Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 7 > Haunted House

A Little Chaos

by RapunzelK 0 reviews

In which the boys recruit a new member.

Category: Final Fantasy 7 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Fantasy,Humor - Characters: Cloud Strife,Sephiroth,Vincent Valentine,Zack - Warnings: [!!!] [?] - Published: 2015-08-17 - 4784 words


This brought the term “stair well” to a whole new level in Cloud’s mind. Every horror movie he’d ever seen playing through his head, he edged down the narrow wooden walkway behind Sephiroth and Zack.

“Who the hell builds shit like this?” Zack murmured, the deep silo of stone magnifying his words as if he had shouted.

“People who don’t want to get attacked,” Cloud answered barely above a whisper. His voice echoed, but with far less volume.

“This was once a castle keep,” the general finished, drawing the correct conclusion from Cloud’s reply. “This stone construction is the oldest part of the building.”

“Yep,” Cloud confirmed. “People just kept building on top of it.”

“But why dig so deep?” Zack asked. Cloud let out a breath as they finally reached the bottom, happy to have his feet on solid ground again.

“There’s caves all throughout the mountains, I’d bet money this connected to them at one time.”

“There are bones over there.”

Both Zack and Cloud stopped and looked. There was indeed a small heap of calcified remains piled against the wall. Sephiroth eyed them for a long moment.

“Are those...human?” Zack asked.

Sephiroth shook his head. “No. Too small. And humans don’t have teeth like that. Those are animal bones, of the kind commonly used in laboratories.”

Cloud shivered. “The scientists.”

“Most likely. Come on.”

“Does this count as a catacomb?” Zack asked as they crept down the low-ceilinged stone tube.

“I think this is just a plain old tunnel,” Cloud explained. “Catacombs are where you bury people.”

“Then it appears we have found the crypt.” Sephiroth had stopped before a rough wooden door bound with iron hinges set inside a finely dressed stone frame. An unmistakable- if rather primitive- skull with wings sticking out from beneath its chin looked down on them from the lintel. Selecting the correct key, Sephiroth repeated the process of forcing the stubborn lock and shouldering the door open.

“This is usually the part where we all get eaten,” Cloud remarked, shining his flashlight into the deeper darkness inside the room. Rotted coffins and piles of bones- this time human- lay arranged haphazardly against the walls. Zack eyed the mess, knowing in his head the bones were harmless, but feeling creeped-out nonetheless. None of the coffins had their lids intact- except for one. Larger, and newer than the rest, it sat almost directly opposite the door.

Flicking through the series of iron keys, Sephiroth compared them to the ornate lock on the sarcophagus. Selecting one, he inserted it into the lock and turned. The lock gave grudgingly, Sephiroth pressing his lips together with the effort of forcing the rusty tumblers to move. With a heavy click and a puff of dusty air from beneath the coffin lid, the lock sprang open. At his side, Zack could swear he heard Cloud’s heartbeat thumping loudly in the darkness. To his credit, the younger man held his ground, weapon poised and breathing steady if perhaps a hair fast and over-deep. Zack shifted into a ready stance himself, and Cloud relaxed slightly, reminded he wasn’t alone.

It wasn’t easy for Sephiroth to get his gloved fingers under the coffin lid. Heaving it to one side proved more difficult than anticipated as well. Shifting so that he knelt on one knee, he got his weight under it and heaved. The lid flew up, tumbling end over end and bouncing off the far wall before it clattered to the floor with a deafening crash. Rising, Sephiroth leaned and peered into the threadbare plush interior.

A long figure lay wrapped head to foot in a scarlet shroud. At first Zack thought the winding sheet was steeped in blood, and then realized that could not be right. Blood stained fabric black or brown, not red. He ought to know. Gingerly, the general reached a cautious hand and drew back a fold of the shroud. Zack had expected death and decay, rotting flesh, or perhaps dry bones. He had not expected this.

The pale white face was masculine, if fine-featured, with an aquiline nose and high cheekbones. Long black hair framed that face, and reached as far as his shoulders. Sephiroth pulled the shroud the rest of the way back, or tried to. Halfway it refused to pull any farther, revealing itself to be the hem of a long red cloak. The man’s uniform was antique, though vaguely familiar. It reminded Zack of some of the earlier Shinra dress uniforms he’d seen in one of the older training manuals.

“Is he...dead?” Cloud asked into the silence. Sephiroth did not answer, only stared down at the inert body in the coffin.

“He doesn’t seem to be breathing…”

If the guy in the coffin was dead, he couldn’t have been so for more than five minutes. His body and clothing were pristine, untouched by mold or insects. He didn’t even smell dead, though Sephiroth was wrinkling his nose at something else.

“What is it?”

“He reeks of makou,” the general replied, rubbing at his nose with the back of one hand. “As bad as a faulty reactor. In fact,” he said, straightening, “the whole basement stinks of sour makou.”

“Can makou go sour?” Zack blinked. “I thought that was just like...machinery or creatures acting up.”

“Technically no, but it can be contaminated. If Professor Hojo experimented on this man, I imagine contaminated makou is the least of his problems.”

“He looks good for being dead,” Cloud remarked. “Unless he’s a vampire.”

“Dude, do not even kid about that,” Zack warned him.

Either Sephiroth hadn’t heard, or he was ignoring his subordinates. Silently, he stood and contemplated the man in the coffin for a long moment. Deciding there was nothing else for it, he knelt and pushed two fingers below the man’s jaw, feeling for a pulse.

The corpse’s eyes snapped opened, revealing irises as red as his cloak. Everyone- even Sephiroth- started back, the general landing ungracefully on his behind before scrambling to his feet. The man in the coffin hadn’t just risen, simply sitting up would have been too mundane. Cloak swirling around him like a thing alive, the man rose- literally rose, straight up, perhaps six feet in the air, the edge of his cape brushing the ceiling of the vault- before resettling near the head of his coffin. He stood there for a moment, red eyes flicking from one to the other, no decipherable expression on his pale features. Indeed, most of his face was shrugged deep into the high collar of his cloak, leaving only his eyes to stare back at them like two live coals in the darkness.

Zack’s heartbeat had drowned out Cloud’s, and Sephiroth had unsheathed Masamune. All of them crouched into a ready stance, each waiting for the the other to make the first move. At length the man straightened, cloak flowing around his long body as if in an imperceptible breeze. The red stare came to rest on Sephiroth. Behind his high collar, his lips moved, words as dull and rusty as his coffin lock scratched the silence:

“/You would dare to wake me from the nightmare…/”

His voice was low and gravely, as if the earth of the crypt had spoken for him. He blinked, the bloody light of his eyes extinguished for a moment, and Zack got the eerie feeling that the guy was seeing them for the first time.

“...I do not know you.”

The tone was smoother, more even, and easily step or so lighter than the last time he’d spoken.
Every hair Zack possessed stood on end as something deep inside him screamed that this was /not right/. Beside him, Cloud did a another full-body swallow, but held his ground. Although the guy in the red cloak hadn’t made any sudden moves, Zack curled and flexed the fingers of his right hand. Having the grip of the Buster sword slung on his back held firmly in his hands would make him feel a lot better, but it wouldn’t do to provoke an attack. Until they had reason to suspect otherwise, they were all on the same side.

“Who are you?”

Some of the weirdness evaporated in the face of the very human emotion of confusion. The red-eyed man’s words were bewildered, as was the expression on Sephiroth’s face. How could people not know the great Sephiroth? Then again, this guy had been locked in a coffin. Zack doubted the cable reception in there was very good. Surely he couldn’t have been down there that long. The thing had been sealed shut, there wouldn’t have been enough oxygen in it for more than a day or two. Admittedly Nibelheim was the back of beyond but everyone else in town knew who Sephiroth was. So why didn’t this guy?

“Duh, that’s Sephiroth,” Zack told him. “You’ve only seen his face all over the damn place for like the last ten years.”

Unless Cloud’s story was true, and it was looking more and more like it was… The oh crap feeling returned, making him shiver.

“That will do, Fair,” the general said rather stiffly. Aware he’d shoved his foot in his mouth, Zack inclined his head in apology.

“Sorry, sir.”

The man in red was still staring.

“No…” he breathed. “It cannot be… You are Sephiroth?”

“It is not a common name,” the general replied dryly.

“But you… You are…” he stammered. “You’re so /tall/!”

“You were expecting someone shorter?”

The guy in red put both hands to his head as if it hurt. His left hand, Zack noted, was covered in shiny bronze armor.

“You were only a child when Hojo locked me away…” Lifting his head again, he looked at the general with something like hope deep in his eyes. “Tell your mother well?”

This was all getting too weird for Zack. For his part, Sephiroth stood still, as if turned to stone, only an expression of vague perplexity pulling at his features.

“My mother is dead,” Sephiroth began, speech uncharacteristically halting. “She died giving birth to me.”

Zack honestly thought the man from the coffin was going to dissolve into tears, or maybe keel over and faint. He’d seen that look before, on the faces of soldiers who had just watched their best friends die. What little color there was had drained from his face and he wavered where he stood.

“Then Lucrecia is dead…”

“Lucrecia?” Zack echoed, unable to stop himself. “Who’s she?”

“A scientist,” the red-eyed man began, voice distant and attention drawn inward. “An assistant to Professor Gast in the Jenova project.”

Sephiroth’s eyebrows twisted, confused. “My mother’s name was ‘Jenova’.”

The red-eyed man blinked. He stepped forward so that he was less than arm’s length from the general. Sephiroth shied back fractionally, but otherwise did not move. Standing, the man in red was eye-to-eye with Sephiroth, something few men could boast. Looking at them facing each other, a shiver ran down Zack’s spine.

“Dude,” he whispered to Cloud who stood transfixed and gaping at the two men silhouetted within the flashlight’s halo. “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

Dumbly, Cloud nodded. Like a study in contrasts, Sephiroth and Vincent stared at one another, green eyes into red, white to black, silver to gold. Maybe it was their clothing, maybe it was their hairstyles, or even their height, but Cloud thought there was an uncanny similarity between the two of them.

“Your mother’s name is not ‘Jenova’...” the red-eyed man said, the quiet tone magnified in the underground chamber. “Her name is ‘Lucrecia’.”

The silence was so heavy it made Zack’s ears hurt.

“You look like her...” the red-eyed man man said softly, reaching a hand toward Sephiroth but then stopping short. “You have her eyes- not the color of course, but the shape. You have her forehead too, and her nose. That’s just as well. Your father was not exactly a handsome man.”

The expression on the general’s face was the closest thing to a stupid look Zack had ever seen. He stared at the red-eyed man, clearly wondering if he were mad. Could he believe the word of someone they’d just exhumed from a coffin? Was this the truth, or just the deranged ravings of an experiment gone wrong? Zack thought about what little he knew of Professor Hojo and tried to compare it to what had been said. In the end, he was forced to concede that this was not, in fact, the craziest thing he’d ever heard regarding Shinra in general and Professor Hojo in particular. Sephiroth, however, didn’t feel the same way.

“I don’t understand,” he began, his voice strangely small. “How could you have known my mother?”

“Because I was there. I knew your mother, and your father too.”

Sephiroth blinked. “My father?”

“Professor Hojo.


The swing was so swift, Zack did not even see it. One minute the red-eyed man was standing face-to-face with the general, the next he’d been thrown against the far wall of the room. His narrow body connected with the stone wall with a painful thud before sliding to the floor. For a long moment he lay half-curled on hands and knees, his body vibrating with what Zack assumed to be pain. When he looked up, black blood ran in syrupy rivulets from his nose and mouth. The hand without armor was pressed against his mid-section where Masamune had torn a long slash. More oily blood trickled across the fair skin of his forearm to be absorbed by the dirt floor.

“I don’t believe you,” Sephiroth snarled, advancing, Masamune’s bloodied blade poised. “There is no way that walking mass of complexes sired me!”

The red-eyed man tried to get up, but collapsed back to all fours, his features contorted in pain. The point of Masamune digging into his throat, the wounded man looked up to meet Sephiroth’s predatory stare. The accusing look that had so often signaled an early and violent death for many an enemy faltered at the deep sadness in the other man’s eyes.

“Tell me the truth,” Sephiroth hissed through clenched teeth. “/Tell me!/”

“Sephiroth…” The word was gargled, almost vomited, pronounced as it was on a wave of blood. At his elbow, Zack heard Cloud gag. Sephiroth took a half step back as the red-eyed man coughed, retching more black blood onto the floor. When he lifted his head again, a crazed fire had kindled in his eyes. Danger shivered up Zack’s spine, hard and sharp as a kick to the tailbone. Unthinking, he grabbed his sword and held it ready. The red-eyed man gasped, jaw working but making no sound. At length, he managed a single word:


Beside him, Zack heard Cloud puke. He didn’t blame him. Taking a step back, he held up his Buster sword with trembling hands. The red-eyed man’s body had begun to stretch and strain in directions the human body was not meant to go. He screamed- honestly /screamed/- his deep voice twisted sharp and shrill, as if razor-edged teeth were tearing him apart from the inside. With both hands he clutched his head, and Zack fought the urge to be sick himself as the man’s face melted like soft wax, mouth and nose extending into a long, canine snout. Square human teeth curved down into sharp and yellow fangs. Large ears and long horns sprouted from his head. The black uniform darkened and blurred, becoming thick, shaggy fur, a long tail lashing back and forth behind him.

The transformation complete, the beast let out a howl that shook the walls, triggering a shower of dirt and gravel from the ceiling. Snarling and slavering, it looked at them as a group and then lunged, heading straight for Cloud. The younger boy jumped, but swung his weapon, managing to at least catch the thing with the sharp end of the blade as it tackled him to the floor. Cloud’s flashlight went rolling away and blinked off, plunging them all into total darkness.

The beast grabbed Cloud’s Hardedge in its jaws like a bone, trying to tear it out of his hands, but Cloud held on, refusing to give ground. Blind in the darkness, it was all the younger boy could do. Pinned on his back, he kicked, trying to catch the beast in the stomach.

“DOWN!” Zack shouted taking a swing at the thing if only to draw its attention away from Cloud. “DOWN BOY, DOWN! BAD DOG! SIT!”

Losing interest in Cloud, the beast rounded on Zack, jaws gaping. It barked at him once, the sharp sound ringing in his eardrums and shaking more dirt loose from the ceiling.

Light flashed and Zack shouted in surprise, squinting against the sudden brightness stabbing his pupils. There was a snarl and a yelp and Zack forced himself to look through the blinding light. A lit flare sputtered among the loose bones. Cloud stood on his feet again, blood running from one arm but sword poised and ready. Sephiroth had one foot planted on the beast’s massive shoulder and Masamune embedded deep in its neck. With a yank he dislodged the sword and stepped back, waiting for the creature to dissolve into light and mist once it had breathed its last. However, the rough, growling breaths did not quiet. Instead, the thing lurched to all fours and howled a second time.

Fur slid away into ragged clothing, flesh reshaping itself into something more closely resembling a man- for a very loose definition of “man”. It was bipedal, but that was about it. This was a creature that had been stitched together from spare parts. It groaned and lumbered toward Zack on legs that did not match. Sparks fizzed from its joints, electricity rippling in blue-white lines along its limbs. Zack readied his weapon, expecting it to lunge at him the way the beast had, but instead his whole body went rigid as pain lanced through every nerve. He stumbled to one knee, the stench of burning hair filling his nose. Stupid thing had blindsided him with a lightning bolt! Shaking it off, Zack lurched to his feet in time to see Cloud take a kamikaze swing at it. Bolts of lightning showered from the ceiling and Zack swallowed a scream as more electricity arced along his backbone.

“/CLOUD!/” The general’s voice rang out amid the crack and boom of thunder. The younger man was quick to obey, diving out of the way as Sephiroth hurled Masamune like a spear. The monster roared, the sound like a dozen rusty engines gunning at once. Masamune stuck out of it like a skewer out of a hotdog; still it advanced. Zack poised his Buster sword, but watching this time for the telltale charge of magic. From the other side of the room came a sharp whistle. At once the creature turned to face the noise. Electricity crackled up and down the shaft of Masamune as it began its spell. It never got to finish, its howl of rage reduced to gargling as Sephiroth engulfed it in a wave of water.

Although he knew better than to expect the thing to wither away, Zack was nonetheless disappointed when a fresh creature lumbered to its feet. This one was only slightly more man-shaped than the first, its body covered in the rags of a workman’s uniform and face hidden by a mask. Most alarmingly, it held a long, serrated blade in both hands. At first Zack thought the mechanical war-cry came from behind the mask, but quickly realized it was from the saw.

Not waiting for it to attack anyone else, Zack rushed forward with a cry of his own. The thing met him with equal force, the many teeth of its blade grinding sickeningly against his Buster sword. Sparks flew as metal sheared against metal. Zack managed to shove the thing back after a moment or two but promptly felt sick. The creature revved its saw again, and ran at him, weapon raised high over its head. Too busy tossing his cookies, Zack did not get to see the thing stop short when it noticed Masamune poking through its middle. While Sephiroth held it fast, Cloud tossed Zack an esuna which he caught and hurried to swallow. The abomination struggled for a minute but eventually screamed and collapsed over the blade, crumbling to a heap on the floor.

“Did we kill it?” Zack gasped, standing with Cloud’s help.

No, apparently they hadn’t.

“You gotta be kiddin’ me…” Cloud squeaked as the monster’s form gathered itself yet again. The group took a collective step back as huge bat-like wings suddenly spread from the creature’s back.

“What the everloving /fuck/?” Zack swore. He had the unique experience of watching his commander’s eyes widen in horror as the creature resolved from an amorphous glob of red plasma into something that caused three chins to drop and three hearts to sink right through the floor. Zack would recount later that he had nearly pissed himself at that moment, and would not be the least bit ashamed to admit it.


It was the first time either of them had heard the commander swear.


Zack and Cloud did not need to be told twice. The only problem was, there was almost nowhere to go. The crypt was small, the rotting coffins the only objects that would provide even the suggestion of cover. No sooner had these observations been made than the room seemed to melt away. There was no floor, no ceiling, only an endless black void. Out of the nothingness rose a laugh so cold and emotionless it made Zack’s flesh crawl.

The blackness collected, condensing into a creature that was blacker than night, blacker than sin. Great horns curved back from its heavy brows, and claws black and shiny as obsidian tipped each finger and toe. Enormous blood-red wings, veined and leathery like that of a bat curled above its shoulders. A long, spike-tipped tail waved back and forth behind it. The wings flapped lazily as it hung above them, leering down on them with glowing, blood-red eyes.

Raising one clawed hand, it struck. Zack did not have time to even blink. Abruptly he found himself thrown to the floor, every nerve vibrating in /pain/. He could not move, could barely breathe. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Cloud, face-down and inert at the other end of the void. He hoped he was still alive. Zack’s view of Sephiroth facing the demon was sideways, and slid in and out of focus as he fought to remain conscious. Watching the two black-clad creatures duel was like watching a hurricane, claws and swords moving too fast for mortal eyes to follow. Cloud’s flare fizzled and died, and Zack was left to track the battle by the spark of steel against steel, the flare of magic, and the inhuman sound of the demon’s roar of pain. It filled his head, vibrating it like a bell, until Zack was certain that his ears would explode.

All at once, silence fell. The distant music of fairy chimes and the sensation of summer rain telling him the general had won. Zack had not doubted for a second that he wouldn’t. With a groan, he dragged himself to his hands and knees. Suddenly a warm, yellow light clicked on and he felt a strong hand under his arm, hoisting him to his feet. The general had found Cloud’s flashlight.

“Thanks,” Zack panted, retrieving his sword before following Sephiroth across the room to where Cloud was stiffly picking himself up.

Body still vibrating from a mix of exertion and adrenaline, Zack wiped at what he thought was sweat, but turned out to be blood. Cloud could barely stand up. It took both Zack and Sephiroth to get the younger man on his feet. He swayed dangerously, so Zack looped Cloud’s arm over his neck. As per usual, the general bore not a single scratch mark, but he seemed ever so slightly winded, and had more than a few hairs out of place.

“What the hell was that?” Zack asked, not truly expecting an answer. The man they’d found in the coffin had reverted to his human form and lay face-down on the floor, his narrow body blanketed by his long red cloak.

“I have no idea,” Sephiroth replied, hesitantly nudging the man’s shoulder with the flat of Masamune’s blade. The man did not stir.

“Did we kill him? As in kill him - kill him - kill him?”

The man in the red cloak gave an indistinct groan. Cloud echoed it.


“Enough,” Sephiroth announced. Stepping forward, he seized the man by his hair and yanked his head back, setting Masamune’s edge against his exposed throat.

“Do it…” the man’s red eyes were glazed and unfocused, but his voice was calm and steady, and surprisingly deep. “Please.”

Sephiroth blinked and seemed on the verge of granting the shape-shifter his wish when Zack spoke up.

“Who are you?”

“I…” he began. “I am…” He didn’t get any farther. The words trailed away into silence, leaving only a rather blank expression. He squinted his eyes shut once, twice, as if trying to clear his vision. At last he became aware that he was hanging with all his weight from his hair alone, and tried to gather his body beneath him. Sephiroth pressed the blade against his skin and the man froze at once, only lifting both hands level with his shoulders in surrender.

“My name is Vincent,” he said in a much lighter tone than before, sounding as if he were trying to convince himself as much as them. “Vincent Valentine. At one time, I was a Turk. Now...” He shrugged. “Well, you’ve met my ‘friends’.”

The wound Sephiroth had inflicted on him, Zack noted, was almost completely gone. Only his clothing bore any sign of the deep slash that had practically split him in two. For a long moment Sephiroth just stared at him, expression unreadable. At length, he resheathed Masamune. Looking down at the man on his knees in the dirt in front of him, Sephiroth raised a hand and began to chant. Zack blinked, recognizing the cadence of the words if unable to decipher each syllable clearly. The incantation for healing had always sounded like a prayer to him, which, he supposed, was fitting.

“/Bless the body that gives its strength to your cause, heal these wounds that it may fight on,/” Sephiroth murmured, eyes closed, before opening his hand and releasing the spell. Sea green energy sparkled around Vincent’s red cloak, pooling in a glimmering puddle around him before evaporating in a mist of shining light. The spell had been strong, restoring not just health but his uniform as well, all traces of Masamune’s work had vanished. Still kneeling, Vincent looked up at Sephiroth, not knowing how to interpret his actions.

“I don’t think you’re lying,” Sephiroth began, the words slow and awkward, “but...what proof can you offer me?”

Vincent thought for a moment. “ the laboratory still here?”

The boys exchanged a confused glance.

“We haven’t found one yet,” Zack confessed. “We were on a scavenger hunt looking for you.”

Slowly, Vincent rose to his feet. The motion was fluid, liquid, as if he were jointed at more places than hip, knee, and ankle.

“The laboratory is at the end of the corridor. If you like, I’ll show you the way.”

Sephiroth did not answer. Instead, he turned and shone the flashlight’s beam on his two subordinates, both of them exhausted. With a sigh, he shook his head.

“Not tonight. My men need rest.”

Vincent inclined his head in assent. “Very well.” With a decided air of defeat, he turned back toward his coffin.

“You will come with us.”

Everyone blinked at this, surprised at the general’s command.

“Sir?” Zack asked.

“I am not going to leave him down here,” Sephiroth said sternly. “Come on, all of you. Upstairs. We have to investigate a faulty makou reactor in the morning, and I for one would like some sleep.”

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