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Destiny JENOVA IV: Revolution (Chapter 22: The New Foundation's Boss)

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  1. Kadaj
    Chapter 22: The New Foundation's Boss

    (This section will focus on Loz as the speaker) I was still waiting in the Forgotten City for Mother, and Sephiroth had yet to wake up. I was resting in the black pond to recover, and also held Sephiroth's body in it too. But even the black water wouldn't rouse Big Brother, even through the several hours I'd stayed to protect him and keep him from further harm. He wouldn't even move, and he didn't make a sound either; not even a faint moan came from him. I reached for his body and gently dipped him in the black water again for several minutes, but he still wouldn't budge. I moaned and felt tears well up in my eyes "No... please come back, Big Brother... don't leave us..." I heard footsteps that quickly sounded closer and looked ahead, hoping there wasn't more trouble on its way. To my surprise, it was Tifa: she hurried to me and seemed worried "Loz, where have you been? You haven't come home in over a month." I sighed "I'm sorry, it's just that... there's been a lot going on, and Shinra kept targeting Big Brother... they hurt him really bad. He destroyed Perfect WEAPON, but now he won't move a muscle... I don't know what to do." Tifa drew closer to me "What about Mother? Can't she save him?" I replied "Yeah, but... she told me to wait here, and I haven't heard anything for hours. It's Reunion Day, but there's so much cleaning up after Shinra to do I'm not sure there will be time to celebrate her return..." Tifa said "Shinra came back? Loz, what's been going on? And why didn't you say something to me about any of this?" I felt myself beginning to sob again "I didn't tell you because I... I didn't want to lose you too. They're too powerful..." Tifa put her hand on my shoulder "Take it easy. If Mother is really back, I don't think they'll wanna stick around to face her. You know that as well as I do." I shook my head and added "But Sister, that's not even the worst of it. I started this war, this whole mess... when I attacked and destroyed JENOVA Foundation. If I never did that, Rufus wouldn't have been exiled, and Shinra wouldn't have returned. That's the truth, Tifa... I started this war... and you dont have to still like me for that reason." I was sobbing now, but Tifa tried to comfort me "Loz, listen to me. You didn't mean for any of this happen when you did that. You acted out of defensiveness for Mother when you attacked the foundation. You behaved the way you did because they sacrificed her and you were too hurt to bear it. Don't blame yourself for this war." I calmed down and looked at her. Before I could say something though, a man with black hair and a white lab coat came into view. I felt a sudden rush of anger flow through me, and my attention was locked on him "Hey, you're...!" I handed Sephiroth to Tifa and armed my dual hound, hurrying to attack the suspicious man. But he moved out of my way when I attacked and I fell down, and cracked the ground ahead of me when I fell. I heard him laugh "Nice try. But it will take more than that, even against me." I quickly got back to my feet, turning back to him "What do you want, Hojo? If it's Big Brother, I will hit you so hard you'll be sent straight to the cosmos!" He laughed again "You remember? Interesting..." Tifa warned "I wouldn't laugh at that if I were you. Loz has enough strength to really do that." Hojo ignored her "Threaten all you like. I'm not here to kill or hurt any of you." I was surprised at his fearlessness. He wasn't even holding a weapon and was acting like the toughest person around. I refused to believe him "How do I know? How do I know this isn't a trap to kill Sephiroth? There's no other reason you'd be here except for him!" Hojo snickered "You're a bold one, I'll give you that. You're half right, and half wrong. I am here for Sephiroth, but not to finish him off. I'm here to avert his death." Tifa was shocked "What?" I warned "Don't trust this fraud, Sister! He's lying! I'll bet he's planning to put Mother through his stupid project all over again!" Hojo shook his head "I didn't think you would suck up to me so easily. You can deny what I've said all you like, but with Rufus and the rest of Shinra Company dead, I'm all that's left. Without my skill, Sephiroth won't survive. You know as well as I do he's barely alive. So answer me this: do you want to save Sephiroth, or let him die?" Tifa seemed to believe he was being serious "Loz... he's right. Even this water isn't working..." I didn't move from my fighting stance or respond. I didn't want to trust Hojo. I couldn't. But I also didn't know how to save Big Brother, and I figured he did even if he was lying to us. I lowered my weapon and sighed "Fine. But if he dies, you're taking the blame." Tifa got out of the pond and gently laid Sephiroth's body in front of Hojo. Hojo got down to start working, and he opened the black box he was carrying after setting it down. I was too nervous to take my attention off either of them. He pulled a knife from the box and gestured for me to come to him. I reluctantly approached him and sat on the ground. Hojo explained "If he won't wake up or move, that means almost all his JENOVA cells have died. If he loses the remaining few, he's gone. Allow me to show you something." He cut the black straps over Sephiroth's chest and carefully cut a small opening there, revealing the inside that looked very weak: his reactor was dark and had almost no green left. I felt sad again, realizing what I was looking at "His reactor... it's almost dead...! How are you supposed to save him now..?" Hojo answered "Well, you know your stuff. Impressive. Sephiroth's reactor goes dark with less green inside when he's very weak. If it were active and strong, it would have a strong flow of green and black, along with a powerful wave that it normally gives off in close proximity. I already see you don't feel anything. However, its a much simpler fix than you might think. All it takes is a small amount of JENOVA cells to keep him alive. When applied directly to his reactor, as strong as he normally is already, he should be good as new before long. Sephiroth is easy to keep alive since he's naturally powerful. However, if a remnant such as you were in this spot, it would take a lot more work to prevent death due to a lower flow of JENOVA cells." I asked "So... how do you get Mother's cells without taking them from me?" Hojo laughed "All too easy. The answer is right before your eyes." I said "The black water...? But when I dipped him in there, it didn't do a thing..." Hojo pulled a large syringe from the box and filled the entire thing with the black water. He was cautious not to touch the water since it would kill him on contact if he fell in or got hit with too much of it. After filling it, he warned "I would stand clear if I were you." I was confused "Huh? But why?" Hojo ignored my question "Just do it. The more we argue, the more time we lose." I obeyed, and stepped away after getting up. Hojo gently poked the needle through Sephiroth's reactor, and emptied the entire syringe into it. He gently pulled the needle from him, and waited in silence. I saw bright green and black well up in his reactor, and it began to make a noise that sounded like heavy electricity. The ground began to shake, and I started to panic "Uhhh, Hojo... what's going on..?" But he didn't answer me. Suddenly, Sephiroth's reactor regained its power and radiance, and an overwhelming energy wave swept over me that grew stronger within seconds. His entire body regenerated, all his injuries and wounds disappearing in seconds; the place where his reactor was exposed also closed up. He began to open his eyes, and his left one turned red like Mother's. The ground began to turn to brimstone, and the black pond became a lake of lava. I was too physically overwhelmed to move; my legs felt like they'd give out and Sephiroth's power was so intense my consciousness started slipping in and out. I yelled "Hojo you idiot! What have you done?!" Tifa was beside me and also struggling to handle everything "I'm no expert, but I think he used too much! Get out of here, Loz! Sephiroth might be going berserk!" I argued "No! I'm not leaving you here!" Tifa warned "Loz, just run! If Sephiroth is going berserk, who knows what will happen next! You have to get out of here!" But before either of us could do anything, a sudden explosion swept us away. My vision was completely white, and I moaned "Unngh... I can't see..." I thought I heard Tifa shout in concern but i couldn't make out her words; her voice seemed to fade in and out making it impossible for me to understand. I heard a series of explosions, and what sounded like large meteors hitting the ground everywhere; it was so loud I couldn't even hear myself. I struggled to regain my vision, which soon turned black and slowly cleared up, and everything went from blurry to what I realized was a wasteland of fire and brimstone. In panic, I hurried to my feet "No! Our hideout!" I got ready to rush towards Hojo and yell at him, but something stopped me: I saw Sephiroth flying ahead of me, enveloped in white light and in perfect health, a golden halo also shining above his head. His eyes were closed as though he were asleep, but he opened them and looked at me first "Loz..." He smiled at me, but it wasn't his SOLDIER smile I normally saw midbattle; it was very friendly in appearance. He slowly flew my way, and I saw Hojo grow angry and confused "What?! I save your life, and he gets the credit?! You're MY masterpiece, not his! Get back here, Sephiroth!" Sephiroth stopped, barely looking back at Hojo "Hmph... you are nothing to me. Leave, Hojo." Hojo was furious and groaned, but he didn't bother attacking; he knew he was no match. Sephiroth turned back to me, his smile returning. When he was directly in front of me he said "You came back for me.... you remembered to get me and do what you could to keep me alive. Loz... thank you. If you didn't pick me up, I'm not sure I would've made it. If that happened... Mother would never get over it. I was her first child, and did everything I could for her when it all began. But, I must ask, Brother... how did a remnant like you save someone as strong as me without sacrificing yourself?" I hesitated to respond; I knew the truth, and I knew he wouldn't like it. I didn't want him to hate me for what I was about to say, and I didn't know if it was better to lie here for his sake--and also mine. I began "Uhhh, well um... about that... I had to go find Mother, then she told me to go get this whatsit, and then I had to get Little Sister to fix the water so that everything would work... and uh, that did it..." He gave me a strange look, like he wasn't sure about my response "Loz... be true to me. Even if it hurts." I cried out "Huh? How did you..?!" He saw right through my story without any trouble. I had to tell him the truth now, because I knew lying would be useless. I sighed "Alright... Hojo fixed you up so you wouldn't die. I didn't want to tell you this, because I..." I started sobbing halfway "I don't want you to hate me, Sephiroth... We've been through so much together, and when you were unconscious, I did everything I could, and it wasn't enough... I stayed here to wait for Mother, but I ended up seeing Hojo arrive instead. He told me he would save you, and I thought he was lying to us... but, he wasn't. He actually did save you... Big Brother, I'm really sorry I couldn't..! I was supposed to and, I failed..." Sephiroth put his hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eye "Loz, don't say that. I won't blame you for that. The important thing is we're both ok for now. As for Hojo... I'll deal with that menace later. Mother needs my help to clean up the kingdom." I calmed down and asked "But... what should I do? What about Vincent's crew?" Sephiroth replied "Don't worry about them; they've all been eliminated by Yazoo and the others. It was a rough struggle for them, but they're fine. If you wanna know where to go though, why not come with me, Brother? We need to set up a proper ceremony for Mother's return yet. The storm may be gone, but there's a lot of rebuilding and cleaning up to do." Hojo interrupted us, coming to Sephiroth's side "You fool... you intend to forsake and kill your own father?! Are you mad, Sephiroth?!" I didn't understand "What... this piece of work is our dad? I don't believe it..." Seohiroth let go of me and shook his head "Pay this lowly human no mind, Brother. He is not worth our time. He's the mad one--not me. This idiot wants it all his way or no way at all. No way could he be worthy enough to be our father, nor share any role of importance in this kingdom. In fact..." Sephiroth drew his masamume and turned to Hojo "Why don't I just strike him down right here? It won't be hard, that's certain." Hojo backed away slowly, his expression hardened. Sephiroth went in on him with every step "You can't outrun me and you know it. Escaping will be fruitless." Sephiroth flew back, then homed in on Hojo, preparing to push his katana right through him. Hojo screamed, knowing he was powerless here. However, I heard Mother's voice "Sephiroth, don't!" Out of nowhere, Mother appeared between both of them, blocking Sephrioth's attack with her metallic wings. Seohiroth surrendered, backing down "Mother...? But, why are you..?" Mother's wings changed shape, returning to their usual position behind her back. Hojo had his arms covering his face in panic, but he slowly lowered them "JENOVA..?! What is she doing saving me..?" Mother said "Rufus is dead. Hojo is the only one left who can run JENOVA Foundation when it's rebuilt. This is my reason for blocking you." Sephiroth protested "Mother, if we let this madman run your company and main intelligence network, there's no telling what he'll try to do. He could try pulling JENOVA Project all over again and foil the legacy!" Mother replied "He won't be getting away as easily this time if he makes any attempt to do such a thing, because I will be here to stop him: and so are you and the rest of JENOVA SOLDIER. He is forbidden to tamper with my cells without authorization from me; that is the law in this kingdom. All who are foolish enough to break that law get an immediate death sentence--and no trial. If even Hojo is truly stupid enough to risk that, even I would be surprised. Just because he isn't one of us yet doesn't grant him immunity from punishment; he is bound by my rules simply by existing in this kingdom. Nothing can change that." Sephiroth nodded "I understand. I will spare him then.... for now. But if he makes one wrong move, I want to claim the honor of exacting justice on your behalf, Mother; as your son, and as Prince of this kingdom, it would be my pleasure." Mother smiled at him "I will be happy to assign you that, if necessary. But for now, let him go. I will get going myself... there's much to be done, even though this war is over." Then Mother flew out of sight. I remembered Cloud was still unconscious and turned back to Hojo "Hey, what do we do about that guy? Just throw him in that fire lake that used to be our gang's healing pond?" I was giving him an angry glance, but he wasn't scared at all "Listen up, kid: i didn't exactly plan that outcome we just witnessed... It was an accident, got it?" I groaned and started towards him to attack, but Sephiroth stopped me the second I armed my dual hound "Loz, don't do it. Did you listen to Mother just now?" I protested "Yeah, but... but he destroyed our territory! I'm not strong enough to clean it up!" Sephiroth sighed and said "Just let him go for now. Little Sister should return to her previous state as a black winged angel since Mother is back, which means she will have the power to purify again. If we can just get her to come here, she should have the place back to its normal state in no time. As for our friend there..." He turned to Hojo and finished "Hojo, fix him up. I still don't trust him completely, but Mother announced to us that he is no longer a menace which means I have to pass mercy regardless. Mother's orders are absolute, even I cannot change that. However, there is one thing I can do that doesn't violate anything here or the family rules...." Hojo snickered and grew curious "And what might that be, my work of art? Share your brilliance." Sephiroth gently landed and punched Hojo, who was knocked to the ground, caught off guard. Sephiroth approached him and looked down, Hojo was rubbing the side of his face and seemed angry. Sephiroth drew his katana and warned "Stop calling me yours, you fake. I was never your son, and I never could be the son of a rotten person like you. Any further remarks, and you will not want to know what I'll do to you." Hojo backed away, struggling to hide his fear. Sephiroth walked towards me and said "I apologize for this man's menacing you and your partner, Loz. He will bother you two no more, unless he wishes to suffer a brutal punishment. Make sure he does his job without causing further problems for any of us." I nodded in understanding, and Sephiroth flew out of sight in a flash. I turned to my side and saw Tifa unconscious near the lava pool "No, Sister!" I rushed to her and got down to help, taking her body into my hands and shook her a couple times "Sister! Wake up!" I shook her some more and she moaned, and her expression went hard for a brief moment, her eyes slowly opening. They were their usual green like mine, but seemed a bit more dim than usual "Loz? But why did you stay here when you could've been killed..?" I hesitated for a moment, feeling myself blush mildly "Tifa, I didn't run because.... because I care about you." She smiled briefly, and asked "Was that what you meant to say? Or was there something else?" I paused, then replied "Tifa, I... I love you..." Tifa kept smiling "That's it! I knew you could do it. There's more in you than you know, Loz. I know you aren't the most competent guy around, but don't forget what I just said. Promise?" I put her down, and helped her stand "Can you walk?" She nodded and brushed her clothes "I should be ok. But, Loz... your home is ruined. How about we go to my place and you stay there until its cleaned up?" I agreed "Sounds good. Race you to the exit!" I started to run but she grabbed my arm "No, don't do it. You see all this magma?" I listened in silence "If we get careless here, we might not make it out. We'll have to race somewhere else, Loz. The area is too unstable." I grumbled "Awww man... fine..." She let go of me, then held her arm over my back. We went the rest of the way back in silence.

    To be Continued...