Bizarre Occurances Chapter 26

The Search

By Dino Pollard

Shen leapt at the robot drone, slicing it in two with his Eternal Blade. Another began spraying bullets at him.

He easily evaded them, then threw his sword at the drone, hitting it dead-center in the center.

More came up. Using his incredible agility, he leapt into the air and brought his foot forward, delivering a large amount of force into a kick that sent another drone reeling.

Leaping back, he drew his sword from the second drone and grinned as the others surrounded him. Running at breakneck speeds, he spun around each one, slicing them in two.

Then, silence. Shen sheathed his blade and heard clapping.

“Bravo,” a man said, standing in the doorway. “Very nice indeed, Shen Long.”

“Frost,” Shen said, nodding. “Thank you.”

“I didn’t come here to compliment your fighting skills, however,” Frost said. “Have you seen Striker?”

“No,” Shen replied. “Why? Is something wrong?”

“Ever since I granted him and Zyx a few hours leave from the base about two days ago, he’s been acting very edgy. Almost anxious. Know anything about that?”

“Can’t say that I do,” Shen answered. “But I do have something to ask you, however.”

“What would that be?”

“When is Tsunami going to receive a mission?” Shen asked.

“When the Tribunal sees fit,” Frost replied. ”You will tell me if you find out anything more about Striker, right?”

“Of course,” Shen replied.

“Good,” Frost said. He turned and walked out the door.

Shen hated that man. It was mostly his mysterious demeanor. While he himself could be considered a man of mystery, he was nowhere near the same as Frost. He didn’t have that all-mighty attitude.

“Are you through here?”

Shen looked to see the newest member of Tsunami standing in the doorway.

The half-woman, half-snake slithered inside. Her name was Indigo Bleu, but that was all Shen knew of her.

“Yes, Indigo,” Shen replied.

“Call me Bleu,” she requested.

“As you wish,” Shen said. “Enjoy your training.”

He then walked out. He needed to talk with Striker or Zyx.


“The team is falling apart, Sara,” Ray said.

“Calm down, Ray,” Sara said. “Stop pacing, you’re making me nervous.”

“Sorry,” he replied, running his hands through his blonde hair. “But first we join up with these Seido people, and almost automatically, both Squall and Rudy leave the team. I know that snake woman is with us now, but it’s not the same. She looks more like our enemy than ally.”

“No argument there...” Sara muttered. She put the book she was flipping through back on the shelf. “Damn, they must have everything ever written in this library!! Look at this. Every legend of the Ancients is here also. But with these guys, I’m not sure if it’s real or not.”

“I’m still confused how this Seido group came to power,” Ray said. “How in the world could they have amassed so much without anyone ever knowing?”

“God only knows,” Sara replied. “Unless they are God…”

“You guys worry too much.”

“Striker!” Ray exclaimed.

“How’s it going?” Striker asked.

“You sound awfully happy,” Sara noticed. “What’s up?”

“Especially since Frost has been looking for you,” Ray added. “What’s going on, Striker?”

“Things are finally looking up for me,” Striker said. “If all goes well, we may be getting a new member.”

“Who?” they asked in unison.

“Zack Trimmer,” Striker replied with a grin from ear to ear.

“Jesus H. Christ!!” Sara exclaimed. “Don’t tell me you’re STILL holding on to the ridiculous notion that he’s alive!!”

“Why is it so ridiculous?” Striker asked.

“I got a little curious about this Zack guy so I ran a search on him,” Ray replied. “It said that he was classified as dead.”

“Seido could be wrong,” Striker said. “Besides, I’ve got the best guy looking for him.”

“And who might that be?” Sara asked.

“A private investigator named Hannibal King,” Striker replied. “If anyone can find Zack, he’s the man to do it. He’s got more connections than Shin-Ra.”

“Don’t get your hopes up,” Ray said.


Zyx calmly strolled through the corridors of Seido HQ.

“Wow…” he began. “This place is so damn boring.”

“What are you doing out of the stables?” a Seido agent asked.

“Stables?” Zyx asked angrily.

“It TALKED?!?” the agent exclaimed.

“That’s right!!” Zyx replied. “The name’s Zyx!!”

“I—I’m sorry,” the agent stuttered. “I—I didn’t know it w—was you!!”

“Ya better be sorry!” Zyx shouted. “Now get outta my face before I fuck yours up!!”

The agent slowly backed off.

“Temper, temper.”

“Who said that?!?” Zyx asked, spinning around.

“I did,” Bleu replied. “Ssso, you’re that talking Chocobo, eh?”

“Yeah that’s right,” Zyx replied.

“Why can you talk?” Bleu asked. “Were you experimented on?”

“Experimented?” Zyx asked, cock-eyed. “Hell no!! I was born like this!!”

“I wasss once human,” Bleu began. “But that insssuferable Hojo locked me in the Jenova chamber. I wasss supposssed to assssist him with Project: Indigo. But he double-crosssed me. He had planned to make me the experiment all along. That isss how I became the sssnake woman you see before you. I wasss found by Frossst who brought me here. The Tribunal made me a Ssseido agent.”

“OK, OK,” Zyx said. “I don’t need to hear your life story.”

He began to walk off.

“Women,” he muttered. “Can’t live with ‘em, can’t kill ‘em.”


Frost has been tracking this Hannibal character for some time. An agent he assigned to follow them told him about Striker’s transaction.

Hannibal continued on, looking at the documents in his hands. If Zack Trimmer was alive, he certainly didn’t want to be found. Or he had lost his memory. Either way, Hannibal was paid to find Trimmer. One way or the other.

Frost took out his PHS and hid in an alley.

“Follow him,” he whispered into the device. “I need to get back to Headquarters.”


A loud ringing sounded throughout the room.

Striker rolled out of bed, landing flat on the floor.

“Oh shit…” he cursed. “Who the hell turned the alarm on?”

The ringing continued. Then Striker realized what it really was. He grabbed the PHS and flicked it open.

“Hello?” he asked hastilly.

{{Striker Kerig I presume?}}

“Who is this?” Striker asked.

{{Hannibal King.}}

“Man, that was fast!!” Striker exclaimed. “Did you find him? Did you find Zack?”

{{I found…. Something. You should just get to my office right away.}}

“I’ll be there in a flash!!” Striker replied. He turned off the PHS and went to dress.


Shen noticed Striker walking towards the exit of Seido HQ.

“That boy is going to get himself into trouble,” he muttered. Moving as stealthily as possible, Shen slowly began to follow his teammate.


Striker climbed into one of the cars, and turned on the ignition. Midgar wasn’t too far from here. He should be there within the hour.

However, if Striker had been paying attention, he would’ve noticed the sudden shift in weight as Shen Long climbed in the trunk.


“You were right to be suspicious, Agent Frost.”

“Agent Kerig’s recent actions could jeopardize our purpose.”

“We grant you leave, Agent Frost.. The Tribunal must discuss this matter.”

Frost slightly bowed and walked out the door.

“It was a mistake to hire Tsunami in the first place.”

“What’s done is done. The Ascension is near.”

“We must still stop Seraph.”

“Let the Avalanche handle it.”

“Are you sure they can defeat him?”


“They’re powerful warriors, and they have Sephiroth with them.”

“Tsunami must be kept in line. We must make an example of Agent Kerig.”


Speed reaching 90. Tires screeching on turns. The smell of burning rubber. And the sight of darkness.

This is everything Shen felt. Striker was obviously very excited about something. Every turn he made caused Shen to hit the roof of the trunk. Maybe stowing away in the trunk wasn’t as great an idea as he thought.

Suddenly, the vehicle came to a screeching halt, as Shen hit the roof of the trunk once again.

He listened carefully for a door to open followed by the sound of retreating footsteps. This was his chance.

He opened the trunk and slipped out, slinking around the car. It was dark.

Good. That would make it easier for him to follow Striker.

But then Shen noticed lights in the distance.

Midgar. Why would Striker come to Midgar?


Hannibal took a long drag on his cigarette, letting the smoke fill his lungs.

He knew it was a dangerous habit. He knew it would probably give him lung cancer or heart disease. But with Meteor hanging up in the sky and monsters running all over the place, then smoking was pretty damn safe compared to all that.

“Hannibal!!” Striker shouted. “What’s up? What did you find?”

“I checked my sources, called in a few favors, sent Trimmer’s picture around,” Hannibal began.

“And?” Striker asked, cutting him off. “What did you find?”

“Slow down,” Hannibal replied. “There are several different names matching his description. William Reyes, Michael Collins, Robert Suiter, Karl Haromi, and Calvin Mayer. These men have all been circulating across the world for the past five years. He goes into a town, stays there for a few months, then disappears. He then appears in a new town with a new identity.”

“What are you saying?”

“What I’m saying is this,” Hannibal said. “Either all these men are impersonating your friend, he’s lost his memory and just makes up identities hoping that one will be his own, or he’s running from something or someone. Of course, it could just be a coincidence, but that’s very unlikely.”

“So where is he now?” Striker asked.

“Off in the distance there,” Hannibal replied. “Kalm. And he’s currently using the alias of.... Russel Thompson.”

“Thanks Hannibal,” Striker said. “For all your help.”


Shen had overheard Striker’s entire conversation with this Hannibal.

Zack? Alive? Was it possible? No, it couldn’t be. Hannibal must’ve been lying.

But Striker believed it. Naturally. He would be willing to listen to anyone who said Zack was alive.

He had to keep following. Shen moved slowly, following Striker.


As Hannibal entered his office, he noticed a man sitting behind his desk.

“Hannibal King,” the man said. “Private investigator extrodanaire.”

“Who are you?” Hannibal asked, flicking on the light switch.

Nothing happened.

“Oh, sorry about that,” he said. “You see, I accidentally cut off the power.”

Hannibal drew his .45 and aimed it at the man.

“All right, asshole,” he said. “We can do this one of two ways. Either you tell me who you are right now, or I kill you here and now. Which is it gonna be?”

“You win,” he sighed, standing up. “I surrender.”

There was a small device in his hand. There was a click and the lights turned on.

“How did you do that?” Hannibal asked.

“Electro-magnetic pulse,” he replied. “It cancels out all electricity. It’s short range, however. Which is why it only affected your office.”

“What do you want?”

He dropped a file onto Hannibal’s desk. It read, “Trimmer, Zack.”

“What is this?” Hannibal asked.

“‘Our’ file on Zack Trimmer,” he replied. “You see, Trimmer has been alive all these years. ‘We’ just covered it up. But after you discovered he’s still alive, that kind of fucks up our plans.”

“Who are you people?” Hannibal asked.

“Who are we?” he asked. “Well, I think you already know that we’re your death, Hannibal.”

“Don’t move!!” Hannibal ordered, raising his gun.


“Oops, I forgot to take the safety off,” he said to the fallen Hannibal. “Silly me.”

He walked back over to the desk and picked up the Hardedge sword he left there.

“Now, for the finishing touch.”

With that, he shoved the Hardedge into Hannibal’s stomach over the bullet wound. He then bent down and picked up the bullet that took Hannibal’s life.

He took out a PHS and dialed.

“Mission accomplished,” he said, brushing a strand of blue hair out of his face.



Sara sighed and headed toward the hanger.

“What kind of a mission could Frost possibly have for us?” she asked.

“Not sure,” Ray replied, picking up his Star Sword. “But I’m actually kind of glad to see some real action for a change.”

“Let’s just get this overwith,” Zyx said, running past them.


“Very good,” Frost said. “Your timing was perfect.”

“Wait,” Ray said, looking around. “Aren’t we missing a few people? Where are Striker and Shen?”

“I granted them both leave,” Frost replied. “They’re out on an assignment.”

“And what’sss our asssignment?” Bleu asked.

“There’s a private investigator by the name of Hannibal King in Midgar,” Frost began. “He’s been sniffing around Seido. It’s your job to keep him quiet.”

“You want us to kill him?” Sara asked.

“No, no!!” Frost exclaimed. “Nothing like that. Just tell him to back off.”

“That’s it?” Sara asked. “And you need all of us to do that?”

“You four are far more threatening than any mere Seido agent,” Frost replied. “Now go. Your chopper is waiting.”


“Excuse me,” Striker said. “Have you seen this man?”

He held up a picture of Zack to the innkeeper.

“Sorry,” he replied. “If he is here, he hasn’t come to this inn.”

“Thanks anyway,” Striker said, putting the picture in his pocket. He walked back outside and glanced around the town. It wasn’t very big. If Zack was here, it wouldn’t be hard to find him.

“Striker!” a voice exclaimed.

“Huh?” Striker asked, turning to face Shen Long. “Oh shit.”

“What do you think you’re doing?” Shen asked. “You can’t just leave Headquarters without permission!!”

“Butt out, Shen!!” Striker commanded. “I haven’t seen Zack in six or seven years!! Now I found out that there’s a chance that he’s still alive and living in Kalm under the name of--”

“Russel Thompson,” Shen finished. “I know. I heard. I followed you here and overheard your conversation with Hannibal. But you can’t do this! It’s unhealthy.”

“Man, fuck you!!” Striker exclaimed. “This is none of your goddamn business!! Zack is still alive, and I’m going to find him!!”

“We’re under strict orde--” Shen began.

“Fuck the orders!!” Striker shouted. “You can take your orders and shove them!! I’m through with Tsunami!! I’m gonna find Zack and take him back to Gongaga with me!!”

Striker turned away.

There was a sound of a sword being drawn. He turned to see Shen standing in a battle position, clutching the Eternal Blade.

“Don’t even THINK of walking away, Kerig!!”


“Hannibal King,” Sara said, knocking on the door. “Is anyone here? We want to ask you a few questions.”

No answer.

“Oh for the love of...” Zyx said. “Step back an’ let a MAN do this!!”

He then ran into the door, knocking it down.

“Ow...” he said.

“You know,” Sara said. “I could’ve just as easily picked the lock with the Witchblade.”

Zyx cursed under his breath.

“Blood,” Bleu noted, pointing to a red trickle.

“Oh shit,” Ray said. “I’m guessing that’s Hannibal King.”

He pointed to a man in a trench coat lying on the ground, a gaping wound in his gut. There was a .45 lying by his hand.

“Who could’ve done this?” Sara asked, examing the body.

“It wasss done with a sssword,” Bleu replied. “A Hardedge by the looksss of it.”

“A Hardedge?” Ray asked. “Isn’t that the sword Striker carries?”

“You’re right,” Bleu said. “Better report to Frossst.”

Sara took out the PHS and put it to her ear.

{{Frost here.}}

“We found Hannibal King,” she said. “But he’s a little... dead.”

{{Can you identify the wound?}}

“Bleu said it was done with a Hardedge sword,” Sara replied.

{{Striker carries a Hardedge.}}

“Yes, I know,” Sara began. “But--”

{{Put him under arrest.}}

“Wait a minute,” Sara protested. “Striker hired Hannibal. There’s no way he would kill the man he was paying to find his friend!!”

{{Agent Kerig is known to have a temper. Especially when people tell him that Zack Trimmer is dead. Obviously, Hannibal must have found Trimmer’s body. Once he told Striker that Trimmer was dead, and had solid proof, Kerig most-likely snapped. Then, he killed Hannibal. Put him under arrest. That’s an order!}}

“Frost, wait!!” Sara pleaded.


“Dammit!” Sara exclaimed.

“What’s wrong?” Ray asked.

“We need to put Striker under arrest,” Sara replied. “For the murder of Hannibal King.”

“Hmm....” Bleu said, looking at the body.

“Something wrong, Bleu?” Ray asked.

“It’sss nothing, Ray,” she replied. “Jussst thinking.”

The familiar ring of the PHS went off, signaling an incoming call.

Sara immediately brought it up to her ear.

“Hello?” she asked.

{{Sara! It’s Shen! Get to Kalm immediately! I may need your help to contain Striker!!}}

“We’ll be right there, Shen!!” Sara exclaimed, hanging up the PHS. “Let’s go. Shen said he’s having a problem with Striker!!”

“Where?” Zyx asked.

“Kalm,” Sara replied.


“I don’t want to fight you, Striker,” Shen said.

“Then go away, old man!” Striker spat, bringing his Hardedge to the ready. “This is none of your business!!”

Striker ran at Shen, prepared to bring his Hardedge down.

It never got to its intended target, nor did Shen block it. Instead, tendrills wrapped around Striker’s arm, pulling it back.

“That’s enough, Striker!!”


“Do you really need to ask?” Sara replied. “How many people do you know who control the Witchblade?”

“Enough of thisss, Ssstriker,” Bleu ordered, holding her staff defensively. “We have ordersss to put you under arressst.”

“Arrest?” Striker asked. “For what?”

“Oh come on,” Ray replied. “You killed that private investigator you hired!!”

“Hannibal?” Striker said. “Hell no!! I wouldn’t kill him!! Not after he told me Zack is still alive here!!”

“Striker’s right,” Shen said. “He didn’t kill Hannibal.”

“But then why was he attacking you?” Sara asked.

“I’m the one who initiated the battle,” Shen replied. “I told him not to look for Zack because he was disobeying orders.”

“But then who would’ve killed Hannibal?” Ray asked. “This doesn’t make any sense.”

“Look,” Striker began, sheathing his sword. “Right now, I need your help. Zack is here somewhere under the name of Russel Thompson. Please, help me.”

Tsunami looked at Shen intently, waiting for an order, looking to him for guidance.

“We’ll help you,” he said.


“Dammit!!” Frost exclaimed, slamming his fist on his desk. “This isn’t going well at all!!”

{{I’m sorry I wasn’t able to stop them, sir.}}

“That’s all right,” Frost said, calming down. “Just make sure that you eliminate Trimmer once they find him.”

{{What about Kerig?}}

“Kerig is expendable,” Frost replied. “But make sure you get Trimmer’s body. His DNA will be of great use to us.”

{{Yes sir.}}

“Don’t disappoint me, agent,” Frost ordered. “I know your connection to them.”

{{I won’t have any problems.}}

“Good,” Frost said, hanging up the PHS.


“Have you seen this man?” Ray asked, showing a passer-by Zack’s picture. “His name’s Russel Thompson.”

“Sorry, no,” the man replied.

“Thanks anyway,” Ray said, turning away.

Then, something caught his eye. A man with spikey hair.


He stopped before shouting out to his former leader. The man’s hair was black, not blonde like Cloud’s.

Ray looked at the picture Striker had given him.

“That’s him!!” he exclaimed. “RUSSEL THOMPSON!!!”

“Eh...?” the man asked, turning towards Ray. “Who are you?”

“Ray Blaze,” Ray replied, running up to him. “Your name wouldn’t happen to be Russel Thompson, would it?”

“It is,” Russel replied.

“STRIKER!!!” Ray shouted, motioning for his friend.


Striker glanced at Ray when he heard his name called. Then he noticed the dark-haired man standing beside him.

“ZACK!!” Striker exclaimed, running up to them. “It’s you!! You’re alive!!”

“Who are you?” Russel asked.

“Zack, it’s me,” Striker replied. “Striker. Striker Kerig. Remember? We were best friends in Gongaga.”

“Who’s Zack?” Russel asked. “My name’s Russel Thompson.”

“No,” Striker replied. “You just THINK that’s your name. Your real name is Zack Trimmer.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Russel said. “Look, I’ve gotta go...”

“NO!!” Striker exclaimed. “You’ve had many different names in the past five years, right?”

“Who are you?” Russel asked. “The police? SOLDIER?”

“No way!!” Striker replied. “It... gets complicated. But I do know this.”

Striker grabbed Russel’s arm and pulled his sleeve back.

“Look,” he said, pointing to a scar on Russel’s wrist. He then pulled up his sleeve and showed Russel a similar scar. “When we were 10, we gave each other these scars. We touched the cuts together, making us blood brothers. Or what about this?”

He pointed to a thin scar along Russel’s cheek.

“When we were 5, I got mad at you and threw a rock at your head.”

Striker lifted up his pants’ leg revealing a scar on his knee.

“We were 8 and playing baseball. I slid to home, and there was a nail on the ground. It really cut up my leg. The other kids ran off, but you went to get help. And there’s one more thing...”

Striker grabbed Russel’s shirt and ripped it open.

“Five years ago, you were shot by Shin-Ra MPs on the outskirts of Midgar while trying to defend Cloud Strife. They left you for dead, but you survived.”

“Follow me,” Russel said, leading Striker into his house.

Striker motioned for the rest of Tsunami to follow.


“Here,” Russel said, tossing an old SOLDIER uniform at Striker. “All I remember is waking up with that uniform on. I was in pain, no doubt about that. But somehow, my wounds were healed. I made my way into Midgar and took on the name of William Reyes. Soon after, I moved away again. I’ve been travelling from town to town. One time, while I was near Cosmo Canyon, I stopped by this weapon seller. For a good price, he made this sword for me.”

Russel reached into the closet and pulled out a Buster Sword.

“I knew I would need a weapon on my travels, and this one suited me good,” he said. “I can’t explain why, though.”

“Your memory is slowly returning, Zack,” Striker said. “But there’s one place we need to go.”

“Where?” Russel asked.


“Just a minute,” Russel said, grabbing the uniform and walking upstairs.

“Striker, are you sure this is wise?” Shen asked.

“You’re wanted for murder,” Sara said. “How are we gonna get the pilot to take us to Gongaga?”

“Let’s see...” Zyx began. “Seven of us against one of him.... and we’ve got fighting skills while he has bupkiss.”

“I’m ready.”

Striker turned to see Russel standing on the stairwell, in his SOLDIER uniform, the Buster Sword held on his back.

“That’s Zack, all right.”


Zack fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat. He was anxious, that was for damn sure.

Everything that had happened today caused his head to go spinning. After all these years, he’ll finally learn the truth about his past.

“This isn’t good,” the pilot said. “Seido will have your asses.”

“Pipe down, flesssh-bag,” Bleu ordered, pressing her staff to the pilot’s throat. “Jussst get usss to Gongaga.”

“I don’t like this, Shen,” Sara said. “Someone killed Hannibal King with a Hardedge sword, but who could’ve done it?”

“I fear the answer is one we won’t like,” Shen replied solomly.


“You guys wait here,” Striker said. “I’ll show Zack around.”

“Do what you must,” Shen replied. “We need to insure that our friend here doesn’t fly off on us.”

“Thanks Shen,” Striker said. Shen nodded and closed the chopper door.


“Look,” Striker said, pointing to an old baseball field. “We used to play baseball there every single day. And over there was where we went to school.”

“This place.... it seems familiar,” Zack said. He pointed over to a destroyed Reactor in the distance. “What’s over there?”

“That was the Mako Reactor,” Striker replied. “It blew up years ago. Remember?”

“I remember a funeral....” Zack replied.

“Yeah, Mike,” Striker said. “He was only like 20. Damn, was he a lot of fun to hang out with. Remember how excited he was when he got promoted to the position of supervisor in the Reactor?”

Zack stood there, looking around the town.

“Your parents are still alive, though,” Striker noted. “So it’s not all bad.”

“My parents...” Zack said. “No, I can’t. Not now. I can’t remember a lot.”

“We should probably get you to a doctor to find out why you can’t remember anything,” Striker suggested. “I hate to see my best bud like this.”

“No,” Zack said. “No doctors. Just keep telling me stories and pointing things out. It’ll slowly come to me.”

Striker looked skeptical. He had never seen Zack like this. So paranoid.


The agent continued to watch Striker and Zack. He lifted up his sniper rifle and got into position, putting the crosshairs on Zack.


Bleu looked around suspiciously, her staff at the ready.

“Sssomething’s not right...” she said.

“What do you mean?” Sara asked.

“She’s right,” Shen noted. “I sense a disturbance.”


“Shit!!” Zyx cursed. “What the hell was that?”

“It’d be wise for us to find out,” Shen replied. “Ray, stay here with the pilot!!”

“Sure thing,” Ray replied.


Striker had heard the bullet go off. And he instantly knew who it was meant for. With his quick reflexes, he was able to extend his sword out in front of Zack, deflecting the bullet.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Y-yeah,” Zack replied, drawing his own sword.

“Someone’s out to get you,” Striker said, getting into a battle position.

“Well aren’t I the popular one,” Zack said with a smirk.

“Who fired the bullet, though?” Striker asked.


Sara’s eyes darted from side to side.

“There!!” she shouted, pointing to the agent with the rifle.

Shen leapt into action, his sword poised to strike.


The agent heard Sara’s cry, but didn’t move. Instead, he steadied his gun, getting the crosshairs on Zack once again.

Then, he squeezed the trigger.


Shen leapt on the agent, knocking him down. But not before the bullet was fired.

“STRIKER! ZACK!” he shouted.


Striker looked up, the bullet hurtling towards them.

“ZACK, GET DOWN!!” he exclaimed, shoving Zack out of the bullet’s path.

“Striker!” Zack shouted, as the bullet hit his friend.


Shen lifted the agent up, his sword ready to strike.

“Give me one good reason why I should--YOU?!?”

“You can put me down, now, Shen,” the agent said.

“RUDY?!?” Shen asked, in shock. “Why?!?”

“Why?” Rudy asked. “I’ll tell you why. After I fell from that bridge in Nibelheim, I was found by a Seido agent named Barek Siamo. He sent me back to Seido HQ, where I met the Tribunal. They trained me well, and I eventually became a full-fledged agent. Then, the Tribunal assigned me to join up with Avalanche so that I could put a stop to Sephiroth. But I never got the chance too. You had to drag me along with you to join Tsunami!”

“Is that why you said you didn’t want anything to do with Seido when Frost brought us before the Tribunal?”

“Of course,” Rudy replied. “We had it all planned out. This way, I could function better as a Seido agent.”

“You killed Hannibal, didn’t you?” Shen asked.

“Yep,” Rudy replied. “Then I framed Striker for the murder. And now, I was going to kill Zack.”

“But why?” Shen asked.

“Simple,” Rudy replied. “Zack was supposed to remain dead. Once Hannibal found out the truth, we couldn’t let him walk around with it. And now that Zack is starting to get his memory back, he must be eliminated as well.”

“WHY?!?” Shen asked, angered.

“Why ask why?” Rudy asked. “I was given an order, and I obeyed it. Gladly. I owe my life to Seido.”

“You son of a bitch,” Shen spat, slamming Rudy against a house.


“Striker!” Sara shouted, running up to her teammate. She lifted up his wrist.

“He’s alive,” she said. “Barely. We need a Restore Materia!!”

“It’s too far gone...” Striker muttered.

Shen walked over, dragging Rudy by his hair.

“Here’s the man who fired the bullet,” he said, throwing Rudy in front of them.

“Rudy?!” Sara asked in shock.

“He was an agent of Seido all this time,” Shen noted.

“You didn’t know that?” Bleu asked.

“He was once a member of Tsunami,” Sara replied. “But when we were brought before the Tribunal, he said he didn’t want anything to do with them.”

“He lied,” Shen noted.

“I had no idea...” Bleu said. “I didn’t know he wasss one of you.”

“There was no way you could’ve known,” Shen said.

“Could you guys leave us alone?” Zack asked. “Striker doesn’t have much time left, and I’d like to speak with him a little more...”

“Of course,” Shen replied. “We’ll be waiting at the chopper. Come along, Rudy.”

Shen grabbed Rudy’s hair once again and dragged him back to the chopper with Bleu and Sara following.

“Looks like this is it,” Striker said. “Hey, do you remember Aeris?”

“Yeah,” Zack replied. “I remember I was walking back to my apartment. That’s when the most beautiful woman on the planet came up to me and asked me if I wanted to buy a flower. Naturally, I did. As the days went by, I always ran into her more and more. We slowly became friends, walking and talking. And one day I brought up the courage to ask her out. And.... God, do I miss her. I’d give anything to hold her in my arms again.”

“She’s with Avalanche,” Striker said. “Cloud’s leading them.”

“Cloud?” Zack asked. “It’s good to know he’s still alive.”

“Yeah....” Striker said, his breaths becoming shorter. “Zack.... I’m glad you’re not...not... dead.”

“So am I.”

“Do me a favor,” Striker said.


“Rudy....” Striker began. “Kill that bastard..... slo-”

“Thanks Striker,” Zack said, looking at his dead friend one last time. “Thanks for giving me my memories.”


“Leave Rudy here with me,” Zack said.

“Are you sure that’s wise?” Shen asked.

“Positive,” Zack replied. “Go back to Seido. Tell them Rudy met with an... unfortunate incident. No one needs to know the truth.”

“What are you going to do?” Sara asked.

“I’m going to try and find myself,” Zack replied.

“Good luck, my friend,” Shen said. “If you need us, just call.”

With that, Shen got into the chopper as it began to lift off.

“Yeah, I’ll do that.”

Zack looked down at Rudy.

“Now it’s just you and me, you bastard,” he said, lifting his sword up. “Striker told me to kill you slow, and I have every intention of fulfilling his last wish.”


“Don’t even THINK of going through those doors!!” Frost ordered.

“Out of my way, Frost!!” Shen exclaimed. “We need to speak with the Tribunal. As Striker would say, ‘take your order and shove it!’”

“You’re NOT passing,” Frost said, standing firm.

“Don’t you dare challenge me, little man,” Shen spat. “Not after what I’ve been through today!!”

Shen grabbed Frost by the collar and threw him into the wall. He then stormed into the room.

“Shen Long, that is most unacceptable.”

“I don’t care,” Shen said. “You sent Rudy to kill Zack. You had him kill Hannibal and frame Striker.”

“That is correct.”

“Agent Roughknight is one of our best snipers.”

“We’ve had enough!!” Shen shouted. “From now on, we will stop any missions which may cause innocents to come to harm, or other members of Tsunami. Striker was innocent. So was Hannibal. Do we understand each other?”

“These terms are unacceptable.”

“You will do what we order you to do.”

“You belong to Seido now, Tsunami.”

“We’ll see about that...” Shen said, narrowing his eyes. He then turned and walked out followed by Sara, Zyx, and Ray.

Bleu turned to follow, but was stopped.

“Just a moment, Agent.”

“What do you want?” Bleu asked.

“Seido saved your life.”

“Are you intent on opposing us as well?”

“Especially after all we’ve done for you.”

“I do what I feel isss right,” Bleu replied. “Regardlessss of if you’ve sssaved me or not.”

With that, Indigo Bleu slithered out the doors.

“This is most unfortunate, indeed.”

“We cannot allow this to continue so close to the Ascension.”

“Tsunami will serve us when the time comes.”

“What of Zack Trimmer?”

“Yes, his DNA would’ve been very helpful.”

“Let Trimmer roam for now. He will be ours at the time of the Ascension.”


AUTHOR’S NOTES: A longer chapter, I know. But in my recent poll, a lot of people chose Shen and Striker as two of their favorite original characters, so I felt it was right to write about them a little bit. Well, Zack’s back, and I hope you Zack fans liked how I brought him back (you’re welcome, Joe). Anyway, the Tribunal is definately up to something. And what’s this “Ascension” thing they keep talking about? You’ll just have to wait. Anyhoo, Chapter 27 centers on the readers’ favorite original character, Garrison.


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