The Glories of the Son
A Fate Decided
The hour was later, very late and the huge arch of the conference room was reminiscent of a mausoleum rather than a corporate office. The circle of 12 leather-finished executive chairs was more like a row of putrefying corpses orbiting the oil-slick black of the marble conference table. The single circle lamp on the ceiling above the table washed dirty, sullied light down onto the burial chamber of the room and glistened like ancient coagulated blood on the parched leather skin of the chairs.
The death-silent room was inhabited only by two vacant shadows of humanity, each preoccupied as boredom saturated the lifeless atmosphere.
A sharp buzz pierced the room as a 'com buzzer screamed and a thin, raspy female voice filtered into the room through a set of hidden speakers.
“General Heidegger has just arrived sir.”
The plump man at the end of the table sighed impatiently, pressed a crease from his plum red suit and answered, picking up a slender black telephone receiver from a recess in the table and holding it to his ear.
“Send him in.”
He replaced the receiver and sat back, leather squeaking as he pressed his formidable weight back into one of the corpse-chairs, huffing and puffing impatiently as he waited.
His snake-slit eyes raced to the end of the room where a second man stood gazing out of one of the full length windows onto the urban sprawl of the city of Midgar far below the tower. He looked like a wraith, blending almost completely into the darkness of the room. His long black hair poured from his scalp and sat around his shoulders and his whole body was cloaked down to his ankles in a black leather coat. He stood still as a statue gazing out onto the millions of mako-powered house and street lamps in the many glittering canyons and gullies
below. He was emotionless, only the thin hiss of his breathing betrayed the fact that he was alive and not some ghost or wraith yearning to leave this room but held fast by the evils of his life.
The plump man sat forward, knitting his hands together and was about to utter something when the harsh snap of a door handle disengaging a catch caught his attention and he watched silently as another wraith was admitted into the spirit room.
The serpentine slither of the plump mans' eyes fell onto a tall, well built man dressed in military uniform. His eager face was covered in a dark, neatly trimmed beard and he beamed confidently as he sat at the table and dropped a large bundle of files onto the oil-slick of the marble.
“Please forgive my lateness Mr President, I was delayed by a traffic accident.”
The president nodded and cleared his throat, some of the impatience draining from his face as he sat further into the seat.
He nodded at Heidegger and sat forward a little further as he directed his attention to the near-hidden spirit at the end of the room.
The man at the window turned around. Light from the circle lamp above the table washed over his slim face and shined like quicksilver on the rims of his glasses.
“Care to join us?”
Hojo turned around, taking a place at the opposite end of the table and pulling his wiry body closer, resting his gloved hands on the armrests of the chair. The leather of the chair and the leather of his gloves integrated seamlessly, as though he and the corpulent thing on which he sat were one.
“Right.” President Shinra said, his voice gruff and irritated.
“You know why I have summoned you here.”
Heidegger shifted uncomfortably in his seat and his face lost some of its' beam quality as he opened one of the files. The president sat back in the chair and depressed a switch on his end of the table. A shiny black tube connected to an assembly of wires and boxes rose from an aperture in the middle of the table and there was a dull flash as a hologram projector burst into life, displaying a number of financial projections and charts in the air immediately above the table.
“You assured me General, that this would be a quick 'in and out' procedure.”
The president sat forward, tweaking his moustache as he glared at the rapidly shrinking Heidegger.
“So far, in the two years that we have been embroiled in this campaign we have expended a sum in the region of four and a half billion Gil. We have lost more than 2% of the armed response units sent to Wutai and now, based on this information…”
The president gestured to the swirling mass of photons and light beams that made up the image.
“…the value of our stock is starting to be affected. Explain.”
Heidegger let out a nervous chuckle, cleared his throat and sat forward, adjusting a row of his medals.
“Well…we have so far managed to overrun the outlying areas of the country and Mako expansion into these regions is progressing…”
“THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!” The president thundered, hammering the projector button with his fist and killing the image.
“WHY HAS THE CAPITAL NOT FALLEN YET?!! YOU ASSURED ME THAT IT WOULD BE OURS AFTER A MATTER OF WEEKS; THIS IS NOW TWO YEARS LATER GENERAL, TWO YEARS, AND I SEE NO END TO THIS FINANCIAL CATASTROPHE BEING REACHED IN THE SHORT TERM!!”
Heidegger dried up and shrank under the ferocity of the presidents' outburst, he clutched his hands together and sat back a little. President Shinra was leaning over the table and glaring now as if daring Heidegger to talk.
“We…we could always launch a Materia Bomb on the capital sir…”
The presidents' eyes flared and his face cracked into a rictus of fury and he was about to launch another verbal assault on the hapless general, one much worse than the last when the faint laughter from the other end of the table distracted him. His enraged eyes darted to the gloom-sheathed professor as the thin, raspy laughter rattled in his ears.
“Something amusing professor Hojo?” He asked, his anger poorly concealed in his raspy voice.
Hojo sat back and clapped his hands into his lap as he chuckled menacingly and glowered at Heidegger over the rims of his glasses.
“Only the continued and superbly demonstrated stupidity of the military mind. Our plan is to secure Wutai and force that fool Godo into accepting Mako energy yet our outstanding tactician here wants to launch a weapon of mass destruction that would render the entire market useless, not to mention send the value of this company's stock into a freefall. His mishandling and blundering throughout the entire course of this war almost legitimise that course of action, considering the complete and farcical failure of all his other approaches to date. ”
President Shinra sat back, regained some of his calm and clasped his hands on the table.
“Have you any suggestions professor?”
Hojo moved forward but was silenced before even speaking by the hammering of Heidegger's fists into the table.
“AND WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW OF MILITARY MATTERS YOU GOD-DAMN LAB JOCKEY?!” He screamed.
Hojo glared at him and rested a fist on the table, the leather of the glove creaking as he clenched the fist tighter and tighter.
“You are a blundering, inept fool General. It is due solely to the fact that all those under your command are even more blundering inept and foolish that you are a General at all! I have given you access to the greatest fighter on this entire planet and you have repeatedly shunned my will to let you use him! You are an idiot, your ego clouds your judgement. You have not the intelligence to realize the power of the weapon I offer to you.”
“HE IS JUST A DAMN CHILD!! HAVE YOU GONE TOTALLY CRAZY?!!”
Hojo sat back and ground his teeth. Heidegger sat up and zeroed in on the professor.
President Shinra watched on, mildly amused by this fight between brains and brawn.
“If this damn child is anything like the other SOLDIER agents I have dispatched he will be killed in the second day of combat!!”
Hojo shot forward, hammering both fists off of the table and sending a clap of thunder around the room.
“YOU REVIEWED THE FILES YOU CRETIN!! YOU KNOW AS WELL AS I DO THAT SEPHIROTH IS RADICALLY MORE ADVANCED THAN SOLDIER AGENTS TWICE HIS AGE!!”
Hojo turned from the stunned Heidegger and addressed President Shinra.
“Listen to me, dispatch Sephiroth and he will take the Capital single-handedly!”
The President smiled and stood up, circling the table watched by both Hojo and Heidegger as he moved to the window and gazed out onto the Mako-lit world below.
“Perhaps we should all calm down a little.”
Heidegger moved to speak, glared daggers at Hojo then fell silent with a loud and exasperated sigh. Hojo glared at him for a moment, cracking the bones his hand then sat back in his seat, continuing to glare as he calmed off.
“Where are the troops now General?” The President asked.
Heidegger sighed again, ran a hand through his beard and flipped through another of his files.
Hojo watched him playing with his papers and shook his head, almost in disgust as he opened a black bound journal on the table in front of his seat and began to carefully pen notes with a delicate golden fountain pen.
Heidegger quickly flipped through the files and came to the report he was searching for.
“They are held up at Wutai Bridge sir, the only land route into the country. We had the option of a sea invasion but the beaches are heavily barricaded and defended almost back to the city itself. Many would have died…”
“They're only soldiers General.” Hojo hissed.
Heidegger looked up at Hojo and felt his blood run thin and icy as he caught the glint in the professors' eyes.
“I…I was…” He stammered.
“Not thinking as usual.” Hojo snapped.
Heidegger sat back in his seat, numbed by the gleam in Hojos' eyes. He was silent for a long moment and continued to watch the professor with a shocked revulsion even after Hojo had gone back to writing in the book.
Heidegger turned his gaze from the professor and looked back up at President Shinra who had turned from the window and was standing with his hands clasped behind his back.
“Why are they stopped at Wutai Bridge?”
Heidegger cleared his throat and flipped over another page.
“Reports and recon from the area show a huge mass of entrenched defence at the bridge.”
Hojo chuckled again.
“What? Didn't you expect that either? Didn't you reason out that the only land route into the country would be as heavily defended if not more so than the beaches?” He asked.
“I did expect it.” Heidegger snapped.
“Then why have they stopped?” The president asked.
“They didn't stop, they were stopped. The initial outlying defences were smashed quickly but the Bridge itself is absolutely peppered with mortar and 50 calibre machinegun emplacements. It's like a slaughterhouse out there. Last week's casualty list topped out at 25 thousand men in 70 hours.”
The president turned and looked back out of the window.
“I see.” He sighed.
“Any suggestions professor?”
Hojo replaced the lid of the pen and closed the folder, sitting back in his seat and knitting his hands together in his lap.
“You are both well aware of my suggestion. He could be ready for deployment in 2 hours if you gave the word now.”
The president nodded slowly.
“I want a copy of his latest physical and psychological test results before I give the go ahead.”
Hojo rose from the seat and circled to the head of the table, sitting almost silently in the presidents' seat. His fingers danced over a keyboard depressed in the marble and the hologram projector burst into life once more.
“I assumed that you would and I already stored them to the Network.”
The president turned around and rested his arms on the back of Hojos' recently vacated seat as he gazed at the circling mass of photonic projection in front of him.
“As you can both see…” Hojo began, glaring at Heidegger.
“…everything is normal. Psychometric testing is in the green as is physical. He is at peak efficiency.”
Hojo terminated the projection.
“Two hours. The war could be over in two days if you act now.”
The president nodded.
Heidegger closed his files and stood up.
“I am completely opposed to sending a 16 year old, no matter how brilliant, with no previous battle experience into a war situation but you have the final authority Mr President.”
The president nodded and dropped his hands to his sides.
“Dispatch Sephiroth Professor Hojo. But I want him retested as soon as he gets back, understood?”
“If he gets back.” Heidegger muttered.
Hojo glared at the general hatefully then nodded.
“Understood Mr President.”
The president nodded again and began to walk briskly for the door.
“Have some good news for me in the next few days gentlemen.” He barked.
He thrust open the door and left the room, striding emphatically down the light-washed corridor into a bank of glittering glass elevators.
Hojo circled back to his seat and claimed his journal from the oil-black surface of the table and headed for the door. He passed General Heidegger and stopped a few steps from the door, turning and fixing the burly man with a furious glower.
“You may think point-scoring and sycophantic toadying are some of your more brilliant tactics but I warn you General Heidegger, I am not a man to make an enemy of. You would do well to remember that in future.”
Without another word, Hojo grasped the file tighter and left the room leaving Heidegger all alone with his files in the corpulent dungeon of the conference room. Grainy light washed over his face as he followed the professor out of the room with his eyes, pushing daggers into his back with his glare.
“We'll see…” He hissed.
God Has Left Us
Gunfire roared from all directions, wailing and terrible in its' intensity and made all the more dreadful by the regular surges of heat thrown out from mortar salvos impacting with the shattered earth and exploding. Gravel and sand from these explosions coupled together with the sheet of weapons smoke and burning vegetation fumes to form a cloying sheet of poisonous smog under which hell had found a place on the earth, an outpost that had crossed the threshold of death to infect life.
Metal screeched and twanged in places where the anonymous and random slaughter of gunfire had been forced into the personal wet-work of sword fighting and the air was thick with terrified screams of pain and suffering and vomit-inducing sounds of ripping flesh and splattering blood.
Colour flared all around through the grey haze, red as bodies disintegrated into lifestream and green where the lucky few with materia were able to cast magic either to help themselves or kill someone else.
Horrible screams pierced the fighting and occasionally through the sheet of battle, a lone figure would come running out sheathed in flame either from an explosion or the horrible effects of a Fire or Flare spell. They ran screaming and flailing in agony as the great tongues of flame consumed their flesh, and licked at the soul within. Driven almost to insanity by the pain, they ran headlong into great trains of machinegun fire that mercifully tore them apart and scattered burning fragments of their corpses into the field of battle.
Death, pain and horrible explosions, madness, flame and screams of terror and anguish; to say that hell had possessed the earth was a true understatement.
Sephiroth crouched in a huge crater with a group of six other men. He watched the scene with a supernatural calm, observing as the machineguns hacked people to bits and explosions reduced the proud forms of men to patches of burning mush on the sands.
He heard the thousands of screams, wails and sobs of pain through his perfect ears. So many sounds each one telling the same stories; suffering, death, anguish and predominantly mindless and insatiable terror, not just from the Shinra troops but from those on the defending end of the battle.
All around him, people fell, screaming horribly as they died.
He tucked back into the crater, back resting against the mortar-chiselled dirt and surveyed his men.
“THEY HAVE THE BRIDGE WELL AND TRULY COVERED SIR!!” One of the soldiers shouted, addressing Sephiroth.
“WE'RE BEING SLAUGHTERED LIKE ANIMALS OUT HERE!!” Shouted another.
The soldier turned to run, fear totally possessing him and pulling him away. Sephiroth's gaze fell to him and he reached to try and pull him back but recoiled quickly as he heard a long train of machinegun fire and felt something or multiple somethings sail through the air near his head. Disgusting thuds could be heard over the fighting as the bullets from the attack hacked through the deserting trooper, tearing little pieces of cloth and meat from his body and showering those he ran towards in blood. There was a wet crunch as several of the bullets made contact with the back of his head, exploding it like a ripe watermelon and showering the crater and its' inhabitants with brain matter, pieces of skull and warm gushes of blood from severed arteries in the mangled
The ruined cadavre collapsed to the ground and convulsed electrically for a few moments, haemorrhaging from the horrific wounds before it fell silently into death and broke apart into lifestream.
Sephiroth watched calmly as the disgusting final moments of the trooper played out in front of him but he saw the vein of panic ripple through the other men like a ripple through the still-glass waters of a pond.
After watching the men for a brief moment and concluding that fear would hold them in place, Sephiroth turned his attention back to the Bridge in the nearish distance and its' crown of heavy weapon emplacements.
“WE HAVE TO TAKE THAT BRIDGE, IT IS THE ONLY WAY INTO THE COUNTRY SHORT OF A SEA INVASION!!”
A huge shell exploded nearby, forcing Sephiroth and his men to duck as sand, gravel and burning shrapnel reigned down on them. After a long second, Sephiroth was aware of a voice breaking through his noise-shocked ears.
“YOU'RE A FUCKING LUNATIC, YOU KNOW THAT?!! WHO PUT A FUCKING KID IN CHARGE
Sephiroth felt his blood run fiery as he turned to see who had just spoken to him. A burly man sat huddled, clutching his machinegun and breathing fast and shallow, his eyes alight with terror.
“WHAT THE HELL IS A KID DOING LEADING US?!!” The trooper hollered, his face both furious and petrified with fear.
Sephiroth balled his fists.
“YOU WILL FOLLOW MY ORDERS GAINSBOROUGH!!” He shouted.
Gainsborough shook his head emphatically, wincing as another shell exploded close by.
“LIKE HELL I WILL, YOU STUPID KID! YOU WANT THE FUCKING BRIDGE SO BAD, YOU CAN
Mid-sentence, an errant bullet passed through Gainsboroughs' throat, blowing the back of his neck away and tearing his spinal column in half. Tiny pieces of bone and large jets of blood exploded over the remaining men in the trench and he fell forward, collapsing first to his knees then fully onto his front. A disgusting gurgling arose from his shattered trachea as his final breath pushed a small fountain of blood from the hole in his shredded throat followed by a small river of horrible red bubbles that leeched into the sand around his head and dyed it maroon. A primal and ageless horror crystallised in his death-glass eyes as they gazed from his head across the filthy sands from his final lying position.
Time seemed to slow off as Sephiroth gazed down at Gainsborough.
Across a distance that he could not tell in a place that was familiar but lost to him, he felt something, a mind, sense the death of this one man as if somewhere, somehow, the death of this person was so much more profound than the countless others occurring in the wastelands around him. As he watched closer he heard a voice, a young girls' voice rippling across the lobes of his mind for the briefest of instants. He could hear her mind for that shortest-lived of seconds before the psychic construct collapsed, bringing Sephiroth back to the
battle with a start.
He looked up at his men and saw a new kind of fear solidify on their faces as he snapped out of his daze, completely oblivious to the fact that his eyes had lit like two great beacons in his face, shining with a brilliant yet cold energy.
For that moment, he became more an object of terror than the possibility of death out in the wastes of Wutai but that ended and panic reasserted himself over the men as another gigantic salvo landed just behind the crater and
exploded with a deafening thud and whoosh of flame. Several more landed nearby and the remaining four men began shouting and panicking as they drowned in their own terror. Sephiroth's eyes went dim again and he blinked several times.
“LISTEN TO ME!!” He called, throwing his voice over the deafening cocophany of explosions.
The troopers turned their gaze to Sephiroth but their eyes darted wildly and they looked like tiny animals transfixed by terror in the path of a car.
Sephiroth studied each of their dirt and blood streaked faces. They looked like rats trapped hopelessly on a sinking ship. The desperation and fear overtaking them almost totally. One of them was weeping and praying fervently for salvation whereas the others just remained frozen to the spot with horror. Sephiroth felt empathy building up as he sat a little further forward and tried to speak calmly over the shriek of machineguns and the bass-drum cough of mortar explosions.
“YOUNG I MAY BE BUT I AM STILL YOUR COMMANDER! PLACE YOUR TRUST IN ME AND WE
WILL GET THROUGH THIS!!”
Their eyes stopped darting and they focused on Sephiroth fully for the first time. For the first time since he arrived, Sephiroth though he caught a fleeting glimpse of respect in their haunted eyes. He also saw wonder and thought he could sense some of their thoughts in the ether between his and their beings.
Questions, fear and outright terror was writhing like a knot of serpents inside them but something seemed now to file the edge off of their terror, and respect, at least from the eyes of the lead trooper was pouring.
Sephiroth smiled slightly.
“CAN YOU TRUST ME TO LEAD YOU?!” He shouted.
Collectively but hesitantly the group nodded. The lead soldier went that extra step and managed to speak.
“WE HAVE TO SIR FOR IT SEEMS GOD HAS ABANDONED US!!”
Sephiroth smiled and turned back to look at the bridge in the distance.
“FEAR NOT!” He shouted.
“NEXT TO ME GOD IS NOTHING!!”
The crater seemed to be an island of relative stability in a sea of death and carnage. The machinegun emplacements had locked onto a group of about 100 soldiers who were storming the left flank of the bridge. The mortars were firing at a higher angle than they had previously, killing off the troops flooding onto the battlefield about 200 yards back from the crater.
Though a great number, the troops storming the left flank were no match for belt-fed 50 calibre machineguns as row after row were hacked into little pieces by the hail of ordnance and scattered like bleeding snowflakes over the ground.
They screamed horribly and several fell with horrific wounds and lay on the ground bleeding from mangled stumps or spending their last seconds upon the earth rolling in anguish and vomiting blood or crying in pain and terror before falling still and accepting death gladly.
Through the horrendous carnival of carnage, the centre flank was left relatively clear as the other bank of machineguns opened out onto a group of 50 or so men storming the right flank.
“THIS IS IT!!” Sephiroth shouted, wrenching the Masamune from its' sheath.
Before the men could protest, the boy had leapt from the crater and was bolting up the centre flank, ascending the hill with frightening velocity and closing the gap between himself and the bridge with alarming speed.
The left-flank machinegun posts turned having despatched all the attacking soldiers from the left and trained on Sephiroth as he ran.
The men in the crater opened out their guns onto the three towers and managed tokill the gunning crew of the first one but they were too late to halt the other two and they flared into life simultaneously, spitting out death in Sephiroths' direction.
The four remaining troops watched in horror as the tracers arched down the gulley and tore through the air, their trajectory placing them firmly in Sephiroths' path.
Sephiroth didn't even stop to see the bullets as he charged the hill, the evil spikes of lead impacting off of an energy barrier that extended outwards about 2 feet from Sephiroths' nimble young body and shattering into white hot chips of superheated metal. Flares of blue, green and yellow from the Shield spell danced
as the incoming ordnance from the gun towers was exploded and scattered away from the boys' body by the barrier.
The men in the trench gaped in disbelief and fell dormant as they watched, unable to believe what they were seeing.
Sephiroth reached the brow of a small hill and stopped dead in his tracks as three Wutai Samurai jumped from a crater atop the hill. The guns fell quiet as Sephiroth stood before the three men, each armed with a razor sharp sword. They moved first and the first Samurai burst into life, running at Sephiroth with a
He took the full swing of the Masamune across his chest yelping in pain and slipping in half, blood showering from his ruptured arteries and soaking his two companions as the separated pieces of his body hit the earth with disgusting thuds, splattering dislodged bone fragments and arterial gushers over the sand.
With a shout of rage, the second one burst into life and leapt through the air, trying to skewer the young Sephiroth with a lethal aerial assault. Sidestepping gracefully, Sephiroth's gloved fist struck him a mere instant before he would have been impaled by the blade and there was a horrible crunch as his ribcage shattered and imploded, pulverising his internal organs. The Samurai shrieked as best he could through crushed lungs and his dying body was thrown back 20 or 30 feet by the force of the impact, hitting the third and final Samuri and knocking him from his feet.
Whilst the Samurai struggled to move the dead weight of his comrade, Sephiroth was in motion, reaching his last assailant, spinning on his heels and detaching his head from his body with an elegant swing of the great Masamune blade.
The severed head hit the earth and rolled helplessly down the hill as the convulsing corpse slumped to the ground.
Both the left and right flank machinegun towers burst into life now accompanied by fire from a group of soldiers who had emerged from one of the left-flank towers.
Sephiroth stood dead in his tracks, the screech of bullets shattering off of his Shield almost deafening to those around him as the colours of the magic flared wildly. Atop the left-flank, one of the soldiers tossed his machinegun to the floor as though it were a toy, took up a 40 millimetre grenade launcher and fired it.
Debris erupted as the grenade hammered into the earth and detonated pulsing forth a great shower of dust that clawed at the sky. Heat rushed out, riding bareback on a harsh shockwave and there was a deafening crack as the ordnance exploded, completely obscuring Sephiroth from view.
Smashed vegitation and dislodged particles of sand and dirt rained from the wounded sky as the soldiers in the crater waited with baited breath, their optimism slipping a little further towards death with each passing second as nothing moved from the cloud of death and dust.
A deathly silence fell over the battlefield as all those still alive waited for something, anything to happen.
* * * * *
“Ha ha ha!!” The soldier chortled, perching the grenade launcher on his shoulder.
“That got him!!”
Dust and debris swirled and fire raged yet still a strange and distant laughter arose, filling the death-knell silence of the battlefield.
The machinegun towers burst into life instantaneously joined by the accompanying soldiers. Panic rippled through them and they fired wildly as a familiar screech arose over the sounds of battle. The man with the grenade launcher cursed, reloaded and fired again as the deafening roar of machineguns amplified all around him.
Sephiroth was laughing as he ran. Reaching out his hand, he manipulated some unseen force, swatting the incoming grenade from the air and sending it screeching into a sandbank where it exploded with a fierce crack and maelstrom of harmless dirt.
He ran further on, Masamune swinging in his left hand as he reached into his cloak and pulled out a small black-finished throwing knife. The wail of the bullets shattering off his shield was painfully loud now, the screech ringing and rattling down the ear canals of everyone on the battlefield as the knife was launched from Sephiroths' fingers with a hiss as the blade sliced the invisible curtain of air in half.
The soldier who had fired the grenades jerked, dropping the weapon as the knife arched gracefully through the air before embedding its' slender body firmly into his neck.
The soldier coughed and let out a disgusting gurgle as his hands raced to the terrible wound.
He stumbled, staggered then fell to his knees, clutching the knife and the jagged-edged hole in the pink satin cloth of his throat as he gurgled again, the sound more closely related to a scream this time as the saucer-shock eyes washed over with pain. His mouth gaped and flailed, giving him the impression of a luckless fish that had been pulled reluctantly from the cold, wet sanctuary of home and thrust into the lethal dry world above. Rich warm squirts of blood flurried from his neck, escaping the desperate attempts of his hands to hold it in his body. He coughed, gurgled and flailed, a sheet of blood pouring from his mouth and splattering down his neck, soaking into the earth green of his uniform.
Pain and horror washed over his face as he collapsed forward, hitting the ground and pushing the wicked spike fully through the warm fleshy clasp of his throat and presenting it back to the world as it pushed proudly from the back of his neck just at the base of the skull. He squirmed, let out a short string of horrendous gurglings and coughing then fell still, dying face down in the earth.
Sephiroth had reached the hill now, climbing it in two or three huge leaps. The scream of shattering bullets was horrendous and the squeal of the machineguns in the towers seemed almost desperate now as Sephiroth engaged the remaining soldiers at the base of the left-flank tower.
He swirled gracefully on his feet like a grim ballerina as the first soldier ran at him, sword in hand and roaring in rage. The sun caught the quicksilver gleam of the Masamune as it contacted the running soldier who didn't even have the time to shout before the Masamune sliced his head from his body.
As the cadaver fell, the second man sprang into action, leaping at Sephiroth and firing wildly with a heavy calibre pistol. As the shots bounced harmlessly off of the Shield, Sephiroth lashed out with his gloved fist and smashed the soldier in the face. A foul crunch snapped over the sound of the weapons fire from the
towers and the lifeless corpse pirouetted and spun gracefully as it fell towards death.
Tendons in the body contracted and nerve-endings fired one final time, increasing the fingers' pull on the trigger of the pistol as the dead soldier collapsed backwards, blowing the knee off of the last of the assailants atop the bluff.
The final soldier howled in pain and dropped like a dead-weight stone to the ground, clutching at his leg and shouting frantically as long jets of blood splattered from the ruined joint.
Silence descended suddenly over the battlefield, the light, vicious snaps of gunfire and the bass-drum thud of explosions levelling completely away to nothing. No birds called, no wind sighed just silence, complete and total as a thousand pairs of eyes gazed in stunned horror and amazement.
Shinra and Wutai troops alike gazed on in awe as they watched Sephiroth climb the bluff.
A vein of panic slithered through the Wutai soldiers and a sudden clattering arose. The amazed Shinra troopers looked around them and realised that it was over. Two years of hell on earth, so many hundreds of thousands of deaths; two years of pain and death and destruction had ended in the moments that had just played out.
The Wutai men dropped their weapons and the battlefield took on the image of the earth sprouting life as their hands rose slowly from the trenches and gullies they were hiding in like flowers pushing up from the ground. Not even for a second did they take their eyes off of Sephiroth who had captivated them both in awe and terror and held them transfixed.
Seizing the opportunity, the Shinra troops rushed the outlying trenches and defence posts and quickly detained the remaining Wutai soldiers. They offered no resistance at all, just gazing relentlessly towards the bluff and the silent machinegun towers upon it.
Sephiroth loomed over the crumpled third troop, the sun hiding behind him and crowning him with a shining golden aura. His shoulder length silver hair waved in a sudden exhalation of breeze that ran like a river down from the bridge and across the now silent field of battle.
The soldier winced in agony and tried to move away, his eyes gleaming in horror like those of an animal caught in headlights as he looked at the Masamune and the fresh dribbles of blood licking silently from the end of the blade and melting into the sand.
Sephiroth wiped the blade down and replaced it firmly into its' sheath, kneeling next to the soldier and reaching into his robes again.
“No!!” The soldier shouted, his voice weak and shaky.
“P..please, don't k..kill me!!”
He winced and whimpered in fear and pain as Sephiroth's hand pulled slowly out of the black fold of his robes holding a delicate bottle containing a sky blue liquid.
“Drink this.” Sephiroth said, offering the bottle to the cowering man.
“It's a Hi-potion.”
The man reluctantly accepted the potion, shakily pulled the top off and sniffed at the contents.
Satisfied that it was what Sephiroth said it was, he up-ended the container into his quivering mouth and drained the liquid in one go.
Sephiroth watched him then turned back to the wound in the soldiers' leg.
“A Hi-potion should help the pain but it can't heal a wound like this.” He sighed, removing his gloves and secreting them somewhere in his flowing black attire.
“I can heal this. Hold still, I'm going to cast FullCure on you.”
The soldier nodded but retained his wide-eyed terror towards the boy.
Sephiroth closed his eyes and stretched his slender hand out above the wound. He sighed, concentrated and began to chant almost inaudibly.
The soldier waited and watched as the veins along the back of Sephiroth's hand shimmered with light through his pale skin then flared with it as the spell began to form around the seeping gunshot wound.
As the crippling pain began to disintegrate from the leg and the mindless panic writhe back into the darkened caves of his psyche, the soldier felt something warm in addition to the magic worm into him; wonder.
There were no materia slots in the Masamune or in the bracer that hugged the boys' right arm. As he looked closer, he saw the deep rivers of light shining from veins in Sephiroths' hand, tapering along his slim fingers and burning like crescent suns under his fingernails.
As the light of the spell faded, the soldier slowly turned to look back at Sephiroth, his face alight with wonder.
“Wh…what are you?” He stammered.
Sephiroth smiled and stood up, opening his eyes and easing his hands back into his gloves as several armed troops joined him. Their feet and equipment rattled as they ascended the bluff and they huffed and puffed as they joined their commander beneath the silent machinegun tower.
“Please…” The soldier hissed.
Sephiroth smiled again and turned, moving back down the bluff as the Shinra troops detained the revitalised soldier. Hand on the hilt of the Masamune, he turned back around and looked to the soldier with a seemingly carefree smile.
“What am I?” He asked.
The soldier nervously nodded.
“I am Sephiroth.”
Late afternoon sunlight washed in through the windows stripping the top layer from the corpulent atmosphere of the conference room.
Hojo sat alone at the head of the table reading the reports and accounts from Wutai with glee.
He reached across the mound of papers and retrieved a black coffee from the slick marble tabletop, taking a contented sip and setting it back down as he slumped further back into the comforting embrace of the executive chair.
'It was like nothing I have ever seen…' The account began.
'…he was casting Shield, FullCure?! There are fully trained men out there who are too weak to cast these spells but a child?! How was it possible?!'
Hojo laughed out loud and threw the file back onto the desk, turning to stare at a copy of the Midgar Times atop the files emblazoned with the headline 'VICTORY: GODO SURRENDERS!'
He laughed again and reached across the table to a portable computer terminal,
pulling it a little closer as he sat up and wiped a sleek tendril of hair from his face.
Opening several files on the machine, his fingers sprang across the keyboard as he began to write an internal mail.
TO: USER 91931
FROM: USER H
BEGIN: Have you had a chance to read the reports from Wutai Bridge yet?
He was a success, just like I said. Materia has successfully crystallised inside his body and he has used spells at a Level 8 standard for the first time! This is the final proof that my Gaea Soul theory was completely accurate; the Planet holds the power of magic, not the individual materia's.
Like I said, the materia are merely a medium, a translator between the Lifestream knowledge and human ability.
He is even more advanced than the Cetra now, possessing both their telekinetic abilities in conjunction with the power of all that the materia are!
I believe we have now reached the point where cloning should be considered. It is now clear that Sephiroth is the most important human being who has ever lived and we must ensure the survival of the genotype should anything unforeseen befall the original. To this end, I am transmitting my files, theories, and research regarding the cloning and acceleration of human tissue with this message.
Given the results of this field test, I have timetabled initial testing on said cloning research to begin one week from this date and I expect all preliminary testing and subject harvesting to be completed in the next 5 days.
This result from Wutai heralds the start of our greatness, the dawn of the first day of a new and superior race of humans. We shall accomplish greater things in the days to come.
As always, I will keep you posted of my progress.
- - - - - MESSAGE ENDS-----
Hojo closed down the computer terminal and sat for a moment in the darkness of the room.
He ran a hand through the long drapes of his hair and rose from the seat, crossing the room to the great windows that spat grainy light in from the dying sun in the west. He sighed and held his hands behind his back.
“The day is coming Sephiroth.”
He sighed again, watching as the sun slipped into the bed sheets of the western horizon, throwing great waves of hazy orange light out from the dying minutes of its' radiance.
“The day of my son is coming.”
The sun finally died and the mako flared through the gullies and glass canyons of the upper plate, the brilliance of nature replaced by something cold and plastic.
Manufactured light washed the world as Hojo stood, his gaze fixed on the west as he tried to calm the writhing knot of thoughts and emotions in his head.
“My son…” He whispered to the darkness around him.