Premonitions II-C: Crisis Core

BY : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 709
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, it any characters therin. I am not making any money here.

Chapter 41: Sleepers Awake

Now if you, like Tifa, would like to hear about the real Cloud, pay close attention here.

Tifa and I spent about a week in Rocket Town. There wasn't a lot to do there, but there was an arcade that we went to a lot. I've already mentioned that Tifa is probably the least girliest heterosexual woman that I know, and she's the only girl I know to own a gaming system. Well, she can kick anyone's ass at the arcade, and she took good advantage of that with me.

One time, we went into the hotel pool, and Tifa had done the damndest thing: she had "Lockheart" printed on the back of her bikini bottoms. Sure enough, that got everyone's attention. One person even made an attempt to grope her; he left with his nose bleeding. Don't get me wrong; Tifa is a wonderful, caring person. But if you try and touch her inappropriately, you'll buy more than you bargained for.

Another time, we went to see a horror flick. Tifa kept scaring me whenever something scary was about to happen; a notorious habit of hers.

For a pair of cousins, Tifa and I were unusually close. Her companionship eased my lonliness, and I'm sure I did the same for her. But I did have it in the back of my head: would Tifa eventually pass out of my life, just like Cissnei and the others? Neither of my parents talked to any of their cousins. It was something I tried not to think about.

One day, after seeing Tifa trying to talk to Aunt Claire yet again, I decided to officially start looking for Cloud. Despite the fact I still missed my own best friend terribly, I, too, was becoming more and more curious of Mr. Strife's fate. I also couldn't bear to see my cousin suffer like that.

I thus checked around everyone in Rocket Town to see if anyone knew or at least had gotten wind of anyone named Cloud. And I do mean with everyone.

"Is she a porn star?" Cid Highwind asked me when I inquired with him.

I shook my head, thinking that Cid wasn't going to be be any great help.

"No," I replied. "He's a Shinra trooper. My cousin's looking for him. He hasn't been seen or heard from in years. He was last seen in Nibelheim."

"Well, then," Cid suggested, "why don't you go on down there and check?"

I groaned.

"Have you been living under a rock?" I inquired. "Nibelheim burned down four years ago."

Cid shook his head.

"No, it's there," he dismissed. "People come from there every now and then."

"From Nibelheim?" I asked.

"From Nibelheim," Cid confirmed.

I was stunned. I saw Nibelheim burn to the ground four years ago with my own eyes. Something really didn't make sense.

"And this is the same Nibelheim on the other side of Mount Nibel?" I inquired.

"You bet your ass," Cid replied. "Can't miss it."

Right then and there I knew there was a trip I had to make.

December 18, 0006

So that evening, without telling Tifa, I made my way south of Rocket Town. I knew she would kick my ass pretty badly if she knew I was leaving her behind, but God only knows what would happen if she saw Nibelheim again, or worse, the real Cloud's remains. I had to confirm he was still alive before I told her.

The terrain became more rugged as I continued on my way, and soon I found myself along the paths around Mount Nibel. I passed the reactor. I passed the small lake we swam in. I still remembered the way. And, before too long, I found myself on the other side of Mount Nibel, stepping into Nibelheim.

The whole town was still there. I couldn't believe it! The whole town was still there!

I scanned the area around me. The well was there. So was Uncle Brian's house. Even the broken down truck at the south end of town was still there. It was like the fire never happened.

I did a dumb thing and went to Uncle Brian's house. Some old lady lived there now. I know that sounded stupid, but if the town was still there, I had to be certain that I somehow didn't imagine the whole damn thing.

Then I realized that there was indeed one person who might know the whole story, if he was still there. I thus directed my attention toward the Shrina Mansion.

MINUTES LATER...

It smelled like death in that basement. The walls were not flammable, suggesting that this was the same basement I had entered previously. Feeling hopeful that I might get some answers, I stepped into the room full of coffins and body bags.

Sure enough, the caped corpse arose from his casket.

"You again?" greeted Vincent.

"Me again," I greeted back.

"It's been awhile," Vincent said. "I know a lot of strange things happened upstairs."

"That's an understatement," I said. "The whole town was burned down, but now it's back."

"That's the Shinra for you," Vincent said. "They can rebuild almost as quickly as they can destroy. Fortunately, there caves are fireproof."

"So this place wasn't destroyed by the fire?" I inquired.

"Certainly not," Vincent replied. "This place continued its status as a laboratory long after Sephiroth snapped. They continued to do experiments down here. Mainly on those boys with spikey hair."

It struck me right then and there: Cloud and Zack has been there the whole time! I figured this place had been destroyed, so I had never considered it.

"Where are they?" I asked eagerly.

"Gone," Vincent replied. "They escaped."

My heart sank. That was certainly not what I wanted to tell Tifa.

"Do you have any idea where they could be?" I asked.

"I'll tell you what I know," Vincent offered.

FLASHBACK...

Zack gazed through the tube he was imprisoned in. At first, all he could see was pitch black in front of him. He had no idea where he was, or even if he was anywhere at all.

Angeal was standing there, giving him a disapproving look.

Zack couldn't tell whether he was hallucinating or that was really him.

"You call yourself a SOLDIER?" Angeal snapped. "You tarnish the SOLDIER name!"

And then, the lab around him materialized. Zack realized that he was in a glass tube, in the basement of the Shinra Mansion, unable to move from his position. In frustration, he began to pound on the glass.

Angeal, unwilling to aid him, simply flew away.

"Angeal!" cried Zack. "Wait!"

Zack began to feel himself losing consciousness. Before he passed out, he had one thing on his mind.

Those wings, he thought. I want them too.

LATER...

When Zack awoke again, he found himself face-down on the floor surrounded by broken glass.

Did I break the glass somehow? he thought. I did pound on it kind of hard.

He quickly heard footsteps, and raised his head to see a young intern entering the room.

As the intern began to examine him, Zack realized that he would not let him simply walk out the door. Experiments had been done on them. They were, by now, essentially Shinra property.

Zack then sprang to his feet as quickly as possible and punched the intern with all of his might, sending the poor youth to the floor.

"Sorry," Zack said, "but I can't stay here."

He then walked over to the tank next to the one that he had been in. Cloud was in there, seemingly unconscious.

Zack took a few moments to examine the tank before finding a button. After he pressed it, the fluid Cloud was immersed in drained. Zack then opened the tank, and Cloud immediately began to fall.

"Cloud," said Zack as he caught him.

Cloud was conscious, Zack realized, but in some sort of vegetative state. Zack immediately concluded that Cloud was suffering from mako poisoning.

Zack briefly laid Cloud next to the exam table in the middle of the lab and studied the documents. After a few minutes, he turned his attention back to Cloud.

"All right, let's go!" he announced.

Zack lifted Cloud to his feet and walked him out of the lab. He walked him through the caves and up that long spiral staircase. Then he walked him down the main staircase and out of the mansion.

He carried Cloud all the way to the town square, when something crossed his mind. He gently set Cloud down, and eerily scanned his surroundings. This didn't seem right.

"What's going on?" Zack muttered aloud. "I saw the town reduced to ashes, but it's back to the way it was before."

And then, he was interrupted.

"It's a breakout!" shouted a voice.

"The professor's test samples are escaping!" shouted another.

Zack turned to see four Shinra troopers closing in on them.

"It'll take more than your average grunt to take me down!" Zack confidentially announced as he drew his buster sword.

And who the fuck decided to put him in that tube with his buster sword?!

And then, more soldiers came from the alleys and northern exit.

Zack saw one of them crouch near his companion.

"Cloud!?" he exclaimed.

The trooper began to drag Cloud away.

"This is bad!" Zack exclaimed. "I'd better take care of them quickly. I'm not gonna get caught again!"

Zack rushed to the trooper dragging Cloud and killed him.

From then on, it was the typical mayhem associated with Mr. Fair. After he killed several more troops, the remaining ones ran off.

Zack knew they were going for reinforcements, and cursed himself for not being able to stop them. He fell to one knee.

"Whoa," he sighed. "What's wrong with me today? This can't be right. How could I be having trouble against these guys?"

Unaware of how long he had been sealed, Zack walked over to Cloud and knelt down.

Cloud didn't respond. The experiments done on him had seemingly left him non-verbal.

Defeated, Zack stood up.

"I'll have to return to the mansion to regroup," Zack said aloud as he stood up. He then lifted Cloud to his feet once more, walking him back to the Shinra Mansion.

"It's daytime, and we're still a little weak," Zack said as he approached the front door. "Maybe we should rest until dark?"

Cloud, of course, didn't respond.

Zack took Cloud to a bedroom, and set him on a bed.

Cloud let out a soft groan.

"Cloud," sighed Zack as he checked his face.

Cloud didn't even seem to notice that Zack was there.

"Could this be mako addiction?" Zack asked.

Cloud didn't respond.

With nothing left to do, Zack lay down on the floor, wondering if Cloud would ever recover.

"Angeal," he sighed, "am I just not capable of saving anyone?"

He then sat up, and took another look at Cloud. He noticed that he was still in his trooper uniform, and would naturally stick out like a sore thumb, to say nothing of the mako contamination.

"All right!" Zack announced. "I'm gonna go find some clothes for you. Those mako-soaked clothes will definitely not help you on your road to recovery. Wait for me here. I'll be right back."

Zack then briefly left the room. When he returned, he had what looked like a SOLDIER outfit.

"Hey," he said, "I found something for you. Change into this. It may not smell very good, but we can't be too picky right now."

Zack changed Cloud into the SOLDIER outfit before allowing him to recline in the bed again.

"Looks pretty good on you," he observed.

And then, Zack randomly checked his pocket. Inside, he found a note that had been written to him. After examining it, he had a sincere look on his face.

"Hey, Cloud," he said. "I...I have to go to Midgar. You wanna come with me?"

...END FLASHBACK

"Why he had to go to Midgar is beyond me," Vincent concluded, "but if he's on the run from the Shinra, that would be the last place he'd want to go."

"Did he make it?" I asked.

"He couldn't have gotten there by now," Vincent replied.

"Any idea where they could be?" I asked.

"Mr. Tobin," Vincent replied as he seemed to make a face. "I've told you so much today. You've given me virtually nothing in return."

"All you gave me was a starting point," I retorted. "Zack and Cloud could be anywhere on the Western Continent."

"I've...got more sleep waiting," Vincent then announced. "Come back when you know something useful."

"I need to find Cloud," I insisted.

"Humph," Vincent muttered as he lay back down and closed his casket.

I wasn't angry this time; I knew that Cloud was at least alive.

As I was climbing up the spiral staircase, it struck me:

What if they're still here?



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