|By : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits|
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Views: 916 -:- 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 30: The Results of the Blood Tests
Now, since Hojo is not the unquestionable ruler of the world, you probably figured out that something went wrong with his plan.
The short story:
Sephiroth's savage? Yes. Cloud's humility? No.
The long story:
As the creation had developed lungs, he needed to be removed from the tank he had gestated within. Hojo thus drained the amniotic fluid from the tank, causing the creation to gently land on his feet. Hojo then raised the glass cylinder around the creation, causing him to feel the breeze for the first time in his life. The creation stood in his spot of birth, naked and dripping wet.
Hojo was first interested in the creation's cognitive abilities.
"Step forward," he commanded.
The creation covered his upper torso with his arms as his teeth chattered; he was obviously cold.
"Step forward," Hojo repeated, in a firmer tone of voice.
The creation put his right foot forward, followed by his left.
Impressive, Hojo thought. His motor development is quite advanced.
Hojo then decided to test him further.
"Sit in the chair," he commanded.
The creation walked over to the chair and sat in it.
He seems to have fully functional cognitive abilities, Hojo observed. But I wonder if he is verbal.
Hojo then held up his index finger.
"What is this?" he asked.
"Finger," the creation replied.
Hojo then displayed his entire hand.
"Hand," the creation said.
Hojo displayed his foot.
"Shoe," the creature announced.
Hojo was impressed. The creation was a mere few hours old and appeared to be fully verbal.
There was a simple explanation for this: Cloud's and Sephiroth's cognitive abilities and knowledge were copied into the creation. The DNA codes programmed the creation to grow to an age somewhere between Cloud's and Sephiroth's.
Hojo also wondered whether the creation...would have either of their memories.
He realized that there was one way to find out.
"What is your name?" he inquired.
The creation hesitated briefly.
Hojo eyed the creation's mouth. He had cloned two individuals; he wondered who his creation thought he was.
It seemed as if he was having trouble with his l's.
"Karnak," the creation responded in full.
He was trying to say "Cloud," by the way. He had vague memories from at least one of his donors. What he might have inherited from his other donor was yet to be seen.
Hojo accepted the name; in reality; he was neither Cloud nor Sephiroth, but a completely new entity.
"Welcome to the world, Karnak," Hojo greeted. He then casually tossed him a shirt and pants. "Put these on."
Aerith has previously told me I had to go to her games, so I did. Zack was there as well, but he vanished as soon as the game was over.
After the game, Aerith shot me a text.
"Meet me at MacArthur's," she commanded.
I agreed; I figured she and Zack would meet me there. I knew I would be a third wheel, though. That would take some getting used to.
AN HOUR LATER...
MacArthur's was a brew house, but they let minors in as long as they didn't order any beer.
Sure enough, Aerith was waiting for me by the front door. But what surprised me was that she was alone.
"Where's Zack?" I asked.
"He's not coming," Aerith replied. "He's talking with a friend about something."
As it turned out, my friend date with Aerith and Zack's man date with Cloud in the previous chapter took place simultaneously.
Aerith, by the way, was still in her cheer uniform.
"Girls will respect you a lot more if they see you hanging out with the cheer captain," she explained as we sat down. "By the way, I'm treating you."
"You don't have to," I insisted.
"I want to," she said. "I asked you here for a reason."
This was interesting; Aerith usually didn't have anything serious on her mind.
MacArthur's has the both the best burgers that money could buy, as well as the best chips and dip in the world, so I really had no problem with it.
"There were a couple of things I wanted to ask of you," she began after we ordered.
"Go ahead," I permitted.
Aerith gave me a sincere look, and I realized that it was serious. She seemed really concerned.
"Zack's going away," she said sadly.
I already knew that, of course, but I pretended that I didn't.
"Where to?" I asked.
"Nibelheim," she replied. "On the Western Continent."
"On a SOLDIER mission?" I asked.
"Something about a mako reactor," she added. "And he seems really off."
"It doesn't seem too different than when he went to Modeoheim last year," I assured her. "I think he's nervous because his buddy Cloud and Sephiroth had to take a blood test."
"That shouldn't be anything," Aerith dismissed. "I have to pee in a cup every week so they know I'm not taking anything I shouldn't be."
That was more than I wanted to know, but, hell, Aerith was an open person. And now that I was really her only platonic friend to vent to, she became a lot more open with me.
"He might also be worried about losing Cloud," I suggested. "The way he lost Angeal."
"That's possible, I guess," she agreed. "But I've got more reasons to worry. Personally, I don't trust Sephiroth. He was friends with Genesis. I'm worried that he'll eventually turn on Zack."
I was silent. I was there, cloaked, when Sephiroth told Zack that he was thinking about deserting. But I didn't have the heart to tell her that; she would break down if I did.
Then, I got an idea.
"I could keep an eye on him," I offered.
Aerith's eyes widened.
"You mean go to Nibelheim?" she asked in surprise.
"My Uncle Brian lives there," I replied. "And he's been wanting me to visit forever."
That was true, by the way.
Aerith looked touched.
"You'll do that for me?"
"Tobin," she began, as her eyes became wet. "I mean, I know you'll be safe, but-"
"No I won't," I interjected. "I have a fifteen-year-old cousin who's been tormenting me all my life."
Aerith burst out laughing, allowing one tear to escape. After the laughter subsided, I decided to continue.
"You said there were two things you wanted to ask me," I reminded her.
Aerith became sincere, and she took a long, quiet look at her left hand.
"Zack and I are seriously talking about getting married," she said.
"That's great!" I replied, even though I felt that, being seventeen, she was way too young to be thinking about that. "When?"
"He has to propose to me first," she giggled. "But he's taking me to a villa his parents own on a lake right before he goes to Nibelheim. I just know he's going to pop the question there." She paused, and grinned wickedly. "So I have a surprise for him. I'm leaving my bikini behind. I want to be naked when he does it. That would be so romantic."
I began to blush; that was certainly more than I, as a guy friend, expected to hear from her.
"Relax," she insisted. "You're my best guy friend. I'm comfortable sharing that with you."
I found it understandable; again, I really was her only close platonic friend.
"So," she continued as she twiddled her thumbs, "this is what I wanted to ask you."
"Shoot," I said.
Aerith cracked her knuckles.
"Tobin," she said after looking me in the eyes, "will you be my man of honor?"
I'll admit I was and wasn't surprised at the same time. On one hand, I was her closest platonic friend. On the other hand, I have a penis. But, in any case, I had never been in a wedding, so...
"You bet!" I replied.
"Hooray!" she exclaimed.
She seemed happy, despite her concern over the Nibelheim mission.
"What do you want me to do?" I asked her.
"Nothing yet," she giggled. "But I promise I won't put you in a dress!"
Anyways, we finished eating, and Aerith, as she had said, paid the bill. We then stood up, and she threw her arms around me.
"Thanks for everything!" she giggled. She then broke the hug and stepped back. "You know, the place doesn't close for another hour. There's pool tables downstairs. Want to play?"
I was surprised here.
"You play pool?" I asked.
Aerith was the girly girl. It seemed unlike her.
"I'm addition to cheerleading and figure skating, yes, I do one thing a little less girly. One of my mom's old boyfriends showed me how."
We went downstairs and played. She wasn't kidding when she told me she could play. She had sunk the eight ball when three of my stripes were left.
Aerith didn't even seem to care that she had won the game. I first assumed that she was still worried about Zack and the notorious mission to Nibelheim.
It was then I noticed that Aerith was standing with her back turned to me, pool stick in hand. She was twiddling her fingers on the stick, as if she was gearing up to ask an unannounced third question.
"What's on your mind?" I asked her.
She twiddled her fingers again; she definitely had something on her mind.
"Tobin," she began, "if I had never met Zack...do you think we would have dated?"
I couldn't believe my ears. I had thought she had no desire to date me, even before she had met Zack.
Unless, of course, this had been something she had kept bottled up for two years.
It made me reanalyze how I felt about her. I had to put any feelings for her aside when she started dating Zack. Hell, I had to do that when I started dating Durham. But, as I was thinking this, I realized something: like I said, Aerith was still in her cheerleader uniform, and I was often, when she had her back turned toward me, checking out her legs.
In any event, I had to answer in some way.
"You're older than me," I pointed out.
It was the most neutral thing I could think of. She was four months my senior.
"True," she said.
That was a lame excuse. Gehrig was nine months older than me and wanted to date me.
Why she asked me that was beyond me.
Maybe I was a Plan B if Zack didn't make it back.
And, I realized that, if that was the case, just maybe I should take her up on it.
On the sixty-seventh floor of the Shinra Headquarters, Karnak, sword in hand, sliced through virtual, computer generated Wutai soldiers with the greatest of ease. After this, he put his sword away, and turned to his creator.
"Impressive," Hojo complimented.
"Do you think I might have a chance at SOLDIER?" Karnak asked.
I feel sorry for him; he thought he was Cloud.
"There will be no need for SOLDIER," Hojo replied. "I'm disbanding it once our work is done."
"Once our work is done?" Karnak inquired. "You mean the Nibelheim mission?"
"That's cancelled for you," Hojo informed him. "You will soon be needed on the seventieth floor."
There was a few seconds of silence before Karnak turned a few degrees. Then, the silence was shattered.
"What happened?!" he demanded.
Hojo then realized that he was pointing at the mirror. He was observing his new height, along with his blue spikey hair.
"What did you do to me?!" Karnak continued.
As smart as Hojo was, I figured that he would be cautious enough to hide the fact that he had created him to wipe out his superiors.
But I was dead wrong there.
"I created you to destroy the president," Hojo stupidly announced.
"You created me to serve?" Karnak demanded.
"You are only a few hours old. You have some of Cloud's memories," Hojo continued. "You're not him. You are a clone of both him and Sephiroth. You having Cloud's memories was an accidental side effect."
"No!" Karnak protested as he collapsed to his knees. "I'm sixteen! I'm from Nibelheim!"
"Who is you mother?" Hojo inquired.
"Jenova," Karnak replied. "She died in childbirth."
Hojo began to cackle.
"You find that amusing?" Karnak demanded.
"Claudia Strife is Cloud's mother," Hojo replied, still cackling.
Karnak froze in terror, completely stunned.
"Y-you're right," he softly stammered as he rose to his feet.
Karnak then dropped to his knees, almost hyperventilating.
"You can still have a purpose," Hojo assured him. "Our president and all the leading executives are a threat to the planet. If you could employ your fighting skills-"
"NO!" shouted Karnak at the top of his lungs as he sprang to his feet and drew his sword.
Hojo quickly staggered back; it was one of the few times he was genuinely frightened.
But Karnak was not interested in Hojo. Instead, he turned to Hojo's "microscope." He quickly took his sword and slashed it in two.
"Karnak?!" Hojo exclaimed.
Karnak did not stop. He made his way through the floor towards the stairs, taking his sword and destroying every machine in his path.
Hojo, unarmed, did not dare pursue him. He listened to Karnak descend the stairs before he moved again. He then looked around the room. Countless machines had been slashed. Wires were sparkling everywhere.
And then, he began to hear footsteps on the stairs again, followed by a shadow appearing from around the corridor.
He's coming back for me, Hojo thought.
Then, the shadow became more feminine, and its owner quickly came into view.
"What happened in here?" Scarlet demanded.
"Equipment malfunction," Hojo replied.
Scarlet scanned the room, eyeing the sliced machines and electrical sparks.
"Equipment malfunction?" she asked skeptically.
"It was a computer virus that spread through all machines," Hojo explained. "I neutralized it."
"Call a cleanup crew," Scarlet ordered through her walkie.
Hojo wiped the sweat from his forehead. At this point, a verbal warning would be nothing compared to Karnak slicing him to pieces.
"Computer virus, my ass," Scarlet dismissed. She then made eye contact with Hojo. "I'm about to have a wardrobe malfunction. My office, ten minutes. And I won't tell anyone."
With that, Scarlet turned around, slid aside one of her dress straps, and walked toward the stairs.
Hojo then looked out the window. He could see Karnak leaving through the front entrance. No alarms had sounded; apparently, nothing more had happened.
As Hojo watched, Karnak disappeared down the street.
Seconds later, Karnak was gone.
Hojo sighed in relief.
Now the world could deal with him.
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