As the sun rose over the towering mountains, a figure emerged from one of the small buildings of the small town of Nibelheim. The young man's leather outfit was soaked in blood, the dark liquid shined as it caught the sun's morning rays. A smug expression was fixed upon his face as he raked his bloody gloved hand through his silver hair, leaving smears of blood along his jaw line and throughout strands of his hair. Kadaj took in a deep breath, remembering the events last night that concerned him on a bloodlust. Bodies littered the ground around him and some suffered worse fate in their homes.
The sun had cleared over the mountains revealing the horror he had unleashed on the small town. Dirt was darkened by the consuming of the blood, and bodies strewn over the foundation and decorated the landmark that towered over the town with broken pride now was lost. No one was spared from Kadaj's lust for blood.
With an amused noise emitting from his throat, Kadaj made his way back to the abandoned ShinRa Mansion. He and his brothers had to leave Nibelheim and search for Jenova and Matachi. With Matachi infected by Jenova cells, Kadaj could almost sense Matachi and if he was near Jenova that effect triples. However, their location Kadaj could never sense well enough. But Kadaj could feel a connection between Matachi and Jenova and so the next destination lies in the direction of Junon.
Kadaj approached the old building with the sinister smirk still upon his face, his eyes still dark with the need of power. The young remnant entered soundlessly through the main doors and was on his way up the stairs to find his brothers when something stopped him. Images raced through his mind, ones he never seen before. ShinRa soldiers securing this mansion, a secret passage, a library, and a man with spiky black hair were some of the strange images. Once the images ceased, Kadaj narrowed his eyes towards the landing just above him. Something up there was important to Sephiroth and Kadaj was determined to locate it.
Within seconds, he located the secret passage partially due to the fact the secret passage was still wide open from Loz and Yazoo's first expedition. Feeling the presence of Sephiroth, Kadaj made his way down the rickety spiral staircase, following the presence.
A door was ajar down the hall caught Kadaj's attention. The young remnant entered the room and breathed in deeply, smelling the old musty books of the library. Feeling his presence, Kadaj felt fulfilled, yet empty and unsatisfied. He felt approved of and disappointed in. He felt envious. Upon enduring this moment, Kadaj caught out of the corner of his eye, a flash of silver and black. Immediately, Kadaj turned his head and his Mako eyes narrowed upon the sleeping gunslinger upon the chair. Resting with Yazoo's lean chest was a thick hardback book, more specifically a book centering on the culture of Wutai; the very culture of the pixie.
Rage boiled within Kadaj as he approached the unsuspecting remnant with malice across his features. Kadaj raised his hand and delivered a harsh blow on Yazoo's left cheek. The blow immediately woke Yazoo abruptly, his eyes wide with the sudden attack inflicted upon him. The book fell to the floor with a loud thud. Kadaj calmly picked the book up and casually begin to look through the pages.
"Interesting literature, brother," Kadaj noted, turning a page. "Wutai? How curious."
Kadaj threw the book at him literally. Yazoo flinched slightly from the impact, but immediately rose to his feet to better his chance to defend himself, but Kadaj made no move to produce another attack. Instead, Kadaj allowed a smirk upon his lips and tilted his head back.
"A book concentrated on the very culture of our little pixie lives by," Kadaj stated. He closed the gap between them and then straightened his stature to whisper in the gunslinger's ear. "Care to share what you've learned, brother?" Kadaj whispered.
Yazoo's mother felt dry and quickly swallowed before trying to answer. "Kadaj, I-"
He was not given the time to even think of finishing his excuse. Kadaj had struck him across the face again, this time knocking Yazoo to the ground. Before Yazoo recovered from the surprised attack, Kadaj enclosed his left hand around his brother's neck and straddled him, keeping Yazoo pinned down.
Yazoo struggled to breathe as he looked up at Kadaj's menacing glare. Kadaj lowered his face to Yazoo's, still cutting off his brother's air supply and hissed bitterly in the gunslinger's ear.
"I know you let our little pixie escape."
Though his words were soft spoken, Yazoo felt as if those words had pierced his heart. The gunslinger only gulped in air and gritted his teeth as he continued to struggle to breathe. Kadaj chuckled sinisterly as he pulled his head away.
"You thought I wouldn't figure it out?" he demanded, his eyes glowering down at Yazoo. "You let her go, an enemy of Mother, so that she could rejoin Big Brother's group and strengthen their numbers?" His grip tightened. "I should kill you for your betrayal, brother. But as I've said before, we're all needed this time and Mother wouldn't approve." Kadaj squeezed tighter, Yazoo gagged on his tongue and choked on two short breaths. "But that doesn't mean I can't punish you."
Yuffie hummed to herself as she arranged the Materia on her bed in a particular order. First it was by category, Command, Independent, Magic, Summons, and finally Support in their certain spots on the small unmade bed. Then she had to further sort the Materia, separating the Mastered ones from the low leveled ones. She was finally satisfied when she further sorted the materia based on color. Hours had flown by Yuffie, but it was no matter to her for she had properly sorted her treasured Materia.
Yuffie did notice the time when the sun was resting upon the horizon and chewed her lip. She did send a message to Yazoo and knew it would take time for him to come, if he wanted to come. Yuffie pulled off her jacket and headband as she processed this dilemma further. This man she was secretly seeing was an enemy of theirs, trying to find Jenova to destroy this world. But his want for destruction was missing where it should be. His wish for a soul and a life was there where with Kadaj was missing. The gunslinger was different and his presence was soothing, not normal with the usual lust for the world's end. Still, what the two of them were trying to pull off was dangerous. Yuffie could only hope and pray that Kadaj will never find out their secret meetings.
A series of knocks interrupted Yuffie's thoughts and even made the ninja jump a little. She acknowledged the knocker with a brusque response which was unusual for the chipper thief.
There was a pause on the other side of the door but then Tifa's voice spoke up. "Are you okay?" asked the concerned bartender. "We haven't seen you all day."
"I'm a little busy, what do you need?" Yuffie asked with a sigh.
"Cloud found someone who might know where the scientists took Jenova," Tifa answered, her voice a little softer in case others were nearby. "We need to go see him."
Yuffie sighed inwardly. She wanted to be alone at the moment, not go through the small village to follow rumors. The ninja looked longingly at the Materia on her bed and sighed again. All that time organizing them wasted. Yuffie quickly grabbed her knapsack and swept the Materia she loved into the bag, save a few Magic, Support, and Independent Materia. She concealed the bag in a small cubbyhole she custom made, once they got their rooms. A couple of loose floorboards were Yuffie's specialty.
The shinobi geared up with her battle gear and strapped Conformer to her back after inserting the Magic Materia into it and checked her status quickly after adding the Support and Independent Materia. She was good to go and begrudgingly she went to the door and opened it to find a waiting Tifa.
The Avalanche group may have stuck out like a sore thumb, but no one paid any mind to them as they walked through the village, trying to locate the house that Cloud managed to hear that a recently retired scientist who worked at Junon was living in. It took some time, but the group managed to find the house. Unfortunately, when Cloud knocked on the door, he was greeted with a saying that seems to be a Junon area greeting.
"Dammit, go screw yourselves!" the voice yelled. "I know my f-ing rights and I can experiment if I want to!"
"Sir, we're not here about that," Tifa assured the voice.
"I'm not buying your goddamn cookies either!"
"Oh, f- this," Cid muttered, pushing Tifa and Cloud aside and stood in front of the door. It was a second later and after a yell and splintering of wood, Avalanche managed to get inside of the house of a very angry scientist.
"What the hell!" yelled the owner of the now splintered door, emerging from the back room wearing huge goggles, a lab coat, and clunky boots. His light brown hair seemed to be growing in one direction; up. "Get out! Get out before I unleashed some of my experiments on you all!"
"Shuddap!" Cid ordered, pushing the scientist down into a nearby chair and held his Javelin at the man's chin. "Screw your goddamn rights and tell us, do you know where the scientists of Junon would take Jenova after an emergency procedure?"
"Project Jenova?" the retired scientist asked in a breathless whisper.
"No," Barret gruffly replied. "Your mother. We know you used to work with those damn researchers until a few weeks ago. Where would they take Jenova?"
The scientist chuckled and took off his goggles to reveal his Mako enhanced green eyes. The sight of those haunting eyes reminded Avalanche of the General Sephiroth and some shuddered inwardly.
"You were injected with Jenova cells?" Vincent clarified in a clipped, gruff voice.
The scientist turned to the ex-Turk. "Why, yes I was Mr. Valentine," he answered with a smirk, relishing the state of confusion the group before him was experiencing. "Don't be so surprised, Mr. Valentine. You are quite a legend at the labs. Hojo's greatest failed experiment. Well, not so failed after all."
Within a moment and a growl, Vincent rushed up to the man, Cerberus drawn and jammed the barrel into his left temple. Where other men at his position would beg for mercy, the scientist laughed heartily.
"A touchy subject for you, eh, Valentine?" the crazed scientist asked lightheartedly. "Shoot me if you must, but if I die, so does the information."
"Then give it to us," Cloud ordered.
The man casually looked over at Cloud who was standing to his right at the time. "Ah, but not without a price, Cloud Strife. You too were a favorite of Hojo's experimentation. I wonder how you could have survived, but that's not the issue at hand. You want information, and I need something of great value to me. Find it, and I shall give you the information you seek."
"Why should we trust you?" Yuffie demanded. "And how do we know you have the right information? You would probably screw us over."
The scientist glowered at the young shinobi. "Maybe your doubt is placed well, but I was tossed out of the program because of my backdoor experiments and for being a failed experiment myself! They injected me with Jenova cells, but I did not respond well to them like it did before two years ago. Three subjects managed to show excellent progress, but Sephiroth took them and our other clones and after the explosion of the Northern Cave all were wiped out. Our greatest chance of understanding that damn alien ruined!"
"What?" Yuffie asked, confused and her heart clenched when she heard of those three subjects.
"Now, enough of chatter!" the crazed man proclaimed, his Mako eyes glinting. "You want the information, and I want my creature for a new experiment."
"I'll pretend we care and ask what creature and where do we find the damn thing," Cid grumbled, still holding Javalin to the man's throat.
"Well, it's not that easy, friend, or otherwise I would have caught the creature myself," the scientist answered smoothly.
"Enlighten us," Vincent ordered in a low tone that sounded threatening but it did not even made the man blink.
"Oh, well, if you insist," the crazed scientist replied with a smirk and knitted his hands together and placed them on his lap as he cleared his throat. "In the wastelands near the area of Junon and Fort Condor, there is a creature that tends to hunt in that area simply known as Hell Rider VR2."
At the very sound of its name, Cid groaned softly. Tifa and Yuffie looked at each other and shrugged. Cat Sith scratched its head. Nanaki bowed his head sadly, recognizing the name. Cloud finally broke the silence and asked the crazed scientist what exactly is Hell Rider VR2. However, Cid answered before the scientist could explain.
"It's an f-ing fairy tale!" the pilot yelled with annoyance. "You know how rare it is to spot one of those damn things? It's impossible those things to still exist! Everyone hunted them down those creatures until extinction!"
"You, my dear pilot, are incorrect about the legend," the scientist corrected Cid with another devious smirk upon his thin lips. "You're talking about the beast and rider Hell's Rider which is a fairy tale. I'm talking about a little experiment that got loose from Hojo's Laboratory several years ago. Thus it's name Hell Rider VR2. Hojo was trying an alternate use of cavalry and it backfired. The damn beast and the rider escaped and have been residing near here for years. I don't care about the rider, I just want the animal for…personal interest. That is my price in exchange for information."
"Do you have any ideas on how to catch the damn thing?" Barret grumbled, folding his arms upon his chest.
"I do," Nanaki spoke up, causing everyone to look at the talking animal. The scientist let out an insane laugh.
"Oh, Red XIII," the scientist chuckled. "I can't believe I didn't notice you sooner. Your kind is all but extinct now. But no matter. So, Red, how do you suppose to catch the beast?"
"My name is Nanaki," the creature growled and snapped his jaw at the insulting man. "And I remembered Hell Rider VR2 and I know why he and his rider are rarely seen. He never liked the harshness of the light which is why he preferred the coolness of the night and a soft mist in the air."
"So he is out and about only in those conditions?" Yuffie questioned, verifying Nanaki's statement.
"Great, f-ing terrific!" Cid shouted, pulling back from the chair and strapped Javalin to his back once again. "And does anyone have any bright ideas as in when it's going to be misting in the middle of the night?"
"Tomorrow," Vincent softly stated, his head was slightly bowed and his clawed hand to his forehead as if trying to stop a migraine. "Galian has smelled the subtle change of the weather and he assures me that tomorrow night it will be misting."
Cloud nodded at Vincent and looked down at the scientist. "We will catch your Hell Rider," the blond warrior declared.
The scientist cackled in response. "Well, let's hope you deliver!"
Wind was whipping harshly at his face, causing his long hair to dance with it, sometimes caressing his face as he silently watched the sun rise from the horizon the three brother's were steering for in the airship they managed to hijack from Rocket Town. It did not take long considering Kadaj went on another rampage and slaughtered everyone on the crew save the pilot and forced him to fly the three silver haired men towards Junon where Kadaj sensed Matachi and Mother were a few days ago and hope to find more clues once they reached Junon. This made Yazoo nervous.
He knew Yuffie had evacuated Junon with her friends, but fear was still gnawing in his heart since Kadaj figured out the details of the shinobi's escape. How long would it take for Kadaj to find out the secret meetings and the messages sent to his phone? While thinking upon this, Yazoo absentmindedly touched the welt under his eye and lingered his fingers down to his throat were bruises had formed, reminding him of the hands that used to be there. A sharp pain was suddenly in his right side and he winced slightly. A short rib was slightly fractured originally before Loz gave him a Cure1 since Kadaj refused to let Loz use a more mastered materia. So the break was healed, but the pain was still there.
Yazoo chewed on his tongue as he leaned forward on the railing, taking in the sunrise. Everything was peacefully quiet and Yazoo breathed in deep and closed his eyes as his other senses took in the soft breeze and the smell of the sea salt air lingered, leaving a sharp aftertaste in the back of his tongue. If only more moments were available for someone like him. He wished he had another life, one where he could have a normal life like the humans do. He wanted a life like a human. He knew he was once like them and the fact that he could barely remember it frustrated him.
Suddenly, something vibrated in his left pocket made Yazoo withdraw from his deep thoughts. He blinked before reaching into his pocket and retrieving the vibrating device. He flipped the cell phone open and saw the notification of a text message from Yuffie. A small smirk etched upon the gunslinger's face as he opened the text message. She informed him that she was on a mission that requires a lot of waiting and she was bored.
Again, she ended the message with a strange symbol by her name by using the number three and the greater than symbol. This confused him but at the same time made him feel uplifted from some strange reason. He should definitely inquire about the symbol next time he saw her. If he could see her, he feared Kadaj was getting too suspicious, but he felt this need that could only be satisfied when he saw her. But was it worth putting himself and Yuffie in that much danger? Yazoo sighed sadly, bowing his head and bringing his right hand to his forehead, rubbing his temples. If he could sneak out in the middle of the night and return by sunrise that would work for him if Kadaj does not decide to check on him in the middle of the night or rise with the sun.
This decision was still plaguing the gunslinger as they landed near Junon. Far enough away from the actual city itself so that no one would notice the abandon airship for days. After Kadaj had the satisfaction of slaying the only survivor, the three brothers escorted their motorcycles out of the airship. It was rather troublesome to enter the city, be it there were guards at the gates and they were rightfully suspicious of three silver haired men wanting to know the whereabouts of the laboratory. However, with Yazoo's sharp tongue and a tribute from Loz, or more accurately his gil, the three were able to bride the guards to let them stay in Junon for a few days.
They located the inn fairly quickly and after several humans gazed at them as though they were animals on display, the innkeeper handed Kadaj the keys and informed the three silver haired men the directions to their room. It was a small room with three beds taking most of the space, but it was enough for them for they were not planning to stay very long. As Yazoo began to set out his things on the bed he claimed, he pondered on what he should do that night to either stay or sneak out.
"Something's happened recently," Kadaj's remark cut through the gunslinger's thoughts. "The people and the guards are on edge and suspicious of late."
Loz unzipped his jacket tossed it over the headboard of the bed he had claimed. "Do you think he was here?" he asked as he rolled his sore shoulder, gritting his teeth slightly at the pain. Yazoo walked over to his brother and motioned him to sit down. The gunslinger then proceeded to climb onto the bed behind Loz and began to rub his sore shoulder trying to ease the pain the teleporter was experiencing.
"That would be fortunate for us and yet unfortunate," Kadaj answered with a shrug. When two confused faces were directed toward him, the youngest remnant explained. "It would mean being closer to finding Brother, but would also mean that Mother was taken to a safer place. Somewhere of great distance for I can't sense her presence at this moment."
"But who should we ask?" Yazoo inquired, pretending to be focused only on Loz's hurt shoulder but his mind was filled with worry that someone might know where Yuffie and her friends had gone.
"We can always ask the scientists themselves," Kadaj suggested with a wicked grin upon his face. "After all, we were their experiments at one time."
This time, both Loz and Yazoo stopped what they were doing and focused all their attention on the youngest remnant. With a smirk, Kadaj continued.
"This was before we were reborn and ridded of the useless memories we had as humans," Kadaj said as he walked over to the fruit assortment on the dresser and selected a pear. "We were selected to be experimented on since we were merely orphans. We became clones of him and he took us out of that hellhole. Out of the countless clones, we were chosen to be something more. We were chosen to be a part of the family and no longer just a number."
"Will we ever remember our past?" Yazoo couldn't help but ask that question. He needed to know that he was not a clone or a monster that he had some remnant of humanity within him.
But Kadaj's Mako eyes narrowed at the gunslinger with burning hatred. "And why would you ever want to remember about being a mere human when we are close to being gods ourselves?" he demanded.
But Yazoo righted himself. "Just to question if such annoyance will pester us in the future," he answered with a shrug, hoping that remark saved him from even more suspicion from Kadaj.
For a moment, Kadaj had continued to glare at the gunslinger almost making him waver before answering bitterly. "We shouldn't have our 'past' memories and if we did they would soon be eradicated from us when we join with Mother."
Yazoo's heart sank at hearing this. Some memories he had experienced were pleasant and wanted to remember them. It reminded him that he did more than just killed in his life and not just a clone of Sephiroth. He had his own life that was taken from him when he was a small child.
"Come tomorrow, we should take a little tour around town," Kadaj said with a shrug, tossing the pear up into the air and catching it in a passive manner. "Preferably near the Junon Laboratory."
After that statement, Kadaj took a confident bite out of the pear before making a disgusted face and pitched the pear towards the unsuspecting window to the right of the bed. But before the pear could connect with the glass, Loz managed to intercept and catch the pear with a slight expression of annoyance.
"I'm not paying for the damages," Loz stated in a slight bitter tone.
Usually, Kadaj would lose his temper and get into a duel to near death, but this time he just simply shrugged his shoulders in his defense. He didn't feel like fighting…at the moment. "It was rotten" the youngest remnant explained his justification.
Loz was still not pleased, but said nothing else as he tossed the pear into the small garbage can next to the small nightstand. "I thought you wanted to be discreet," Loz added softly.
Kadaj folded his arms in defiance. "It still doesn't excuse poor service," Kadaj objected. "They deserve a broken window."
"That may be, but this isn't Nibelheim," Yazoo reminded Kadaj, and even though Kadaj was giving him a glare that could tear into a soul, the gunslinger continued with wavering confidence. "We cause a commotion here, not only will their army notice, but ShinRa and Big Brother will discover our location and without Mother, I doubt we can handle all of them."
"Fine," Kadaj snapped and went for the door. "I'm going out," he informed his brothers in a bitter, harsh tone. "Don't wait up."
The door slam resonated Kadaj's departure and the remaining two remnants sighed inwardly, knowing where Kadaj's journey would take him. All was quiet as Yazoo continued to rub Loz's shoulder.
"That's good enough, Yazoo," Loz told him, pulling away and rolling shoulder again to test it. "Thanks."
"So when are you leaving?"
Yazoo blinked in confusion, thinking he heard wrong. "What?"
Loz turned to the gunslinger. "When are you leaving?" he questioned again with a childlike expression.
"I wasn't thinking of "
Yazoo was dumfounded at Loz's order.
"Go to her," Loz insisted. "I'll take care of Kadaj, just be back by morning." When Yazoo didn't respond, Loz pushed him off the bed, making the gunslinger stumble before he regained his footing. "Go!"
Yazoo was hesitant at first but with another push from Loz, he finally left the room with a small smile on his face.
"Thank you," he said in a soft tone before closing the door.
(A/N) Wow, I have been a BAD, BAD, BAD fanfiction writer. Leaving my beloved readers for eons without an update? I am ashamed. Again, I am SO sorry for the LONG delay, I've been juggling college, boyfriend, gaming, video editing, and etc. That is still no excuse I know. Hopefully, if everything goes okay in the next 2 months I should be back with an update. And we'll get some YAZFIE! SQUEE! Again, thankies to all of you for being so patient. See you next time! -mwah!-