So many people were rushing along the busy sidewalks, Midgar was always busy, I thought to myself. I brushed back a strand of hair from my eyes absently, then picked up my mug of coffee and sipped at the hot liquid. My glasses were rested beside me on the table, next to my elbow. For some reason my body was feeling very tensed and tired. I blinked dully for a moment, setting the mug down beside me on the tabletop. Letting out a sigh I lowered my head down to my arms, resting it on its side. Closing my eyes, I took in another breath and exhaled slowly through my nose.
Work was becoming demanding. Hojo was always some work-a-holic, but even now his strenuous hours was getting the best of me. Ever since he became Professor Gast’s assistant, he immediately went over board on this project. I really didn’t know too much about this new experiment, they kept it only between themselves. I was just glad to be only the lab technician.
From what I hear, Hojo can be quite the ass. Laughter from the table beside me shook me from my thoughts and I slowly opened my eyes again. Stretching my arms out across the table, I yawned loudly, feeling the strain in my muscles again. I pulled my hands back in front of me and accidentally knocked my coffee on its side.
“Oh!” I grabbed some napkins and started to pat at the hot liquid on the smooth tabletop, trying to get at it before it spilled to the floor. After cleaning it up, I stuffed the soiled napkins in the now empty mug of coffee, blowing a few strands of hair from my eyes. A headache was slowly coming, and it had started to pound inside my temples. Reaching to the side, I pulled my purse from the seat beside me and opened my wallet, grabbing some gil. I made sure to grab my glasses and put them back on, blinking as my eyes became adjusted to them. Placing the 20gil on the table, I slung my purse over my shoulder and walked out of the café, brushing my loose hair from my eyes. Walking through the rush of people, my mind drifted to my nice inviting bed that I barely even knew now.
Stifling a yawn at the stop, I stared up. The massive plate of Midgar obscured the view of the sky. Frowning softly, I tried to remember when was the last time I had been out of this city. Smiling suddenly, I remembered it was when we had our company outing. We went straight to Chocobo Bills and had our party there. Everything was so beautiful and clear. We stayed at Kalm where the hotel was just amazing. Everything there was blue. I had wanted to stay there just to watch the sun rise over the mountains.
The sudden surge of people made me aware that the bus had arrived. I paid the 15gil fee and boarded onto it, heading straight for a side seat. The whole bus was crowed and I had to stand. Kids were crying, people were chattering, and my tired thoughts resumed themselves into a daydream. It suddenly occurred to me that I had actually missed the stop. I had been mindlessly watching the surroundings and now the bus was heading deeper into the sectors.
Just great, I thought, scolding myself silently. We neared the stop and I jumped out with some passengers. Glancing down the way we came, I shouldered my purse again and set down the sidewalk. This was a residential zone, and my eyes swept up and down the nice apartments. Lights had been turned on over the many walkways and bathed the street in its glow. I came soon to the large crowd of people walking and slowly neared my own place. Taking the purse from my shoulder, I searched it for my keys. Finally finding the jingling keys, I pushed open the door and immediately ran my nose into it.
“Oof.” I rubbed my nose and frowned, shaking the door suddenly as the bolt with the chain rattled on the other side. I reached my hand up and fumbled with it, finally jostling it from its place and opened the door fully. I flipped the light switch and a light appeared in a lamp along the hallway. I threw my purse onto the table beside it and set off to my room. Opening the door to the living room, I saw my roommate sprawled out along the couch. She glanced up at me then returned her eyes to her book.
“Hey,” I said, then stopped beside the couch, tilting my head upside down so as to read the cover of the book. “What are you reading?”
She folded the cover inwards and looked right at me. “Just a book.”
I nodded, “Sure,” and reached out, grabbing the book from her hand as she sat up quickly. I only had to glance at the author before I laughed.
“Lisa Pern? She can only write cheesy love novels, Jess.”
Jessica flushed a little, and smoothed her dark red hair behind her ears. “Well, I had to read something. I was bored outta my mind.”
I looked her over and smirked. “Sure.”
Tossing the book back at her, I turned and walked through the opposing door in the living room. I heard Jessica’s voice as I opened my door.
“Is it a crime for wanting some romance?”
Laughing once, I poked my head back out. “That’s not real romance, girl. It’s always the same, and nothing in those books will * ever * happen to anyone.”
“Oh puh-leese, Missus. “I’m—in—love—with—my—job. Career’s can get you so far. You need substance in life. I mean, in all the time that I’ve known you, you haven’t been on any sort of date.” Jessica went on.
I walked back out, wearing sweat pants and a white T-shirt, walking around on the carpet with my slippers. “Quit bringing that fact up. I’m just not interested in a relationship. My job means a lot to me, all right? I want to get a good career.”
“Even more than you want a good relationship? Pssh. You’re lost somewhere in the head.”
I sat down beside her, folding my legs in underneath me and scowled softly at her. Jessica suddenly sat up and grinned wide.
“I know why you’re not so anxious to have a relationship.” She said, her blue eyes lighting up. I eyed her carefully, wary of what was to come next.
“You’re probably with one of the Professors over there!”
I nearly gagged when I heard this. “You moron!” I yelled at her as she went off in a fit of laughter. I grabbed one of the cushions and pegged her. “Those jerkoffs are…eee…”
“Well, Gast is married and Hojo is a geek. He’s probably more in love with his beautiful project then anything else.”
“So tell me, what is this project? You’re bringing in all these papers.” Jessica said, motioning with her head to the table strewn with folders and loose papers. I sighed, looking at the table thoughtfully.
“I honestly have no clue yet. I brought all of the data I was allowed to try and understand. But I’ve come across a complete blank.”
Jessica leaned to the side and picked up a loose paper with a drawing on it, straightening the edges. She flipped it towards me and I scanned the grainy black and white picture.
“What’s that?” She finally spoke up.
I kept my eyes on the paper as I talked. “It’s whatever picture we could get of the stratum we found. For some reason, video taping and camera usage is just totally wrecked by it. It would let it record, but when we looked it over, it was all black and obscured. Our team devised a way a way of using a camera and having the plug in one of the main computers. Essentially, the computer would be taking the picture while we cleared up the negative status of the camera. This specimen wouldn’t even allow photo’s to be taken in microscopic format.”
“So..um…what is it? You kinda went off subject, Lucrecia.”
I couldn’t help but smile. “It’s the ‘experiment’ that we found recently. Professor Gast and Hojo have named the project G1. It’s going to be real big, Jess.”
She nodded once, picking up her book from the couch and flopped out on her back again, ignoring me to read. I slipped off of the couch and cleaned up the table. Sliding the papers back into various files, I picked them up and walked to my room. Deciding to sort them later. My room was so messy with clothing and papers strewn everywhere. I spent most of the evening going through and reading everything over. Sure, it was my third time doing so, but I still didn’t understand any of this experiment too well. Something labeled C01 was mentioned in many of the reports. I stared at a certain lengthy paper with numerals and headings with G1 and C01 in it.
I happened to glance at the clock and I saw that it was 11:24 already. Yawning loudly, I slid my chair back and tossed my glasses ontop of a bundle of papers. Rubbing my eyes I walked to the door and twisted the knob, but I accidentally pulled it before turning and so I ran my nose into another door. Wincing, I yanked the door open and walked out slowly into the dark living room. Given my clumsy day, I’d probably run right into the couch. I made my way to the kitchen and searched through the fridge. Jessica would have to go shopping soon. That girl cleaned through all the food.
Grabbing an almost empty box of orange juice, I took a mug from the rack above the kitchen sink. Pouring whatever contents was left into the small mug. Sighing, I sipped at the bitter drink and threw the empty carton into the wastebasket. I walked to the breakfast table and sat down on one of the cushioned seats, enjoying the silence. The bay window reflected the lights in the distance, but I only saw my reflection holding the mug near my mouth. Frowning softly, I tried to smooth back my curly brown hair from my face. I seriously hated my hair, and I wanted it cut. It was past my shoulders and a thick wavy brown. Jessica had the best haircut I’ve ever seen. She was just naturally pretty and bright. I was the dark featured and somber one.
Jessica had short dark red hair that curved around her white face, and she was tall. About 5’6”. I was 3 inches shorter, and it showed when we were together. I gave my bangs another brush of my hand and put the empty mug down, staring into my reflection’s eyes. Scowling softly, I pushed the chair back and walked out of the cold kitchen, back to my room. The phone ringing made me stop as I was closing my door. Sighing, I kept the door open and grabbed the phone by my bed, bringing it to my ear.
“Hello?” I said, my voice cracking a little since I haven’t spoken any in a couple hours. I cleared my throat, listening for a reply.
“Hello…Lucrecia Wells?” The voice asked.
“Yes, this is she.”
“Sorry to be bothering you so late in the evening, my name is Walter Colts. I’ve been informed by Professor Hojo to call you in case of an emergency.”
His last words sent an instant panic into my voice. “Emergency? What happened?”
Walter hesitated a moment, then spoke quite clearly. “Professor Gast has been shot and is critically injured.”
My eyes widened in surprise. Professor Gast has been missing for quite some time, and this happened after finding the stratum in the Northern Limits. He left all his work on it in the ShinRa lab, and Hojo and some other scientist picked up where he had left off. “I-Is he going to live?” I finally whispered out.
“It was a serious wound, Ms. Wells. He and another person were shot up bad.”
“Oh my God..another?”
“Yes. We’re not sure on the identity of the other person, but there were two shootings where he was found.”
“Where was this exactly?”
“In the Northern regions. The reports were vague on what Professor Hojo said.” Walter continued.
I had never really known Professor Gast that well, but he was still a nice man. Complete contrast of what Hojo was.
“Why was I contacted? To be told the news? Wouldn’t Hojo be the person to take over if something happened to Professor Gast?”
“Yes ma’am. Hojo is taking over the project, but he said for us to tell you and that you were to come to ShinRa headquarters as soon as you possibly can. He’ll fill you in on why there.”
I nodded once. “All right. I’ll try to make it in tonight.”
“I’m very sorry to inform you with this terrible news. Goodbye.” Walter said.
“It’s all right. Goodnight.” I said, then hung up the phone. Lowering it back on its rest, I noticed that I was shaking slightly. Taking a breath, I walked into the bathroom to wash my face and change.
I had stayed behind at the ShinRa offices a couple times, but at night it seemed to loom above everything. Walking through the double doors, I nodded quickly and flashed a small smile to the Latino woman behind the main desk. She had her hair in a big red bow and her lips were painted the same shade of red. She could be a lot more pretty if she didn’t wear so much makeup. Stopping beside the glass elevators, my eyes went up and followed the floor down to my position. Nobody was really around at this time of night. Once I stepped into the elevator, I glanced at my watch. 12:19. I stifled a yawn, staring out as the floor moved up. Midgar was only bright at night. It was so odd.
During the day, light can’t penetrate too deep into the sectors, and it was impossible to imagine if it ever reached the slums. It was just this hazy light, like an eternal evening. Night was so much different. Once it became too dark, lights would spill out over everything. Making the sectors and slums finally see light. Even though it was artificial. As I neared the upper floors, I tried to see the sky through the smog surrounding Midgar. But it wasn’t possible to see anything through this dense cloak.
The floor stopped smoothly and the doors opened with a chime. I walked out onto the thick red carpets, walking past two ShinRa guards into another elevator. Once I was inside, I took a card key from the pocket of my jacket, passing it through a small device inside the panel of the elevator. It beeped green and the doors closed with a chime. The elevator shifted and I felt it move upwards. I smoothed my hair from my eyes again. I touched my hair a lot when I was anxious. Probably the first signs of me pulling my hair out.
The doors opened again and I stepped out, having to walk the stairs to the other elevator. The ShinRa wanted the lab off limits to most people. It was the third highest floor in the ShinRa tower. Floor 68. After taking the small elevator for the specimens, I entered into the huge room that was the main lab.
So this is where everyone is, I thought. So many people were in here, and I saw some guards waiting beside the outer door. They looked a little lost. Walking to one of the side racks, I took off my outer coat and slipped on my lab coat. It smelled strongly of the lab chemicals. I never liked to take my lab coat home, it stunk too much for me to tolerate outside of work. Glancing at my watch again, I saw that only about 10 minutes had passed. Suddenly Hojo’s voice pierced the air.
“I see that everyone came.” He said, strutting out with his arms clasped tightly behind his back. His hair was always tied back in that ponytail, I noticed. As I filed next to everyone I wondered just how he slept with it. His hair was messier in the front though; two stray hairs poked out and he had a few strands coming loose around his forehead. Despite his young age, Hojo looked very gray in the face. But his eyes behind those shining glasses were narrowed to a squint and he gazed up and down at us.
“I’m sure you all have heard the news of Professor Gast,” he stated. A soft murmur ran through the crowd and he waved one hand to instantly cut the noise off. “It’s very unfortunate for us to lose our creator in this experiment. But since I was his assistant—if anything was to happen to Gast, than I must be the successor to his foundation. We will scrap from where we left off with Gast and we will go by what I will decide from now on.”
The reaction that everyone had wasn’t exactly what Hojo was expecting. As I stared at him with disbelief, I wondered just why he thought we’d take this hasty decision easily. Everyone seemed to be protesting, and the man beside me started yelling.
“If we get rid of our plans for the G1 project, than we’ll never be able to complete it the way we resolved! You can’t just change a working schedule. We spent months on these plans, and we are NOT going to just throw them away to start over with your ideas!” The man shouted, shaking his fist at Hojo. Hojo seemed to just stare at the man indifferently, then he spoke in a calm cool voice.
“If you are becoming incompetent with change, than we won’t be needing * that * in our task group. What’s your name?”
The man’s jaw tightened instantly and he hissed through his teeth. “My name is Charles Watson. I worked behind Professor Gast and I collected the data he issued for the G1 project. What you’re doing now wo—“
“Well, Mr. Charles Watson. You’ve spoken for long enough. I don’t care a fig for your position. Especially since you don’t have it anymore.” Hojo interrupted, smirking maliciously at Charles through his glasses. Charles made a slight noise and then grew quite red in the face. Hojo motioned with the side of his head to the guards standing beside the door and they split the crowd.
I heard Charles cry out again.
“You won’t get away with this, Hojo! You’re incompetent for this job, and I’ll see to it that a * real * scientist can even begin to take over after Gast. You were nothing but a lab assistant to him, and you know that!”
Hojo turned on his heel towards the man and roared out to the guards. “Get him OUT of here!! Such insubordination will NOT be tolerated. Especially by a man that has no right to even have an opinion as that."
Everyone else that remained after the man was taken down the lift stood in uncomfortable silence. Hojo turned to face us once more, and he scanned everyone.
“We’ll need a replacement now. Someone that can carry the data of the G1 project.” He said. After pausing in thought, he added: “Anyone, anyone?”
A short older woman beside me leaned closer and whispered out of the side of her mouth. “This guys a total quack house. He just switched moods like that.” She stated, snapping her fingers softly. Hojo glanced quickly at us and she shrunk away under his gaze. I just stood there for a moment when a thought suddenly came to my head. I really wanted to be in this project, so what better job then being his assistant. I’m sure I can tolerate him, it’ll probably be a behind the desk thing.
Clearing my throat slightly, I stepped forward. After glancing behind me, I noticed all eyes were on me now and I shied back, brushing my hair from my eyes once more.
“I’m open to taking the job, Professor.” I said.
Hojo looked me over once and nodded. “Your name?”
“You’ll be in charge of documentation to the G1 project, Ms. Wells.” Hojo said. When he was done speaking he looked at everyone. “You’re all dismissed. Work will begin at 8:00am tomorrow morning. I expect to see you all here. We have much work to be done.” With that, he turned and shuffled away. Hunching over slightly with his hands clasped behind his desk.
Just as I was about to turn and leave with everyone, he called out my name again. He had stopped beside the opening to the specimen deposit. I walked right beside him, not wanting to get too close to him.
“Do you have any documentation of the G1 project already, Ms. Wells?” He asked.
I nodded and replied, “Yes, Professor. I actually took a lot more of the advanced research to study on it. The G1 project really intrigues me. And please, call me Lucrecia.” I smiled slightly then, hoping that this will get me some bonus points for liking the project. Hojo only nodded curtly, narrowing his eyes upon seeing my smile.
“Good, good. I want you to burn all recorded documentation of the G1 project. Here and at wherever you have the files.”
My smile instantly left and I blinked. “E-Excuse me, Professor?”
“Must I repeat myself? We will not go any further on what Gast has made. We are starting over with a new layout. Old documents of his G1 project will be destroyed. Your task now is to make sure of that before we begin production on the new project.”
I nodded in consent, still very confused with this. We had been working for so long on the G1 project. Why would he want it scrapped? Was he really that headstrong?
Hojo eyed me for a moment and then spoke briskly. “Very well. See that you have it done by the 12’th.”
“Yes sir. It’ll be done by the next day if possible.” I said, subconsciously brushing a stray hair from my eyes.
He nodded once and turned, walking down the metal ramp. “See to it quickly, Lucrecia. I want to start on this as soon as possible.” And with that, he disappeared through the door at the other side. Letting out a sigh, I rubbed my forehead and walked in the other direction. After taking off my lab coat and putting on my jacket, I looked down at my watch.
12:34, it read.
As I walked into the freight elevator and headed on down, I thought to myself that it seemed like an eternity.