Some days he can still remember; a past seen in the vivid technicolor of a flashback sequence. (Tseng and Aerith, pregame.)
He can recall down to the minute details -- the crisp feeling of a new, stiffly pressed suit and a tie pulled, noose-like. Hair bound tightly back, not a strand out of place. His demeanor was cold tension and professionalism at seventeen, leading his first mission. No longer a fledgling rookie but a trained falcon circling, poised and ready to strike down on his mark -- a small, slum's cottage. Or rather, the girl within.
He will never forget that smell. The smell. The fresh, floral odor that drifted aimlessly in that small glade; an expanse of flowers and a clear stream mysteriously cutting through slum-land from an origin he could never even begin to fathom. Water. Not run-off. And for a split second curiosity almost bested him, but he was a Turk and Turks did not get distracted by pretty streams and trumpeter lilies.
There were lilies inside, too as he entered -- prowled forward with carefully rehearsed lines, expertly administered to mother and daughter.
Glittering generalities. Plead emotion... special child, bring happiness to the slums, to all of us, lead us all to happiness. Yet they were really nothing more than loaded incantations, as not to blatantly say : We need you, little girl, age nine in a faded rose dress. Leave your mother. Join us. Join us. Join us.
Not a budge.
The tactic ill-received -- a second plan. Indelible images of tear-striken desperation, of eyes like dewy cut grass as he questioned her. A prosecutor leading the witness. The vehement denial : Not an Ancient. Not the truth. Wrong. Never. Never. Never. No.
It was so easy to break a child. Nausea. Disgust. Control. Controlled feelings. Always stay in control. He could spot realization in the mother's eyes. Somewhere within violent maternal instincts, something entirely different. Truth's vice-like hold on a trembling woman as she pieced together reality. She had noticed something strange and wondrous in a child not really her daughter. Noticed. Didn't want it to be real.
Special child. Special blood. Why could you not be normal?
Sometimes he can still once again feel that whimper of a wish, gnawing deep in his thoughts with rodentine teeth. Pushed away by self-control and an icy countenance. Turks did not feel pity toward their targets. Did not rail against the inevitable. Against orders. They did their job.
No matter how strongly wished otherwise, the truth was unchanging, was still the truth. This girl was the one. Special. Of the burdensome blood of countless generations; as timeless as the name mere humans called it. Ancient. Nothing -- no words, could change who she was. What she was.
What she would face in the future.
Answers received, he had nodded toward a woman barely registering her surroundings, exited into the nauseating purity of sickeningly sweet lilies.
With word of her death, he knew he would never want to forget.