Nibelheim was a small village in the western continent, around 50 miles north of Cosmo Canyon. It was set at the beginning of the Mount Nibel mountain trail. The mountains were home to one of ShinRa’s Mako Reactors. Some reactors were home to Huge Materia. Mt Nibel reactor was home to Jenova: The Calamity of the Skies. It was a place where SOLDIER hadn’t really ventured to in the past. They had only used it as a stop over on the way to Wutai.
“So. Nibelheim.” Sephiroth said as he slid his order papers back into its envelope. Shenlong nodded. When Sephiroth was just a toddler, he was living in Midgar. Shenlong spent the first year of his life in Nibelheim. He didn’t understand what was going on or why Hojo had to tidy the mess of the mansion. He didn’t even know what Nibelheim looked like. Hey, he was only a kid when he was there. Still, it’d be nice to see the place he once called home.
“What bit do you have to cover?” Shenlong asked as he slid his papers into his leather satchel. Sephiroth took a set of van keys and placed them in his pocket.
“The mountains. I’m just surveying the surrounding area around the reactor.” He started. “Because you’re a new First class SOLDIER they must have given you the mansion. Break you into your new role with something easy.”
Shenlong grinned as he zipped up his leather vest. This was to be his first big mission since he was removed from DeepGround. He had had small missions within SOLDIER but his main work was affiliated with the Biochemistry Division and the Turks. He only gained First because his training with Sephiroth was coming on leaps and bounds.
“I can’t remember Nibelheim. Hojo said that I was brought up in the mansion but I don’t really remember it.” He said as he fixed Valiant and Patriot to his waist. Sephiroth rolled his eyes.
“Hojo. I’ll be glad to see the back of him for a while.” Sephiroth said. He opened Shenlong’s satchel and dropped his papers in.
“One whole week of just us two. Jolly Boys Outing. no Hojo, no Genesis. No Hollander being a dick. Just us two.” Shenlong laughed, making extravagant hand gestures. Sephiroth shook his head and walked off towards the elevator. Shenlong ran after him, his zips and other metal components clanking together as he ran. He sounded like a tinker mans cart, the amount of necklaces and bracelets he wore. His bunch of keys fixed to his belt added to the noise.
“You’re like a walking percussion instrument.” Sephiroth said darkly. Shenlong slammed his hand on the buttons, his bracelets erupting in a flurry of musical joy.
“And you’re just jealous.” The door to the elevator opened and they both stepped inside.
“Jealous of the percussionist? I’d rather be the guitarist or something a little more important.” Sephiroth said as he pressed the button for the garages. It had a small picture of a truck on it and it was where all the ShinRa land vehicles were housed when they weren’t in use or needed servicing.
“Nah. I always thought that if I were in a band I’d be the vocalist.” Shenlong said. He held his left hand up to his face as if he were holding a microphone and started to sing. Sephiroth rolled his eyes and clapped his hands to his ears; provoking Shenlong to sing louder and annoyingly out of tune.
“Will you cut it out you little urchin! Giving me a headache!” Sephiroth snapped. Shenlong lowered his hand and laughed. “I have to put up with you for Gaia knows how long. Can you please, PLEASE keep your abnormal behaviour to a minimum when we’re in the truck? I’m begging you.” Sephiroth pleaded. Shenlong tapped his lips for a few moments, his face contemplating what he would do instead. Eventually he shook his head, just s the elevator reached the underground floor.
“What would I get in return?” he asked, sliding through the small gap in the opening doors. Sephiroth followed his and took his keys from his interior pocket. Pressing the switch on the fob, one of the trucks flashed.
“You get the pleasure of me not sending you to be keel-hauled.” Sephiroth said as he opened the driver’s side door. Shenlong jumped into the passenger side and dropped his swords in the back of the long truck. They landed next to Sephiroth’s Masamune. He took off his satchel too and placed it on his knees.
“I think I’d rather sing. Your music is like the shit they play at a wake.” Shenlong said as he fished out a bag of Cheezy Doodlez . He dropped his bag at his feet and opened the packet. The smell of artificial cheese filled the front of the truck. He picked one out and popped it into his mouth. They were luminous orange in colour.
“They reek. Don’t you dare go touching the radio now. You’ll get orange shit every where.” Sephiroth growled. Shenlong stuck his tongue out and continued to eat as they set off. Couldn’t even wait until they got onto the open road to eat. He placed the bag on the dash board and fished his iPod out of the front pocket of his satchel. He unwound the ear buds and shoved them in his ears. He turned the volume up to full and felt a rush of excitement when he felt the van roar to life. Sephiroth rubbed his eyes before carefully manoeuvring out of the parking lot.
As immature as Shenlong was, Sephiroth joined in with the singing and reckless air guitar solos. Every few hours or so, the brothers would switch places in the van, Shenlong driving to give Sephiroth a rest. They would stop off in lay-bys and piss in a bush. Service stations were a must when it came to having a dump and a crappy cup of coffee which could pass for chicken soup. All in all it took two days to get to Nibelheim.
It was a small village nestles softly in a vast expanse of mountains. Rocky crags and savage winds met anyone insane enough to venture up the range. The village itself was not without its mysteries. Before he left Midgar Shenlong had bought himself a guide book of Gaia’s world mysteries and there was a huge section dedicated to Nibelheim.
“Have you heard about these 7 Wonder things?” He asked Sephiroth as they drove into the village square.
“Machu Pichu? Them wonders?” Replied Sephiroth as he looked up towards the mountain. Shenlong flicked through the guide book.
“No. the 7 Wonders of Nibelheim. Red water, super strength monsters in the mountains.” He said as he thrust the book under Sephiroth’s nose. He grabbed it and threw it into the back of the van, “Well a big fuck off to you too. Dibs on the mansion!” Shenlong yelled. Sephiroth rolled his eyes.
“You are stationed in the mansion bone head.” He growled. “Grab your gear and get the hell out of my van. I’ve got a mountain range to explore.”
“Yes’sir General Butthead!”
Shenlong grabbed his swords and opened the door. he kicked it open and jumped onto the dusty ground. He clipped his swords back on his belt and pulled his jeans up his arse.
“Oi! Lieutenant Doesn’t Give A Shit About His Duties. Keys!” Sephiroth shouted as he launched a set of keys at his brother. Shenlong effortlessly grabbed them in his hand and kicked the door shut. He swung his satchel over his shoulders and looked around. “We’ll meet at the inn at Nightfall. Good Luck.” With that, Sephiroth revved the van and drove off up towards the mountains. He didn’t need a guide. He had refused the guide offered by ShinRa. He was good enough to go alone. Shenlong looked up at the water silo and cocked his head slightly. He felt his presence was being watched. Turning his head he saw a young boy, no older than 12.
“Hey kid. You missed the hero.” Shenlong said. The kid shook his head.
“Nah. Snuck a photo of him when he was yakkin’ to you.” Sarcastic little twat, “first time in Nibelheim?”
“Nope. I was born here and lived here for like the first year of my life. Cant really remember jack.” Shenlong said. The kid laughed.
“Seriously dude. You’re like 100. stop tryna be cool like me.”
“Ain’t it past your bedtime? Go run off to mammy and let her tuck you in half pint.” Shenlong said. He turned on his heel and walked off towards the mansion. The kid stuck his tongue out and ran off.
The ShinRa Mansion was a grand building. It was quite small for a mansion but it was still grand. Shenlong grabbed onto the gates and tried to open them. They were rusted shut. He shook them violently and kicked at them until they opened with an ear piercing screech. He wiped his rust hands on his jacket and walked up the weedy path. His footsteps and jingling chains startled a small family of mice out of the undergrowth. Before opening the door he stood on a window box and tried to look in the windows. They were boarded up from the inside. Just as he was about to climb down, the wooden window box collapsed beneath his feet. As he fell to the ground he disrupted a large cobweb under the outside windowsill; resulting in a huge spider dropping onto his chest.
“Fuck… go on. Frig off. Fuck the fuck off.” He quickly swiped at the 8 legged creature; taking care not to get his fingers bitten off by its monstrous mandible pincers. He heard a small hiss as he swatted the spider off. It scurried off and ran off up a small weed. A weed wishing it was a tree. He stood up and pulled the keys from his pocket. He shoved the mansion key in the lock and twisted it. He pushed the door open and was greeted by a thick drapery of cobwebs. Using one of his swords he cut away through the dusty silk and made his way into the mansion. More spiders inside and a few orange floating balls with doilies fluttering about their arses. These must be the Dorky Face monsters. Shenlong had seen them expertly sketched both inside and out in Hojo’s sketch books.
“Wish I had a Pokédex.” He said to himself. There were pieces of paper scattered about the place. He picked up one piece and looked at it. There was a kind of missive written on the paper but it was so faded he could hardly make it out. He could only just make out the words ‘safe’ and ‘first floor’. Was there a safe on the first floor or was it the safest place to be in the mansion? Whatever it meant, his mission was to explore and investigate the mansion and investigate is what he would do. He saw four doors in the foyer and a huge double door under the stairs. He looked at the window in the middle of the wall at the top of the stairs. It was a stained glass masterpiece but it was very dusty. This wasn’t boarded up. He walked up the stairs, taking extra care as he went. They were creaking and he knew that he could easily put his foot through them. Knowing that he kept a hold of the banister and walked on the edge of the stairs. He reached the stained glass window and looked out. He could see nothing but the foot of the vast mountain range. The right hand side of the building was dark but the left was light. One room was giving a greenish hue. He drew his second sword and held them just above his hips as he stepped into the left hand landing of the building. The green room was shrouded with foliage and more dirt and cobwebs. More cobwebs meant more spiders.
“Come on kid. Man up. Remember when Sephiroth dared you to put that rubber spider in Genesis’ pants. That was just as big and scary as these.” He said to himself as he began to pick the lock on the door to his right. “Yeah… but that was a fake spider. Full of fake shite. And Genesis was more scary than the spider.” He continued. Failing to pick the lock with his Turk training, he stood up and took a step back. “RememberNCIS season 1? Sub rosa? oh yeah Gibbs was bitchin’ that ep.” Drifting off into his own world again. He looked up and saw that floating Satsuma drizzling golden powder over his head. “Oi! Fuck off!” he shouted, taking a swipe at the creature with his swords. He caught its frilly tails with the tip of his blade and it screeched. It took another look at Shenlong and floated away. Shenlong took a moment to regain his mind and then kicked the door in. He shattered the door lock and nearly broke the entire door off its hinges as it smacked against the back wall.
“Still got it.”
He walked into the room and immediately saw the safe. He remembered his training with Reno when they were safe cracking. The nut job red head grew bored with picking the lock with a stethoscope. Instead he forced a wad of plastic explosive on the hinges and opened the door his own way. Shenlong would have done the same if he had any plastic explosive with him. He didn’t even have a stethoscope. His keen sense of hearing would have to do. He dropped his swords in front of the safe and sat down at the door; pressing his ear to the cold iron door. He started to twist the small dial listening intently for the clicking. He closed his eyes; blocking out one sense to heighten another. He clamped his lips shut; the taste of the air dragging his hearing to a lower level. He tried to slow his breathing so he wasn’t inhaling the scent of the room. Three sensed dulled to heighten the other two. Shenlong had no idea what time it was; he had no idea how long he had been sat with his ear up against the safe nor how long it would be before he opened it… if he could at all. X amount of time passed and he heard a click; his heart skipping a beat at the sound. He opened his eyes and took a deep breath. He had become light headed by not breathing normally. Holding the gold coloured handle he cranked it open and swung the door out of the way. Inside was a very old looking manilla wallet. It was quite thin but had a small bulge in the middle.
Looking around he hesitantly took the wallet, half expecting the lump to be another spider. He turned it over in his hands and examined the writing on the back. Failed Experiment . Hojo’s writing. He opened he flap and pulled out a small bundle of papers. Sliding the papers out he dropped the bulge. It dropped to the floor and landed with a clunk. Looking down he saw it was a key. He picked it up and examined it. Like the main door key to the mansion it was ornate and clearly an original piece of the mansion. He slid it in his pocket and began to look at the papers. Detailed drawings of muscle groups accompanied with scientific notes. Carefully he put the papers back in the wallet and put them in his bag. He then took out his phone and turned it on.
I’ve found a safe in the mansion. There’s a key. Any idea where I could look?
He sent the message and tapped his foot. He had an inkling that Sephiroth knew more about the mansion. He was higher in the SOLDIER ranks so he got told more. He perched himself on top of the safe and swung his legs in the open space. He tried to remember what it was like when he was a kid living here. It must have been ages ago because he couldn’t clearly remember.
1 New Message
Try in the room with the curved wall. I heard about an opening. Don’t know what lies beyond though. Keep up the good work.
Curved wall? Light bulb. He dropped his phone into his bag and grabbed his swords off the floor, resetting them in their sheaths. Running from the room he sprinted across the landing; kicking up a cloud of dust as he ran. He came skidding to a halt in a more lit room. This part wasn’t facing the mountains. Light was reaching the mansion. He touched the wall and listened. He started to knock it with his knuckles, trying to find a weak spot. There was a soft rumble and a small flurry of brick dust fell from the top of the wall. He pulled away and looked up. The wall was shaking slightly. He placed both hands on it and tried to shove it aside with his strength. It wouldn’t budge.
“Think King Arthur. A Gentle Hand Will Rule The Land… Gentle hand.” He whispered to himself. Taking another relaxing breath he softly shifted the wall aside. It was a soft and careful movement making the wall effortlessly move aside. The dust was immense.
“Fire the housekeeping.” He laughed.
One New Message
Where are you!!??
Shenlong rolled his ruby eyes.
Nibelheim. Mission for SOLDIER. I don’t remember it though. You said I used to live here.
Great. Obviously Lazard hadn’t told Hojo of the SOLDIER mission. Tch. All He did was develop the whole basis of SOLDIER. In some ways Shenlong was thankful for Lazard for not divulging this information.
One New Message
In the Mansion?
Duh. Sephiroth is in the Mountians and I’m in the Mansion. Can you bugger off and leave me to my work please?
Shenlong began to walk down the spiral staircase, using the same air of caution as he did when walking up the main stairs in the Foyer. These stairs looked even more dilapidated than the other staircase. he only knocked off one worn out plank when his concentration was distracted.
One New Message
STAY OUT OF THE BASEMENT!!!
He chose to ignore that message. There was a stale smell of mako and stagnant water. There was a very small portion of light seeping in through the upper floor. Shenlong took his phone and switched on the camera light using it as a torch.
One New Message
I mean it boy. Stay out of the basement!!! Defy me and you will be sanctioned upon your return; a fail on your permanent record.
SO FAIL ME OLD MAN!!! MY MISSION IS TO INVESTIGATE THE MANSION!!! INVESTIGATE IS WHAT I AM DOING!!! AND YES THAT INCLUDES THE BASEMENT!!! BACK OFF!!!
He deleted the thread of messages and carried on walking keeping his free hand on one of his swords. He ducked down as his light and footsteps disturbed a small family of blood sucking bats. He curled up in a small ball as the purple hue bats nipped at his arms, sucking on his blood. Shenlong dropped his phone and grabbed both his swords. Spinning onto his back he slashed at the bats growling as they shrieked; slicing in half. Blood fell from above like crimson rain and Shenlong knew he had got them all. Standing up he wiped the blood from his face, re-sheathing his swords. he bent over and picked up his phone only to see that in the commotion he had stood on it and cracked the screen. Damn it. He held it up grateful that the light was still working. He came face to face with a wooden door, hinged with heavy wrought iron. To his right was a steel door with hazard stripes. The lights on the panel were functional so he assumed the doors would work. The other door intrigued him more. He knew about the lab in the basement. That was in his case file but this door was new to him. He took the key from his pocket and turned it over in his hand. As he did with the main doors he carefully slid the key into the lock and twisted it until it clicked. With his gentle hand he pushed the door open. He swallowed thickly at what his fell upon.