The Cry of the Planet Chapter 19
By Edyn Cross
"Jenova..." Lucrecia echoed.
The three scientists approached the tube containing the Ancient, silently going over every detail of it with their eyes. Professor Gast and Lucrecia inspected it from the floor, but Hojo immediately climbed the small staircase towards the Ancient's face. He put his nose less than an inch from the glass and stared at the Ancient's angelic, but sinister face without blinking. A single bead of sweat trickled down Hojo's pale forehead as he stretched his lips thin across his face in his customary sneer.
"It's time..." Hojo whispered to himself.
Lucrecia climbed the small staircase until she was standing next to Hojo. She stared intently at the Cetra's face, into its eyes... and at that smile. While the scientists were busy admiring their newly acquired specimen, the Turk stood coolly leaned against the doorway waiting for the scientists to gather what they needed from the Ancient for their research.
Vincent watched as Professor Gast set his bag on the computer terminal and opened it. From it he produced a dull metal scraping tool in a bag marked "STERILE" and a tray with two dozen small separate compartments served as specimen storage. Gast set the bag on the floor and approached the bottom of the container tube. There was a green a green lighted button above a red one by a knobless glass door to the container. Gast pressed the green button and instantly the glass door slid open giving Gast first hand access to the Ancient.
Seeing this, both Hojo and Lucrecia quickly descended the staircase and each grabbed their own specimen containers and followed behind Professor Gast. As the scientists collected the specimen samples they need from the Cetra, Vincent walked curiously up the small staircase overlooking the Cetra's face. He stared intently into the Ancient's eyes feeling unable to move or blink. The right one was barely visible, but the left had a queer pink glow, almost like a light.
Vincent whispered, "Jenova."
The Cetra blinked. Startled, Vincent gasped and took a step back watching in horror, as the Ancient's grin grew just a little bit.
"Is it... alive?" Vincent asked.
"Yes," Gast replied collecting his samples from the Ancient. "Well, barely. It's kept alive by this life support system. Being so old and dormant for so long, I don't think it's able to move and seriously doubt it's able to think. It was found during an archeological dig fossilized in rock at the Northern Crater. I have no explanation for it being in tact, but my guess is that the high concentration of Mako energy in the Northern Crater is what kept the Ancient alive for so long."
Still a bit shaken, Vincent walked back down the staircase and resumed his position in the doorway suddenly wanting to leave this place more than anything. There was something about that creature that didn't sit well with Vincent. He rarely had bad feelings about things, but when his instincts kicked in, they were sharper than a razor and more accurate than his gun.
About ten minutes passed before the three scientists finished collecting their specimens and placed their equipment back in their bags.
"Thirty-six samples should be more than enough for our research," Gast said as they were preparing to leave. "Are you two ready?"
Gast looked over at Lucrecia who nodded and then to Hojo who had made his way back up the staircase looking at the Ancient's face.
"Hojo?" Gast looked up the small staircase.
"Yes..." Hojo hissed looking at the Cetra. "I'll meet you outside. I'll close up here."
Gast nodded and headed to the door followed by Lucrecia. Relieved, Vincent led the way out of the Reactor and the three stood outside waiting for Hojo to finish up. The cool outside air caused Vincent to breathe a sigh of relief. The sun didn't shine in the Nibel mountains, as the sky was always overcast with a light haze and Vincent figured the installation of the Mako Reactor wasn't helping either.
Gast looked at Lucrecia, "Excited?"
"Oh, yes," Lucrecia said with a bright smile. "Can we start the research tonight?"
"Actually, I think we should wait until tomorrow," Gast said. "It will be getting late by the time we get back and I hate to start a new Project while we're tired from a long day. We'll put the specimens in cold storage tonight so they will be ready for us first thing tomorrow morning. Besides, I think you could use a break anyway, Lucrecia."
"Hmm?" Lucrecia looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"Well, with all this work and scientific nonsense you haven't had any time to relax in awhile," Gast replied. "You should get out for a bit this evening, maybe tour the town."
Gast seemed to think for a moment, "Mr. Valentine here has been through the town already, maybe he can show you around?"
"But," Lucrecia pouted.
"No buts," Gast cut her off, "Hojo and I can prepare the specimens for tomorrow, you need to relax a bit. Would you show the lady around town this evening, Mr. Valentine?"
Vincent looked at Professor Gast who looked back and gave him a wink only Vincent could see, "I... Sure... If she wants."
Lucrecia looked at Vincent, then at Gast, who nodded to her, and then back at Vincent, "Alright. I suppose."
Gast smiled, "That's good, you could use the break."
Lucrecia looked back up at Vincent who was looking at her with a sort of longing. She didn't know why he was always looking at her like that and told herself that she didn't like it and that she wanted him to stop. But little did she know she was looking at him the same way. Gast watched this with amusement before checking his watch.
"What the heck is keeping Hojo," Gast asked.
Back in the reactor, Hojo had reopened the container tube door and was standing next to the Ancient. The only sounds were the Reactor machines going about their daily routine and the hum of the life support generator keeping the Ancient alive. His hands were shaking and cold and damp. He approached the creature and put his right hand on the lower tent-like body. It felt cold. but alive.
"Precious," Hojo quietly hissed. "You are..."
Hojo leaned his head towards the Cetra until his nose was less than an inch from contact. He inhaled deeply and then pushed his lips against it and slowly moved his face around rubbing its entirety on the creature. He then pulled his head back about an inch and extended his thin tongue and licked once, slowly like the way a child would like an ice cream cone.
"I have plans," Hojo whispered seeming out of breath. "For you. Yes..."
"Hojo!" Gast's voice echoed through the reactor, barely audible among the machinery. "Are you finished?"
Hojo slowly turned around and wiped the river of sweat off his forehead with his sleeve. He left the container tube and pressed the red button causing the sliding glass door to close with a hiss. He picked up his bag, walked to the computer terminal and gave the Cetra a final look of approval before turning the lever to "DEACTIVATE." The lights behind the container tube turned off while the metal female covering rotated from around the back of the container tube to its original position in front.
Hojo looked at the metal figure, at its expressionless female face, so calm and serene. In Hojo's mind it looked like an angel. His own guardian angel.
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