She was the only one who'd ever ask it of me. Even after Cait was unmasked, she'd still go up to him, ask him to tell her fortune. Always cheerful. Maybe she just thought of fortune-telling as a game, but from what I know of the Ancients, I don't think that's it. More likely, she just didn't expect anything bad in her future. "Nah, no fortunes today," I'd have him answer. I didn't want any more wear on him than was necessary, because I didn't trust any of them to repair him without trying to remove the surveillance equipment. I should have just had him tell her fortune; they were all good, or weird, but no harm in any of them, and one a day wouldn't have destroyed him.
His programming wasn't top-notch, but good enough that I could put him on auto-pilot for a time. He could fight without me, tell fortunes or refuse to do so, follow the rest of the group. That last was a little bit more complicated, but not as much as conversation. If they spoke to Cait, my beeper would go off. In the middle of the night, sometimes; with all that travelling, they keep weird hours. And of course, I was in charge when it came to stealing the Keystone.
It bothered me more than I liked to admit. They're terrorists. Barret is, anyway. Tifa, too, I suppose, though Barret's more vocal and more a hypocrite, with his worry over the lives only of his people. Cloud is almost worse, because he joined for money, not even because of his convictions. Do they even realize how many they killed, or care? It's disgusting. I won't say Shinra's never harmed anyone, but that doesn't make what they did right.
That's why it bothered me all the more when I began to empathize with them. All for the Planet, they said. What about the people on the planet? I volunteered for this because I wanted, so very badly, to see them pay. But spend too long with them, and you think of them as people. You start to like them, even if they are killers, and regret betraying them. I just wish I could have forced them to work in one of the plants they blew up.
But the others weren't involved in the destruction in Midgar. Least of all her. She sticks to healing. I wonder why it doesn't bother her, travelling with them. I was afraid to have Cait ask her. They know he's a spy, now, but they still think he's just a smart robot, not capable of asking probing questions. He's not that important, really; they already have the replacement ready in the lab. But I was involved in the making of this one, and I'd be lying if I said it has no sentimental value.
But here I am, about to sacrifice Cait's body. There will be another. Improved, they tell me. I still have some attachment to this one, and I feel like I'm saying goodbye to them. They do too, I guess. They don't know he'll be right back. But then she claps her hands. "I know! Why don't you read our fortunes?"
Red switches his tail in a way I've come to recognize as amusement. I can feel my human body grinning, but Cait doesn't have facial expressions. "Say, that's right... I haven't done it in a while, huh? This is kind of excitin'. Right or wrong, I'm still the same ol' me. Now, what should I predict?"
She takes Cloud's arm, beaming. "I want to know how compatible Cloud and I are." Red snickers, scratching himself behind the ear; he likes Aerith, but seems to find the romantic complications more an elaborate joke than anything. Cloud smiles fondly at her. Tifa was with him in the Gold Saucer, on their date, but anyone can see how he feels about this girl.
"That'll cost ya. Exactly one date!" I tease, but I start Cait dancing before she can answer. She looks so happy. The moogle's stomach prints out a fortune, and Cait grabs it to read it. "Success will be achieved only with great sacrifice. Prepare to lose something precious." It sounds like the glitchy fortune he produced when he was to join them – that was another mistake, and I had to improvise. Somehow it seems more ominous here, especially since it's happened before. This is not right at all, and at home in Midgar, I turn away from their imagined presence. The robot in the temple mimics my movements. "This isn't good," I hear myself saying, almost in my own voice. "I can't say it." One of the screens displays from a camera in the moogle's back, although it's obscured by the wings. I catch a glimpse of Cloud's stricken face, Aerith's confusion. Red's hackles have risen. Trying to cover, I take on Cait's voice again, adding "Poor Tifa" in an undertone. Cait stuffs the fortune in the moogle's mouth.
She runs up to me. "No, tell me! I promise I won't get mad!" I guess she didn't hear the last. She doesn't look as upset as the other two – they're anticipating something worse than a poor compatibility report. But like I've always suspected, she doesn't figure on anything bad in her future. Can't let her down, and after trying to cover I don't want to just try again.
"Really? Then I'll tell you." A robotic clearing of the throat to match my own, as I put on false cheer. These strange fortunes rattle me for some reason. Maybe the next model won't be so buggy. "Looks good. You're perfect for each other! Aerith's star and Cloud's star! They show a great future! Cloud, I'll be your matchmaker, preacher... I'll do whatever you want me to! You just call me when it all happens!" I try to mean it. After all, the fortunes are just a computer glitch. He nods, looking relieved, and she beams at him. Cait hops to the door. He's almost done. I'm suddenly glad of the replacement, even as I hate to lose this one. I thank them for believing in me – in him – and say goodbye.
As I leave, I hear her telling Cait to be strong.