Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII isn't mine...the same can be said for many things...

Darren shoved his rain-slicked hair back out of his eyes for what seemed to be the hundredth time that night.

"Rain..." he muttered under his breath "Here I am, in the middle of an abandoned city with 9 other guys I don't know doing a job I know nothing about except that these containers are god-awful heavy, and what does it do?..." he sighed out loud and picked up another metal container from what seemed to be an endless stack of them.

"If yah did more movin' and less sighin', we'd all probably be done by now." commented a burly man on his left. He stood about six foot seven and looked to Darren like he could bench-press a good armload of these barrels, with Darren on the top. The man held out his hand. "Markus is the name..."

Grinning sheepishly, Darren took the proffered hand. "Yeah, I know...I mean...about the sighing...my name's Darren." he finished lamely.

"Nice ta meetcha." Markus shook hard enough, Darren thought his arm had come off. "Although, it could've been a bettah place..." With this comment, he looked around apprehensively. Darren wasn't about to dwell on what would make this man nervous. Markus looked thoughtful for a moment. "Yah know what they say about this place right?"

His hand still being crushed, Darren only shook his head 'no'.

"They say it's haunted by all those who've died because of this wacked-out doctor." Markus looked directly at Darren, glaring deep into his eyes. "Yah see, he made these monsters...out of ordinary people...and most of them didn't survive!"

Darren really didn't want to hear this now. The rain was bad enough, but monsters? Whacked-out scientists? It was almost too much.

"Still..." Markus finally let go of Darren's hand "...I'm glad for the work, yah know? It's hard enough to find a job nowadays with decent pay...and the rate these employers are paying us, I'll be livin' the good life in no time at all. Why I could ev-..."

Turning his gaze back to his companion, Darren puzzled over the surprised, yet glassy look on Markus's face. Then an odd feeling hit him. He was wet all over from the rain and the rain was a cold one. Yet, spreading throughout his chest area was a warm wet sensation. He looked down and was greeted by the sight of Markus's blood starting to pour forth from a newly opened gash in the middle of the burly man's stomach. Shock quickly evolved into horror at the discovery. Darren could hardly breathe. Then a cry came from over behind him. The other workers stopped in their tracks as all their gazes centered on first Markus, then Darren. Soon, they recovered from their own bouts of immobility, and started to look angrily his way.

"H...Hey...I had...I had nothing to do with this..." Darren stammered, backing away. "I...didn't..."

His comment was cut short as another one of the men suddenly fell, clutching the remains of what used to be his right arm. Panic grew throughout the assembled workers, and had Darren been thinking at all, he might have noted that he had never seen so many strong, seasoned men looking so scared ever before.

"Their deaths were at my hand..." a cold voice cut through the air as a new figure emerged from the storming night. "...as will be all the rest of yours." The newcomer finished with an even colder gleam in his eyes.

Most of the workmen took a step back at this, but two stepped forward, rage building within them. Grabbing the closest things to weapons they could find, they advanced on the stranger. They were the next two to die.

Swinging a piece of broken pipe at the murderer, one of the brave two suddenly stopped short as the stranger held up his hand. The stranger then flicked his hand in a outward motion and flames burst forth from it to consume the worker completely. Without losing a single beat, the newcomer then pivoted around the flaming body to plunge his large sword, swung with a speed and strength few could match, directly through the other oncoming worker. A small grin played across his lips as he withdrew his sword, letting the newest corpse fall ungracefully to the ground.

Darren couldn't move, he kept expecting to wake up from this horrible nightmare. The expressions played out across the other six workers mirrored his own. When the stranger started moving forward, they broke from their trances and ran. Darren barely looked where he was going, the screams of the dying filled the air around him and he could still see the gruesome deaths of his co-workers playing out before his eyes again and again. Feet pounding in time with his heart, he reached the edge of the city. Desperate to escape he almost failed to notice that all had gone quiet again. He continued running, but gave in and turned to look if there was any sign of pursuit from the evil stranger. Thankfully the area behind him was clear. Sighing in relief, he slowed down and finally stopped to take in the night air, refilling his burning lungs. Hands on his knees, the image of Markus burned into his mind, it took him a minute to figure out what he was staring at. Sand, a few tufts of grass, and the tip of a long bloody sword.

Flailing backwards, he let out a startled cry before the cold eyes of the stranger filled his vision, and a vice grip was locked around his neck. The murderer then proceeded to lift him clear off the ground. A man no bigger than Darren himself was, he possesed unreal strength, and the struggling Darren could feel the power of his arms as his windpipe was slowly, yet steadily crushed.

"Strife...Cloud Strife. Delivery service in Edge..." The stranger began. "I don't care how you find him, just tell him to meet me here. If you don't, you will wish for the deaths seen here tonight, compared to the one you will suffer."

Letting go of the gasping man, the stranger kicked Darren so he was on his back, lying in the wet sand. Those terrible eyes filled his vision one more time, that same evil grin on the killer's face. The last thought he had before blacking out was of the eyes and their wicked gleam and that they were quite visible in the darkness surrounding them. In fact, they positively glowed...

A/N: There we go, first chapter up, too many more to go...

Reviews always welcome...