Combat Diary Chapter 5
It was bright... peaceful. The grass was the greenest you could imagine... it glowed as though it was lifestream, and not just simple plants. Trees grew all around, beautiful trees filled with squirrels and birds living in harmony. The sun shone overhead, giving off a warm, peace-invoking light.
The woman walked through this wondrous field. Is this.. the promised land? She was plain and tall, with brown curly locks falling to her thighs. She breathed in the air, only to notice...
...it didn't taste right...
The sky grew darker... the once peaceful animals stopped their frolicking, and glared at the woman with blood red eyes. The grass dissipated, only to be replaced by a cold metal floor...
Ifalna woke up.
The cold, dark walls of her cell on the 67th floor of the Shinra building only served as a repressive reminder of her captivity. Her seven year old daughter, Aeris, was asleep beside her on a cot. Her short brown hair covered her over-bruised face, the result of a recent experiment which caused half the blood vessels in her face to burst. Hojo had been humane enough to cancel the experiment and let Ifalna use a healing ability on her daughter.
Seven years. Had it been seven years already? It was hard to tell. When the experiments took place, time seemed to drag on for infinity, and the days between experiments flew off as though only moments. Ifalna sighed, and rubbed her neck... and she felt it. Another reminder...
"What are you up to this time, Hojo?" That was... the president... yes....
"Just issuing some insurance." Hojo said nonchalantly
"What kind? What's that device?"
"It's a bio-inducing agent. Should she leave the Shinra building, it will trigger, poisoning her slowly..."
"WAIT! Stop babbling, you idiot, she's awake!!"
"Hmm? Oh, it doesn't matter. It's better she know this anyway, isn't that right?" Hojo said to me.
I couldn't respond, something was holding my mouth shut. I could only watch as Hojo sliced open the side of my neck and implant the device. At least this time, he was quick about it...
Ifalna stood and stretched. She wanted to stretch her neck, but she was afraid of tearing open the stitches again. It had been a month, but she didn't want to risk it. Last time nearly killed her. At least they could have gotten an actual surgeon to stitch her up, or so she thought. She heard footsteps outside her cell, and some chatter. Footsteps again, only this time going away. The guard had changed. She wondered...
"Yeah..." A voice on the other side whispered. Kamen was a security guard who'd taken to Ifalna and sympathized with her. However, he could not jeopardize his job by helping her, for he had a family to raise, too. However, this woman also had a daughter, and had her husband taken away from her. Was he selfish for not helping out one family, even if it would mean his would suffer? "How's it goin'?" He asked lamely, trying to take his mind off of his inner dilemma.
"Not good..." Ifalna frowned. She told Kamen about Aeris.
"Ohmigod... well, at least they let you help her," Kamen replied.
"Maybe.. maybe they WANTED me to use my powers."
"How'd ya figure that?" Kamen asked.
"They've been trying to get me to use my powers for a while, and I've kept telling them I'm spent. But this time, I had no choice..."
"They used your child to get to you? Get out, I don't think they'd sink that low. Would they?"
"It... it wouldn't be the first time," Ifalna said with a sigh.
Kamen gripped his gun with anger. He wished he could help, but he didn't want to get into trouble. Did that make him weak? He kept thinking back to his son and wife, both of whom were only slightly younger than the two occupants of the cell he was supposed to be guarding. Suddenly, footsteps started coming from around the corner. Kamen turned and saw another MP. This one seemed odd, though. He was a tad more well-built and packed than most other MPs. Shinra had a strict way MP's should look and had certain requirements for height, weight, overall size... Then again, with the war raging in Wutai, maybe Shinra was getting desperate.
"I'm here for guard duty" The MP said.
"But I just replaced ensign Dosser. You sure you're in the right place?" Kamen asked.
"Well, A commander told me to come up here for guard duty after he saw me moping around the lobby."
Kamen squinted his eyes, not that the other MP could see. "Commander who?"
"Uh, Commander... Johnston..."
"...aaaah. Okay. I think he meant for you to patrol Hojo's lab. You know, down the hall and to the right?" Kamen replied, knowing full well there was no commander Johnston currently in the Shinra building.
"R-right, sorry..." The "mp" turned and left.
After a few moments, Ifalna dared to speak "What was that?"
Kamen smiled... and whispered softly. "If that's what I think... maybe a way to get you outta here..."
Zangan walked down the hall, thankful the cell guard bought his story. He heard the other MP talking... to a woman? But he didn't see anyone else. Maybe a prisoner? Not a very well-disciplined guard. Maybe Shinra's getting desperate Zangan thought. Figuring out the key-card system was bad enough, but if he got caught now, the mission would be over before it could begin. Zangan turned another corner. He saw a huge semi-dome with a small window. Something told him not to go near it, and so naturally he took a peek in the window...
It had the basic form of a female. It was veiny and had miniature tentacles swimming about. It was also missing it's head.
Zangan backed off, and turned around...
"What are you doing?" came a nasally voice. Zangan spun around. A small, skinny man with glasses, and shoulder-length black oily hair wearing a white lab coat stood there. He caught Zangan by surprise.
But NO ONE could catch Zangan by surprise. No one Human...
"I asked you a question, lackey." Hojo growled, glaring at Zangan.
"Uhm... I was... er, my commander said..." Zangan tried to act confuse, but the truth was he was still in slight shock from what he saw AND being surprised.
"Shut up!" Hojo snapped. He just shook his head and walked right past Zangan with no further regard. "...stupid incompetent lazy..." Hojo trailed off as he walked away, mumbling.
Zangan looked around. All the equipment looked extremely expensive. Was this the reason Shinra was not putting it's efforts into the war? For some scientist's toys? Zangan refused to believe that just building the Highwind cost all that time and money. He needed to dig deeper. Now, he had gotten in, but he was no expert at industrial espionage. He had no clue what to look for. Maybe it was that headless thing? No, simple experiments can't cost so much money that Shinra would have to decrease war-time spending. He supposed the best way would be to get a hold of the information he needed would be to check out all of Shinra's financial data.
Of course, what If Godo's suspicions were right and the Shinra were just trying to throw Wutai off-guard? Zangan sighed, not knowing what to do next. He supposed he had to do this the hard way. There was a small office just outside the lab. Zangan just waltzed right in. He saw a man in a business suit operating some equipment, as well as a very sophisticated-looking computer. Zangan wished he had a Manipulate materia, but this would have to be done the hard way. He looked around, but didn't see any cameras.
"Can I assist you with something?" the man said in a slightly annoyed tone.
Zangan walked right up to the man and put a knife to his throat. "You will access the computer system for any information on Shinra's war-time spending, as well as anything which may be drawing funds away from it." He spoke plainly, with only a tad of aggression in his voice. Zangan was not going to kill the man, but he didn't know that, giving Zangan the advantage.
The man almost laughed, but was still scared.
"What was that for?"
"Well.. e-everyone knows that Hojo's been d-demanding more resources for experimenting on those two Cetras..."
"CETRA?!" Zangan had heard of the mythical race of beings. They would travel to different planets, settle them and move on. However, many of the Cetras lost their way, refused the planet, lost their powers and decided to lead easier, more convenient lives. The rest of the Cetra who stayed true to their beliefs were supposedly wiped out almost 2000 years ago. But now it seemed Shinra had not one, but TWO Cetra in their possession.
"What does that have to do with anything?" Zangan pushed the knife to the mans neck. The man was starting to piss his pants...
"uh, ulp! W-well, I guess Hojo needs special supplies, more people. I.. I don't know the specifics... but I think Hojo wants to beable to give people Cetra powers, like he's done with Jenova..."
"Uh, yeah, you know how SOLDIERs are injected with Jenova cells? It makes them stronger and able to resist dying from the Mako-infusion process."
"Where does Hojo get these Jenova cells?" Zangan was now more curious than ever about how SOLDIER operated, and now seemed an ideal time to get that information.
"He mail-orders them... OW!" Zangan sliced the man's cheek and held him up with one arm while his other hand still held the small blade "ahh, uh, you really don't know, do ya?! Jenova... It's that thing in the tank over there!"
Zangan's eyes opened wide. "How does injecting a dead things cells into someone make them stronger?!"
"Look, I dunno, okay!? It's like each cell is alive and it screws with your DNA or something... I dunno!"
Zangan put the man down. He had a mission, after all. "So what you're saying is that money is being diverted from the military so Hojo can do experiments?"
"Yeah... that and the fact that they built Junon on the wrong coast set them back billions of gil, also making that airship... Alone, none of these things would matter, y'know?" The man took a breath, "But all at the same time, Shinra just realized that his money isn't infinite..."
"That's enough." a deep voice emanated throughout the small room.
Zangan didn't need to turn around to know that there were three heavily armed people behind him. He took a step back away from the man, dropped the knife and slowly turned around. All three had machine guns trained on him.
"Nice 'n' slow, take off tha mask..." The second said. He had some kind of strange accent that Zangan couldn't quite put his finger on where from.
Zangan took off his mp mask, and lightly set it on the floor. The MP's looked at each other briefly. They looked back at Zangan...
"Uh, who tha' 'ell are yew?" The second MP asked. Obviously they were expecting someone they recognized.
"Come on then," The first one said, making a motion with his gun. "Lucky you, the jail-cells are only a few feet away." He approached Zangan with handcuffs. "Turn around, and put your hands behind you."
Zangan did as he was told. He did not want to risk the bystander getting shot accidentally. When they got out into the hall, the Third MP who had remained silent was walking right behind Zangan, a bit too close for comfort. But then Zangan heard him whisper something: "get ready...", then a bit louder: "Hey, y'know how we knew something was going down?". He placed something in Zangan's hand "It's because you make too much noise. NOW if you'd been more quiet..." Zangan dropped the small sphere, which exploded on impact! Zangan dashed forward away from the smoke cloud. The three MP's dropped like stones. Well, two of them. The third merely pretended to pass out. He whispered to Zangan again...
"There's a key in my pocket..."
Zangan knelt, got the key and managed to free himself. "Why are you doing this?" Zangan whispered, as to not alert the cameras to the fact that he was talking to the MP. He used the key to undo his bonds all the while.
"Just come back.. for the woman and her child in Cell 5, but you got about 20 seconds before security gets up here... hurry..." With that, alarms blared, and the whole hallway went black except for flashing red lights...
>>INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ON FLOOR 67! THREE MEN DOWN! REPEAT...<<
Zangan made a mad-dash for the stairway, as he figured the elevators would be either shut off or guarded. He ran down several flights of stairs until he reached the 63rd floor. There in the Stairwell, a SOLDIER and 2 MPs were waiting for him. He charged right at them... "BOLT!"
Lighting ripped from the lights and onto the three troops. One MP got hit worse than the other two, dying instantly. The SOLDIER was knocked off his feet and into the wall. The Second MP faired much better, and got up after he was hit. He charged Zangan with his nightstick raised. He swung low. Zangan caught the stick, and twisted it up with such speed and ferocity that the MP had no time to let go, and his arm was ripped from it's socket.
The SOLDIER got up and swung his baton fiercely, striking Zangan in the head. Zangan rolled with the impact, slightly lessening the blow. His head still spun for a second, but his concentration was unaffected. Before the SOLDIER could push his attack, Zangan gave him a swift elbow to the nose, closing the distance between the two in less time than a spectator could comprehend. The SOLDIER fell, and Zangan wasted no further time.
He made his way to the 60th floor, where he was greeted by almost a dozen MPs, a few SOLDIERs, and several fierce-looking mechanical beasts. They took some steps towards him, cornering him in the stairwell.
"Ok, that's as far as you go!" an MP yelled. He turned to a SOLDIER, "Did that sound good this time?"
The SOLDIER looked at the MP and shrugged. " 'twas okay... I woulda' preferred 'HALT OR BE DESTROYED'!"
A second MP butted in. "I dunno... that sounds like a grand-standing comic book villain or something..."
[[Does-not-compute]] One of the robots said, [[Besides,-'resistance-is-futile'-is-my-favorite]]
"It would be..." the SOLDIER said. Suddenly he looked up. "HEY?!?"
Zangan was gone.
Dio and Byran were checking out their new digs for the night. Byran was on the phone with Noel, explaining why they couldn't make it back.
"Are you SURE you haven't been kidnapped by terrorists again and you're not saying this just to make sure I don't worry?"
"I'm SURE Noel... But you know, if terrorists DID put me in posh digs like this, I'm sure I wouldn't mind," Byran said jokingly.
Dio was laying on a green couch, which possessed the most comfortable pillows one could imagine. It seemed to go good with the red walls decorated with gold insignia. In fact, most of the items in the room such as the cabinet, dining table all sported a golden pattern, even if it was fake. If this room was designed to make someone feel wealthy, it accomplished that. The only problem was the Chandelier, which Zelda was convinced was a big glowing plant, and kept trying to hop up to get it. Unfortunately, the art of flying was lost to chocobos long ago.
"Okay, I love you, too... Okay, you hang up first... Nuh-uh, YOU hang up first...!"
Not that again, Dio complained to himself. He fished out his "Fun dome" sketches. He made a few adjustments, and then it hit him...
"Why a dome? In fact... I got the architectural know-how... maybe I can actually make it BIGGER than the Shinra-tower! THAT would make people flock to it! All I'd have to do is extend the main pillar about 50 stories.... adjust for wind by extending the saucer sections out..."
"We interrupt this broadcast of Loveless: the movie for an important announcement..." A female TV announcer said. Dio and Byran snapped to attention.
"Gottago, luv ya, bye." Byran hung up the phone and walked over to the TV.
"Just an hour ago, a break-in was reported at Shinra headquarters. Whoever it was merely extracted some low-classified information, killed several guards and has escaped. The family members of the deceased will be contacted shortly. The suspect is described as a man near his forties, roughly 5'8", 160 pounds. He has black hair and an un-kept beard. He was described as also having been wearing a Shinra MP's uniform when he left the building. The suspect is supposedly deadly in unarmed combat, and at the very least has a BOLT materia in his possession. We advise all citizens to remain indoors, and to contact the police if you've seen him. A public bounty of 10,000 gil is currently being offered for any bounty hunters who can bring him in alive. We now return you to Loveless: The movie"
"Hmm, should we stay and watch Loveless, or catch this guy?" Dio asked.
"Hmm, I hear the movie's pretty good..." Byran said unconcernedly. "Let the cops handle it."
"CHI-KEHN WUSS!" Dio yelled with a smile.
"Uh uh, no way! Do NOT goad me into going after this guy! When I gave Noel that engagement ring, that was also a promise to stay alive. I can't go around chasing psycho-killers, okay?" Byran slumped down on the couch. Zelda looked at him, cocked her head and warked uneasily.
"Oh, not you too!" said Byran, looking away.
Dio poked Byran in the shoulder repeatedly. "C'mo-o-o-on, you know you want to! Besides, this guy managed to kill some of those Shinra guys! What makes you think the street cops are gonna fare much better? Or some crazy kid who thinks he's all that?" Dio prodded.
"If you poke me one more time, you're gonna lose that finger." Byran said.
Dio raised an eyebrow, "What if he makes his way to Kalm? Midgar ain't safe, so he'll head for the nearest town. And if he IS a 'phycho killer' like you said..."
Byran shot up off the couch and stared his friend in the eye.
"Do NOT GO THERE! THAT WON'T HAPPEN!"
Dio stood up as well, but not in anger. "He won't get the chance if WE stop him!"
Byran fumbled for a comeback, and then replied lamely, "I don't have my Hyper-lance or any materia..."
Dio reached into a sack that Zelda usually carried on her back, but was now on the floor. "Y'mean THIS hyper-lance?!" Dio presented a large 15 inch serrated cleaving blade on the end of a 2 foot pole. With a flick of a button, though, the pole extended into a full 4 foot long staff. "And you mean THIS mater... ee.... uhh... uh-oh."
Dio reached in the bag, but found nothing. Suddenly his fingers felt air, and with that, his eyebrows shot up. He put the bag up to the light... a large hole was in the bottom of the bag.
"Huh... uhm... uh-oh."
"Nothing?" Byran asked.
Dio searched the other saddlebag. He found a semi-useful ENEMY SKILL materia, a Counter-attack materia, and a few others he couldn't identify off-hand. He tossed them to Byran, who was much better with materia.
"Hmm, Ultima... useless because it was just born..." He put it in his staff anyway, thinking hopefully he'll get to grow it with his weapon's triple-growth effect on materia. Another one, a purple one, Byran needed to concentrate on... "Underwater... UNDERWATER?! You packed Underwater?!"
"Heh heh... oops!" Dio chuckled. He picked up a red materia... "Uhhmm... Chocomog?!"
"Toss it over."
"What? It's worthless!"
"Not really. It's one of the few wind-element spells at out disposal. Also, it can paralyze creatures sometimes."
"...whatever." Dio said with disinterest, and tossed it over. Byran put this one in his armlet.
Dio tossed a few more Byran's way "Elemental... Bio... Doublecut! Is that it?"
Byran linked the Bio and elemental in his weapon, and placed double-cut, E-Skill and Counterattack in his arm-band, weaving his arm experimentally. He wasn't used to striking twice as fast. Byran didn't like the fact that more of their materia was littering the landscape between here and Kalm, but he couldn't go back and get them now. "Guess we gotta go like this..." Zelda suddenly looked very nervous again...
"Hm? What's wrong girl?"
"WAA-AARK!" and with that, she spat out a Restore materia.
"Thanks, girl!" Byran bent down to pick it up. It was only just born, and could only cast the most basic, rudimentary cure spell. Zelda backed off and hid in the corner of the room. "Be safe, don't get stolen!" And with that the two me left the room.
Zelda went back to trying to get that glowing plant on the ceiling....
Back at the Shinra building....
"Are you sure he's ready for this?" a man said.
"Please..." Hojo said "He was born ready. I should know.. I injected his mother with Jenova cells while he was still a fetus."
"But he's only a teenager..."
"Yes, he's 16. What of it? That's 16 years he's spent honing his by-birth superior skills. This is what he was made for. He cannot get any better slicing up dummies and unmoving targets." Hojo explained.
The boy overheard this, and walked into the lab His shoulder-length silver hair flowed about carelessly. One would think he were older, just based on his superior physique and manor in which he conducted himself. "Hojo! What is the meaning of this? Why was I summoned here?" he said in a commanding, arrogant tone while sweeping his arm.
Hojo glared at the boy "How would you like a live opponent?"
"You mean more people I cannot dare to fully attack, in fear that I may kill more of your precious guards?" The boy spat.
"No. As you may have heard, we had a break-in. The man killed several guards, and a SOLDIER friend of yours... Believe me, you needn't hold back." Hojo replied.
The young man gave a slight smile. "Lead me to him. SEPHIROTH shall... not... fail!"
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic