|megpie71 (megpie71) wrote,|
@ 2010-06-25 17:20:00
Fic: Copperhead Road
Fandom: FFVII (pre-game)
Title: Copperhead Road
Rating: Australian PG (some language, strong dialect, family tragedy)
Summary: Everyone in Nibelheim knew about the Strifes... Bad lots, the whole boiling of 'em.
Everyone in Nibelheim knows the Strifes. Oldest family in the district, real mountain folk, used to live up on Mount Nibel, up amongst the monsters and the mako springs. Bad lots, the whole boiling of 'em, half of 'em crazy and the other half just plain mad.
The problems started with old Jeremiah. Now, he had a mako-fuelled still somewhere up on the family's land in the mountains, making rotgut and selling it for ten gil a bottle to the locals, twenty gil to any unsuspecting stranger who happened to pass through. Rest of the clan were scrapin' a living on ground that was the next best thing to bare rock, but old Jeremiah Strife, he liked to think of hisself as a big man in the district, and a real sharp trader. Got outsmarted, though, when the Shinra folk came through, lookin' for somewheres to build. Ol' Jeremiah sold 'em a couple of acres of Mount Nibel what was so barren it wouldn't even grow dirt, and where most of the flat land was only flat up and flat down. But the Shinra folk had the last laugh on him, built that there reactor, and managed to prove in some fancy court off in Junon that the land ol' Jeremiah had sold 'em went right the way down to the core of the Planet, so they owned the whole of Mt Nibel, caves and all. The Shinra folk kicked the Strifes off'n the mountain, throwed Jeremiah's still and stock down the hill, and chased the whole lot of 'em back into Nibelheim itself.
Well, that was a shock, sure enough.
Jeremiah tried to start up his still again, but every time he thought he'd found a spot for it, the Shinra revenue folks'd be there within a month, tearin' out the pipin' and throwing his rotgut down into the stream. Well, this carried on for a couple of years, until one day the Shinra folk got fed up with playin' nice, and sent a troop of their Turks on up the mountain. Now, this was back 'fore them Turks was wearin' fancy suits and such, so they looked like what they was - mob of bully boys, loaded up with clubs and guns and such. But Jeremiah and his kids, they knowed them mountains, and them Turks didn't come back - or at least, not a one of 'em in the one piece.
'Tween the Shinra dumpin' Jeremiah's rotgut every few months and ol' Jeremiah leaving them Turks in bits and pieces for the wolves, the stream weren't really worth drinkin' for a couple years there. That's when the Shinra folks went and builded that there water tower, so's the townsfolk'd have something to drink what didn't either knock 'em silly for a week, or make 'em sick to their stomachs.
For a few years there, it was fightin' an' feudin' with them Strifes on one side an' the Shinra on the other, and nobody in the town gave a good godsdamn one way or t'other which one of 'em won, so long's neither of them pulled the town into the brawl. But then the Shinra folks managed to get a cable strung 'long that ol' bridge from the old Strife land on Mount Nibel down to the town, and they got the whole town connected to the reactor for powerin' things. Made winter a bit easier here, havin' mako power providin' the heat, an' folks started talkin' to Jeremiah, trying to talk him 'round to calling off the feud with the Shinras. 'Course, most folks had forgotten t'other thing what kept them Strifes up on the mountain in the first place - sheer, pure, bone-headed stubbornness. Once one of them Strifes set their mind to a thing, they damn well stuck to it come forest fire, ice storm, hell, high water, or godsdamn Ragnarok. Ol' Jeremiah Strife, he stuck to it that the Strife clan still owned that land on Mt Nibel, no matter what them court folks over in Junon might be sayin'; said the land was give to 'em by the Old Gods theyselves, back when folks first come to this part of the world, and nobody but nobody had the right to take that land away from 'em.
Anyways, things went on like that for a few years, until old Jeremiah finally died - he'd been drinkin' his rotgut for as long as he'd been makin' it, an' it finally got him in the end. 'Course, the feud didn't die out with Jeremiah - not when he'd left behind four sons and a whole passel of daughters on that poor wife of his. Now, Sarah, that was her name, she was a sensible woman, or as sensible as a woman can be who'd willingly marry into the Strife clan, and she did her best with them childer o' hers, but there was only one o' her, and she always sorta faded into the background when Jeremiah started his rantin' and ramblin' about the Shinras. Well, when Jeremiah died, she sent a message to the eldest two boys, Cain and Abel, sayin' as how they'd better come home and do their duty by the family.
Now, Cain and Abel Strife was just about growed when the Shinras kicked the whole damn clan of 'em back down the mountain, and neither of 'em could stand the other. Cain was a smart lad who'd got Sarah's brains, and he seemed to want to do the best for his family. Abel on the other hand, inherited twice the normal dose of Strife stubborn from his father, and he was always his daddy's favourite. But cause of the way the whole thing was set up in that clan, the land got passed down to the oldest son, no matter what side of the blanket he was born, and Cain beat Abel into the world by two years and a set of marriage lines, so no matter how loud Abel grumbled, he knowed he wasn't gonna be the head of the family. Now, nobody really knows the whole of it, but seems like the idea of rentin' that land to the Shinras wasn't all old Jeremiah's idea, neither - the rumour was it was part of it Cain Strife's notion, as a way of gettin' some extra money on the family table, and a few improvements around the place. Or at least, that was what young Abel used t' claim - said it was all Cain's fault what had happened, an' the old man should never've listened to him. O' course, most folk took this with a pinch o' salt anyways, since Abel had been blamin' Cain for everything what went wrong around him since afore he could talk.
Anyways, Abel said he'd go fetch his brother back from Junon, where Cain had gone to try and figger out what in tarnation them Shinra folk had pulled to get hold of the Strifes' land, and off he went, with Sarah's blessing. Six months later, he comes back to Nibelheim wearin' a long face, and swearin' blind that Cain was dead, and it was all the fault of the Shinras. Now, nobody in the town could get a straight answer out of the boy about how Cain up and died; every time someone asked, Abel would just start in on his ranting and raving, and he'd never say the same damn thing twice. But I heard from someone what just happened to be standin' near the window of the Strife cottage (he were waiting for one of the Strife gals) that Abel was cussin' his mother up hill and down dale one night, sayin' she had no right to 'cuse him of killin' Cain, and the blood on his shirt was from a monster he done killed on the way into town. So it weren't such a surprise when a troop of Shinra army come into town one day, and done erected a gallows, walked into the Strife place, and drug out Abel Strife and strung him up for a murderer, right there in front of everyone.
Turns out Abel done killed Cain right plum struck in the middle of Junon, in front of plenty o' witnesses. Seems Cain had been doin' some studying, and found out that accordin' to the laws in Junon, the case what the Shinra folks had pulled in there didn't have no jur-is-dic-tion (that's a fancy lawyer word, meanin' it weren't none of their business) and he was gonna see about gettin' things sorted out all legal like. Well, Abel had been right enough with the family losin' their land if it meant Cain weren't gonna be the one in charge of the whole clan, and when Cain had shoved off to Junon to try his hand at the lawyerin', Abel had been the one who'd stepped up as the head of the family when their daddy weren't around. The idea that Cain might just get to be the head of the family, an' not just that, but the head of the family what got them their land back, well, that just riled Abel right up, and he pulled out a knife and stabbed Cain right there in the main street rather'n let anyone else take what he'd got used t' thinkin' of as his.
So, that left just the younger two boys, Seth and Enoch. Enoch was a sweet kid, but sickly, and he caught a fever not long after Abel were hanged and took and died of it; and Seth, well, Seth wasn't the smartest knife in the drawer - there was a bit of suspicioning that between 'em, Jeremiah and Abel had dropped him on the head a few too many times when he was a young 'un, if ye know what I mean. Seth, he could do things, but y' had to tell him at least three times, and y' had to watch him constant to make sure he did things right. He were okay with simple stuff - tending the animals, watching the fires for charcoal, chopping wood and the like, but the Shinra folks, they said he had to come with them after they'd strung up Abel, and they sent him into the army - payment for Cain's justice, they said. Said he had to do his five years in their army, and then they'd let him come home. Six years on, and it didn't look like Seth was ever gonna be comin' home any time soon, since every time the widow Strife went and asked at the manor how long her boy had, they said he'd earned extra time for not doin' what he were told when he were told to do it. One day, there's a knock at the door of the Strife house, and this Turk in a suit steps up and hands Sarah Strife a folded up flag, and a box with a couple of medals, and tells her that Seth done got killed in battle, and she should be proud of him.
Sarah Strife, well, she just stood there proud as a queen, and she thanked the Turk for his time, invited him in, gave him a cup of tea and fed him up before he went on his way. But all the life went out of her after that, and she wound up dyin' not long after. Just plum give up on holdin' the family together.
Now, the last of the Strife girls was Becca, who was a pretty little blonde thing, and she was the prettiest girl in the town, and sweet with it. Real nice child, that one. But she had the Strife craziness and the Strife stubbornness, and she got hooked up with a stranger who loved her and left her alone and pregnant. Now, there was at least four boys in the town who would have wed her right then and there, taken in her youngster as their first, and kept quiet about the whole matter. But Becca was right prideful - hells, all the Strifes was, with the sorta stiff-necked pride that comes from not havin' nothin' and wantin' to hang onto what they got - and she was shaped by her family all right. So she chose to cling onto the Strife name, because she didn't have nothing else left to be proud of. She carried her baby all by herself, and she borned him all by herself, turning her kin away, telling 'em they weren't no kin of hers and she didn't want their charity, and she gave him a name what was from right at the beginning of the Strife family histories. An' that's where young Cloud Strife done come from.
I'll be truthful to ye, missy, I ain't heard nothin' bad about Cloud Strife hissen - kid was polite enough, for a Strife, and he was a good lad who looked after his mother. But by then the Strifes had a reputation, and the gossips had been talking for long enough for the rumours to get tangled into lies, so there were stories of young Cloud bein' Abel's get what had been blamed on the traveller (which're pure lies, since there was a good ten years 'tween Abel bein' hung, and young Cloud bein' born, and I ain't never heard of no woman keepin' a pregnancy goin' that long nohow) or stories that he was as stupid as Seth (which he weren't - just quiet an' small an' shy, but that's what passes for stupid when the person doin' the addin' up is a child). Truth be told, the lad reminded me more o' Cain and Enoch, but none of the lads around here would be interested in hearin' it nohow. Never mind that half of 'em are kin to the lad by blood anyway - that's just enough to make the teasin' all the more serious.
But the thing what sealed it all was when Trudy Lockheart, what had been Trudy Strife back before she married, went and died. Now, Trudy was the only one of her sistern that Becca Strife had been on talking terms with, an' I think most of that is because Trudy was like to a mother for Becca, they bein' the oldest and youngest sisters in the family. Certainly when Becca was carryin' young Cloud, Trudy offered to take the lad in and help raise him as her own son, despite what Aaron Lockheart blustered and swore about; they hadn't been able to have their own child at the time, and even Becca thought it would have been the right thing to do, in a way. But then Trudy finally caught, and so it all came to nothing. But Becca raised up young Cloud to think of Trudy's daughter Tifa as somethin' like a little sister, and he'd keep an eye on the girl as they were growin' up. When Trudy up and died, well, seems Tifa got it into her head that her momma had gone back over the mountain, to the Strife land there, and she wanted to go fetch her momma back. So off she went, a-trailing half the childer in the village behind her. Well, the only ones as made it all the way to the old footbridge over Nibel gorge was Tifa and Cloud. That old bridge was always rickety - hell, it dated back to when Ol' Jeremiah Strife used it as a short-cut to his still in the caves - and by then it was so old and frail that two childer on it was enough to snap the thing.
Now, I was there, and I was one of the ones as found the pair of them, and I tell you true, Cloud Strife was sitting there chilled to the bone, with a broken ankle, trying to keep young Tifa warm and wake her up so he could bring her home. When we found 'em, he said he tried to stop her, but he couldn't, so he decided to follow and make sure she didn't hurt herself. But that didn't sink through Aaron Lockheart's thick skull, and he started walin' in on the Strife boy, blamin' him for Tifa getting hurt. Blamin' all the Strifes for everything, from Trudy dyin' to Tifa fallin' to the ol' bridge breakin'. An' he kept up walin' in on the lad, and abusin' not just Cloud but the whole damn Strife clan up hill and down dale, all the way back to Ol' Jeremiah hisself, sayin' if it weren't for the damn Strifes, Nibelheim wouldn't've been left alone by the Shinras, and if it weren't for the Strifes and the trouble they caused, there wouldn't have been any need for them scientists to leave and all sorts of everything. Anyways, by the time we-all got back to the village, everyone had heard Aaron Lockheart blamin' the Strifes for everythin' since Calamity, and sad enough, it stuck.
Cloud Strife got into a lot of fights after that, mostly 'cos there's too much damn Strife blood in the village lads for comfort, an' they figger the easiest way to deal with it is to let it run free; partly 'cos he was as stiff-necked an' prideful as his mother; an' partly because with Trudy dead, Aaron Lockheart didn't have nobody to hold him to account when he let his prejudices run away with him. I'm not surprised the kid up and left when he did; an' I'm not surprised t' hear he's tryin' out fer SOLDIER. Hope he succeeds, missy, and I hope he does damn fine over in Midgar and learns to leave this little two-bit town behind him.
[Archival note: Transcript of an interview with Amos Fielder, elder in the town of Nibelheim. The transcript indicates the interview took place about a year prior to what is now referred to as "the Nibelheim incident". The transcript is subscribed "Cissnei", which is presumably the name of the Turk who did the interview.]
A bunny bit while I was listening to "Copperhead Road" by Steve Earle as I was driving today, asking "what if the Strifes were the Nibelheim equivalent of the Peddemore family?" Once I got home, and managed to get enough time to sit and think this through, I started scribbling it down. Two hours later, and here it is. It's a songfic, in that it's strongly inspired by the lyrics of "Copperhead Road", although the names and places have been altered to suit the fandom. My apologies for the use of dialect throughout - my excuse it that it's atmospheric.
As always, all feedback is good feedback. What works, what doesn't, is it believable?