Premonitions II-C: Crisis Core

BY : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 708
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, it any characters therin. I am not making any money here.

Chapter 21: More Ice

Zack and Cloud continued to lead the other two.

"Let's wait a bit," Zack said as Tseng and the other infantryman continued to straggle.

Cloud took a look at Zack. He then asked him a question that had been on his mind since he was fourteen.

"Hey, Zack," he began, "what's it like to be in SOLDIER?"

Zack folded his arms.

"I don't quite get the question," he replied.

Cloud was silent.

Zack realized he needed to answer somehow.

"Well, once you join, you'll know what it's like."

"If I can join, that is," Cloud sighed as he lowered his head.

"Don't sweat it!" Zack assured him. "If I can do it, you can do it, too!"

And then, Zack spotted something out of the corner of his eye.

It appeared to be a base of some kind.

Cautiously, Zack and Cloud bent down to examine it. They could see Genesis copies roaming the base left and right.

Meanwhile, the other two caught up with them.

"That's a mako excavation test site, Tseng explained.

"I'll go check it out," Zack volunteered as he stood up.

"Our primary objective is to investigate Modeoheim," Tseng objected. "We can't afford to lose people here." He then spotted what Zack had seen. "At the same time, we can't ignore the activities of the Genesis army. Therefore..."

"Infiltrate while avoiding combat?" Zack interrupted.

"Exactly," Tseng replied. "There's an entrance at the back of that warehouse. Once you're inside the facility, you can do as you like."

"You got it!" Zack assured him. "I'll prove to you that SOLDIER isn't all about muscle or brawn!" He then turned to his companion. "You watch carefully, too, Cloud."

Cloud nodded.

"In this blizzard," Tseng warned, "you're going to have to watch your body temperature. If you stand still for too long, your temperature will decrease rapidly. To get your body temperature back up, do your usual thing."

"My usual thing, huh?" Zack asked. "Yeah, I get it."

"SOLDIER operatives are amazing," Cloud said to himself. "I wonder if I have what it takes."

Zack descended the slope to the facility. Genesis copies attacked him quickly, and he killed them just as quickly.

"What did you train him with?" Cloud asked.

"Lazard picked him," Tseng replied. "And it just came naturally."

Meanwhile, Zack hid behind a wall. He did a couple of squats every now and then, to keep his body temperature up. He moved from location to location, hiding behind buildings and pipes.

Eventually, three Genesis copies did spot him. Zack quickly dispatched them before any of them could sound the alarm.

He soon made his way inside one of the buildings.

Inside the building, it looked like a typical industrial facility. Zack descended the stairs and soon encountered three Genesis copies, which he killed in one swipe.

As Zack reached the bottom of the stairs, he found an elevator. With nowhere else to go, he embarked, and the elevator began moving up. As he continued to ascend, he began to hear drama unfolding.

"What's the meaning of this?!" someone demanded. The voice almost sounded like Hollander's. "You need me Genesis, remember that. If you get rid of me, who's going to stop the degradation?"

At that moment, the elevator reached the top.

Zack saw what he had suspected: Genesis was threatening Hollander with a sword.

"The Jenova cells," Genesis continued.

Just then, the elevator gate opened, and Zack came charging out with his sword, knocking Genesis' from its position.

Hollander attempted to escape, but Cloud, who somehow snuck in as stealthily as Zack did, caught him.

"Cloud!" exclaimed Zack. "Good work!"

Unfortunately, he spoke too soon.

Hollander punched Cloud in the face, knocking him to the ground.

"But nobody knows where the Jenova cells are being kept!" Hollander shouted. "Not even Hojo knows! You'll never find it!"

"Then I shall willingly accept my fate," Genesis announced as he kept his sword aimed at Hollander. "But I'll take the world with me."

Genesis quickly struck at Zack, who defended himself with his sword.

Hollander saw his chance and made a run for it.

"Cloud, go!" ordered Zack.

Cloud nodded and pursued Hollander as Zack continued to fight for his life.

Genesis managed to knock Zack's sword from his hand, but Zack caught it quickly. Quickly, he jabbed at Genesis, wounding him in the shoulder.

"Dreams of the morrow hath the shattered soul," sighed Genesis. "Pride is lost, wings stripped away, the end is nigh."

And then, he collapsed to the ground.

"Such is the fate of a monster," he groaned."

"We are not monsters, you hear me?" Zack shouted. "We're SOLDER! Where's your honor?"

"Even the morrow is barren of promises," Genesis quoted as he rose to his feet. "Nothing shall forestall my return."

He slowly backed away, stumbling as he did so. He was clearly affected by his degradation.

"If this world seeks my destruction," Genesis said as he back up toward a ledge, ascending about a yard above the ground, "it goes with me."

With that, he disappeared over the ledge and into the abyss.

Zack ran to the ledge, but saw no sign of his opponent.

"Genesis," he whispered.

LATER...

Zack returned to the great outdoors to find himself alone.

"Tseng?" he said aloud as he looked at the deserted cliff. He then scanned the area. "Cloud's gone, too."

He then spotted a tunnel in the mountain.

"I guess this is the way to Modeoheim," he said to himself.

The other side of the tunnel proved him more or less correct. Modeoheim was a ghost town, with abandoned, decaying buildings and wildlife running rampant in the streets. All of the houses had missing walls, revealing nothing of importance inside.

The only exception to this was the bathhouse at the far end of town. Carefully, Zack stepped inside. The windows were filthy, and the walls were cracked.

Eventually, he reached the bath area. As he scanned the dirty window, he heard the flapping of wings. He quickly turned to see a winged quadruped bearing down on him. It had white wings and golden feathers, and appeared to have a mask that covered its eyes.

The creature shot a fireball from its mouth. Zack quickly dodged it, and drove his sword into the creature's chest, killing it.

As he examined the corpse, he saw what he had been half-expecting: the mask of Angeal.

"An Angeal monster," he said to himself as he stood up. "Is the real Angeal here, too?"

He then eyed a stairwell to a balcony within the room. He climbed up to see Cloud laying flat on his face.

"Hey!" Zack exclaimed as he ran over to him.

Cloud groaned slightly.

"Cloud!" Zack demanded. "Talk to me!"

Cloud slowly pulled himself up. He attempted to stand, but fell backwards.

"We're all right," he insisted.

Zack then spotted another familiar face sitting by the doorway.

"Tseng!" he exclaimed as he rushed to his aid.

"Down that way," Tseng groaned as he pointed to the doorway next to him. "You have to catch Hollander." He then made eye contact with him. "Angeal is waiting for you."

Zack, full of emotion, darted through the doorway. Sure enough, Tseng was correct.

Angeal's back was turned, and he was facing the old, boarded windows.

Zack cautiously approached him.

"It should've been me," Angeal said coldly. "I should've dealt with Genesis."

"Yeah?" questioned Zack. "Then why did you send me?"

"To prepare you," Angeal replied as he spun around and pointed his sword at him, "for your next fight."

"Have you lost it?" Zack demanded.

Angeal immediately struck at Zack, who barely dodged the buster sword.

"Someone's waiting for you, no?" Angeal taunted.

"Angeal," Zack pleaded as he drew his sword, "don't do this."

Angeal struck again, forcing Zack to defend himself with his sword.

"Very good, Angeal," Hollander complimented.

Both Angeal and Zack looked at him in unison, suspending their duel.

"It is time to exact vengeance for our family's suffering!"

"Family?!" Zack exclaimed.

"No!" Angeal retorted as he nearly knocked Zack to the ground. "My father is dead!"

"Fine," said Hollander calmly. "Then do it for your mother."

"My mother's shame made her take her own life," Angeal snapped.

I saw Zack flinch; he remembered the truth, and so did I, thus, I flinched myself.

"Shame?" questioned Hollander. "How terribly misguided! She should have been proud." He turned toward Angeal. "Proud that she was the namesake of our experiment. 'Project G, or, should I say, 'Project Gillian.'"

Angeal immediately grabbed Hollander by the collar.

"Don't say her name!" he shouted.

"Gillian," Hollander disregarded, "the woman implanted with Jenova cells. Genesis, who had her genes mapped onto him during the fetal stage."

Angeal gave him a look and released his grip.

"Yes, Genesis was a failure," Hollander continued. "I'll admit it. But, you, Angeal, were actually bred inside Gillian's body." He stepped back. "You," he continued as he looked toward the sky, "you are perfection."

Angeal immediately punched Hollander in the face, knocking him to the ground.

"Zack," he said, "I am perfect. A perfect monster." He turned to face him. "My cells can absorb genetic traits, and pass them along to others."

"A two-way conduit," groaned Hollander as he rose to his feet. "Jenova's power has passed on to you completely."

"Zack," began Angeal, "do you remember what I said? About our enemy being all that creates suffering?"

"Yeah," Zack replied. "But you're not one of them."

"But I created my own suffering," Angeal said. "Zack, let me show you."

Zack turned to Angeal.

"Stop it!" he pleaded. "You don't know what you're doing!"

Angeal raised his hand, and, seeming in response, four creatures fell from the sky.

"Damn!" shouted Hollander as he charged Angeal. "At least one sample."

Angeal predictably knocked Hollander to the ground. That prick never learned.

Zack, meanwhile, drew his sword, but all four creatures darted past him.

"Angeal!" he shouted, realizing who they were going for.

The creatures seemed to huddle him, and a strange, purple-white light began to glow.

Hollander ran as the glow began to expand, and the ground began to shake. Finally, there was a blinding flash of light.

When the flash was gone, Zack gasped in shock.

Angeal was no longer human. He now had four legs and two arms, with a giant trident in his right one and a spiked shield in his left. A gaping mouth with sharp teeth was coming out of his chest. He was mostly all black, except for three blue tails. His hair was now a yard high.

Angeal jabbed at Zack with the trident, barely missing him.

"Angeal!" Zack cried. "What happened to honor?"

Realizing he had no choice, Zack drew his sword.

The Angeal creature, despite its fearsome appearance, was easy for Zack to figure out. He surprisingly darted behind it and sliced off the three tails at once. As the creature howled in pain, he cut off its right hind leg, causing it to double on the ground. He then ran around again and drove his sword into the chest mouth, causing it to collapse and lie still.

Another flash of light occurred. When it subsided, Angeal had reverted to his original form.

His limbs were still there, but that no longer mattered. He was laying on his back, unable to get up. His face was pale, and his hair was gray.

Zack looked down on his friend in sadness. His heart was broken.

"Zack," gasped Angeal, "you have my thanks."

Zack knelt down, at a loss for words. He could not believe what had just happened.

And then, Angeal gathered his strength, and raised his buster sword.

"This is for you," he declared.

Zack looked down at Angeal, whose face now seemed even paler.

Angeal simply nodded in approval.

Zack gripped the sword. He was trying not to cry.

"Protect your honor," ordered Angeal. "Always."

He then lay his head down, and closed his eyes forever.

Zack remained crouched over the body for a few moments. He then stood up and held the sword to his face.

"Embrace your dreams," he remembered Angeal saying. "If you want to be a hero, you need to have dreams. And honor."

And then, despite the frozen climate, it began to rain.

HOURS LATER...

Aerith was sitting in the fetal position a yard to the left of the door as Zack came slowly trudging through the apartment. She gasped, and her heart skipped a beat; she had wondered if he was still alive.

Zack, meanwhile, saw her, and, even if it was for just a moment, forgot about the tragedy of the day. Just the sight of her made everything easier.

As soon as he was close enough, Zack pulled Aerith up, pressed his lips firmly against hers, and held her tight against him.

"I missed you!" he said.

"I was afraid you were never coming back!" she stammered as she squeezed him back and buried her head into his chest. "I heard your helicopter crashed!"

"It did," Zack gently replied. "We were stranded up by Modeoheim. No reception."

"Christ, you're freezing!" Aerith exclaimed. "Let's get you inside."

They went inside Zack's apartment. He was still upset about Angeal, and was wondering where to go from here, but he also realized that he needed to take a break from it all. Now was the time to spend with Aerith.

"Can I cook you something?" she asked. "Maybe some soup?"

"It was a rough day," Zack replied. "They fed us when we got back. I would've called you, but my phone was out of juice."

"Well, I have to warm you up somehow," she insisted.

"I'll be fine," Zack said.

Aerith, of course skeptical, pulled off his shirt before he could say anything.

"Are you sure?" she replied with a smile.

"Positi-" Zack began.

He was stopped by the sight of Aerith taking off her own shirt and tossing it aside. She then reached back and unhooked her bra.

"Body heat helps," she said as her smile became seductive.

She pushed her bra straps aside, causing her bra to fall to the ground and allowing her breasts to spring free. She then pressed her chest against his.

"Doesn't it?" she finished as she kissed him.

He felt the warmth of her body immediately.

"It sure does," he admitted as he kissed her again and stroked her bare back.

They remained in that position for a while, kissing and rubbing each other's backs. Then, Aerith, in true Aerith fashion, pulled out her cellphone, started playing what I'll assume was Jeri Lyons, and and started to dance. She backed several feet, giving Zack a view of her breasts.

"Look at me!" Aerith giggled. "I'm an island girl!" She then began to hula dance, etching closer and closer to Zack. She then turned around and began shaking her butt in his direction.

"Maybe I'll learn to twerk?" she suggested.

Zack slipped off her skirt and noticed that she wasn't wearing panties.

"Looks like someone had a plan," he said.

She stopped dancing, and turned to him, smiling and kissing him deeply one more time.

He then picked her up and carried her into the bedroom.

LATER...

Aerith lay relaxed in the bathtub, with her back resting on Zack's strong chest. She had perfectly positioned herself to where her cheeks were reachable by his lips, and where her breasts were visible above the water. His arms were gently wrapped around her midriff, giving her a sense of security she had feared she would never feel again.

And yet, she could feel a vibe of sadness. He didn't say anything, but she was in love with him; she could feel when he was upset.

They eventually got out of the tub and dried themselves off. The vibe continued, and Aerith finally decided to confront him once the towels were hung up.

She placed her hands on his shoulders and looked him in the eyes.

"You're hurting," she said. "I can tell. Zack, I'm your girlfriend. You can tell me when something's bothering you."

Zack placed his hands on her bare hips. He realized she was right.

"I lost Angeal," he said softly.

"He disappeared again?" Aerith asked. "I didn't know you found him."

Zack shook his head.

"He passed away," he clarified. "That's where I got that big-assed sword."

Aerith gasped.

"Zack," she began, "I'm so sorry."

"It is what it is," he said.

"Is there a funeral?" she asked.

Zack shook his head.

"He was denied. He's considered a traitor."

"That's terrible," Aerith said.

Moments later, the two lovers were walking slowly through the apartment in a side embrace, still naked and headed for the bedroom.

"I can stay the night with you if you want," she offered.

"I'd like that," he said.

"I just need to wear my tank to bed," she informed him. "Sleeping naked hurts my girls."

"That's fine," Zack assured her.

She led him to the bed, and sat down next to him, holding his hand.

"You can cry if you want, you know," she informed him. "It's okay."

"I don't think that will be necessary," Zack said.

"If you change your mind," Aerith said, "it's fine. Don't hold it back."

"I'll be alright," he said.

THE NEXT DAY...

But the next day was another story. The two of them were at the church. They were both sitting on the wooden floor.

"Hey Zack?" Aerith began. "The sky is closer in the city above, right?" She stood up. "Kinda scary, but the flowers might make it...maybe."

And then she noticed.

Zack was sitting with his legs folded like a pretzel, crying softly to himself.

It had finally hit him.

Aerith silently walked over to him, knelt down, and gently wrapped her arms around him.

"I love you," she softly whispered before kissing his cheek.

And I wanted to kick myself in the balls for turning her down.

THE DAY AFTER THAT...

I saw Zack sitting dejected on the soldier floor. I think he was still taking it all in. Angeal's death was announced, but, as he was seen as somewhat of a traitor, he was not given a lavish memorial.

Zack then took a long gaze at the buster sword that was now his. It was all he had left of Angeal. And then, he realized that Angeal would always be with him, as long as that sword was in his possession.

Standing up confidently, he put his sword away in a rather showman-like manner, even though nobody (except for me, and he didn't know that) was watching.

THE NEXT DAY...

Zack was reviewing infantryman. He seemed in much better shape, and looked ready to move forward.

As he passed Cloud, he placed his hand on his shoulder.

"So you want to be in SOLDIER?" he said to all the men. "Hang in there!"

He then continued to review the troops.

"So is everybody here now?"

"Sir!" they all shouted in unison.

"You're all rookies, right?" he asked them.

"Sir, yes sir!" they replied in unison.

"One of piece of advice...no, an order."

He then drew his sword, and tapped it to his face.

"Embrace your dreams."

The infantrymen were silent.

"And whatever happens, protect your SOLDIER honor! Got it?"

"Sir!"

"We're all coming back here alive, you hear me?"

He raised the buster sword to the sky.

"Let's go."

MEANWHILE...

Zack was not the only one who grieved for Angeal. He took his comfort in Aerith's arms. Others handled it differently.

Gehrig was sitting at the kitchen table, doing her homework, when she heard the door open.

"Here we go again," she whispered to herself.

A moment later, Mary Ellen appeared in the kitchen.

"Hey, mom," she greeted.

Mary Ellen quietly walked over to Gehrig and bent down toward her ear.

"The young man I brought home is grieving," she whispered. "He need special attention. He may stay the night."

Gehrig felt disgusted inside but nodded in agreement.

"Thank you," said Mary Ellen as she walked back toward the front door.

The next minute, she returned to the kitchen, and Gehrig's eyes widened. Sephiroth was with her. She promptly led him up the stairs.

Gehrig sighed and put her head down.

"Wow, mom," she whispered. "You've reached a new low."



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