A Secret Conflict Prelude I

Always a Doubt

By Star Kitten

"Uh ma'am? Are you sure you want to go up here?" The commander asked her uncertainly. "The support structures were greatly weakened by Meteor's decent on the city. I don't think It will hold together very well…"

"And I don't think you're in any position to argue." The woman snapped in reply. Kaolin sighed heavily. He regretted ever volunteering for the aftermath team forces of the Shina army. Apparently it included having to tag along with some ill-tempered scientist named Lana. And then have to pick through the almost completely smashed top floor of the Shinra Corporation building.

"Kaolin, you go and scout ahead." Commander Malise ordered him. Kaolin rolled his eyes and walked ahead of the two. The commander might as well have said 'Kaolin, you go ahead. That way if there's any danger, you'll be the first to die at least.'

Kaolin sighed, he never asked for any of this. All he wanted was to be somebody. A real war hero. Instead, he was picking his way through overturned desks and computer equipment that had belong to President Rufus.

"I don't see what the point to this is…" He muttered. "There's no way anyone could have survived what the Diamond Weapon and Meteor did anyway."

"You're not getting paid to whine." The scientist snapped. She glared at Kaolin in annoyance and motioned for him to continue on. Kaolin walked slowly through the rubble that filled what had been the president's office. He paused only to lift up pieces of rubble with his gun. "It's no use." He announced, pushing aside yet another chunk of twisted metal from his path. "Just keep looking." Malise replied tersely, following close behind him.

Kaolin muttered a few obscenities under his breath and kicked a nearby chunk of wood in frustration. He stopped cold no sooner had he done so. Instead of the hollow echo of it hitting the office's marble floor, there was only a muffled thump. "What the-?" Kaolin wondered aloud.

He slowly pulled off his helmet to get a clearer view of where the wood piece had landed. There lying amounts the shattered ruins of the room, was the young president Rufus. His face covered in scars and burns from the two catastrophes that had befallen the once invincible city of Midgar.

"D-dear lord…" Malise gasped in horror.

"Is…is he dead-?" Kaolin gulped.

"Of course he's dead you moron!' Lana snapped in aggravation.

She walked over from her 'safe' position at the stairwell to where the two awestruck soldiers in an arrogant, swaying fashion. She grinned widely, satisfied with the discovery of Rufus' mangled body.

"I don't understand this." Kaolin sighed. "What do you want with a dead president?"

"I have my reasons, boy." Lana snapped angrily. "Now quickly, I'll need you both to take him down to the lab before the employees arrive."

"W-what?!" Kaolin cried. "Drag a dead guy all the way down to the 68th floor?! There's no way!"

A swift punch landed to his face at that. Kaolin yelped in pain at the very instant of it. Gripping his bruised cheek, he staggered back a few steps. Malise stood over him. His hand still held tightly in a fist. "You rookies just don't get it, do you?" He sneered. "You've gotta learn to take orders kid, whether you like it or not!"


"Just do it!"

Kaolin glared up at Malise in a defiant manner, but he still reluctantly agreed to Malise's command. He quickly took the President's lifeless arms while Malise took his legs. Carefully, they lugged his limp mass through the ravaged office to the stairwell. Lana followed close behind the two, a broad smile across her face.

"Careful there boys," She chuckled giddily. "I don't want you damaging my latest test subject now!"

Kaolin shot Malise a confused and slightly worried look, who merely gave him a shake of his head in reply.

The two soldiers agonizingly drug the president's body from the top floor, then through the hall of the 69th floor to the main stairway. It wasn't the fact that his body was heavy that made it such an arduous task, it was that Lana kept badgering them the whole way.


'Would you please try and be more careful?!'

'Hey, get dragging him along the floor!'

'I don't care if he is dead! You'd better watch what you're doing!'

'I said quit dragging him!'

'Are you deaf?!'


Or maybe it was the fact Malise kept getting careless in how he handled Rufus' body that caused Lana to badger them. Either way, Kaolin just kept wishing he had chosen not to be so eager about finally getting a real job in the new army.

Damn… why did I have to such a naive idiot? He asked himself over and over. He paused and flung open the door to the stairs leading to the lower floor. The main laboratory, the former dwelling of the mad Professor Hojo. From what Kaolin had heard during his days in training, he heard stories of how Hojo had injected himself with Jenova cells, thus turning himself into a hideous mako generated beast. Then only to be defeated by the group of terrorists known as AVALANCHE.


They reached the 68th floor with aching arms and ears ringing from Lana's annoyed ranting. The two soldiers thankfully laid Rufus' scarred body over the examination table at the far end of the laboratory. Malise stayed with Lana to assist her in examining him.

Kaolin instead wiped the sweat from his brow and slunk up against the glass cylinder of the specimen chamber nearby. He sighed and tilted his head back against the glass. Closing his eyes wearily his head up, Kaolin took several deep breaths to regain his strength

Though upon opening his eyes, he was greeted with a horrific sight. A pair of dark, hallow eyes stared back at him. A glimmer of lunacy somehow shone in those eyes. The creature they belonged two lie in a heap, it's grotesquely shaped claws tensing weakly from time to time. It's jaw hung open limply as it breathed in and out shallowly while it stared back at him.

He shot backwards and to his feet. His eyes wide with fear. "What the hell is that?!" He cried.

Lana turned from examining Rufus, looking up to Kaolin she smiled once again. "Oh that?" She echoed in a cheerful tone. "Just Professor Hojo, of course!"


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