Yuffie Kisaragi, princess and heir to the Wutain throne, sat in the temporarily established debriefing room in boredom. Unfortunately, all the ceiling tiles have been counted and recounted more times than the total number of tiles determined, so that left barely anything for the youngster to focus on. Two years ago, she would have been outside, enjoying the warm rays on her olive skin and doing what she loved best - collecting rare types of materia. But, no, she had to be foolish and join a bunch of wet blankets who preferred an "all play and no work make Jack a dull boy" manipulation of the phrase.
"Yuffie, are you even paying attention?"
The dark haired teenager jumped up from her seat in surprise as her leader's sharp eyes narrowed on Yuffie annoyed.
"Yuffie," Cloud sighed, running a hand through his blonde hair, "this is an important mission. Even if everyone knows what they're doing except you, the mission will still go right to hell. I need you to stop slacking off and pay attention. Everyone needs to do their part for this to succeed."
"I know how to infiltrate a security system," the ninja replied self-assured while folding her arms across her chest.
"Shinra's systems aren't your average convenient store security devices. No one gets into that place without alerting someone's attention," Vincent explained, tossing a blueprint he had rolled up besides him, "Being a Turk once, I cannot remember one person successfully entering Shinra grounds without sounding the alarm."
"And once the alarm sounds, we're done for it," Cloud finished, "I want us in and out, no brawn necessary. You being as small and nimble as you are, Yuffie, are the only one that can get through the motion detectors. Beyond the detectors is a panel, push the wrong button, game over. Understand? You can't pay attention, I want you out of here. I won't let your absentmindedness jeopardize our lives."
"Sorry," the ninja mumbled before picking up her mug and drinking the hot caffeinated beverage within while glancing briefly over the blue print of Shinra HQ. It wasn't even 11 o'clock yet and she had already gotten reprimanded for a short attention span. Yuffie didn't even know why she was here to begin with, the world had been saved and she had a golden opportunity to go her own separate way - basking in the sun being a very acceptable alternative to risking her life.
Oh yes, now slithers of recollection to why this decision had been worked through and cashed were coming to her. Something to do with Godo and royal obligations the AVALANCHE member had no intention of ever being ready for. Yuffie didn't know for sure if she made the right choice coming back, for all she knew running Wutai could have been a breeze with the elders being the real masterminds behind laws and construction, but she had to live with the consequences of that choice. She could have acted out every little girl's fantasy. She could have been a princess, a queen but, oddly, the ragamuffin decided to play hero instead.
Sighing, Yuffie took another craved sip of coffee and focused her attention back on "the spiky headed jerk." This was going to be a very long day.
"Go fish," Elena declared, holding her cards protectively against her chest while instigating by sticking out her tongue.
"This game is dumb."
"You're just being a sore loser. Seriously, Reno, I haven't seen anyone this bad at go fish since Tseng. And you know how bad Tseng was at grasping concepts when it came to card games. What's your excuse?"
"The concept to this game isn't worth grasping. Only broads like you have that kind of time," Reno muttered, reaching in his pocket and pulling out a cigarette.
"Nothing, sugar," The red head smirked and winked before getting up from the table, tossing down his hand of cards, and heading over to the vending machine for it's cheaply made coffee.
He inserted five gil into the machine and leaned up against it to read the limited choices. Regular. Hazelnut. Decaf. Rolling his eyes, he hit the button choosing, "Regular."
"I can't believe you're still drinking that crap. I guess the saying is right, you really are what you eat."
"Quick fix," Reno replied without glancing back at his unwelcomed company, knowing full well who it was, "Funny, I figured you wouldn't have that kind of opinion considering your uncanny relation to something cheap."
Scarlet stared at her fellow employee, seething, "The only thing that's cheap besides the coffee is your personality, Reno!"
"So what do I owe to the toxicity of your presence, Scarlet? Surprised you could close your legs long enough to initiate innocent conversation."
"You are the most vile asshole I've ever met. I can't believe Tseng recruited you for the Turks. You belong picking up trash and putting it in your shopping cart, you inconsiderate little prick."
A moan escalated into a cry as the older member of Shinra Inc. climaxed along with her current sexual flavor. She dismounted the red head and fell beside him, recovering from the passionate encounter.
"You may be a punk Reno but you sure reach high society in my book when it comes to a good fuck," Scarlet replied breathlessly as a smile graced her sweat doused face.
He didn't reply, only reached down over on the ground from his high position on the bed and grabbed his trousers, sitting up. The Turk was never one to lay with a woman after sex. He felt that relayed a message that spoke more volumes than he was prepared to elude. Courting. Sex. Exit. Three simple words he religiously lived his one night stands by.
"Leaving so soon?"
Reno picked up on the smirking sarcasm in her voice while zipping and buttoning up his pants, "I have to go to a board meeting. Something about those jackasses from AVALANCHE regrouping."
"Like the publicity from saving the world wasn't enough to keep them busy," Scarlet muttered, grabbing a cigarette from her night stand and lighting it with Reno's extended zippo.
"Unfortunately, we don't have another Sephiroth stashed in the basement hell bent on re-summoning another apocalypse so we're stuck sufficing for their hobby. Word's going around that Spike was found possibly espionaging outside Shinra causing our new prez to suspect backlash."
"No need to worry about backlash, they'll never be able to sneak past security. President Yokimoto doubled the dosage of Mako a week ago for SOLDIER so those twits are done for if they stupidly decide to break in."
Reno looked down at his arm and noticed his normally healthy blue veins now tinted a slight green. Two weeks ago, President Yokimoto, with aspirations of rebuilding Shinra to it's pre-Meteor prosperity, had his brand new assembly of scientists manipulate a regular shipment of Mako into an X factor to use on members of SOLDIER for stamina and strength increases. But before taking that step and using the results on SOLDIER, Yokimoto decided to use the Turks as guinea pigs, realizing the potential invincibility clause this company would have if all of Shinra's warriors had this new promising concoction in their bloodstream.
"I'm not complaining about AVALANCHE's demise, they've been on my last nerve since our first encounter, but Yokimoto better watch how he disposes of them. A scandal of the murder of this planet's survivors could run this company right back into the ground."
The Turk ignored his boss's rant, putting on the crumpled up white dress shirt while remembering the injection. How and why he agreed to it was beyond him, what he did know was once that crap entered his body he went as far back as regretting ever joining the Turks. It burned worse than being set on fire and the convulsions were unbearable. The veins on his pale arm pulsated to the point where an explosion wasn't all that farfetched as his stomach churned violently and bile escaped tightened lips. Rude experienced similar symptoms, but it was Elena who almost didn't make it through, practically lapsing into a coma.
"Contemplating the best another one bites the dust exit phrase?" Scarlet asked putting out the cigarette on the porcelain ashtray while observing her comrade skeptically, "I've heard them all so don't bother."
He smirked, turning his eyes back to the woman on the bed, "Don't worry, babe, I'm giving you leigh way. Besides, we both know this is bound to happen again so a catch phrase, no matter how witty it happens to be, is just a waste of time."
With that said, leaning over and collecting his jacket, Reno waved a short good-bye and walked out the door without shame. He whistled a tune, winking at a bubbly secretary walking down the hall, and reaching in his pocket for a cigarette. The day, fortunately, was not going to waste unlike all the other days he encountered without a mission to keep him occupied. Good moods were not so easy to come by when it came to Turks. But today this Turk had his head held high with nothing but a possible verbal lashing by the president at his next destination being the only cloud in his crystal blue sky. Nope, right now no one would rain on his parade.
"Huh?" Reno murmured, pulling out the featherweight pack of smokes and examining them closely. Opening the box, he found to his dismay the contents of the package empty. A single red eyebrow shot up and quivered in annoyance. Of course, he had been foolish to briefly accept any kind of association between a Turk and a good day.
"President Yokimoto, I have the file you wanted on the before and after statistics of the people injected with Avex, the new Mako formula."
President Yokimoto, a tall muscular man in his mid thirties, stared out the window and upon the construction occurring to restore Midgar. He wanted a Midgar for the powerful, the rich, therefore banishing the idea of restoring an area for the slum dwellers to go back home to. If they wanted a place to live, he had told the inquisitive head of construction, they could get a job and pay their way back into the rebuffed sectors.
"Thank you, Malcom, you may go now."
Malcom, the president's second in command and head of laboratory studies, proceeded to leave but stopped for a moment, "We have lost many people using this type of Mako. Some have successfully flourished while others...people have died, lost their sight, and even began to mutate from the overabundance of Mako distributed. President, we're creating monsters, I really don't think..."
"Malcom, I don't pay you to think ethically. I pay you to come up with new worthwhile formulas and do as I tell you to do with them," the patient leader replied, turning away from the sight of the outside world to his company, "I want an army. An army that could crush any enemy with one blow, not an army of pussies. Don't make me regret hiring you. Shinra and his son failed and are now residing in the ground because they were foolish enough to doubt Hojo and his experiments. Lose the conscience, kid, or you're out of here."
"Yes, sir," Malcom muttered barely audible before leaving his boss to himself and preparing to redistribute injections to newcomers.
There was no way Henry Yokimoto was going to lose perspective of a new more competent company due to a struggle between right and wrong. There is no such thing as innocent decisions regarding a monopoly. When it came to a successful business, not a temporary success but an infinite one, the line separating right and wrong was blurred, allowing the two opposites to merge. He worked too hard to get this far to tolerate any conflicting ideas.
The handsome businessman grabbed the top files and separated them on his desk. Rude Madden. Elena Connors. Reno Perablo. The Turks had been Yokimoto's first choice of experimentation. Actually, to be more specific, the loud mouth Turk, Perablo, had been his first and only choice but that meant questions he wasn't preparing to answer and the last place the president wanted to be was up against the wall with no escape. So, to exclude and hide away certain motives, the Turks were assigned to be the first humans to test the new drug.
Elena Connors' file was picked up first from the desk and opened up for examination. She was the only one who experienced a serious alert almost immediately after the shot. Her blood pressure had skyrocketed through the roof and she was left spiraling into cardiac arrest. It took Malcom injecting a saline solution to clean out most of the Mako from her blood for the return of normal bodily functions. The newbie patriarch of Shinra Inc. looked down at the stats and pictures of her post injection condition.
Rude Madden's file was next. He was impressed with what he saw. The silent cohort's statistics had improved greatly with little side effects from the foreign substance in his system. President Yokimoto looked down at the paper clipped pictures and noticed no drastic change in his demeanor, unlike the third prospect.
Malcom had automatically told him that Reno Perablo had been accidentally injected with more Mako than his other two partners out of concern for the red head and the fear of losing his job. After the procedure, Reno had passed out, his vitals extremely weak and barely any hope for rehabilitation. Malcom had given his patient the same solution he had previously given the ailing blonde but it was no use. As time progressed, veins on the hitman's arms had developed a small green tint of poison to them as usually vivacious aquamarine eyes became distorted. Instead of two eyes of the same color, one remained green while the other changed and embraced more of the blue aspect of the hybrid aqua shade. The pictures were slightly sick, revealing a very pale and unconscience Shinra employee.
There were always casualties, the sadist told himself while closing the file. All that mattered was the fact that he didn't waste any money in this routine considering every one of the demonstrated subjects had benefited from the procedure. He needed bodyguards who could take on the weight of the world if necessary and now with all this done that was exactly what he had.
He was indeed relieved Reno had recovered from the overbearing side affects. He might be incompetent and brash but Perablo was essential to Shinra. His abilities were remarkable and now with Avex in his system, he far surpassed the potential of any complimentary word received.
"President Yokimoto, everyone is waiting for you in the conference room."
"Thank you, Sarah."
Migar and all it's many resources were ripe for the picking and if everything went according to plan, the world would be nothing more than a slave to his project. There was only one thing, or should he say group, getting in his way and soon, they would be nothing more than just a distant memory to grieve.
"Keep your balance!"
The small brunette threw a punch at her aggressor, back springing before he could retaliate. She grabbed the arm of another interfering woman, who in turn reversed the hold and tossed the girl to the ground. The surprise of the attack didn't quite shock her as much as a foot above her head ready to make her face nothing more than a design of black and blues.
"Yo," she shouted after rolling out the way of the stomp and jumping back up into defensive stance.
"Do you think if someone from SOLDIER or a Turk had that advantage over you, they wouldn't hesitate for one second to use it against you?" Cloud inquired, not stopping his sparing once with the youngster to get that brief comment across, "Stay on your toes! Don't stop for anything. I don't care if those scumbags are begging for their lives, you keep going because if you stop once..."
The blonde grabbed Wutain royalty by the back of the neck, sliding his foot to trip her onto the ground once again, and pulling a fake knife to a constricted throat, "you're dead."
Yuffie watched her leader get back on his feet, offering a hand of support shortly afterwards. She took it, wiping the dirt off filthy sweatpants from constant confrontations with the earth.
"You did good, Yuffie. You're definitely improving."
"Not good enough apparently," Yuffie declared bitterly, moving her hands from dusting off sweatpants to removing chunks of hardened mud from her hair, "Eww...grossness."
"Getting yourself dirty is the least of your problems," Cloud pointed out while toweling himself off, "Now with Yokimoto bringing that drug, Avex, into mainstream, that will make our enemies stronger and faster than they originally were. This is no joke, you need to train hard to keep up."
"OK, enough with the training," Tifa Lockheart exclaimed from her position on the plush grass, "I think it's about time to get something to eat. You hungry, Yuff?"
"C'mon, I'll make you some lunch and I'll leave you two to discuss what's written all over your faces," the full figured brunette stated, giving Cloud a look before putting an arm around her shorter teammate and leading her inside the cozy house.
The blonde watched the two girls walk away, moved the soft cotton towel around his neck, and focused sapphire eyes on his gothic comrade, "We need reinforcements. I didn't want to call the others but I have no choice. Cid and Barrett have their families, Red XIII was made an elder in Cosmo Canyon, and Reeve is currently in Shinra, preparing for our attack all requiring a lot of individual attention. Now, judging the fact that us three wouldn't stand a chance taking down Shinra alone, I'm not so sure we can give Cid, Barrett, or Nanaki that kind of peace."
Vincent stood up straight, moving his back from against the old rickety fence, "If they are necessary in our attack, it is for the best we summon them. They are our allies and I am sure they will they will understand our situation. Yuffie is struggling to keep up, if we do not have someone to vigil her and her actions, we will not emerge victorious."
"She's a good fighter but she's reckless. She's not taking this seriously."
"Let us call the others and then we will decide what to do from there."
Cloud nodded curtly before throwing the towel on his shoulders aside. Practically giving a perfect depiction of proper body language, Vincent stepped forward and took his position. The planet's savior struck first only to have his attempt blocked and reflected effortlessly. Tomorrow will be the day for new beginnings. Tomorrow will be a gateway into a parallel universe that AVALANCHE has not dared wandered back into since the incident with Sephiroth. It will be the day for hello and good-byes. Tomorrow, everything will change with no escape back into comfortable normalcy.