Shinra Inc. And Health Care

by: Jason Tandro

[Author's Note: Another suggestion by the Case Man.]

Reeve sat behind his desk, once more thoroughly drowned in the deluge of paperwork that came with his new title. Well, if truth be told, he'd had just as much workload, only now it was officially his as opposed to what he was taking from the hands of Rufus. The IN box seemed especially foreboding as he was now having to adjust the corporate budget to include the recently revised company benefits package.

"Knock knock," came Rufus's infuriatingly carefree tone from just outside his door.

"Come on in, Mr. President," Reeve called back, pulling another thickly stuffed manilla folder from the pile.

Rufus walked in with the usual swagger of somebody who had far too little work to be doing at 3 PM. "Working on the new health care plan?"

"Amongst several things," Reeve replied, trying fruitlessly to convey his stress level to the oblivious Rufus.

"That's great. I'm looking forward to its implementation," Rufus said, leaning back against the wall.

"Okay, what's going on?" Reeve demanded.

The new health care legislation was passed by Mayor Domino, but had been in fact penned by the former mayor and current idealistic pacifist hippie Bosker. Reeve knew that Rufus liked Bosker because frankly who couldn't? The man was just too damn nice. But the new legislation would make corporations have to pay more to make sure they were meeting the new benefit levels to take care of their employees, and regular citizens would have a tax increase as well. The obvious upside was that health care would now be affordable for all citizens, and even free for some, but since when had good deeds mattered so much to Rufus?

"I happen to think the new plan is a good idea," Rufus said. "What are they calling it now? BoskerCare?"

"You realize these changes will put an additional financial strain of approximately half a million gil each year," Reeve answered.

"We're profitable again! And besides it'll make sure that our workers are well cared for," Rufus replied.

"You're playing this one close to the chest aren't you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about. Just let me know when everything is finalized."

~SI&~ Shinra Inc. And Health Care ~SI&~

Rufus knocked on the door of Hojo's lab. There was a faint hissing sound, followed by claws being scraped along metal, before finally with the sound of something hitting a wall, Hojo replied.

"Coming."

There was more growling, a snapping sound and then the click of one of the specimen tubes shutting. The door to the lab opened and Hojo, whose coat was shredded and bearing a few unmistakeable blood stains, bid Rufus enter.

"Still trying to work the kinks out of that Yeti, huh?" Rufus asked.

[Author's Note: See Shinra Inc. And Christmas]

"It seems to have forgotten how to love, but it's growing claws in the most extraordinary places," Hojo said casually, though he flinched uncontrollably as they passed one ominous looking specimen tube.

"So, you have the thing ready, right?" Rufus asked.

"Of course, I always deliver," Hojo replied. "When my budget allows, of course."

" When your budget allows indeed," Rufus sighed. "Remember, if this succeeds, we'll all be very rich people."

Hojo raised an eyebrow.

"Fine. Rich-er," Rufus nodded. "What about the, um-"

"Yes, yes. It wouldn't complete to have one without the other now would it? How long should I wait?" Hojo asked.

"I still need to get word from Reeve, but I will let you know as soon as possible," Rufus replied.

~SI&~ Shinra Inc. And Health Care ~SI&~

The following morning, Reeve came into Rufus's office, carrying a few folders from his pile.

"These are the finalized forms. We are officially compliant with the new health care policy. 72 hours before the mandatory deadline, I might add," Reeve explained.

"Excellent work, Reeve," Rufus smiled. "Each employee is accounted for?"

"Down to the interns and temp staff," Reeve replied. "So are you going to tell me what you're up to now?"

"Again with the suspicions," Rufus sighed. "Look, seriously. We've come a long way. As I mentioned yesterday thanks mostly to your ingenious business strategy we are a profitable company again. And I really want to keep this company afloat. I'm making it my priority to do anything to make sure this company remains ethical."

~SI&~ Shinra Inc. And Health Care ~SI&~

"Hojo, it's time," Rufus said as he entered the professor's lab.

"I'm more than ready, but are you certain that this will work?" Hojo asked.

"Just do it and trust in my keen instincts," Rufus explained.

"Your instincts are exactly what I don't trust, but I do enjoy your wallet," Hojo sighed. "Very well. You should notice symptoms within a few minutes of phase one. I will remain here with the vents closed, so I can remain level-headed when the time for phase two."

"Okay," Rufus nodded. "Wait thirty minutes and then deploy it. I need time to get back to my office."

"The ventilation on your floor runs on its own circuit, you'll have to be somewhere else," Hojo explained.

"Good of you to tell me that now, what do you mean it has its own circuit?"

"It was installed separately by your father to make sure that if a poison gas attack was launched on the office it wouldn't affect him. Anything above floor 68 won't get this strain, so you'll have to be on one of the lower levels," Hojo explained.

"Fine. I know the perfect way to get all the right people in the right place," Rufus explained.

~SI&~ Shinra Inc. And Health Care ~SI&~

The Directorial Staff was once again gathered in the Conference Room on the 66th Floor. Reeve sat at the end of the table closer to the door. Heidegger, Scarlet, Palmer and Geneva sat on one side of the table, Reno, Rude, Elena, and Cissnei sat on the other. Rufus was at the far end.

"So what is this meeting all about?" Scarlet asked. "You have a disturbing tendency to call meetings on the fly and not tell us what they're about."

"We're not doing this bit again," Rufus grunted. "It's very simple. I want to discuss how your departments are handling the new changes in the health care policy."

"Well that did just go through today, so it is a bit too soon to tell," Reeve said, continuing to give Rufus that suspicious gaze.

"Is anybody else feeling hot?" Palmer whined, rubbing his neck.

"No, but then most of us don't consume four times the weight of a seal for lunch," Rufus retorted. He then got back to the topic at hand. "No, I realize that, but I mean in terms of employee morale. What are they saying about the plan?"

Scarlet shrugged. "My employees aren't thrilled about the tax increase, but most can at least see the merit in a universal health care system."

Heidegger laughed. "Oh yes, of course. Free health care to everybody. This is a good plan. You know how we used to offer free health care in the old days? Military service. My soldiers feel like they are being screwed."

"Wait a minute their in the employ of a totalitarian leadership who starts wars for fun and profit putting their lives on the line while paying them slave wages and a health care plan is what makes them think they're getting the raw end of the deal?" Reno asked. "What do you put in those MREs?"

"There haven't been any complaints in the SIA side of things, or my legal team," Geneva said.

Rufus glanced up towards the air vents nervously and then back down to the group.

"Hey, we're missing one," Tseng noticed. "Where's Hojo?"

"He took the day off to work on some personal project," Rufus replied. "Frankly, I don't think any of us miss him."

"He usually takes the focus off of me," Palmer shrugged. "I like the anonymity."

"Anonymity? I'm lucky if I say two lines in any given day," Rude replied.

"Well, that's true but- no, no no! I can't do it. It's so hot!" Palmer shouted.

He stepped out his chair and tore off his coat.

"You know I'm starting to feel a bit feverish too," Elena whined, fanning herself.

"Yeah, can we maybe get some air on in here?" Cissnei said, taking off her jacket as well.

Reeve looked at Rufus and then up to the air vents. "You didn't."

"Didn't what?" Rufus asked as he too began to become flush with heat.

Reeve collapsed, followed by Rufus and then all the others. Within moments, they had all passed out.

~SI&~ Shinra Inc. And Health Care ~SI&~

Rufus awoke a few hours later in a hospital bed, surrounded by doctors in bio-hazard suits. Reeve was in the bed next to him, and was furiously scribbling on a notepad.

"What's going on?" Rufus asked, still disoriented.

"Chemical attack of some kind. Don't worry. Doctor Hojo had developed an antidote for just this kind of an attack. We're administering it to everybody infected and it's getting everybody back in action," the doctor said.

"Doctor," Reeve said. "Would you leave me and the president alone for a few moments?"

"Certainly," the doctor replied, leaving the small room.

Reeve turned to Rufus. "This was your doing wasn't it?"

"I still don't know what you're talking about," Rufus lied, although it was far less convincing now.

"I was looking through the health care bill all morning to try and find out what you were up to. It turns out that if employers have to cover the expenses for their employees hospitalization and treatment, they are given subsidies to pay for it," Reeve explained. "I figured this was related but I didn't realize you'd go so low as to poison your own employees."

Rufus laughed. "Poison? Oh Reeve, you give me so little credit. Fine, I admit it. You were right on the money. I planned to exploit this little health care bill to make some additional revenue for the company. But poison? Come on, I'm cold, but I'm not that cold. No it was all a simple matter of a modified thermostat. Hojo cranked it up to 50 degrees Celsius for about twenty minutes and we all began feeling sick; those of us who didn't pass out anyways. Then all he does it turns back on the A/C and starts handing out these little sugar pills he's calling a wonder drug. The government pays us thousands of gil per employee for something that costs us nothing."

"It was just the heat?" Reeve asked.

"Yeah. A few hours discomfort and a stipend of something to the tune of 4.5 million gil. Considering our initial expense of 500,000 gil, that's quite a return on investment wouldn't you say?" Rufus grinned.

"Yes. You are an evil genius. But you forgot one thing. The government doesn't just give away that money. You have to turn in expense reports showing your costs. Certified, notarized, documentation of cost. And as you said we have no costs incurred here," Reeve explained.

"I can just forge those documents," Rufus shrugged.

"Yeah, you might get one or two by, but do you think they're going to just ignore the fact that every single employee of the company got sick in the same day that the health care bill was introduced and is now suddenly asking for a multi-million dollar handout? Couldn't you have been the least bit discreet about this?" Reeve asked.

"So you mean... I'm not getting a huge payoff?" Rufus asked, his enthusiasm muted, like a child who'd just been told that Christmas was canceled.

"No, Rufus."

"...Well. Those were two days I'll never get back," Rufus pouted, turning over in his bed.