The whispers started as soon as he entered town, but they were so quiet at first, they escaped his notice, a barely perceptible susurration on the threshold of his conscious mind. He didn’t understand what they were saying; why the sight of a mother and child walking hand in hand along the road transfixed him while the excited cries of “Mama, Mama!” coming from a small boy as he entered another house made his head swivel to follow the sound as if expecting something. If there were words, they were beyond his ability to comprehend.
So he settled into the inn, wondering at the odd sense of déjà vu he felt but unconcerned, for a night of restless sleep and persistent dreams.
The next day it was up to the reactor, to discover the horrors left to fester there. A familiarity of a different sort sent him rushing to the mansion, seeking answers. Seeking an explanation.
But although he found file after file of research notes hidden in the basement, the words written there offered no reassurance. They made little sense scientifically – wild conjectures followed by experiments of poor methodology - but there was one word that was quite clear, repeated again and again. His name. The realisation that he was reading about his own origins caused a rising sense of hysteria, and he tried to cling to the control that had served him so well during years of tests and experiments back in Midgar; but it was gone, buried beneath an avalanche of words on paper, and there were more words echoing in his mind.
‘Mother’ was the loudest of them, and there was a name, Jenova, that had also been in the files. ‘Lies,’ the voice echoed, and he knew it was her, although he didn’t know how, ‘betrayal. Help me.’
They made less sense than the files he’d been reading, but he wasn’t thinking clearly. He was caught instead in a tangle of feelings, confusing and complicated, and even when Zack tried to talk to him it was her words that came out. ‘Traitor.’
It was just one word that got to him, tugging at instincts and wishes and half-forgotten dreams from his childhood. ‘Mother.’ A home, a family of his own. Something he could fight to protect, not simply destroy. Someone who would love him, and protect him in turn, not hurt him and alter him at whim.
Fire and violence and a mad rush to find what secrets still lay buried followed. To a room labeled ‘Jenova’ and the mask that hid another green tank behind it. As he pulled the mask away, he could see her: a crystallised dead thing, lifeless and barren, preserved in mako. Part of him knew this thing was nobody’s mother; that even the files didn’t agree with the words ringing in his head, but he couldn’t think clearly.
He felt like he was splintering, emotions too long repressed raging out of control, those words fanning the flames. He knew that, lifeless husk or not, she was the one whispering to him, only now it was more like a scream. He could feel her pressing in on him, on his mind, pure force pushing at those places the words couldn’t persuade to submit willingly. He fought against it even as part of him clung to that improbable fantasy of ‘Mother’ and warmth and safety and love and why was this person interfering he must stop that mother needed his help –
Even as he plunged towards the mako pooled within the reactor, blood welling around the sword piercing his body, he knew it was the words that had truly destroyed him, more thoroughly then any blade ever could.