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The Fifth Act, Chapter 29

Title: The Fifth Act

Rating:
T for violence.

Summary: FFVII Time-travel. Gen. Cloud has an accident with a Time Materia.

Author's Note:  Lots of new faces popping out of the woodwork in the comments, I clearly need to thank a mystery somebody for a rec.

Previous Chapter  

  

 

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The Fifth Act
Chapter 29


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Three hours.

 

Two days.

 

A week.

 

Cloud stumbled into the bars of the cage, gasping for breath. His vision swam, and he closed his eyes for a moment, waiting for his equilibrium to re-establish. 

 

Error of point two percent,” the emotionless voice crackled through the speakers. “Subject is conscious, and appears normal.

 

We’re ready to move to the next stage, then.” Hojo’s unmistakable tones came from the background. “Are the numbers prepared?

 

Yes Professor.

 

Set it up now then.

 

The viewing room fluttered with activity as the scientists moved into action, making adjustments, checking and double-checking every step. Two entered the room to fiddle with the materia stands, and then retreated to safety once more. Cloud watched, silent and resigned. He wouldn’t get a break yet. He never got a break anymore. Not even a few hours to sleep…

 

Caged. Trapped. Unable to do anything other than just stand there as Hojo yanked him through time, discovering the limits of his new toy.

 

Power levels rising. Seventy percent… eighty percent… ninety percent…

 

His vision began to blur, but when he blinked, everything gained a sense of hyper-reality. The edges of the bars seemed unusually defined – tiny details his eyes would normally skip over stood out in sharp relief. His skin tingled with energy. Something about the sensation felt familiar, yet alien at the same time.

 

Every breath seemed painfully slow. His gaze darted to the observation window. Most of the scientists were monitoring their screens, shoulders and necks hunched in their concentration, with only a few having glanced up to watch the moment of the jump. Except Hojo. Hojo always stared directly at him, eyes half-lidded, cold, calculating, expecting. 

 

He wasn’t blinking. 

 

Nobody was. They didn’t even look like they were breathing.

 

Then, all at once, everything sped up. Cloud squeezed his eyes shut, dizzied by the shift as the scientists all suddenly moved as one, freed some their frozen status. A fuzz of garbled words spilled from the speakers, the assistants trying to talk over each other in their confusion.

 

Not a moment later, the door slammed open, and Hojo himself entered the chamber, dogged by a nervous underling, and headed straight for the nearest stand. He removed the materia, inspected it, then returned it to its slot and began checking the wires and adjusting the gauges, muttering to himself all the while. 

 

“A compressed Haste spell effect… power must have fallen short… a mistake in the equation…” Cloud watched him with steely blue eyes, waiting for him to step within arm’s reach of the cage. He never did, of course. Hojo knew to keep anything and everything far enough away.

 

It must have been a failed jump, if the scientist came in to check over the equipment personally. That hadn’t happened for a while.

 

It never made a difference. They simply fiddled with the numbers, and then it started all over again. He didn’t know why. Surely they had enough data to stop with the tests by now. What more did they hope to learn?

 

“Increase the power output by six percent,” Hojo decided. The assistant jumped to it, eyeing the caged SOLDIER all the while. Cloud watched him with a dull expression. Having read some of the reports strewn about the mansion in his own time, he already knew the futility of trying to gain sympathy from the Professor’s underlings. The most sympathetic of the lot had ranted his life woes to them while they floated in mako, unable to respond, or in his case, even comprehend.

 

And people thought he was crazy.

 

Eventually, Hojo was satisfied, and the pair left the chamber again, the lonely clang of the door echoing like a tolling bell. 

 

“Restart the procedure cold,” Hojo ordered as he reappeared in view on the other side of the glass.

 

“Yes sir.” Another flurry of activity. “Begin recording. Initiating test. Power levels rising. Sixty percent… seventy percent…”

 

It had become a familiar process by now. The ear-splitting whine, the smearing colours, Ribbon burning, the breath knocked from his lungs-

 

Cloud choked, squeezing his eyes shut as he slammed into the cold, gritty floor. His head throbbed, but he clung to consciousness with the stubbornness of an adamantoise.

 

Then, something different.

 

A faint sound of surprise.

 

Professor! Subject has re-appeared prematurely! Seven percent error! Code red! Security alert!

 

Warning lights washed his vision crimson. Cloud blinked, trying to make sense of the blurry shapes taking form in front of him. One of them an indistinct white and black shape that seemed oddly familiar… And next to him, bars. But not in front of him, where he expected them to be.

 

“Guards!” That reedy, nasal tone ordered. “Restrain the specimen!”

 

Somehow, he was outside of the cage.

 

He was outside of the cage, and Hojo was there with him

 

He moved entirely on instinct. Cloud lurched to his feet in an instant, even as the white blob of the lab coat rushed to the solid grey of the iron doors. In one swift move, he caught the scientist by the neck and slammed him against the wall. 

 

His vision caught up at that moment – came into sharp definition as he took in the dark, terrified eyes and cracked glasses, knocked askew. He could see the sweat beading on Hojo’s brow, the way his thin, pale lips stretched as he gasped for air.

 

“Where is Jenova?” he growled. He could feel the scientist’s pulse race beneath his fingers.

 

“The gas-” Hojo wheezed.

 

Cloud tightened his grip. “Where is she?”

 

Hojo gurgled. Distantly, he became aware of a faint hissing, but his attention remained firmly fixed on the scientist clawing at his arm, turning white in the face. Finally, he had Hojo squirming in his grasp. A little more pressure, a twist of the wrist, and he could break his neck.

 

His vision was starting to blur again. Cloud frowned, and wavered on his feet. Only then did he register the sickly sweet scent filling his nostrils.

 

The gas.

 

The door slammed open, and guards wearing masks and carrying syringes rushed in. Cloud snarled and slammed the professor against the wall again, willing his fingers to clench, but the strength was beginning to flee his body, numbness creeping in from his fingertips and toes. His grip slackened, and Hojo began to wheeze.

 

No, he had Hojo right here-

 

Heavy hands tried to wrench him away, to free the professor, but Cloud dug his heels in, refusing to budge. He focused, tightening his grip through strength of will alone, until Hojo’s eyes began to widen, and instead of white he began to turn blue.

 

Then he jerked as a sharp, blindingly powerful jolt zapped through his body. Hojo dropped to the ground, gasping, dragged away by the masked troopers. Cloud threw a blind punch, staggered after the escaping scientist, but the gas was catching up with him, and he stumbled, and fell, fingers still twitching from the bite of the electro rod.

 

He was pressed to the ground, boots on his forearms, on his back, hands forcing his head to the ground. Stubborn, Cloud closed his eyes and held his breath, hoping to fool them into relenting, just long enough to get up, to get up and out that open door, but it was too late – he’d breathed too much in when he’d been distracted with Hojo. Sluggishly, consciousness receded, and tense muscles relaxed against his will. 

 

Failure. Hojo, right in his grasp… and he hadn’t managed to kill him. Hadn’t even managed to find out anything about Jenova. He might have ruined everything. 

 

The opportunity, lost. Should have snapped Hojo’s neck immediately. Would a broken neck be enough, though? Had Hojo injected himself with Jenova cells yet?

 

He couldn’t hold onto the thought – it slipped away like smoke. Distantly, he could feel himself being dragged – could feel the grit of the floor being replaced with the cold steel of the cage, hear the resounding slam of the barred doors. Then, the footsteps walking away, the dying hiss as the gas stopped, the lights flicking off, and Hojo’s hoarse complaints crackling faintly across the speakers.

 

At last, sleep. Even if only for a precious few hours…

 

 

………………..

 

 

Leather creaked as Sephiroth clenched his fists. It had been a satisfying dream, for a moment – his hand wrapped around his father’s throat, watching his face pale and fear colour that dark gaze instead of cold calculation and analysis. But it had all ended too quickly, and dissolved once more into confusing, nonsensical hallucinations, of burning villages and seas of mako and distant gunfire.

 

They’d become infrequent, of late – it had been over a fortnight since the last one. They never failed to wake him early, however, rattled, disoriented, and more tired than before he went to sleep.

 

“Sephiroth!” Genesis’s sharp pronouncement tore his attention away from the window – he’d been staring at the ragged feather caught on the edge of the window, lost in thought. An unforgivable lapse of attention. There had been too many of those, of late.

 

“Glad you could make it, Zack,” he greeted smoothly, avoiding acknowledging his distraction. Truthfully, he had no recollection of the Second Class arriving.

 

Zack gave a short wave, but Genesis would not be deterred, studying him intently. “You look tired.” Accusation lay nested in his words.

 

“It’s not degradation,” Sephiroth assured him for what felt like the hundredth time. It very well may have been. “You yourself implied that I was made differently.”

 

Genesis’s gaze slid away at that. Sephiroth couldn’t bring himself to feel pleased at the small victory, for the matter was one he did not feel had been answered satisfactorily. “What is it, then?”

 

“Just nightmares.” Rather than allow his fellow officer the chance to pursue that line of query, Sephiroth took a seat behind his desk, and turned his attention back to the younger SOLDIER. The other two remained standing, even though there were chairs available. Too much nervous energy to sit still, perhaps. “Has there been any progress?”

 

Glumly, Zack shook his head. “I haven’t seen or heard anything from Angeal since then.” The Buster Sword still rested on his back - the cold, steel behemoth in the room that nobody wanted to acknowledge directly. Sephiroth thought it suited him, though. He wore the sword like he’d carried it always, and not merely as a symbol like Angeal had. The General never saw the point of such a magnificent weapon being treated as an ornament.

 

“And the search for Cloud?”

 

“Nothing. The Turks aren’t talking either. I tried Cissnei and Tseng. They know something, but they’re not budging.” He kept his expression neutral and professional, but Sephiroth could hear the depression in his voice. He’d never considered Zack to be naïve by any stretch of the imagination – he was a favourite of the Turks as a SOLDIER escort, after all - but this whole affair had not been a kind introduction to the darker side of ShinRa, the side that would happily stab its most loyal employees in the back in the name of profit.

 

“Genesis?” Sephiroth tried.

 

The Commander folded his arms. “I have a project I’m still working on, but I should think that the great General Sephiroth, with his mysterious special connection, would have had more success.”

 

“Jealousy is not very becoming of you in this situation, Genesis,” Sephiroth drawled. Genesis’s cheeks reddened, and his eyes sharpened. A tad cruel of him, but the redhead was the not the only one frustrated by their lack of progress and looking for a chance to lash out. “I’ll take that to mean you’ve had no luck either. And in response – no, I’ve not been able to gather any clues, despite Angeal’s cryptic lead. But then, I have only been able to cover ground within a day’s travel of Midgar, so if there’s a range issue as suggested, its usefulness is limited.”

 

Zack’s shoulders slumped, and Genesis looked away. Truthfully, as SOLDIERs, they didn’t have a lot of experience in investigative work of this sort – it was better suited to the Turks. 

 

That reminded him. “Any word from Sergeant Kunsel?” Sephiroth asked. “We haven’t heard anything from him for some time.”

 

"Kunsel left a couple of days ago on a mission heading over to the West Continent, escorting some precious cargo or something. He's scheduled some leave after he's done, so he can have a look around there,” Zack reported. “The only concrete thing we know about Cloud is that he came from Nibelheim originally. It doesn’t sound like he has any ties there anymore, but Kunsel thought it was worth checking out.”

 

"Nibelheim?" Genesis asked.


"It's a small town on the West Continent," Sephiroth provided.  "Access is difficult due to the mountain ranges.  I believe there's a reactor there."

 

Zack nodded. “We’re lucky a mission came up to the area at all. There aren’t many requests from that part of the West Continent, except some dragon one that panned.” He grinned. “When the new one came up, Kunsel nabbed it straight away. That guy’s always the first to know.”

 

Sephiroth would have liked the opportunity to go himself, but realistically, ShinRa would never agree to send him on something that only required a single Second Class. “We’re fortunate then, that he could get in before another SOLDIER claimed the mission.”

 

Zack shrugged. “I’m pretty sure anyone would have swapped if we asked. As it was I think he had to get Luxiere to cover some of his classes just so he could go.  A lot of the guys have been asking what the deal is, since he’s been missing so long. Some of the lower ranks look up to him, you know, for, um-” He sent an apologetic glance at Sephiroth. “-for giving you hell, sir.”

 

Sephiroth felt his lips twitch, but suppressed the smile. Oh, he knew very well – adored as he might be by the lower ranks and civilians, those within SOLDIER didn’t always hold him on the same pedestal. It hadn’t escaped his awareness that his fellow SOLDIERs had become more congenial with him since Cloud’s arrival. Up to and including Genesis.

 

“Not that he notices, of course. And Aeris had some strange message for him, too,” Zack grumbled. “She wanted to tell him that the secret to keeping flowers healthy was getting the right water – weird, right? I don’t think Cloud’s exactly into gardening. But when I asked what it was for all she’d tell me was that it’s ‘nobody’s business’.”

 

“Aeris?” Genesis inquired.

 

“My girlfriend,” Zack declared proudly.

 

The Commander rolled his eyes. “Then spare us the details. We’re not here to discuss your love life.”

 

“I was just pointing out that we’re not the only ones worried!” Zack defended.

 

“Are you suggesting we bring others into the search?” Sephiroth asked with a frown.

 

“Well, not exactly, but we’re not getting very far! If Kunsel can’t find anything on the West Continent, we’re going to be out of leads. More people might help – a few extra eyes and ears on the street can go a long way.”

 

“Absolutely not,” Genesis snapped. “The only reason the Turks and Lazard have let us continue looking all this time is because we’ve kept it quiet and low-profile. Hollander was murdered, and nobody has said anything about it.  There are inter-departmental politics at work, and if SOLDIER becomes involved as a unit, the stalemate will break and Cloud and Angeal will be in danger.” He rattled off his angry analysis as if he were delivering a field briefing to a room full of idiot cadets.

 

"But it's been-"

"I know how long it's been," Genesis interrupted, mood visibly soured by the reminder.

 

Sephiroth nodded gravely. “While I agree more people would help, Genesis is correct. This is a sensitive company matter, and there are risks in going public. The Turks have displayed unusual restraint in the matter – I do not intend to test their good faith.” Or risk having them order they stop the search. Though he’d begun to suspect they only allowed it to continue because they were certain the four of them wouldn’t find anything. He didn’t share that suspicion.

 

He didn’t voice his other concern, either – that his fellow SOLDIERs could ‘disappear’ if the company began to question their loyalty. He doubted ShinRa would move against him, or even Genesis after the Wutai campaign, but the two Second Classes helping out were vulnerable. Until they could discover the full story behind Cloud’s disappearance and the company’s silence on it, it would be wise to tread cautiously. Angeal would not look very kindly on his friends letting his student get into that sort of danger. Sephiroth intended to welcome him back without that sort of unpleasantness.

 

Zack folded his arms. “I get that. But… I just don’t like sitting here doing nothing. It’s been so long, and we don’t even know how much time Angeal has left! And ever since that mission with Cissnei, all Lazard’s been giving me is busywork around Midgar.”

 

They didn’t want to take chances, with Zack toting that Buster Sword around on his back. Probably flagged as a risk to the company. Normally something that would cross his desk, but he was being kept out of the loop. Tseng had been avoiding him, too. A bad sign.

 

The more time passed, the more he suspected the worst-case scenario.

 

“Take a day and check Banora again, then,” Sephiroth suggested. He and Genesis had already been back twice to comb over the town and warehouse for clues, but Zack knew Angeal differently – he might pick up on something they’d missed. If nothing else, it would soothe the Second’s restlessness.

 

Zack nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I think I will.” He squared his shoulders and ran a hand through his hair. He’d changed the style – more slicked back, more spiky – reminiscent of how Angeal wore his. Like a promise. Zack’s symbol, less cumbersome than the heavy sword he carried on his back. “I’d better get going then. I’m running a training exercise with the security forces this afternoon. I’ll be in touch.” He headed out the door.

 

Neither Genesis nor Sephiroth spoke until he was gone.

 

“He’d already be a First Class if it weren’t for this mess,” Genesis observed after a respectable silence.

 

“Lazard may promote him anyway, in an effort to consolidate his loyalty. The papers have already passed my desk.” 

 

Genesis scoffed. “Typical of ShinRa. Buying loyalty with promotions, instead of genuine good will.”

 

“Nothing at all like giving you command of the mission to Wutai,” Sephiroth remarked dryly. He earned a dark glare for that, but point made, continued, “Zack has earned the promotion fairly. He works hard, and his mission record is flawless.”

 

Genesis hummed briefly in vague disapproval, but didn’t argue the point further. Sephiroth was thankful. It was difficult enough to deal with Zack’s increasing restlessness – Genesis picking fights on top of that would have been a Drain spell on what little patience he had remaining.

 

The General turned his attention to the documents still littering his desk, and set about re-ordering them for later perusal. Yet his guest lingered.

 

“Was there something else?” Sephiroth inquired.

 

“Your nightmares,” Genesis declared abruptly. 

 

He frowned, and leant back from the desk again. “I already told you-”

 

“Not that,” Genesis interrupted, impatient. He waved a hand vaguely, in an impression lacking care. “I merely wanted to know what they were about.”

 

For all his casualness, it was an unusual inquiry. Their friendship was not a sentimental one – as much as Genesis willingly shared the vivid imagery of his own dreams and the potential interpretations of, treating the fruits of his subconscious as though they were poems in their own right, he rarely asked such private details from his fellows. Sephiroth steepled his fingers and regarded the Commander across the desk. “They are confusing, for the most part. There are a number of recurrent themes, however – a burning town, for one. Drowning in mako in another. Why do you ask?”

 

“I find it suspicious, is all. That suddenly your nightmares started when Cloud came to ShinRa.”  His piece apparently said, Genesis turned on his heel and strode for the door. “I have a mission now. Call me if there’s any progress.” Then he was gone in a flash of red and black leather.

 

Sephiroth remained in his chair, shocked to stillness at the revelation, and astounded he hadn’t noticed it himself. It was true. His nightmares had only started with Cloud’s arrival.

 

Could it be a coincidence? Impossible. He’d grown wary of the term of late. Perhaps then, the sight of Cloud had sparked some long repressed memory. From his forgotten childhood?

 

That could be it. He’d been focusing on his career at ShinRa for the source of Cloud’s animosity, but had completely forgotten that his past stretched back further. His brow furrowed. A significant oversight, and he felt foolish for not considering it sooner. 

 

He couldn’t imagine what he might have done as a child to earn the sort of hatred shown in Wutai, though. 

 

There was one other possibility. The mysterious link that Angeal had alluded to, and the unnatural ability Zack had pointed out to him.

 

Could the dreams be some sort of subconscious connection with the blond?

 

And if the dreams were messages from Cloud…

 

Sephiroth stared at his hand, and frowned.




Next chapter

 


Comments

( 48 comments — Leave a comment )
ixtey
Feb. 28th, 2010 07:48 am (UTC)
lksdzhfjksdf buried in work right now. BUT I SWEAR I'LL READ AND COMMENT BETTERER WHEN CRUNCH TIME'S FINISHED. T___T darn this is going to keep me in suspense for the rest of the day. :))
sinnatious
Feb. 28th, 2010 07:56 am (UTC)
D: Working on a weekend? The horror.
ixtey
Feb. 28th, 2010 09:00 am (UTC)
Teachers of every subject thought it would be a good idea to give out project specifications on Wednesday, then have them passed on Monday. Students are starting to think that it'd also be a good idea to bash their brains out. :\

Honestly, it's as if they didn't know we had Saturday classes and a giant presentation to practice for. *sigh*
yukitsukihana
Feb. 28th, 2010 08:03 am (UTC)
yaay! update!

and soon li'l Cloud will come into the picture! yaaay!
and Sephiroth is realizing his connection with Cloud! yaaaaay!

...but they're going to Nibelheim where Jenova might be and I don't want Sephiroth to go crazy! nooo! D:


...also, is this "mysterious somebody" Lizeth? because I followed her rec here chapters ago XD;;
sinnatious
Feb. 28th, 2010 08:32 am (UTC)
Hee, no, at least, I don't think so. Stragglers!
(Anonymous)
Feb. 28th, 2010 08:31 am (UTC)
Wow, you weren't kidding when you said this next one would be short.

OH NOES CLOUD! Almost, almost had the creepy bastard there... And Sephiroth finally making the connection, yes! Genesis being all jealous of Seph's connection with Cloud is cute. :3

Am so going to be on pins and needles til next week.
sinnatious
Feb. 28th, 2010 10:37 am (UTC)
Not that short. XD Nine pages instead of fourteen, which put it only a little under the average. Last chapter was actually the weird one.
kaorismash
Feb. 28th, 2010 08:47 am (UTC)
How is it, that so many of your chapter endings have me wanting to hold my breath with all the suspense you're just pouring down on us. And the anguish because we knows things but they don't.

Though of course, that's what's keeping us waiting viciously every Sunday afternoon. /:) It's a lovely thing to come home to, y'know, a new chapter. The suspense you leave us with is, not so nice. kjashlkja

I lovelovelove that you made Cloud reappear outside the bars. I don't entirely comprehend what your mind probably does with all those experiments you have Hojo conducting. Why everything is in almost perfect clarity for Cloud when everything's frozen, why Cloud didn't reappear in the same area he was originally in, GOSH IT ALL GOES OVER MY HEAD BUT IT IS AMAZING. If I didn't know any better I'd say you were a time traveller! ;D

Probably like EVERYONE IN FANDOM (or, mostly everyone) I was so rooting for Cloud to snap Hojo's neck. I mean, of course it wouldn't be so easy, what with you being the writer, but that didn't stop me from hoping that he would just die already. I guess it's consolation enough that this is perhaps the first time in a long time that Hojo's really been afraid. It's great, and I am enjoying how pathetic he is when he's just on his own with just his analytical mind (which okay is pretty dangerous in it's own right but IF HE WAS ON HIS OWN OH THAT WOULD BE PATHETICALLY EASY :(), but I hazard Hojo's not gonna take any more chances and remain well outside Cloud's range, now. Also he's totally picked up on Cloud wanting to find Jenova so Jenova is perhaps now going to be that much harder to find. ;_; jahlgkja;klg

Also, I want to hit Sephiroth already to GET A CLUUUE but that would be unrealistic expectation if only because it's just so obvious to us, not him and his emotionally stunted self. :< Though finally I am glad he is considering his nightmares. :( Nibelheim. :(( Though lololol thinking he's dreaming about killing his 'father' OH MAN DO IT ALREADYYY. And and and. Zack. :(( Carrying the buster sword around as if it's his I REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE ANGEAL IN THIS. A part of me withered a bit with that hair resemblance sentence. D: STOP THAT SIN I'M NOT FEELING SORRY FOR HIM.

THOUGH THOUGH AERIS JAKKGJ and and I was definitely expecting Genesis to catch that hint with the water, but that was perhaps also wishful thinking. ;__; MAN AERIS' REPLY. NOBODY'S BUSINESS. MAAN. AERIIIIS. ;___;

TOO MUCH ELSE I WANT TO SAY BUT I CAN'T REMEMBER TOO TIRED AJKHKGJ.

;____; Cloud. Will he transcend time and space? :D? PERHAPS THERE ARE PROS TO ALL THIS TORTURE YOU'RE PUTTING HIM THROUGH UNDER HOJO. 8|

Also I am getting worried for Kunsel. Please reassure me otherwise. :|


Edited at 2010-02-28 08:49 am (UTC)
sinnatious
Feb. 28th, 2010 10:57 am (UTC)
PRACTICE? :D

There are a few more details about how the experiments and the time travel work coming up, but I don't want to bog down the fic with faux science, so they're kind of drive-by blink-and-you-miss bits. Also, Cloud isn't a scientist, and is kind of only figuring out what's going with incomplete scraps of information. IS TOTALLY A TIME LORD WITH A TARDIS, SHHH, DON'T TELL ANYONE.

Are there any actual Hojo fans out there, I wonder? Hmm. I must admit, I took a great deal of pleasure in writing that scene.

Suuuuuure you aren't. I'll be making Angeal a personal challenge now. :| MAYBE ONE DAY I'LL TRY AND WRITE A FIC TO MAKE YOU LIKE MOMOSHIRO. :D

In Genesis's defence, he wouldn't equate water and flowers with the cure. Again, we are omniscient audience. :(

You are still such a good reader with your insightful comments. <3

(Edit for grammar fail)

Edited at 2010-02-28 11:13 am (UTC)
teekoness
Mar. 1st, 2010 06:46 am (UTC)
Are there any actual Hojo fans out there, I wonder? Hmm. I must admit, I took a great deal of pleasure in writing that scene.

Hojo fans? I'm sure they exist. Weirder things have happened in fandom.

That being said I think there's a lot of people who are interested by him (myself included) in a can't-help-but-watch-the-train-wreck sort of way. I've been tempted to write him a number of times and I've definitely gone out of my way to read fics featuring him.
laleira_granite
Feb. 28th, 2010 06:37 pm (UTC)
YES, Cloud will be a Jumper. Heeee.

What I was hoping for with all my might was for Sephiroth to meditate on Cloud's location again. Because they're taking HOURS AND HOURS of break at this exact moment, right? It's the perfect time!

... Oh. My. GOSH. I just realized that Kunsel is probably going to meet Little!Cloud on his mission.

This will be amazingly awkward. And what strange new conclusions will it cause them to come to? I can't wait!
daemoninwhite
Feb. 28th, 2010 08:58 am (UTC)
ASDFGHJKLASDFGHJKLASDFGHJKL. :fails wildly: THE CODE. AERITH'S CODE. IT IS THERE. AND AND AND NO ONE KNOWS BECAUSE CLOUD'S TRIPPING THROUGH THE TIMESTREAM. AND HE WAS SO CLOSE TO KILLING HOJO. SO CLOSE.

AND OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD, SEPHIROTH'S REALISING. HE KNOWS SOMETHING'S UP. OH NO, HIS CLOUD SENSES ARE TINGLING. Also, don't think I missed that bit in the last chapter, where you said that it was as though Cloud disappeared for hours at a time. IT'S BECAUSE IT'S TRUE, SEPHY-POO.

Lol, abuse of capslock much?

You get a real sense of the plot moving forward in this one. Of threads, once diverged, coming back together. I must admit, one part of me wants to see it all come together - to see everything happen in one massive explosion of Sephy, Hojo, Cloudykins and everyone else.

(Huh, barely five chapters ago, everyone was wondering when Hojo would come. AND NOW IT'S LIKE HE'S BEEN THERE ALL THE TIME.)

Also, my apologise for the fail of fic update. Please take an extra long one in apology.
sinnatious
Feb. 28th, 2010 11:07 am (UTC)
What an awesome reaction. XD Capslock ftw.

Yes, we are getting to that part of the story where I need to start taking care of loose ends, pronto. :| Or you know, it'll be like Lost, which can't possibly explain everything in the remaining season.

*___* Looking forward to next fic part, it is so incredibly shiny, you seriously need to post it somewhere other than the comments it can get some love! alfjsfjaskfjafkj *is going to go re-read the last two parts*
daemoninwhite
Mar. 1st, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)
Naw, you're such a sweetheart.
All in all, Zack reflected as they trudged towards the mansion, Cloud was pretty awesome. He also had pretty awesome right hook. Still, what kind of kid took waking up in a miniskirt almost completely in stride? Admittedly, it would have been cooler had Cloud not attempted to break his jaw, but beggars can't be choosers. And that meant that Cloud had got his revenge out of the way immediately, because really, nothing was worse then waiting for Cloud's revenge. The kid was fucking devious sometimes. Like that one time, when Zack had pushed him into the chocobo stables and then had ran away – shit man, he didn't sleep for like, a month afterwards, waiting for Cloud to get him. The kid had gotten him eventually – how did he manage to get past SOLIDER level security? Ah well, it wasn't really like he was embarrassed over the fact that he sang in the shower – he was more than a little impressed that Cloud had managed to rig a water proof radio transmitter in his shower without him noticing. Really, that sort of thing took time and effort and-

"Zack?" Cloud's voice piped up softly from somewhere behind him. Zack turned around, skirt billowing dramatically in the wind, giving poor Cloud an eyeful of his awesome boxers and also depositing another layer of snow onto his hair and shoulders. Figures. As soon as they transform into sailor suits, a blizzard rolls up. Cloud had his arms crossed, rubbing futilely at the expanse of bare skin between his gloves and sleeves. Not even growing up here made you immune to the cold when running around in a miniskirt, it seemed. Unlike Zack, he didn't have a heavily mako-laced bloodstream to rely on either.

"Shit, sorry Cloud." Zack bounces back – he can't help it, he needs to release the energy somehow – to Cloud, and in one smooth movement, swings the shivering boy onto his back.

"ZACK!"

He winces, and barely resists the urge to jump a mile into the air and throw Cloud off his back. Cloud's face had been right against his ear, and damnit, having that done to you hurt even if you were unenhanced. For SOLDIERS, it was like someone had let off a foghorn when it was pressed against his skull.

He shrugs Cloud into the right position, instinctively, Cloud's legs go around his waist while his arms wrap around Zack's neck. This way, Zack is taking the brunt of the wind – if Cloud keeps his head ducked, he should be able to avoid it almost completely. That doesn't stop the snow from melting as their body temperatures heat up, nor does it stop the Buster blade in between their bodies from feeling like a block of ice no matter how warm they get, but at least it means that Cloud's getting warm. He'd felt like ice when Zack had first picked him like, like one of Shiva's touched.

Perhaps out here, where the gates of Hel seemed to be mere metres away, Shiva was the wrong goddess to call upon. Perhaps they should keep one eye behind them for a dark shape, for Skadi, for the skiing goddess of injury and death. The Allfather and his beautiful daughters would not look for them in such a place.

The gates of Valhalla, after all, are only open to those who die in glorious battle. This, though it feels like a battle, like he is being cut a thousand times when the wind blows strongly, like he must fight to take a step forward – this is not a battle recognised by any god.

This is a fight that he cannot win.
daemoninwhite
Mar. 1st, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)
Re: Naw, you're such a sweetheart.
When he stumbles across the door to the mansion, the first thought that had gone through his cold-affected mind was that he had somehow stumbled across the doors to Hel. He'd struggled to get the door open – the wind was blowing him flat against it, Cloud a worryingly dead weight on his back. He had finally got them open, and had to abandon Cloud in a heap just inside the door in order to attempt to close the door. It took a long time, too long, and when he'd finally finished, Cloud had been half buried in a snowdrift.

If it didn't scare him so much, it would have been kind of cute.

But Cloud had been so cold before – he'd been wet, and that amount of snow would simply turn to water to frost, if not to ice. Zack had seen what happened to those people hit by an Blizzardga, how their fingers and toes and nose went first blue, then purple, then started to rot, and that was if you'd dug them out straight away, and he hadn't, he'd left him to freeze and Cloud deserved so much better than that and-

Zack was a Second Class. That enabled him to hear the faint whimper that Cloud made even as he panicked himself into a worst-case scenario.

"Shit, Cloud!" In seconds he was kneeling by the snowdrift, digging towards that tuft of blond spikes. "I'm so sorry, man, don't worry, I'll get you out of there-"

He thought that it was ice, at first, but it had been too soft and too smooth, and it hadn't started to melt under his fingers. He wrapped his hand around the limb – thank all the gods, there's a heartbeat, he can feel it moving sluggishly, slowly, too slowly, but it's there – and pulls Cloud free with an almost audible popping noise.

Like a little, frozen, Cloud-cork from a Champaign bottle made of ice and snow.

And they said that he wasn't poetic.

Notes:
And we begin to see my love of mythology bleed through. I can't help it – we have Midgar/Midgard, and Jotunheim, and you cam summon Odin …. Hello Norse mythology!
Hel is, naturally, the realm of the dead, also ruled over by the monster Hel, who is half alive, half dead.
Skadi is a giantess associated with skiing and hunting, though she's generally seen in a much darker light.
Allfather and his daughters refers to Odin and the Valkyries.
Blizzardga – is that the top-level ice spell? I've only ever played X, X-2 and XII, see, so I'm not sure. That's what it is in KH, anyway, I think.
daemoninwhite
Mar. 1st, 2010 01:33 am (UTC)
Re: Naw, you're such a sweetheart.
Warning: Zack has a bitty, he's-my-best-friend crush on Cloud.

"Oh Cloud, I'm sorry, I had to shut the door but that meant that I had to lean against it because it was fucking heavy and the blizzard was so thick, I had to put you down and I'm sorry, I'm so fucking sorry I-"

Cloud laughs, twice and almost silently, more of an exhausted slightly amused breath of air than anything with actual sound. Still, when Zack hears it, he can almost fele his heart stop.

"Oh Cloud."

He can't think of anything else to say.

"Oh Cloud."

He cradles a frozen hand in-between his, pulls an iced-over body closer to him, and begins to rock slightly. Zack's a SOLIDER, he's killed and seen people killed, some of those who he's counted as a very good friend. But Cloud is different, he's so adorable but so gun shy, flinching away from touch when his eyes make it plain that he craves it. He's contradiction given human form, with hair and eyes to make Sif envious.

And ever since he touched that Hel-bound staff, Cloud sings to a part of Zack's soul. It feels a bit like warmth, and a bit like love, but mostly like Cloud does when he allows Zack to hug him, or scrub his knuckles through his hair. It's a little eerie, high pitched and wild in a way that nothing Zack'd ever experienced in Gongaga, or in the civilised Midgar. Like wolf song, the first time he heard it. Like the battle cry of a chocobo. Like a fierce, ever vigilant protection.

Like Cloud.

Zack loves Cloud, he really does. What type of love, he isn't really sure. He wants to keep Cloud, to be able to pull him into a hug or a long cuddle whenever he wants, to protect him and keep him safe, even when he knows that Cloud is far too independent to allow it. Fuck, he's never been good at defining the barriers between emotions anyway. He just labels it love, shoves it away to a corner of his mind, makes a mental note to introduce Cloud to Aerith, and wraps two fingers around Cloud's wrist.

Thank the Allfather and anyone else who was watching. The pulse in steady now, still slower than Zack's, but perfectly respectable. He uncurls himself from Cloud, wincing slightly as cold air rushes over the areas where their bodies had been pressed together and chills the water that soaks them both.

Cloud wriggles and scrunches his nose. "That's cold," he whines, without opening his eyes.

Zack laughs. If it sounds just a little too relived, or if it stumbles slightly over the lump in his throat … well, Cloud isn't saying anything. "Yeah."

Cloud finally climbs to his feet, wringing out the soaked patch of his skirt and running a hand through his hair. Miraculously, the spikes bounce back into position now that they aren't weighed down by snow and frost. "Let's find the General."

Eternally childish, Zack's on his feet and bolting off between one heartbeat and the next. "Last one to get there is a rotten egg!"

Cloud's half annoyed, half amused "ZACCCCCCKKKKK" echoes behind him.

Notes:
Sif, wife of Odin, with beautiful golden hair.

I hope that I haven't gotten too serious for anyone? But it was serious! Cloud almost got frostbite! Yay, meta thinly disguised as plot Yeah, that rant, though odd, is needed.
sinnatious
Mar. 1st, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
alfkjslfj
*__________* YOU WROTE SO MUCH!

XD You've taken a completely cracky cross-dressing magical transformation story and turned it into an epic survival complete with mythology, and then in the next part something akin to a fluffy blanket scenario. AMAZING. Some kind of challenge to cover all the possible genres! <3

By Blizzardga I think you're after Blizzaga (so you were close!). Although in other Final Fantasies it has sometimes gone up to Blizzaja. (Goes Blizzard, Blizzara, Blizzaga normally) Rather impressed with this, considering you haven't played any of the VII games.

Ahahaha, does this mean Sephiroth is the next one to wind up in drag? XD
lunarfirefox
Mar. 1st, 2010 10:19 am (UTC)
Re: alfkjslfj
NO SEPHIROTH NEEDS TO BE TUXEDO MASK OBVIOUSLY ;O
daemoninwhite
Mar. 2nd, 2010 06:51 am (UTC)
Re: alfkjslfj
I was so close! And, let's all look at the person who write actual chapters on a regular basis, shall we? I reread all of these little things and my expression is pretty much 'DDDD:' so many errors--.

Thank you~.
mickeytheblue
Feb. 28th, 2010 09:49 am (UTC)
NOOO!!! Cloud was SO CLOSE to killing Hojo. SO CLOSE!!!!

and...

NOOO!!!! AERIS MESSAGE!!! AND ITS NOBODY'S BUSINESS????

I seriously thought that Genesis would take the hint but nooo....TT__TT

But Sephiroth! YEEEAH!!! He finally thought about his dreams being the connection to Cloud, but the problem is if it will be enough to lead them to Cloud :-(

Once again, this is an awesome chapter. And I don't think it was that short. (maybe it's cuz so much things are falling into place now, like Kunsel's going to Nibelheim (yay) and Aeris's done with the water and Sephy realized the dream connection...)

mickeytheblue
Feb. 28th, 2010 09:58 am (UTC)
I just read the other comments, and I noticed that my comment about Cloud being SO CLOSE to killing Hojo is freakishly very similar to daemoninwhite's XD lol
sinnatious
Feb. 28th, 2010 11:10 am (UTC)
Heh heh, that seems to be consensus reaction to Hojo's brush with death, which makes me rub my hands in fiendish glee.

Aeris calls Cloud 'Mr Nobody', remember? I guess it's been a while. And poor Genesis, such are the perils of an omniscient audience. :(

Thanks. It wasn't that short, really, just that last chapter was super-long. ^_^
mickeytheblue
Feb. 28th, 2010 11:17 am (UTC)
Aeris calls Cloud 'Mr Nobody', remember? I guess it's been a while.

Oooooooh, that makes a lot of sense. So THAT's why its "nobody's business" XD
basilton
Feb. 28th, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
D'oh! I've been bad, sorry, in replying, but I have been keeping up!

I did promise you fanart a while back, and I've been working on it, I promise! But the sheer amount of time it's taken is crazy, and I'm nowhere near finished! I wonder if I'll be even able to finish before this story is done :(

But anyway, not to keep you waiting I decided to post up what I have of Genesis so far (yes, I had do log on to post it, no more Anon!). Sigh, so much to do!



Anyway, keep up the writing! I love it.
sinnatious
Feb. 28th, 2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
Oh ho, a 3D model? Fancy. :D (LOL bald!Genesis. XD ALSO I AM NOW IMAGINING RUDE COSPLAYING GENESIS. Oh dear, look what you've done.) Incredible! Looking forward to when it's finished! What a project~

(Has no idea which anon you were, honestly, so you've only gained my admiration for a log-on post. <3)
lunarfirefox
Feb. 28th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
Oooo, that is awesome *___*
I envy your 3d modeling skillz, the best I've ever experimented with was making retarded cartoonish fat-bubbly-figures fighting with light sabers xD
demon_vampirate
Mar. 1st, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
OHMYSHIVA WHYYYYYYYYY DX

so close... so close... fucking Hojo... *cries*

I hope there's an explanation for Cloud being outside the cage... coming up soon... I'm curious now. (That or you could just comment back and/or PM it to me if it's not in the story.)

Also also also Zack's haaaaaaaaaaaair ,>A<,
*snifflecry* Angeeeeeeeeeeeaal...

AND GENESIS SEEMED LIKE HE WAS HINTING TO SEPHIROTH YESNO? *brick'd*
I know I know I know they don't get it yet but GGGHH

And come on, if Seph wants to kill Hojo, he'd probably be the only one that could get away with it. :|

So overall yeah, awesome.

..........but now I'm even more impatient for the next one DX
sinnatious
Mar. 1st, 2010 10:00 am (UTC)
There's brief explanation in the next chapter, but something to get you thinking since you're interested... the thing about time travel, is you have to travel through both time and space, because not only is the planet spinning on its axis, but roatating around the sun, right? :D

Zack's hair is an unhappy thing? :(

Thanks. :D
demon_vampirate
Mar. 2nd, 2010 11:55 pm (UTC)
Hm, I see... (more than I expected to...)
I also feel kinda dumb for not getting that in the first place...

No. Zack's hair is always a good thing XD;;
It was a happy cry... but it's kind of hard to textify happy cry/squeal/wail/thing.

So welcome~

Also, forgot to mention in the last comment: OMG AERITH AND THE MESSAGE AND MR NOBODY'S BUSINESS AND GGGHH WHY DOESN'T ZACK GET IT?!!
(Anonymous)
Mar. 1st, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)
What about...?
Vincent? I mean, at the very least I could see him dropping by to make sure Sephiroth is still alive and all, or if Cloud really did try to take him out or something like that.

I could also see Lucretcia knowing something was wrong somehow...she seems to do that. *scratches head*

Anyway, yeah if Sephiroth researches his own history...although that might start off the whole reunion thing again right there...

So how is this all going to play out, eh? :D I'd very much like to see Cloud get out on his own, but I also want to see the look on his face when Sephiroth, of all people, comes to save his sorry butt. *snicker*

Poor guy. Don't know if he'll be able to get over this one either...
(Anonymous)
Mar. 1st, 2010 02:57 am (UTC)
Re: What about...?
By the way, that's from Obi-quiet. ^^;
sinnatious
Mar. 1st, 2010 10:01 am (UTC)
Re: What about...?
What about him indeed.

But ahaha, I'd really rather not spoil future chapters in the comments, so I'll leave you to speculate. ^_^
lunarfirefox
Mar. 1st, 2010 03:14 am (UTC)
This has been such an exciting chapter *___*
AERITH, HOJO, ZACK, SEPHIROTH, GENESIS, KUNSEL! -flails and makes no sense-
Also with the mention of Kunsel reappearing in the story and going to Nibelheim, I wonder if young!Cloud and Vincent will turn up again

I love speculating about this stories...and most things in general xD

Also I have a feeling that the end is coming soon since everything seems to be coming together D:
Not in like 2 chapters but soon. I always have mixed feelings about fics ending. I'm sad that I lose something to look forward to but I also like to know how fics end.

Also, I'm wondering if Hojo has noticed the ribbon? He probably has. I dunno anything about the FF7 games but I'm wondering since it's probably an essential part of the time-travel phenomena if it's rare to obtain or not. Well, it probably wouldn't matter if it was rare, Hojo could just take it from Cloud. Or examine it and try to reproduce it.

-goes to doodle moar sekrit fanart- ovo
sinnatious
Mar. 1st, 2010 10:12 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure 90% of the excitement you're feeling is spawned directly by Hojo near-death experience. :P

Yes, the end is coming soon, though there a still at least five chapters left, maybe more if I get verbose or struck by last minute inspiration. Know what you mean, I kind of hate finishing fics too! You get all nice and comfortable in long fics.

Ribbon is crazy rare. There were only a three available in the whole game (just enough to outfit the active party) and they were incredibly easy to miss. Like one of them, you could only get by morphing a Master Tonberry. ;____;
teekoness
Mar. 1st, 2010 06:59 am (UTC)
Hmmm... Despite the fact that this is kinda (mostly) Angeal's fault, I'm for the most part in the PLEASE DON'T die camp for him. I'm cutting him a break since the degradation seems to mess with minds and at least he hasn't tried to do anything too evil (like destroy the world).

His buster sword with Zack is definitely the Fat Chocobo in the room.

I like your little nod to the fact that Kunsei is rather bizarrely well informed in the game. It's both hilarious and fitting. It's also sad since I've never played Crisis Core and only know it through cut scenes and fanfic. (I have no life and no money.)
lunarfirefox
Mar. 1st, 2010 10:14 am (UTC)
-waves the "PLEASE DON'T DIE ANGEAL" flag- :D
sinnatious
Mar. 1st, 2010 10:29 am (UTC)
Fat Chocobo! XD I should have definitely used that instead of a behemoth. *regret*

He completely is! I mean, he sends you mail like this:

"You got an assignment in Banora, right? How is the place? I hear there are a lot of Shinra people there. Apparently, the village's main source of income is the production and processing of apples. The rest of their budget is made up of subsidies from Shinra. Now, why would Shinra care about such a tiny village? Could it have something to do with mako? Or... There's gotta be something fishy going on there. I'm gonna look into it.'

IF ZACK GOT A MISSION TO BANORA SOONER MAYBE CRISIS CORE WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED. Because Kunsel would have got curious and uncovered the whole thing before it all went to hell. :|

And he even knows what Hollander's favourite T-shirt is! And then links that to the conspiracy.

Oh man *has PSP on and is re-reading all the mail again* "You're hanging out with that Aerith girl again, aren't you? I bet you're wondering how I got that information. See, I know everything about you, even if you never tell me anything. In other words, it's no use keeping secrets from me, because I know how to get information." - XD SOUNDS SO STALKERISH. Also, Zack, poor form not talking to your friends!
lunarfirefox
Mar. 1st, 2010 11:33 am (UTC)
Oh I totally remember this mail -just got to that part last time I stole my friend's game- 8D

Kunsel is totally a turk in disguise xD
teekoness
Mar. 1st, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Fat Chocobo! XD I should have definitely used that instead of a behemoth. *regret*

Well go ahead and use it if you like.

The only thing to consider is how serious you want that line to seem, 'behmoth' keeps things relatively grounded but 'fat chocobo' might makes things more light hearted.
(Deleted comment)
sinnatious
Mar. 2nd, 2010 12:01 pm (UTC)
She can be badass without even being there. ♥
swyrel
Mar. 1st, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
OMG The cure! Aeris got the message through, and Cloud isn't there to get it, and Zack isn't telling her that Cloud isn't there to get it, and why can't Genesis figure out that Aeris is the person making the cure when Cloud told him that he had someone making it that would get in contact with him? T_T

I'm so frustrated at them, but I guess I can't really be. We know everything already, and they don't, and it's hard to figure things out like that when you only know specific parts. *sighs*

And, yes, Cloud, you should have broken his neck when you had the chance. That will probably come back to haunt you.

Is Kunsel going to meet Chibi!Cloud? I hope so. Maybe that will help. But then if Cloud is being kept in the basement there, and Kunsel finds out, then he'll be like Zack and locked up and experimented on.

And where the hell is Vincent?

Wonderful chapter, but I want more! T_T
sinnatious
Mar. 2nd, 2010 12:10 pm (UTC)
Probably come back to haunt him? *shivers* Gosh writing Hojo can be creepy sometimes Though kinda fun too I have to admit *loves writing irredeemable villains*. Writing them getting scared out of their wits is even more fun.

All speculation! We shall see. :D
swyrel
Mar. 9th, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
O.O I just found out that you replied to this, b/c I never come back and check the actual comments unless I get an email about them, and for some reason, I just discovered that all the lj emails were sent to my junk mail. Weird.

And yes, I should have said something stronger than just 'probably'. Of course that will come back to bight him in the ass. Most likely more than once and in the most painful ways...
caterfree10
Jan. 10th, 2012 02:21 pm (UTC)
UGH, SO CLOSE, SO DEPRESSINGLY CLOSE. ;A; I just. akjsfhdslfkjahsfs Cloud bb ;; *pets*

I am both pleased and highly amused that Seph enjoyed the "dream" of nearly killing Hojo, heh. x3 And they're finally seeing the connections! Dear god, the slash really DOES write itself, mwahaha. /loving it Though we still have overall logical conclusions not quite accurate to time travel, lol. x3

/wants to say more, but refrains to avoid spoilery babbling
sinnatious
Jan. 10th, 2012 02:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, don't worry too much about spoiler comments, I doubt there would be many new readers to the story who would read the LJ version first. :)

In retrospect, I kind of wish I'd spent more time following up on their incorrect hypotheses, since that could have been hilarious.
caterfree10
Jan. 11th, 2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
You never know! There might be someone who hates FFN with the fury of a thousand suns and prefers LJ to FFN every single time they get the opportunity. x3 That and I think the TVTropes rec link leads to the LJ version instead of the FFN one, so there's that, too. :B

...Oh goodness, that would be delightful. XD I can just imagine everyone mulling over "...well I guess this and this and this is why this theory and that the- oh Goddess we are all morons" /highly amused by this thought process
(Anonymous)
Sep. 23rd, 2016 02:27 am (UTC)
Heh. On one hand, I love the plot twist that the past is kind of destined to repeat itself in a way and that Cloud wound up an experiment anyway, for months.

On the other hand, I was having such a good time reading about Cloud at Shinra interacting with everyone there and kind of becoming bros with Sephiroth and Genesis and Angeal and Zack and Kunsel. I wish we'd gotten more of that, post destruction of Jenova.
( 48 comments — Leave a comment )

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