Step 44: Crisis
Step 44: Crisis
We're currently in Junon, that is Reno, Rude and myself; Tseng and Elena are off in Icicle with Rufus and Blaze. The network is back online now, the encoding was changed for safety and the core rebooted to connect to Junon in maximum security mode. Junon is now the false mainframe, while the real one remains hidden.
I'm almost afraid to ask for details about anything, least the walls should hear. Even a tiny insect could be the enemy, even if it sounds paranoid. Yet there is one thing that I must ask, "why did the enemy retreat?"
"I don't know, maybe we were closer to winning than it looked," I really want to believe Reno's assumption, but I know it to be false.
"We weren't winning, if the battle went on, we would have become exhausted and the creature would have overpowered us," it is the harsh reality.
"A secret advantage," Rude suggests.
I have learned to understand Rude's short replies by now and can read between his words. "That makes sense, she could have thought we were holding back," a million thoughts run through my head and memories from the documents of the Jenova Project come to me. "How did Jenova die all those years ago? The creature could have done research; she must know about Shinra's involvement with the Jenova Project and assumed that through it the secret to defeating her kind was learned."
"This sucks, I don't like relying on bluffs, it's not the Turk way!" Reno pouts.
"Then we'll have to turn that bluff into a reality, we need to learn how to defeat Jenova," but that information wasn't covered in any of the reports I remember. It was all about bringing out that obscure being's mysterious power, not about how to defeat it.
"How are we going to do that?" Reno inquires.
At first I'm at a loss for words, my mind goes from overflowing with information to completely blank when I focus on that one question. Seconds tick away, tension hanging in the air, then I speak one name, "Aeris."
"Aeris? The ancient? But isn't she...?"
I nod, "it may still be possible to communicate somehow, I don't think she faded away, she's in the life stream somewhere."
"Are you telling me that Cloud wasn't delirious when he said he could talk to dead people?"
I give Reno a puzzled look, "Cloud said that?"
"Yeah, a long time ago, I remember hearing him say something about talking to Aeris and Zack."
Reno's revelation should give me hope, but instead I'm filled with bitterness. "We'll have to," I hate this, "ask him," it's unbearable, why must he be the hero?
We informed the other Turks and the president of the new developments, left the Junon 'peacekeeping' troops in stand by and headed to Edge.
xoxox xox xoxox
The situation in Edge is grim, the streets are filled with fear and everyone runs away when they see Reno, Rude and I; save for a few who stay to insult us. I take it the rumors about Shinra helping the mafia have grown substantially and become very public.
We enter the Seventh Heaven and a man with a gun arm aims his weapon at us, Barret I think his name was. However, Vincent counters by aiming his own gun at Barret and Reeve intervenes by placing his hands on both men's shoulders and shaking his head, "calm down." The tension could be cut with a knife.
It looks like Avalanche has reassembled to face the current crisis. Reno, Rude and my PHS's receive test messages at the same time. News seems to flow fast, but not fast enough all the way to Icicle. It's a warning about some very incriminating news reports related to Shinra and the mafia. I take it everyone here has seen them.
Tifa is here, with Marlene and Denzel left and right of her, she looks alert and protective, akin to a lioness defending her cubs. Yuffie, the ninja girl, is pouting and grumbling hateful words towards Shinra. Cid is watching on impatient and next to him Shera stands with a look of reserved judgment. Nanaki is the most composed out of the entire group.
In contrast, Barret is the most tense, "you've got some nerve showing' your faces here!" After a deadly glare directed at us, he turns to look at Vincent for a moment, "just whose side are you on?"
Vincent shakes his head, "there's not need for bloodshed, let's give them the benefit of the doubt."
Reeve expressed his agreement, "let's try to understand each other. If they were as guilty as it seems, they wouldn't come here so openly."
"They're plotting something!" Barret accused.
I've just about had it, the world will be overtaken by that calamity if we don't stand against it and we can't do that unless we stop fighting amongst ourselves. "We're plotting to save the world from the calamity."
Reno and Rude stare at me; I know I've said too much.
"They're already in a panic and they will know eventually," I excuse myself. "Not only that, but they need to know." Both my Turk companions nod, understanding the urgency.
Our PHS's go off again and Reno checks his, "turn on the TV," he suddenly insists, "this is important, turn it on!"
Tifa reaches for the remote control and turns on the television, the channel doesn't matter, she switches but the same thing is everywhere. The screen announces the coming of an important message. They must be making certain it s broadcasted all over the world and assuring that everyone has time to turn on their TV.
The screen with the written message changes to show Rufus, "I know that the city of Edge is an a chaotic state right now and the world will probably soon be affected. This is not Shinra's doing, we are trying to fight against it and we need your cooperation. Please watch this report all the way through before passing judgment."
Another message appears on the screen stating when the following news report first aired on local TV in the Icicle area. The news report, which was not seen as anything big at the time, spoke of a meteorite that many of the inhabitants of Icicle claimed to have seen landing in the mountains, yet no one could actually find it. Researchers were out searching, in hopes of finding something of scientific value.
Rufus appears on the screen again, "we believe the supposed meteorite, which was never found, was the arrival of an alien life form. The citizens of Icicle have some testimonies to share with the world."
The next part of the report was very intriguing. The people of Icicle shared their experiences of a series of unexpected events which threatened life long friendships and created many feuds. They claimed that people where doing terrible things that those who knew them never expected, thus they supported the theory, which we already know is true, of a being capable of shape shifting and taking another person's place.
Following the statements, there came a report from a forensic doctor, confirming the shape shifter theory, it was the only explanation. A woman who was with the search party looking for the meteor got separated from them, but promptly found, as per the testimony of the rest of the exploration group. She had been acting strange and disappeared from Icicle shortly after the disputes worsened.
That same woman's body was found dead in the snowy mountains and the forensic tests revealed without a doubt, that she had died on the day when the meteor fell, due to unusual puncture wounds. She was the shape shifter's first victim. Naturally, since Shinra was still seen as powerful despite trying to keep a low profile, she must have been attracted to it, or perhaps she sensed the cells of her own kind in Cloud. Comparing the dates, it was shortly after she disappeared from Icicle that I arrived, so maybe she sensed me.
She must have done her research, but the information she could access was limited and she probably relied on urban retellings of the past and rumors about Shinra holding the secrets to absolutely everything there ever was. She must have assumed that those high ranked in Shinra knew how to fight a creature like her, another of Jenova's kind, a calamity, and the ones with the higher rank had to be those closest to the president, the Turks. That assumption has made her cautions, but she's clearly growing impatient.
Rufus appeared on screen again, explaining more about the being and speaking of his suspicions that the creature had infiltrated and overtaken the mafia. The Platinum Witch, yes, it must have been her, I picture that woman's expression from when she got away at the restaurant and I picture the new Jenova. One looks like an obvious alien and the other like an exotic human, but their faces match perfectly, how did I not notice it sooner?
The report ends and the same message from before, the one at the very beginning, displays, though the word 'replay' is at the bottom. They must be playing it all again in case someone missed the beginning or was left with any doubts. Tifa mutes the TV and looks at us, her face terribly worried. "Cloud is gone and I can't reach him on the phone."
My eyes widen in realization, the Platinum Witch was frightened of Shinra knowing how to defeat her, that's why she avoided starting a fight for so long. She wanted to access the databases to find out what we would do against her to device a defense and counter. That is also why she investigated my history; she wanted a puppet to use as a bodyguard. She must have realized she couldn't control me and gone after Cloud. He must have left because he knew he was losing control and didn't want to hurt anyone. "We have to find him!"
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII.