Premonitions II-C: Crisis Core

BY : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 728
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, it any characters therin. I am not making any money here.

Chapter 27: To the Harbor

Zack, Tseng, and Cissnei cautiously patrolled the streets of Junon. A few feet into town explained the situation for them. There were fires in the middle of the street, and townspeople running frantically in the opposite direction.

"This is terrible!" Zack exclaimed. "Genesis copies here, too! They're just running wild!"

Two Genesis copies, armed with machine guns, approached Zack, and he sliced them in half with once swipe of his buster sword.

Tseng turned away.

Cissnei did not; she had more balls than Tseng did, and it showed.

"Hollander is currently in Junon," Tseng said as he knelt by one of the corpses. "His presence here and this attack can't be unrelated."

"It's not over, is it?" asked Zack with concern.

"We'll begin evacuating the residents," Tseng replied as he stood up. "Zack, you find Hollander and make sure he's kept safe."

"You're making me babysit Hollander?" asked Zack skeptically as he folded his arms. "Don't you think I'd be put to better use on the battlefield?"

"Hollander has access to top-secret information," Tseng answered. "The president insists that his safety be priority one. After Director Lazard's sudden disappearance, SOLDIER's chain of command has been shaky at best. This attack is an attempt to exploit that weakness. Zack, you must protect Hollander."

"Hollander is currently being held in a detention center on the eight level of Upper Junon," Cissnei added. "You can use the emergency elevator to go up. It's at the end of this path. Zack, we're counting on you."

"Hollander is still being interrogated," Tseng announced. "He can't fall into enemy hands now."

"Understood," Zack agreed.

Zack started down the path as commanded. Halfway there, he was attacked by three Genesis copies, which he killed easily. Further down, three more Genesis copies opened fire on him. He waited for them to run out of ammo, then killed them one by one.

He then got to the elevator. When he got off, he found dead bodies left and right, and a familiar face greeting him.

"Genesis!?" Zack exclaimed before realizing that he lacked his scars. "No, it's a copy!"

This copy was armed with a gun-blade.

Zack quickly sliced off his arm before decapitating him.

As the copy's body fell to the ground, the elevator door opened again, and a trooper ran out.

"Hollander has escaped the detention center!"

"What!?" Zack exclaimed. "They attacked the detention center?"

"No," the trooper replied, "but security was spread thin after the attacks in the city, and he used that opportunity to escape."

"So he found a way to escape on his own!?" Zack inquired.

"The timing of the attack was just too perfect," the trooper answered. "It's very possible that Hollander is getting outside help."

"Which way did Hollander go?" Zack asked.

"Security cameras on the sixth level have a positive identification on Hollander," the trooper replied. "This just happens to be the sixth level, so he should be somewhere ahead. Lower Junon and Upper Junon are connected by a central passageway. To proceed to Upper Junon where Hollander is, open the central passageway gate and go straight. The large gates can be opened by pressing a switch."

"Thanks," said Zack. "If you can tend to the wounded, it'll be a great help."

"Certainly!" the trooper agreed.

"Meanwhile, I'll go protect Hollander from himself!" Zack announced.

With that, he darted down the street. A few yards down, he encountered another Genesis copy with a gun-blade, dragging it on the pavement and killing soldiers with ricocheting bullets. He wasted no time putting an end to it.

A few yards after that, Zack finally saw who he had been looking for.

"Hollander!" he demanded. "Stop right there!"

Hollander immediately began to run.

"You're not getting away!" Zack shouted as he began to give chase.

And then, instinct took over. Zack felt something behind him. He quickly turned just in time to dodge a bullet from another Genesis copy with his buster sword.

"Hey, watch it!" Zack demanded. "I'm in a hurry here! Don't get in the way!"

He charged the copy and stabbed it in the neck. After that, he resumed his pursuit. He reached the end of the street, only to find yet another Genesis copy with a gun-blade.

"You're really starting to annoy me!" Zack growled as he killed it.

He then opened the gate at the end of the street. Sure enough, Hollander was behind it.

"Stop, Hollander!" Zack demanded.

Hollander briefly turned around.

"Humph!" he grunted before opening another gate behind him.

In rolled a tank that immediately fired propelled missles at Zack.

"Some kind of new tank!?" Zack groaned as he destroyed them with his sword one by one. "Damn that Hollander!"

Once the missiles were gone, Zack cast lighting on the tank, destroying it immediately.

Just then, the door behind him opened. In came Tseng and two troopers.

"What the hell happened in here?" he demanded.

"It got a little out of hand," Zack replied. "How've you been?"

"We've been able to contain the enemies in this area," Tseng replied. "If we lock this door, we can hold the enemy off. We'll move the evacuated residents here, for now."

"Looks like things are going smoothly on your side," Zack observed. "I, on the other hand, let Hollander escape. I should get going."

"We're counting on you," Tseng reminded him. "The evacuees should be safe here, for now. You should focus on securing Hollander. Cissnei is still out in the city on rescue detail."

As Zack headed for the far gate, he saw someone else he knew, leaning against the wall.

"Hey, are you all right?"

"Y-yeah," Cloud replied. "On the helicopter...I got a little nauseous."

"Hey, you're Cloud!" Zack greeted.

"Wow, you remembered me," Cloud observed.

"Of course I remember!" Zack insisted. "I'm happy to be working with you again."

"Yeah, although my work is a little dull," said Cloud.

"What are you talking about?" Zack asked. "Rescue work is an important task! Anyway, once we're all done, let's go grab a bite to eat-my treat."

"Really?" asked Cloud. "That would be great! Once I'm feeling better, I'd love to go. But right now, just thinking about food is making sick. I'm sorry, Zack."

"Don't worry about it," Zack laughed. "Hope you feel better."

Beyond the second gate, Zack spotted Hollander, who predictably ran off.

"That way is the airbase!" Zack observed. "Is he planning a getaway by air!? This is bad!"

Hollander came into view as Zack approached yet another electronic gate.

"Are you sure it's me you should be concerned about?" Hollander taunted as two hovering robots suddenly appeared behind Zack. "If you don't stop those things, what will become of Junon?"

With that, Hollander opened the gate and disappeared.

"Damn!" Zack muttered. "You underhanded snake! You're destroying the gate to attack civilians? I won't let that happen! That Hollander...when I catch him, I'll deck him but good!

Zack quickly took care of the hovering robots. Two more appeared, and he dispatched those in the same manner.

"Excellent!" Zack said triumphantly. "Looks like I got them all!" He then remembered who he was after. "Damn you, Hollander! I won't let you get away with this!"

He opened the gate and passed through. Beyond the gate, he took a platform up two floors. When he reached the top, he saw another familiar face, who had just killed a Genesis copy.

"Hello, Zack!" Cissnei greeted. "What are you doing here? I thought your assignment was to protect Hollander."

"I was a little worried, that's all," Zack said. "Looks like you have things under control, though. Mighty quick work there, Cissnei. You'll make Turks supervisor in no time!"

"I don't know about that," she said skeptically.

"It's a compliment," he insisted. "Just accept it. If you get promoted, I'll throw you a celebration party."

"Before now, I had never even thought of people celebrating anything I did."

"Huh?" asked Zack in surprise.

"I was raised to believe that initially, every person I meet is an enemy," Cissnei explained. "But I've recently stopped believing that. Thanks to my Turks colleagues, and especially my roomie."

"You mean Tobin?" Zack asked.

Cissnei nodded.

I'll admit I found it flattering.

"I saw you supporting him at the funeral," Zack observed. "You're a good friend to him."

"He's the first real friend I've had," Cissnei replied. "At first, I thought he was a big baby I had to live with. But now, I come home looking forward to seeing him. He's pretty much my best friend now."

Now I was beyond touched. I was glad she considered me that.

"Cissnei," Zack continued, "what did you do before you joined the Turks? I've just been wondering, because you're about the youngest Turks member I've met."

I don't know if I mentioned her age, but Cissnei was nineteen, almost twenty.

"I received all different kinds of training," Cissnei replied. "Then, I joined the Turks. Now, enough chitchat. Time to get back to work. If you keep slacking off, you're going to disappoint your fans."

"Fans?" Zack asked. "I have fans?"

"Look into it when you're back in Midgar," she commanded. "Apparently there are a lot of people who expect great things out of you."

"My fans, huh?" sighed Zack. "I wonder what they're like."

Just then, a Guard Scorpion suddenly appeared, arming its cannons and pointing them at Zack.

"Now it's scorpion mechs!?" Zack exclaimed as he drew his buster sword. "Get out of my way, or else!"

And then, the Guard Scorpion went dead.

Zack stood for a good twenty seconds before putting his sword away.

"What the hell happened?" he shouted.

"Nothing," Cissnei replied as she held up a remote. "I just deactivated it. Any Turk can override Shinra equipment." She went up to the Guard Scorpion and pushed it, causing it to fall over. "This would do better guarding a mako reactor," she muttered.

Meanwhile, Zack then gazed down the airstrip.

"Hollander must be that way," he said aloud. "Man, enough is enough!"

He began to ran down. Soon enough, he saw Hollander fleeing, stopping only when the strip ended above water.

"That's far enough!" Zack demanded.

"Really?" Hollander taunted as he turned around. "You sure?"

And then, Hollander intentionally fell backwards.

"Hey!" Zack exclaimed as he rushed to his aid. "What is he...?"

But Hollander was gone, having disappeared over the ledge.

Defeated, Zack stopped in his tracks.

A moment later, Hollander re-appeared, carried away by two Genesis copies.

"Tch!" groaned Zack. "Should have known."

Just then, Tseng and Cissnei ran by. A moment later, Zack heard footsteps coming from behind.

"Mission failed," Sephiroth announced. "This goes on your permanent record."

Zack turned around.

"Sephiroth!" he greeted. "Long time no see!"

"Let the Turks take care of the rest," Sephiroth commanded as he approached. "I was on my way to Modeoheim, but I heard you were in the area."

"Lucky me," Zack said.

"The situation has not resolved," Sephiroth reprimanded. "Genesis copies have been sighted around the world."

"That can't be!" Zack protested. "We wiped out those Genesis copies."

"Did Genesis really die?" Sephiroth challenged him.

Zack thought about the time Genesis seemed to fall to his death.

"They've been sighted in Midgar as well," Sephiroth added.

"I see," Zack said.

"The slums, too," Sephiroth added.

Zack showed a troubled look on his face; he immediately thought of Aerith.

"Permission to return granted," Sephiroth announced.

"Uh, yeah," Zack replied, still up in the stratosphere.

"Take care," Sephiroth wished.

"You too," replied Zack.

He began to walk away. After several feet, he turned around.

"Hey," Zack asked, "what's going on in Modeoheim?"

"The device Hollander was using has been stolen," Sephiroth replied.

"Genesis?" Zack asked.

"Probably," Sephiroth answered. He then turned to Zack. "We'll meet again soon."

"I'll hold you to that," Zack replied.

As Zack left, I could see, out of the corner of my eye, Genesis standing at the edge of the cannon.

"My friend," I heard him say, "your desire Is the bringer of life, the gift of the goddess Legend shall speak of sacrifice at world's end. The wind sails over the water's surface. Quietly, but surely."

And I could see that he was talking to a dumbapple.

And I could see him as a dumbass.

THE NEXT DAY...

Aerith sat in biology class, daydreaming as she was supposed to be learning about the anatomy of an animal cell.

Mrs. Zack Fair, she again thought to herself.

She didn't care about alleles. She didn't care about nuclear membranes. All she had on her mind was a wedding dress.

When? Possibly as early as this summer. Where? That was a good question. Certainly not the church; the pastor there was known for making couples take lengthy marriage courses. Maybe on the beach. Maybe I could go barefoot. Why? Because I'm madly in love with Zack Fair, that's why.

The bell rang, and Aerith quickly got out of her seat. She knew Zack was coming home; she didn't even bother to go to her locker and get her backpack. She strolled right down the stairs and into the streets. Zack's apartment was only a few blocks away.

Zack, meanwhile, caught sight of her from behind. He was able to identify her in two ways: he recognized her butt in the skinny jeans she was wearing with her pink baby tee, and he could see the name "Aerith Lee" glittered on her belt, with a heart to the right of it. Knowing it was her, Zack snuck up behind her, and placed his hands on her shoulders.

Aerith jumped in surprise and quickly turned around.

"You scared me, Mr. Fair!" she playfully reprimanded as she placed her hands on her hips.

"Sorry, Miss Gainsborough," he replied.

She then placed her hands on his cheeks and kissed him hard.

"I've missed you!" she said.

They then clasped their hands and walked toward the apartment building.

"Tell me what happened," Aerith requested as they passed through the front door.

"Genesis is probably alive," Zack replied solemnly.

She tightened her grip.

"I saw a bunch of copies in Junon," he continued as he pressed the elevator button.

"And they stopped the investigation?" she asked as the elevator door opened and they embarked.

"Sephiroth let me go home," Zack replied as the door closed and the elevator began moving up. "He knew I was worried about you."

"Well, he's a nice guy," she observed.

"He seems to be," he agreed, "but something about him..."

The elevator stopped on Zack's floor, and the young lovers walked silently down the hall to Zack's door.

Zack took the keys out of his pocket, opened the door, and led them in. Aerith and Zack kicked off their shoes simultaneously. They then kissed again before Aerith reached for her belt buckle.

"I'm taking my pants off," she announced.

"I'm going to take a piss," Zack replied as he headed for the bathroom.

"That's a little more than I wanted to know," she reprimanded as she unzipped her jeans.

Zack went to the bathroom and did what he said he would do. He returned to find Aerith standing with her back turned towards him, completely naked from the waist down, her bare butt staring him in the face.

"I went commando today," she said with a sheepish smile.

"Not that I mind," he said as he approached.

She then suddenly looked toward the ceiling.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Something's on my mind," she replied as she turned her head so he could see half her face.

"What is it?" asked Zack out of concern

"This is so hard I think I'm going to cry," she said as her eyes became wet. She then took a breath and shook her head. "No, no, it's nothing bad, I promise."

"You can tell me," Zack assured his girlfriend.

"My God, this is giving me butterflies in my stomach," she said nervously. She then lowered her left hand. "Here, hold my hand."

Zack took her hand, felt her clutch hard, and noticed her palms were sweaty. He could see her taking deep breaths.

"I want to to get married within the next two years," she finally said. "Maybe even as soon as next summer. I know all about you, Zack. I'm one hundred percent ready."

She squeezed his hand again, this time harder than before.

"I want to be a young mom," Aerith continued. "I want to take the kids to Gold Saucer and go on roller coasters with them."

And then, she began to hyperventilate.

Zack quickly turned his love to face him. Her face was wet, and he couldn't tell if it was tears or sweat. In any case, he gently place his hands on her cheeks.

"Aerith," he began.

"If you want to run now," she said, "it's okay."

Zack shook his head.

"I want that, too," he said.

"Zack," she began, "don't say it to make me feel better."

"I'm not," Zack insisted. "I've been thinking about it."

She began to breathe easier, and looked him in the eyes.

"You really mean it?" she asked.

Zack nodded.

"Remember how I said I wanted us to move out to Gongaga? You didn't think I meant as boyfriend and girlfriend, did you?"

Aerith's heart was overwhelmed as she felt a rush of love pour through her.

"Kiss me," she commanded.

Zack pressed his lips against hers. A moment later, their tongues met.

When the kiss was broken, Aerith suddenly smiled.

"I want to do it," she announced, eying the mirror.

"In front of the mirror?"

"We can see each other's faces, right?" she pointed out.

"You got it there," Zack agreed.

Sorry, but I'm not going into explicit detail, just in case you're my mom reading this. So, instead, I'll skip ahead to the after-sex talk that TV couples always have.

This leaves us with Zack and Aerith laying on their backs on the living-room floor. Zack was naked as the day he was born; Aerith had kept her shirt on. Both were staring at the ceiling.

"I'll find a time to propose," Zack said.

"Don't tell me when," Aerith requested. "I want it to be a surprise."

"No worries," he assured her. "And then, we can start planning the wedding." He paused. "Hell, we can start that now."

Aerith turned her head and smiled at her boyfriend.

"I love you, Zack," she said.

"I love you, too, Aerith," he replied.

And they clasped their hands.



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