hawkeyesprime: (Sefikura)
[personal profile] hawkeyesprime
Title: Untitled

Fandom: FFVII

Disclaimer: I don’t own FFVII. Never have, never will. FFVII is the sole property of all related producers and distributors. I make no money off this work of fiction.
Summary: A new SOLDIER First enters the scene and the Turks have a new Director. Hojo will never know what hit him.

~*~

Part 1: The Genetic Opera

~*~

Cloud remembers when he and Rufus first learned that they were brothers, not long after they put a stop to Geostigma. Their friendship had been blooming since the Deepground incident despite the misgivings of Clouds’ friends on the matter, but Rufus understood Cloud on an instinctive level, and their friendship had been one of the few things keeping Cloud from slipping into the sanctity of Zack’s memories and personality, forgetting himself and his losses in favor of Zack. It was the only reason why they tolerated the relationship. The discovery of their shared paternity saw Cloud drifting away from his friends (Barret, surprisingly, and Valentine, unsurprisingly, were the only ones who really seemed to support the change in their relationship while the others seemed to view it with horror, as if Cloud being half ShinRa made him different somehow) and closer to Rufus and the Turks, picking up a few Turk tricks while he was at it. But once it was proven they had a paternity in common, Rufus was determined that the skills his younger half brother had earned during the years he had spent trying to get into SOLDIER would not be wasted. His aim with a rifle was polished until he could hit a target nine times out of ten, and while Cloud would never be a sniper by trade he had the skills if he needed it.

Neither ever believed he would ever need any skills with guns since he was essentially a defunct SOLDIER, until they found themselves in what was, presumably, an alternate reality at a time before the defection of Genesis Rhapsodos. They took advantage of Cloud apparently having no paper trail and he had traveled to Nibelheim, and they made the fortuitous discovery that Vincent Valentine was there, and that he was also their Vincent Valentine, who had help Rufus hone Clouds abilities with guns. With Vincent’s help, the investigation of similarities and differences to home went much easier.

The unfortunate fact they had discovered during closer investigation, was that there had been a Cloud Strife in this new world, with much the same history, but with one major difference: rather than keeping her baby and staying in Nibelheim after her husband’s fatal accident in the Nibelheim reactor, Claudia Strauss had sold her baby to ShinRa’s science department, allowing her fetus to be injected with L-cells from Lucrecia Crescent, and further injected with active J-cells in-utero, finally surrendering the baby to Lucrecia after giving birth. Claudia Strauss had then used the money from her sale of her infant and moved back to Kalm where she remained as the current Kalm University Librarian.

Then Lucrecia had gone into labor and in the two weeks of her recovery from childbirth, Hojo had taken it upon himself to order tests done on the infant Cloud. Lucrecia had, after discovering this, taken Project Nibel and left, only for Cloud to sicken and die because of whatever Hojo had done. Lucrecia had spent the next few years in seclusion, hiding the fact that Project Nibel was a failure.

Enter the time and dimension travelling Rufus ShinRa and Cloud Strife. With help from Vincent, they convinced Lucrecia Crescent to return to Midgar with Cloud standing in for the late Project Nibel’s Specimen N, which became N-2, a genetic copy that had been used to ensure that treatments would not accidentally kill the original specimen. Cloud, to spite the version of Claudia Strauss who would sell her own infant to the non-existent mercies of Shinra’s Science Department, remade himself into Nibel Strauss. The only caveat was that Cloud would submit himself to testing so that Lucrecia could gather data for her report to the President in order to justify the money she had spent. Rufus was not pleased about this, but Cloud considered it a small price to pay for having a legitimate paper trail that did not involve the Turks. Even if Lucrecia periodically came up with reasons to justify finding out how much weight it would take to break all of the bones in Cloud’s body.

And so the plan began. They would see if they could save the Trinity of Firsts, kill Hojo and Hollander, and bring down ShinRa from the inside out. It was possible, especially since this was a completely different world.

~*~

Angeal arrived in Wutai for the peace talks trailed by his ever present puppy and protégé. The first thing he did was seek out Genesis and Sephiroth in the Command Center, carrying with him copies of the files he’d received from Tseng.

“First things first,” Angeal said, “Strauss’s situation is similar to Sephiroth’s in that he was raised for most of his life as an experimental SOLDIER in a ShinRa lab. Strauss was originally intended to be the face of ShinRa’s SOLDIER Program, since he’s the President’s illegitimate son by a favorite lover, much the same way as Sephiroth, who as it turns out, is Doctor Crescent’s son by another lover. When Hojo killed Doctor Crescent’s lover in Nibelheim, she retaliated by taking copies of Hojo’s notes and her own, and left with Strauss, moving Project Nibel to an undisclosed location.”

“She took the President’s son but left her own?!” Genesis demanded, outraged.

“She would have taken Sephiroth with her had she the choice of it, according to Veld’s report on the matter,” Angeal placated, “But the problem was that she was married to Hojo at the time, and Sephiroth was already registered under Project S and according to the pre-nups they both signed, any children born from the marriage belonged to the husband.”

“Pre-nups?” Genesis felt ill, “She was married to Hojo?”

“Still is,” Angeal agreed, “as no divorce papers were ever filed. If the papers were ever filed according to Tseng, custody of Sephiroth would belong entirely to ShinRa in the event of something happening to Hojo, but as long as the marriage is still valid, Crescent can claim custody over any of Hojo’s projects and research should something happen to him. But as far as Strauss is concerned, Crescent was able to take him with her since Project Nibel was under her purview. Since then, her goal is apparently to humiliate and discredit Hojo by any means necessary. Strauss was trained for one purpose, to render Hojo and Hollander’s work with SOLDIER obsolete so that Doctor Crescent can reclaim her child. Or at least that’s what the Turks think.”

“So the science department is at war with itself and Sephiroth is the prize,” Genesis grumbled.

“Great. Just great.”

“As for Strauss’s claim of having Sephiroth’s genetics spliced into his,” Angeal continued, “According to Hollander’s notes from the time, it turns out that Hojo had ordered a series of samples to be taken and several tests to be done on Strauss while Doctor Crescent was recovering from childbirth. It’s not clear if any of Sephiroth’s genes were spliced into Strauss at the time, but the unauthorized tests are why Crescent left Nibelheim and directly impacted Hollander’s choice to move Project G to Banora,” the larger SOLDIER’s voice turned wry, “Apparently, it is considered poor form to interfere in another scientific professional’s experiments. There is a code of morals that even ShinRa’s Science Department needs to adhere to it seems. Who knew?”

“So the only way to be sure would be a genetic test,” Sephiroth deduced.

Angeal nodded, “The problem is that Strauss is under standing orders to never submit any samples to testing of any sort without Doctor Crescent’s approval.”

“Could we simply not ask?” Sephiroth wondered.

“And who would perform the tests for us?” Genesis questioned, “I wouldn’t trust the Science Department to be honest about the results or not spread it around.”

“So we’re back to square one,” Angeal agreed. “There is simply no way of determining if Strauss was being truthful or not at this time.”

“And in the meantime, Crescent and Hojo are embroiled in a custody battle over Sephiroth with the rest of us caught in the middle and Strauss as the wild card who could bring everything tumbling down,” Genesis groused, “As if SOLDIER didn’t have enough problems.”

~*~

The Wutainese had a particular fondness for rush tactics involving throwing hordes of monsters in waves at ShinRa over the course of the night, much to the frustration of the troops. Skilled snipers were a requirement if the ShinRa troops had any hope of not being overrun in the middle of the night. The sniper squads also found that Strauss’s tendency toward insomnia to be a godsend, since the SOLDIER was also a moderately skilled sniper and had no qualms laying down covering fire so the exhausted snipers could rest.

Nibel Strauss quickly became well loved among the common army. It was not the distant admiration and hero worship that the army normally felt for the Commanders and General, but the true affection and well earned respect that came from spending time together, being shot at together, and having wave after wave of Wutainese monsters rushing you night after night. It quickly became known that where most SOLDIERs were aloof and rarely mingled with the common army, SOLDIER First Nibel Strauss, though not a talkative man, would stop to help and would offer a patiently listening ear to worries.

It was expected that he would soon be promoted.

~*~

Genesis frowned out at the courtyard where the infantry was throwing a loud, raucous party. They were celebrating Nibel Strauss’s promotion to Colonel, just a step below the Commanders. A celebration of success that no SOLDIER had ever had from the common army, a sure sign that Nibel Strauss connected far more easily to the lower ranks than to his peers. Then again, perhaps not, Genesis thought as he noticed a solitary shock of blonde hair high atop a retaining wall. The Red Mage pulled his coat closer around him and made his way over.

“I thought you would be celebrating,” Genesis said as he approached the blonde SOLDIER. “The infantry are throwing this party in your honor, after all.”

The blonde shook his head and tilted his head back to look at the rising moon. “They’re too inebriated to notice my absence.”

“You’d be surprised, Strauss.” Genesis fixed the blonde with a stern look, “Now don’t become another Sephiroth. Go be sociable.”

The blonde studied the red head briefly before he nodded and dropped off the wall, making his way back to the crowd of infantrymen where he was greeted with cheers. Genesis breathed out heavily through his nose. He remembered when Sephiroth had been so agreeable to suggestion, but that was back in his first years outside of the labs. As time passed, Sephiroth grew into himself, and today, while it was damned hard to convince Sephiroth to do something he didn’t want to, he would usually make a public appearance if Genesis and Angeal pressed enough or if it was a direct order from an executive. Nibel Strauss had an advantage over Sephiroth in that he was apparently raised with a sense of self, and despite being equally if not more unsociable than Sephiroth, Strauss had a softer appearance than Sephiroth and the fact that the man went out of his way to help the sniper squads without being asked made him appear more approachable to the regular army.

Genesis would simply do his best to ensure that Strauss socialized and didn’t become a hermit. Angeal could take over the emotional side when they got back to Midgar from Wutai.

~*~



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TBC

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