To Make an Insurgent
The three SOLDIERS were significantly unimpressed with the overall functioning of the Junon ShinRa branch. Granted, there was some kind of disturbance going on, but from what they could gather, it wasn’t that big of a disturbance and it wasn’t even being handled efficiently to boot.
This put all three of them, but most notably Sephiroth, in a frightfully bad mood. If there was anything that could put him in a foul state one-hundred percent of the time, it was fools pretending everything was under control when it was clear as day that it was not. In his book, if you were inadequate, you got out and let someone who knew what they were doing take over. Normally he could be that somebody, but not here. His knowledge of the Junon branch’s operations was only slightly below that of the employees’.
“So, what now?” Genesis asked after being seated for thirty minutes on a couch staring at cadets shuffling frantically about.
“There’s nothing much to do,” Angeal sighed. “They’ve shut down all the docks, so at least we know they’re still in the city.”
“We’re trusting these peons to tackle a job that big?” Genesis said, gesturing to one of the lankier boys, who both saw and heard the gesture but, wisely, did not retaliate. “We just hope that their operations down there are better than they are here?”
Angeal sighed. Sephiroth fumed in silence that was quickly heating up.
“I, for one, vote we roam the city,” Genesis said, rising to his feet.
“We have no leads,” Angeal said. “It’d be a blind chase.”
“No, but being outside instead of here, where we are fairly certain that Hana is not, is a slight improvement from doing absolutely nothing, which is what we are currently doing.”
“I second the notion,” Sephiroth said. And like that he excused himself from the building in a billowing of silver hair. The ambience cooled significantly after his departure.
Angeal sent Genesis a look but followed his two friends outside all the same.
They didn’t have to go far to see the disturbance, and they heard it even sooner. Rather conveniently, it seemed to be coming to them.
“See?” Genesis said. “This is much more fun already.” Sephiroth hummed in agreement.
“Hey wait,” Angeal said, squinting his eyes. “Isn’t that…?”
The three men stared, blinking at the figure, bright against the dark throng in the distance.
“It is,” Sephiroth said and Masamune was in his hand in a whisper of steel.
“You two should learn to listen to me more often,” Genesis said, his own crimson rapier at the ready.
“Save it, Genesis,” Angeal said as the three of them charged forward. “We have work to do.”
Instincts kept her in the middle of the road. She might have lost them in the alleys, but also would have likely have gotten lost herself as well. It was a straight shot, now or never.
Her whole body protested the strain. Her side cramped, her lungs burned, her vision was hazed, but she pushed on anyway at speeds she swore she had never attempted before.
Go! Run! Get away!
As much as every fiber in her screamed for her to stop, these words screamed louder, encompassing everything she was.
She heard her brother roar behind her, but she could go no faster.
And then she saw him, flying toward her faster than she was to him.
The vision stopped her heart. She had seen depictions of his ferocity in Wutai since the war had begun, and then she had seen him in person for what seemed like much longer than the mere days they had been married. Neither could come close to the way he really appeared in the heat of conflict.
The silver dragon, they called him in Wutai, but she doubted that such power could be exuded by even such a legendary beast. His hair and blade gleamed white-silver in the sun, a terrible, blinding hue only made more formidable by the speed with which the weapon and the master hand behind it flew. Even from the distance, she could see the fire of mako in his emerald eyes, the only place in his body in which the heat of battle burned, bright against his cool composure and single-minded concentration. His feet flew in graceful, dancelike steps, barely touching the earth.
It was the first time she had seen him as a god of the battlefield. It was a sight as beautiful and breathtaking as it was petrifying. It was a sight that pushed the crowd back with sheer, palpable force.
At the same time, it drew her forward.
When their bodies collided, she knew she was as safe and untouchable as if she had been enfolded in steel. With one arm he swept her off her feet, lessening the impact as he continued to fly forward into the fray. The momentum from his speed pressed her into his chest, where she heard his heart beat strong and loud for all that his breathing was steady and slow. All her tension left her in a choking exhale as something instinctual and feral drew her closer into him. She closed her eyes, her body descending from its adrenaline high by that rhythm pulsing deep in her husband’s chest.
She had done it, she thought as the world faded away. It was over.
His maneuvering was so graceful and her exhaustion was so deep that she barely felt as Sephiroth engaged her brother in battle. A feint to the right, and then an impossibly high leap as bullets whizzed harmlessly by, and then a lunge and savage swipe to cleave his gun in two and send the useless halves flying. Sword parallel to the ground, he finished the job with a thrust of his forearm, the force of the blow sending him flying, landing winded on his back ten feet away.
By this time, the crowd, pushed back by the power of Sephiroth’s entrance, was being restrained by ShinRa troops, who had collected themselves enough to form a front. Gradually, the noise died as the citizens of Junon were evacuated off the street.
It really was over.
“Hana,” Sephiroth breathed into her ear, his voice as smooth and silver as the tendrils of silken hair stroking her temples. “Hana, are you hurt?”
Her body was calm, but her mind was hazy, and her heart was beating fast. Very fast.
With the hand not holding her to him still, he turned her eyes to meet his. He studied her face briefly, as if to search for pain, and then scanned the rest of her body curled in the crook of his arm. He hummed an approval when he concluded that she had not been harmed. His gaze returned to meet hers and for a moment, he looked confused. “Are you…?” and he drew closer, studying her face. She could feel his breath, warm and gentle against her cheeks.
Her blood was roaring in her ears.
He was so…so close!!
Understanding lightened his gaze, and his lips curled into a cruel smirk. “Ah…quite unharmed, I should think.”
“Put me down!” she screeched, voice far too high and breathy. He did so, but she still had to push him away. His presence was electric. Her body tingled with electricity, and her thoughts were a musical mess in some kind of misty, blinding haze. She put her hands to her cheeks – they were aflame with heat.
Her horror at the sensations conveniently kept her from realizing that the feelings weren’t all together unpleasant.
“Perhaps,” he said, that infuriating smirk still on his face, one delicate silver eyebrow arched in amusement.
Hana let out a sound meant to sound angry, but it came out as a squawk, and so she covered her mouth with her hands and turned away, bowing her head in embarrassment.
“Now that’s some romancing, Seph!” Genesis called. “A little more of that and there wouldn’t be any more problems!”
Hana felt fire engulf more than her cheeks – it was all over her face and running down her neck now. “They…saw that?” The humiliating cat calls that Genesis let out against Angeal’s half-hearted attempts to stop them answered her question well enough.
“Apparently,” Sephiroth said, needlessly.
“I hate you.”
“You’ll get over it.”
But Genesis and Angeal weren’t the only ones who saw the scene. Hana’s brother was staggering to his feet, spitting out half a tooth and no small mouthful of blood. He did nothing about the blood running freely from his broken nose, only stared at Sephiroth in vehement hatred.
“Take Hana back to the helicopter,” he commanded Angeal and Genesis, the General in him coming out again. “I have work to finish.”
“Sephiroth, he’s my brother! You can’t—“
“I am aware,” he said, not looking at her and righting his sword in his hand, which did nothing to settle her uneasiness. “But the two of us have words to exchange. In private, I should think.”
Vance bared his teeth in response, looking like a bull about to charge.
Hana felt a pair of strong hands slide onto her shoulders, gently guiding her away from her husband. “Come with us,” Angeal said. “You’ve had quite a night.”
“Seph won’t skewer the man,” Genesis added. “Such filth isn’t even worth that kind of effort.”
“Okay,” Hana said softly and let Angeal guide her away. But she had only gone two or three steps when she turned back. “Vance,” she said.
She met her brother’s eyes. She knew that, proud as he was, he would never show how much her betrayal had hurt him. As he looked at her, he scoffed and spit another round of blood to the side in a display of defiance. As if I care, his angry eyes said. But she knew her brother enough to know that at the root of his anger was agony. She knew she had wounded him very, very deeply.
“I’m sorry,” she said over her shoulder. “But I…I chose this. And…it would best if we…never saw each other again, I think. At least until you can accept my choice.”
“You choose him?” he roared, pointing at Sephiroth in accusation. “You know as well as I do that he will destroy you!”
“Vance,” she said. Then, softer, “Niichan…goodbye.”
Angeal and Genesis gently guided her away, one on each side of her. She let Angeal put his arm encouragingly on her shoulder.
But no tears came. She had chosen this path once, and she had chosen it again. There was nothing to be gained from looking back or weeping for what she had lost.
“You,” Vance seethed. “You monster!”
And he charged with a roar. Sephiroth stayed where he was, effortlessly sweeping him to the side when he came within range, throwing his body to hit the pavement again. This time, Vance could not hold back a cry of pain.
Three ShinRa troops approached to take Vance into custody, but Sephiroth held them back with a wave of his hand.
“Do not try that again,” Sephiroth said, calm as the dawn. “I didn’t come to fight you.”
“I’ll die before I let you have my sister!” And he charged blindly forward again.
Sephiroth merely sidestepped, letting the pain of his wounds and blood loss drive his opponent to the pavement again. He knew that if he struck him again, more permanent damage would be done, and, though a tempting thought, Hana would be upset if he crippled the man.
“You try my patience,” Sephiroth said. “I had assumed that Hana’s own flesh and blood would respect her choice. I expected an ally, especially from the way she spoke of you. You have chosen otherwise.”
“As if I’d ever ally with you!” Crouched as he was in pain on the ground, blood dripping from his wounds, his words had little strength.
“Hmph.” Sephiroth let Vance struggle to his feet.
Vance smirked, though only through a grimace of pain. “Heh, ready for another go?”
“I told Hana I would not kill you,” Sephiroth said. “Do not tempt me.”
“You,” Vance choked through a gasp, “or I.” He swallowed hard, shoulders heaving, sweat and blood running down his face in streams. “Only one of us…will live. I swear it…on my mother’s grave. I will…kill you…or I…will die…trying.”
“Foolish boy,” Sephiroth said. “Step
down. Live your pathetic life as you will, only leave us alone. You have made
it clear that you are an enemy and I will
treat you as such. There will not be a second chance.”
Vance did not back down, even under the full power of Sephiroth eyes of verdant fire. “You win today,” he hissed. “But no one is invincible. I will have my revenge and rescue my sister.”
“You will die in vain.”
“Then so be it.”
Sephiroth raised the tip of Masamune to the base of Vance’s throat. “If you will not listen to Hana, then listen to me.” His voice was winter ice, quiet as the wind but sharper than the blade poised to take his opponent’s life. “The next time I see you, I will kill you. Do not expect Hana’s generosity to save your worthless life twice. I do not share her mercy.
“Get him out of my sight,” Sephiroth said to the three troops. “Lock him up where he won’t cause any more trouble.”
Vance went with little struggle; he was in no state to fight anymore. But beneath dark bangs, his eyes burned fire.
“You or me,” he hissed as the troops forced him into handcuffs. “Neither of us can live while the other has Hana in his grasp.”
Sephiroth did not bother to respond.
Nothing could sway her brother away now, not even the supposed love he had for his sister.
This marriage will make you enemies on every side, Ryouan had told him as the wedding ceremony had commenced.
Hardly happy words to begin a marriage, but the priest could not have said anything closer to the truth.
Angeal and Genesis turned their backs to her as they approached the helicopter. It was strange considering how close they had stayed by her on their voyage there. For a while, she had even ridden on Angeal’s back to keep her feet off the frozen street. Even after they had given her spare army boots from the Junon branch’s spare uniforms, they had remained right at her side as she had recounted everything that had happened to a Turk stationed there. Once the appropriate reports were finished and all the questions answered, they were sent to the helipad to return to Midgar.
“What…?” Hana asked, confused by their behavior. She had to repeat herself, shouting over the sound of the chopper. “What are you guys doing?”
“We’re not looking,” Genesis said back, loudly, so as to be heard over the powerful vehicle. “We won’t see which way you went.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Now is the time for you to make your choice,” Angeal said. “We won’t stop you. We only…wish you the best, wherever you go.”
It took her a moment to realize what they were talking about. She was surprised that Sephiroth had even told them. She smiled. It was a good sign that he was talking with his friends.
They stood there sheepishly, backs to her, hair wildly flailing in the wind generated by the rotating blades above. True to Genesis’s word, they did not look back at her in the slightest. Genesis scuffed his feet slightly and Angeal rubbed the back of his head with his hand.
Hana grinned, pushing through them both to hop into the helicopter. “Don’t be ridiculous!” she shouted. “Are we going or not?”
Sephiroth walked onto the helipad then, and the blades spun faster in preparation for the flight. Genesis climbed in past Hana, who remained in the doorway, but Angeal stayed with feet solidly on the ground to watch Sephiroth’s expression as he saw his wife in the helicopter.
Something passed between the couple, silent but meaningful. When he did not approach of his own accord, she motioned for him to come. “Take me home!” she shouted.
Angeal once again did not know the emotion washing over his friend’s face – relief, perhaps, or maybe even peace.
Whatever it was, he hoped to see it more in the future.
Vance had been kept in seclusion in Junon’s prison. This was partially because his wounds needed to be treated. He had been promptly strapped to a table to still any resistance, and had received one transfusion already. But once he had been bandaged, they wheeled him to white tile room and left him there, sealed inside alone long after even he had received all the blood they had given him. No one so much as bothered to retrieve the equipment.
He had screamed once in rage, and fought against his bonds, but his cry only echoed against the stone, and the straps were unrelenting.
Resistance was useless for now, he conceded. He was careful not to extinguish his anger, but to channel it, store it, until it could serve him at a later time.
It was timeless in the too-brightly lit room, but he judged that he’d been isolated for at least several hours when a visitor arrived.
“Vance Reuben,” the man said, pushing round glasses up his nose. “Getting yourself in such trouble with General Sephiroth himself. That takes guts.”
“I’ll kill that man!” Vance roared, unable to restrain himself at the mention of that name. “I’ll strangle him with my own bare hands!”
“A lofty goal, that,” the man said, a frustratingly cool and collected smirk on his face. “You might as well be trying to fell a god.”
“No one is invincible,” Vance hissed. “There has to be a way.”
And then he was released from his bands. Just like that, they snapped off his wrists, torso, and ankles. Confused, Vance raised himself to a sitting position, regarding his rescuer warily. Was it a trap.
“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation with the Silver General,” the man said, eyes invisible through the glint over his glasses. “He took your sister, as his bride, even. I can scarcely imagine the horror.”
Vance rubbed at his wrists to ease the soreness, but didn’t take his eyes off this man in a lab coat.
“It must have been excruciating for him to whisk her away again.”
“What do you want?” Vance asked, irritated by the games.
“I want to help you,” the man said. “I, too, am seeking revenge for innumerable crimes committed against my people and the planet.”
“Against ShinRa?” Vance asked, taken aback by the brashness of the statement.
The man nodded, still smiling. “Do you think me a fool? You yourself said that no one is invincible. And let me tell you, friend, there is a way. I’ll even show it to you.”
“The two of us,” Vance said. “…Against ShinRa.”
“No, not two. Join me, and I promise that I will leave Sephiroth alive for you to do with as you please.”
The man nodded. “Tell me, friend, have you heard the whispers about AVALANCHE?”