WARNING: This particular teaser has hints of MAJOR plot spoilers.
start of teaser
Rufus faced off against his opponent and smiled grimly. Actually, it was probably more a baring of the teeth than a smile, but with everything that had happened to him recently, he wasn't in the mood to care any more. The constant sensory onslaught, the voices in his head that would NOT shut up, the gnawing awareness of Jenova's foul presence all around him....
He reminded himself that this fight was supposed to be just a workout, a way of relieving stress before he broke something less easily replaceable than a mere desk... say, Reno or Elena?
Rufus didn't think that there was any immediate danger of him hurting any of the Turks or the others, but there was no point to pushing his control to the limit, not when a much less breakable target so conveniently presented himself.
He'd had a considerable amount of combat training -- not only with weapons, but hand-to-hand, as well. It had been something to do while being stuck in house arrest at Junon for nearly four years, waiting for his father to change his mind or die.
Not that he stood any realistic chance of winning against THIS opponent. Still, the idea of not having to hold back was... intoxicating. And he'd finally have an opportunity to explore what his new abilities could do....
His opponent stood, calmly waiting for Rufus to make the first move.
He leapt and attacked.
Rufus spun quickly, trying to track his opponent, but lost him amid the billowing clouds of dust thrown up by the last attack....
....then he caught the briefest blur of a black-clad figure moving in from his left.
The hit landed, fast and brutally hard. The next thing Rufus knew, he was flat on his back in a deep crater in the ground, with his opponent's black gloved hand clamped on his throat and a knee planted firmly on his chest.
As Rufus panted heavily, a stunned silence fell over the scene, broken only by the patter of rocks raining from the sky.
"Not bad," was his opponent's cool evaluation.
Rufus glared up at the unarmed Sephiroth and complained irritably, "I didn't manage to make you summon your sword. Hell, you're not even breathing hard!"
Sephiroth gave Rufus an amused smirk and said, "You're still quite new at this. All things considered, it was a fairly impressive performance, Rufus."
He rose to his feet with his usual uncanny grace and held out a hand. Rufus stared at it, then reached up and allowed Sephiroth to help him to his feet.
"I've only seen one other person pull off that particular style of two-stage homing fire attack," Sephiroth observed calmly, "And he was one of the best combat magic users I've known."
"One of the best, perhaps. But still not better than you, hm?"
Sephiroth merely gave Rufus a cool half-smile.
"Genesis put considerable time and effort into working with his materia and refining his spell casting abilities. But you managed to pull off a similar type of attack instinctively and with no apparent effort."
Rufus went still. "Your point being?"
"The purpose of Project S2's Phase 3 is to enable the subject to fully access the knowledge of the Ancients contained within materia. From this workout, especially that last series of attacks you used, it's obvious to me that you're now capable of using not only powerful magic, but magic of a particularly sophisticated sort -- the type that takes years of constant training and practice to even attempt, much less perform with a casual wave of the hand."
Rufus was aware of the others who come to watch his practice bout, one-sided as it was, with Sephiroth. While Cloud was busy talking with Vincent, everyone else -- Tifa, Cloud's other companions, and the Turks -- had varying degrees of shock and amazement on their faces.
Now that the adrenaline rush of combat was over, Rufus could fully undestand their reaction. Not only had he faced off against Sephiroth one-on-one, he had somehow managed to avoid being utterly and completely curbstomped into the dirt within the very first second of the fight.
"So you're saying that Montessi's little experiment on me worked," Rufus said with a faintly bitter smile.
"Not necessarily," Sephiroth responded coolly. "I'm merely observing that Montessi's underlying theory appears to be correct -- that with the right subject and suitable modifications, a human being can gain much greater access to the knowledge of the Ancients. So unless you've been secretly practicing combat magic for years...."
"And I haven't."
"Then it appears that you've developed the ability to use magic much as the Ancients probably did. However I question how much of that ability can be attributed to Montessi's experimentation alone."
"Ah yes. We musn't forget about the precious Planet and its meddling," Rufus murmured in soft, but unmistakably angry tones.
He and Sephiroth both turned to gaze somberly at Cloud, still occupied with his conversation with Vincent, and the dark-tipped blond hair clearly visible at the nape of Cloud's neck.
end of teaser