What Lies Within Chapter 4

By Shenara

The little boy sniffled as he was circled by the vulture of a man.

"Well? Dammit boy! Don't just sit there tell me!"

"I... I... I j-just wanted t-to--"

The vulture slapped the boy, and he fell backwards from the force of the blow. He started crying louder.

"Just wanted to what?! Tell me, boy! Speak up, I'm listening!" The child continued to wail his agony out to the world. "Stop your crying brat!"

The vulture's booted foot sent the boy into the steel wall, a satisfying 'uumph' emerging as the air was forcibly shoved from his lungs.

::Why do you allow this child?::

The boy stopped crying as best he could, trying to escape any further punishment.

::Why do you let him live?:: It was a gentle hissing in the back of his mind, comforting him and soothing his pain.

"Much better. Now tell me. Why did you try to leave the lab?" The vulture leaned in with his hookish nose and black, messy hair.


::Tell him child. Speak up.::

"I wanted to see the outside."

The vulture's face contorted in anger, and the boy fell back as he was slapped again. "How many times have I told you?! You are NEVER to leave the lab! Your existence concerns only these rooms! Later, when you are strong and I have finished my tests, you shall be able to see all of the outside world you wish, but know is not the time, you stupid boy!"

The child was crying again, his silver wisps of hair getting into his face as he slumped forward.

::Why do you let him do this child?::

An image flashed before his eyes. The vulture, his face stuck in a permanent display of surprise, his dead form impaled upon the metal leg of one of the lab stools, and one of his sharp tools shoved obscenely through his forehead.

::Why do you let him live?::

The boy felt himself reel forward as he lost what food was left from the meal the vulture had given him an hour before.

"Uugh! Those were new shoes you brat!" The boy was once more slammed against the wall by a fierce kick. The vulture walked over to a switch high up on the wall and leaned in to a microphone. "Get some clean-up down to lab three." He waited a second before the intercom beeped back a reply.

"Right away, Professor Hojo."


I awake from the dream with a start. Hojo. Does that mean that the boy was... I rise shakily to my feet looking about at my surroundings. In the center of the room is a large blood-coloured materia, glinting in the firelight. Zack is sitting next to it, apparently thinking about something.

"I see you're awake." Zack turns his head to look at me.

I make my way to sit next to the black haired man. "I don't even remember falling asleep." A bad habit I seem to have picked up recently. I really need to break it.

"I thought I'd let you rest."

"Hn." I stare into the gigantic materia, allowing myself to be mesmerized by its glow.

"You were dreaming. I saw you thrashing around a bit. Figured I'd let you take care of it though."

I let my head hang forward. Thrashing around, huh? I wonder if that's all I was doing. He's probably just being nice.

"You ok there, Seph?" I feel his hand on my shoulder.

That's Zack alright. Always reassuring.

I shove the hand away and stand up angrily, "Yeah, I'm al--"

Zack cuts off my reply, by springing up from his sitting position, and throwing both of us into a roll across the cavernous room.


Zack springs up from the roll and turns around to where we were talking moments before. Looking across the room to the glowing materia, I see a giant beast, two to three times the height of a man. It seems like a rabig dog, only where one head should be, three sprout out instead, and in the center of the three snarling heads is a fearsome hole of jagged teeth and... nothingness.

Zack prowls off to the side, keeping his concentration on the monster. Two of the beast's heads swivel to watch him, and the other stares unwaveringly at me. I stand and start to circle to the beast's other side, trying to keep an eye on both the monster and Zack at the same time.

The fiend goes into a crouch, growling.

Zack grins at me, his love for battle rising to the surface, "Whatever you do, don't let him touch you. I'll try to hold him off, and you think of a way to get rid of that damned materia!" Immediately after finishing his order, Zack jumps into action, charging at the ferocious canine.

The beast meets the charge, jumping high into the air towards Zack, seemingly intent on ripping his head of black spikes from atop his shoulders. As soon as the creature is airborne though, Zack throws himself into another roll to escape, immediately jumping up again and squaring off to face his opponent.

Are you just going to play chicken with it Zack?!

I shake my head and run forward to the materia, trusting Zack to keep safe.

Ok, General. What're you going to do?

I reach out and put my hands around the large materia, feeling the intense energy that it gives off. Around me I hear growling and snarls of frustration as Zack taunts the stupid beast.

Don't get cocky Zack, please.

I shake my head fiercely.

Think Soldier! You can do this. You've got everything you need now complete your mission. What do you know?

I delve into my memories about lessons on the theories on mako and materia. I see a vision of myself and Zack standing before the mako fountain in Mount Nibelheim.

Materia is just highly condensed mako right? It's just mako that's tightly packed and raveled around itself to increase its power. So that means...

I reach out with my consciousness, trying to get a grip on the materia. I feel the energies being given off from it and seek to control them.

Just like with Jenova.

I peel some of the mako layering straight off of the materia, and immediately fall to my knees as the whole world around me gives off a tremor. I hear a sound of shock and turn to see a sweaty Zack has also fallen to the ground.

He can't take much more of this.

Zack quickly gets back to his feet and jumps to the side as the canine landed where he had been split seconds before.

I continue to work furiously, peeling layer after layer of tightly woven mako off of the materia and releasing it into the world around me. I hear a scream of surprise and quickly snap my head over to watch Zack, having misjudged a jump, tumble forward and smack into a wall.

The Shadow Eater continues to snarl as it advances upon the man, who slowly struggles to his feet.

"Zack!" Stupid Sephiroth, you're too slow! If you don't hurry he's going to... No! I'm not going to let this happen now!

I gather all the mako energy I have been releasing back to me, attempting to make myself appeal to the beast's senses, "Hey You!!"

The beast quickly turns and sizes up its new, much tastier target. It starts advancing toward me, Zack completely forgotten.

Oh, shit. This thing really does eat mako.

The beast continues to approach me, as an idea quickly forms in my head.

It might not work but at this point...

I reach out with my mind once more to the materia, only this time, rather than unwind it, I just try to grab onto it. I get a good mental grip and then open my eyes.

The beast is charging now, nearing me very quickly, it's center maw agate to make the kill.

Here goes everything.

I rear backwards, arching my spine and taking the materia with me, pulling it along with my mind. Then with all of my mental and physical force, I hurl the giant globe of mako at the maw of the hastily appoaching fiend.

The globe disappears into the beast's throat. The canine stops in confusion, and starts shaking, as does the entire cavern. Rays sprout out from the beast randomly and the scenery wavers, the whole place seeming to collapse upon itself, melting away like a bad dream. The monster begins convulsing, and then erupts into a blinding light.

Goodbye Rupert.

As the light subsides, I slip once more into comforting nothingness.

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic