Hidden Light

Nekura's Experiment

"You don't try to understand anything. You just shoot at it. Or you run away."

"You just shoot... Or you run away."

"You run away."


Nekura's words stabbed Vincent like knives as he clung to the overhead duct-work and watched clones march past, combing the corridors. First Hikari, now his friends... I can't help them if I'm captured, Vincent told himself firmly. Nekura won't kill them. He's a scientist. He'll keep them alive, at least for now. I have a little time. The internal arguments were not much help. So Vincent turned his mind towards more practical matters, such as how to find everyone.

I need a map of this place. He listened to make sure no clones were nearby, then carefully reached into his pocket, pulled out his phone, and flipped it open. No service. So I'm either very far underground or very far away from anything else. Or both. Without reception, he could not contact Shelke. But the phone did have a special port that Shelke installed just before heading to the WRO headquarters after Deepground's defeat. If he could find a terminal and plug in, the auto-hack in the port could find whatever he was looking for and download it. At least, within reason. It was no substitute for an actual hacker, but it was better than anything Vincent could do solo.

He waited until he was sure the search had died down. A small patrol or two he could handle without Cerberus as long as he caught them by surprise. Stealth would serve him better. The faint click of his boots on the metal floor grated on his nerves.

Luck was finally with Vincent; he met no clones as he slipped through the halls, and the third room he passed had a computer terminal. He could see no one through the door's porthole window, so he took a chance and slipped inside. No clones or alarms. There were actually several computer terminals in the room, and Vincent chose one that was out of the door's line of sight. The hiss as it opened would give him a few seconds warning.

Vincent plugged his phone into the terminal and did a search for the building's schematics. A few moments later they were downloaded onto the phone. He reached towards it... then paused. Would Shelke's hacking tool help him find any information on Hikari's whereabouts? His fingers hesitated over the keys, then typed in, "Query: Hikari, Eva, BALANCED, In Extremis."

The computer hummed, then a message appeared on the screen: "1 result found." It was a file marked "In Extremis – Professor N." Vincent could hear Nekura's voice echo in his mind. "You don't try to understand..."

Vincent opened the file and began to read.

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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1949

The Lifestream. An energy source beyond imaging, enough to power the life processes of an entire planet. I've barely scratched the surface of its potential. The board is more interested in harnessing this power for cheap energy, like Durang, Shinra, and every other company on the continent. But my research has led me in a different direction. The Lifestream is all around us, sustaining us, birthing us, and taking us when we die. And yet humans lack the ability to sense or interact with the Lifestream in any conscious way… unlike the Cetra. The old legends speak of the Cetra being able to "hear" and "call on" the Planet, i.e. the Lifestream, at will. But how? And why? Why the Cetra but not humans? It's possible that we humans are not native to this planet and are thus denied full access to its powers. But is it possible for humans to develop the abilities of the ancient Cetra? To become truly one with the Planet? If only some of them were still alive!

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1950

I've convinced the board to fund In Extremis. My goal is to find humans with usual talents, ESP abilities, any kind of anomaly that could lead us to a human sensitive to the Lifestream. Getting access to private records may take some time, but I am confident. Records of the Cetra suggest that they were not very physically different from humans. Perhaps there are humans alive today carrying fragments of Cetra DNA. With genetic manipulation, we may even be able to find or manufacture a human capable of harnessing or manipulating the Lifestream itself.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1952

The investigation has born seeds. Not fruit, not yet, but perhaps... I've gone through the psych records of every registered human on the continent and found some interesting ESP anomalies. I'm looking into bringing them in for further investigation, provided the board doesn't get cold feet and cut funding...

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1954

There is an odd coincidence. Those with the highest sensitivity to the Lifestream seem to be… balanced, for lack of a better word. They are very mentally stable with a keen eye for detail, highly intuitive, and sensitive to emotions. Also, they are physically of a middle road. Middling height, middling weight, hair and eye colors either the middle of a certain shade or a perfect mix between complimentary colors. Experiments will be shifted to focus exclusively on BALANCED individuals. Several show great promise. I have also found reference in old Cetra tablet to something called "Holy" and "Meteor." These could be keys to the Lifestream.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1959

Shinra Manufacturing harnessed the power of the Lifestream. My funding has been pulled. In Extremis is on indefinite hold. The future of Limelight Industries and my work hangs in the balance. I don't like to take chances, so I'm using our operatives to install surveillance equipment within Shinra as they expand. Everywhere there is a light, there will also be an eye. Everywhere there is a vent, there will also be an ear. Short of tearing down all their buildings, Shinra will not be able to hide their secrets from me.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1959

The board has decided to turn In Extremis into a super-solider project. We cannot compete with Shinra on an industrial scale. We can only hope that the military aspect will be enough to salvage Limelight Industries. The modifications done to the BALANCED to increase their physical and mental resilience to the raw power of the Lifestream will be used to embed combat protocols. But they are no longer interested in investigating the Lifestream on an individual basis. The unique abilities of the BALANCED will be wasted with this project. I told them it would be better to start from scratch to create modified super-soldiers and thus salvage my BALANCED, but the board wants something to show quickly. Fools.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1960

Disaster. The attrition rate from embedding combat protocols in the BALANCED is deplorable. Worse, many of the survivors have become mentally unstable, which decreases their sensitivity to the Lifestream. Even if the board gives up on this super-soldier project, I may have no subjects left to continue In Extremis. However, one subject, Eva (H1-K4R-1), is progressing well. I wish we'd been able to harvest more BALANCED at such a young age. The younger ones possess greater sensitivity to the Lifestream and proved resilient to the rigors of these experiments than older subjects.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1961

Mako can be found in solid form. Where excess energy from the Lifestream bubbles out of the planet, it can congeal into globes, which are being named "Materia." They also come with different properties, adding elemental power to weapons such as ice or fire. I must find more Materia, purer forms of it. The super-soldier project is a failure and Limelight Industries is starting to fold. I need something to revitalize In Extremis. Only three BALANCED remain. From what I have learned, Holy and Meteor are diametrically opposed powers that can affect the Planet, so they must be in the form of Materia in order for the Cetra to manipulate so much Lifestream energy. I will search for them.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1962

Limelight Industries has finally collapsed. The remaining elements have been absorbed by Shinra. The emergency funds I put away over the years will support the Midgar lab and the hidden facility; I'm certain I can siphon off some of Shinra's excess profits. I refuse to become part of Shinra. They took what was mine and will one day pay for it. But not now. Not yet. The elements are in place, however. In Extremis must continue. I will harness the Lifestream.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1963

I seem to have a pair of kindred spirits within Shinra Manufacturing. (Except that it's now the Shinra Electric Power Company. I deplore the fact that much of the energy used in my experiments comes from them now, but I also find it amusing to be operating my lab right under their noses in Midgar.) Professor Gast Faremis has written several interesting papers on the Cetra. He seems to think that some Cetra may still be alive in the modern population. And then there's Doctor Grimoire Valentine, who's postulated several intriguing theories about the sentience of the planet, about the Lifestream having a conscious will, and about the evidence of bio-mechanical entities called 'WEAPONS' created by the planet. A fellow researcher of his, Lucretia Crescent, has an unusual thesis about entities known as 'CHAOS' and 'OMEGA.' They will bear watching.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1965

Gast was right. There are still living Cetra. Amazing how human they look. Indistinguishable at first glance. But I saw a female call up streams of light to heal her injured daughter. When we took her into custody, we found a Materia globe in her possession, small, but pure white, unlike any Materia I've seen before. I chipped off a tiny fragment as a sample for testing. This distressed the Cetra greatly and in her fear she said she needed this "White Materia" to fend off Meteor, should it appear. This confirms my suspicions: the White Materia controls Holy, a healing force. And where there is light, there must also be dark. The Materia are physical, so there must be a place where a "Black Materia" is hidden. Unfortunately, the Cetra female escaped with her offspring and the rest of the White Materia before I could get more answers.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1969

I found it. I now possess a fragment of the Black Materia. The Temple of the Ancients is an elegant trap, but I have no need to obtain the whole Materia. A piece of it will suffice. When I brought into proximity with the fragment of White Materia, the Black reverted from its stone state into Materia. Out of all the BALANCED I collected, only Eva (H1-K4R-1) has survived. I will infuse her with the two Materia. The opposing forces should break the barrier that separates humanity from accessing and manipulating the Lifestream directly. She will be transformed into a new form of life, something greater than a human or a Cetra. She will be my crowning achievement.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1969

Failure. H1-K4R-1 survived. But the infusion seems to have done nothing except change the subject's hair color (grey to black/white), length (mid-length to long/short), type (wavy to straight/feathery), and her eye color (violet to blue/red). Perhaps it is too early to tell, but I am not very hopeful. My experiments with cloning have been more successful, although creating new BALANCED is proving tricky. I have already been forced to discard most of my early attempts.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1970

I have acquired a new assistant. After Doctor Valentine's death earlier this year, Shinra scrapped his research and left Doctor Crescent at loose ends. However, like any scientist, she is eager to continue her work. Her insights into H1-K4R-1's progression and possible effect of the Materia may prove useful. Perhaps an infusion of CHAOS will have an effect on opening the path to the Lifestream.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1973

There has been an unexpected side effect from the infusion of the Materia. The subject no longer ages. The readings remain fixed at age 23 and there has been no growth or loss in muscle tone, height, weight, etc. Doctor Crescent has been dutiful in her documentation, but she spends a great deal of time with H1-K4R-1 that seems… excessive. Talking with the subject between tests, singing, even giving the subject a new name: "Hikari." The subject's mental capacity has not advanced since age 8 when the genetic manipulation began, but Doctor Crescent seems interested in interacting with the subject on a more personal level. Perhaps it is nothing, but I will keep watch. I have come too far to be foiled now.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1973

Crescent attempted to escape with the subject. Both have been mind-wiped and Crescent has been sent back to Shinra. The subject is to be kept in isolation. That is the last time I bring in an outsider. My clones will give me all the help I require.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1977

Shinra seems to think it has found a Cetra. I'm surprised that Gast has been so fooled; that thing in the tank looks nothing like the Cetra female with the White Materia. But it is possible it could be a sub-species… I will keep watch on this JENOVA Project. Shinra has no idea that my own subroutines and surveillance cameras are watching their every move, stealing their data, leeching off their resources. It is fitting. Subject H1-K4R-1 remains unresponsive to external stimuli and simulations but retains its biological immortality. No sign that it can still sense or respond to the Lifestream. The cloning process has improved; I am getting closer.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1982

Interesting. Shinra has started to work with Mako infusions and JENOVA cells. I am curious to see how these experiments progress. I admire Professor Hojo's persistence and ingenuity. If they bear fruit, I may try one (or all) of those methods on Subject H1-K4R-1. It remains in perfect balance and nothing I have done seems to shift it or have any effect. Despite its fixed state, it remains human.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1984

Still nothing! If only I could locate Doctor Crescent's experiment on the corpse of Vincent Valentine with CHAOS and Protomateria. Unfortunately, both have disappeared, along with Doctor Crescent and her research.

– N.


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Entry: [ u ] – εуλ1992

This Sephiroth SOLDIER created by Professor Hojo is quite an achievement. However, the entire SOLDIER program is rather short-sighted and brutish. Are the rebels of Wutai really enough justification for creating more weapons of war? When they are crushed, who else will Shinra fight? Deepground shows more promise and greater ability to manipulate Mako and Materia. But it still isn't enough. They are only working with shadows, with echoes, or through a medium. They haven't tapped into the Lifestream's heart. My cloning program has progressed by leaps and bounds and I will soon be ready to attempt the transfer. My results are almost perfectly BALANCED.

– N.


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Entry: [ v ] – εуλ0008

Midgar is destroyed. I do not know if the lab survived Meteorfall. The BALANCED cloning process is complete at my second facility, but I may need to seek the White and Black Materia again to obtain new samples. Now, instead of siphoning off of Shinra, I use the pompously named "World Regenesis Organization." I may not have eyes in their buildings, but that's hardly a problem. They still use the same network systems as Shinra.

– N.


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Entry: [ v ] – εуλ0009

Vincent Valentine is alive. He still possesses the Protomateria and harbors CHAOS. Is that the final ingredient needed to complete the change that stagnated in H1-K4R-1? The geostigma is proof that humanity is alien to the Planet. My experiment must be completed successfully if we are ever to become one with it, to rule the Planet rather than being ruled by it.

– N.


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Entry: [ v ] – εуλ0010

She is alive. In Extremis can continue.

– N.


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Entry: [ v ] – εуλ0010

Have you enjoyed rifling through my files… Vincent Valentine?

– N.


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