Once a Turk, Always a Turk
It looks nothing like the faked sterile copy of ShinRa's cover up. No, this is the real deal: the wood of the buildings smells of the dampness of countless snowfalls and of the smoke of countless hearth fires; the few people milling about have the weathered, sturdy look of mountain folk; the colours are dingier and truer.
It isn't the bustling village of the time when the researchers of ShinRa Electric Power Company were based here, either, when the denizens stared with wide and suspicious eyes at all the wondrous modernities dragged up the mountain paths for the scientists' comfort and went about their lives skirting around the company's areas with muttered grumblings... when beautiful, sweet Lucrecia was here and he with her – bodyguard and supervisor and lover all in one. It is too late for that, unfortunately: the labs are already abandoned, the reactor workers nowhere to be seen.
But it is most certainly the remote, peaceful village of hunters and hikers that had gone on unassumingly after ShinRa had come and (mostly) gone: the Nibelheim of Cloud's childhood.
It worked then.
A feral smirk twists Vincent's aristocratic features.
Decades of suffering, of struggles... of heart-wrenching sorrow, of pain beyond imagining, of dealing with inner demons more literally then any person should... of feeling his own humanity slipping further from him with every breath... decades of vicious tug-of-wars for control...
But in the end, he'd not only gained the upper hand over his demons but also managed to get some use out of them.
Chaos' power as harbinger of death, allowing the rest of the Planet's Lifestream to be gathered to a new destination to continue the cycle of life, has surprising side-effects if employed properly. Or rather, improperly, because time travel with the aim of reworking the future to Vincent's own specifications is, most likely, not what the Planet had envisioned for her WEAPONS.
Vincent doesn't particularly care.
The years in Cloud's and the rest of AVALANCHE's company have given him a taste for saving the Planet, but living through cosmic crisis after cosmic crisis has taught him the wisdom of going about it in unconventional ways.
Such as travelling to the past.
Sadly, with the part-WEAPON fighting him every step of the way, Vincent hasn't been able to go as far as he wanted to: too much energy was wasted in the struggle for control and the technique ended up running out too soon. Or too late, depending on how he looks at things.
His will has still prevailed though and that is all that matters: now he walks in a winter long past, Chaos' presence no longer in him, exhausted out of their previously shared body by the way Vincent has ruthlessly drained the demon to power his own purpose. The enhancements to his senses, speed and strength have lingered, though, which is nice, as nice as the silence in his mind which he had, at one point, despaired to ever be blessed with again.
Indifferent to the cold, Vincent stalks purposely over the snow-covered ground. Out of habit more than conscious thought, he sticks to the shadows, passing through unnoticed. His step is confident though: his goal clear.
The ShinRa Mansion.
The opulent, abandoned house on the outskirts of Nibelheim where Sephiroth learned – will learn, now, that is if Vincent's plan falls through – the truth of his origins and declared his vendetta against the Planet. The mansion where, he knows, his younger self is still trapped in his thrice-damned coffin and even more in his own hang-ups about sins and desperation.
He's not going to do anything about it, though. Not yet, at least. He firmly believes that the mistake of locking himself away was, in the long run, something he truly needed to experience and that he would never have become the man he is, a man he is rather at peace with - at long last - without it. His sufferings have been a steep price, but worth it, in the end.
He won't take that from his younger self.
No, the Mansion is his goal for a different, very simple reason: he's going to change things.
If Sephiroth can be manipulated by the stuff in the ShinRa Mansion library, he'll make sure that he's manipulated in the right direction.
He isn't a Turk for nothing.
Careful not to let his presence be detected by anything inside or outside the house, he goes through the wealth of information stored there and carefully checks his plan for potential loose ends.
Then he proceeds to selectively destroy, modify, forge, change and rearrange books and journals and documents and files until everything is set to his grim satisfaction.
When he's done setting the stage, the artfully hidden and twisted 'truth' of Hojo's making is easily perceived as an almost shabby cover-up, which to a careful examination cannot hide the 'real' truth – a truth of Vincent's own creation, but so skillfully arranged as to be utterly believable.
Now when Sephiroth will come, he will find Hojo's answers and, being the genius he is, quickly realize they are artfully faked to manipulate him, and seek the truth underneath them... finding instead the one that Vincent is fabricating to suit his own purposes. And to fulfil a few of his wishes, why not?
His version is better than the actual one, anyway – or so Vincent thinks, and since no one else will ever know it's mere fabrication, his opinion is the only one that matters.
Finding his once beloved Lucrecia's personal journal half-torn in a room, he is able to use it as template to create a fake one that describes their secretly growing love... Pure, unadulterated, sappy romance: the Scientist and the Turk – the angst of their respective positions, a romantically discreet wedding (indulging in fantasies he'd always dreamed of), Lucrecia finding herself unexpectedly (but not unpleasantly) pregnant, plans to run off together in the sunset – the hell with ShinRa... a bittersweet symphony that he nevertheless enjoys.
Whatever guilt he might feel at using Lucretia this way is rather swept away in the memory of what she did to him – the multiple betrayals and her forcing him into the existence of a monster.
Besides, Turks don't do guilt. He really should have remembered this sooner...
Medical records are faked next, of Lucretia being forcefully infected with the J.E.N.O.V.A. Virus – all the mentions of Jenova as an Ancient are skilfully transformed into visible forgeries, as further insurance against Sephiroth falling for her lies; the scientist's faked diary turns then to talking about her fear for the unborn child, of her submitting to Hojo's blackmail to ensure the baby got the medical care he needed.
A clinically recorded confession of Hojo's about shooting Vincent to prevent him from taking off with his wife and child is rather easy – and bitterly satisfying – to make up, especially since he doesn't even have to change the truth much this time; the same goes for Lucrecia's real recordings about the Chaos project, which Vincent accompanies with a bunch of misleading notes and speculations about partial memory loss that will, hopefully, cover any inconsistencies in his younger self's eventual awakening.
He decides to include Lucretia's documented death – no point in risking any intervention from her. He'll take care of monitoring the cave she's trapped in, without involving others. It is also a chance to orient Sephiroth's inevitable anger towards some suitable targets – Hojo, who now appears to have declared her 'a specimen to be tested to destruction', and Old Man Shinra, who appears to have given his blessing. The President out of the way could only be a good thing after all, seeing as Vincent's ultimate goal includes an overhaul of ShinRa... or overturn, depending on Shinra Junior's choices – Vincent doesn't really care which.
He admits to himself that he's having way too much fun with the whole thing when he gets to heavily doctor Hojo's delirious notes, including quite a lot of rambling delusions about creating a god in Sephiroth.
Several key-points are touched: the mind-manipulative application of the J.E.N.O.V.A virus (which, considering Jenova's hold on the minds of her 'children', aren't as completely a fabrication as one might hope), verbose nonsense about 'recreating the Ancients', diagrams of 'possibilities for breeding Project S' (deliberately disgusting, though if what Cloud told him about Hojo's plans for Nanaki are true...), a detailed plan to make the SOLDIER more susceptible to the mind altering features of the virus by convincing him that 'Jenova' is his mother... even hints of Hojo planning to take him over in the end, get the 'perfect body' for himself and ascend to godhood himself.
Nobody would imagine it if they saw him, but Vincent is cackling madly on the inside.
The task of piecing together a completely fake reality, however it suits him, and make it believable, is challenging for his intelligence and cunning and makes him feel more and more like the man he'd been before Lucrecia. Cover ups are the Turks' speciality after all.
When he's ready to leave the mansion, he has satisfyingly created a reality in which Sephiroth is his and Lucretia's son and Hojo is the root of all evils.
A masterpiece, if he says so himself.
Then he goes looking for child Cloud.