Unnamed Story

BY : Roaming_Firefly
Category: Final Fantasy VII > Yaoi - Male/Male > Sephiroth/Vincent
Dragon prints: 2604
Disclaimer: see full disclaimer below



Chapter 7 - Point of No Return



Fenris was right about a lot of things. Firedrake-Genesis was every bit as stubborn as the human one Sephiroth knew. However, his current condition was not exactly "alright". Apparently just like the human version, this version of Genesis's mind also worked in similar ways to Sephiroth's. Any weakness that Sephiroth had found in his restraints but had not yet tried to exploit, Genesis did—with no success. By the look on Gooey-Duck's face when he exacted his punishments onto the unfortunate firedrake, Sephiroth wondered if the wily slave trader had purposely placed those seeming weaknesses just to trick his prisoners into a sense of false hope, so that he may have some opportunity and excuse to indulge in his sadistic nature.

Fenris and N'geal watched Genesis's struggles with the solemn quietness of ones who had seen such things play out many times before. And perhaps even experienced it themselves. Fenris never did elaborate on what he meant that night, about not being able to go back to his own world, and Sephiroth was never one to pry. He himself understood all too well that kind of solitude and the need to retreat into it.

The look in Inuyasha and Nero's eyes told that they had tried similar tactics as Genesis, and likely met similar ends. But although they watched tight-jawed and silent, their eyes still flashed with signs of stubborn, prideful spirits not yet ready to give up. Vincent simply sat quietly through it all, his face impassive. But Sephiroth was not fooled. He was quite familiar with the facade of ease and the calculating look that surfaced subtly from time to time in those crimson eyes. Vincent was a true Turk, whether his current title bears an 'ex' or not.

Genesis was still not eating or drinking. Combined with the torture, his condition was fast deteriorating. Gooey-Duck only sneered at him and threatened to force-feed him if necessary, and informed him, almost in anticipation, that he'll make it as unpleasant as possible for the firedrake. Gooey-Duck also informed the firedrake in almost transparent glee, that he can fight all he wants, but his pride is worth nothing before a demon lord. Genesis answered the slave trader with only defiant indifference, but under a careful eye, one could tell from subtle signs in his posture and the air around him that he was beginning to feel the dark cold of despair.

This day, it seems the slave trader was in a particularly sadistic mood. Not only did he rile the now mostly apathetic firedrake into once again smacking the food tray out at the slave trader, he also successfully goaded Inuyasha into a temperamental outburst.

Inuyasha scowled as he licked at his whip marks. Fenris helped him with the ones he couldn't reach.

"What is that stuff he puts in his whip?" Inuyasha wrinkled his nose in distaste.

"It's made from a plant called Agonia. Its poison slows your body's natural healing." answered Fenris, "You should have known better than to let Gooey-Duck get to you like that."

"Yeah, well, it was worth it. Did you see the look on his face?" Inuyasha gave a fang-showing grin, but then yelped in pain as Fenris pointedly pressed an especially hard lick on the hanyou's raw back.

Sephiroth saw a small movement in the firedrake's shoulders and recognized it as the sign of one of Genesis's secret smirks. The headstrong firedrake probably agreed with Inuyasha and thought that his retaliation had been worth the price also.

Suddenly, something bounced off of the firedrake's head, then before Genesis could react, another followed it. The brunette stared incredulously at the brown food pellets and then turned to the culprit.

"That's for payback," grinned N'geal, "I was beginning to think you were aiming those tail-slaps deliberately to include me in the firing range of these things."

Genesis humphed and turned away again.

"You know you're only making it harder on yourself," sighed N'geal, "you should at least eat something. Gooey-Duck's only small fry compared to a true demon lord. You will need all your strength when the time comes when you must face one of those."

"Just leave me to rot." Genesis answered bitterly.

"And are you content to let it end like this? Rotting in a slave cage?" Sephiroth asked coldly, "If so then you are nothing but a coward."

Genesis's eyes blazed as he raised himself up from the floor, "And who are you to speak to me thus?"

"Right now, I am exactly what you are: merchandize waiting to be sold," Sephiroth returned Genesis's glare with one of equal intensity, "if you wish to admit defeat and die as that then that's your choice. But I ask you to kindly refrain from burdening the rest of us with your foolishness."

The firedrake looked ready to burst with rage.

Fenris groaned, "No, wait, let me translate. This guy's not very good at expressing himself you see. What he meant was: if you continue like this, you will only die in vain. None of us want to see that. We are after-all, in the same boat...quite literally."

Genesis clenched his fists and continued to glare at Sephiroth, but held himself from further outbursts.

"Ya know, I'd suggest a change of strategy too," shrugged Fenris, "I mean, your current one hasn't gotten you anywhere, has it?"

Genesis shifted his smoldering glare to the wolf-youkai. But after a moment of tense silence, his shoulders slacked and he turned away.

"I am not... I CAN not... bow to that...that..." he said finally, his clenched muscles shook with suppressed emotion.

"It is only a bow if you think of it as one." Vincent suddenly spoke up in his quiet voice, "Think of it as nothing but a way for you to reach your sustenance—a means to an end—a way to gather and preserve your strength for what lies ahead. It is only your body performing a necessary action. If your heart is strong, it'll not be changed."

The firedrake only sat unmoving and was silent for a very long time after that. However, when everybody else's attention had turned elsewhere, Sephiroth spied him taking the pellets that N'geal had thrown into his cage and putting them into his mouth. As if sensing his gaze, Genesis lifted his eyes to Sephiroth's.

"I shall get myself out of this before you do," said the firedrake, his pale eyes burned with steady determination and a small, challenging smirk tugged at his lips, "and I will dance on your grave."

Sephiroth smirked back, "Challenge accepted."

Vincent watched all of this with a mask of indifference. That speech he gave the firedrake was one that he often had to give himself in the past. And to his demons.

Chaos had raged about having to get into a submissive posture for such a lesser demon. Vincent tried to placate the demon by saying that it was only him doing the postures, not Chaos. It didn't work.

You are my Host. We are in the same body. Joined together by the unholy sorcery of the arrogant ones in white. Chaos had said angrily,You and I are one and the same. It matters not which one of us is doing it.

Vincent had sighed mentally and reminded the proud demon of how they had survived their ordeal at the hands of Hojo, and that this was nothing in comparison. That worked much better.

With that matter settled, Vincent was free to let his mind wonder about Sephiroth. The former world-destroyer had shown none of the brutality and cruelty that had been consistently present in all the encounters that Vincent had had with him since he joined AVALANCHE. In fact, the Sephiroth that was now sitting in front of him seemed to be a decent man who, although cold and distant, was capable of sympathy for others. Had Sephiroth been telling the truth when he claimed that JENOVA no longer influenced him? Had he now reverted back to who he was before finding the lies and the half-truths about his origins in Nibelheim? Vincent ventured a glance at the ex-general, only to find mako-green eyes already watching him. The expression on the former general's face, though subtle, bore incredible resemblance to Lucrecia's when she was trying to work out a puzzle or confounding results from an experiment. Crimson eyes quickly darted away, fleeing from the memory.

No resemblance to his birth mother had yet surfaced in the former general's personality however, whether the destructive one that Vincent was more familiar with, or this current one. In fact, Sephiroth's current personality does seem to match what Cloud had recalled from the memories he gained from Zack. But could it just be a ruse? A trick? Somehow, the ever-suspicious ex-Turk didn't truly believe that.

Suddenly, the door of the room hit the wall with a bang and Gooey-Duck rushed in. He tossed a small jar at Fenris and pointed at Inuyasha, "Get him to a presentable state! I'll tolerate no slack from either of you!" At the same time, his lackeys pulled N'geal from his cage and shoved him into Genesis's. Gooey-Duck tossed the centaur a similar jar and barked the same orders. Soon after the slave trader signaled his exit from the room with another loud bang of the door, the ship hummed and shuddered and began to pick up speed.

Fenris opened the jar and sniffed, his brows furrowed.

"What is it?" Inuyasha asked warily, his ears flat against his head.

"It's...a medicinal ointment...and it contains the antidote to Agonia's poison."

Ignoring his cellmates' incredulous and puzzled looks, Fenris quickly went over to the corner of the cage, opened the floorboard and dropped down to the vent, "K-6, you there? You've any idea what's going on?"

The voice that drifted up from the vent was tinged with nervousness and fear, and Fenris's face tightened in apprehension.

"We are hurrying to Junon ahead of schedule," Fenris informed everybody when he finally straightened up from the vent, "because there's been word out that one of the Archdaemons of the Inner Circles has entered 5th Circle's borders and is heading for Junon looking to buy some new slaves."

N'geal and Genesis visibly tensed. Nero's eyes flashed then darkened.

"What does that mean?" asked Husky. Both he and Nana had now pressed themselves to the front of their cage.

"It means at least one of us is going to end up a slave to one of the most dangerous demons that Hell has to offer." said Nero darkly.

"Hell is divided into a total of nine Circles, and those are grouped into the Outer, Mid, and Inner Circles. The Outer Circles is home to the weakest demons, the Inner the strongest. The 7th, 8th and 9th Circles make up the Inner Circles. 9th Circle is just one giant prison for the most dangerous individuals of the Axis. And the 7th and 8th Circles house many former prisoners of the 9th. Each Circle is ruled by an Archdaemon. And all three of the current Archdaemons of the Inner Circles had sat in 9th Circle's prison cells at least once." N'geal explained as he tended to Genesis's wounds with the ointment given by Gooey-Duck. The firedrake, surprisingly enough, sat quietly and allowed it.

"The Inner Circles don't actually use slaves. It's long been proven that the inhabitants of those Circles will mercilessly exploit anything that hinders one from defending oneself. Wide gaps in social status being one of those hinderances. Only the Archdaemons kept slaves, because it is a status symbol among them. Sometimes, some demons will try to smuggle in slaves to feel better about themselves, and sometimes an Archdaemon will allow it to go on. The previous Archdaemon of 7th Circle did just that. On the day he was killed, the entire Circle broke into violent riots in celebration of his death. The smuggled slaves bore the brunt of the uncontrolled venting of violence. None of them survived. The current Archdaemon of the 7th strictly forbids slaves in the Circle." N'geal explained grimly. Fenris repeated it all to those who couldn't understand the centaur as he tended to Inuyasha with his jar of ointment.

"B-but...surely there will be other slave merchants there? That Archdaemon doesn't have to choose one of us, does he?" Nana asked, her small body quivered.

N'geal sighed, "Gooey-Duck is one of the top slave merchants of Hell, known for his reliable supply of strong, rare slaves. Any Archdaemon looking to buy new slaves is sure to visit his stall at some point. He also has one of the fastest ships, and never fails to appear where there's business to be had. In fact, he's always among the first slave trader to arrive and one of the first to make a sale."

The centaur paused to study the rapidly changing colours of light that passed by the plant-creatures' window. "It will probably be just past sunrise in Junon when we arrive. You kids better hope that these Archdaemons are not early-risers and you get bought by someone kinder before they come."

Sephiroth frowned at the coloured lights. By the feel of the ship's acceleration and the amount of time it took, he was positive that they were now traveling at a speed he had never thought possible for a ship of any kind. The yellowish sky peeking in from the "windows" had also melted into streaks of colours that span the visible spectrum. Evidently, just as Fenris had said, there were still many things about this world that he did not yet know. Sephiroth's mako-green eyes scanned the room for his "travel companions". The ones who seemed to have the best chance at escaping were N'geal and Fenris. They clearly hold plenty of knowledge about this world, and the experience to deal with its challenges. N'geal had once been a high-rank officer in an Archdaemon's army, so he was certain to be both intelligent and strong, as well as very capable of leadership—much like Angeal had been. And many in this room appear to be formidable fighters, including Fenris, Inuyasha, Nero, Genesis, Vincent and Sephiroth himself.

Even the children, if what Fenris said about demon lords having low opinions of humans was true, then there must be some reason for them to be placed here among rare slaves, targeted toward high-ranking buyers. Nana had said that they were "a little different". And her enhanced hearing, even beyond the sensitivity of the ex-general's, was definitely one of those differences. What others might there be? And then there's the very useful informations from K-6. So with all these resources, what was stopping N'geal from organizing a break-out? Language, maybe? But he had the friendship and aid of Fenris. And most of them here could communicate with the centaur anyways. Or it could just be the centaur's strong sense of honour, which he obviously shared with Angeal. For a military commander of an Archdaemon to end up in a slave cage, there must have been a story behind it. Or perhaps it was an issue with trust? Although they all seem to be people that Sephiroth could count on in the battlefield, the ex-general had long since learnt some very hard lessons on trust—particularly from when he was still in the labs, when he had still been new to the world and naive.

What of Fenris then? What had beaten down this other-world double of a certain strong-willed 1st class SOLDIER, so much that he had completely lost hope of escape and was only hoping for a kind buyer? At this very moment, the young wolf-youkai was giving the puzzling ex-general pointed looks as he cautioned his cellmates that there will be a lot of demon lords walking about in the slave market, and that whatever happens, do NOT do anything rash.

The wolf-youkai had told Sephiroth that hybrids were highly prized as slaves for demon lords. Slavers will not hesitate to hunt down a couple of hybrid look-a-likes as if they were true hybrids. Demon lords tend to be confident to the point of arrogance when it comes to their vaunted senses, and Fenris had rolled his eyes and said that he had seen them get things wrong many times before. Although slave merchants such as Gooey-Duck frequently use a set of testing methods to differentiate between hybrids and other creatures so that they can haggle their price with the crime-rings or individual slave-hunters, demon lords themselves care about those as much—or as little—as trophy collectors care about the subtle physical variations and habits between different species of marshland death-mongers. As long as their 'catch' had shiny pelts or large horns, and looked good hanging in their halls, then that's good enough for them.

Sephiroth sighed inwardly. What Fenris had said did make sense. And indeed, escaping from this ship would only be the beginning. Keeping from being caught again would prove to be the more difficult task, especially with the limited knowledge he had of this world. Plus he had no idea how he was going to escape from this world of slaving demons and go back to his own. Masamune was close now. Almost close enough for Sephiroth to feel its familiar hilt in his grasp. But "almost" was not good enough.

Sephiroth looked over at Vincent. By the way the ex-Turks's crimson eyes took in everything around him, the ex-general knew that escape had been on the gunman's mind as well. But would he be willing to help the former general...in anything? The ex-Turk's attitude towards him had hardly budged over the past few days, curse that man's stubborn heart.

Sephiroth hadn't yet had the chance to ask the ex-Turk the questions that had been plaguing his thoughts. Vincent was a Turk, and Turks were sure to have in-depth knowledge of ShinRa secrets. And for a Turk who had been floating in a mako tank in Hojo's lab...he must have at least some information about the experiments that had made Genesis, Angeal...and himself. Although Sephiroth was more than reluctant to discuss such personal topics as the questions of his origins with so many ears around, the future seemed very uncertain as of this moment, and he may not get another chance to ask.

"Vincent..."

The ex-Turk's red eyes immediately snapped to Sephiroth and all his muscles tensed. Sephiroth barely held back a growl. In all the days that they've spent together in this Gaia-be-damned cage, could the ex-Turk still not believe that Sephiroth wasn't going to suddenly start murdering people at any given moment?

But even more baffling to the former general than the impossibly stubborn ex-Turk however, was himself. He had always been alone. Aside from with Angeal and Genesis, he had always felt different, disconnected. Whatever others thought of him, he never really cared. He had always coldly regarded both darting gazes and hushed whispers, and reverent stares and gushing praises. And he knew that the ex-Turk had good reason to be wary of him after having fought alongside Cloud to prevent his mad self from destroying the planet. So why was the gunman's attitude towards him bothering him so? Sephiroth found himself wanting to shake the ex-Turk, to yell at him to stop being so damned guarded around him.

Before Sephiroth could say or do anything further however, the ship suddenly gave a shudder and began to decelerate. The changing colours through the 'window' also slowed and gradually subsided to reveal a sky of rust red. The sounds of the ship's crew hurrying about could be heard even through the thick walls, and an air of anticipation and apprehension rose about the cages. They have arrived.



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