Tarnished Side Chapter 7

By Janet Monstwillo


Sephiroth nodded to his two men, who were seated at a table, their trays spread out in front of them. Dourly, he made his way into the cafeteria line, picking up the daily special. He really had no concern over what he ate, as long as he ended up eating something before the day was out.

The Turks were a small, elite group that Sephiroth had been told he should be grateful to be in command of, after the way things had gotten botched up in the war. The job description was scouting out Soldier candidates, but they were really the jacks-of-all-trades for Shinra, Inc.

Sephiroth walked over to his men, holding some sort of noodle and vegetable concoction. He sat down silently and began to eat.

"How'd the mission go last night, sir?" asked the rotund man to his left.

He raised a silver eyebrow. Usually his men were too awestruck to make a noise in his presence, let alone inquire about anything. He swallowed his food. "It was successful," he said cautiously.

"Was it that Ancient girl Amine'd been looking for?"

Sephiroth turned his attention to the man seated across from him. (Johnny.) He coolly appraised the curiosity on the man's face. "As far as I know, that is correct." He brought another bite of food to his mouth and continued to eat.

"See, Wedge, man...your boy Biggs must've been right then."

"But that's so psycho, Johnny!" He shook his head. "I'm not the smartest guy out there, but that little breeding plan just plain sounds unscientific!"

Mako eyes watched this exchange with a twinge of inquisitiveness.

"Man, he said he overheard some of the execs...talking about goin' over Dr. Baker's head and putting that girl together with that...beast."

Sephiroth's brow furrowed for a moment. (The Ancient...and a beast?) He shook his head. (It is no concern of mine.)

Johnny pointed to their commander. "Look, even this ol' icicle finds the idea disturbing."

"Am I being judged now?" He tossed back his silver hair. "The Science Department is no concern of ours. Especially a simple experiment such as testing how two relatively unknown organisms interact with each other."

"Interaction? No, sir." Wedge was careful to keep his tone respectful. "I heard they want to make them mate."

He blinked a couple times, suppressing the twinge of shock he felt inside of him. (Makes one wonder how many of Hojo's twisted schemes were actually conceived in that fool head of his...and how many came from a source up higher. They manage to get a scientist with a slight amount of compassion...and they ignore her opinions.) Sephiroth slammed a fist on the table.


"I said it was no concern of ours." Dropping his fork onto the table, he rose, disgusted, and stormed out of the cafeteria, leaving his half-eaten dish.

A bit of hushed silence hung around the two Turks for a moment.

Johnny spoke up. "...you know, Wedge, I don't think we're going to get that raise."

* * * * * *

"They're going to seal the sector off..."

All Rude knew were the words they'd heard from the weapons dealer in Wall Market.

"It's only temporary, son, we'll be up on that plate they're building as soon as we get on our feet again."

Why were the words of his mother coming in suddenly to haunt him? He'd spent his childhood in the slums, and he'd spent his life there as an adult. There had been many times he'd wished that the entire plate would just fall down and crush him where he stood. Where he walked, where he ate, slept, breathed, dreamed, and where his hope had died, long ago.

Tifa stumbled and fell behind him. He heard Zack call out to him, but those words weren't audible.

"Rude..." Jessie just broke in, barely, but it didn't matter.

"We're gonna run out of time." And he ran, not heeding whether he was alone or who he was leaving behind him. All he knew was that if he didn't get there in time to stop things, one of his wishes would come true.

He didn't want that anymore.

He wanted to save the slums, save Midgar, save its soul. He wanted to save his own soul. Rude just wanted to take the little children, bring them up above their positions. He wanted to show the kids the sunlight, watch them run and play, breathe clean air, and have a future.

(I'm not sure where I went wrong, I only know that something inside died a long, long time ago. I know I ran, I tried to hide, but I still hear that voice streaming in over the radio. And though the times have changed, there lies a light inside with hope to rise.)

"He's dead," she cried.

(Oh ma, I tried. But one little boy just can't avoid the strength and rage of those of age. The fascist man, he ruled with fear, his speeches ring still in my ear. But all I know is I can't let it happen again. Innocence should never go where I have been.)

"They were going to seal the sector off...and break a water main. Every living thing inside that place will drown."

Rude ran and never looked back. Perhaps there was a way for the man in the present to redeem the child he had been. The Shinra troops had shot his father in front of him, inches from his face. (I was helpless then, but this is now. And I will do as much as my fate will allow.)

* * * * * *

"This place is spooky as hell."

Raieyana looked back at Reno. "Yep," she said, with a hint of annoyance in her voice.

"You seem quite tense."

"Oh, I'm sorry. It's just that returning to a place where I'd been imprisoned to rescue a mother I've never met isn't exactly a trip to the spa." She rolled her eyes. "Not like you'd understand."

"Of course I do. I bear no love for the Shinra. You know they put me in jail for five years because I tried to keep their macho troops from gang-raping a girl in the slums? I got assault on the Soldiers."

"What?" She looked at him in shock.

"Yeah. They paid the victim off. Either that or threatened her family. Whatever screwy dealings went on, the result was a sixteen-year-old kid locked up and praying to any deity willing to listen that he wouldn't drop the soap."

The girl was silent. Checking for guards, she ran quickly across the hallway to the stairwell. She turned back and gave Reno the go-ahead.

"I'm not implying you've had it easy, sister," he whispered. "Just don't go thinking because I'm a free man now, that doesn't mean I haven't had my share of rough times."

"I was born here," she said softly. "My father smuggled me out of here when I was small, and left his job here. They've been going easy on him, but whenever they want to get him to do what they want...they mention me and he's theirs." The look in Raieyana's eyes was fierce. "If I can get my hands on any of these guys, they'll stop all that crap."

"So are you strong, honey?"

"Being born as a lab rat has its advantages."

Reno just shook his head and slid the keycard through the reader. Instantly, the door to the next floor slid open. "After you."

"Good idea. I do know where we're going after all." The pair walked past row upon row of observation cells, some empty, some inhabited. There were very few human-looking specimens; most were monsters or other beasts of some types.

Reno paused before a special, domed structure and peered in the window. "Geez, this is sure disgusting." Inside lay a slimy looking creature, curled into the fetal position. The form was vaguely humanoid; the face was formed into what resembled feminine features, and the body was curvy in figure...voluptuous breasts led down to a slim waist, flaring into wide hips, purple skin aside.

Raieyana glanced that the structure knowingly. "You're looking at Jenova, aren't you?"

"Yeah...what the hell–"

She shook her head. "I'm not quite sure. They've always been rather secretive about this being. My father said they've had it in containment here about as long as I can remember. He mentioned something about Hojo thinking it was an Ancient...but..."

"Aeris looks a hell of a lot better than that thing!"

She nodded. "Yeah. Somehow, I doubt that he was right in that assumption. Any Ancient I've ever heard about looked human. Not purple and slimy. Unless it's a coming of age thing I've yet to experience."

"That's right...I keep forgetting that you're–"

She cut in. "I found a chart. They're keeping her in cell 43B. We should be able to break in with the keycard. Then the real adventure begins."

They walked down the corridor. "Actually making it out of here in one...er...three pieces?"

The girl giggled. "Glad to hear there won't be an orgy." She paused in front of a doorway. An interior curtain was drawn over the observation window. "Funny. She'd get hell if they caught her with that curtain closed during the day."

Reno slid the card through the reader. A chipper beep emitted from the console, and a light above the door controls changed from red to green.

Grinning, Raieyana pushed the button to open the door. With a near-silent "whoosh," it slid open and the duo was granted access to the holding cell.

As they stepped inside, they were immediately consumed by surprise. "Wha–"

Raieyana simply gasped in amazement.

The cell was completely empty.

Chapter 8

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic