|By : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits|
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Views: 1017 -:- Recommendations : 0 -:- Currently Reading : 0
|Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, it any characters therin. I am not making any money here.|
Chapter 12: Reactor Number Five: The Prequel
By the time Zack and Sephiroth reached Sector Eight, it was crawling with the same mecha that had invaded the Shinra Building. Only now, it was civilians that were in danger.
"Whoa!" shouted Zack. "This is some serious trouble!"
"We should split up," Sephiroth said calmly.
"Understood!" Zack agreed.
As Sephiroth went on his way, Zack ran to the Sector Eight Square.
And you'll never guess who was there: my lovely roomie. If it wouldn't blow my cover, I would've splashed the fountain's water on my face to make sure it was her. She was surrounded by two Genesis copies bearing down on her.
"Hold on!" shouted Zack. "I'm a-comin'!"
He began to dart toward her rescue. Then, suddenly, a baton appeared in front of him, causing him to skid to a stop.
Now, remember when I said that Cissnei was the nicest Turk and that Tseng was a close second? The other two weren't very nice. There was Rude, who was...well named. And the worst of them all was their leader, Reno. He had red hair and disregarded his uniform, not wearing a tie and leaving his shirt unbuttoned. He was the one who stopped Zack.
"Sector Eight is Turks' jurisdiction, slick," Reno announced.
Zack turned to see Rude and Tseng approaching him from behind.
"You gotta be kidding!" Zack protested, still worried about my roomie. "Tseng, do something!"
"There's no need for concern," Rude assured him.
"Huh?" Zack gasped. He then turned to see that Cissnei had killed the Genesis copies with one big-assed shuriken.
"Okay," continued Rude. "The other areas?"
"Midgar's just crawling with nasties," Reno answered.
"SOLDIER is having difficulties," Rude added.
"Reno. Rude," said Tseng.
"Just say the word," Reno invited.
"Go," Tseng commanded.
"Yes, sir," Rude acknowledged.
"So now we're outsourcing to the Turks?" Zack asked as he watched Reno and Rude ascend the nearby staircase.
"SOLDIER's being stingy," replied Cissnei as she approached him.
"There's a manpower shortage-huh?" He had noticed Cissnei's uniform. "You're a Turk, too?"
"I'm Cissnei," she introduced.
"I'm Zack," he greeted. "Pleasure to meet ya!"
"Zack," Tseng interjected, "aren't you on assignment?"
"Same objective," Zack replied. "Need some help here?"
"I appreciate the offer," said Tseng, "but..."
"Oh, how generous!" Cissnei interrupted as she began to walk away. "Well, Tseng, Zack, I gotta go."
She then ran through the arch.
Zack followed her. By the time he finally caught up, he could see her dodging gunfire.
She was jumping backwards, and her shuriken was knocked from her hand. A bullet went by, and Cissnei instinctively grabbed her arm. At first, it looked like she had been shot.
I gasped in horror, and a sick feeling came over me. Yeah, she was annoying as fuck, but I didn't want to see her hurt or killed. I sighed in relief as I realized that the bullet just grazed her suit.
As I drew closer, a familiar face came into view.
It was Genesis. Or at least it looked like him. Zack didn't seem to think so.
"Another copy?" he exclaimed. "Looks like this one's a cut above the masked guys!"
Zack took his sword and knocked the gun out of the assailant's hand. He then swung the sword again, lightly scratching his chest and causing him to double on the ground.
Then the damndest thing happened. A single black wing appeared from the copy's side. He attempted to fly away before Zack swung his sword more closely from behind, killing him.
Just then, Cissnei approached the body, knelt down, and inspected it.
"When I was a kid, I always wanted to have wings," she said. She then made eye contact with Zack. "You know, like an angel."
She stood up. The way they interacted, you'd think they would end up liking each other (spoiler alert: they don't. You're never going to believe who Zack ends up dating).
Zack turned away.
"If people had wings, they'd be monsters," he said.
"Wings symbolize freedom for those who have none," Cissnei suggested as she looked down on the feathers that the Genesis copy had left behind. She then looked up. "They don't symbolize monsters."
"SOLDIER First Class indeed," Cissnei continued. "A very impressive show of force."
"Unlike the Turks, we folks at SOLDIER are paid to fight," Zack said.
"Take this," Cissnei commanded as she approached him. "A token of appreciation for helping me out back there." She handed him something, but I couldn't see what it was. "Well, I'm off to my next job. Didn't you have another assignment, too?"
"Assignment," Zack reminded himself. "Yeah, I do."
"I'm sure we'll see each other again," Cissnei said before turning and running off.
Alone once again, Zack stood for a moment before his cell began to ring. He answered it without even having to greet the caller.
"Once Sector Eight is clear, come to Mako Reactor Five," Sephiroth began immediately.
"Did you find something out?" Zack asked.
"Angeal has been sighted," Sephiroth replied.
"So it's search and destroy?" Zack asked.
"The army is mobilizing," Sephiroth answered, "But there's still time. You will and I will find them before they do, and..."
"And what?!" Zack interrupted in an angry tone of voice.
Zack was lucky he did that over the phone. If he knew what Sephiroth was capable of, I think he would have thought differently.
But, anyways, Sephiroth kept his cool.
"Fail to eliminate them," he finished.
"For real?" Zack asked hopefully.
"Yes, for real," Sephiroth confirmed.
Zack got the hugest grin I'd ever seen him get.
"Excellent!" he shouted. "Probably."
By the time Zack reached Reactor Number Five, it was crawling with nasties. He didn't even get more than a yard into the reactor before he got attacked by some odd creature that looked a mix of reptilian and avian. He quickly killed it, but that was only the beginning of his troubles with the creature. It got worse when he bent down and examined it.
"Is that Angeal's face?" Zack said aloud.
"It appears Genesis isn't the only one who can be copied," replied Sephiroth as he approached.
Zack took another look at the dead creature. His eyes weren't lying.
"The company training room," Sephiroth continued. "We used to sneak in there for fun, when the Seconds were out. Genesis, Angeal, and I."
"You guys were pretty tight," Zack observed.
"Infinite in mystery is the gift of the goddess," Genesis read from a book. "We seek it thus, and take it to the sky. Ripples on the water's surface. The wandering soul knows no rest." He then looked up.
They were in Junon, with Sephiroth starting out to sea. He then turned to face his companions.
"Loveless, Act I," he said.
"You remembered," congratulated Genesis.
"How can I not?" said Sephiroth. "When you've beaten it into my head?"
Angeal got up and drew his sword.
"Don't take Sephiroth lightly," he warned.
"Noted," Genesis said.
The two charged Sephiroth and engaged in friendly combat. Soon, Angeal and Sephiroth has their swords locked.
"Is that the best you can do?" Sephiroth taunted playfully before knocking Angeal backward several yards.
"All hail Sephiroth, eh?" Angeal replied.
Suddenly, Genesis raised his arm.
"Angeal, stay back!" he warned. "I'll take Sephiroth alone."
"Genesis," began Angeal, but it fell on deaf ears.
"The world needs a new hero," Genesis announced.
"Come and try," Sephiroth taunted.
"So smug," said Genesis. "But for how long?"
Genesis charged Sephiroth, resulting in what seemed to be more friendly combat at first. But then, Genesis starting casting fire on Sephiroth, which he deflected with his sword.
"Stop!" ordered Angeal as he stood between the two. "You'll destroy us all!"
In response, Genesis put his hand in Angeal's face.
"That's no way to talk to a hero!" he snapped.
With that, he pushed Angeal away.
Genesis and Sephiroth resumed the fight, nearly destroying the cannon in the process.
"Enough!" shouted Angeal as he broke up the fight again.
"Angeal," grunted Sephiroth.
"Out of my way!" demanded Genesis as he prepared to cast a spell.
Angeal, seeing that he had no choice, slashed his sword across Genesis' left arm.
Genesis staggered back, grabbing his wound.
Angeal quickly ended the simulation; they had actually been on the SOLDIER floor the whole time.
But the wound was real.
"Genesis!" shouted Angeal.
"Just a scrape," Genesis assured him as he rose to his feet. "I'll be fine. Don't worry." He then began to walk out of the training room, but now before quoting another line from Loveless.
"Even if the morrow is barren of promises, nothing shall forestall my return."
"So, was everything alright?" Zack asked.
"Yes," replied Sephiroth. "As far as Genesis was concerned. But as for Angeal..."
"Angeal?" Zack exclaimed. "What happened?"
"Later, I received one of his famous lectures," Sephiroth answered.
"About what?" Zack inquired.
"Always the same," Sephiroth responded. "Discipline, dreams, honor, etc."
"Ah," sighed Zack in empathy. "One of those, huh?"
Sephiroth then turned his attention to the fallen creature.
"So it's true," he said. "They're in league with Hollander."
"How could this happen?" Zack asked. "Angeal...what is it you're up to? I have to look for clues."
Sephiroth gave a sympathetic look.
"Hollander's secret laboratory is down this way, apparently," he said. "Perhaps we can find some information about Angeal's whereabouts there."
"All right," agreed Zack. "Let's go."
Zack and Sephiroth made their way deeper into the reactor. Zack came across a wheel that powered up and unlocked one of the doors.
"The power has been restored," Sephiroth announced. "Let's go."
Beyond the door, the green tint was gone. There was scientific equipment used for stuff I probably didn't want to know about.
Sephiroth descended a small flight of stairs and inspected an upright tank.
"A wretched sight," he muttered.
Zack, meanwhile, directed his attention to a piece of paper left on a piece of equipment. It read: "It is now an undesired fact that the life form excavated from the earth is indeed of the ancient race spoken of in legend. Furthermore, history records that these "Ancients" channeled the power of the planet to tear the earth asunder. Using the cells of the unearthed Ancient, we have begun research on creating and mass-producing a race with comparable abilities. The primary objective of this research is to significantly reduce mako excavation costs."
Zack then made his way over to another console, where another piece of paper lay. This one read: "The heightened abilities of SOLDIER members are maintained by a delicate balance of genetic factors. A change in this balance could only be caused by a 'leak' of genetic information, but this is not possible under normal circumstances. The phenomenon is unique to the SOLDIER Type G."
Zack pressed his hand against his head.
"I'm feeling woozy," he groaned.
"It was before Genesis deserted," announced Sephiroth as he approached him. "The wound was superficial, but, for some reason, Genesis wasn't healing. The man who treated him was Hollander."
Sephiroth and Angeal approached a short, bearded man in a yellow shirt and lab coat.
"Professor Hollander," Angeal began. "How is Genesis?"
"The problem is the mako energy that seeped through the wound," Hollander replied.
"Is it treatable?" Angeal asked.
"First, he'll need a transfusion," Hollander informed them.
Sephiroth began to approach Hollander, but Angeal stopped him.
"You aren't viable," Hollander said.
"Why couldn't I be the donor?" Sephiroth said aloud. He then turned to the tank. "A SOLDIER Type G..."
Zack, meanwhile, out of the corner of his eye, saw another piece of paper on the table. This one had a heading: "Project G-Summary: Objective: Implant the cells of an Ancient into a human fetus to imbue said fetus with the Ancient's abilities."
"It was Hollander's experiment," Sephiroth said. "The result was a normal child, which meant he failed. However, Project G gave birth to the man we know as Genesis."
"Project G?" Zack asked.
"Project Genesis," Sephiroth clarified. "Contrary to this report, Genesis showed clear signs of change."
"Degrading?" Zack inquired.
"Not only that," replied Sephiroth. "Copies. Abominations."
Suddenly, the sound of footsteps descending metal stairs began.
Zack and Sephiroth turned to see Hollander himself.
"Sephiroth?" he greeted.
"Hollander," Sephiroth replied. "I thought I would find you here."
"The degradation process," Hollander continued. "Only I can stop it."
And then, at that moment, the real Genesis descended from the ceiling, sword in hand.
"Genesis," Sephiroth greeted.
Genesis immediately aimed his sword at Sephiroth's throat.
"You won't take Hollander," he warned.
Sephiroth turned his head.
"Zack!" he ordered. "Go after Hollander."
Zack darted for Hollander, chasing him up the flight of stairs.
Genesis, meanwhile, kept Sephiroth prisoner.
"There is no hate, only joy," he quoted from Loveless as he lowered his sword. "For you are beloved by the goddess. Hero of the dawn, healer of worlds."
"Loveless again?" sighed Sephiroth. "You never change."
"Three friends go into battle," Genesis continued. "One is captured. One flies away. The one that is left becomes a hero."
"A common story," Sephiroth dismissed."
"If we were to enact it," Genesis said, "would I be the one to play the hero, or would you?"
"It's all yours," Sephiroth said as he pointed to him.
"Indeed," agreed Genesis. "After all, your glory should have been mine."
"How petty," Sephiroth groaned.
"In hindsight, perhaps," suggested Genesis. "Now, what I want most is the 'gift of the goddess.'"
Zack remained in pursuit of Hollander. He managed to chase him through the reactor, fighting strange nasties and Genesis copies as he did so.
"He won't get away," Zack said to himself. "Not before he tells me where Angeal is!"
Eventually, as he chased him deeper into the reactor, the green tint was gone, and the facility seemed more like any other factory.
He finally caught up to the madman in a room with large windows.
Hollander was so exhausted from the chase that he collapsed, leaving himself at his pursuer's mercy.
"Hollander," Zack demanded, "do you understand what you are doing?"
Hollander rose to his feet and began to back away.
As Zack tried to pursue him again, a large, familiar sword presented itself.
"Working for Hollander now?" Zack snapped. "What is it you're after?"
"World domination," replied a familiar voice.
"That's not even funny, man!" Zack reprimanded.
"How about revenge?" Angeal's voice suggested.
"For what?" Zack demanded.
Angeal then walked toward the window, making himself visuals to his former friend.
"Angeal!" Zack called.
And then, Angeal spread a single wing. Unlike Genesis, this one was white, and on his right side.
"I've become a monster," he said as he turned around. "A monster's objective is usually world domination or revenge."
"You're wrong!" Zack dismissed as he began walking towards him. "Those aren't the wings of a monster!"
"Well, then," replied Angeal, "what are they?"
"Angel's wings," replied Zack as he grabbed a stray feather.
"I see," said Angeal. "Then what should an Angel fight for, Zack? What do angel dream of?"
Zack stood silently.
Suddenly, Angeal jammed his sword into the floor, and began to advance on Zack.
The target carefully backed away.
"Angeal," he pleaded.
"Angels dream of one thing," Angeal stayed as he continued his advance.
"Please, tell me," Zack begged as he continued to back away.
"To be human," the pursuer replied.
And then, Angeal came to a stop. He waited for just a moment before charging Zack, driving his palm into his chest.
Zack fell to the ground and slid several yards backward. He then got up.
"Defend yourself!" Angeal demanded.
Zack shook his head.
Angrily, Angeal cast some sort of a spell. It left a shockwave on the ground, advancing on Zack at lightning speed.
But it didn't hit him.
Instead, it caused the metal grating he was standing on to collapse under him. With the blink of an eye, Zack disappeared into the void below.
I entered the apartment to find Cissnei sitting on the couch in a tee shirt and jeans. Her arms were folded, and her head was down. She was clearly not in a good state.
"You okay?" I asked.
"Rough day," she replied.
"Want to talk about it?" I offered.
I couldn't believe I asked that. She really bugged me, but...somehow...it pained me to see her like that.
She shook her head.
I did my part, so I walked toward my bedroom door.
"If I tell you something," Cissnei began as I was turning the knob, "can you promise never to tell anyone?"
"Sure," I said.
"I believe you," she continued, "so I'll tell you. I really hate my job."
"Being a Turk?" I asked.
"I almost got killed tonight," she said.
I walked back over to the couch and sat down next to her.
"Are you okay?" I asked, pretending that I hadn't been there.
"Physically," she sighed. "But I hate this job."
"Have you asked for a transfer?" I suggested.
Cissnei shook her head.
"I can't do that," she replied. "Once a Turk, always a Turk. They can't demote me to SOLDIER. They can't promote me to executive, either."
"Would you quit?" I suggested.
"No," she dismissed. "I know I could find another job somewhere, but..."
"It's kind of hard to explain," she said.
It was a side of Cissnei I hadn't seen before. She hated her job, but wouldn't quit. I thought that was the stupidest thing ever. When I found out the real reason why, I regretted thinking that.
As for Zack, I can assure you he survived the fall. He had a new adventure once he recovered.
When you read the scene that unfolds next, be forewarned: I wasn't there.
But somebody else was.
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