Step 26: Vacation
Step 26: Vacation
I feel like I'm in a weekend camping trip, except it's a weekday. Tseng and I had dinner with a red wolf-like creature called Nanaki, who also used to be known as Red XIII. I only vaguely remember him traveling with the former Avalanche and their allies.
Nanaki, number XIII, is not a human, though he is very much sane and his speech is better than that of some humans I've met. Though he has a number, he seems to be doing quite well. The extent of the experiments performed on him are unknown to me, and possibly to him as well, though it's not something I would inquire about.
He's a remarkable being, supposedly the last of his kind, or at least the last that he and Shinra know of. It's easy to see he's been through many battles, but he doesn't let it get to him, so calm, so relaxed. I wonder if I was brought here to follow his example.
This doesn't feel like training at all, we sat around a fire and roasted marshmallows while Nanaki proudly told stories of his parents' bravery, mentioning that his father had fought to the end until he was turned to stone. I wish I had a heroic story to tell...
The view from Cosmo Canyon is very nice, the skies are clear and the stars shine brightly. It's a very quiet place at night when the archeologists have turned in and few people remain awake.
We stayed at Cosmo Canyon for two days. I didn't black out or go crazy during that time and I didn't hear any strange voices in my head. During our stay, we went out during the day to hunt monsters. I hesitated at first, wondering how much in common I had with those beings, but then I realized I was being paranoid. Monsters are not capable of thought like I am. Rational thought is what makes people, people, Nanaki included despite not being human.
After the light training at Cosmo Canyon, which was more mental than physical, was done, we headed out to Nibelheim. I stood at the entrance to the rebuilt ghost town, that somehow doesn't entirely feel like a ghost town and waited for something to happen, for my past to catch up to me, but there was nothing.
"How do you feel?" Tseng asked. "We can do this later."
I have to face my past sometime, I should have known this was coming, "surprisingly," I can't deny it is unexpected, "I'm aright. I mean, I have regrets, but I'm not about to go insane over it."
"Good, you may explore as you wish, the others are here, you'll run into them if you go into town," Tseng encourages, though I'm certain that they'll be watching each other's backs.
"Alright..." I walk into town and look at the water tank, then walk around it, observing the surrounding buildings. I go to the inn and find Rufus reading in the lobby. I'm surprised to see him there. He looks up from his book a little, still hiding behind it, as if he wants to pretend he's not watching. I nod reassuringly and move on, exploring upstairs.
It's amazing with how much detail the town was restored. I can almost hear Zack's footsteps running energetically up the stairs. I enter the guest room where I had stayed; everything was the same, even the color of the sheets. Deciding that I've seen enough of the inn, and thankfully none of it alarmed me beyond the understandable feeling of deja vu, I headed out again.
Tseng has gone somewhere; he's not standing guard at the entrance anymore, though I see the helicopter is still there. I examine the surrounding area again and notice another helicopter I haven't seen before, hidden behind some houses. I then choose a random house to explore.
I feel like I'm in a video game, for only there is the protagonist allowed to walk into people's private property without permission and take things, albeit only the things conveniently hidden in treasure chests can be claimed.
This house holds the scent of cookies and I follow it to the kitchen were Elena is taking a fresh batch out of the oven. She sets the new tray on the kitchen counter to cool and gets to work decorating her previous batch with frosting. "Want to try them?"
Elena had been so absorbed in her task that I thought she didn't notice my presence, "yes..." I could hardly find my voice, this situation, being in Nibelheim, a Nibelheim populated by Rufus and the Turks, is odd, yet not as alarming as I would imagine and that is the most shocking part. I take a perfectly round cookie, covered in bright yellow frosting with chocolate chip eyes and a chocolate smile; I take a bite off the top, leaving it with one eye. "Thanks..." it almost looks as if I'm talking to the cookie, thanking it for being so delicious.
"You're welcome, is it yummy?" Elena smiles; completely carefree.
"Yes, very," I truthfully reply and finish the cookie, "I'm going to look around some more..."
"Okay, have fun," Elena returns to her task of decorating the cookies with colorful frosting. I feel like a child who was given permission to play, though I'm certainly not as enthusiastic as one.
I leave the house and look around, Shinra Mansion looms as if beckoning me to approach it, challenging me to go in. I turn away from it and look towards the mountains; I don't want to go there either. Yet this is about facing my past, not hiding from it.
I approach the mansion and taking a deep breath I cross the gates and walk to the door, it's unlocked, not that it surprises me. The loud chirping from inside gives away the identity and position of the Turk in the mansion, who brought his little chicobo along. Unfortunately I can't go around Reno, since he is in my path to the secret passage leading to the basement.
"Yo!" Reno greets me casually; I expected it from him. My godchild, the chicobo named Blaze, chirps as if he recognizes me.
"Hi..." I stand there for a moment, then glance at the passage leading to the spiraling stairs.
"Going exploring? Don't read too much, books are evil," Reno is being Reno, the carefree role suits him in any situation, so it doesn't look like he's acting at all. Then again, Rufus didn't look stressed, just curious and Elena was relaxed enough.
"I'll remember that," scientific books written in such confusing ways, full of outdated information, mistaken conclusions and recordings so complex that they can be easily misinterpreted, are a danger indeed.
I head down to the basement and walk around the library, but I'm not interested in reading, I'll wait until the answers come to me, those books are just confusing anyway. I spend a few more minutes in the library, then head up again. The entire time I heard the echo of Blaze's distant chirping becoming closer as I moved back up. I wonder if it was set up on purpose to keep me in the present.
"The reactor..." I voice uncertain.
"Did you forget how to get there? It's not hard to find," Reno's reply makes me conclude that I am meant to explore the reactor after all and I need to go there alone, perhaps so that I have to rely on myself to willingly get there and so I don't feel pressured to walk at anyone else's pace.
"I'm going for a walk..." It's pretty obvious where I'm going, I don't need to say it. Reno nods and watches me go. I exit the Shinra Mansion and head to the mountains.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII. Thanks to Soyna who suggested that Sephiroth be sent on vacation to hunt monsters. When Sephiroth mentions thanking the cookie for being delicious it's a reference to Heroic Age, where at the beginning Age thanks the octopus creature he feeds on.