Step 27: Deception
Step 27: Deception
As a get closer to the reactor my heart starts to pound. I have a bad feeling, there's something wrong. Is Rude there? I haven't seen him yet; maybe he's waiting in the reactor. He's in danger, I can feel it. Not again, I got this feeling before when I went crazy at Shinra. I also remember it from another time, from that occasion wit the yakuza, but I attributed it to the situation then and managed to control it somehow, plus it wasn't as strong, as if this force was only testing the waters.
It's strange, that time with the yakuza was being near danger but only being subconsciously aware of it. At Shinra the instinctive alert was screaming in my head and now it's different again, I'm alarmed, but I feel as if it's too late. I also know I'm being followed, but that one following me is an ally. "Tseng, are you there? Come out!"
Tseng must have read the urgency in my almost pleading voice because he wasted no time in coming out of hiding. "What's wrong?"
"Danger, in the reactor... I need to... I have to..." I feel an irresistible need to run into the reactor, but I fight against it. This isn't good, why now? Is it the place? I was fine in town.
"You don't have to do this, calm down, we can leave," Tseng tries to reason with me again.
"Go... the reactor, go!" I insist, but Tseng doesn't leave, "please go..." I focus on staying awake, staying in control, staying still.
Tseng nods, "I'll go check," he hurries in and doesn't come out.
"Rude is injured!" Tseng yells back, "stay there, I'm calling the others."
Am I too incompetent to be trusted in helping an ally? It is because I might become a threat rather than help. I involuntarily make my way to the reactor and see Tseng tending to the unconscious Rude. "Who did this?" My head hurts, it hurts so much.
Reno and Elena rush past me and I watch the scene helplessly, gripping my sword, the sword I shouldn't have been trusted with. Tseng returned it to me when we went monster hunting during our stay in Cosmo Canyon and let me keep it since then.
I throw the sword out the door, suppressing the need to go pick it up and stab someone. "Stop it... stop it! I won't let you, you can't control me!" Once again, it all went dark, but I didn't pass out despite losing my senses, I could feel my body moving, running away. I needed to get myself away from the Turks; I don't want to hurt them.
xoxox xox xoxox
Something is wet and something is shiny. I'm in puddle near materia in its natural state. I'm pretty sure I'm somewhere in the mountains near the reactor. I couldn't see before, or hear anything, I couldn't even feel anything. I'm bruised and sore, maybe I ran into some rocks, maybe I fell or maybe I started banging my head against the cave walls. I don't know, but my senses are back now at least.
"Sephiroth?" Who's talking? She's out of my view, or is the voice in my head? "My son..."
"Mother?" That can't be, I don't even know who my mother is, but why would she be talking to me in my head?
"Poor boy, you're so confused."
"Mother!" No, she's not, she can't be. "What's happening?"
"They're trying to trick you, they're brainwashing you, to use you for their purposes. Don't let them turn you into a weapon." I remember my days as a soldier, I remember the old Shinra. "It wouldn't be the first time, right?"
"It's different," I want to believe it is.
"Have you forgotten me, forgotten what they've done, what they took away? Avenge me, son!"
"I don't want to, I don't want to take revenge on the planet anymore, ask me for something else..."
"I ask you to save yourself, save yourself from Shinra..."
"Yes, mother," I closed my eyes, there's nothing interesting to look at in this cave anyway, and I dozed off.
xoxox xox xoxox
I wake up to find a ceiling that I've seen before long ago. I would wake up to this ceiling every morning when I was in Nibelheim, before I locked myself in the basement of Shinra Mansion. Except it's not really that same ceiling, because the original was burned down. My sword is propped against the wall opposite to me, but I have no temptation to reach for it at the moment. The chirping of a chicobo tells me Blaze, and most likely Reno, are near by and I turn my head to look at them. "How long was I out?"
"Oh, hey, you're awake! Everyone, Seph's awake! You were asleep for a whole day!" I watch Rude cringe at Reno's loud voice. He looks like he has a headache, but he's going to be alright, I somehow know. Rude's currently resting on the bed next to mine, with Reno sitting on a chair in between.
"Reno, you shouldn't yell so loud," Rufus entered the room accompanied by Tseng and scolded the redhead, then turned his attention towards me. "How do you feel?"
"Confused," I admitted, "I don't want to be used by Shinra and you are keeping a lot of secrets from me."
Rufus sighs exasperated, "there's no avoiding it; you're our responsibility."
"I'm not your child," I don't know whose child I am, but certainly not Rufus'.
"Of course not, but that's not the point!" Rufus is clearly frustrated. "Do you know what it's like when everyone starts seeing you as the villain even if you were the hero before? You must know what it's like and I do too. Shinra used to be good, Shinra used to be admired, Shinra used to be seen as the hero back when it wasn't. Now that we're trying to set things right, that past is all people see, even if it's over. Whatever you do, it will be blamed on me, that's why I should call Cloud Strife right now and make you his problem, but that's also why I won't. Because I know what's like to go from hero to villain and to have the past shoved in your face. I will offer you Shinra's protection and information from your past. If you choose to believe it that is up to you. If you leave Shinra, you'll have to deal with the world on your own because we won't cover for you, there's too much at risk."
"So I'm just a mistake to clean up?" I argue back.
"How many times have you been unconscious? If I was like my father," Rufus is full of bitterness with that one word, "I would have ordered the Turks to take those opportunities, it would have worked and you know it. That's all the proof I can offer you of my sincerity."
"And if I leave?" I inquire, not losing the fire in my voice.
"Seph of the Turks will be declared dead and we will deny ever knowing anything about Sephiroth's latest return, I won't add more blame to mountain I already have for covering for you," Rufus admits. "We'll ignore you if you don't cause trouble, but we'll have to interfere if you do. Shinra owes you, it's not completely my debt, but part of it is and I've inherited the rest, yet I also inherited a debt to the world, which I need to take care of too. If you turn into a mad man, I'll just have to stop you from staining the name of the old Sephiroth."
"What do you know about me?" I retort bitterly, though in contrast Rufus seems to have calmed down, as if he's getting all the pressure out of his system after keeping it bottled up for a long time.
He hands me the book he had been reading earlier, I didn't really pay close attention to it before. It's a medium sized dark blue book with a plain title-less cover. The pages are handwritten in black ink; it's a journal of some sort. "A tragic memento from the brother I never really knew."
I recognize the handwriting instantly; I've seen this before in notes and reports, "Lazard..."
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII. Cliffhanger! I'm pretty sure there are more questions than answers from a reader's point of view right now, but don't worry, it will all come together as the story moves along. We'll find out what happened to Rude in the next chapter!