Premonitions II-C: Crisis Core

BY : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 840
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, it any characters therin. I am not making any money here.

Chapter 9: Zack the Puppy

November 11, 0000

Banora was located roughly fifty miles east of Mideel. It was a quiet town, not unlike Gongaga.

Zack got to work right away, curiously opening doors without knocking. He would get forgiven by some and yelled at by others. After several fails, Zack was able to locate Angeal's house.

The house was dark inside. A middle-aged woman wearing a green scarf was sitting alone at a table.

"Can I help you?" she asked.

"Uh, greetings, ma'am!" Zack awkwardly greeted. "Are you Angeal's mother?"

The woman just sat there, unresponsive.

"My name is Zack," he continued.

She remained unresponsive for a few moments. Then, she slowly turned her head to face him.

"Are you Zack, the puppy?" she asked.

"Excuse me?" asked Zack, confused.

"My son wrote to me once about you," Angeal's mother clarified. "Zero attention span, restless as a little puppy."

I laughed my ass off. For a second, I thought she had some kind of dementia.

"Thanks, Angeal," Zack groaned.

"You're not here together with Genesis, are you?" asked Angeal's mom.

"No, I'm not." Zack assured her. "Don't worry."

"What is happening with my son?" she asked.

"I'm not really sure," he replied.

"Genesis came back here," Angeal's mom began, "a month ago, with an army of cohorts. And they proceeded to take the lives of many townspeople. Genesis...he used to be such a good boy."

"Is Angeal...?" Zack began to ask, but he stopped himself. He couldn't bear to finish.

"He came here," she replied, looking at Zack again. "But, he left his sword and went off somewhere."

Zack turned his attention to the wall. Slowly, he walked over to inspect the sword that Angeal had left there.

"That sword represents our family's honor," she said.

Zack continued to look, but he didn't dare touch.

"I see," he said. "No wonder." He then turned to face Angeal's mom. "He never uses this sword, really ever." He walked over to her, and knelt to her level. "I'll take care of Angeal. You should go and hide somewhere."

"Don't be concerned," she dismissed. "Genesis...cannot harm me."

Zack stood up, and took another look at the sword.

I felt sorry for Angeal's mom. Her name was Gillian, and she was basically taking care of the household after Angeal's father literally worked himself to death. She was certainly a responsible woman, unlike Mary Ellen. I'll tell you more about her later. Have a puke bucket handy when I do.

A few moments later, Zack found himself outside again.

"Angeal," he sighed out loud. "Where did you go?"

And then, a loud crash sounded.

"What!?" he exclaimed.

The sound had come from the edge of town. Zack rushed over to find what I had been expecting.

"Genesis copies!?" he exclaimed.

There were three of them. This time, Zack didn't even bother drawing his sword. He had brought some fire materia with him, and used it to dispatch the three.

As Zack was standing over the charred corpses, his cell rang.

"Hello?" said Zack as he answered it.

"There's a factory on the outskirts of town," Tseng announced. "I saw a Genesis copy go inside."

"You think that's their headquarters?" Zack asked.

"Most likely," Tseng replied. "I'm currently on a cliff overlooking the factory. A frontal attack is inadvisable. We'll go in from above. Come to the clifftop immediately."

I followed Zack to the factory, but, low and behold, he went to the front anyway.

He then got another phone call.

"I said come to the clifftop," Tseng reprimanded. "Weren't you listening? A frontal assault is inadvisable. Remember, this is a reconnaissance mission."

Zack sighed and hung up. To his credit, he did find the right way after that. He met Tseng on the top of a cliff, and it was a royal pain in the ass to follow him there. Tseng was on his knees, staring at what looked like more of a greenhouse than a factory.

"Genesis's parents were in that grave," Tseng announced.

"Wait, he... his own family?" Zack exclaimed as he knelt beside him.

"We can't expect reason from him," Tseng warned. "What about Angeal?"

"He wasn't at the house," Zack replied. "But please, give me time! If I find Angeal, I can talk to him. If I can convince Angeal, maybe Genesis will come back, too."

Tseng looked at Zack.

"I understand now why Sephiroth chose you."

"Huh?" asked Zack.

"Genesis and Angeal," Tseng continued. "Those two were Sephiroth's only friends. He didn't want to fight them. That's why he refused the mission."

"Well, Angeal is my friend, too!" Zack insisted.

"He's counting on you to bring them both back," Tseng said as he stood up. "Time is short. Let's go."

Zack stood up and cracked his knuckles. He then took several steps back.

Wait a minute, I thought. You're not doing what I think you're doing?

Unfortunately, he was. Running as fast as he could, he leaped over the chasm, and disappeared into the glass roof.

Then the damnedest thing happened: Tseng did it himself.

Realizing that I would not likely fall to my death, I repeated the feat. The landing was somewhat hard, but it didn't kill me.

"Infiltration successful!" Zack shouted.

Unfortunately, that announcement alerted three Genesis copies, who began to approach. I hid behind three boxes.

"Go on ahead," Zack told Tseng. "I'll take care of things here."

Tseng ran down a flight of metal stairs as Zack incinerated the copies with a fire spell. After that, he scanned the area.

"Zack, this way," Tseng called from a lower platform. "Keep an eye out for enemies."

Zack followed. When he reached the floor, three more Genesis copies approached, along with a heli-gunner-a double machine gun that hovered above ground with a propeller.

Zack knew exactly what to do; he stood between the help-gunner and the copies. The rest wrote itself; Zack ducked as the heli-gunner began to fire, pumping all three copies with bullets. Zack then stabbed the heli-gunner's core.

Meanwhile, Tseng stood in a doorway leading to another room.

"Zack, this way," he ordered.

Tseng led Zack through several storage rooms to what appeared to be the foreman's office. A computer was on, and Tseng waisted no time inspecting it.

"Looks like the copies are being made here," Tseng said. "Check the second floor. Genesis may be there."

Zack did as he was ordered. As he climbed the metal stairs, he began to hear a voice.

"Infinite in mystery is the gift of the goddess," the voice began. "We seek it thus, and take to the sky. Ripples form on the water's surface. The wandering soul knows no rest."

As he reached the top of the stairs, Zack saw a man sitting on the floor beneath the window. He had brown hair, and was wearing black slacks and a purple coat. Zack recognized the man from the computer file; this was Genesis.

Genesis slowly turned his head, and made eye contact.

"Settle down, Zack the Puppy," he taunted.

Zack groaned as Tseng came running up the stairs. He took a look at what appeared to be a containment chamber, where another Genesis copy was taking form.

"The grave at the house," Tseng gasped as he turned to Genesis. "We found the remains of our people there as well."

"It didn't take much to have them send false reports," Genesis replied without making eye contact. "Just some mild threats."

"They would have done that anyway," Zack snapped. "At least your parents would have."

"My parents betrayed me," Genesis retorted. "They had always betrayed me, from the very beginning. What do you know? Shinra lapdogs!"

Suddenly, Genesis' hand began to glow. Before anyone could react, he cast what appeared to be a fire spell on Tseng, causing him to hit the wall and his suit to go ablaze.

Zack instinctively drew his sword.

And then, he felt someone yank it out of his hands.

He looked up to Angeal passing him, facing Genesis.

"Welcome, partner," Genesis greeted.

Without responding verbally, Angeal took Zack's sword and aimed it at Genesis.

"I see," Genesis said calmly. "You've finally made your decision. I'll respect your wishes, old friend." He began to walk toward Angeal. "However, can you really live on that side?"

For a second, I thought there was going to be a fight. But, instead, Genesis simply passed him and walked out of the factory.

"Angeal!" Zack initially called as he ran to greet him.

Angeal quickly shoved Zack aside and placed his sword in the ground.

The stunned Zack took a long look at his former friend.

Then Angeal, too, turned and exited the building.

Wasting no time, Zack grabbed his sword and ran after him. He entered the next room to find it deserted.

"Damn!" Zack shouted. "Where did he go? Did he leave the factory?"

Suddenly, the front doors opened. Two menacing quadrupeds, known as Blood Tastes, were standing there, ready to attack.

As Zack prepared to draw his sword, someone approached from behind and shot the creatures dead. Zack turned to see Tseng behind him, armed with a gun.

Yeah, I know. You probably thought Tseng was dead. That happens a lot. I thought he died there, too. Later on, I heard he died at the Temple of the Ancients, and, after that, I heard he was killed in the destruction of Junon. But he turned out alive all three times. I wonder how many lives he has left. Will they eventually run out, like in a video game?

Anyway, back to the story.

"There's no time," Tseng said. "We have to leave now."

"We're not gonna go look for those two?" Zack protested.

"All evidence of misconduct must be erased," Tseng replied. "Company rules." His face then became solemn. "An airstrike will neutralize this town."

Just then, three more Blood Tastes ran into the factory. Zack braces himself as Tseng stood calmly.

"Are you sure that nobody is at Angeal's house?" the latter asked.

Zack did not respond.

"Hurry!" Tseng ordered.

Zack ran out of the factory. I tried to follow him, but he was a hell of a lot faster. I knew he was headed for the town to warn Angeal's mom. I soon began to hear explosions. That was no airstrike; that had to be Genesis and/or Angeal doing some kind of dirty work.

By the time I finally caught up with Zack, he was sweaty, suggesting he had been engaged in some sort of combat. As he came into view, he was reaching for his ringing cell phone.

"The attacks have stopped," Tseng announced on the other end. "Looks like you fended off most of the attacks. I just received word that the airstrike is about to commence. You have to hurry."

"I hope Angeal's mom is all right," Zack sighed as he hung up the phone. "I have to hurry!"

He darted off again. As I knew exactly where he was going this time, he was a lot easier to follow.

When he got to Angeal's house, Zack's phone went off again.

"I explained our situation and had them briefly delay the airstrike," Tseng announced. "That will buy you some time."

"Thanks, Tseng!" Zack replied.

"Those cannon shells were Shinra-made as well," Tseng added. "You'll be rewarded for destroying evidence of the company's involvement in this matter."

Without further ado, Zack entered Angeal's house. Once he opened the door, a tragic sight presented itself.

Gillian was laying on her side, on the floor, dead.

Zack gasped in horror. He never knew the woman, but now that she was gone...

A shadow suddenly covered the body, and it wasn't Zack's. He quickly turned to see Angeal standing against the wall behind him, with his buster sword in his hand.

Realizing what had apparently taken place, Zack lost his ability to think carefully. He charged Angeal and grabbed his clothes, heedless of the sword he was was carrying.

"What the hell did you do, Angeal!?" he demanded before punching his former friend's face.

The punch had such force that it caused the new orphan to stagger backward through the doorway and fall to the ground.

"Is that your idea of honor!?" Zack shouted.

"My mother could not continue to live," Angeal replied as he stood up. "And neither can the son."

"What are you talking about!" Zack demanded as he exited the house. "What's going on here?"

Suddenly, Genesis appeared. He had to have something to do with it.

"I told you," he said. "You can't live on that side anymore."

Angeal put his sword back and began to leave.

"Angeal!" cried Zack as he began to dart out of the house.

Genesis stuck his foot out, sending Zack to the ground.

"Angeal!" Zack continued again, forgetting that he had just been tripped.

"My friend, do you fly away now?" taunted Genesis.

"Shut up!" Zack shouted.

"To a world that abhors you and I?"

"Shut up!" Zack repeated, slightly louder.

"All that awaits you is a somber morrow," Genesis continued.

"Shut up," Zack shouted a third time as he began to rise. "I'm warning you!"

"No matter where the winds may blow I don't see Sephiroth today," Genesis said, "but are you game?"

Suddenly, Genesis' hand began to glow.

A moment later, Zack found himself in a bizarre void with a gold and black winged dragon bearing down on him.

Genesis had summoned Bahamut.

"A summon!?" Zack exclaimed. "So that's how it is, huh!"

Bahamut began to fire white fireballs from its wings. After dodging those, Zack drew his sword and charged at Bahamut. The creature quickly leaped into the air, landing several yards behind Zack.

Zack spun around in time to see Bahamut firing more white fireballs from its wings. Suddenly, Zack got an idea. He swung his sword at one of the incoming fireballs, deflecting it, and causing it to strike Bahamut right between the eyes.

After a hideous squeal, Bahamut fell to the ground, dead.

Zack quickly returned to the real world. Genesis stood with his back turned.

"Summons aren't meant to be used like this!" Zack reprimanded. "What happened to dreams and honor?"

"We are monsters," Genesis replied, as he flaunted a black wing in his left side. "We have neither dreams nor honor."

With that, Genesis ascended into the sky.

Zack was left alone.

"SOLDIER doesn't mean monster," he said to himself.

The air strike was called in, and Banora went up in flames. A chopper suddenly hovered near Zack and opened its door, where Tseng signaled for Zack to embark.

With his last glimpse, Zack could see the Banora trees, along with their fruit, burning to a crisp.

"Angeal," he whispered.

November 12, 0000

I returned home somewhat shaken up. Until that day, I had never seen anyone kill their own mother. I had seen people die before, and I have expected a few casualties on this mission, but matricide was kind of a shock.

This time, I got smart and never told Aerith nor Durham that I was going somewhere dangerous. But, there was one person I couldn't hide my absence from.

"Tobin?" I heard Cissnei's voice call me as I entered my apartment.

Her voice was coming from her room. I passed it, expecting it to be shut and locked again, but, instead, I found it wide open, with Cissnei, in her blue tee and jeans, sitting on her bed.

"Well, come on in!" she invited.

"You sure?" I asked, remembering that her door seemed often locked.

"Of course," she said as she motioned for me to come in. "Why not?"

"I've seen your door locked a lot," I replied.

"Oh," Cissnei laughed. "That's only after I've gone to bed. I sleep like a cartoon animal, and that's the most I'll ever say."

I scratched my head, wondering what that meant.

"So where've you been?" she asked. "By that tan of yours, it looks like you went to the Southern Island."

"I went to Mideel," I quickly lied. "To see my grandma."

"Well," Cissnei continued, "it's good you stayed away from Banora."

"What happened there?" I asked, furthering the deception.

"You don't want to know," she replied. "They actually sent one of us there. I wanted to go, but they said it was too dangerous. So they sent Tseng instead. I think it was because I'm female."

"That sucks," I said.

"Hey," she began as she pulled her phone from her jeans pocket, "can we be phone buddies?"

"Sure," I agreed, realizing she would likely make a stink if we weren't. "In case one of us gets locked out?"

"That, and I was kind of worried about you," she added."

I didn't know what to think of that. It was nice that she cared about me, but I realized that Aerith was right.

She was my mommy away from home.

December 30, 0000

School was out at the end of December. I went home for Christmas, and returned two days before New Year's.

Cissnei had been there the whole time. I was, at that time, surprised that she didn't go home and spend Christmas with her family, but I didn't bother to ask. Unlike her, I was capable of minding my own business.

Meanwhile, New Year's meant I would have a chance to kiss whichever girl was next to me when it hit midnight. As Durham was in the lead, I decided to ask her first.

"So what are we doing for New Year's?" I texted her after I had retired to my room for the night.

Knowing her, she would probably want to go to a lavish party or something.

"Just staying in," Durham texted back. "Just by myself."

That was weird. Just about everyone in my age group and ten years plus wanted to be out for the countdown.

"Want some company?" I then offered.

Maybe she was one of those girls who just liked to snuggle on the couch-and possible make out afterward.

"No thanks," was what I got back. "Just want to take a me day."

That didn't sound good. She had seemed interested in me. Hell, she even took her pants off and kissed me minutes later. Could she be having a sudden change of heart?

"Is something wrong?" I asked.

Maybe she was sick. I've been sick on New Year's before.

"I really don't like New Year's," she texted back.

I realized there was no arguing, so I quit.

It was when I began to question Miss Haverford.

December 31, 0000

So I spend New Year's Eve with Aerith instead. She was happy to hear I had wanted to spend it with her.

She was smiling when she greeted me at the door. She was wearing a red sweater, black slacks, and a pair of black boots to match. She was certainly dressed nicer than usual; whether this was for me or simply because it was New Year's was somewhat ambiguous.

The three of us went to the local diner for dinner. By the time we got back, it was eight-thirty, and still with a few hours to go before the countdown. Elmyra suggested we watch a movie.

Aerith's movies were all chick flicks. The only exception was a movie called Life with Burly Boy. So, naturally, I selected it.

"It's sad," she warned.

"That's fine," I assured her.

Burly Boy isn't exactly a chick flick; it's about a dog. It's sad because it's the biography of a dog, meaning it has a beginning, and it has an end. Get it?

The dog got put to sleep and so did I, but someone got upset when the end came. Tears were now streaming down Aerith's face as Burly Boy closed his eyes for the last time, and she grabbed my hand, squeezing it. Again, it was kind of ambiguous.

After Aerith finished drying her tears and blowing her nose, it was eleven, so we turned on the celebrations. They had the usual stuff, like the year in review, well-wishes from President Shinra, and that sad music with pictures of all the celebrities who died that year.

And then, the countdown. My heart began to race as Aerith scooted next to me as the final seconds of the year were counted. It seemed as if she wanted to kiss for sure.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Elmyra got up and kissed Aerith on the forehead. She then went over and did the same to me.

As far as Aerith herself went, we just hugged.

I wanted to kiss her, but if that was over-stepping, it would ruin our friendship for sure. So I sat there smiling at her, hoping she would make the move and kiss me instead.

But she never did.

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