A Secret Conflict Prelude 5

Past Regrets Repeated

By Azure Angel

“I don’t understand.” Kaolin nervously eyed Malise from his sanctuary in the corner of the cell. “You know that man? Professor Sasake?”

Malise could not suppressed an annoyed scoff. “That… lunatic is not a Professor. No one who’d dare call himself Professor Hojo’s protégé is a sane man.

“I guess not.” The rookie agreed softly. “But what did he do to you?”

The harsh, barking laughter escaped Malise’s lips before he realized he’d opened his mouth.
“Me? He didn’t do anything to me…” The bitter smile had fixed itself upon his own scarred face. Young Kaolin must of thought him just as crazy as the two scientists who sat holed up in that shattered lab of the floor above, poking and prodding the corpse of President Shinra in whatever gruesome experiments the had planned for him.
He laughed again, more softly this time. The boy just may have been right. Silence followed for a long while afterwards, Kaolin seemed to struggle to sink forward within the musty corner, a desperate attempt to hide from the commander he thought to be deranged. He knew to be deranged.
So many years, Malise could hardly believe how quickly they had past. So very long, yet only an instant. Why? Why did it come back to him now? Why did their voices choose to return to him now? Why the hell did Sasake have to be alive, with both the body Rufus and Hojo’s own monstrous incarnation under his watch. And Lanai, Lanai could be nothing more than a brainwashed slave, her own free thought washed away long ago, her mind pervaded by nothing more than fractured emotion and meager commands. Malise had not seen a case such as she in over a decade.
Kaolin still was silent, though his presence was still felt strongly by the Commander. He’d end up just like all the rest, Malise knew it. He saw it in Sasake’s eyes. Saw it the moment his own met with those pale green orbs of dementia.
A new toy, that was all the soldier was, that was why only one charge had been requested to Malise’s aid. One was enough. One was enough to push him to the breaking point. Sasake knew that, and he took advantage of it. Reveled in it. That smile, that mocking, sneering smile. It refused to live his mind’s eye.
It’s more than a fair deal, commander. The words echoed in his thoughts again and again. More than a fair deal. More than a fair…
Malise slammed his fist into the former prison cell’s door. The hollow shudder of the metal cut of the echo of the memory, the voice. Kaolin was up on his feet within the instant, Malise saw it from the corner of his eye. He turned just quick enough to force Kaolin backwards and onto the dust ridden cot to the corner of the cell.
“Get some rest why don’t you?” Malise tone came so low and gruff it surprised even him.

“But I… you…” The young soldier was too stunned to come up with an excuse.

“It’s late.” Malise roughly took the cot’s battered pillow and hand and thrust it at Kaolin. “We’re going to be worked to the bone tomorrow moving things around for them.”

Kaolin stared at him with blank eyes. “But the mission briefing never said…”

“Idiot.” Malise hissed. “There is no mission. There never was! Just do as your told and you might come out okay…”

“Okay….?” It didn’t matter whether he understood or not, the rookie’s echo was one more of confusion than confirmation. Malise had turned and left the cell within the very second the silence returned within the musty prison. It would be several minutes before the boy could turn the words over fully in his mind, understand what they really meant, and then finally act. The commander nearly pitied him, so unknowing.
He slid the surveillance slot of the door open slightly, just long enough to catch a glimpse of Kaolin as he sat limp upon the worn old prisoner cot, still clutching onto the pillow Malise had thrown him as if he were molded to the spot and was frozen in that place forever.
Lifting his head up, a few strands of his stringy brown hair fell around his face, his darker brown eyes, though laced with only a hint of the typical low mako showering foot soldiers had, were aglow nonetheless with confusion and strife.
It wasn’t until Malise had left the former prison corridor that the boy came to his senses. Allowing him the strength to rush to the door, only to find his Commander had taken the care to enter the code to lock it tight.
His pounding on the metal door went unheard, Malise had already boarded the rickety freight elevator, making a futile effort to avoid looking upon the woefully forgotten storage tank as he went. He swallowed hard, the memory of Ashan somehow intertwining with the far more fresh ones of young Kaolin.

As the low, grinding hum of the lift’s gears abruptly stopped in a shuddering halt, Sasake’s wry, mocking smile was already there at the landing to greet him.

“We’ve got a lot to catch up on don’t we, Commander?” The scientist said in a tone dripping of false mirth.

Malise slammed the safety grate open as roughly as he had before, making extra effort to shove Sasake out of his way as he stepped off and into the accursed lab. “Shut up.” He hissed between clenched teeth. “You know what I came for.”

Sasake’s eyes ignited with triumph from behind his thin glasses’ frames. “Indeed!” He chimed. “But don’t you want to hear about your boys first? Why I had the honor of…” He paused briefly, careful to choose just the right phrase. “finishing up… this project?”

Malise gave no reply, but to Sasake, that was an affirmative.


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