious she had been in stasis for quite some time and probably knew nothing of the past years. "The TURKS living quarters are here in Shin-Ra Prime with our Head Office" Elena quietly states; keeping a close eye on the other Cissnei. She didn't trust her but couldn't put her finger on exactly why. When she had opened and focused her eyes, Elena saw that they were no longer the brown color that her dossier had listed; They were now a clear amber color! Most likely the result of having spent the last years in a Mako cell. But they gave her an intense piercing look like she was looking into the depths of your soul. Add to the fact that Cissnei would now possess skills and strengths closer to those who had been SOLDIER made Elena shudder in dread.
Cissnei wanted to trust this other woman. They where both TURKS for Christ's sake but something held her back. Did Elena know she replaced Cissnei? Was she responsible for making that situation in Benora happen? Would she kill her now that she wasn't able to defend herself? There where so many doubts inside of her head. What was Shin-Ra Prime? And why would their residence be with their headquarters? How long has she been in stasis? So she asked the first thing that came to mind. "Can I have some water please?"
Elena nodded, got up and helped Cissnei sit up. Then passing her a glass of water waits for her to finish. After a few sips her hands begun to shake and her vision begun to go grey. Setting the glass down on the side table; she leans back into the pillows that now supported her and closes her eyes. The last thing she heard before falling asleep was Elenas' phone ringing and her brief replies.
"Yes, Sir!"... "Yes, she is awake. Well, sort of."... "No Sir"... "Yes, I will!" And then the soft click of the phone. Her last thought, before sleep took her was, "Who is Sir?"
Rude punched the creature HARD. Sending it flying into Clouds path. And Cloud, having learned how to tap in this phenomena known as a Limit Break, at will, now executed a perfect strike of superhuman strength and precision. Slashing the beast in half.
Finally, it laid on the ground, still. The God awful glowing extinguished, as the creature faded from existence. Although the smell of decay still lingered, the beast was no more. The two men stood breathing heavy as the adrenaline slowly dissipated.
"Commander Strife? ... Where the hell did you just come from?" a startled voice shouted from behind them; as he and Rude turned, their weapons were drawn. Seeing that it was the Lieutenant of the Midgar Infantry unit; they relaxed marginally. The looks on the faces of these men would have been hysterical, in another situation, as they had just literally just witnesses Cloud and Rude materialize right in front of them.
With brisk efficiency, The Lieutenant regained his composure. "Sirs, please this way. President Rufus wants to be debriefed on this situation immediately!" Cloud nods and starts walking towards the main entrance. All of his senses still on alert to any threat of danger. Rude was still bent over trying to catch his breath quips. "I'm getting too old for this shit!"
Cloud laughs. "What's the matter, old man. Time to put you out to pasture?"
Glaring at Cloud, Rude straightens himself and proceeds to follow. As they entered the lobby of the main floor, they noticed that there was something odd about the staff that was on duty. They all sat or stood, staring blankly and not saying a word. And then it hit them; that awful stench of decay.
Cloud draws his massive sword. "On your guard men!"
Rude, flipping his phone open, punches in his code to initialize the 'lock-down' protocol of Shin-Ra Prime. "Here we go again!" He exclaims as he executes a back kick into the security guard who had advanced on him.
Rufus and Reeve jump up in startlement as doors close and lock. A siren begins to blare through the intercom system.
Elena jumps up and pulls out her weapon the moment the sounds of the lock-down siren begins. Cissnei, startled out of sleep, reflexively jumps out of bed. Too quickly! Her legs, not yet able to support her weight, she crumples to the floor.
Cid, Barret Vincent, and Nanaki; having just landed on the Helo pad on top of Shin-Ra building, only just made the entrance when the lock-down commenced; filed into Rufus office. Cid yelled. "What in the nine hells is going on?" Rufus jumps and turns at hearing the new voice, his back has been towards the stairwell that led from the roof, draws his shotgun. The three men, hands up, shout "Hey, easy Rufus! It's just us!" Relief quickly showed on the younger man's face but was just as quickly it was replaced with the mask he wore as President! "I don't know yet!" Heading around his desk he accesses his private terminal. "It's Rude's code that has initialized the lock-down! But, Damn-it I can't find him! I've got no video surveillance. What the hell!" Rufus exploded!
Reno came charging into the room where they had put Cissnei just in time to see her fall. Running over to her he gently picks her up off the floor and lays her back on the bed. Looking into her face and seeing how ashen her skin color was; the feelings he a buried, tried to break free. Silently berating himself; now is not the time! Getting himself under control, he turns to see Elena staring at him. Becoming defensive he snaps. 'What?" Calmly Elena replies. "She's going to be trouble!"
"You don't know what you're talking about!" He snaps. Shrugging she returns with. "I'm going upstairs to check on the President."
"Fine, I'll stay here and guard her."
Cloud and Rude were having one hell of time dispatching the three Shin-Ra employees. Of the five, only two of them where security guards. The other three were just regular civilians. But every time they would cut one down; It would flare with this unholy light, get up and resume attacking them. The mobile unit was being taken to task by the two security guards and their hounds. Panting with exertion Rude states. "We can't keep this up much longer!" In a worried voice Cloud returns with. "I know! Why the hell won't they stay down?"
It was at that precise moment Marlene could be seen standing in the middle of the lobby, watching the scene in front of her. "MARLENE! What in the hell... Oh for God's sake!" Cloud tried desperately to get to her so that he could protect her but there was no break in the fighting. Then one of the security hounds landed right in front of her but instead of running she laid her hand on its head. Eyes focused on the creature, a white glow begins to emanate from her hand. Then with a pained yelp, the dog fell dead. She continued to do this as each fell into her vicinity.
When all of the possessed beings had finally been dispatched; Cloud dropped his sword and ran over to her. Wrapping his arms around her, he checks to see that she isn't injured. Finding her to be perfectly okay, Cloud then became angry. "MARLENE ELEANOR WALLACE!"
Placing a gentle finger on Cloud's lips, she smiles and says "Love you too Cloud." She then returns the hug. As the events that had just transpired catch up to her, she begins to shake in reaction. Rude comes over and places a gentle hand on the child's shoulder adding his support. In her quiet voice, she says "They were already dead Cloud!" Sadness creeping into her voice. "I just broke the link that kept them tied to the realm." Confused Cloud asks "Marlene what do you mean?" Holding up her right hand, she let's Holy shine forth. Cloud feels Odin resonating with approval. Stunned beyond belief he asks "How?"
Looking into Cloud's gentle eyes she replies. "I don't know exactly. I just have it!" She pauses a moment. "And I am its rightful custodian! So now I guess it's my time to join the fight?" Just as she was saying this; the elevator doors opened and six men rush forward. One thunderous voice shouts. "Like HELL you are, young lady!" Squealing with joy she goes from a serious young adult to an exuberant child in less than three seconds. "DADDY!" She runs full tilt and throws herself into Barret's arms. "You're home" and all thoughts of discipline fled from his mind as he held his daughter for the first time in months. Cloud stood, deep in thought, as he replayed the conversation over in his mind and he realized just how much Marlene had grown up in the last few years and strangely she reminded him of Aerith; She wasn't a child any longer. Holstering his sword, he follows everyone into the elevators.
Chapter 16: Book 2; Chapter 8: Decisions
Marlene is no longer a child and she now posses 'Holy', the only magic that seems to have the ability to sever the link that ties the reanimated to this realm but not everyone is willing to see her as anything but their little girl
They were all sitting in Rufus office; with Marlene standing in the center, in front of Rufus' desk. She felt like she had been bad at school and was now being taken to task by the Head Master. The only difference being, Rufus was the only one with an understanding and sympathetic expression on his face. All of the others ranged from slightly amused to downright angry.
Stomping her foot for emphasis; Marlene states for the third time. "Healing magic won't work! The creatures aren't just undead! They have been bound to this plain."
Cloud, trying to keep things calm, quietly asks. "Marlene, how do you know this for sure?"
Looking at her Foster father she replies. "I don't know how I know; I just do. It's like the knowledge as always been there and when I needed it, I've become aware of it.
Barret, sitting forward in his chair, arms crossed. States flatly "You are not coming!"
Glaring at her father, knowing to argue with him further was futile, she adopts a mirror image of him and retorts. "Fine! But when you are all dead and unable to return to the Planet. Don't come crying to me because I'll still be too young to help!" and with that, tears in her eyes; She turns and runs downstairs. Flying past a startled Reno, who had been dozing in the chair besides Cissnei bed. She stormed into the first empty room she found and slammed the door so hard, it made Reno jump, Cissnei moan in her sleep and everyone upstairs cringed.
Denzel sighed. He and Tifa, having gotten word of what was going on, had come to Shin-Ra as fast as they could. Not saying a word he got and followed his little sister downstairs. Tifa just looks at the rest of the group in exasperation.
Reno sat there, stunned. He had known this child for most of her life. But he had never seen her lose her temper like this. Smirking he says out loud. "Little thing has gotten to become quite the spitfire!" Denzel, coming down the stairs, looks at Reno inquiringly. Reno nods to the door Marlene entered. Nodding, Denzel walks over and knocks on the door. "Marlene, it's just me" A moment later the door opened and Denzel stepped inside. Closing it slightly but not tightly.
Looking at Cissnei, even though she was still sleeping, Reno remarks. "Kinda funny how people become family but well there it is. Two orphaned children who have become closer than many real sibs."
A solid tread could be heard coming down the stairs. A moment later Rude appeared into the room. "Boss wants us upstairs!"
Looking from Cissnei to his partner, Reno began to protest. Rude shakes his head negatively. "She's fine!" The three new ones are still here and we'll be just upstairs. The reports have come back from the hospital. She's only has a mild case of Mako poisoning; which is surprising that it isn't worse, considering how long she was in stasis. It's gonna take some time before she is feeling normal". In a rare moment of apathy Rude puts his hand on Reno's shoulder. "Come on buddy, there's nothing you can do for her right now." Looking slightly defeated, Reno nods and follows Rude out of the room.
As the four senior TURKS enter the office, Tseng coming up from the main stairwell. Cid could be heard saying somewhat sarcastically. "Well, that went well!"
Barret glares at him. "If it was your daughter; would you let her go?"
"Don't know. Don't got one!" Cid replies nonchalantly. Before the two men could come to blows; Rufus stands up and in his calm but forceful voice states. "Gentlemen, please! We need to figure this out!" Being thusly rebuked, the two men glare at each other but fall silent and turn their attention towards the President.
"Bear with me. I am going to detail what we already know and then we can proceed with how we are going to deal with this!" Lifting a pad of paper he had been making notes on he begins to read off of it. "First of all; We have had a security breach from a lab that is in a locked and restricted building. The access code was of SOLDIER 1st Class Genesis Rhapsodos. I have searched all the data that has been left at my disposal. Past the date of his defection from Shin-Ra and SOLDIER; I can not find any official documentation of him. Tseng steps forward. Rufus nods for him to take the lead.
"It was standard protocol to erase all security access for any employee who left Shin-Ra. Normal employees seldom presented any problems. But those who knew the more in-depth workings of the company, like those scientists involved in projects like Jenova; TURKS; SOLDIER; or executive members. Their whole personal and personnel files would be completely scrubbed from the entire system." A momentary expression of pain crossed Tseng's face. "And in many cases, to prevent the leak of sensitive material, said members would often find their life expectancy severely cut sort." Bowing his head, trying to give himself time to compose himself but Rufus calmly states. "Tseng that is in the past. And no one is judging you!" Nodding Tseng continued. "This had been my responsibility from the time I took over as Lead TURK. As Heidegger, being a man of action, would delegate these tasks to me, instead of doing them himself. This practice was upheld during the former President's tenure. Looking up at the group who were listening intently to him his gaze stops at Cloud. "I was the one who personally deleted the files on You, Zack, Sephiroth, Angeal and Genesis." Cloud nodded in understanding at what was left unsaid. That it was also Tseng who had been given the order to his team to eliminate these men. But Cloud now knew that it was also Tseng's unease over the whole situation that had allowed him and Zack to escape time and again. And only the intervention of the army had been what finally had brought this conflict to somewhat close.
"Our brief conversation with Cissnei, when she was first brought in leads me to believe Genesis was still alive at that time. She had said she was attacked by multiple Genesis copies." Barret interrupts;
"Copies? What, in the blazes do you mean by that?"
Promptly Cloud replies. "I'll tell you later!" He then nods to Tseng to carry on.
"She had been ordered to Benora to confirm the situation there. That was about three days after Zack had been confirmed dead!" Pausing, Tseng allowed himself a moment to compose these painful memories. Being a TURK meant you completed the mission; You were trained so that your emotions didn't take control of you! But it didn't stop you from being human.
Rufus interjects. "Tseng why was the order given to cleanse Benora and why was Cissnei sent alone?"
"An airstrike was ordered on the village because it had been confirmed that was where Genesis had his base of operations." Tseng eyes then flared with anger as he remembered what he and Zack had found when the had first arrived in the small village. Two of his operative dead; The townspeople all dead and then Angeal's mother taking her life. He took a deep breath then continued with his narrative though. "I believe Cissnei was ordered to go because she had failed, in the former president's opinion, to bring the targets in; and because the TURKS were not in his good favor at that time. If this is true, then she had been sent to her death. I also believe this was one of the methods being used to eliminate us!" Hand clenched and head slightly bowed. Tseng silently berated himself for not having realized this sooner. Guilt was a heavy cross he had born since that day. Rufus saw the pained expression on Tsengs face and the twitch of the small muscle under his left eye; subtle changes that many wouldn't recognize but Rufus did and right now there was nothing he could do to ease this pain and it hurt him. Knowing also that Tseng had finished, picks up the thread of conversation.
"Firstly, we have a lab that contains three active Mako cells and had human subjects in them. Secondly, We have lost all communication outside of the city limits. It's also been confirmed that Junon and Kalm are having the same issues. Fortunately, we have enough Chocobo riders that we can pass along communications between our towns. Thirdly, there are now more confirmed encounters with these undead creatures. Forth, I have just received a report there has been another security breach using Genesis's code and a, confirmed death.
Rude inquires. "From the Lab again?" Rufus looks up at Rude, shaking his head. "No. This one occurred on the twelfth floor!" At hearing this Cloud, Tseng, Reno, and Elena heads all jerk up and each of them looked as if they had been struck in the back of the head. Tseng being the first to recover states. "Sir, you are the only one who has access to that floor!"
Tifa confused, quickly asks. "What's on the twelfth floor?" Cloud, a haunted expression on his face, replies. "It was the floor dedicated to housing SOLDIER members when they were in Midgar!"
Rufus nodded and replied. "I had hoped that that floor would become useful again..." Shaking his head; "Another project I had put on the back burner as not being a priority."
Cloud hesitantly asks. "Where was the body found?"
"Lying in the doorway of the room that was Genesis's," Rufus replies.
An ominous silence fell over the group as they digested all the information. Then Reeve's voice cuts through the air. "So basically we have a situation that for now is contained to this continent. We don't know the why but we are pretty sure of the who! Also, we have a new monster type that can't be killed outright and another that seems to manifest from the grave. And lastly, we have a young lady who has very powerful magic and seems to be the only one capable of defeating these monsters!" No one said a word. What could they say?
Tifa got up and headed downstairs to where Marlene and Denzel where. "Well no matter what. They are involved and should be apart of this discussion before they get it into their heads to go out and do something on their own!" And with that, she went to get her children.
Marlene and Denzel
Denzel sat on the edge of the bed listening to his little sister vent. Not many people realized how much Marlene hated being treated like she was still six years old; as she was very good at hiding her feelings. Knowing this, Denzel had always provided Marlene a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen to; so that it didn't end up festering inside of her. Giving her a quick hug he asks. "Are you okay now?"
"Ya, thanks, Denzel!"
"Good, cause you and I both know there are going to be tough times ahead!"
"Ya, I know!"
"And Marlene. Aerith believes in you! And I believe in you!" Denzel was the only person in the world who shared her secret about Aerith. "You stayed by my side the whole time I was sick. You were my strength, my guiding light. You are a very strong and capable person! Never doubt that for a moment. And if a time comes when your burdens become too great; Big Brother is always here for you!" Denzel, now standing, grins and does a mock bow.
Laughing at his antics, her humor restored. Marlene replies, "Thank you!"
Tifa walked carefully down the stairs; muttering to herself. "Men! Not one wit between the lot of them!" As she enters the sitting area, she notices all the furniture had been rearranged to accommodate a hospital bed. And in it lay sleeping women. Two unknown TURKS sat in chairs on either side of the bed but they must have known who she was because they only looked up and acknowledged her presence with nods. Thinking to herself that this was strange. Why wouldn't they have her in the hospital ward? But proceeded into the room she heard Denzel's' voice coming from.
Knocking to announce her presence, she then enters the room. She goes over and gives them both a hug and with a sad smile, she states. "Come on you two. For better or worse events seem inclined to have included you so it will be better if you are a part of the discussions!" And with that, the three of them returned to the President's office.