...Doomed to Repeat It.
"Have you heard? Have you heard?
About this girl who was ripped out by her roots?
Have you heard what she learned?
Like humility you win when you lose."
~Ace of Base
"Watch the monitors!"
"We're losing her!"
"Give her more!"
"Wait! She's stabilizing..."
"Don't wake her up yet. I need to run some DNA match-up tests."
A moment of silence, broken only by the sound of mechanical beeps.
"Perfect! She's a perfect match. The only genetic difference is the X chromosome. She's a perfect replica. All of his strength, none of the violent tendencies he had, the extra stabilizers on that X chromosome will make sure of that. She'll be a perfect sacrifice. The Promised Land, and Hojo's dream are near at hand, my friends... Wake her up."
Green Mako eyes opened on the world for the first time, though their owner had 21 years of false memories. She blinked slowly, staring up at the men, not really fully awake yet. She blinked yet again, trying to consolidate flying thoughts, brain synapses opening for the first time, reflexes and movement beginning to come together.
"May I get up now? This table is cold."
She was innocent. White as snow. Even in her false memories, all she had known was the inside of these corridors. All she had read were children's stories. All she had played were simple games, and fighting practice, which she disliked. She knew nothing of hate, of greed, of anger. But she also knew nothing of love or compassion or *life*. The head scientist, a man who her brain told her was named Professor Kaap, leaned over her,
"Do you feel all right? What can you remember?"
"I... I... came here for Mako injections. How long have I been here? What happened?"
"There was a mix up in the dosage. You got twice as much as you should have. It put you in a coma for weeks. Do you remember anything? Some people experience memory loss after injections..."
All of this was lies of course, but she had no way to know that. Even her hazy memories said she should trust this man implicitly.
"Yes... yes I remember... I think. Everything's so cloudy..."
"Do you remember your name?"
"Jenny. You always call me Jenny."
"Good, very good. Are you sure you feel fine? We can run some more tests, make sure you're better."
"No thank you. I feel fine. May I get down? I really am starting to get cold."
Professor Kaap smiled. Thing were going fine, just fine...
* * *
Jenny looked up at the massive doors wistfully.
She'd never been in there. She turned to Professor Kaap, who was leading her to
her fencing practice.
"I'm not your father Jenny."
"I know, but it makes this place seem so much less dismal. Less bleak."
"Fine. What is it?"
"Why can I never go in the library?"
"You know the answer to that Jenny- books are dangerous. You know what they did to your brother."
"Yes, but you're always telling me that I'm not like my brother."
"But you are in many ways. Trust me Jenny, too much knowledge could be bad for your health."
"But *you* read books, Father."
"But I am much older and wiser that you. The knowledge in them can no longer harm me."
"Will I ever be able to read books?"
"Maybe when you are older."
"Isn't there *something* I could read? *Something* besides all those little kid books I have?"
Professor Kaap sighed. He knew that a young mind's curiosity could be just as deadly as knowledge,
"Yes," he relented, "I'll get you some books."
He was amazed when Jenny flung herself into his arms,
"Thank you father! Thank you!"
* * *
"Jenny..." his tone held warning, and she bowed her head.
"Sorry... Professor. I just read the most amazing play! It's all about this woman who kills her husband to get free!"
"He's holding her captive?"
"No, society is holding her captive. Her whole life is a lie, and she kills to escape it! Isn't that amazing? I've never read anything like that before!"
Professor Kaap's blood ran cold. Was she insinuating something? Did she know?
"Thank god *my* life isn't like that. I don't know what I'd do if it was..."
He breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe things would actually go right this time. Maybe he could keep things from getting out of hand...
But neither one of them saw a pair of iridescent (though not quite glowing) eyes watching in the darkness.
* * *
She wandered down the hall, stopping briefly to
wave at the Turk was almost always on guard there, protecting this wing of the
research facility from anything that might come this way. She'd always wondered
who he pissed off to get stuck down here, doing this kind of work was usually
more of a job for SOLDIER grunts than trained assassins. He waved back at her
lazily. Maybe it was just his manner. He looked like he'd slept in his suit and
rolled out of bed ten minutes before coming here. She'd never seen him when he
didn't look rumpled and slouched. But he *had* to have been good, or he
wouldn't still be in the Turks, would he?
Usually, he just grinned rakishly at her and waved back, but this morning he caught her by the arm.
"Hey, honey, you walk past here every morning and you never even say hi to me. How are you?"
"I'm fine, and you?"
"Couldn't be better. Say, are you going to the play tonight?"
"You haven't heard? I thought the whole world knew. Yeah, they're gonna show this play about how the heroes of the world prevented Meteor. It's been all over the papers."
"Father doesn't let me read the papers."
The red haired Turk studied her a moment, perhaps a moment too long,
"Yeah, I guess he wouldn't. Forget I said anything, honey."
Her eyes narrowed,
"I wish you wouldn't call me that."
"What should I call you then?"
"You could try calling me Jenny."
"I suppose I could, couldn't I?" he stuck out his hand, "I'm Reno. Pleased to actually meet you, Jenny."
She took his hand,
"The pleasure's all mine... Reno."
Their eyes locked over their hands, and for a few seconds, they both froze like that.
"Jenny!! Jenny!" Professor Kaap's voice broke the moment and Jenny turned to go.
She all but sauntered off, betraying none of her internal feelings. Professor Kaap had not thought it necessary to provide her with any memories of being in love before, or even having a schoolgirl crush. Do you remember the first time *you* ever fell in love? You remember how strong that felt, even if it disappeared days later. Yeah, well she was feeling that, and quite a bit more towards Reno right about now, considering he was the *only* guy available. Her entire brain was a confused jumble of thoughts and feelings, but through it all, one thought stood out like a beacon. She was going to that play tonight. She was going come hell or high water.
Reno watched her go, his eyes glued to her hips the whole way. He shook his head, and spoke softly into the empty air,
"Oh no you don't. Not her. Not again. Dammit girl... why did you have to say my name like you were tasting it..."
He fumed to the wall. He *hated* this job. Being a Turk was fine. Playing guard dog for Professor Kaap while he used such a beautiful young girl as a subject, was not. He'd tried to talk to Rude about it, but Rude never listened to him these days. Reno suspected that Rude still harbored some feelings for him, and that's why he was stuck down here pulling a relatively safe, but boring watch. But Rude wouldn't talk to him anymore. He was leader of the Turks now, and there was an unspoken, unbroken rule that you didn't, under any circumstances, have relationships with those under your command. Reno sighed. That didn't excuse Rude though. The two of them had been best buddies, they *could* have still talked as such. Reno shook his head lightly. This wasn't the life for him anymore. The only reason he was still here was because he knew too much. He'd never be voluntarily dismissed, he was a liability. If he was going to quit the Turks, he'd have to go AWOL, and he just couldn't do that yet. The Turks had been his whole life. They'd rescued him from the streets, so to speak. Well, he amended, Vincent had rescued him from the streets, and planted the seed in his head that he ought to become a Turk. And he had. And he'd never regretted it until now, though he suspected that both Vincent and Tseng had regretted him becoming a Turk many times over.
Reno sighed again. One good thing about this post, it certainly gave him time to think. God she was beautiful... and he had a feeling that she'd be coming to the play...
* * *
A shadow detached itself from the wall and fell
to the ground, slithering away into the streets a moment later, unnoticed.
There were plenty of guards making sure nothing got *in* to the facility, but
there was really no one there making sure no one got *out*. Jenny had learned
maps of the town from Professor Kaap's workstations when he thought she wasn't
paying attention, and the knowledge served her well. She slipped from street to
street looking for the theatre. The map in his study was the map of old Midgar,
and when people had rebuilt, they had changed a few things, so she wasn't
really sure where she was. But she did find her way to the theatre, and she
slipped inside, pulling her cloak up around her head some more. No one could
recognize her, or know she was there. Now if she could just find Reno...
But the curtain was already rising, and she had to take a seat. A young boy cam out onto the stage.
"The Ballad of the Story of the History of the Heroes of the World. Part one. My name is Cloud Strife and I am a mercenary for AVALANCHE. I was formerly in SOLDIER, but I'm not anymore, because I lost all my memories or something equally confusing like that."
An even younger boy dressed as a girl came out now as well,
"And I am Tifa, his best buddy who secretly had a crush on him."
And the play proceeded. She was held utterly spellbound by the story. And this was all supposedly true? Even the fact that she recognized several of the names, one in particular, did not detract from her enjoyment of the play. And then she was on her feet clapping as the curtain went down.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I have a very lovely surprise for you this evening. These heroes who you have been seeing so much about, are here! Please stand up and be recognized!"
Three men and two women in the front row stood up and waved vigorously. Jenny didn't recognize any of them but Cloud from the story, though she supposed when you have other people playing you, they never get it quite right.
As the people filed out, a strange compulsion overtook her. She had to meet these people. She had to find out what they were really like!
She found them out behind the theatre a few minutes later. She walked up to the young man she thought was Cloud,
"Cloud? Cloud Strife?"
He turned around, and smiled a little at her, though his eyes widened slightly at her face obscuring cowl.
"Yes, what can I do for you?"
"I wanted to talk to you about the play."
"Is it really a true story?"
"It was a nice story. Kind of like a fairy tale. Except for Aeris. Look... I don't know why I wanted to talk to you... Kind of a compulsion, I guess. I'll be going now."
Both of them turned away to go,
"Poor Aeris... Poor Sephiroth."
Cloud turned around,
"Yes. He was only doing what he thought was right. Poor, deluded man."
"No, he wasn't. Not really. He was being controlled by someone."
Jenny's eyes widened. This was something she hadn't heard.
"Yes. By an entity named Jenova."
She blinked. Her whole world narrowed to a single word, a word she choked out of numb lips,
"Yes. Why? What's the matter?"
She wasn't even aware that he was pulling her cowl back. She didn't hear his sharp intake of breath. She didn't see him back away from her slowly. She was absorbed in herself, in the realization that everything they told her was lies. She was right on the lies, but wrong on what part they had lied to her about. She was beginning to distrust her memories in a way that they had not foreseen. She had the dizzying feeling it hadn't been her brother who had gone crazy, but her son...
"My name is Jenova."
And then she slowly turned, and walked away, a strange kind of insanity burning in her eyes, the insanity of one who has just seen their life shatter around them. Those eyes held Cloud's until the last possible moment. He'd seen those eyes before, surrounded in flames. And just as in Nibelhelm, he found himself frozen to the spot, unable to move until she walked out of sight.
* * *
She walked slowly through the back streets. She
was lost, and that's how she wanted to stay. She didn't think she could handle
going back. They'd come looking for her, and bring her back, she was sure of
it, and there was nothing she could do about that. But she wasn't going back of
her own free will. She had... she had new memories. Ghostly memories that
weren't hers, but her brother's.. Or maybe her son's. Why else would she be
named Jenova? A sword... she really ought to have a sword...
She came to a church in the slums of Neo-Midgar. This was the area not rebuilt, and the church looked as if it had been old *before* the destruction. She ducked through the hanging door and went into the darkness. Why did this place feel so familiar? The ceiling had crashed in, and natural light poured into the opening, illuminating a flower bed. Flowers! There were no flowers in the halls of the secret research facility. She leaned over and gently picked one from the ground, holding the petals to her cheek. She just stood like that, tears forming in her eyes. Where did she go from here?
"No one knows you're gone yet."
She whirled around, and saw Reno, looked more subdued than she'd ever seen him,
"Let me bring you back before they do."
"Reno... How did you find me?"
"I saw you leave Cloud. You weren't exactly subtle."
"I can't go back there, Reno. You can't make me go!"
"You're right, I can't. But I'd think you'd want to. If you leave now, you'll never learn the truth about who you really are. You should go back for that reason alone, if no other."
"Can't you tell me? You know all kinds of things."
"Yes... more than I should, I dare say. But it's not that simple, and I *do* still work for Neo-ShinRa, even if it has gone underground."
"Neo this, Neo that... is anything the same around here?"
"This church? Why do you say that like that? What happened here?"
"This was Aeris' church."
Jenny's eyes widened.
"It was? Really?"
She looked around. The flowers, the peace that was here.
"So that's what Aeris was like..."
She could feel the planet here... it was wonderful. Such peace. She nodded,
"Yes, I'll go back. For now."
* * *
The next few weeks at Neo-ShinRa were oddly
normal. Nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary. But inside Jenny's head,
trouble was brewing. There had to be a way inside of the library. And then one
She walked by Reno, giving him a jaunty wave, as usual. He waved back and called out,
"Jenny? Come here a moment. I have a little gift for you."
"A gift?" she walked over.
"Yes. You know that night I told you about the play?"
"Well, I felt bad about that. I mean, that was really mean of me. I know that you aren't allowed out, and to tease you about it was rude. So I got you a trinket from the show. It isn't much, but I hope you'll forgive me."
She blinked, and looked at the small package in her hand, then back up at him. There was something else here, some subtext that she was missing, but she wasn't sure what it was exactly.
"Thank you, Reno. I didn't know you cared."
"Open it later..." he blushed just a little bit, "If you don't mind..."
"Thank you again. I'm sorry to take a gift and run, but I have to get to my lessons..."
"I understand. See you tomorrow."
All through her lessons, she was a bit distracted, but she covered it well. Professor Kaap noticed that there was something off, but he said nothing. After all, the security tape of the front entrance had shown Reno blatantly flirting with her. Professor Kaap made a mental note to have the boisterous Turk moved. Distractions were not good.
Jenny all but ran all the way up to her room to open her present. She tore open the box. What had Reno gotten her? She stared into the box. A seed? What on Earth was this for? There was a small note in the bottom,
"The key to knowledge is found in the tree of life. And, like ideas, small seeds grow into big trees," her brow furrowed, "What the hell does that mean?" She knew it was some kind of code... she just didn't know what. Key to knowledge... Tree of life... it didn't make any sense. She shook her head, and tucked the whole thing into her cloak pocket. Whenever things didn't make sense, she'd go for a walk around the laboratory.
But three hours later, they still didn't make sense. She plopped down across from the big library doors, staring at them as if they held the answers. If only she could get in there, she'd have all the knowledge she needed. She sighed, and hung her head between her legs. But she couldn't. The door was locked, and she didn't have the... key...? Wait a minute! Her head shot up.
"The key to knowledge is in the tree of life..." she murmured to herself. She got up and walked over to the library doors. There were two big potted plants on either side of the doors, and as she looked down, she saw a small silver gleam in one of them. A key! Reno had left her a key!
She fished it out of the dirt and unlocked the doors, slipping inside and closing them behind her. She flicked on the lights, and gaped at what she saw. Books! Thousands of books! Millions of books! There were more books here than one could possibly read in their life! And there, at the end of the impossibly long hall, was a fireplace, and above the fireplace was a sword. A huge, impressive sword. She walked towards it as if in a dream. Something about it drew her like a moth to a flame. She didn't know how she got there, but she was suddenly at the other end of the hall, reaching for the sword, which came away from the wall in her grasp. She gazed down the hilt of it, amazed. She'd never seen anything like this. On the blade, near the hilt were eight beautifully carved letters: Masamune. Who's sword *was* this?
She took a few practice swings. The sword was perfectly balanced, perfectly made. And it fit perfectly in her hand. And then, once again drawn by a force she couldn't explain, her eyes moved down the blade of the sword, and focused on a book beyond it.
An Explanation of the Jenova Project by Professor Hojo. She went over and picked up the book. This was too clean. Too perfect. She was walking into a trap. But she couldn't help but pick up the book and read.
She read for hours, absorbed by a book that, much to her surprise, was not about her at all. Finally, just as dawn began to break, she stood up, and headed for the door, bringing her sword with her. The only word that left her lips the whole time was,
And then she was gone.
* * *
"Jenny? Jenny why aren't you up yet? It's
not like you to be la- Jenny? Jenny! JENOVA!!"
Her room was empty.
"Guards!" they came running, "Find her. And when you find her, kill her, and bring the body back to me. The next one will *not* be so flawed."
Reno found her praying in the church, as he knew he would. It gave him the creeps to watch her, Sephiroth's twin sister, kneeling where Aeris used to kneel. And yet... there was something poetically *right* about it, for after all, Aeris was an innocent, and so was Jenny. There was no blood on her hands yet, and perhaps there never would be.
"They know you are gone."
"I've been ordered to bring you back."
Dammit! How could she sound so calm about it?
"The others *will* find you if you stay in Midgar. You need to leave."
She finally turned to face him,
"So then you won't turn me in."
He lowered his head,
"No. I can't."
"Why not, it's your job."
"Then fuck my job."
"You know you don't mean that."
"I'm not sure I know anything anymore."
She looked puzzled, so he continued,
"I joined the Turks because I had no other choice. It was either that, or die on the street. I chose to live, but then I became devoted. It was my life. But it isn't anymore. Tseng... Vincent... Luc... Elena... All of them are gone, and I miss all of them. Hell, I even miss Elena. Nothing's the same anymore. How long before it's me?"
"These friends of yours... all dead?"
"As far as I know, yes."
There was a long moment of silence, and she turned back to the altar,
"I can feel the planet here. There is such peace..."
"Yes, but there is no peace outside, not now, not yet... maybe not ever."
She stood and turned to face him,
"Why, Reno? Why save me?"
He looked away,
"Maybe because you remind me of her a little. Maybe because you remind me of how your brother could have been. Or maybe because you remind me of how *I* could have been."
Or maybe because I'm falling in love with you...
"I see," she walked towards him, "Tell me the way out of here."
Reno smiled slightly,
"Go find Cloud and the others. They'll protect you from them... from me."
She touched his arm,
"I don't need protection from you."
He reached out and touched her face gently,
"Don't be so sure of that. In war, you have no allies as long as they work for the opposition."
She shut her eyes and tilted her head down slightly,
"Hurry. It won't be long before they get here."
She nodded, then embraced him quickly,
"Thank you... I won't forget you..."
And then, like a lightning bolt, she was gone.
He stood there a moment in silence.
"You'd better not forget me, honey. Because as soon as this stupid new war is over..."
But he didn't know how to finish.
Questions? Comments? Send ‘em to Lucretia@jenovaproject.com
All characters except for Jenny and Professor Kaap belong to Squaresoft. Jenny and the professor belong to me. The story belongs to me. Please ask before archiving it anywere so I can put a link to your site.