Title: WRO Security Report on Cult Activity
Beta: none, very rough draft
Fandom: Compilation of FF7; post-Advent Children AU
Type: oneshot; side story
Warnings: mature/dark themes (e.g., obscene language, violence, abuse, torture, rape, etc.)
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII and all related prequels, sequels, and works belong to Square-Enix.
Summary: An internal WRO security report concerning certain fringe groups.
-- "Conflicts of Interest Redux" is a MASSIVE rewrite of my old FF7 epic "Conflicts of Interest", which I started years before the "Compilation of Final Fantasy VII" existed.
-- The original game and Advent Children/Complete are canon for this fic.
-- Before Crisis and Crisis Core are semi-canon.
-- Various individual plot points from other components of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII (e.g., games, OVAs, FFVII novellas and short stories, etc.) may show up.
-- The additional Turk characters that show up in this fic are based on the available player characters for "Before Crisis".
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST Redux
A Final Fantasy VII fanfic by Madamhydra
WRO Security Report on Cult Activity
To: Commissioner Reeve Tuesti
From: WRO Security Operations
Dear Commissioner Reeve,
As per your request, the WRO security department has compiled a report regarding possible suspicious activity among the Planet-worshipping cults, in particular with respect to the source of the Geostigma cure (aka "The Sector 5 Church" or "Aerith's Church").
Various sects have venerated the Planet as a living (and possibly sentient) entity for many centuries. Historical records indicated that the practice was widespread in ancient times, but decreased in popularity as more organized and sophisticated religious groups emerged. Up to thirty years go, these Planet-worshipping sects were typically tolerated by the general public, although often dismissed as "nature nuts".
When the Shinra Corporation began commercial Mako extraction, the Planet-worshipping sects objected vigorously. In response, President Shinra ordered a systematic PR campaign depicting the sects in the most negative light possible -- e.g., rabid environmental extremists, outright lunatic cults, etc. The derogatory term "Planethugger" is a legacy of that PR campaign and is still widely used today to refer to individuals deemed too outspoken about their reverence for the Planet.
As the Shinra Corporation consolidated its position as the paramount commercial, military, and political entity in the world, it continued its smear campaign against the so-called "Planethuggers" who stood in the way of technological progress and economic prosperity. The practice of Planet veneration essentially became an underground activity and/or was limited to obscure fringe religious groups (i.e., "cults") or eccentric scholars (e.g., Cosmo Canyon).
Several militant eco-terrorism groups emerged to oppose Shinra's perceived exploitation of the Planet -- e.g., both incarnations of AVALANCHE -- but all failed to find popular support among the public.
After the dramatic manifestation of the Lifestream during Meteorfall and its role in destroying Meteor, the idea of the Planet as a living, sentient entity has become widely accepted by a large portion of the population. Veneration of the Planet has regained significant popularity and social acceptance. Correspondingly, the number of groups catering to such beliefs has risen sharply.
Aside from the common belief in the Planet as a god-like entity, the views of these groups or sects vary widely. Some believe the Planet to be an all-wise benevolent nurturing spirit, others consider the Planet to be unconcerned with mere humans, while yet others hold the view that the Planet is a stern, wrathful god prepared to smite humanity for its many sins. The last view has become much more common with the appearance of seemingly incurable Geostigma plague, which many people, even non-worshippers, view as some form of punishment from the Planet.
The Great Gospel Incident
In view of the widespread despair and dread caused by the Geostigma plague, it was wholly predictable that many people would interpret the recent Geostigma-healing rain (aka, "The Great Gospel") to be a divine sign from the Planet. Exactly what sort of sign -- a gesture of forgiveness, a response to desperate prayers, or even stranger things -- depends on the particular group one speaks to.
It was also predictable that the more fanatical sects (i.e., "cults") would become fixated on the source of the "The Great Gospel". Their obsessions became so great that WRO troops recently had to be deployed to stop the reoccurring riots among the rival "cults" which each claimed "ownership" of the Sector 5 Church area (see Attachment A, a summary of violent incidents in Sector 5 within the last two weeks)
Our agents have noted that within the last few months, references to "the Ancients" and "the Cetra" have become increasingly common among many of the Planet-worshipping groups, especially among the more cult-like sects. Prior to this time, these groups seemed almost entirely ignorant of the existence of the Cetra, which is understandable since that knowledge was heavily restricted by Shinra.
It is unclear who has been spreading the information regarding the Cetra. The most likely source is one or more Shinra employees, either for financial gain, spite, or because of some personal epiphany.
The commonly accepted view among the Planet-worshippers depicts the Cetra as the 'Chosen of the Planet' -- i.e., superhuman beings who, unlike ordinary humans, had a special mystical connection to the Planet. Again, the precise nature of that mystical connection varies widely depending on the particular beliefs of any given group. Some believe the Cetra as healers, nurturers of all living things, while others believe the Cetra to be deadly warrior-minions serving the Planet.
By itself, the relatively sudden appearance of the Cetra in the belief systems of the Planet-worshipping sects would not be viewed as a security threat.
However, our agents have uncovered disturbing treads among the more militant Planet-worshipping "cults".
Various individuals in these militant "cults" have started to aggressively preach that the Planet is preparing to reclaim its rightful dominion over all things living upon it. They also predict the return of the Cetra (as servants of the Planet) to aid in this "reclamation".
Some particularly fanatical individuals in these "cults" have gone so far as to claim the ability to "hear the voice" or "know the will" of the Planet. Some have gone so far as to claim at least partial credit for "The Great Gospel" and the cure for Geostigma. It is unclear how many of these individuals are merely delusional and how many are deliberately lying to increase their credibility or status.
While the majority of the Planet-worshipping groups are nonviolent and cooperative, the increasingly belligerent rhetoric of the more extreme "cults" leads most of our analysts to believe that there is significant potential for violence or terrorism against others -- whether rival sects or the general population (whom they would likely to view as 'non-believers' or 'heretics').
There is already compelling evidence to indicate that devoted "true believers" from these militant "cults" have infiltrated various influential groups and organizations, including the Shinra Corporation (see Attachment C, regarding possible sabotage of Shinra company assets) and the WRO itself (see Attachment D, regarding suspicious computer activity in the WRO network).
The WRO security department will continue monitoring the situation and notify you as to further developments.
WRO Security Operations
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