The early hours of the morning were riddled with cries and howls among the wind, which could send a tremor down even the bravest man's spine. The sea swept upon the shore somewhere along the eastern coast of the continent, each time crashing into the sands, keeping the thousands of stories it had locked away to itself. With the ghostly ambiance possessing the coastline aside, the sea was a sleeping creature, twinkling in the moonlight serenely. A lengthy glittering blade surfaced from the blanket of saltwater near the water's edge. It cut through the sand gracefully, and a arm followed it. The arm was that of a black cloaked wraith, treading forward, kicking up sand with its movements. Haunting buckled boots, ripped and torn to look like some kind of animal had consumed and regurgitated them, pointed toward the silent grassy hills and mountains of the mainland. The robes of the traveler whipped in a southerly direction from a gust of wind, as it strode forward, changing its pace slightly, keeping a hooded head hanging toward the ground.
The pilot of the approaching hovercraft was a low-ranking ShinRa employee, whom the President considered rather unimportant and disposable. Across the side of the hovercraft mowing down the landscape of the main eastern continent, were the bright white letters spelling 'ShinRa', a dying corporation that used to have a firm grip on the world. The war machine's aqua colored tint couldn't be seen in the dark of the morning, but the crew would soon be engaging a cloaking device shortly.
"We got him sir, in the middle of nowhere" the pilot said with a sense of urgency. A human figure lost in the shadows cast over the hovercraft troop bay, shifted slightly closer to the Heads-Up Display of the hovercraft console.
"It's him. He's returned" a calm and cool voice replied.
"That's impossible" objected a woman sitting in the red overhead light of the troop bay. A wisp of fringe hair darted through the black of the corner, to turn to the woman in the red coat.
"If there's anything I learned from being in the presence of the previous Chief Of Science, Officer Lacarste, is that when it comes to him" the shadowed man said, bobbing his head toward the landscape, "nothing is impossible."
Lacarste didn't respond for a moment, considering if her disagreement was worth it. Her pride however was not something to be trampled on, and she would argue her superior if necessary. She tucked a strip of white hanging hair behind her right ear.
"The reason I'm sitting here with you now is because Hojo was a madman" she said, pointing out the dead scientist's obvious flaw.
"As well as a genius" the man was quick to add. He leaned forth from the shadows, so his balanced face with smooth lines came into the light. A flash of golden orange hair caught Lacarste's eye as the hovercraft bumped and rattled over rough terrain. "When we find him, Officer, I think you'll be doing a great deal of… re-evaluating what is impossible, and what is not…"
"I am a woman of science, Mister President; I believe what I see and not what legends may speak of. I do believe, that if you're searching for a reliable Chief Of Science, then you don't want someone who will jump to the conclusions of resurrections and prophecies at the drop of a ShinRa employee hat… and that, happens often."
The President hunched his shoulders forward a little, and a grin of uncertain origin spawned across his face. President Rufus ShinRa was a decent man, but he wasn't naïve. He had seen the unthinkable, and this woman had no idea of what she was getting herself into. That would soon change however, and she would adapt to the unexplainable, and then seek explanation.
"Jane, you believe what doesn't blow your mind for as long as you possibly can… I recommend it."
He was impressed at the woman's mindset thus far. She had proven herself to be loyal and inseparable from her concepts, and a strong woman who would protect her reputation to whatever extent, but whether or not these attributes were too solid and unbreakable for her to suit the role of a ShinRa manager, Rufus was unsure. Her reaction was silent to his last comment, and she was slightly confused as to what it meant. Rufus knew it was meaningless, the young woman would soon understand. He brought his arms up and pulled forth his white coat a small amount forward over his shoulders. "Pay it no mind. You're just along as an observer."
"President Rufus sir, we're coming up on his position!" the pilot exclaimed nervously. Rufus looked further back into the troop bay, where four other men sat in the dim red light of the interior.
"Prepare yourselves" Rufus said directly to the special weapons operatives seated near stashes of heavy weaponry. The President then took a more specific look at two blue dressed agents keeping very still and expressionless. Rufus's personal bodyguards were the most elite group of fighters attached to ShinRa Corporation, but even so, there was a sentiment of doubt lingering throughout the hovercraft. Tseng, who had been with Rufus since the start, and Rufus's father before him, decided to break the ice.
"We're not ready for this, Mister President" the long haired man stated. Rufus sighed and glanced at Tseng with a frown. The man's face was somewhat bony, his eyes thin and his long hair resting on his shoulders a jet black.
"We didn't have a lot of time, Tseng. The last time this person was sighted was near Northern Crater, we didn't know where he was going to show next" Rufus quickly clarified. He took a deep breath out and dropped the strain and sense of urgency from his voice. "We have him now, and we're not going to lose him again."
Opposite Tseng was another female, a short-haired blonde who would be exceptionally attractive if it weren't for her incensed features – a grim mouth and glaring, killer instinct eyes. But such things Elena did not care about, her career was her life. She rubbed her hands over her thighs as she rested back against the interior of the armored shell.
"At least call in more support, Mister President. For your sake, and ours" Elena said without any sign of anxiety. Her comment and expression was but another reminder of just how much Elena had matured since she had first entered the domain of the Turks, Rufus's crack bodyguard organization.
"No Elena, we are alone" Rufus confirmed with a nod, assuring himself he was doing the right thing. "The last thing we need is reports of the one winged angel infesting Midgar. Now equip your weapons, it's show time."
The night-walking wraith had barely come a few hundred meters from the coast before it sensed the presence of the ShinRa hovercraft. The gloved hand's grip on the long sword tightened, and the legs quickened their pace. A trail of dirt and dust rallied into the air, in front of it the source – a vehicle. There was no sound from the being as it brought its sword up vertically between its hidden eyes.
The hovercraft drifted along its side over a few humps, and then swiveled around so the deploy doors faced the wraith. Forty meters away at the most, Tseng and Elena were the first to disembark from the ShinRa vehicle and quickly survey the area. It was mostly flat, the coast was out of range and so were the mountains behind them. The two Turks strafed casually apart, keeping their eyes locked on the target ahead. It stayed completely still; the only movement was coming from the ripped black robes flapping in the wind. Elena's golden hair fluttered over her face as she readied her melee weapon at her side, a grey electric whip with a black-grip handle. She thumbed the small switch on, and narrowed her eyes at the opponent ahead. Tseng preferred to keep his right hand resting on the back of his automatic pistol, although it wasn't like him. There was something different about this opponent though, it was as if he wasn't even the one winged angel. He had been almost killed by that monstrosity, he knew what the man's ambience was like.
The one name that was feared far and wide. Tseng swallowed hard as he felt the wound tingle in his back.
President Rufus stepped out between the two Turks, and almost welcomed the sight of the cloaked warrior. He laughed aloud, attempting to convince the figure that he had no fear of the great and powerful Sephiroth. The President knew the man wasn't one to strike unless attacked, especially when outnumbered. Tseng grunted as he wasn't comfortable with Rufus's attitude, his opinion on the wraith was dissimilar. Sephiroth would strike if you stood in his way. Rufus, was standing in his way.
"We've had quite some trouble locating you" the President said in a low tone, which could barely be heard over the whistling wind. "But I knew it was you as soon as I found out you had wiped out the Icicle Inn, and killed all those people. I knew it was you when we discovered you had walked straight out of Northern Crater" Rufus said. He was careful not to appear cocky as that would only provoke Sephiroth, and here, they had to catch him off guard. A smoothed out triangular boot pressed onto the grass outside the hovercraft, and Rufus took a second to look back at Officer Lacarste. She climbed out daintily and cautiously, lifting her head every few seconds to get a quick look at the cloaked wraith. She found she couldn't look at the figure for long, her eyes dropped to the grassy fields. She eyed him closely one last time, and found her knees shaking as it looked like something out of anyone's worst nightmares. Rufus felt the tension tightening as more people spilled out of the hovercraft and onto the grass. The two heavy weapons experts lined up alongside Tseng and Elena. Rufus grimaced and murmured under his breath. If there was going to be a tactical approach he had completely missed the opportunity. All of them now were standing in front of their enemy, ready to go. But the figure didn't move a muscle... until it had decided Rufus had been in his way too long. His long sword screeched in the wind as it shot down from his head frighteningly quick, and down to his side. Ominously, the wraith began a slow march forward, and hidden eyes stared straight at Rufus. "Take him" Rufus said quickly. Tseng raised his pistol, and started firing off rounds of bullets. The long sword moved to the figure's defense like lightning, and bullets were deflecting in all directions, some of them almost hitting Tseng. He stopped firing when he had to attend to his own defense. Lacarste lunged back into the hovercraft interior with a shove from Rufus and let out a small scream as deflected bullets came alarming close to hitting her leg. Rufus dived to safety, and reached for his own weapon, a pistol tucked away under his wavering white coat. He didn't fire, it would be no use, but looking up, Rufus noticed the sword tip of the wraith shining against the moonlight. It was coming closer.
Elena rushed to his defense from the right, and Tseng from the left. While they were close the heavy weapons operatives were left with a target entangled with friendly units. Elena slashed out with her electric whip, while Tseng slipped a curved blade from his belt and sliced it through the air toward the figure's undefended waist. The long sword was there in an instant, and when it locked with the drastically smaller dagger, Tseng struggled against the strength pressing toward him. As he tensed and struggled to push against the sword, he got a good look at his opponent's weapon. When recognition that the wraith's weapon was the Masamune, the Turk weakened and was thrown through the air. Tseng crashed hard into the grass and Elena was left alone against the monster. "Elena!" Rufus yelled hopelessly. He charged toward the tyrant to assist in the struggle. Elena lashed downward with her whip, and it was caught by the shining edge of the long sword and thrown back at her. A cry came from her as she was swiftly kicked in the stomach and thrust backward. Rufus stopped short of his enemy, with a stunned look on his face, both scared and amazed. He stepped back slowly, puffing and offering confused grunts, as Sephiroth went to strike him. Elena's whip threw the sword of track, and it cut cleanly into the grass beside Rufus's shoe. She appeared behind him somehow, and wrapped an arm around his neck, pulling him out of range from the Masamune. The ShinRa soldiers lined up high-powered energy cannons, and blasted away at the separated figure. Robes went flying as Sephiroth was driven through the air by a huge force, and he landed on his feet securely twenty meters away. Rufus shook himself free from Elena in frustration, and took a few steps forward to examine the standing man, still firmly holding the Masamune at his side. The soldiers looked at each other in disbelief; how the man was standing after an energy blast to the chest was beyond them. Rufus was taken back, but not completely surprised. He regained his breath after a few seconds, and took a few steps closer to Sephiroth as something caught his eye. His hood had fallen back when he was pushed backward. Startled once he saw the face of his enemy, Rufus scrambled back to the hovercraft.
"Rufus!" Elena shouted.
"Everyone in, we're getting out of here!" the President yelled at the top of his lungs. In seconds, the hovercraft was in motion, with Rufus's adversary dashing after the group. The Masamune drilled through the air toward the open side of the hovercraft, and impaled a soldier through the chest, killing him within a few seconds. Crimson rivers trickled from the giant wound, and Rufus went to grab the end of the sword to remove it from the man's torso. The bones in his hand crackled as black gloved fingers wrapped around the hilt and jerked it back. Rufus began a slow, agonizing scream as the sword was snatched from him, and when he was released, went to secure his right hand. As a soldier lunged forward to tackle the wielder, his head was sliced cleanly off, and flung somewhere out the side of the hovercraft. Lacarste terrifyingly backed as far away from the attacker as she could, wedging herself in an alcove. The next victim was the pilot, the Masamune slid straight through the back of his seat and out through his chest in an attempt to slow the hovercraft down. Rufus staggered past the decapitated corpse with a pistol in his left hand, and delivered a barrage of bullets into the wraith's undefended left side. He fell back, taking his sword with him, as Tseng and Elena stumbled into the troop bay. Rufus grabbed the controls of the hovercraft, and pulled himself forward, causing his hand to click and emit pain. He stomped on the acceleration pedal, and the disfigured collection of corporation managers and employees were on their way.
While Tseng attempted to comfort the horrified Jane Lacarste, he still had his heart in his mouth himself. Elena went to take over the hovercraft controls from the President, as he clambered into another seat to examine his bleeding and wrecked right hand. Elena eyed Rufus with a dirty look as she increased the speed of the vehicle.
"We weren't prepared" she muttered.
"We were prepared!" Rufus snapped at nothing in particular. "We were prepared but something wasn't right. We made those cannons for Sephiroth. We had them under construction back during the events at Junon Harbor so what the hell went wrong?"
"He withstood anything we dished out" Tseng commented from the shocked Lacarste. Her eyes were fixed on the decapitated figure lying lifelessly on the hovercraft floor. Tseng moved forward and tucked the body away, out of view.
"Their blood is on your hands" Elena said lifelessly, keeping her eyes fixed on the grassy fields ahead of her this time. Rufus snarled and rubbed his left hand over his face, ridding it of some sweat. He gave the situation a little thought, and remembered one detail in particular that changed everything.
"… I know why it didn't work" he mumbled bitterly, clenching his teeth. His raging eyes were the last thing Elena saw of Rufus for the rest of the travel back to Midgar.