Rescue & Redemption

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Vincent frequented the forest that Kadaj and his kind ran their operations in — first, for the solitude. Eventually, it became for the victims out there who caught themselves in their net with no one else looking for them. There could be no redemption for him. Nothing would change what was. But there was a future for those suffering from the stigma and if he knew Cloud, there was someone else out there making a stand as well. How could he do any less?

He did not sign up for this, however.

“Tseng, is he—” How Elena dragged herself and Tseng to his hideout, or even knew where to find him, was a mystery. She teetered, half-dead and somehow still conscious, catching herself on a pile of crates. Who knew what was even in them. “—I’m okay, I’m okay.”

Vincent lifted Tseng, unconscious and pale but alive, and carried him to a bench in the abandoned stone church he’d made into his quarters. Elena trailed after him, guiding herself on whatever was near her path to Vincent and Tseng. Her stubbornness and sheer determination… They often reminded him of someone he would never forget. Dangerous waters. “We are both aware that you’re not. What’s happened to you two?”

She eyed the neighboring bench, deciding against having a seat and instead leaning against the back of another bench to prop herself up. “Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo. We were caught.” She tore off a tattered piece of her own sleeve, holding it against one of her graver injuries with a small wince. Even in the low light Valentine preferred, Elena had an unhealthy sheen on her skin. “They wanted it. Jenova’s head. They tortured us both. Is he…?”

“Unconscious, but he has a pulse.” Vincent went to the stock of potions and other restorative supplies he had, taking back a collection for Tseng and Elena alike. He held out one of the blue bottles to Elena, meeting her weary gaze from the corner of his eyes. “For you.”

“So generous,” she teased, even now, and put the scrap of fabric in her pocket while she took the bottle from him. For Tseng, it would not be so simple since he was not awake. Vincent would need to heal him with salves and materia instead. She downed her potion quickly, punctuating it with a sigh. “An X-potion,” she observed with a note of surprise.

“Hm,” Vincent acknowledged, treating Tseng’s wounds and seeing a flicker of pain that pierced through his unconsciousness. “You should rest.”

Elena laughed, a delicate brightness in this dark place. Few could muster the strength to laugh after all she’d been through today alone. Vincent glanced to her again and she settled in close to him and Tseng. “Thanks, by the way. I really had no idea where to go.”

“How did you even find me?” Vincent hadn’t planned on asking, but the alternative was to let Elena choose the subject. Silence was not an option with her present.

“Turk instincts,” she remarked, tapping her temple and smirking. Her hair hung partly in her face as always, though it was now matted with sweat and dried blood. No potion could fix that. She was certainly a sight.

He breathed something akin to a laugh.

“What do you know,” she teased, resting back against the bench and placing the empty potion bottle an arm’s length away. “He can laugh.”

The stillness of night imbued the church with a peace even with the company and conversation it was so unused to housing. Or perhaps that was his concern alone. Elena’s wounds had closed, though the ones she first incurred in her torture still remained — either as they were or as scars. One raw injury traced along the soft curve of her cheek, jagged and dark red. He could see a redness around its edges that suggested the cut had been even worse before the potion. What could possibly cause such an injury… Vincent was certain he did not want to know. Even if he had, he wouldn’t put Elena through an explanation. Part of him considered offering her comfort. Mercifully, the impulse passed quickly.

“Did they mention why they wanted the head? To torture you both so brutally,” he thought aloud and stood. He wasn’t sensitive to the cold as much as he had been before the experiments conducted on him, but he assumed the two of them would prefer blankets. Among the supplies he held here for other victims, Vincent was certain there were at least two they could use until they recovered enough. Being Turks, they would of course be on their way the moment they could stand unassisted. Given where his thoughts were taking him today, it would be best for him that they did.

“I’ve seen your record. You still have clearance, so…” She sighed, leaning forward once more. Her movements were stiff, but they were steadier than they had been prior. At least any other terrible decision she made that day would be done in mostly working condition. “I guess I can tell you. They want Jenova’s legacy, the Sephiroth gene.”

Lucrecia, growing with child, but sickly from experiments. The argument with Hojo concluded with a gunshot; how was Vincent outdrawn by such a man? Pain blossomed in fragments across his chest. Consciousness came and went as the experiments on his body continued and ultimately failed — he was not dead, but neither was alive.

She saved him. He woke up on an operating table in her lab, tormented and enraged, from all of it. Her suffering. The experiments she had been subjected to. His powerlessness to stop any of it. This was his punishment for being unable to protect her and her unborn baby from their fate at the hands of Hojo.

He tensed, drawing himself to the present with a bitter and familiar taste of regret in his mouth. If Elena noticed, she wasn’t letting it on.

“I figure they want to re-create Sephiroth, but with all the talk of their ‘mother’,” she muttered, staring off into the shadows of his shelter. Having found the blankets as she spoke, Vincent returned to the sudden patients taking shelter with him. “Who knows anymore?”

“You had it coming, then,” Vincent deadpanned and laid a blanket over Tseng while she attempted to break up the mats in her hair. “You knew the danger when you took the head.”

“Of course we did,” she answered matter-of-factly as if it were nothing more serious than the weather. She tucked her hair behind her ear, evidently successful in detangling it enough for that. It was as if she wasn’t at the gates of death mere minutes ago. He could hardly be surprised. There was very little that Elena could not accomplish through her tremendous force of will. “We’re Turks. That is our actual job, Vincent. And we get paid well for it.”

Her gaze turned to Tseng as he shifted, settling in under the blanket. If nothing else, he had relaxed and gotten some of his color back. A regular person would take days to recover, but a twenty-minute nap ought to suffice in his case.

“I’ve done what I can for him.” Vincent held out a blanket to her, which she took with a smile. A familiar feeling rised to the surface… One he would not pursue — a final transgression he could spare himself and Lucrecia from. “We’ll just have to see.”


Days passed unremarkably. The situation had quieted, though who could say how long that peace would last. With Cloud and company, it was never a permanent state. He was only disrupted by a package brought by a teenager with a messenger bag and a jagged scar on her face.

Inside the battered package, a phone with a default set-up screen displaying was waiting for him. The protective case was a dark red with black accents, certainly not a mistake on her part. He didn’t even need to read the note to know the sender.

I heard from a little bird that you don’t have a phone yet. I programmed my number in already. Don’t worry, it’s private — not Turk-issued. And don’t be a stranger!

– Elena

No Matter What: FFVII

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She had no idea how long the three men had kept her and Tseng there. An hour, maybe. They had only just delivered Jenova’s head to a secure location, and already they were captured and tortured to find it.

She stopped for a moment, breathless and exhausted but — she couldn’t stop now. Elena slammed her foot against the rusted hinge of her cell door for the millionth time, getting a shout that wasn’t Tseng’s for a change.

“Would you just shut her up!” It must have been the other skinny one with longer hair, not the one in charge. Yazoo, based on reports.

Taking a few shaky breaths, she yelled back. “Come in here and make me!” She’d broken the chair in there hours ago trying to make a weapon, and it worked.

They wouldn’t expect her to have a sharp chair leg when they came in. Hopefully it was Loz, the big quiet one. A surprise attack was her best bet in taking him down.

Loz hovered by the barred window in the doorway, grunting in acknowledgement. Elena hid the makeshift weapon behind her, unwilling to put it down. She’d need every second.

“What’s the matter?” Her muscles screamed, pain signalling everywhere from her first round of torture. She wasn’t foolish enough to think it was the last. “Scared of an opponent who isn’t restrained?”

Just open the door. A few seconds passed and he stepped back, walking away. “Coward! Get back here!” With each word, she beat against the door again, looking for any weak point.

They would get out of here. She rested her forehead against the cool metal of the door, just catching her breath. Only for a second. Tseng needed her.

They would get out of here. No matter what it took.

Secret Santa: FFVII Edition

The holidays. A time for ones you love to gather and celebrate their time together. Vincent reached out to the window he sat beside, opening it and letting in the cold with the songs, laughter, and smell of feasts for families large and small.

It was the closest he would come to the festivities.

VVCapture

“Lucrecia,” he broke the silence of his latest retreat. Somehow, Cloud convinced him to move closer to the others after the geostigma was cured. Maybe a sign of the blond’s close call with the disease which lead him to be closer to those he cared for… In theory, that was Vincent too.

But Vincent had a memory to keep safe. Of her. “I’m sorry.” She was the reason he lived at all. If she couldn’t be there, smiling, laughing, accepting a dance… Vincent couldn’t go. The hand-drawn invite from Marlene laid flat on the table next to an empty wine glass.

Hours passed that way, the cold pervading the room. He never felt it that much, not after what he’d become.

“–cent!” He sat up slightly at the woman’s voice, looking just over his cloak’s collar and the sill to a blond bundled up with some sort of gift in her hands. It’s not as though he shoveled a path, so it was a feat in itself that she was even there. “Vincent!”

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He watched, waiting for Elena to leave. She lifted the metal knocker, banging it down a few times.

“I know you’re there, Vincent!” She shifted from foot to foot, presumably for warmth. The wind was probably harsh for her. “Stop brooding long enough to let me in, it’s for–” She looked over the lumpy package in her hands, poorly wrapped even at this distance. “Turk business. You are still a Turk on record, you know.”

He sighed, resigning himself that she wouldn’t give up. It was part of what made her who she was, that much he knew for certain. When he went down and opened the door, she came inside with it– the knocker in hand as she stumbled in.

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“Oh, hey,” she greeted him. Perhaps this was normal for her.

“I’m not accepting guests,” he deadpanned. She may very well accept that command. Outside of helping her and Tseng after Kadaj and his crew tortured and left them, Vincent had limited knowledge of the new Turks… Although she seemed the type to follow orders. As much as a Turk could be expected to.

“But you’re accepting gifts?” She held out the box, or what was probably a box under the uneven wrapping paper. Some of which was different from the rest. “Reno and Rude found out I got you something and… Helped,” she explained.

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He stared at it in silence and blinked. A gift. He wasn’t expecting even one. “Is this what passes for Turk business now?”

“Oh, just take it,” she teased, pushing the box against him and he reflexively held it once she let go. “Should be easy for you to open with that gauntlet hand.”

Vincent glanced up to her scratching gesture that he supposed was a reference the ‘gauntlet hand’. Peeling back the wrapping, he saw the dull outline of several wine bottle corks and he almost smiled.

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“I’ve still got contacts on Wall Market, from my bartending days, so these are the best red wines– you’ve got your smooth, toasty flavors, a bold blackberry and dark apple wine,” she counted out on her fingers, continuing, “A polished spice wine, you name it. There’s a wine here for every sulk.”

Vincent only watched her ramble, her breath still showing even though she was inside now. “So it’s saying something that they got here at all.”

“I’m way too disciplined to even think of sampling a gift!” She stood tall at that, brushing her longer bangs aside for emphasis. “But if you were going to share, I, well, I wouldn’t… It’s not polite to refuse.”

He chuckled drily, turning away and leading upstairs. She only stopped to close the door behind her and followed him up.

…she did bring wine.

Analysis: Sephiroth in Crisis Core

This post was originally inspired by the #IHaveaTheory challenge on Square Enix Amino.

To that end, I’ve set my sights on Sephiroth. You know, the man we all first knew from Final Fantasy VII as the guy you’d never invite to a fireside chat.

WARNING: FINAL FANTASY VII AND CRISIS CORE SPOILERS AHEAD

But before that in game canon, there was Crisis Core. Where Sephiroth was young and had friends and absolutely no desire to crush us all with a meteor (probably). We start at the beginning: Sephiroth was raised and trained as an intellectually and physically exceptional child with no immediate family.

While there’s no canon information on his childhood, some of his behavior in Crisis Core reflects what his mentality likely was.

Unlike many real life students with exceptional skills, Sephiroth had all of the special instruction and resources he needed to prosper. By the time we see him in Crisis Core, Sephiroth was entirely confident in abilities he’d been building on his entire life.

Yet when Genesis expressed jealousy over Sephiroth’s fame, he told Genesis he could have it. This is an indication that his confidence was self-contained rather than something he got from or held over other people. In short, fame or the lack of would not affect him at all.

This connects to another issue that exceptional people face in their upbringing. According to a guide by the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), “specific provisions for [gifted and talented students] stir heated controversy regarding whether or not they need special attention”.

Zack himself displayed this skepticism just before his mission with the Turks that Sephiroth was originally assigned to. Upon hearing that he refused to go, Zack asked if they were being too soft with him or babying him (depending on language/translation).

You can see the scene here at about 6:40.

For Sephiroth, this kind of controversy led to his abilities defining him to others in one of two ways. His status as the best First Class SOLDIER led people to believe he was either a hero beyond their standing or he was entitled more than he deserved.

Let’s consider that in conjunction with the immense value he placed on his friendship with Angeal and Genesis.

To have two friends who treated him as someone on their level, whether positively or negatively, meant a great deal to Sephiroth. There were few people who wouldn’t judge him based on his reputation since he had no family.

The bottom line is that Angeal and Genesis (and later Zack) gave him something his reputation could not: a sense of belonging.

And that feeling overpowered everything else Sephiroth held as important. He refused the mission that Zack went on because it was an act directly against his friends. When he was on his way to Modeoheim, he put his current mission off to go out of his way and talk to Zack – even though Zack was upset with him at the time.

Full clip here.

Sadly, this value Sephiroth placed on belonging was his undoing in the end.

To be human and exceptional separated him from nearly everyone, even others who were First Class. But at least he had that in common with people – humanity.

His discovery of the truth took that last bastion of hope away along with two of his closest friends. (The below video shows Sephiroth’s struggle as he tried to hold onto his humanity and the particularly painful way he found out he wasn’t human after all.)

Full clip here.

Failing that, Sephiroth had utterly nothing in common with anyone insofar as he knew. What meant most to him in life was inaccessible to him forever (or so he felt).

All that remained to fill the void was his greatness. In his mind, that had defined him to everyone else throughout his life, and he only thought he’d been defined by something more to those he cared for.

With his feeling of belonging gone, Sephiroth had to face that he would never truly belong among humans.

That combined with inevitable rage at the deception and horror at the truth of his origin… Sephiroth turned to godhood to embrace what he had originally tried to reject.

He was exceptional and he did not belong among these people; he never would. Grieving it in solitude could drive him mad or…

Sephiroth could choose not to grieve, instead empowering himself by believing he never really needed to belong. The feeling was simply another deception by the lesser beings of humanity.

And so, he rationalized godhood as his destiny.

and I’m still sad about it after all these years
#BlameHojo

Thank you for reading!

 

Elena’s Wig: Tutorial

Get You Some Tools

Wig I Used: Arda Silky, Jaguar wig, bleach blonde color

A brush with a tip for parting the wefts

A big clean sink

A wig head

A wig head clamp (ideally)

Quilter pins

Paper towels

Large plastic bag

Light hold

Hair clips (probably smart, but I didn’t use them)

Scissors (decently sharp is best)

Broom

Step 1: Make the Part

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From the above screenshot, you can see that her hair is parted above her left eye. Most of her hair is to the right that part, and we want the wig to do the same.

So take your wig, put it on the wig head, and use the quilter pins to pin it in place. It doesn’t have to be quilter pins, I just find them easier to locate and take out later. I usually use about five pins altogether, putting them along the hair line and at the top of the head.

With that done, put the wig head on the wig clamp. Don’t have one? Bribe a friend to hold it for you! (I find cookies to be a suitable bribe.)

Remember when you’re parting the wig that these are wefts, not regular hair. You /can’t/ just part it however you want. Choose your wefts to part carefully so you don’t see through to the wig head underneath!

Step 2: Heat Training

Once it’s parted, you’ll notice the wig is sort of fighting the way you’ve parted it. You can use quilter pins again to guide the bangs in particular for our next step: heat training.

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First, put a paper towel and a large plastic bag, both lying flat with the towel on top, underneath the wig clamp. This will make cleanup easier when you let the wig drip dry.

Find that big clean sink I told you about and turn on the hot water. As hot as you can stand it just in case you can get your hands into it. Once that water is hot, grab the wig head and angle it under the water so it’s running over the wig in the direction you want it parted.

It’s okay if water runs over other areas of the wig so long as it’s going in a direction you want to it to go in. With this wig, that’s not a big concern because of how it’s already wefted.

I did this for about ten minutes before I returned the wig head to the clamp. Tilt the clamp post so the hair is still angled the way you want it parted and let it drip dry.

I’m sure other people do other things here, and I’m sure they’re effective. So if you see another tutorial that suggests another method, go for it!

Step 3: Seal the Deal

So now it’s dry! But let’s be real, you’re going to be at a con in this wig. You’re going to be running around all day, not a stationary wig head. Luckily.

So break out that light hold! I suggest Aussie brand (pictured below) because it smells good. I mean it, a lot of other brands are downright poisonous in how they smell.

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Back to the tutorial! Holding it a few inches away, spray a thin coat of the hold over the bangs. Smooth it out over the wefts with your hands so it’s an even layer. If you’re me and don’t use gloves, rinse the spray off your hands.

Heads up: Light hold will wear off after a while.

That’s the price you pay for the more natural look it leaves on your wig. So if you go with light hold, touch it up just before you go to a convention. You did heat train it, after all, so the general style is still there.

Now, you can use heavy hold if you prefer to never ever apply it again. I personally just don’t like the way it makes the wig look. This one’s a matter of preference, nothing more!

Step 4: Cut

The scariest step for most people, understandably. Here’s your rule: always cut longer than you think you need. You can take more off, but you can’t undo that last cut.

Before Trimming

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It’s really important to get your wig cap on, secure it and the wig with bobby pins, and basically treat it like you’re going to wear this wig to the con right now.

The way you cut it is based on how it sits on your head, so getting the results you want relies on making sure that wig doesn’t move around on you.

And if you prefer, you can clip the hair you aren’t presently cutting off to the side. I didn’t, but this isn’t the first wig I’ve cut either.

It’s the second.

ANYWAY

The first cuts are for length. Trim the bangs above your eyes and the wefts on your left, since that’s where her hair is thinnest. Because of her hair style, I recommend trimming the wig with cuts at a slight angle. It fits with the rest of the wig better and looks far less obvious.

How you cut exactly will depend on how the wig sits on your head and what you’re going for. For example, I cut the left side of her hair a little long because I have brown hair and the wig being longer helps me cover any stray hairs that escape the wig cap over the course of the day.

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The second phase of cutting is to give the hair a feathered look, giving a more natural appearance than a straight line cut.

To do this, you will cut the wefts vertically instead of horizontally, meaning the scissors will be parallel to the wig fibers instead of perpendicular.

Cut just the ends of the wig fibers you cut this way, and this will further help the trimmed areas to blend.

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Step 5: Celebrate!

Ya did it

You’re a real Turk now! Go lecture Reno and shoot rogue SOLDIERS for money.*

* please don’t actually do this second one

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