The Cry of the Planet Chapter 1
The Northern Crater
By Edyn Cross
It was only eight in the morning and Shane was already pissed off. Three months had gone by since they started the excavation of the Northern Crater and their progress had been slow. While the head of the project was enjoying his first smoke of the day, he couldnt help but think about how fast they COULD be working rather than the lagging pace they have been. The project was already running three weeks behind schedule and his seemingly half-wit diggers werent making it any easier for him. Three days ago, their team had broken a two-ton drill, and finding a mechanic skilled enough to fix it was a joke and a half. There had been little mishaps here and there but with those aside, things really could be worse. A LOT worse.
President Shinra, of the Shinra Electric Power Company, had generously provided full funding for the dig, so Shane had at least something to be grateful for. Although President Shinra said he was happy to provide funding for such an educational and worthwhile public service, Shane knew damn well that the power hungry CEO was only providing funds in hopes that their digging will uncover a stream of flowing Mako. A stream where the President would stick another one of his damned Reactors and suck the energy straight from the Planet itself. Shane took another drag from his cigarette and thought about how he hoped they really didnt find anything TOO exciting in the Crater as he well knew since Shinra provided full funding, which means they also have first dibs on whatever they may find useful to them. So far so good as the only items of interest they found were some fossilized plants, a couple pieces of mediocre Materia, and a few animal skeletons. Items absolutely intriguing to those digging, but to put it bluntly, the executives at Shinra Inc. could really give a rats ass.
Shane, dressed in his khaki shorts, hiking boots and open fronted jean shirt, which was pretty much the uniform of choice for the diggers, took the last drag from his cigarette and flicked the butt to his right. He watched it as it took a single bounce and then over the edge of a seemingly bottomless canyon and disappear into the darkness. Looking around, Shane was beginning to think they really had made progress after all. He looked down the tunnel from which they had come and couldnt even begin to see the entrance trough the winding path. The walls of cavern had been cut so smooth and so well that Shane was almost proud of his workers at the moment. Almost. At their present location, the tunnel had opened into a large open catacomb, which was naturally lit and had a strange glow. Although they had lanterns and flashlights, they really didnt need them in this place. Even though they couldnt find a single light source, the walls, ceiling and floor all had the glow of an eerie teal/aqua color, which Shane had just assumed it was from the abundance of Mako within the Crater. There were a about twenty tents set up for the diggers, but only a few campfires going, but the rest had been put out as everyone was eager to get to work as usual. There was a hollow sound that was a constant in the cavern, the sound of wind, but they have yet to feel even a single breeze so deep below the surface. The only thing louder than the wind, was the clinking and clattering of pick axes, shovels, and hammers against the rock cavern walls. There was the low murmur of diggers carrying on their morning conversations, mostly cheerful, but there was always the hollow wind sound that quite frankly gave Shane the creeps sometimes.
He got up and went back to outside of his tent where his station was set up. He sat on the stool in front of the table and looked over the map showing the route that they have traveled so far while he searched for another cigarette in his breast pocket. As he lit his next smoke, he thought that once they get the two-ton drill operational, how much farther they would be getting and then a small grin pursed across his lips when he remembered how far he got with the young woman in his tent the night before. He looked over to where she was working; disappointed that she was too involved in her work to even notice him. His thoughts then left their present location to the night before where he had finally gotten her to come into his tent. They had both been drinking, everyone had, celebrating the three month mark of their project. As soon as she stumbled in the tent behind him, with one had he pulled her close to him, and the other cupped around the back of her head grabbing her hair and pulling her lips to his. Both were breathing very heavily already and he took his other hand and slid his finger across the top of her belt and unbuttoning her shorts and moving into her underwear until he could feel her sweet
Shane snapped his neck up out of his half-daze, pissed off again that someone had disturbed his flashback and even more pissed that someone had made him drop his smoke as well. He looked over his table and saw a young digger whose name he didnt care to remember.
What do you want? Shane snapped, pulling another cigarette out of his breast pocket. He considered standing up but he decided against it, as he wasnt sure of himself in light of his previous memoir.
Um Well, Sir, it seems as though our diggers have, um, found something. Something interesting, Sir. The digger responded.
Cant you see that Im busy? I dont think another fossilized plant or animal outline is enough to blow my skirt up, son. Unless its some bitchin ass Materia, youre wasting my time. Shane said growing more annoyed.
The digger shifted his weight twice, closed his eyes tight and then opened them again before speaking. Well, Sir, its not a fossil or anything, I think. Sir, its different. Its um.
Losing his patience, Shane stood up quickly, bumping the table sending his maps and tools scattering to the ground. God damnit, son, stop wasting my time and get to it! Im very busy, cant you see that? I have to check on the work status of the two-ton drill, verify the route of our next digging course as there may be a canyon in the way, I have to hand in my progress report to Shinra, check the status of the pulse hammer order and
The digger cut him off, It looks Human, Sir! Or maybe an Ancient.
Shane stood there with his mouth agape, a few of his pens and tools were still rolling on the stone ground. He ran his hands through his short, misshapen hair and leaned his neck back thinking It cant possibly be a human According to the carbon dating of the previous fossils that were extracted from this location, the time frame would be way too old to be human. The Ancients maybe, but they were never centralized to this location.
Where is it? Shane asked in almost a hush.
The digger pointed down the tunnel where the main team had been progressing the past week. There was shouting and several other diggers dropped what they were doing to go see what the excitement was about. Pretty soon, the only workers left were the ones with headphones on, oblivious to the goings on outside their musical world. Its down there, Sir.
Well, lets have a look, shall we? Ignoring the mess of tools and maps, actually forgetting all about it, Shane grabbed his baseball cap, put it on, and motioned for the digger to move towards the cave. He couldnt tell for sure, but he could have sworn the digger gulped And was positive he was sweating.
Shane and the digger made their way down the tunnel, following the shouts and other workers running by, also trying to see what the commotion was about. In the excitement and anticipation, he was unable to keep his pace to a walk, he found himself jogging with the rest of the workers as anticipation was working his legs now. He noticed that he forgot his flashlight and stopped to realize it wasnt even needed. The cavern in the tunnel was glowing a brilliant teal, more brilliant than he had seen anywhere else in the excavation. He saw that the further down the tunnel they got, the brighter the teal walls glowed. Shane also noticed a strong, bitter smell and when he took time to think, he realized it smelled exactly the way the capital city of Midgar smelled when he went there to request the project funding. When he pressed his memory a bit more, he figured that what he smells is Mako.
Shane moved further down the tunnel and to his relief he saw that the majority of the diggers crowded around the end of the tunnel all looking up at the corner of the ceiling and the end wall of the tunnel. The shouting had stopped.
No one was talking.
Shane pushed his way through the crowd, unable to see a damn thing that was going on. Seeing nothing, hearing only the hollow wind sound of the cavern, he emerged from the crowed and looked up on the wall. What he saw was the most horrid, terrifyingly beautiful thing he had ever seen in his life.
Where the tunnel meets the ceiling there was a form in the shape of a torso, a female torso with breasts but no nipples. There was a circular pattern on the left breast and to Shanes typical track of thinking; he noticed that the breasts were quite big. The skin itself had the color of a swirl of blue and reddish-peach. The torso had arms, but the rest of the body gave down into a sexless lower half where no legs existed, but the body itself gave away into a tent-like form. Coming out the back of the creature were several appendages which almost looked like wings, but there were many of them and it was impossible to tell how big they were as the diggers havent removed that part of the rock yet. The creature itself stood a good fourteen feet tall, and utterly ominous above them. Shane studied the creatures face more than any form of the body and he felt almost hypnotized by it. Like the torso, the creature had a female face, but something wasnt quite right with it. It held a narrow nose, two eyes, the left eye had a pinkish glow coming out and the right eye was too dark to see anything at all. The lips were also narrow and to Shanes horror, the creature was smiling, not a happy smile, but a sinister one. Upon noticing the creatures smile, Shanes blood ran cold, his mouth dry, and his mind dark. For a split second Shane saw a dark flash and felt as if he had just tasted death. He snapped back into reality and realized one thing: He needed to get the hell out of there. Something about this creature wasnt sitting well with him, and by looking at the expressions on the faces of the other diggers, they felt the exact same way.
After getting a hold of himself, Shane finally gave the order, Alright, I need this area secured. Everyone get out and dont touch ANYTHING.
No one even flinched at his order, they all stood staring at the creature, not blinking, not moving, and they all seemed to be looking at the creatures face, at the smile
NOW! Shane commanded.
Slowly, each digger seemed to come alive like they were waking from a restless sleep. Still, no one was talking; they slowly filed out of the tunnel leaving Shane with the creature. He looked up at that face, at that smile one more time before leaving.
Well, if the Shinra want you, they can have you, Shane said as he turned to leave. It could have been his mind playing tricks, but he could have sworn that the creatures smile grew just a bit.
He finally made his way out of the tunnel and into the open catacombs again and felt nothing but relief to get away from that thing. His workers were all standing in a sociable circle discussing what they had just seen. They were speaking in low, conspirators voices that halted when Shane approached.
I need two men guarding the uh, that thing at all times, He ordered. Shane watched everyones eyes widen as he gave the order and decided to elaborate. The two men will not be in the tunnel with the creature, but out here posted at the entrance to the tunnel. For now, we will cease digging in that section and await orders from Shinra as to what our next action will be. We will still continue digging in other sections, and those assigned to the tunnel with the uh, the creature in it will be divided among the remaining tunnels.
A few murmurs went through the crowd of diggers, but no one dared question his orders. Despite their boss rude manner and the occasional power trip, they all had great respect for him and his knowledge of archeology.
We have all seen the same thing in there, Shane continued And I have given my orders, does anyone have any questions?
Everyone in the crowd glanced around to see who might have such a question and only one man raised his hand.
Shane acknowledged him, Cooper? You have something?
Everyone looked at Cooper. Um, its just a simple question, I guess What IS it?
I honestly have no idea, but Im sure its nothing to be worried about. Shane knew the second part was a lie. Once the reps from Shinra come up to investigate, we will know more. Anything else?
The only response was a few people shaking their heads.
Alright, head back to camp and relax. If anyone has any problems, let me know. I will be posting the tunnel sentry shifts later on today, so keep an eye out for it so you dont miss your watch if youre picked. Dismissed.
The crowd dispersed and everyone headed back to camp, quietly speaking to each other about the previous events and all dreading being posted guard duty for the tunnel. No one wanted to keep that creature safe, even if they were keeping it safe for the Shinra.
As soon as Shane got back to his tent, he went immediately for his PHS phone system to get someone from Shinra on the line to tell them of their latest discovery. He couldnt find it anywhere in his tent and went back outside to check for it on the table. He muttered a curse under his breath after looking at all his maps and tools on the ground from his bumping the table earlier. He fell to his knees and went through the items on the ground and finally came across the PHS. The thought crossed his mind that it had broken from the fall off the table and he knew that the President would have his ass. He picked the PHS up, wiped the dust off of it with the tail of his shirt and pushed the ON key. The PHS beeped into life awaiting its next action and Shane let out a sigh of relief. He pushed the speed dial #1, which was direct to the Presidents personal assistant and waited, listening to the phone ring.
On the other line, the phone picked up and the assistants nasally voice came biting through the line. President Shinras office, state your business.
He didnt even bother with small talk. My name is Shane, I head the archeological dig up at the Northern Crater and I need to speak to the President immediately.
President Shinra has asked not to be disturbed, Ill have to take a message, She said sounding irritated.
Its very urgent, I really must speak with him now, Shane pushed.
Leave a message or hang up, the assistant snapped.
Fine, Shane sighed. Tell him this is regarding something that was located at the archeological dig in the Northern Crater. We have located something that would interest him a great deal, Shane thought of something that would need to get the Presidents attention so that he would actually receive a call back. It appears to be an Ancient.
The assistants scribbling stopped on her notepad, An Ancient? How ?
He couldnt resist a retort for that snippy bitch, You have my message. And then hung up.
Shanes archeological expertise lay mostly in the artifacts from the Planet itself: fossilized plants, animals, and of course, Materia, which was condensed Mako energy. He knew about the Ancients probably as much as the next person did: A race that occupied the Planet before the human race does now. They sacrificed themselves somehow to save the Planet and thus leaving it for the humans to occupy. He could only remember the Ancients as much as his History class in High School taught him, but like any other man of Shanes type; he spent those four years of his life in a beer haze. He is knows that Ancients were made in the same image of humans, but that creature didnt look all that human, nor did that smile.
Spending his afternoon staring at the PHS, waiting for President Shinra, or whatever flunky employee the President got to call back was the last thing Shane wanted to do. He decided he would pass the time by writing his report on the incident, splitting the team who was working in the tunnel with the creature, to the other tunnels, and assigning guard duty shifts for the creature.
About twenty minutes into his work he got the call from Shinra and not just a flunky either, it was President Shinra himself. While looking at the Presidents personal line on the Caller ID, Shane smirked at his own cleverness in mentioning the Ancients to the assistant, as he knew the President was fascinated with the Ancients, although wasnt sure exactly why.
He put the PHS to his ear. Shane here.
President Shinras words came out raspy and pausing every so often to puff his cigar. Like Shane, President Shinra got straight to the point. Where did you find it?
We located it about a quarter of a mile into the dig, directly under the middle of the crater. We found it early this morning; a crew uncovered it between eight-thirty and nine. The diggers think Shane went on.
I dont care what they THINK, I care about what you and your diggers KNOW, now spare me the fiction and get to the facts. The President interrupted.
No matter how Shane tried, it was VERY hard not to be intimidated by President Shinra. Well, um The location of the creature was found where fossilized items have previously been carbon dated to the time of the Ancients. We havent touched the creature itself, I stopped all digging in that area until I report to you knowing that you would probably want it undamaged.
Good man, President Shinra took another puff of his cigar. Continue.
Shane took a cigarette of his own out of his breast pocket and lit it. Ill be having 2 guards watching it twenty-four seven. The rest of our digging will be confined to the remaining tunnels, the teams spread evenly among the tunnels. We will continue to do so until you decide what you will do with that portion of the excavation.
Ive already decided, President Shinra rasped. Im going to be sending my best scientist, Professor Gast, up there with two members of SOLDIER. The scientist will examine the creature and decide whether its worth keeping for experimentation. Now let me put this through to you, young man so you see this VERY clearly, President Shinra took another puff of his cigar. If it turns out that you are dicking me around about this If this is some joke or hoax that you and your diggers are playing, you will be sorry. But you wont be sorry in any quick and painless way, oh no. You will be sorry in a slow, painful, and bloody way. Ill make sure I see the Turks to it, so you do yourself a favor and be absolutely sure that you arent fucking me. Do you understand me, young man?
Y yes, Sir. Shane had never called anyone Sir in his entire life.
Thats fine. The President snapped. Then the line was dead.
He sat there a few moments letting the conversation soak in. He realized he was sweating and took the tail of his shirt and wiped his forehead. He knew about the Turks. Everyone knew about the Turks and knew that it wasnt an idle threat It never was. To the naïve, careless citizen, the Turks were nothing but a program of a few selected people who aid the President directly and find candidates for SOLDIER to bring them in for evaluation. To the informed, streetwise citizen, they were spying, murdering, ruthless agents of the Shinra Company that did all the dirty work. The REALLY dirty work.
The cigarette that Shane had lit was ash all the way down to the filter as he had forgotten all about it during the conversation with President Shinra. He flicked the cig down to the teal rock thinking about President Shinra, that creature they found, and most of all, that smile. Not surprisingly, he then thought about the retirement papers in the file cabinet back in his office at Bone Village.
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