Clouds of Strife

Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, or any other game in the series. Square Enix however does. Also this has mention of Characters based on those from Tour of Duty.

Chapter 1. Deling of Shinra

"Are you sure about this Mr. Deling?" Asked Mayor Valentine as he watched the regional Shinra medics take his sedated daughter away. "I mean will you truly be able to treat my daughter for whatever that Strife brat did to her?"

"I assure you that we shall do our very best," Western Regional President of Shinra Vinzer Deling spoke in his compassionate politician voice which he has used successfully in the past to tamp down fears of the "common" man while swindling them to his way, so successful was this that the suckers usually thanked him for it. "especially for someone who has faithfully supported our modest business even with that whole mess the people of Galbadia left behind.."

"I heard of that for a long while Mr. President," Mayor Lockheart responded, undoubtedly about to spout off the usual tripe that he fed people through proxy about his reasons for leaving while the Galbadian Military and government were nearly destroyed by the attacks of Esthar. "that they would attempt to accuse a good person like you of blackmail and power mongering is sickening, why you tried to reform their government from the inside and they spit in your face!"

"I myself was discouraged by this baseless accusation.." Deling responded sadly with all the skill of an award winning actor, which come to think of it he was even if it was only small parts on the stage, but then that was the whole point of him moving on to others when the stage shows started to take off so he wouldn't be noticed. Now look at him a masterful politician who perfected his craft on the stage while using various tricks to make sure that he was never really remembered and that their was no paper trail linking him with any of the many false identities he made to perfect his abilities to bullshit and con while looking as genuine as possible.

"Looks like the dumb bastard is buying Deling's spiel.." Spoke the Galbadian soldier wearing an insulated tactical combat gear (check out the concept art for Deep Eyes in the final fantasy wiki, the one that looks like fireman's gear or a jumpsuit) the glowing goggles that were part of the helmet were why they were named Deep Eyes.

"And I suppose your M.P.E.I.S goggles are telling you all that?" The woman in heavy dark blue plate armor asked the man sarcastically.

"Naw Proudfoot," The man replied easily. "that's what the directional voice amplifier my reconnaissance gear has standard is for and maybe the fact I was trained to read lips.."

"Laugh it up Flemings and I will kick you right over the lip of this ridge!" Corporal Jane Proudfoot growled out as she hefted her hydra heavy machinegun meaningfully, causing Sergeant Ryan Whitaker to thank his lucky stars it wasn't the compact tiamat triple missile launcher she also carried around wherever she went.

"Got it," Corporal Neil Flemings replied before silently adding a couple more words. "you mana enhanced amazon.."

"What did you say!" She roared over the commlink while trying to bring her tiamat to bear only for Captain Gray Edwards and Sergeant Whitaker to have to tackle her before she blew them all to kingdom come. "Get off me and let me end his pathetic life!"

"Stand down Corporal!" Gray hissed firmly into the comm.

"But sir!" Proudfoot protested with a glare at Flemings hidden under her helmet.

"I was talking to both of you," Gray snarled at both of them with a tone many drill sergeants would be proud of. "cause if you two blow this op I will slit both your throats and dump you in the nearest Mako reactor!"

"Yes sir!" Both Corporals paled at this threat before snapping to attention and saluting as they responded in unison.

"What do you think their talking about?" Whitaker asked his friend and boss while nodding towards Deling and the Mayor of Nibelheim.

"Nothing good I can tell you that.." Gray responded to his friends inquiry.

"Looks like Deling is interested in that Strife kid your ex has been studying," Flemings replied without thinking only to then notice the silence from his team leader, when he turned his head he noticed Gray was fingering the butt of his Cerberus pistol in a meaningful way. "but then it makes sense to study him to try and cure DMP since she is one of the ones suffering from it.."

"DMP," Gray lifted up the visor on his helmet and openly stared at Flemings with a look of shock and deep in his eyes loss. "she has Delayed Mako Poisoning.. What stage.."

"3," Flemings spoke with a wince even as he said it, since three is the stage you get lost in your own mind and then die some time later. "she's stage 3.."

"Bullshit!" Jane snarled as she suddenly pressed her boot on Flemings throat. "If she was Stage 3 she would be a drooling vegetable, now tell us the truth!"

"Dr. Sid implanted her with the prototype Mako converter implant!" Flemings shouted as he desperately tried to stop her from crushing his throat.

"If that was true then she would be confined to the hospital with doctors monitoring her all the time," Jane rebutted immediately. "their's no exceptions to that so speak up and tell us the truth!"

"The government waived the mandatory hospital confinement in her case because she was close to developing the medicine being used to treat stage 2 victims like your brother!" Flemings shouted causing Jane to stumble back in shock. "She has Progressive Delayed Mako Poisoning and the reason they haven't confined her for observation is that while Dr. Sid developed the implants that can either prevent Mako poisoning or stop it from getting worse she developed all the medicines being used to treat the disease where no one else could, that is the truth..."

"Jesus," Whitaker moaned at the revelation. "how the hell do you know all this and why aren't you either dead or confined?"

"Because he's one of the best hackers we have," Spoke a voice that caused the whole squad to silently groan. "and now that you know you are ordered to keep your mouths shut as well, are we clear?"

"Yes sir General Hein!" They responded immediately with only Jane showing any enthusiasm for the order, but then the fact kissing ass was the only way for her to get back behind the turret of a Zeus artillery cannon it wasn't that surprising she would show such enthusiasm.

"Good," General Douglas Hein purred, before barking out more orders. "now then when your finished with your mission you are to scout out the Nibelheim reactor to verify whether or not certain rumors we have heard are true, if so you are to fall back and we will deliver a weapon capable of handling the problem.."

"Yes sir.." Deep Eyes Recon Squad 18 replied with a distinct lack of enthusiasm, by now able to spot a mission that just screams trouble from a mile away.

Nibelhelm Canyon Later That Day

"Listen if you want that data on whatever Deling's up to your going to have to talk to Captain Edwards or Sergeant Whitaker!" Neil shouted into his comm.

"Are you trying to blackmail us!" General Hein snarled aware that the head of the Galbadian Military, General Caraway listening in on this conversation with a pensive frown on his face.

"With all due respect sir this is what my squad's currently dealing with!" Neil stated as he turned on the transmitter that relayed the video signal from his gear through a Black Boa Class Extraction Shuttle which in turn relayed the image to various mediums which included hidden landlines and short range transmitters.

"Dear god!" General Caraway exclaimed upon seeing the tentacled monstrosity currently trying to kill Corporal Flemings and from the jostling of the camera from him running Jane Proudfoot who was missing a majority of her armor and from the look on her face only semi-conscious. "What the hell is that thing!"

"Edwards what the hell is that monster!" Hein snarled into the radio.

"We found the damn thing hidden in the Nibelheim reactor," Captain Edwards stated over the sound of gunfire. "unfortunately we encountered a black ops team that we believe to be Deling's personnel troopers judging by the fact one of his underlings commanded them to kill us all the minute we were spotted! Thankfully when those idiots breeched the containment for this thing it went straight for them first before focusing on Jane for some strange reason!"

"What are you facing exactly?" Hein asked with a feeling in his gut that he wouldn't like it even as General Caraway was green lighting the squads extraction, which isn't surprising since they were short of actual veteran Deep Eyes squads since the field is inundated with incompetence who rely solely on their equipment, take a quick peek at the enemy, and then head home leaving the infantry to get railroaded by the KIA Train.

"Well I can tell you truthfully that the rumors of Deling experimenting on recreating the Legendary Sorceress is true since 3 of the women in strange armor we are fighting are throwing so many spells at us that it would kill a normal Soldier!" Whitaker replied in a strained tone. "Worse their are some women here that could actually take a blow from that tentacled freak and get up for round two, one of them even ripped a bolted down pod in the reactor from the floor and bludgeoned the thing with it before it tore her in half!"

"Backs up the reason he is so interested in the Lockheart girl.." Major Elliot murmured to his boss. "She displays the same capabilities as what Sergeant Whitaker describes including the bursts of powerful magic she displayed when she made those pillars of stone surrounding her village after arguing with her father.."

"I get the feeling that President Shinra would be mighty angry to know about a project like this going on under his nose," General Hein replied in a quiet tone to his subordinate while casting a glance at General Caraway. "no matter what kind of "gift" he is given for his Deepground project.."

"That is very true sir.." Major Elliot responded with a smirk.

To the Deep Eyes that were observing this interaction they all wrongfully assumed that General Hein was using his contacts to get Deling in trouble with the head of Shinra, only for in hindsight to realize this was the point that Hein chose to desert the sinking ship that wasn't rewarding him with the post he believed should be his. In other words he had many gripes with the Galbadian government that ranged from them not going out and conquering their neighbors to expand their own borders, to the fact that while Caraway was one of the leading figures in the effort to build up their military he hadn't gone far enough in his opinion, and finally he was tired of all the bureaucracy of their democratic country bogging them down.

"I'll go round up some infantry to deal with any Shinra pursuit force resulting from this debacle.." General Hein stated in his characteristic way, Caraway and many others aware of his less than stellar regards of Deep Eyes except for the squads hand picked and trained by his own men. In point of fact he heavily favors the infantry and artillery for combat purposes hence the fact no one saw it as strange that he took the ship housing their sole Zeus Cannon along with many of the men who served under him, his disappearance and reappearance among President Shinra's retinue in Midgar were later called the Double Edged Defection since while it severely hurt Galbadia his maverick tendencies and straight forward tactics threw many a wrench into his own sides plans.

"Good luck!" General Caraway stated as he was in conversation with the second of the Black Boa class shuttles called the Black Eagle which is geared more towards dangerous extractions than the first which was retooled for recon and scientific study without losing too much of its arsenal in case of trouble. The third was made purposely for heavy action assaults hence the name Black Crow since Crows are typically seen as an omen of misfortune to those who see it.

"What's his status?" General Caraway spoke into the receiver the minute he was sure Hein was out of hearing range thanks to a slim M.P.E.I.S disguised as a monocle after many breakthroughs that have been kept secret in case of leaks, though in Caraway's reasoning it was the fact that Shinra came out with its own M.P.E.I.S a year after a few of Hein's squads had members who "misplaced" theirs over the course of that year, it could be paranoia but he felt it was better to be sure. "Good then I say to deploy him before things get worse.."

He felt bad about this whole thing but the kid was literally hardwired for combat because of his accident and if they don't you him the things he could kill wouldn't necessarily be a bunch of monsters..

Back in the Frying Pan

"Dammit Jane," Neil shouted as the thing held Jane by her arms with two tentacles piercing her shoulders by an inch. "don't let this ugly bitch win!"

"She can't hear you.." Spoke Jane's voice from in front of him, to his horror the thing now looked like a naked version of Jane except for the four tentacles coming out of her form. "What's the matter Neil? Don't you know she secretly wants you, just like you want her? Why we could enact all your personal fantasy's if you just let her go.."

"Fuck you," Neil snarled not letting up an inch even as his camera and comm sent this entire freaky experience straight to headquarters. "you shapeshifting daughter of a crime against nature!"

"Good boy.." Jane whispered for what looked like the final time.

"Roooaaaar!" The thing bellowed in outraged anger at his declaration showing sharp teeth and a inhuman ability to stretch its mouth.

What snapped Jane Proudfoot awake besides what felt like a cura spell was the louder roar coming from above them coupled with the intense heat right in front of them.

"Holy shit!" Jane and Neil screamed in shock as they were propelled backwards, even as they fell the pieces of Jenova withered and turned to ash from where they were stuck in Jane's skin.

The badly injured Jenova lunged backward only to find itself face to face with a ten foot tall WEAPON with a sword that was at least 7 foot tall.

"What the hell is that!" Jane shouted in shock and horror.

"So that's what Strife looks like in real life.." Neil spoke in a frightened and shocked whisper.

"That thing is responsible for my brother's possible cure!" Jane responded in a angry whisper.

"Well at least your parents didn't take up the Shinra option otherwise he would of ended up with a piece of Tentacled and ugly over there inside him.." Neil stated before realizing that she would not have wanted to know that.

"We are going to have a long talk when we get back to base.." Jane growled in an angry tone.

"Yes dear.." Neil stated with a wince.

Authors notes. I hope this is more to people's appreciation since a reader of mine pointed out many don't like Final Fantasy the Spirits Within so I cut out the Gaia Theory and such and adapted it. Cause honestly I hate making up characters on the fly and if I can find a ready source of fictional but real characters from a show I will adapt them into it, just don't expect Jem and the Holograms in an action fic or any fic for that matter, or for example GI Joe in a crossover with a bishounen manga fic which I don't write.