Final Fantasy VII: Scion of Chaos
Part - 3
Cloud awoke to find himself laying horizontal in the middle of a very dark room in which there seemed to be just enough light to lightly illuminate his body. He searched for a source of the light, but could find no apparent place from which it eminated. Reaching around him, he realized that even though he was stable he could not feel any actual solid substances around him. He desperately tried to think of how he could have possibly ended up in this situation, but nothing came to mind. “Am I still trapped in the life stream? Was it all a dream, am I dead?” These are the thoughts that plagued his mind. His most recent memories are those of him holding Tifa as they hung on for life above the Life stream. He wondered if they had fallen and if he would he be able to find her again? Suddenly, out of the darkness, he heard a faint sound. At first it sounded like the gentile thumping against a small drum, but it quickly occurred to him that it was not a drum they were footsteps. He wondered how someone could be walking down here when he couldn't even touch the ground that he felt pushing against his back. "Is someone there?" he asked hesitantly.
"Hi." An unfamiliar voice echoed back at him.
The whereabouts of his weapon was the only on Clouds mind now. "Who's there?"
“Me? I live here..." Cloud heard the voice echo from all directions; he frantically tried to turn towards each direction that the voice had emanated.
"What do you mean?" As he spoke, a point of light opened beneath his feet. Feeling compelled to investigate, Cloud bent down and discovered that the light was actually a tunnel leading to small opening in a floor a story below. He squinted his eyes as he tried to discern what was through the hole. To his surprise, he could clearly make out two figures standing inside a padded room of sorts. The two people seemed to be having a heated discussion about something. There was a female that seemed to be pleading desperately with another man in the room. He appeared to be a doctor in his late thirties and wore a white lab coat covered in many various stains. He seemed to be forcibly arguing against the woman's point of view about something that Cloud could not audibly discern.
A moment later, he heard a door open then close again and the two people in the room spun around. The one he could not see before was now in clear view, it was another man. He could not place how or from where exactly, but the man's face felt completely familiar to him. Examining the man's jacked he quickly realized where he was. In bold font across the shoulder of the man's jacket was the word “Shinra”.
The light in the room intensified forcing Cloud to back away slightly. The once small opening enlarged into a massive, radiating pool of Mako energy. The gel like substance that made up the mass rippled around Clouds hands as he pushed himself even further away. “Mako?” It seems that he was not in the Shinra building after all. The radiance of pool intensified so quickly that he had to cover his eyes to avoid the pain. He could feel its energy surging across his body until it consumed him completely. Then as quickly as it had begun, the prickling of his nervous system decreased and the light receded.
Feeling his arm now down text to his side Cloud wondered where all the light had gone. Opening his eyes a little wider he found himself staring at two triangular sheets folded over his brow. Reaching up to the top us his head, he discovered that somehow an open book had tried to make itself a hat upon his crown. Holding the rather large book between both hands he looked around to realize that he was no long floating in some mysterious black void, but was in fact sitting on the floor of the Shinra mansion's basement.
Every detail was exact to his best memory; even the dust seemed perfectly in place. Each wall was promptly stocked with thick backed books and the desk at the end still stood, stacked with reams of paper. Looking back to the book in his hands, he skimmed through each one of its many pages. To his surprise the book was completely empty from front to back. Searching the outside cover he discovered the words “CC.-0012 printed in bold letters. "Am I really here?" He asked to no particular person other than just to hear his own voice.
"Someplace that is no place at all." The same voice came again, but now it sounded muffled as if it were speaking to him through a thin wall.
“Could you not speak in riddles? Just tell me if I am in the Lifestream or…”
The voice quickly interrupted him. "What is the Lifestream, Cloud?"
Cloud cocked an eyebrow as he rolled the book over in his hands. “The life source of our world, of course.”
A cloud of smoke filtered in through the cracks in the walls and stuck to one corner of the hallway. “That's correct, but It is also so much more.” Sephiroth slowly emerged from the smoke. Cloud jumped to his feet and reached for his sword, but quickly learned that it was no longer there. “Sephiroth!” He yelled as he charged down the corridor at full speed. Sephiroth flashed him that familiar grin which caused Cloud's anger to grow even more.
Cloud hated that grin that mocked him so. Sephiroth threw both of his hand up into air commanding the books around the room to take flight. Circling his hands around, Sephiroth formed a thick wall at the end of the corridor, separating him from his attacker. Cloud crashed into the wall at full force causing the wall to buckle under him. Unfortunately, this plan did not work out quick like he planned. Instead of breaking, the wall simply bent then quickly sprung back into place sending Cloud back through the air and down on his backside.
The books parted and formed into neat stacks on each side of the corridor. “I expected as much, from you.” Sephiroth slowly ran his fingers across the tops of the books as he slowly walked past. At the moment his hand left the top books a small orb rolled around the bottom of his hand. It slid gently into his palm then began to emanate with bright, purifying light.
Cloud eyed the ball very carefully then his jaw dropped as he recognized its pearly white surface. The memories hit him all at once, the pond and a friend long gone. "That's..."
"You're right, it is the white materia.”
Confused, Cloud looked up at him questioningly. "How did you? Is she?"
"She is not here, but her example has led us here."
Cloud shook his head as he began to rise to his feet. "I don't think I'm follow you."
Sephiroth extended his hand for assistance, but Cloud quickly batted it aside. "You are the one who needs to understand.” Sephiroth took one of many books off of one of the stacks. “Won't you seize this wonderous opportunity I am offering you? I can show you more than you could possibly imagine!"
"I don't think so. I've been playing your games for far too long." Cloud stood, brushed the soot from his pants then rested his hands on his hips. “I think it's time we finished our fight. I believe the last round ended with you huddling over the blade of my sword.”
Sephiroth smiled at Clouds taunts for battle, but he was in no mood to play games either. "No, I will show you what power is and it is not in a sword." Sephiroth grabbed Cloud by both shoulders and threw him through the table. Many of the books on the table clamored to the floor and opened to reveal their blank pages. "This is where you begin your journey."
The table, which supported Clouds body, disappeared out from under him and left a seemingly bottomless hold in its place. Cloud waved his arms frantically as he attempted to reach for anything to grab a hold of, but no such opportunity presented itself
In the midst of the nothingness Cloud could see nothing but complete darkness. As he was falling he began to hear a faint tune growing increasingly louder. The tune sounded so familiar to him, almost like something he recognized from his childhood but he could not place it. Then as quickly as it had begun, it was gone. Out of the darkness many sets of halogen lights gradually hummed to life revealing that Cloud was not falling anymore at all. He was now laying on the floor of a very dimly lit hallway that seemed completely unfamiliar to him. The place appeared dilapidated like it had suffered through many bombardments of intense pressure and was lined with at least a few dozen doorways on each side of the hall. Mustering his courage, he slowly proceeded down what he hoped to be direction to a way out. As he walked down the hall he found each room he passed to be just as desolate and abandoned as the main hallway.
A distant sound of dripping water called Cloud's attention towards a dimly lit doorway no more than ten paces ahead of him. As he approached the lit doorway, he heard the sound of humming emanating from the room. Looking into the doorway he discovered a small girl was sitting in front of a tall mirror playing with her hair. The girl continued to sit on the floor playing as if Cloud wasn't even there. She carefully combed each loch then suddenly jumped up as another child entered the room. It was a small boy who appeared to be slightly older than her. “Evea!” He called to her. They both laughed simultaneously then skipped around the room as happy as can be. Cloud tried to speak to them, but they remained blissfully unaware of his presence. Then, as they ran to the back of the room, they turned into dark silhouettes and disappeared into the shadows. Entering the room to investigate further, Cloud discovered that this room somewhat resembled the doctors offices he used to see in the Shinra complex. He knew that the two couldn't be related because there is no way Shinra would keep a place like this around, unless they were trying to hide something.
Moving out of the room Cloud continued to the next room where he discovered a similar set-up as the room before. The same little boy and girl ran from corner to corner only instead of stopping at the wall, they passed right through it. As he stepped in through the doorway his surroundings changed to that of a luscious garden encased by several tall trees. He watched two children play happily among the trees for a little while as he tried to figure out the significance of these visions. His thoughts ground to a halt as a man in a long coat, very similar to the doctors he saw before, step beyond him and call for the children.
Both children excitedly ran over to talk to the man. Something he said to them must have been very upsetting because the little girl began to cry. She whipped around and hugged the boy as tight as she could as she screamed inaudible pleas to whichever god she saw fit. The man in the coat kneeled down beside them both in attempt to console their emotions. Then the scene faded once again into shadows that encompassed a long abandoned garden. Thick weeds now covered the freshly cut grass he had just observed in the vision. The soft blue sky now appeared as nothing more than a partially caved in ceiling that played host to many strange plants growing down from the ceiling beyond. Cloud assumed that he was viewing past events long before this strange place had succumbed to whatever forces had turned this place to ruin.
Continuing down the hall he passed several more rooms that appeared to have been science labs at one time and a small resting area that played host to hundreds of tiny insects. He guessed that they must have survived on small scraps of food left by those who once lived here. He finally stopped as he reached another room gently illuminated with a soft yellow light. Inside the girl sat all alone, her long coat quickly soaking up each tear shed from her eyes. The walls were covered with a few dozen hand drawn pictures depicting the girl's life in this mysterious complex. A moment later, Cloud watched as several scientists came in to comfort her, but none of their kind words seemed to make a bit of difference to the girl. Disappointed that their efforts had been wasted, they all slowly piled out of the room, except for one man that slipped just as they left. He slowly approached her and the girl curled up into a ball as he approached, then they faded away as the man reached down to touch her.
After an exasperating walk, Cloud finally reached the end of the hallway. Behind a large, heavyset pair of doors, Cloud discovered a large room just as dilapidated as the others, but decorated with tall specimen tanks housing several human-like subjects. Each figure was submerged in a neon colored solution and suspended from the top of the tank by their ankles. Restraints bound both wrists to each bicep, across the chest, and across their legs. Cloud wondered what kind of creatures they could be growing that requires these kinds of measures. The whole place seemed reminiscent of the basement below the Shinra Mansion.
Feeling thousands of tiny pinpricks up the back of his spine, Cloud slowly backed away from the tanks and found the sharp corner of control console. It was lined with many various keys of many various colors along with a small screen affixed directly in the center. Feeling compelled to investigate further he let his hands search each key individual. After a few moments of pressing random keys, he finally found the power button. Upon removing his finger from the key, the console slowly sputtered to life, displaying some basic boot text across the screen. Sephiroth once again reappeared from the shadows.
Cloud glanced up at him, then back down to the screen. "What am I doing here?"
Sephiroth paced around the room touching everything he passed. " This is place where we all began. A little bit of DNA, a twist of science, and the forceful implantation of memories that were never our own to begin with."
Cloud once again glanced around the room at the walls of tanks. “Are you trying to tell me that this is where they made you?”
Sephiroth chuckled. “You are thinking along the right lines, but this place is much farther beyond even me.” He snapped his fingers and the small display instantly changed from scrolling text to a picture of the very room they were standing in. Except, this was a picture of the room before stress and time had ripped it apart. “Watch carefully.”
Cloud watched the screen as the camera zoomed in to one of the tanks in the far left corner. Suspended inside the tank, there appeared to be a small girl very similar in appearance to the one he saw in the visions before. Her long hair flowed with the current of the solution and her face was over half covered in shadow, but he could tell that it was that very girl. Scientists walked over to the tank, wrote down many comments in similar penmanship and then moved on to a different tank. The camera zoomed in closer as more scientists came to take samples from the girl using many strange instruments attached to long, metallic arms. As they collected their samples, something jarred the girl to life. She panicked when she opened her eyes to find herself being poked by many instruments, which Cloud was more than certain didn't feel too comfortable.
She pressed her palms against each side of the tank and shattered it with some unseen force. The scientists fled in fear from the girl who was clearly in the mood to cause some carnage. After splattering the bodies of the scientists against the walls, she turned to look directly into the camera. She stared for a moment examining the strange device that looked back at her, then Cloud felt her stare stretch beyond the video. He jerked back as he felt his mind being penetrated by some unseen force.
Sephiroth flew back into the shadows. “Damn, it found us…”
Cloud watched as the person on the screen transformed from female to male and age at least twelve years. The man cocked a large smile as he probed deeper into Clouds mind. “You're both being..very..Bad…” Cloud toppled over backwards from the force of his mind probe, but instead of hitting the floor he fell through it into another empty void. After a few moments of falling Cloud gently landed on a tall stack of books that seemed to appear out of nowhere. He realized that he was once again in the basement of the mansion. Sephiroth also appeared once more. “I guess this is the only place he can't get to us.”
“Who was that?” Cloud asked.
Sephiroth took a book from the shelf and tossed it over to Cloud. “The brother of the girl you saw in the cloning tank. He tries very hard to protect her.” As Cloud flipped open the book, Sephiroth continued his explanation. “They were separated a long time ago by the Lifestream and he is desperately trying to reach her. If he does, it could mean very bad things for your world.” Taking more books from the shelf, he formed a seat for himself out of books. “By bringing you into the Lifestream I allowed him access to a vessel, which he used to free himself.”
“He's in my body?” Cloud interjected. “Is that why you pulled me back here, to keep him under control?”
“No, he shoved you out of your body and took control.”
“Took control…What about my friends!?”
“I'm afraid he left no survivors.” Sephiroth shook his head, and then smiled again. “They fought very valiantly up until the end.”
The book that he once held tightly with his hands made a loud thump against the floor that echoed down the length of the corridor. “Shut up.” He spoke just above a whisper. “Tifa, Barret, Yuffie…” Feeling completely overwhelmed with rage, he jumped to his feet and picked Sephiroth up by the collar of his jacket. Clouds eyes flared green in anticipation of another battle. “This is your fault!”
Sephiroth chuckled and it only made Cloud grip him tighter. “It is, I don't feign responsibility for this.” Sephiroths physical form transformed from solid into a metaphysical silhouette; passing from Clouds hands, Sephiroth once again landed both feet on the ground. Now back in physical form, Sephiroth struck Cloud across the face with his fist. “We won't accomplish anything if we don't work together on this.” Falling to his knees, Cloud stared down at the open pages of the book below him on the floor. Amazed to find words now clearly printed on each page he hesitantly began reading through paragraphs detailing the methods of research used to make clones.
“Once you are finished, I can show you the doorway to things you never imagined..” Sephiroth turned and disappeared into the shadows once more.
“How is this going to help us stop him?” Cloud called after him. “How do we keep him from getting to her?” All was silent for a moment. Then, with the rushing of a stout breeze the words floated through and permeated the entire corridor. “We have to stop him from reaching Midgar.”