Hel & Back Chapter 4
By Dino Pollard
Professor Albert Gast was a private man.
He had spent the past 27 years of his life living in Icicle Inn, a small town on the Northern Continent. He still remembered why he had moved here.
30 years ago, he was working on the Jenova Project with Professor Hojo. It was five years after the birth of Sephiroth, their one way to successfully have a human being created whose cells were 65% Jenova. There were two children. The other, Seraph, only had 50% Jenova in his cells, and Hojo kept him in isolation where he underwent numerous treatments to try and boost the percentage of Jenova in his cells.
That was when Hojo captured the last surviving Cetra, a woman named Ifalna. From the first moment he laid eyes on her, Professor Gast was captivated by her beauty. During the tests he performed on her, he talked with her about everything. She told him all she knew about her race, and he told her of the Jenova Project. She was amazed at how gentle and caring he would be when he performed the tests on her, so different from the humiliation that Hojo subjected her to during his tests. It wasnt long before Ifalna and Gast fell in love with each other.
They began seeing each other in secret, to avoid detection by Hojo and Shin-Ra. Then, 3 years after Ifalna was taken to Shin-Ra HQ, a routine blood test revealed to Gast that she was pregnant with his child. After discovering this, the two decided to run off together and marry.
They moved from town to town during her pregnancy, constantly avoiding Hojo and Shin-Ra all the while. Their travels eventually brought them to Icicle Inn, where they were married. Shortly after, Ifalna gave birth to a baby girl, a child they named Aeris. Their time didnt last long, though. Hojo had found them. The soldiers he brought with him shot Gast in the abdomen, leaving him to die. They took Ifalna and Aeris away, and the whole time, the infant was crying out.
That was the most painful moment of Albert Gasts life. He desperately tried everything he could to save them, but he had already lost a lot of blood. If it wasnt for a neighbor who found Gasts door left open, he wouldve surely died in that cabin in Icicle Inn.
However, he thought that surviving was a worse fate. For the next 22 years, he lived alone in his cabin, a hermit who hid away from the rest of the townspeople. That is, until the day when they came.
Eleven men and women, alongwith a cat on a giant moogle, and a strange lion-type creature. He only knew two among their numbers--Sephiroth and his own daughter, Aeris. During that short time he spent with her, he finally realized that it was worth those 22 years of loneliness. He had finally been reunited with his long-lost daughter, whom he thought had died. Yes, now, Professor Albert Gast was on Cloud Ni--
There was a sudden knock at the door, taking him away from his thoughts. He opened it, and found a man with long red hair, sloppily pulled back into a pony tail. There were a pair of sunglasses perched on his forehead, and he wore a dark, navy-blue blazer and slacks, alongwith an untucked white shirt.
Professor Albert Gast? he asked.
Yes? Gast replied. Can I help you with anything?
As a matter of fact, you can, the man said. He quickly brought a nightstick up, and slammed it on Gasts head. You can fall down, and make this easier on yourself.
Elmyra Gainsborough continued to clean her house in Sector 5 of Midgar. She had always been somewhat of a neat freak, never able to left one speck of dust sit for long. Her adoptive daughter, Aeris, had always said that it was one of her more annoying habits, even though she could be just as worse at times.
She smiled as she thought of the times she spent with Aeris. It dawned on her that she never thanked Aeris for helping her through her husbands death. She knew what Aeris would say if she did express gratitude. Mom, youve done so much for me, it was the least I could do for you. If anything, I should be the one thanking you.
That was Aeris Gainsborough in a nutshell. Never thinking of herself, but always thinking of others. Elmyra would like to say that she played a part in raising Aeris that way, but in truth, it was the girls nature. Aeris was naturally kind, some would say even too good to be true.
The phone rang. When Elmyra picked it up, she was somewhat surprised to hear the voice on the other end.
Speak of the devil, dear, Elmyra said. I was just thinking about you.
How are you doing, mom? Aeris asked on the other end.
Oh, Im doing good, she said. I tried calling you this morning, but you werent there.
I know, Im in Costa del Sol, Aeris replied. Cloud and Tifa are getting married!!
Theyre gonna have an engagement party in a few days, and they wanted me to invite you and my father.
Id be honored to--just a moment, honey. Someones at my door.
Elmyra put the phone down and went to answer the door. There was a woman in a dark, navy-blue suit, with short blonde hair.
Thats me, is there something you need?
The woman said nothing, just reached inside her blazer and pulled out some sort of pen. She held it up to Elmyra, and pressed the top down. Some sort of gas erupted from it, knocking the elderly woman out cold.
Mom? Aeris asked, still on the phone. Mom, are you there? MOM?!
Zack Trimmer took a sip of his beer, watching the drunk idiots dance onstage.
Heh, look at those idiots, he said.
I wouldnt talk if I was you, Zack, Mason said, cleaning out a few glasses and placing them on the shelves behind him. You was doin the same thing last time ya were in here.
Please, Zack said. I can hold my liquor, Mason.
I never said ya couldnt, but every mans got his limit. Yers seems ta be around 10 or 12 beers. I never seen someone who can drink that much without fallin unconscious. Not even SOLDIERs.
Its.... a long story... Zack replied, taking another sip of his beer. The fact that his cells had been infused with Jenova angered him to no end.
A tall black man dressed in a dark, navy-blue suit walked into the bar, taking the stool next to Zack. He wore black sunglasses, which concealed his eyes from view, as well as a light beard. He wore a string of earrings in his left ear. Even though he was wearing a business suit, Zack could tell he was fairly muscular. There was something about him... Zack could swear that he recognized him from somewhere, but he couldnt put his finger on it...
Ill be right back, Mason, Zack said, standing. Gotta get some fresh air.
Sure thing, kid, Mason replied. He saw the large man stand as well and follow Zack outside.
Zack looked out at the Midgar skyline, his eyes drifting to the Presidential Tower. The city was full of life. It was hard to believe that he played a part in saving it, and the entire planet, from utter destruction.
As he was searching, someone opened a lighter in front of his face. It was the same large man from the bar.
Thanks, Zack said, lighting his cigarette. He took a long drag on it, and expelled the smoke through his mouth.
The man simply nodded, and turned around, walking back to the bar. Zack turned his back to him, and continued to admire the scenary.
Then, something hard hit him on the back of his head.
Vincent Valentine lay naked in the small, crystalline lake which sat in front of the cave which had been his home for the past five years. He felt a calm overcome him as he floated here in the water. Lucrecia had passed on, but he felt her spirit surrounding him in this place. Only one thing was out of place.
The golden claw which served as his left arm. No matter what he did, that would always serve as a reminder of Hojos insane experimentation on him. But, it was a small price to pay in order to purge himself of his Chaos persona.
Before, he couldnt control the transformations, they overcame him with a rage of emotions. Now, ever since he came here, the Chaos persona was gone, completely repressed within the folds of his mind. He had no need to worry about changing into that winged demon anymore, as long as Lucrecias spirit was here to calm him.
As he lay in the lake, he dreamt. The dreams had been pleasant, up until now.
There was a man who resembled him in appearence. However, this isnt how Vincent expected to see him again. He saw the man clutching his abdomen, blood running over his hands. He looked up, his eyes pleading for help....
Vincents own eyes snapped open, and he immediately shielded them from the sun by diving underneath the waters. He pulled himself out of the lake by the ledge, trying to block out the sun. Ever since Hojos experimentation, all his senses seemed to be enhanced, but with one, small side-effect. His eyes were extremely light-sensitive. And without the headband and cape he usually wore to cover himself up, the pain was extremely intense. Immediately, he ran into the cave behind the waterfall.
He looked over at the black outfit and crimson cloak he wore. His gun, the Death Penalty, was lying nearby. He picked it up and checked to see if it was loaded.
Perhaps God has some wisdom after all...
Frost followed Hojo through the forests, pushing aside branches and leaves. How far was this place, anyhow?
Just a little further... Hojo noted.
(Thats what you said 10 minutes ago...) Frost thought to himself. However, he kept his thoughts private. According to the Tribunal, Hojo was not to be harmed at all, and he was to lead Frost somewhere. When Frost told him that Hojo was supposed to lead him, the scientist immediately realized what he was talking about, and told him to follow.
Now, he was wondering how much longer this path would take.
There... Hojo said, pointing to a clearing. There seemed to be some sort of excavation going on.
There was some sort of metal object, rounded and with an open door. Hojo walked into it, and Frost followed. He could see many corridors, but Hojo just walked down the center to a door at the end. There was some kind of symbol on the door, but Frost had no idea what it meant.
As Hojo approached the door, it opened with a hiss. He stepped to the side, and motioned for Frost to enter first.
The Seido agent did, and found himself in a room covered with steam. Slowly, it began to dissipate, and at the far end of the room, there was a large throne, with various skulls adorning it. The color was red as blood.
There sat an odd creature, somewhat humanoid, but his face changed that. It was almost like a mask-type face, with blue flames erupting from his head. He wore a purple and red cape, and his torso was gold, with wires in it. It gave him an oddly robot appearence.
You are working for the other three Harbingers, correct?
Im Agent Frost with Seido, he replied. I answer to the Tribunal.
Seido? the creature spoke with a booming voice. Laughter filled the room, and it caused a chill to run down Frosts spine. I see... Very clever indeed for those three....
Who are you? Frost asked.
I am Helspont, the Bringer of Destruction, he replied. Your task is simple, Frost. You must locate he who once was king.
King? Frost asked. I dont understand, I dont ever recall there being a king her--
The good professor shall explain it to you, Helspont said, cutting him off. He knows more of him than even I do. Now go, leave me.
Come along, Hojo ordered, walking out of the chamber with Frost close behind. Once he exited, the door to Helsponts inner sanctum quickly sealed.
Aeris hung up the phone in frustration.
Theres no answer at my fathers house, either, she said. I think somethings happened to them.
Right... uh-huh.... okay, thanks Sara, Reeve ended the conversation and hung up his PHS, placing it in his pocket. I just got off the phone with Detective Pezzini. She said that Elmyras house is empty, and the door was open. Also, a barkeep in Sector 3 named Mason, reported that one of his regulars left the bar to get some fresh air, and a tall, black man in a navy suit followed him out. Neither of them returned.
What does that have to do with Aeris parents? Tifa asked.
Well, Mason said that this regular went by the name of Zack Trimmer, Reeve replied.
...Zack...? was all Aeris found herself able to say.
Three people, all with some connection to Aeris... Shen said. And the barkeep said that a black man in a navy suit was responsible for Zacks disappearence.
We heard that part already, dumb fuck, Cid cursed, smoke emitting from his nostrils. Whats th point?
Think about it, Shen glared at Cid. Who do we know who fits that description?
Rude! Tifa exclaimed. From the Turks!!
...oh god... Aeris said. Last night, I had a dream that Tseng was dying. It seemed so real and vivid. Could there be some sort of connection?
Everyone spun around to find Vincent standing in the shadows, in full gear, no less. Red XIII was standing at his side.
Red! Cloud exclaimed. And.... Vincent? We thought you were dead.
I am, Vincent coldly replied. Thats beside the point. Tseng is dead.
How can you be so sure? Reeve asked.
I had the exact same dream Aeris had.
And that means what? Barret asked. Lots o people have th same dreams.
The difference is that I dont dream, Vincent stated. It must be a side-effect of Hojos experimentation. Ever since you awoke me from that coffin, I didnt dream once during our journey. No nightmares, no dreams, nothing. Just darkness. I was simply relaxing, and the image of Tseng bleeding came to me. How ironic that Aeris had the same dream, and most-likely, at the same time.
But why only the two of you? Shen asked.
Because both Vincent and Aeris had a connection with Tseng, Red replied. Vincent and Tseng are brothers. Tseng also cared for Aeris, although he tried to hide the fact. It became apparent when we were in the Crater, fighting Jenova before Seraph summoned Meteor. Tseng appeared to be protecting Aeris.
So, that leaves three Turks.... Cloud muttered. And three of our friends are missing.
We already know Rudes responsible for Zacks disappearence, Reeve noted. So, Reno and Elena probably went after Aeris parents.
But why? Aeris asked. What would they have to gain?
A ring broke the silence that filled the air after Aeris question. Reeve reached into his pocket and activated his PHS.
Reeve. Uh-huh... all right, thanks. Keep me informed. He turned it off, and placed it back in his pocket. Sara again. The local Police in Icicle Inn searched Professor Gasts cabin. They found the video equipment destroyed, and one word carved into the door: Seido.
Seido...?! Shen exclaimed. It cant be...
What are you talking about? Tifa asked.
Seido was the organization that forced Tsunami and I to work for them, Shen replied. They were responsible for the death of Striker. And now, it appears that theyve hired the Turks to kidnap those three.
But what could they accomplish with that? Red asked.
Bait, Vincent replied. Its a trap. Tseng obviously disagreed with their plan, and they killed him for it, using him as an example to the other Turks.
So, what do we do? Aeris asked. We cant just leave them there!!
I know, Aeris, Cloud said. And we wont. We need to get to their Headquarters. Any idea where it is, Shen?
It may have changed, but last time it was enclosed in the mountains surrounding the Mythril mines.
Then thats where were going, Cloud said, taking his Ultima Weapon down from its resting spot above the fireplace. He gave it a few practice swings to get the feel of it once more.
What the hell am I gonna do? Barret asked. Without my Missing Score, I just got my strength.
My Princess Guards also back in my apartment in Midgar, Aeris noted.
Th Venus Gospels back in Rocket Town, Cid said. But I got an extra spear I keep in th Bronco fr emergencies.
When Vincent told me that I needed to come here, I was afraid it was danger, Red stated. That is why I brought Materia.
Vincent reached behind his back, and pulled out a small case. He droped it on the table.
We had best get moving, then, Sephiroth said, his hand resting on the hilt of the Masamune.
Jes ta warn ya guys, th Tiny Bronco IIs gonna be a bit crowded, Cid warned.
An the difference would be.... what? Yuffie asked.
Since were short on supplies, this is a stealth mission, Cloud said, addressing the team. Cid, does the Bronco have any weapons?
Dual machine guns under th wings, Cid replied.
All right, heres the plan, then, Cloud began. Aeris will have to use Cids spear, since shes the only one who can use a weapon similar to it. Cid, I want you to circle around in the Tiny Bronco II. If need be, we might run into trouble, and the last thing we need is soldiers on our asses. Your job will be to lay down some cover fire so we can rescue the hostages. Since this mission will require stealth to get inside the complex, well need two teams. Accompanying me inside will be Shen, since he knows the layout; Red, because of his quickness and stealth; Deadpool, due to his teleporter which can help us get out fast if need be; and Sephiroth, because of his training as a member of SOLDIER. Tifa, Barret, Vincent, Reeve, Aeris, and Yuffie will cover our tracks by remaining outside the complex. In the meantime, Cid will be in the Tiny Bronco II, prepared to attack at a moments notice. Im sorry to say that we dont have the time to get the proper weapons, armor, and supplies that we would usually need. Remember, if at all possible, try to avoid a confrontation with the Turks. Theyve got weapons, as well as all of Seido backing them, so they could pose a big threat. Everyone ready?
Cid cracked his knuckles.
Lets get our asses in gear!!
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