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Unfinished and unlikely to be finished. But just the same, it brings back fond memories. This was my first pre-planned (not on the fly), structured effort at a novel.

How We All Got There (Was a Mystery)

Chapter 1. Letter Addressing the Jenova Project Production Team's Conscription

Lucrecia Crescent's apartment was functional, restrained, and empty.

The subtle contrast of furniture to drapes was not by her intent, but rather a gift of the Shinra designer who had specified a base standard of fitout. Lucrecia, having graduated into adulthood directly from the boarding house of General U, had cultivated a lack of attachment to her surroundings that depended on her lack of ownership: she kept her apartment in its original state. The only evidence of her involvement was in a pile of books, which still lacked a bookshelf six years after she had moved into the apartment, and in her wardrobe, where she had yet to bring herself to discard an item of clothing, even those which she had bought on her scanty scholarship at the age of sixteen and which she would never wear again.

The apartment's kitchen was very clean. The bathroom was a shower, which shared space with a commode and a basin, both of which could fold away. The bathroom was also very clean, and smelled of a heavy floral perfume for which the bottle had been packed. Even in a forced rush, Lucrecia had not forgotten her perfume, though it appeared she had forgotten her toothbrush, the only brightly coloured item in a scheme of neutral shades.

The living area had one window, which looked directly at the construction site of the new Shinra Administration building, currently no more than a ziggurat of scaffolding on which small cranes crawled skywards. It was currently two hours before dawn, and still dark, so the neon glow of each crane's branding dominated the vista. The building in potentia appeared crafted purely of light and Shinra's logo. Lucrecia had seen the floor plans: it was a conspiratorial quirk of fate that her office in the new building would be located exactly level with her apartment. The consultant who repaired her computer once a fortnight had suggested she implement a walkway between the two buildings, a skybridge between work and home, to spare herself the sixty five staircases she would otherwise have to descend and climb daily. At the time, Lucrecia had responded, unamused, that she was certain there would be a lift. Late at night, she would watch the construction unfold and think about wings.

The apartment had no room for a dining table. A side table proved the final resting place of a letter of some significance, which had been hand-delivered one hour prior, accompanied by a demanding hammering at the apartment door. Lucrecia had been dozing, jolted into motion by the guilt which accompanied the unexpected demand at her door. Very likely the knocking had been loud enough to wake her neighbours; as she left, Lucrecia noted the gleam of light at the edge of every front door on her floor.

The letter contained a summons for her services, from the President. It was wordy, indirect, and confusing. The use of bluecoats to deliver the letter convinced Lucrecia of her compulsory involvement, a valid argument in comparison to the sentiment contained within:

The question which vexes us still is "why". Above all, we are aware of the public's hunger for real answers which are more than rousing slogans, but which will restore once again to the citizens of Greater Midgar and of the world their imperiled livelihoods and calm the spreading fear for one's life.

Be assured; your role has been chosen. You will sink into the generous pool of public sentiment. Your acceptance will be met ever and always with my and with Midgar's eternal gratitude.

Lucrecia shook through a lukewarm shower. She packed as instructed. She left, flanked by Turks with guns, her suitcase's wheels caught at the threshold. She could not eradicate her sense of outrage. They had invaded her apartment simply with their presence, politeness notwithstanding, two men too large for her contained neutrality. She could not condone her own fear: it had been years, but the forceful knocking, the lateness of the hour, the uncertainty of the letter, brought back worries scarcely subdued. She did not think she would see the apartment again; already, it was no longer hers.

Lucrecia thought she was being called to account.

Her apartment had no lift. One of the Turks offered to carry her suitcase. Lucrecia saw no reason to refuse.

She did not notice the fifteen flights of descent, as an unwarranted fear gave her wings.

Continue to Chapter 2

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