The Orphans of Cerberus

BY : Fetherhd
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 1741
Disclaimer: Square Enix holds all rights the the FFVII world and its characters. This is a not for profit fanfiction

The Orphan's of Cerberus Chapter 21

Dr. Becket sat back in her chair and rubbed her eyes. It had been a long but good day. Both of the "specimens"…had been model citizens on their first outing. It had been an eye opening experience to watch the sibling's innocent pleasure at the slew of new "adventures" that the Turks took them on. (If you would call, clothes shopping, checking out a jewelry store, having Sushi in a restaurant…an adventure) The little kimonoed Sushi chef had taken a special interest in the odd little group and had gotten imaginative. He even provided Ice with a meal the likes of which the golden female had ever dreamed. Her raw seafood and succulent seaweed was chopped to an extraordinary fineness and served to her with delicate, melt in your mouth, rice crackers instead of the usual sticky rice. Both Were's had LOVED the pungent wasabi and the fact that they could eat with their hands, (Licking every bit off of strong fingers when finished seemed to be a special treat. Reno had watched the pleasure the two got out of doing this and had copied them much to his stoic partner's chagrin!) The little Chef had practically swelled with pride at the perceived compliment.
Cloud and Cid had been a little concerned about taking the pair into the supermarket, especially after the peanut butter fiasco. Valentine got twin promises that the Weres would touch NOTHING unless it was given to them by one of the group, preferably Vincent, Cloud, Marion, or Rude. (when Reno protested that he could be responsible…it was not just a resounding triple no… but a HELL no!… along with a slap upside the head from Rude.)
Hell…the Doctor had never seen ANYONE so excited at being inside a grocery store! You would have thought Ice and Whisper were splurging at the Golden Saucer, such was their wonder at seeing shelf upon shelf of, to them, exotic foods. Marion chuckled…the brother and sister both had difficulties dealing with their primate greed, and had to work HARD to keep from drooling. Rude (the big man proved he was a true marshmallow at heart, and even though the sibs didn't ASK….their expressive faces spoke volumes) didn't help any when he would occasionally pluck things off of the shelf for the overwhelmed Weres to sample. The pair had looked like chipmunks when they became too full to actually eat the tidbits, BUT, their greedy primate nature could NOT say no and they ended up packing the excess into limited cheek pouches.
Full lips curved from their gentle smile down into a frown here…how COULD Dr. Angelique think of these two wonderful, unique beings as ordinary lab fodder? Maybe it was because the woman had not met the living ones, who seemed almost… human… sometimes. All the aging scientist had to base her opinion on was a couple of corpses in the morgue and some violent behavior. It was very evident that the Shinra head of research was thinking of the Weres as just very large monkeys. Some of the tests she had ordered Marion to run, were humiliatingly invasive at best and excruciatingly painful at their worst. When the little Vet had asked about anesthetic…the answer had horrified her. Angel's carefully worded reply was that lab animals were NOT usually sedated as the drug could skew the test results. PLUS… they did not know what side affects could result at the huge dosages of drugs needed to compensate for the Were's healing factor. It was the head researcher's opinion, that this should be explained to the creature's keepers and that they should make use of the heavy restraints being provided even IF the specimens were cooperative. After all…they were still very dangerous animals, and the Changeling's (translation…Yuffie's) future depended on the research that needed to be done.
Marion's hand crept up to again rub at her now aching head. She had heard the rumors that Shinra had conducted experiments on volunteers in its SOLDIER program. This had stopped when the most famous voluntary subject…General Sephiroth…went off of the deep end. She had a distinct feeling that Valentine might have been one of these volunteers and had received a lot more in the way of modifications than he had bargained for…hence his definite resistance to anything that smacked of scientific research. Still, if he had been willing to place himself at the leading edge of research at one time, it might not be to terribly difficult to make him see the necessity for the tests here. Yuffie's health would be a huge bargaining chip in gaining his approval.
The woman gathered up her papers and notes, speaking of that demon-ridden man, she was supposed to meet with him and be enlightened as to what she was actually dealing with. Marion snorted…really, as if she wasn't a grown woman. Yes, she could be a little naive at times, but there were no BIG, BAD, WOLVES here, and she HAD made it to adulthood without someone holding her hand.
"Whisper…could you come here for a moment?"
Vincent hesitated to ask this of the male…after all… he kept HIS tag well hidden under leather and gold.
"Will you please show Dr. Marion your tag?"
Whisper smiled at the gunman and hustled over to kneel down beside the confused scientist.
"Mine is not as pretty as Rude's."
The Were tilted his head so that Marion could catch the tip of his long mobile ear. Crimson eyes caught the slight frown as the woman read that innocuous seeming little piece of bright metal. "Property of Shinra Corp."
"Thank you Whisper."
The alabaster face did not change expression as the ex-Turk observed how those slender fingers absently patted the silky white mane before the Albino rose and went back to join the Turks.
"Today you saw one side of being owned by Shinra…"
Valentine glanced in the Turks direction, then that solemn, bloody gaze slid over to pin the scientist in her seat. The man pushed a small pile of computer disks her way.
"This is the "other" side of being owned." Valentine caught the small hand as Marion reached for the disks.
"You need to understand…I… once walked the paths of a Turk, thinking I was protected under the umbrella of ownership. In the time it took a bullet to cross ten feet, those privileges were stripped away and I was set on the path's of the damned."
Releasing her, Vincent let the little Vet gather up Sergeant Muran's pirated video records. As she put the first one in, the man’s dark head dipped towards Cloud who had watched the quiet scene from his seat at the table with half lidded, mako tainted eyes. The swordsman had his hands resting lightly on the stack of files he was going through at Vincent's request. Only a trained eye would have caught the slight tremor that made those fingers twitch as the computer monitor came to life and the sounds of a research lab permeated the room.
The blonde nodded slightly at the question he saw in Vincent's ruby eyes.
"Cloud here had a very similar experience under the…benevolent…ownership of Shinra when his "services" as a SOLDIER were no longer deemed necessary."
Cloud tilted back a little in his chair, and after catching Marion's confused hazel gaze with his own grim one of sky blue, he reached down and lifted the edge of his sweater until the barcode tattooed into his flank could be seen. The scientist looked away, trying to hide her flinch and the gunman let her focus her attention on the computer screen. The woman's face settled into an unreadable mask as she watched the atrocities committed in that research lab all for the sake of science. When the first muffled screaming started, Vincent caught the shudder that ran over Whisper's suddenly very still form. A quick glance confirmed that the male's ears were flat and his mane sucked in tight.
The big man's head snapped up at the tone that reverberated through the deep voice.
"Maybe you should take Whisper and see if Yuffie and his sister might want some tea…hmmm?"
Crimson eyes narrowed as the Turk quietly led Whisper out of the conference room. Reno suddenly looked more than a little nervous. Valentine was very aware that the only reason the Turks had attended this impromptu meeting was to verify that the little Vet did not get away if she broke and tried to run. Marion was probably unaware that the employment papers she had signed made it legal for Shinra to enforce by any means necessary the… only way to quit the company was in a coffin….clause it included in every prominent researchers contract. Vincent was very familiar with this. As a Turk, he had been an enforcer on many missions where Shinra employee's had a sudden change of heart and wanted out of their contracts. The fact that he had been the one to "release" them from the binding agreement (and life itself) insinuated itself many nights into his dark dreams. It created a huge blackness on his terminally stained soul. The man did not realize that the sharp claws on his armed hand were tapping holes into the file in front of him until Cloud casual reached over and snatched it away.
Cloud gave the now tattered file a fleeting glance as he rescued it. He was not at all surprised at the fact that Valentine was wound up screaming tight…again! Like himself, the man truly hated anything to do with Shinra's dubious research practices…especially if it involved Professor Hojo. Mother Gia…the gunman was like the world's scariest jack in the box…just waiting for something to hit his release button. The vivid image of CHAOS being the one to sprong out of the box wiped the small, nervous smile that had started to twitch the blonde's lips up… clean off of his face.
The ex-Soldier could not stand the tension of just sitting and watching as Vincent's eyes brightened with hot gold highlights at the sounds coming from that cursed disk. The ex-Turk’s intense gaze rested on the still form of the woman in front of the computer and the his pale lips were thinned down to a grim straight line. Blue eyes flashed to glance at the trim form seated in front of that screen and Cloud had to squelch his own visceral reaction to the look…no…the un-look that had settled across Dr. Marion's regular features. Damn…did every scientist PRACTICE that look of clinical detachment? Was it a job requirement? This did not bode well for Ice and Whisper.
The swordsman had started to like this feisty little Vet, and was coming to believe that the scientist was one of the few who bore that title who MIGHT have the ethics to make the two sibling's lives as willing captives bearable. The fact that the good "Doctor" could watch those tapes with no other emotion than professional curiosity, was making that belief a rapidly dwindling commodity. (Cloud had watched just enough of them to truly pity the members of the Troop, and then he could stomach no more) To distract himself from watching Valentine wind himself tighter, and to get away from the sick fascination of wondering WHEN the man's legendary control would break AGAIN, (Hmmm, just who would get pounded this time? Not me…no sirree…not this time!) Cloud opened the file in is hand. The opening thesis statement gave rise to the thought that this might not be as dry a read as he was prepared for.

"A dissertation on the validity of there being a core truth in which the urban legends concerning the supernatural creature known as Were Wolves or Lycanthropes, are based …"

Cloud flipped through a few pages, The paper had been very well researched and the scientist who had put forth the theory had enough evidence that the whole concept was very believably…this was evidently the thesis that had sparked Shinra's interest in researching…Lycanthropes. The services of the Archeologist had been bought and the scientist had indeed found an indigenous population of Were Wolves in a very remote northern location. The mighty corporation had move fast with this knowledge….but in the act of capturing one live, heavily gravid female, the entire pack had rallied to defend and ALL of the pack members had been destroyed. The one remaining Were had been spirited away into the research labs were the fetuses that she carried were altered with human DNA in an attempt to create not Weres with the ability to look human, but Humans with the ability to change to beasts. Ten live pups had been born and much to the researcher's disappointment they were still Were in nature. BUT… with one distinct difference. These were not Were Wolf pups….the experiment had caused a mutative type of de-evolution to occur and the beast base for these siblings was most definitely PRIMATE. Shinra had been encouraged by the results and wished to try again, but the female had pined away and died very shortly after the Troop was born. The scientists had searched the globe but no other members of the now classified Lycanthrope race were discovered. The new race had been listed as extinct even before any word of them ever leaked to the public.
The swordsman hissed softly through his teeth. This was genocide that the head of research was so blithely dismissing. If that was the case…then Shinra had, in one cruel act, made all of the members of the Troop…. true orphans… in every sense of the word.
Project Cerberus (the hellhounds)… as it was titled, had been tanked after thirty years. When the beasts had hit adulthood they became too difficult to control. Still… the harm had been done. Project C had produced the research that had enabled Hojo to implant the three lesser of Vincent's demons into his favorite "specimen". It was because of the discovery of the Lycanthropes that Vincent's body could morph the way that it did without permanent harm to the host. The Galian beast was a DIRECT result of Lycanthrope cells mixed with their virulent virus being implanted in the man. The Chaos gene kept that mutating virus firmly in control. It was as close to a true "Change" from human to Were that the demented professor had ever created.
Cloud did not realize that his small sound had drawn the unwavering attention of Valentine. The blonde could not stop the small shake that started in his hands or the soft groan of despair that crept out of his throat when he read the last paragraph of the report.
The ex-Soldier felt bile rise up into his mouth…Oh… HELL… no! All of this had been precipitated by the Graduate Thesis of one man…someone that Vincent had KNOWN.
The last note on the report read….

"It has been brought to my attention that the man who discovered Project C is a unique individual who has the rare ability to think outside of the box. This scientist does not let drivel such as public opinion, or emotion interfere with his scientific pursuits and this company would be making a great mistake if it continues with it's plan to "Terminate" his employment. It would be in the best interest of Shinra Corporation to offer Dr. Grimiore Valentine permanent tenure on this research staff."

Cloud looked up, only to find that he had drawn the attention of the last man he wanted to have this knowledge. DAMN….he was SOOOO going to be the one pounded!
Reno had been covertly watching the odd little group at the conference table. The fact that both Cloud and Valentine had made it through the gruesome reminders of their past in the sounds of the first disk and were starting on the second…just amazed the Turk. HE had never been a victim of Hojo's and those tapes gave him a serious case of the willies.
Cool green eyes appraised the very still form of Shinra's newest employee and the experienced Turk did not see indifference. The red head had led many "missions" where whole families had been…erased. He had seen that same quiet, contemplative look fall over the faces of those who saw their loved ones die and knew that their death was coming. This was a type of shock and when it broke, the young woman would pay the price of suppressing the intense feelings that watching the torture on those miserable records had to be stirring up. After all….Marion had become a Veterinarian because she LIKED animals.
Vincent studied Marion as she watched those accursed disks and found himself wondering (not for the first time in his unlucky life) if some people were born missing the gene that controlled compassion. The gunman could not understand how anyone with a soul could see another creature in such agony and not respond in any way at all. Well…he thought wryly, maybe they should count themselves lucky that at least the scientist was responding with indifferent interest and not the sick pleasure that some seemed to get out of other's pain.
Cloud made an odd choking sound and when the ex-Turk's attention shifted to the blonde, Valentine had to stifle a twinge of unease. Sky blue flashed his way and the swordsman paled a little. What the Hell…? What could be in that file that would have an experienced warrior like Cloud looking like he was facing off with Sephiroth again? Vincent felt Chaos perk up a little….
Vincent barely managed to hide his flinch…the Demon Lord was being insufferably smug. He did his best to ignore the Galian beast's snicker.
Valentine knew that he was probably never going to live down the one time in his demon (and he used this term lightly) enhanced life that he had totally lost his temper with a friend. His permanent guests would see to that.
He gave vent to a soft sigh,
"Bugger off…. Chaos."
The gunslinger's ruby gaze never left Cloud's very tense form. The man's hands had even started to shake. Elegant brows drew down in a frown as Cloud's vivid gaze flicked up and was trapped by glimmering gold in red. Strong, tapered, leather clad fingers gracefully reached for the file. Vincent's deep voice was purposefully pitched low and soft.
"What is it Cloud?"
Cloud's expressive face crumpled…and he actually scooted his chair back whilst pulling the file away from the gunman's long reach.
"Gods Vincent…you really don't want to see this!"
Okay…unease had just flashed to total concern. The anxiety that had been coiling in the ex-Turk's belly fired out to race through him, priming muscle and nerves in an instinctive flight or fight reaction. The man could feel his eyeteeth elongate and he knew that, even without Chaos pushing, the crimson was now almost total gold.
That seemingly languid hand flicked out with blurring speed, plucking the file out of numb fingers before Cloud could pull it out of reach again. The blonde caught his lower lip between even white teeth. Pale lips tightened into a grim line as Vincent did not miss the fact that the swordsman eased himself so that he had a clear escape route to the door.
"Really Cloud…how bad can this be?"
Cloud leaned forwards, the intense mako glow in his narrowed eyes telling the gunman just how keyed up the Ex-Soldier really was.
"Just remember that old saying, Vincent…. You know…the one about not killing the messenger!"
Reno had been splitting his attention between the too quiet little Vet, and the other two males in the room. The Turk was too far away to clearly hear the soft words passing between the usually quiet men. He was in the wrong position to read their lips. And… even if he could, he didn't want his attention to be trapped by what was transpiring there. The redhead had excellent instincts and they were telling him that when Marion's state of mind caught up with what she was watching…her reaction was going to be extreme. Reno had learned through hard experience to ALWAY trust his instincts.
Pale green narrowed. Still, he needed to know what was going on. Cloud's body language was screaming that the man was close to freaking out….and it had something to do with the always dangerous, demon ridden, ex-Turk. That could be a very BAD combination. Reno could not control his twitch as Valentine snagged the file that the swordsman was trying to keep from him. Damn…. the gunslinger was frickin FAST!
The Turk shifted, trying to look casual as he made sure that he could draw his EMR unhindered. SHIT! A gold laced ruby gleam told him that Valentine had noticed. Reno risked a quick glance towards Dr. Becket. Her attention was still focused totally on the computer screen. If shit hit the fan, the woman was going to get caught flat footed.
Yes…Reno was here to make sure the naïve scientist remained a loyal employee of Shinra. As an employee, Marian was automatically entitled to certain benefits. The Turk was also here in the capacity that Valentine would be very familiar with….that of bodyguard! Red brows lowered in a thoughtful frown. (an expression that felt foreign on Reno's face!) The young woman was now almost unrealistically still, it was as if she wasn't even breathing.
Reno's attention jerked back and his stomach twisted as Valentine convulsively hunched in his chair, much like a man who had just been hit in the vitals by a bullet. The gunman was shaking and those brilliant eyes were closed.
Cloud cautiously leaned forwards, and this time Reno clearly heard the blonde softly murmur.
"Man…Vincent, I am so sorry…"
The sound of lethal talons, powered by demon enhanced muscle, being sunk into the hard wood of the table top, ripped through the room. Valentine's gauntleted fingers bit deep, as if the iron grained oak was nothing more than softened cheese. The sound of distressed wood easily overrode the disk currently being watched by the Vet. Cloud pushed his chair back a fraction and Reno's hand stealthily closed over his EMR as Vincent's pale lips pulled back in a pained grimace. Surprisingly… only strong, even white teeth were exposed. When the gunman lifted his dark head, the only color in his now open eyes was a crimson so dark it almost looked black. The man's clenched gauntlet slowly opened as he pried the digits out of the deep grooves he had created. Reno realized that he was holding his breath as Valentine stood up. Every graceful move the gunman made spoke volumes, Vincent was clamping down with every bit of steely control that he had.
"If you will kindly excuse me…."
The deep, whispered words sounded hollow.
As the ex-Turk turned towards the door, he dropped the file. Before it had fluttered down an inch, that other deadly hand blurred. Sky blue and pale green widened as Cloud and Reno watched the tiny pieces of the slashed up file slowly drift to the floor. The soft click of the door closing pulled both men out of their shocked trance. Cloud lurched to his feet, sucking in a deep breath. Evidently Reno had not been the only one not breathing.
The blonde's almost delicate features twisted in concern,
His shadowed gaze held Reno's face for a minute.
"Do you think that the GODS will ever get tired of making him their favorite FUCK toy?"
The Turk just blinked…what the HELL had been in that file?
Marion felt that she was a relatively smart, strong individual. After all, she had overcome a poverty stricken childhood, and worked her ass off to gain the title of Doctor. The scientist had been a member of research teams and she knew that sometimes, to the layman's biased eyes, the techniques used in animal research for the purpose of gaining scientific knowledge could seem cruel. Hell…some of them WERE down right cruel but one had to balance the need against the ethics involved. She had gotten a clear view of the many scars that traced over Valentine's torso like so many silvery spider webs, that morning. Dr. Becket had made the assumption that some of them were probably due to the violent life of a Turk and some where from having volunteered to be a human guinea pig. His assertion that what had been done to him had been done AGAINST his will and Cloud's backing him up by showing a specimen barcode permanently tattooed on soft HUMAN skin shook her to her very core..
Dr. Becket slipped the first disk in, and let her face settle into what she dubbed her clinical mask. In the scientific research circles that she operated in, showing emotion was a good way to draw ridicule and many rivals would use being "TOO" emotional as a weapon to shoot down any theory one might put forward.…every researcher quickly learned to let no emotion escape to the surface where it could be seen. She had always had a soft spot for animals and it had been a hard lesson to learn, it was not in her nature to suppress the emotions of pity and sorrow that had sometimes cropped up during many of the tests she had performed. The Vet had soothed her conscience by always being as quick and humane as possible when she was the primary doing the experiment.
The young woman watched the first images of a Troop member being strapped to an exam table without to much trouble, after all even as young kits they were incredibly strong and dangerous. BUT… as she watched a struggling, panic stricken, young, white ruffed female who looked a lot like Ice purposefully held down in a submersion tank to see if a Were could be drowned, the calm that she forced on herself settled into her bones like ice. Her experienced eye told her that the technicians went out of their way to cause the creature as much terror as possible before her thrashing stilled and her vitals flat lined from oxygen deprivation. Yes…it seemed a Were could be drowned, but it took a VERY long time. The limp body was hauled unceremoniously out of the water, thrown on a table and heavily restrained. The young Vet watched with a growing sense of horror as the head of the team opened the body in a classic autopsy procedure. The "Doctor" (and her mind stuttered at giving the man this title) inserted silver clips into the edges of the gaping wound to prevent it from closing, then watched and recorded as the Were's incredible healing factor kick started her heart and forced the suffocating water out of her lungs in an almost silent coughing scream. Marion had a sudden and vivid image of the long gently curving scar she had seen that morning flowing down Valentine's sternum. Her MIND had recognized what it was…and her heart had refused to acknowledge it.
The little Vet's eyes watched, and her brain processed what she was seeing on those horrendous disks. Marion really did not want to continue watching after the first ended, but it was as if her reality was suspended and her free will was caught in a loop. Small white hands inserted the next disk even though she silently screamed at them to stop!.….the woman's SELF hovered in the background of her screaming mind…an unwilling captive of a body frozen in shock. Mother Gia! WHAT had she gotten herself into?
She was staring in a shocked trance at the image of a beautiful white female who could have been Whispers twin, when Valentine rose to his feet. Marion was aware that the man had left the room but could not drag her trapped gaze away from the sight of the blue eyed, white beast's flesh slowly dissolving. Evidently they had tried to encourage the Were's body to develop a resistance to silver by injecting her with a small amount of silver nitrate. They had truly miscalculated the dosage. The creature's screams were unending as the corrosive liquid traveled through her veins and started eating her alive from the inside out. Marion vaguely realized that maybe she should breath. Her chest felt as if a behemoth was sitting on it and her vision was starting to tunnel, but the woman could not break the block of ice that her insides seemed to have turned into to.
Reno did not say a word as Cloud took a moment to look at the little scientist. The Turk could practically see the wheels turning in the swordsman's head. Did he stay to keep an eye on the Doctor and Reno, or did he follow to make sure his long time companion was all right? The blonde did not let the red head down. Cloud turned and followed Valentine out of the door. Good, this just left Reno and the Doctor…speaking of which….enough was enough. The woman's hazel eyes were glazed and her lips had taken on a distinct bluish cast. The red head snagged the bottle of aged scotch he had placed under his chair and poured a full glass. He took a quick swig out of the opened bottle then stood up and moved to were the woman was sitting. The man set the full glass, and amber filled bottle down and slid his body between her trapped gaze and the gruesome scene on the screen. He was glad for the hit of alcohol as his mind registered the half dissolved LIVING body trapped in that research lab. One long, pale finger stabbed down, shutting the horror show off.
Marion flinched as he touched her on shoulder,
"Yo…ya need to take a breath and drink this…"
The woman stared at him, and Reno tightened the walls around what little soul he had left as what he WAS and what being a TURK truly meant, registered in the woman's mind.
She managed to suck in a harsh shaky breath, only to hiss it back out again.
"You….you willingly work for them…?" Her fingers flicked weakly at the computer…"You protect them and KILL for them! OH GODS! You are here to…. Don't…touch….me!"
Marion tried to push her chair away from the red head and he carefully put his hands in the air and backed off. It would probably be better to give the Vet some space until she accepted the position she was in. There was only one way in or out of the room, he could keep an eye on that door from the hallway.
Marion watched the lanky form of the Turk slip out the door. She had managed a breath or two but as the full impact of her situation hit her, bands of steel seemed to close around her ribcage. GODS…she could not draw a full breath. The scientist placed both hands on the table in front of her. They were shaking so hard that there was no way she was going to be able to hold that glass. She tried to stagger up…there were some strong sedatives down in the lab…but her legs wouldn't bear her weight and the woman found herself on her hands and knee's. HELL…she was so screwed!
As Marion's vision hazed out, she could not see the floor in front of her, instead she was overwhelmed with images of Cloud and Valentine, prime scientific "specimens" tortured, and screaming in much the same way as the Weres had been while they endured years of "research" The Doctor's world narrowed down to an unending battle just to get a little oxygen through her constricted throat and into lungs that felt like they were being crushed from the outside.

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