I'm managing to get some writing done, but not nearly as much as I hoped.
Anyway, thanks for all the patience and support, my readers. Here's yet another random teaser for you, set at some vague point further on in the story.
Typical warnings apply -- very rough, plot SPOILERS, yadda-yadda. Enjoy.
::staggers off to deal with YET MORE Real Life(tm) crap::
start of teaser
The cold, icy rage sliced through the incoherent confusion that now completely consumed his mind. It was accompanied by a deep visceral loathing that drowned out almost any other thought or emotion he could have had.
Ancient instincts, dormant for untold generations but now purposefully awakened and strengthened by the Planet, took over. They stripped his mind bare and transformed him into a living weapon controlled by three very simple rules.
(1) Detect threats to the Planet.
(2) Remove threats to the Planet.
(3) Eliminate any obstacles.
Cloud kicked down the door and charged in. However, to his surprise, the facility's security center was deserted.
"Where the hell is everyone?" Yuffie said as she followed him inside the room, whose walls were lined with banks of video monitors. "You'd think that these guys would make SOME effort to defend the security control room for their entire base!"
"Who knows, but I won't complain about the good luck," Elena muttered, as she moved to the main control panel. Her hands moving swiftly, she said, "It will take me some time to raise the security shutters and unlock the elevators...."
She was interrupted by a massive explosion which rocked the entire facility. The shaking was severe enough to send most of them staggering as lights flickered and chunks fell off the ceiling. A good third of the security monitors went dead, and alarms of all sorts started whooping.
Amid the cacophony, Sephiroth appeared in the doorway and said drily, "I presume that explosion wasn't part of the plan."
Reno snapped, "Fuck, no! Not on a rescue mission like this! Although who knows what those nutcase scientists are up to...."
"So what the hell happened?" Yuffie demanded.
"That explosion came from the lower levels." Sephiroth walked into the room to stand next to Elena and Cloud. "What's down there?"
"Aside from the power plant, the main research labs," Elena replied grimly.
Yuffie noticed that Sephiroth wasn't carrying his sword at the moment, but its absence was totally meaningless, not when he could now apparently summon the damn thing out of thin air. And that was on top of being able to cast a whole shitload of spells without needing any materia whatsoever.
That was really convenient for Sephiroth, of course, but that meant that there was no longer any way to disarm the guy. Of course, even without his new abilities, Sephiroth was absolutely deadly, whether armed or bare-ass naked... or so she'd heard.
Sometime during the Wutai Wars, Sephiroth had been ambushed by a large group of assassins during a bath. Sephiroth had emerged from the encounter essentially unscathed -- no surprise there -- and none of the ninja had survived.
Fortunately, Sephiroth had been remarkably cooperative. For one thing, this Sephiroth didn't appear to be a homicidal maniac out to destroy the Planet, which was always a good starting point for a working relationship.
On the other hand, she was pretty sure that the primary reason Sephiroth was willing to work with them at all was because of Zack. Yuffie found her gaze automatically shifting to Cloud, who didn't seem to be the least bit uncomfortable about standing so close to Sephiroth.
Reno suddenly said, "Elena, can you bring up the feed from this camera onto the big screen?" He gestured at one of the monitors near him.
She glanced over at her fellow Turk. "Give me a second... got it."
The full color video was a little jittery but reasonably clear. The camera overlooked a heavily damaged corridor somewhere in the research labs. Smoke poured out of an exploded doorway -- maybe the source of the explosion? -- as broken electrical equipment showered sparks all over the place.
A scientist, his once pristine white coat now splattered with both dirt and blood, staggered out of the smoke, then whirled around to stare back into the devastated laboratory. His face twisting, the scientist frantically waved his hands in front of him in a mixture of fear and denial.
The slender, naked blond-haired man slowly emerged out of the smoke, then inexorably stalked toward the terrified scientist who cringed and flattened himself against the wall.
"Rufus...," breathed Reno.
Even as the Turks and the others stared at the man they were there to rescue, a squad of security guards appeared on the monitor at the far end of the corridor.
Although there was no audio, Yuffie had a pretty good idea that the wildly gesticulating leader of the guards was yelling something on the lines of, "The specimen's escaping! Grab him!"
"Oooh, that's a mistake," Cloud murmured.
Yuffie glanced at him, then did a startled double-take when she saw the grimly satisfied -- faintly malicious, even -- grin on Cloud's lips.
The cornered scientist on the monitor also clearly agreed with Cloud's assessment because he desperately tried to wave the security guards away. They ignored him and charged forward.
"Idiots," Sephiroth commented succinctly as he watched the leading guard lunge for Rufus's arm....
...only to grabbed by the neck and slammed face first into the corridor wall.
Yuffie muttered, "That's going to leave a mark," then immediately regretted the snarky comment when she saw the dark reddish smear of blood, mingled with brains and bone, left on the wall as Rufus released his grip and allowed the guard to slide to the floor.
The scientist took advantage of Rufus's distraction and ran for his life.
When Rufus Shinra turned to face the rest of the guards, Yuffie finally caught a glimpse of his eyes. They were glowing, but much more brightly than even Cloud or Sephiroth's eyes. His facial expression somehow managed to be oddly blank, but at the same time coldly furious. Rufus's movements appeared slow and deliberate, but Yuffie didn't think that there was anything wrong with his physical coordination. The death of the first security guard provided ample proof that Rufus was perfectly capable of swift and deadly motion when necessary.
Another guard died in a similarly gruesome way before the others could halt their ill-considered charge and retreat to a safer distance... or so they thought. Almost as one, the guards grabbed for their weapons, aimed, and fired.
In a blatantly superhuman blur of motion, Rufus seemed to dance through the hail of bullets and charged his attackers. Once among them, he began to tear them apart... literally.
"Oh, snap," whispered Elena, her eyes wide with shock as she stared at the wall screen and watched bloody body parts go flying.
"What the FUCK did that bitch DO to him!?" Reno hissed in fury.
Cloud looked at him and replied flatly, "Whatever the fuck she wanted to. That's how mad scientists roll, as you should well know by now, Reno."
The Turk growled, then said tightly, "Point taken. But what the hell are we going to do about it!?"
"In his current condition, he's a danger both to himself and everyone around him. In situations like this, there are generally two options," Sephiroth said to Reno. "The first, and the far more preferable, involves someone going down there and calming him down somehow."
"Say WHAT?" Reno said, looking incredulous.
"Don't confront him. Talk to him. Try get through to Rufus and remind him who he really is, and not... THAT." Cloud jerked his head toward the ongoing bloody carnage on the large video screen.
"Do you seriously think that just talking to him is going to work?" Reno said, also looking at the monitor.
"If he trusts you enough...."
"Uh, hello there, Cloud? This is Rufus we're talking about," Reno interrupted.
Cloud blinked, then gave the red-haired Turk a wry smile. "You've got a point. But you and the other Turks are the ones who are closest to him. If he's going to listen to anyone, it's going to be you guys. If Rufus cares enough, you have a chance of reaching him."
"A chance. And if talking to him doesn't work?"
Sephiroth folded his arms and replied coolly, "Then Cloud and I will go down there and forcibly subdue him by whatever means are necessary. Speaking from personal experience, while the outcome of this approach is far more certain, it also tends to be much messier and traumatic for everyone involved."
"So basically, we Turks somehow talk Rufus down, or the two of you are going to beat the crap out of him. Is that it?" Elena demanded tightly.
The two Turks glared at Sephiroth, then at Cloud who gave them another shrug. They then looked at each other. Elena nodded, once, then headed for the door. Reno reached for the radio comlink in his ear as he followed her.
"Guys, meet me by the elevators. We've located Rufus. Now we have to figure out a way to reach him...." Reno took a deep breath. "...in more ways than one."
end of teaser