Chapter One

Death of a Scienceman

I solemnly pledge by witness of all the gods and goddesses to consecrate my life to the service of humanity.

It is said that a butterfly flapping its wings will create a hurricane halfway around the Planet. The smallest changes will ripple out, creating huge, unpredictable changes.

As for the changes an actual hurricane makes, well the less said the better.

The laboratory on the 68th floor of Shinra's proud Midgar headquarters was a place dedicated to creating hurricanes in human form, soldiers who from a young age were enhanced with the very essence of the Planet. To outsiders, it was barbaric human experimentation inflicted on children. But to Shinra, it was power, and through this power Shinra ruled the known world.

I shall practice my profession with conscience and dignity.

Walking through the corridors of this laboratory was a research assistant, small and pale with blond hair slicked back by heavy gel. Just another in the long line of disposable cogs in the endless machine of Shinra. He waved an ID badge at the stationed troopers and barely receiving a nod in return, pushed through the thick double doors that lead to one of the Shinra's many legends.

For those who know of him, it was mainly for his creation of the greatest of those legends, Sephiroth. Shinra's greatest living weapon, and the man who was leading the company's offensive against the upstart nation of Wutai. But this man was a legend in his own right, spoken of in hushed whispers and unseemly rumours. His name was Professor Hojo, and this was his domain.

I will not be ashamed to say "I know not." I will eagerly learn from those who came before me, and gladly share knowledge with those who are to follow.

The assistant lingered at the entrance of the room as the doors flapped shut behind him. This laboratory looked much like any other in Shinra, but for the presence that no amount of disinfectant or chemical bath could ever remove. It smelled of death and worse, of unnatural things that should never have been thought of let alone pursued.

That presence was thick in the air today. On a bare steel operating table lay a creature that had met a wretched end, skin peeled back and pinned down with tall needles, a bloody scalpel laid neatly to the side of its torn ribcage. Standing next to the table was Professor Hojo, hunched over a keyboard as he furiously entered the latest results into his terminal.

I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, for their problems are not disclosed to me for all the world to know.

The assistant took a few steady, shaky breaths to calm himself and approached the desk. Hojo was an intimidating man, but not due to looks. He was a small weedy man, thin and bespectacled with greasy hair pulled back into a tight ponytail. But in Shinra, that is what real power looked like. Though soldiers had spread the influence of Shinra far, it was scientists and engineers who had built the company, and no scientist had the President's ear more than Hojo.

"Ah, I see you found us. Didn't get lost, I hope?" Hojo asked, turning in his chair with the corners of his mouth turned up in a smile. His voice was nasal but far from cold, and his eyes twinkled behind his spectacles as he took in the shaking assistant. "We have so much to do today, no time to waste! Clean up that specimen, will you, and we can get started."

I will accept no entreaty to administer poison to anyone; neither will I counsel any to do so.

With his orders given, Hojo turned his back on the assistant and buried himself back in his work.

The research assistant took off his glasses, dropping them on the edge of the operating table. The creature looked nearly humanoid, with an almost spherical body and small head, with four short limbs still strapped down to the table. The leather restraints had been twisted and stretched under its struggles, splashing blood all over the table and floor. It seemed the creature had still been alive while its skin had been peeled off, the operation only being abandoned when the struggling animal had succumbed.

With a hesitant grip, the assistant plucked the scalpel from the table and turned back to the professor.

Lunging forward, he grabbed the professor by his collar with one hand and threw him against the side of the table, stabbing the scalpel into the professor's throat with deadly precision. Taken by surprise with the sudden assault, Hojo lurched back, nearly falling over the table and only staying upright by the strong grip on the front of his clothes. Panicking, his hand dived into his lab coat, searching desperately for the handgun strapped to his side, only for a strong hand to close over his own and prevent him from pulling the weapon loose.

"Wh—" Hojo barely managed to say with his remaining breath.

His assailant gave no answer to the unfinished question, kneeling down next to him in silence as the professor's eyes grew dim. With calm precision, he opened up the side of the professor's coat and pulled out the keycard clipped on to his belt. He stood, flipping the keycard on to the bench before he turned to one of the industrial sinks lining the wall and washed his hands of the task, ensuring that his own spotless coat was clean of any of the expected blood spatters. Satisfied that he no longer needed it, he rinsed his hair of the oppressive gel, running his fingers through his blond locks until all the gunk had been washed down the sink and his hair was back to his natural, though unusual, spikes.

I will make a habit of two things: to help, or at least, to do no harm.

Well, it's been a long time. Thanks to everyone who has reviewed this story and messaged me over the years. I've gone through a rewrite of the story, and this involves significant changes to the plot, there's a summary in Chapter 37 if you've already read that far. Feedback is of course welcome.

P.S. A huge thank you to KittenFair for being my beta reader on this. Check out their fic, To Be Human, here: /s/10924710/1/To-Be-Human

P.P.S I was really excited: Nirelaz made some awesome art for Chapter 7! Go check it out here (you'll have to edit the link because FFN is rather protectionist): nirelaz*tumblr*com/post/134518210714