|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 4: Called Away
October 2, 0000
Aerith and I got to know each other over the next couple of weeks. She would pop up at my door whenever I was off and we'd go to Igor's again. I found out that her full name is Aerith Lee Gainsborough, and she lives with a single mother in the slums. Elmyra had adopted her at seven, when her biological mother was found dead at the train station. It's unknown who her father is.
One night, during my job at the Headquarters, I cloaked myself and went to one of the training rooms. I found Zack doing squats again like he so often does. He looked really pissed, but could you blame him? He was still not getting any assignments.
Just then, a man named Kunsel walked up to his area and sat down.
"Hey Zack," Kunsel greeted, "you seem a little on edge."
Zack sighed and turned to face him.
"Can you blame me?" he asked. "All this training and no assignments. Like they're hanging me out to dry. You must be pretty busy with everyone off base."
"Off-base?" asked the perplexed Kunsel. "Wait, haven't you heard? There's been a mass desertion at SOLDIER."
"Huh?" exclaimed Zack as he stopped doing squats and rose to his feet. He then moved closer to Kunsel.
"It appears one of the Firsts deserted," Kunsel continued. "He took a bunch of Seconds and Thirds with him, too. Nobody knows why he left, or what he's up to."
Zack sighed and crossed his arms.
"This mass desertion's the reason why your training's on hold," said Kunsel before suddenly looking in the other direction. "Heads up, a First!"
Zack turned to see Angeal walking up to him. I was just now learning to tell the two of them apart.
"Zack," Angeal greeted, "new assignment."
"Woo!" Zack exclaimed enthusiastically. as he trotted to Angeal. "Finally! Some real action!"
"This will be your show," Angeal told him.
"Yes!" Zack exclaimed.
"Report to Director Lazard," Angeal commanded. "We'll give you the details."
Angeal walked outside of the facility, whereupon Zack eagerly followed him. The two of them made their way into the elevator, where Angeal pressed the button for Floor Fifty-One.
Riding in elevators with someone while cloaked always carried certain risks. For one, they can sometimes feel your body heat. Also, there was always the possibility one of them could bump into you. Fortunately, we only went up two floors.
We got off of the elevator to see Scarlet berating the receptionist, with Heidegger standing behind her. Part of me thought it would be funny to pinch Scarlet's butt during her beratings, causing her to turn around and punch Heidegger (or have sex with him in her office, depending on what kind of mood she was in), but that was beyond where I drew the line.
In the next room, Angeal sat down at a computer console. A few feet to his left sat Director Lazard, who turned in his seat to face Zack.
Lazard had long hair and glasses. He looked more like a computer programmer or a folk musician than a SOLDIER director. How he ascended to his position probably had a lot to do with who his parents were. Lazard was the son of Sarah Desericus, Midgar's multi-term district attorney. Officially, he has no father. Unofficially, he's President Shinra's illegitimate son.
"Zack," greeted Lazard. "It's good to finally meet face to face. Lazard, Director of SOLDIER."
Zack stepped forward and shook hands with him.
"Heya," he said.
"On to business," said Lazard as he turned and pressed a few buttons on his console. Moments later, a profile appeared on the screen. It was the face of a man with long brown hair. Over the face was imposed a message that read: "M.I.A. MISSING IN ACTION."
Zack crossed his arms. He recognized the man as Genesis Rhapsodos.
"SOLDIER First Class Genesis," Lazard announced. "A month ago, he went missing during a mission in Wutai. Know anything about this?"
"Not a clue," Zack replied.
"Hmmm," muttered Lazard.
Zack stepped forward and scanned the screen.
"The mission is currently in limbo," Lazard continued. "That's why we've decided to send you."
"Uh, to Wutai?" Zack asked.
"Yes," Lazard replied as he folded his hands. "This war has gone on long enough."
"I've recommended you for First," Angeal added, without making eye contact.
Then there was a fine time. Zack immediately spun to face Angeal and dropped his mouth open.
"Angeal!" he squealed. "I love you, man!"
He then tried to hug him, but Angeal wouldn't have it.
Lazard seemed to find the whole thing amusing.
"Don't make me regret this, Zack," Angeal warned.
"Sir," Zack replied seriously.
"Once you're packed," said Angeal as he stood up, "you'll leave at once."
"You will take over the assignment that was given to Genesis," added Lazard. "Proceed to Wutai once you've made all the necessary preparations."
"We have to leave for Wutai soon," Angeal said. "This Saturday to be exact. Are you ready?"
"I'm all set!" Zack replied.
"I'll be joining you as well," Lazard said. "I'm counting on you."
"Sir," answered Zack as he stood at attention.
"By the way," added Lazard as he leaned back in his chair, "what is your dream? 'To become First,' is it?"
"No," Zack corrected. "To become a hero!"
"Ah, good," sighed Lazard. "Unattainable dreams are the best kind."
"Uh, thanks?" replied Zack, unsure of how to respond.
Angeal led Zack out of the room. A few moments later, another man walked in. He also had spikey hair, similar to Zack's, but it was blond.
Lazard quickly stood to acknowledge him.
"Mr. Vice President."
"Hello, brother from a slutty mother," Rufus greeted.
Lazard remained at attention, offended, but making every effort to hide it.
"Message from the President," Rufus announced. "Angeal Hewley and Zack Fair are the only two members of SOLDIER you dispatched to Wutai."
"I'm well aware," Lazard replied.
"My father's not happy with this mass desertion," Rufus continued.
"I'm not surprised," Lazard acknowledged. "I believe this is an outside source that has nothing to do with the Shinra. I sent two SOLDIER members to investigate."
"Well," Rufus said, as he cracked his knuckles, "Dad can't fire himself, can he?"
"I suppose not," Lazard replied.
"I'm really just here to give you a final verbal warning," Rufus warned. "If either Angeal or Zack deserts on their mission, your ass is done."
Those two knew they were brothers, but they had no love for each other. Rufus was intentional and in wedlock. Lazard only existed because President Shinra had an uncontrollable sex drive. He was often seen asking Scarlet to stay late for a "private meeting." He's also known to go to the Honey Bee Inn at Wall Market and dress up like a king for some off role play. He even raped my cousin's next door neighbor and got her pregnant. No jail, no child support.
Power is as power does.
THE NEXT DAY...
October 3, 0000
It was my last day of school before my excursion to Wutai. I went to class as usual, as if nothing was happening. If I missed school, I would not get into trouble. If I proved that I had been with the Shinra, they would know that it had to be important.
Suddenly, a familiar face popped up from around the hallway corner.
"Hi!" Aerith greeted happily. It was Friday, and she was in her cheerleading uniform. "Coming to the game tonight?"
"You bet," I replied.
"Great!" she exclaimed. "I'll be in the back row with the rest of freshmen."
Aerith then folded her hands and placed them behind her back. She also raised her left leg and placed it behind her right. It was no doubt a flirty stance.
"So Tobin," she began with a smile. "What are you doing this weekend?"
I hated that moment. It was time to deliver the bad news.
"I'm going to Wutai," I replied.
The smile faded from her face; she had obviously wanted to hang out that weekend.
"Wutai?!" Aerith exclaimed. "Where the war is?"
"I have to," I told her. "It's a Shinra assignment."
"That's dangerous!" she objected. "That war's been going on for way too long!"
"I'll be careful," I promised.
"That's where my dad was killed!" Aerith protested.
"Your dad?" I asked.
"Well, he would've been if he lived to adopt me," she clarified. "Look, you're a cool guy. I can't bear for something to happen to you."
"I'll be kept well away from the fighting," I assured her. "I'm just interviewing a couple of SOLDIER members."
It wasn't a lie. Not exactly.
Aerith gave me a worried look and folded her arms. She did not like this one bit.
I went to the game as promised. Sure enough, I spotted Aerith in the back row. I didn't pay too much attention to the game; a promise was a promise.
I briefly encountered Aerith on the way out of the stadium. She still had that worried look on her face.
"This is it, then?" she asked.
"Until I get back," I replied.
"Please tell me you're coming back," she half-begged, half-demanded. Her beautiful green eyes seemed to moisten.
"I'm coming back," I replied. "I promise."
Aerith threw her arms around me, nearly constricting.
"Please don't get killed," she pleaded.
A few moments later, I was alone again. With nothing else to do, I began to head home. As I was about to step off of campus, I hear footsteps running up to me.
"Hey, you!" I heard Durham Haverford's voice say.
I turned to face her, nearly jumping when I noticed that we were a mere few inches apart. She seemed upset.
"I heard you were going away to Wutai!" she protested.
I scratched my head. I didn't tell her that, and Aerith certainly didn't either. She had to have been eavesdropping at some point.
"Just for a few days," I said.
"One day is all it would take for you to get yourself killed!" Durham snapped. "That's a war zone!"
"I won't," I assured her before telling the exact same thing I had told her competitor. "I'm only interviewing a couple of SOLDIER members. I won't be anywhere near the front line.
Durham stared at me for a moment, and hugged me even tighter than Aerith did. She then pecked me on the cheek.
"I have plans for when you get back," she whispered.
Once again, Durham had outdid Aerith.
I was now wondering who to ask out. Both girls seemed to like me, and I could only date one.
If I survived long enough, of course.
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