The Cry of the Planet Chapter 18
By Edyn Cross
Vincent had set his alarm to wake him up just before dawn, as did the other
Shinra employees. The scientists slept a light and restless sleep in anticipation
of the next day, but the Turk slept a heavy, dreamless sleep and awoke feeling
better than he had in a long time. After showering and preparing for the
day, he felt refreshed... And determined.
As Vincent descended the staircase, he saw the three scientists in the Mansion lobby excitedly discussing their plans for the day. Conversation stopped when Lucrecia noticed Vincent coming and locked her eyes with his. A low growing sound came from the back of Hojo's throat as he stared intently at the back of Lucrecia's head.
"Don't tell me the Turk is coming," Hojo hissed.
"Of course he is, don't be ridiculous," Gast said. "The President assigned him to us for our protection, the townsfolk say the road to Mt. Nibel is a dangerous one."
Hojo shot a glare to Vincent, "Hmph. Well, I don't like it."
"Of course you don't," Gast said softly rubbing his eyes.
"What was that?" Hojo snapped.
"Nothing. Let's get ready, we can get breakfast to go," Gast said motioning to the three bags of lab equipment by the door. "Are you ready, Mr. Valentine?"
Vincent nodded still looking at Lucrecia whose blushing face turned away. The scientists each grabbed their bag and Vincent made sure he had his... Holstered under his left arm anyway. They made their way out of the Mansion and stopped just outside the gate.
"No car?" Lucrecia asked.
"I'm afraid not," Gast said looking over the mountain range. "They say the road is much to dangerous for anything really heavy; we'll have to walk it."
"Oh," Lucrecia said looking down at the ground.
Gast put his hand on Lucrecia's shoulder. "It's not a very long walk, but the townspeople said that it's pretty dangerous, especially at night. There have been reports of monsters in the area and even a giant dragon. Which is why Mr. Valentine has been assigned to this Project, to make sure no harm will come to you."
Lucrecia looked at Vincent, but couldn't meet his eyes, as she knew she wouldn't be able to look away.
"Well, how about we not stand here all day and get moving?" Hojo said starting towards the mountain path.
"He's right," Gast said producing a map of the mountains from his bag. "We had better get going."
The four of them made their way up the path to the Nibel Mako Reactor where the Cetra was stored. Hojo kept to himself the whole time walking a few paces behind Professor Gast who lead the way. Lucrecia followed behind Gast in front of Vincent who brought up the rear ready for any imposing danger.
The closer they moved to the Reactor site, the less and less plant life there was in the mountains. Vincent watched as inhuman eyes followed them from the brush. Every now and then a rustle of leaves or the sound of crumbling rock would constantly keep Vincent on his toes. They walked for about twenty minutes without incident before coming up on an old and tired wooden bridge reaching across a large rocky canyon.
Lucrecia approached the bridge and place her hand on one of the suspending tension ropes. It felt stiff and very frail. She gave a worried look to Gast who only nodded in return.
"Oh, for the love of..." Hojo said impatiently.
Hojo pushed past Lucrecia and onto the bridge followed by Gast, then Lucrecia and Vincent. The wooden bridge groaned and sighed under their weight sounding as if it wanted to be put to a long needed rest at the bottom of the canyon. The cool wind whipped at Lucrecia's lab coat and caused the bridge to slowly sway back and forth. Lucrecia gripped the rope railing so tight that the knuckles on her shaking hand were turning white.
"Hey," Vincent said touching Lucrecia's arm. "Are you okay?"
"Um, yeah," She said chuckling. "I'm just afraid of heights."
"Here," Vincent said walking even with Lucrecia.
He offered his elbow to Lucrecia who looked at it and then looked up to Hojo who was still trekking ahead with his back to them. She looked up at Vincent who only offered a small smile and took his arm. They walked wordlessly listening to the creaking bridge, the wind, and the occasional grunt or growl from a monster below.
The canyon area was utterly desolate. There was no existing plant life and the sounds of dangerous monsters echoed through the canyon walls. Near the bottom, the rock had taken on a different color. Instead of the grey color that the rest of the Nibel Mountains were, the rock seemed to glow a strange teal color. Gast noticed this and thought it looked oddly like the center of the Northern Crater where the Cetra was found.
Hojo and Gast were near the end of the bridge when a loud snap echoed through the canyon followed by Lucrecia uttering a small yelp and then fell to the bridge. A rotten board had given away under the weight of the two. The Turk stepped out of the way in time, but Lucrecia's reflexes weren't as sharp. She fell to the bridge with one leg dangling towards the canyon holding onto Vincent for dear life.
"Lucrecia!" Vincent cried.
She looked up at him with her wide brown eyes silently pleading for help. Vincent slowly pulled Lucrecia from the bridge to her feet out of and away from the broken section. Focused on getting Lucrecia to safety, neither one of them heard the growing sound of long raspy breaths from behind them. Once Hojo and Gast reached land, they looked at each other and noticed they are missing the other two. Gast turned back towards the bridge to see Vincent pull Lucrecia to his arms just has a wooden plank from the bridge fell to the canyon below. Gast also saw Hojo see this and prepared for another confrontation, but this wasn't the confrontation he expected.
"Turk!" Hojo shouted back. "Get your hands off her and..."
Hojo's words were cut short as he saw what approached Vincent and Lucrecia on the bridge.
"Valentine, behind you!" Gast yelled.
Two lion-sized insect creatures that were known as Kyuvilduns stalked Vincent Lucrecia and were only about fifteen feet away. With quicker than natural reflexes, Vincent tucked Lucrecia into safety behind him and drew his gun. The Turk narrowed his eyes and fired. One shot after another rang out of the gun echoing through the canyon walls tearing the first Kyuvilduns to pieces. After the first one was mutilated, the second leapt towards Vincent at incredible speed. The first bullet to hit the insect tore half its head off and the lifeless body still airborne landed less than a foot in front of him leaving the bridge shaking. After a quick calculation of ammunition, Vincent fired his last round removing the rest of the Kyuvildun's head from its body. Then the Turk quickly reloaded searching for any more creatures. Lucrecia stood wide-eyed behind staring at the headless insect in horror.
The Turk turned towards her, "Are you hurt?"
"I... No," Lucrecia said softly collecting herself.
"Then lets keep moving," Vincent holstered his gun.
He took Lucrecia's arm and led her safety across the bridge to the other scientists.
Gast gave Vincent a relieved look, "I knew you would come in handy at some point, Mr. Valentine."
The Turk nodded, "How far now?"
Professor Gast held the map close to his face with slightly shaking hands, "Very close now, I would say about ten more minutes of walking and we'll be there."
The Shinra employees made it to the Mako Reactor where the Ancient was stored without further incident. The newly built reactor hummed proudly on the summit of Mt. Nibel. The metal giant seemed out of place among the rocky terrain and the land around the reactor was so frail it seemed almost like charcoal.
"Shall we?" Gast said with his hand on the door handle.
"Yes..." Hojo hissed licking his lips.
Lucrecia only nodded trying to hide her excitement, but was doing a very poor job.
Gast opened the door with a clang and the think smell of Mako escaped from the door making Vincent feel lightheaded. They made their way down the reactor listening to the mechanical orchestra of gears and lifts and valves. The reactor was poorly lit, but the light from the pool of Mako beneath the catwalks made it seem like the walls were glowing. Gast opened another door revealing an open room with a large ascending staircase. At the top was another metal door with a blank engraving plate above it. Knowing what lay behind the door, Gast made a mental note to engrave the name he gave the Ancient above the door sometime.
Gast stopped outside the door, put his hand on it and looked back towards the others. Lucrecia's eyes were filled with anticipation and Hojo licked his lips and motioned for him to get on with it. Gast unlatched and opened the door and a fine blue mist with a cool breeze inched out of the room. The room was about twenty feet tall and more than a dozen electrical cables and fluid tubes connected machinery to something behind a small staircase. A computer bleeped readings and measurements as Gast searched for a light switch.
Gast approached the computer and stared thoughtfully at a large lever with a sticker above it reading "ACTIVATE." Professor Gast turned the lever. Light behind the staircase flooded the room revealing a large metal female torso with what appeared to be metal wings where the arms should. Behind it was a glass tube stretching from floor to ceiling big enough to hold a school bus. The bottom of the torso was a large feeding tube filled with a reddish-peach liquid. Going through the mechanical process, the metal female figure, which served as a covering, slowly moved around behind the tube revealing what lay behind the glass.
Hojo grinned and whispered...
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic