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 43: The Chase Continues

Zack took a look outside the opposite end of the forest to see whether any more Shinra troops or Genesis copies were in the area. When he took a look, he saw a beam of light. Hopeful that it might be an inn he and Cloud could safely hide in, he followed the beam until he reach its origin.

It was a lighthouse.

Zack, disappointed, found himself on a small beach. Silently, he continued to watch the lighthouse's beam against the night sky.

"Where do I go from here?" he asked himself aloud. "Can't do much when I got Cloud to worry about. Angeal...what should I do?"

He was starting to remind me of Tifa, talking to the dead like that. Sure enough, he didn't get a response.

He then heard the sound of footsteps sneaking up behind him. But he didn't flinch. He didn't seem worried. He knew exactly who it was.

"Hey, Cissnei," he greeted, without looking back. "Been a while."

I almost didn't recognize her in her Turk suit, but I was emotionally overwhelmed seeing my friend again. I badly wanted to de-cloak and hug her, but I was well aware of the bizarre situation that could potentially arise.

"Zack," she began. "The fugitive sample...is it you?"

"It would appear so," Zack replied.

Cissnei has an empty look on her face. If it couldn't be any more obvious, she was absolutely not happy to be back on the job.

"What did they do to you in that place?" she asked.

"Well...this and that," he replied as he finally turned. "So, Cissnei, you're here to take us back, right?"

Cissnei lowered her head and tried to look away. If she could cry, she probably would've here.

"Please, just walk away!" Zack pleaded. "I thought we could outrun the army, but the Turks are a different story."

"Zack, I'm sorry," she apologized as she produced a large shuriken. "This is my job! If you want to escape, you have to..."

She then threw her shuriken.

Zack deflected it with his sword with the greatest of ease, causing it to crash into the sand.

Cissnei cautiously began to approach Zack.

"Step back," he ordered as he pointed his sword at her. "Next time...I'll really have to..."

Cissnei's eyes widened. I almost think she was frightened.

I was frightened myself. For a moment, it looked like he might actually do her in.

But, instead, Zack turned and ran off.

Cissnei stood alone on the beach, hanging her head in sorrow.

"So this is the life I was called back to," she said to herself. "With a cruel job and an apartment by myself."

She then looked up, and stared into the ocean.

"I don't like this new life," she continued sadly. "And I don't like life without you, Tobin."

I waved my hand in front of my face to check if I was still cloaked, and I was.

"Tobin," she continued, "if only you could hear me."

And, ironically, I could.

"Please come back," she said as she lowered her head again.

Hang in there, Cissnei, I thought.

Right now, two lives were in jeopardy.

I caught up to Zack and Cloud half a mile away. Cloud hadn't changed; he was still unconscious, propped against a rock.

"The Turks are here, too," Zack informed him. "It's too dangerous to move now. We'll rest here until morning. Then we'll leave at dawn." He then briefly scanned his surroundings. "Eh, we'll be all right."

And as he uttered those words, he turned and spotted Cissnei coincidentally approaching him.

"Cissnei," Zack uttered as he slowly drew his buster sword and aimed it at her.

Zack, I thought, please don't.

"Wait!" she pleaded as she eyed Cloud. "He...he's the other sample they collected at Nibelheim!"

Zack quickly stepped back to defend Cloud, keeping his sword aimed at Cissnei.

"Why did you come here!?" he demanded. "I told you to go away!"

"He doesn't look well, Zack," she cited. "Is he all right?"

"Mako addiction," Zack replied. "Severe case."

"The experiments, isn't it?" Cissnei asked.

"Yeah," Zack replied.

Cissnei sighed for a moment. Then she pulled out her cell phone and called somebody.

"Hey!" Zack protested.

Cissnei quickly raised her palm, as if to tell him to wait.

Come on, Cissnei, I thought. Do the right thing.

I heard the dial tone. Then, I heard the answer.

"Hello?" greeted Tseng over the phone.

"Tseng, I've lost the target," Cissnei announced.

Zack gasped and so did I.

Thank God.

"Keep pursuit," Tseng commanded before hanging up.

Zack cautiously lowered his sword.

"That's how it is," Cissnei said with a smile as she put her phone away. "So get away safely."

She then turned and walked off.

I knew you had it in you, Cissnei.

"Cissnei," Zack said, "thank you."

And then, Cissnei turned around and walked back up to Zack, pulling something out of her pocket. As I looked closer, I could see that it was a ring of keys.

"Here's a present," she said as she handed the keys to him. "If you think you can trust me, then use it."

She then walked away without returning.

HOURS LATER...

As it turned out, Cissnei had given Zack the keys to a motorcycle. This allowed him to travel much faster than before, getting closer and closer to Midgar by the moment.

I figured Cloud would ride bitch, but there was a side car for him to slouch in. He was still unconscious, and I realized that it would be best to not report anything to Tifa until he woke up.

Eventually, Zack got to a bridge. In the background, he could see Cosmo Canyon and its observatory. He realized that, as Shinra never really goes there (pay attention to that, because that fact comes back in the last chapter of this journal), it would be a safe haven to hide out in until Cloud recovered.

"Shinra makes good stuff!" Zack gloated as continued to speed across the bridge. Had it not been for Cissnei's change of heart, he would still be a few miles from Nibelheim. Now he actually had hope of escaping.

And then, he spotted two Genesis copies sitting on top of the bridge.

Oh, shit!

"Not again!" Zack shouted as he immediately braked the motorcycle and turned it ninety degrees.

He got off the motorcycle and drew his buster sword as the two copies jumped down to the surface.

As Zack confidently approached them, the real Genesis hovered behind him, kicking him as hard as he could.

Zack rolled forward and turned around.

It was a mistake; the Genesis copies saw their chance, with one grabbing his shoulder, and the other grabbing his hair.

"Get off me!" Zack exclaimed. "Ow, my hair!

"When the war of the beasts brings about the world's end," Genesis said as he casually looked on, strolling around and brandishing a dumbapple, "the goddess descends from the sky. Wings of light and dark spread afar. She guides us to bliss, her gift everlasting."

"That's my hair!" Zack shouted after noticing one of the copies had pulled out a patch of his hair.

"You were a test subject in Hojo's new experiment," Genesis informed him. "A modified version of Jenova's power runs through you."

"What?" exclaimed the restrained Zack. "Seriously?"

Genesis made a hand gesture.

And then, the copy put the hair in his mouth and ate it!

"No way!" Zack exclaimed. "He just ate my hair!"

Even I was shocked. I once saw a fat boy pick his nose and eat it, but this was definitely something I never saw coming.

"Your cells will be my gift of the goddess," Genesis continued. "The degradation will cease."

And then, Zack struggled his way free.

"You are twisted!" he snapped.

"The monster has been harvested," Genesis said, "and can be discarded."

"You're the monster!" Zack retorted.

"Legend shall speak of sacrifice at world's end," Genesis quoted as he turned and walked away.

Zack immediately began to pursue him.

"The wind sails over the water's surface," Genesis continued, ignoring Zack. "Quietly, but surely."

When Zack was only a foot behind him, Genesis sprang upward, as did one of the copies.

The other copy, I believe the one that ate the hair, suddenly began to choke and collapse to the pavement.

As Zack looked on in shone, a green light suddenly engulfed the copy. The light then turned yellow, and when it subsided, the copy had blue wings, and bird talons where it's feet should be.

Zack took his buster sword and put the creature out of its misery. After that, he realized there was nothing left to do but to resume the flight. He slowly walked back to the motorcycle, taking one last look at the copy's corpse.

"Angeal," he said aloud, "what do I do?"

He mounted and restarted the motorcycle, and took a look at the still unconscious Cloud.

"Tell me."

A FEW HOURS LATER...

At noon, Zack was driving through a barren canyon, when he was compelled to stop again.

He gasped in surprise as he recognized the area. He then got off the motorcycle again, and scanned his surroundings.

"Cloud!" he shouted joyfully. "This is my hometown! This is Gongaga!"

He remounted and drove closer to the town. And then, he stopped again.

He was by the Gongaga Reactor. That is to say, it was the Gongaga Reactor; it had exploded while he was in the tube. But, of course, he didn't know that.

"What the hell happened here?!" Zack exclaimed.

He immediately thought of his parents, and wondered if he should check on them to make sure they were okay.

"No," he realized aloud. "I can't go to my house; I'd probably walk right into an ambush."

He then took another look at Cloud.

"Wait here a minute," he commanded as he began to walk toward the town. "I'm just worried about my parents. I wonder if Mom's all right. It's risky, but should I go back to town?"

MINUTES LATER...

Zack was only able to spend a few moments in Gongaga before he heard a familiar voice greet him.

"Behind you," the voice called.

Zack turned around in surprise. It was Cissnei...again!

"So predictable," she said with her arms folded. "Couldn't you guess your hometown would be the first place we'd look?"

Zack grunted.

"Here to see your parents?" she asked.

"Yeah, so?" asked Zack. "What's wrong with that?"

"I see," she said.

"Yeah, well, I guess you're right," he admitted. "It was pretty careless. We'll be going."

With that, he began to walk away.

"Be careful," she warned. "Security is very tight right now. Apparently another target is in the area."

Zack stopped, and turned toward Cissnei.

"Who?" he asked.

That was a dumb question, Zack thought. She's obviously referring to Cloud.

But, instead, she got him by surprise.

"Angeal," she replied.

"I see," Zack acknowledged, seemingly not believing her.

"'I see?'" inquired Cissnei. "He died by your hand. You're not surprised?"

"I think he may have helped us escape Shinra Manor," he replied.

"Interesting," Cissnei observed. "The sighting reports were true."

"But why would he come to a place like Gongaga?" Zack asked.

"He came here to see you," she suggested. "What other reason could there be?"

And then, it hit him: if Angeal really was in the area, he was in danger of getting killed or captured.

"Run away if you can, Angeal!" Zack called as he frantically scanned his surroundings. "The Turks are watching!"

"I'll give you ten minutes," Cissnei said calmly. "After that, I return to the Turks."

"Return?" he inquired.

"Right now, I'm not in the mood," she clarified. "I can't bring bad news to your parents."

He realized that she was cutting him slack again.

"My mom," Zack began. "How is she?"

"She's worried," Cissnei replied. "She thinks after all this, you won't be able to find a wife."

"What's up with that?" he groaned.

"They're nice people," she said, "and they're doing fine."

"Good," he said. "That's all I need to know."

"Yeah," she said sadly.

Zack then realized that he never asked her anything about her life; it would only be fair if he did.

"How's your folks?" he asked as he turned to face her.

"I was raised inside Shinra," she answered.

And then, there was another question he felt he should ask even more.

"Why are you helping me?" Zack asked.

"I know how you feel," Cissnei replied. "I lost my best friend, too."

Zack gasped in shock.

"Tobin passed away?!"

Cissnei quickly shook her head.

"No," she replied, "but the Shinra cut him loose. We can't share an apartment anymore, and I have no free time on my hands." She sighed. "I miss him terribly. I'd give anything to see him again."

"Do you keep in touch on social media?" Zack asked.

"It's not the same," Cissnei replied sadly.

It was the saddest I had ever seen her...so far.

"Sorry," she apologized. "I don't mean to be a downer."

Of course, I wanted to de-cloak, but I couldn't risk putting Zack or Cloud in danger.

"No worries," Zack assured her. "But don't scare me like that. I thought Tobin died. He is a great guy."

Thanks, Zack.

"Hey, Cissnei," he continued, "would you mind keeping my folks company for a while?"

"All right," she agreed as her smile returned. "No problem."

"They'll probably ask you to join the family," he joked.

"Already happened," Cissnei informed him as she began to walk away.

"What did you say?" he asked in surprise. "Cissnei!"

"Not my real name," she responded without looking back. "You have five minutes left!"

A moment later, she was gone.

Suddenly, Zack head a rustling nearby.

"Angeal?" he called hopefully. "Angeal! It is you!"

In the distance, Zack could see a figure with one white wing fly away.

"Hey, wait!" he called.

There was no response.

"Is it really Angeal?" he asked aloud. "Only one way to know for sure."

He ran up the path and across a stream. When he got to the top of the hill, he saw the white-haired figure standing with his back turned to him for but a moment before flying off again.

"Wait!" Zack pleaded.

Just then, two advanced Genesis copies landed behind him.

"What is this!?" Zack demanded as he spun around.

"S...cells!" moaned one of them.

"I don't have any S cells!" Zack dismissed as he pulled out his sword.

He quickly killed the two copies. His peace was short lived, however, as two more advanced copies landed beside him.

"S...cells...S...cells," they groaned.

"His cells are completely useless!" called a familiar voice.

Zack looked to see Hollander slowly descending to the ground. His hair-and beard-were now completely white. He had one black wing behind him.

Zack quickly saw another familiar face; Genesis, dumbapple in hand, descended beside him.

"You are a former member of SOLDIER," Hollander said. "Your cellular structure has already mutated."

"Hollander!?" Zack exclaimed. "You did it to yourself?"

"Yes," Hollander replied, "after nearly being killed by Genesis. It was really all I could do to survive. I merely borrowed some cells from Genesis."

"You know," Zack pointed out, "you're degrading."

"Indeed," Hollander agreed, "but there is still some hope."

"The gift of the goddess," Genesis specified. "A pure S cell sample will stop the degradation process."

He brandished the dumbapple in Zack's direction.

"Pure?" asked Zack

"There are two of you on the run," Genesis replied as he lowered his arm.

"Uh, no," Zack lied.

"One is a former SOLDIER operative," said Genesis. "The other, an infantryman."

"That infantryman carries within his body the last pure S-cells in the world!" announced Hollander.

With that, Hollander, along with surrounding creatures, flew off.

Zack began to give chase, but Genesis held his arm out, stopping him.

"Do you know the verse in Act Four that leads in to the final act?" Genesis asked.

"Of course not!" Zack snapped.

"Legend shall speak of sacrifice at world's end," Genesis quoted. "The wind sails over the water's surface quietly, but surely."

"Enough about sacrifices and endings!" Zack hollered. "I don't want to hear it!"

"You don't understand the beauty of these words," Genesis lamented. "How tragic; I'm not surprised. Even I didn't understand all of it. The greatest mystery behind the gift of the goddess. 'The water's surface.' And the answer I have arrived at, is the Lifestream."

"What?" Zack demanded.

"There are various theories regarding the final act," Genesis replied as he presented the dumbapple again. "However, only my theory is correct. And I will prove it to you."

"No," Zack dismissed, "that won't be necessary!"

Zack charged, but Genesis immediately flew away, leaving behind the dumbapple for Zack to catch.

Zack immediately stood up, only to see the fleeing Genesis far out of range.

"You will understand," Genesis called, and was gone.

Zack stood there for a few moments, wondering how to catch up to Genesis so he could finish him off for good.

Why this rotten feeling? he thought all of a sudden.

And then, he realized who he had left behind.

"Cloud's in danger!" he exclaimed. "I gotta get back to the reactor! Run like you mean it, Zack!"

Zack ran back the way he came. By the time he reached Cloud, he was nearly too late; Hollander and those two nasties were there, and the former was approaching Cloud, who was still passed out in the side car.

"Cloud, run!" Zack called.

He immediately charged in Hollander's direction.

And then, another one-winged creatures swooped in, hitting the two nasties and landing in front of Hollander.

Hollander pushed the intruder to the ground.

The intruder stood up, and prepared for a fight.

Zack quickly recognized the intruder's facial features.

They were Angeal's.

"Why, you!" Zack shouted.

Hollander quickly saw his chance and began to dart off.

Zack quickly caught up with him, drawing his sword as he came within a few yards.

"I'll do whatever I have to do!" he growled.

Hollander turned around, and started to blow what looked like poisonous gas from his mouth.

Zack jumped back, and threw his buster sword, striking Hollander in the chest and exiting his back.

Hollander fell to the ground, dead.

Zack then rushed back to Cloud.

The intruder had seemingly killed the nasties, and was now sitting on the ground.

"It's been a long time, Zack," he greeted.

Zack smiled, and began to toss the dumbapple he had caught casually in his hand.

"So, what happened?" he asked. "That thing wasn't so tough!"

"I can't fight like a First," the intruder replied. "I'm just an Angeal copy."

Zack froze in disappointment.

So it's not Angeal, then.

"Copy?" he asked.

"It's Lazard," the intruder announced as he stood up.

He then sat down again; he seemed weakened.

"So, you're the one who helped Hollander out of Junon?" Zack asked. "Why would you do such a thing?"

"To exact my revenge," Lazard replied, "I needed Hollander."

"You really chose the wrong friends, didn't you?" Zack reprimanded.

"I agree," Lazard affirmed. "I never dreamed I'd be turned into an Angeal copy."

"Well, just be happy you're linked to Project G," Zack said.

"It's a strange feeling," Lazard mentioned. "The lust for vengeance that had so consumed my life is all but gone now. In its place is a desire to help you, a desire to save Genesis." He paused. "No, it's bigger than that. I want to save the world."

Zack walked a couple of yards away, and stood with his back turned to Lazard for a few moments. Then, he suddenly drew his sword.

I was stunned.

Is he going to execute him? I thought. Or maybe put him out of his misery?

But, instead, he turned around and simply spoke to him.

"Nothing strange about that," Zack said as he aimed his sword toward the sky. "Angeal lives inside you."

"Genesis is trying to obtain the 'gift of the goddess,'" Lazard said, "but what is it, exactly? No, whatever it is, he must be stopped."

"I just don't understand what he's talking about at all," said Zack as he put his sword away. "What should I do?"

Lazard took a look at his wing.

"Angeal may show us the way, perhaps," he said.

"Maybe," Zack agreed. "I hope so, director."

Lazard began to laugh.

"'Director,'" he echoed. "So, Zack, what is your dream?"

"Huh?" asked Zack, before he remembered how he had asked him the same question before. "Oh, let's see. To become a hero!"

"Unattainable dreams are the best kind," Lazard repeated.

"Oh, come on!" Zack protested. "Lend me a hand! You and Angeal both. If we pull this off, we'll all be heroes! At the very least, I'd feel like one!"

Lazard smiled.

"So, Zack," he suggested, "where is Genesis?"

Zack was confused at first. Genesis has flown off, and was nowhere to be seen. He could have gone anywhere.

And then, Zack spotted what he was still holding in his left hand.

He had an epiphany.

"Oh!" Zack exclaimed as he flaunted the apple.

"I see," Lazard said.

Zack remembered how Lazard had told him the one place where dumbapples grew.

Genesis had to be there.

It was time for a final showdown.

And then, Zack noticed a feather fall.

"I don't have much time left," Lazard informed him.



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