Redemption Chapter 13
By Janet Monstwillo
"This is something I have to do." Aeris stared at all the faces in the room. "Doesn't anyone understand?"
"I do," said Tifa. "That you want to do this out of concern for your mother, but seeing Patrick probably wouldn't be the best thing for her right now."
"How do you know?"
A shocked silence hung over the room. Red XIII chose his words cautiously. "Riss...? Tifa has studied for a great period of time..."
"And she has told us she has practically no idea what can be done for my mother. I think my hunch would prove more accurate, considering I've got Jenova in me, and I'm part Cetra." She glared at Tifa. "I have more insight than she'll ever have, and everyone's fighting my ideas, not hers!"
Ishmael stepped toward his sister. "Aeris, Dad says..."
"He's walking around like his own son is the ultimate spawn of darkness! I don't give a shit what he says about this anymore!"
"You know it hurts him to see Mom like this."
"And he's venting that pain out on our brother. God, Ishmael, you know Patrick would never raise a hand to her. He might have the potential to kill everyone else on the Planet, but he'd protect Mom. Until it drove him crazy. Holy shit, does that concept sound familiar or is it just me?"
"You don't need to curse at us to make your point," said Kati, half-defensively. She was holding Ishmael's hand and planned to back him all the way on the decision he made about this.
"No I don't. Not to prove my point, anyway." Aeris lifted her head. "It's how I vent my pain. And look, no one gets exiled in my method."
They were interrupted as Marta trotted into the room. "Reeve, Vincent, and Cid are coming back from the Airship. They have some news."
Tossing her head, Aeris glanced around the room. "Bring it on," she whispered.
The three men entered the room with grim looks on their faces.
"What is it?" asked Barret, catching their mood.
"As you know," said Reeve, "I gave up running the operation of Alcor years ago. Well...it appears a few people had a problem with the way my C.E.O. was running things. There has been a takeover of Alcor, and many of the top employees, including Yorlain, have disappeared."
"What do ya mean by top employees?" asked Barret carefully.
"My informant barely got out of Junon with his own freedom. Not much is known yet, but..." He looked at the older man. "Barret, no one knows what happened to Marlene. She was a member of the executive board, so it's very likely the people considered her an enemy."
"What th' hell?!" Barret stood up, enraged. "I gotta go save Marlene! And rip those muthafuckers a new one!"
"I figured that would be your reaction," said Reeve. "So far, the signs have been good. If these guys were looking for total scare tactics, the bodies of the executives would have turned up somewhere. Since they haven't, my bet is that someone unlocked the upper-level floors that have been off-limits since the building belonged to Shinra."
"What would that mean?" asked Tifa.
"Basically, that there are a bunch of prisoners up in the prison cells that we all remember storming back in our anti-Aysta days."
"Oh yeah, them," said Cid. "Stupid Shinra sons-of-bitches. Even now, their buildings haunt us."
Reeve continued. "So, we need some people to go to Junon to check things out. As much as I'd love to stay with Ray, I can't help but think I'd be of some help in the building of my own company."
The room was silent for a moment, then Barret broke in. "Well I be damned if I ain't gonna go help get Marlene's ass out of that prison!"
"I have to stay with Raieyana," said Tifa softly. "I need to do some research on our texts here. I'd love it if you could stay and help, Red."
He nodded his affirmation.
Marta looked at her mother. "Can I go to Junon?"
"No honey. You don't know how to fight."
She pouted. "That's cause you wouldn't let me learn."
"I'll go." Ishmael looked at his father. "You'll need some young blood to add speed to the battles you might have."
"Me too." Kati wasn't about to be left behind by her fiance. (Well, we are engaged, even if we haven't gotten the chance to tell anybody else. So there.)
Vincent was deep in thought. "Do you need me? For I'd rather stay here and look in on Ray's condition. Also, I'd like to be here if any news comes in about Zuri."
"Same here," said Yuffie softly.
"I'll go," said Sean.
"You want to go, too?" She winced. "All my babies will be in danger."
"We're not babies any longer, Mom."
"It just worries me so much I can't stand that I'd have to have you all out at risk...at the same time."
Vincent placed a hand on her shoulder. "If he feels he needs to go, then don't hold him back."
Cid sighed. "And I'm going to be everyone's fucking chauffeur, right?"
Reeve smiled weakly. "Looks like it Cid."
Aeris looked up at her father. "I'm going home."
He raised an eyebrow in reply. "Oh you are, huh? Whatever for?"
"To find my broth--"
Reeve interrupted her. "Lia and Legolas sent out many of the best warriors to look for both him and Zuri."
"Did it ever occur to anyone that sending a bunch of soldiers out to find him would make him just a tad defensive? Or does that matter? That this is a time when we need to pull together as a family and he might need someone who cares, not a person presenting him with the cold, metallic gleam of a weapon?"
"He killed a man!"
"Well until Mother is herself enough...to testify to the truth..." Aeris glared at him. "In civilized places, the law is 'innocent until proven guilty.'"
Reeve sighed. "Rissy, sometimes I think he was proven guilty before he was born."
"Perhaps." Her eyes narrowed. "One could say the same thing for you. I believe you killed someone for revenge on your family, long ago, no?"
"It's not the same--"
"You don't know if it's the same! You never gave my brother a fucking chance! And even if I wasn't the most vocal about stating that I cared for him, at least I didn't make him think I hated him. He would not have been forced out the door had I been there. If you even tried," she spat out, "you would have had to kill me first." She started to walk out of the room. "I'm going to the Airship now. If Cid refuses to drop me off at home, I'll walk there on my own damn feet."
The group watched the spirited girl storm out in silence. Red XIII cocked his head to one side. "Such a fiery spirit," he remarked. "Just like her mother."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Fathoms beneath the surface of Junon bay lays the Underwater Reactor. About twenty years earlier, the reactor had been shut down and sealed off. Alcor kept the submarine fleet to look for more places where Mako broke at the surface, for new Mako springs were the very best place to build their thermal plants.
However, looking at the reactor, one could see that it was alight and buzzing with activity. A black submarine, with an advanced system for jamming the local radar signals, descended down to a small door in the side of the reactor. The airlock.
One man in a uniform walked from the submarine into the reactor. He turned down a hallway and towards the main entrance. The sign on the wall read "Earlham Lab: named in honor of the late, great Lavana Earlham for her contributions to Shinra." The man sighed and thought of his sister. (She was so great at getting ahead in life. She cared about no cause but her own cause. Such a shame she disappeared fourteen years ago with the rest of Shinra. But she left me with access to this hidden building, and the things I wanted most. Hojo's last few samples.)
Dirk walked into his lab and breathed in the filtered air. He was most at home doing intricate work, and he believed his hand was touched by the will of the divine. A sweet precious voice spoke to him, guiding his work to near perfection.
The lab assistants scurried out of his private room as soon as he entered. They knew he must work alone; though they were punished if things were not in top shape, they could only straighten up when Dirk Earlham was not working.
A steady glow in his eye was a tale-tell sign announcing to the Planet that he had once been a Soldier. (But I did not go crazy like the weak failures did so long ago. I remained strong, and soon discovered my true passion. Science.) One day fourteen years ago, the voice had come to him. It gave no orders back then, just gently convinced him that he ought to be a scientist. However, after Shinra was obliterated, there was little demand for experimental science. So Dirk funded his own research, but was discouraged by new laws in every area, prohibiting Mako experimentation.
When he first learned of these laws, he laughed for a long time. (Mako experimentation? I wonder what they would say if they had known then that I had Jenova samples...pure Jenova samples, the ones that Hojo injected himself with long ago.)
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