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Fantasy in the Shell

by Tetsuken

Part 2 (2006)
Part 3 (2006)

Chapter 5

Part III: The Final Act

"Cole!?" Terra gapes.

Wow. That's the first time I've ever seen the Major astounded. Maybe even confused. Can't say I blame her though. I was 'dead'.

"But... How!?" Sabin just stares, slack-jawed.

"Perhaps I should explain, once we get back to Section 9," I laugh.

"That would be a start," Terra stares at me with a quizzical look.

It's almost as if she's not entirely sure I'm standing right in front of her.

Shadow simply stands with his head slightly cocked to one side, as we walk out of the room where Palazzo lay dead. If I could see his face, his expression would probably be priceless. Then again, he has about the same emotional range as the Major. I wonder if he even cried when his mother died. No, he probably just shrugged it off... Cold.

"I'll explain later," I sigh.

We all arrive at Section 9 an hour later. As is to be expected, everyone is dumbfounded.

"But. You're dead!" Gau gapes, Gogo mimicking him.

It's just something Gogo does. It's the reason we hired him, really. He's good at mimicking anything his eyes catch. That's why we usually pair him with Gau for information analysis. We just get him to do whatever Gau does. It gets things done twice as fast as Gau could alone.

"I have to be having a nightmare," Setzer stares, occasionally rubbing his eyes in disbelief.

"No dream. I'm standing right in front of you," I smirk.

"So it all went just as planned," Cyan confirms.

"Yep," I smirk.

"Wait a minute. 'Planned'!?" Terra frowns.

"Perhaps you should explain it, Locke," Cyan smiles.

"Right. You see, I figured we wouldn't be able to pin Palazzo if he knew there was someone getting close. I figured he'd be the kind of idiot to go ahead once he felt he had even a slight advantage. The only way to do that was for the person investigating him the closest to disappear. Me. I originally planned to do this alone, but lacked the expertise to make my supposed 'death' work. That's where Cyan came in. I didn't tell anyone else because I knew, the fewer people in on it, the better. After making sure you all thought I was pushing up daisies, I disguised myself as the hooded man you met before. I had to hide my identity, otherwise my cover would have been compromised. While I was hopping from safehouse to safehouse, I managed to find evidence implicating DNE as a player in all of this. It was quite unexpected, but I figured I'd have to act fast," I begin.

"But that... We all SAW you dead!" Sabin gapes.

"Please. All you saw was a Bio male. Age 25. Who happened to have my memories. Think about it. It's not impossible to simply transplant memories into a different brain. But wait, there's more. The fact is, you never actually saw me go into Arvis' place at all," I smirk, knowing that would all-but cause their minds to collapse.

"What!?" Sabin blasts.

"It's true. Remember, Cyan was the one checking the satellite footage and he was in on it. Cyan, perhaps you should show them the footage, with a Medusa," I laugh.

"As you wish," Cyan replies, spinning around to face his terminal.

We all watch the footage. Again, my car pulls up, but I don't get out this time. Instead, a delivery van pulls in and a young man steps out with a package for Arvis.

"There's your Bio male. In actuality, that was simply a prosthetic body implanted with my memories. The van was one I'd borrowed for a cover operation a few years back. I never went in at all. Remember, I worked with Arvis for years. I know all of his tricks. Right now Arvis is in my car, sporting a nice little neural impulse inhibitor. Just to ensure he doesn't feel the urge to take a walk. On the subject of Arvis, I suppose you're all wondering about that other bio body you found. That was Arvis' pathetic attempt at throwing us off. It seems he forgot that I know all of his tricks. He basically pulled the same trick I did, implanting his memories in an unused prosthetic body. He then had the body commit cyberbrain suicide just before assembling and implanting that bomb," I finish.

"Well done Locke. How would you like your old job back?" Terra laughs.

"When can I start?" I laugh.

"Right now. It seems there's a young woman in a safe room you need to meet with. Report back when you're done," Terra jokes.

"Understood," I reply.

I guess it's about time to tell Celes. I hope she forgives me. This must have been pretty hard to take. Then again, what she's about to see just might make her doubt her own sanity.

I make my way to the third floor one more time. Again I run the course with the guards. Terra explained while I was in transit, so they wouldn't think they were seeing some kinda ghost.

"Celes," I say as I enter the room.

"Locke? But... I don't... You were... " She faints and I catch her before she hits the floor, laying her on the bed.

I guess it was too much. Minutes later, she wakes up.

"You with me?" I smirk.

"Am I dead? What's going on?" Celes asks, confused.

I explain everything. "I'm sorry I couldn't tell you. I wanted too, really. But..." I begin.

"I understand Locke. I'm just glad you're still alive after all. I never want to lose you again. You mean too much to me," Celes' eyes begin to tear up.

"You mean a lot to me too, Celes. I promise, I'm going to stay with you. Celes. I got to thinking while I was 'dead'. I realized just how important you are to me. Celes, I have something to ask you," I begin, taking her hands in mine, "Celes. Will you-"

Two months have passed since that day. Celes and I are together. I still work for Section 9. Palazzo, Arrow, DNE and the Vector Mafia are a thing of the past. General Leo Cristophe now leads to Vector Territory. Relations with other Territories have gone a lot smoother since. These days, I'm assigned less life-threatening missions, seeing as how I'm a family man now. Celes is pregnant with our child. Sabin still won't let me hear the end of it, constantly calling me 'Pops', even though he's two years older than I am. Setzer has become a lot less of a jerk. Since his casinos have been doing a lot better as of late, his mood has improved quite a bit. Now he's back to the carefree swindler with a penchant for opera and beautiful women, he used to be. Suits me just fine. Magus is still a little pissed at Cyan and I for conducting an operation without his knowledge. At least the Major understands. Nonetheless, we all did receive an increase in pay after this one. It's not every day you shut down a corrupt government, an expansive mafia syndicate and two arms dealing, corporate juggernauts in one go.

"Cole," Terra says from behind me.

"Major?" I reply.

"Come on, we've got work to do," Terra replies.

"Right," I sigh, rising from my chair.

"Gabbiani. Ready the transport," Terra commands.

"On it," Setzer replies.

"Figaro. Assemble the others with a Class: A-3 Load-out," Terra orders.

"Got it," Sabin replies.

"Garamonde. Find as much information on the target as possible. Leave nothing unturned" Terra continues.

"Already underway," Cyan replies.

"Cole. Let's go," Terra finishes.

"Right," I reply.

Everything is back to normal. Well, for the most part. But there's no time to ponder things past. We've got a huge task ahead of us.

God, I love this job.

Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy VI
Version 6
©1997–2019 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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