I haven't forgot about you. I promise. Fortunately I already had this typed up when I came back to find five reviews, when I wasn't expecting any at all. Thank you very much. Enjoy this chapter.
Responses to you lovelies:
Stardust2011: All stories come to an end eventually.
Juury: Thank you! I don't want to say anything about the end, but it is coming.
Guest: No one has ever said that about my very first Chapter. Thank you so much. I rewrote that Chapter so many times I lost count.
TOWTWUKER: I wish I had an ounce of artistic abilities so I could try and draw what Evie looks like, but I don't.
isa. .m.: It's coming, I promise.
Night time didn't prove to be any more promising. As soon as the three of us entered town we were being surrounded again. This time we were smart about Cloud, hiding him, using his black SOLDIER uniform to blend him in the dark away from the men trying to take him. It wasn't hard this time around and with some time we were leaving the village. I nearly sighed in relief.
"Zack, are we planning to walk to Midgar?" He looked at me but didn't say anything. "You're joking. Do you know how long it could take us to get there from out here? Especially walking? Even more so at this tremendously slow pace? With the army chasing us down?"
"Yes. Evie I know," his response came from between gritted teeth. He knew how impossible it was but he was a man on a mission. "We have to go to Midgar. I need to There's something very important I need to do."
"Well what about Cloud, we can get him checked out if we go to Midgar. This state can't be healthy," I added.
"Yeah, that too."
A veil of silence fell over us, We traveled through the country, ducking and diving away from the Army. Anyone we encountered we killed, we couldn't have them reporting back to anyone where we were; even if we were miles away when they woke up. It would give away our general location. Better that the Army have to find their soldiers.
It was confusing to me fighting these men. They had been our allies, our comrades, our underlings for so long that to fight them now made me hesitate a few times. After hesitating to slice through an infantryman that nearly killed Cloud, I just did what I was trained to do. Killed everyone who wasn't Zack. It was all I knew how to do, and there was no one better than Zack and I at it.
It was almost relaxing having to do all this hiding and fighting through forests and across plains. I was always worried about the Blonde on my shoulder rather than how I felt towards Zack or what I would have to tell him. It was easier not having time to think about anything. Occasionally when Zack was out of ear shot, I'd mumble to Cloud about how relieving it was to not be thinking about Zack and my feelings all the time.
We had reached the outskirts of... somewhere a few days later. Zack and I stole from the infantrymen anything they had of use, and occasionally killed for our food. It was one of the longest weeks of my life. The moon was out tonight and hours of silence passed by us before Zack finally had enough. We stopped to rest, placing Cloud down to rest. He stood, leaving without saying a word. I gapped at his behavior, my hand held out towards him as he left without a word. His stride was powerful and with meaning. Whatever words I had for him were gone as fast as he was.
"Why is he so intent on getting to Midgar? I don't understand Cloud. He's been acting so weird. I mean, I've been awfully quiet, but I'm upset about everything that's happened…" I fell back on my ass miserably. "I can't believe all this is happening." Maybe he wanted some alone time. I let my head fall to my knees, my hair brushing around me as a breeze flew by. "Think everything will be alright Cloud?" I was growing more tired with each minute as I kept watch, and soon I could sense Zack walk back towards us. My eyes flew up to meet his.
"The turks are here, too. It's too dangerous for us to move. We'll rest here until morning. Then we'll leave at dawn. Eh, we'll be alright." I nodded silently at his words. Then we both sensed it, the turk as she neared. It had been sometime since I had seen her. She had changed, but not by much. She locked eyes with me and I huddled towards Cloud as Zack moved to stand in front of us. He drew his sword slowly.
"Cissnei," he muttered her name as if she was a threat. I guess she was the Turk that was trying to find us. Slowly my sword came from my back , my body shifting into a kneeling position. I had to be ready to jump up and fight in a moment's notice.
"Wait… he… he's the other sample they collected…. And you too Evie?" I nodded silently as she looked at Cloud and I. Zack was defensive.
"Why did you come here? I told you to go away."
Cissnei persisted, "He doesn't look well, Zack… And… and Evie," she seemed pretty torn up about this meeting. I for one never liked Cissnei, but she seemed to be having such a hard time with this encounter. "You too?" Zack didn't take his eyes from her.
I responded, "Yeah. Me too."
"Is he all right?"
"Mako addiction," responded Zack. "Severe case. And Evie… a Mild case." I looked to the back of his head confused.
How... how did he know about that? He seemed to know more than he was telling me. All the exploring without me must have done it. Maybe that was what was bothering him so bad. He knew more about how bad things were than I did. He was leaving me in the dark, most likely to protect me from having to know. He knew I was upset and probably didn't want to make matters worse. My heart seemed to swell at the thought of him trying to lighten my burden.
"Yeah." She pulled her phone out and Zack and I visibly tensed. "Hey!" She held her hand out to stop either of us from speaking.
She spoke, "Tseng, I've lost the target." She was silent for a time, and I assumed the man was probably chewing her out for losing us. She hung up not long afterwards. "That's how it is. So get away safely." I stared after her, standing up slowly as she walked away. Zack paused for a moment before following after her.
"Cissnei… thank you." She turned slowly grabbing for something in her blazer walking back towards Zack.
"Here's a present," My thoughts flickered through all those times I couldn't think a single positive thought about CIssnei. At her charity, at her sympathy and pity for our cause I doubted myself. I could see what Zack could see in her as a friend. "If you think you can trust me, then use it." She left without a word, giving me a second glance and I smiled softly nodding once to show my thanks.
Zack turned to face me a soft smile as she showed me the keys in his hand. I smiled. This was a good start. We'd start traveling faster and undercover with the Turks off our trail. He pocketed them and I put my sword back on my back. I paused unsure of how to say what I was thinking.
"What… What aren't you telling me Zack?" This made him stop abruptly, his smile dropping.
"I'm not… it's not…"
"I don't want to hear any excuses Zackary. I just want to know the truth. What do you know that I don't?" he paused at this and my heart sunk at his reluctance to tell me.
"Cloud and you have Mako poisoning, or Mako addiction. Cloud's case is severe, he can't move on his own, can barely walk and can't interact with us. Somehow… you have it too."
"But you don't," I replied quickly.
"I'm a SOLDIER-"
"So am I Zack!" He stopped, staring at me for my outburst. I couldn't understand for the life of me why it was so different for him. I was a SOLDIER too.
"Emotional distress caused by your fight with Sephiroth weakened your body's immunity. SOLDIERs need to be confident all the time. You lost your resolve Evie and this showed in your mind's mental capability." My eyebrows furrowed, how did Zack know all of this? How could he just not tell me these things?
"What?" he walked closer to me, trying to keep me calm.
"There were reports laying around the mansion Evie. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me either, but I spent the whole week on the way here trying to piece it together. I swear." He paused motioning for me to sit down with him.
There was nowhere comfortable really, but I swung Harpenger off my back and laid it down not too far away. "The experiments were extensions of the SOLDIER surgery. Apparently, the surgery involves injecting our bodies with Jenova cells and only if you have the willpower to overcome its attempt to control your mind will you survive it. You and I did this when we joined. The Mako didn't poison us because we had the Jenova cells working for us… at least I think that's what it is." He stopped talking again to gauge my reaction and it took me a few minutes to truly process this information. He chuckled then.
"See why I was so quiet the whole walk here?" I chuckled myself and smiled ruefully at him for his comment. He took this as an invitation to keep explaining things. "Extensions of the surgery… They injected us with more Jenova cells, that blue alien from the reactor," I nodded. I knew what he meant. " the some other cells… S cells." My eyebrows furrowed at this, but it seemed to jog a memory in the back of my thoughts.
"Wait so Jenova… is the so called Ancient those Scientists found? Didn't they inject Genesis and Angeal with those cells too?" Zack nodded at this. Things seemed to make sense for a moment.
"Yeah, Sephiroth was his own project, he had Jenova cells. Apparently he was the only successful one of the three."
"So it wasn't all a lie… more or less. Genesis knew the truth."
"Some of it, but not all of it. Sephiroth was born with Jenova cells… at least I'm fairly sure he was. The scientists were trying to recreate him. They tried with Genesis and Angeal. They thought they should try with us too. We've been injected with some of Sephiroth's cells Evie." I froze at this. Slowly my blue eyes locked with his and he seemed worried.
How could… did that… why would… It didn't make sense to me. Why would they do that to anyone? What are they trying to accomplish? Recreate him..? As in clones of him? Didn't that paper say that I had shown promise or potential?
I wasn't sure what to do for a moment and Zack's bare hand brought me back to myself. My eyes shot up to his from my hands. My gaze had fallen as I got lost in thought.
"We're failures Evie. The experiments didn't work. We're still ourselves. I was worried about that too when I found out, but I'm still myself, and Cloud despite not being completely here with us, is himself too." Zack's words reassured me with ease. My shoulders fell and I stifled a yawn. "How you can be tired Eves, I do not know," he patted his leg. "Get some sleep. We're up at dawn to find what these keys are for." I shrugged and accepted his offer by silently laying against his leg. His hands fell through my absurdly long tresses and I fell asleep faster than I thought possible.
Turns out, it was a motorcycle, which was all we really needed. Something to move the three of us along the countryside much faster than we were moving now. The only indication that time had pass would be the sun rising and lowering and my ass getting numb after riding for so long.
We finally managed to find a highway, only the signs could tell us where we were heading, but Zack was hardly paying attention to that.
We seemed to sense the two copies before we really saw them, as we often did, but if Zack could sense it the way I could, this ability was stronger than it used to be. Thinking about it all of our senses were stronger. The experiments must have done something good.
The two copies fell to the road before us, Zakc screeched the motorcycle to a halt and got off first. I slid off from behind him with ease and followed his lead. Our walk was smooth, confident, focused. At the same time I noticed the presence I felt a kick in my back.
Zack seemed to mirror my moves and we turned to see Genesis, as our attention was distracted Genesis copies grabbed us. "Where the fuck did you two come from?" I hissed at the degrading bastards man handled me.
"Ow, my hair! Stop pulling!" I flicked my gaze towards Zack to see them ripping at his black locks. They had a fair chunk in their hand. My eyes fell on genesis who watched me for a moment before nodding to his two copies to do the same to me. They pulled tightly at my hair soon enough.
"Holy shit, stop it!" I winced, who the hell does this? It was soon after that Genesis spoke and I wished I had the sound of my groaning to drown out the sound of his voice. This LOVELESS obsession has seriously got to stop. I hissed in pain as I felt them finally rip my hair out. The two copies mimicked each other's movements and showed Genesis the hair they had stolen from Zack and I.
"That's my hair!" I furrowed my eyebrows, confused and not struggling because of how curious I really was. His words intrigued me.
"You were test subjects in Hojo's new experiment," My eyes widened… Hojo was behind all of this? Is he ever not? "A modified version of Jenova's power runs through you."
"What?" I glanced at Zack, if it was news to him, then it was news to me. Genesis made a motion and the two copies holding out hair moved. I glanced at the one nexted to me to watch as it swallowed my hair… like water. All of it's length gone in moments.
"No way… he just ate my hair!"
"Your cells will be my gift of the goddess… the degradation will cease." Zack broke from the copies holding him with ease. I followed his example placing Harpenger on my back at the sign of Genesis keeping them from attacking us.
"You… are twisted," Zack remarked.
"And sick.. don't forget sick," I added with scowl.
"The monster has been harvested, and can be discarded," There it was again. That word that seemed to haunt us.
Zack said something I thought I'd never hear him say, "You're the monster!"
Genesis didn't even grace him with a response, "legend shall speak of Sacrifice at world's end, the wind sails over the water's surface quietly, but surely," Zack followed the red clocked man as he walked to make his escape, leaving with a flap of his wings. My eyes went to Cloud who was untouched, and unharmed.
A gust of wind and a flurry of black feathers drew my attention to the two copies that thought it would be a good idea to eat someone's hair. I glared; backing away as it started choking. My eyes widened in surprise as specs of yellow and green floated around their choking forms. Two bright flashes of lights appeared and suddenly the clones were transformed.
The one that had eaten Zack's hair had grown large blue and orange like wings. It's whole body was covered in scales and sharp claws. The one that had eaten mine grew large red and yellow wings, it's physical body similar to the one Zack lifted his sword to fight.
I wondered what it was as I crept away from Zack's fight to engage the clone away from him. My materia glowed with power, and I grinned. This wouldn't be much of a fair fight. I was surprised when the creature threw Firagas at me. I tilted my head and knew that I would have to finish this quicker.
It's limbs while thin, were durable, able to withstand to power of Harpenger as I sliced at its body mercilessly. A Magic barrier and a few rolling dodged managed to protect me from its ability to use magic. It's deformed wings gave it the ability to smack me away with its knife like claws. What should have pierced my skin and caused me to bleed, seemingly bounced right off my skin, instead leaving harsh red marks as if I had been smacked by a dull whip.
I smirked at this revelation rolling from its attacks, forcing a fierce Blizara to momentarily freeze the creature, long enough for me to flip over it and stab it through. Behind me Zack was watching the creature glow. Returning to the Lifestream as they all did. Some people took longer than others, but in the end they all leave.
He locked eyes with me silently and held his hand out. I walked to him and placed my hand in his slowly. We were silent for a moment. As if the realization of Genesis still trying to cure himself was something we would face together, as we had always done. I nodded silently, trying to tell him I'd be here, every step of the way as I had been for the past two years.
"Angeal… what do we do?" I took a deep breath and squeezed his hand.
Together we climbed back onto the motorcycle with a glance at Cloud before speeding off again. I held onto the back of Zack, the Buster Sword making it difficult to ever be comfortable, but I left a free hand ruffle into Cloud's hair affectionately. Occasionally we forgot, Cloud would be here every step of the way too.
"Genesis is on our tail too now. We're going to have to avoid him as best as we can. We just need to get to Midgar." I nodded solemnly. I trust Zack to make the right decisions. We spent days that turned into weeks traveling on these highways, and on off the road paths avoiding any sightings of Turks, the Army or Genesis. It was an overwhelming thought that we always had to be on the lookout, all of the time.
Someone was always after us, and together Zack and I were always on high alert. Some nights we were fortunate enough to find places to sleep and take a rest for the night. Zack and I would exchange shifts, using our powerful senses to keep on alert for anything nearing us.
Once or twice on our travels we knew we were alone. We'd make a fire, lay Cloud down to rest (sort of), and we'd chat softly. About anything we could think of until we nestled together to sleep. I wasn't sure if I hated these days or loved them. It was Zack and I. It was all about us all of the time. The undivided attention was what I loved the most, despite us having Cloud around.
We made sure to check up on him at least once a day. Keep him clean, made sure his condition hadn't worsened and include him in as many conversations as we could to make sure he felt like he was really still with us. How long it had been since we left Nibelheim? I wasn't paying attention, and using my phone gave the Turks a signal to track so that was out of the question.
During one of our days of travel Zack stopped surprised by something and I watched as he climbed from the bike to look at the view below him. I glanced at Cloud once, before clambering off the still running machine myself.
"What is it?" I asked softly.
"Guys… this is my hometown!" he turned his gaze towards us and held his arms out wide. "This is Gongaga!" I marched towards him, confused and saw what he was laughing so merrily about. A small town, as small as Nibelheim was before me. I blinked slowly confused at how Zack was born here and had managed to make it all the way to Midgar on his own. That was on the other continent at least. There was an ocean of water separating us from that city.
If I recalled correctly however, we'd have to go south along the outer islands and travel up the other continent to get back to Midgar. The trip wasn't going to be easy and I guessed maybe it had been a few months since we left Nibelheim… but I couldn't be sure. Everything blended together when you didn't pay the days any mind.
There was always something more important to think about, like getting Cloud to safety. I wondered silently what we'd be doing in Gongaga.
I wish I had a map and a damn calendar. I grumbled in my thoughts, following Zack as he returned to the bike. Maybe I could meet the parents?