Vincent’s Story, part 3:  “The Beast of Revelations”
Track 10: "Sin" by Stone Temple Pilots

It’s getting late, but I suppose we have to finish this, now that we’ve started…  I’m just worried that you’re going to have nightmares of your own from this…

Jenova was pretty much integrated into my body after a while.  I think this was almost a year since Hojo had taken me.  Now that Jenova had “gotten to know me”, so to speak, Hojo was ready to try, as I said, more dangerous things.  He explained briefly to me how Jenova could establish a relationship with any kind of animal cells, but she liked humans most and seemed to be the least cruel to them.  He was wondering what she would do with animal cells in a human body.

I’m sure you’ve heard from either Reeve or Cloud – or maybe even your Turk compatriots – about my metamorphoses.  This is how Hojo created them, in part.  Jenova did most of the work.  Actually, Hojo was left thinking that he had failed, since only the weakest transformation ever manifested while I was his prisoner.  The rest needed more time to develop; more time, and I needed more strength, both magically and physically.

But about this first change.  Hojo told me that he was putting Behemoth cells into me.  I had never seen one of these monsters, and I certainly didn’t know what to expect.  Even Hojo didn’t know that much.  He showed me a picture of a Behemoth, and I was not pleased.  They are not pretty.  Have you ever seen one?  They’re huge – they’re bipedal and stand around eight feet tall, with violet fur, and a face like a bull, but with a wolf’s hungry snout.  They have horns, of course, and a short mane that happens to be red.  They have a long, heavy tail and clawed feet.  I’ll see if I can find you a picture; I’m certainly not going to transform for you!  Not that you would ask, I know…

At any rate, Hojo waited eagerly for something to happen.  He monitored my vital signs even more closely than before, and asked me a lot of questions about what I was feeling.  Truth to tell, I wasn’t feeling much of anything except a constant tingling.  You know the feeling when you lose circulation in part of your body, and then the blood comes back?  I felt like that all over.  It was really more irritating than anything else.  Hojo took it as good news, though; something was happening, and I wasn’t dead yet.

It went on that way for about a month.  The tingling stopped, and nothing seemed to happen after that.  Hojo puzzled over my cell samples: Jenova was there, and she had integrated the Behemoth into me, but my body seemed to be just the same.  Then he finally got the brilliant idea of torturing me again, this time purely physically.  I can only wonder how he realized that that was the “trigger” for the transformation.  Maybe it was because Jenova found it amusing, as I said before, to watch me, feel  me being tortured.  But yes.  After some severe bloodletting, and no healing, Hojo finally set me off.

I don’t think any normal human body can ever have the sensations I had then.  It was like…stretching.  You know how stretching hurts, but it’s also a relief.  My body was stretching into a new, larger shape.  The tail felt very odd, but it was the horns coming in that actually hurt.  The scalp is a sensitive area, and feeling those things burst through my skin was surprisingly painful – like someone pulling your hair, but much worse.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I never was conscious past the actual shape-changing.  I have no idea what it feels like to be in that form, because my mind was turned off – or at least, this mind; I was using a different one in that form, it seems, and in every other metamorphosis I went through.  But that loss of control has had…ghastly results.  Sometimes my reckless attacks actually help the enemy, rather than my allies, and no one can stop me except by attacking me.  It takes time and calmness for the transformation to reverse.

Hojo, of course, was overjoyed with his success.  It wasn’t quite what he had expected, but he liked the idea of a hidden power as opposed to something that would have made me into an ugly demi-human.  Oh, yes, Hojo was an aesthete; I couldn’t fault him for his standards of physical beauty, except, perhaps, for Jenova, but she never really had a true form.  But yes, Hojo was pleased with his results.  The one thing that he was dissatisfied with was the fact that I couldn’t tell him anything about the beast-form.  He tried to find ways to control me in that shape; the best he could come up with was a synthesized adrenaline compound that he injected into me to “prime” me before he stabbed or cut me.  With that chemical in my blood, even a fairly minor injury would trigger the metamorphosis.

He liked to test me, that is, test the power and ferocity of my other form.  He would make me transform and then introduce animals into the dungeon with me.  I would come back to consciousness invariably surrounded by gore: the scattered remains of whatever unfortunate creature had been trapped in there with the beast.  In that body, I suppose I wanted nothing more than to kill whatever had hurt me – Hojo.  But since I could never actually get to him, I went after whatever was closest.

After several months of baiting me and trying to get me to transform into something else – that was Chaos, but it wasn’t until very recently that I learned how to take that form – I think that Hojo actually got a bit bored.  He was starting to do more work with little Sephiroth – oh, did I pity that child! – and he didn’t immediately have more ideas for me.  I think that he hadn’t expected to succeed with everything, and was rather surprised that I was still alive and generally healthy.  Healthy, that is, in body…  Mentally, I was a wreck.  Hojo was still working me over regularly with his peculiar tortures; with the shame and…despair…weighing so heavily on my mind, I didn’t have room to be angry at him, as I knew I should have been.

Sadly to say, this was a “peaceful” span of time, compared to what came after.  It had been a year and a half since I had been captured, and obviously, no one had heard a word from me in that time.  Finally, someone noticed that something was very strange in that, and came looking for me.

Hojo was with me in the secret lab that night; we both heard the quiet squeaks that heralded someone walking down that hidden stairwell.  Hojo looked outraged; he walked out into the hall without even his ridiculous little gun to see who would dare to break into his lab.  Vincent!” he called, summoning me to face whoever the intruder was.  I went out, afraid of who it might be.  If it were a friend, I knew Hojo would do something cruel to them; if it were an enemy, I might have been in store for more pain.  Either way, odds were that things were going to be bad for me.

Can you imagine how surprised I was when I saw Joshu in the dim light?  He gasped audibly at my changed appearance.  I didn’t know what I looked like; besides the ghost-pale reflections I could sometimes see in the tank-glass when I stood outside, I had no way to see myself.  I knew my hair was much longer, and I was very thin, but I didn’t know how pathetic I looked, or how my expression showed clearly that I had been broken.

“Vincent, what has he done…?!” Joshu sounded so frightened then, probably the first time I had ever heard him afraid of anything.  I couldn’t find the words to reply.

Hojo answered for me.  He proclaimed that he had created something far greater than anyone had ever imagined possible, and with a totally evil smile, he drew a syringe from his pocket and plunged it into my neck.  Joshu darted forward to try and stop him.  Ah, Gods, Mara!  I wish he hadn’t done that, and I will continue to do so until the end of my days…this is the memory that, even asleep, I would not let myself see…

Of course, the stuff Hojo had injected me with was the adrenaline.  As Joshu was darting forward with his knives, Hojo pulled out a knife of his own, and sliced across the back of my shoulders.  I shrieked, from both the pain and from the knowledge that he would have me kill my closest friend.

Joshu stopped cold when he saw me beginning to change, then started backing up.  Hojo just laughed and laughed…

I tried to shout “Run!” to Joshu, but it came out as a roar…and then I lost my consciousness.

When I felt myself returning to my body, I didn’t want to open my eyes.  It was silent, except for Hojo’s unceasing laughter.  I was sitting on the cold stone floor, but it was slick beneath my hands; I knew all too well what that warmth was.  My left arm was numb, and I didn’t understand why.  Unable to stand the suspense any longer, I opened my eyes.

Joshu lay next to me, his throat horribly torn by claws.  There were also gashes across his chest and arms, but it was the throat wound that would have killed him.  Would have killed him…it only took me two breaths to realize that he was still alive.  In a panic, I turned to him and took a closer look at the damage I had done.  It was gruesome, but with a Cure3…

I turned and glared at Hojo, who had stopped laughing and was watching me curiously.  I reached out to touch Joshu’s shoulder, and realized that I couldn’t move my left arm.  I looked down at it.  Joshu had cut deeply into my arm, right below the elbow; I imagined that I could see bone.  I bit down on the scream that tried to come out and used my other hand to touch Joshu’s face gently.

His eyes were open, and I know he saw me, because he moved his lips as if to try to speak.  I shook my head; the attempt would only hurt him more.  I took the bloodied knife from his hand and looked at it.  What if I had just plunged it into my heart right then?  Or killed myself in the old way of Wutai, by disemboweling myself?  If Joshu died, I had nothing left to live for.

Hojo finally noticed that Joshu was still barely alive; he walked closer, commenting that Joshu must have a very strong will to live, and how that could be useful.  I knew what he meant then, as Jenova laughed gratingly in my head.  Another Turk, another subject to play with.  I suddenly got so angry at that thought that I had tears in my eyes.  They had already taken Lucrecia; there was no way in Heaven above and Hell below that I was going to let them have Joshu.  I ignored Hojo for the moment and leaned to whisper in Joshu’s ear, praying that he would hear me and understand: I was going to make sure they did not take him.  His eyes showed that he understood; he tried to smile.  I kissed his lips softly.

 Why do we hold that intimacy for lovers alone?… We may kiss our friends only as they turn their cheeks to us.  But at that moment I felt closer to him than I ever had to anyone – the closeness of a hunter and his prey, the closeness of two whose blood had been spilled together so many times before this.  Hojo was laughing again.  He didn’t know me as well as he thought he did, did he?… I closed my eyes, prayed, and slit Joshu’s throat, finishing what my monster-self had started.

Hojo shouted, but Jenova only laughed louder.  I pulled the knife back and stared at the bloody blade in the dim light.  Hojo edged a little closer, presumably to keep me from hurting myself, but even if I tried to kill myself, he or Jenova would take care of me.  No, I wasn’t going to make the futile attempt.  I just licked the blood off of the blade, wishing it meant something to do so.

I honestly think this had hurt me more than Lucrecia’s death.  I had not killed her with my own hands, after all.  Of course, that had been Hojo’s point; it was just another mental torture.  I killed Joshu; I would suffer from the guilt and the witness to my monstrosity would be gone.  If I had failed, he would have taken him and made him into something like me, while I looked on.  Either way, I would be in anguish and he would benefit.  But he had never foreseen that I would fail, and then finish the job while I was conscious.  I took a little perverse pleasure from his obvious surprise.

He called me an idiot and laughed at me again, but he sounded less sure of himself.  He pulled me away from Joshu by my good arm and led me back to the lab proper, muttering about torn nerves and prosthetics.  I didn’t like that kind of talk – why couldn’t he just Cure my arm?  It was starting to really hurt now, enough to make me grind my teeth.  I think I had forgotten about it while my mind was on Joshu.

For one of the few times in my captivity, he anesthetized me.  I tried to ask what he was going to do, but between the pain and the drug, I couldn’t make the words.  He smiled grimly and strapped me down to his operating table.  I felt uneasy as I lost consciousness, knowing that something very bad was in store.

Of course, you know what he did.  I never knew what inspired him to make this ghastly thing…  I would say Jenova did, somehow.  But it is definitely something he made himself.  Look at this.  It is so obviously unnatural, but…as a sculpture, it is beautiful, isn’t it?  Mechanically, it’s ingeniously designed.  Magically…I don’t think it would work for anyone who has not been touched by Jenova.  It is a beautifully crafted weapon, and it happens to be a limb of my body.

The first thing I felt when I woke up was a stinging pain near my elbow.  Of course, I looked down at it and saw this  I screamed until my voice gave out.  Hojo just went about his business, ignoring me; he had left me with my legs and good arm strapped down to the table, probably just to taunt me.  I could raise my new arm and get a real good look at it…

My sanity, which I had clung to dearly until then, was finally starting to crack.  I had held to the fact that, if nothing else, I still looked human.  Now, though…here was the proof that I was a sub-human monster.

Consider what this meant to me, Mara.  It took me weeks to learn how to touch without cutting, and that was with my greatest concentration.  It took even longer to learn how to grasp something safely.  While I was re-learning all of these basic things, I realized what Hojo was doing.

He was making me into something that could never touch another human.

He had made sure to destroy the last thing I had loved.  He warped my sense of touch, and ruined my experience of sex, physically and mentally.  And now he had taken away my hand and replaced it with this, so that I could never be sure of not hurting someone unintentionally.  I would be alone for the rest of my days, and with Jenova to help me, that would be a long, long time.

I stopped responding to everything.  At first, Hojo got angry and tortured me, but I had gone beyond that.  He couldn’t reach me anymore, I was dead inside.  He had finally gotten his revenge, even though it took him by surprise.

“You’re useless now,” he told me one day.  He led me to a covered stand in a corner of the library, then threw the dusty sheet off.  It was an antique standing mirror.

I looked at the mirror for a long moment, taking in my entire appearance.  I looked like I do now, really; I haven’t changed much at all, except to gain a little weight.  Yes, I was thinner than this…  But yes.  I looked at that reflection, and I hated it.  I wanted to kill it, kill myself, but I knew I couldn’t.  Hojo had won, check and mate.  I turned away and sank to my knees.

I asked him what he was going to do with me now; his expression told me that he hadn’t yet thought of something.  Finally he shrugged.

“I’ll put you to rest,” is what he said.  I nodded.  I thought that meant that he would kill me, and that was fine.  At that point, I looked forward to it.  I sat patiently as he looked for a certain chemical and carefully drew a dose into a needle.  After he had injected the stuff into my arm, he ran a hand through my long hair.  It was an odd thing to do, and to this day I don’t understand why he did it.  I leaned into his legs as I started to drift off, and I closed my eyes, thinking that perhaps I would see Lucrecia and Joshu soon.

It was not until Cloud woke me in the coffin that I realized that Hojo had been speaking literally.  The memory was fresh in my mind; it was as if no time had passed at all.  At first, I was inclined to go back to my black sleep, but when Cloud said the name Sephiroth…I had to follow him.  Jenova’s voice had become stronger, yet more refined, in my head, and I hoped that by helping Cloud, I could silence her, and perhaps help Lucrecia's unfortunate son.

I saw Lucrecia again.  You look surprised!  But it was only her ghost, you see.  She was lingering in a spot we had loved, the great waterfall south of Nibel.  It was she who taught me the secret of Chaos.  I don't know how she learned of it; perhaps she spied on Hojo?  Maybe she even tormented him as only a ghost of someone dear can.  I don't know...she has disappeared.  Perhaps she had lingered only to help me then, and now, with her task done, she has gone properly to Heaven, or back to the Lifestream, if you like...but I suppose they are the same thing, aren't they? is a form that feeds on fear, Mara.  Chaos is, quite simply, a demon.  Tifa drew a picture of it once, to show me; maybe she still has it and she can show it to you.  But just imagine any demon in a storybook, maybe even Mephistopheles himself, and you will get the idea.  Perhaps it is not so uncontrolled as the Galian that's my Behemoth form – but it is still a consciousness separate from mine, and I cannot exert any power over it.  Yet...I can choose when to take that form.  I have to be severely injured, just as for the other metamorphoses, but I have learned how to hold the transformations at bay.  A blessing, I suppose; there's no use in attacking the enemy when your fury only makes them stronger.

But the War is over, and, God willing, I will never have to take those forms again.  I have to wonder if they will grow restless if I don't use them...but somehow, I doubt it.  Jenova is dead, and she can no longer exert any control over my body.  I wonder what will happen to her cells that were put into us.  Do they keep her present in this world?  Or are they rendered dormant, as they seem to have been, for the most part, in you?

But now, finally, her whispers are gone, Hojo is gone, and poor Sephiroth is gone.  Yes, I have nothing but pity for him.  He would have never been so if Hojo had had the least bit of care for him as a son.  He was just another subject, and being treated that way for so long will make you mad… You know that, and I know that.  But they’re all gone now…and where does that leave me?  And you, Mara?


Well, that's my idea of Vincent's past.  What do you think?

I've had the idea of Hojo trying to steal Vincent's humanity for a while...just thinking about the kind of limits having such a deadly hand would's like Captain Hook but worse.  I know in some doujinshi, Vincent is shown with two normal arms, as if the metal is some kind of gauntlet...But why would he have such elaborate armor for one arm and not the other?  (Ok, so he couldn't shoot a gun with all that armor on his fingers, but he could have the arm-armor...)  So I figured it as a prosthetic, and a very mean one.

I had something else to say must have not been important since I forgot. -_-

Henkei, part 2