Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII and all the characters—sadly—belong to SquareEnix…I just like to play with them from time to time XD
The night was still, and the calm might have been peaceful if it hadn't been broken by a loud scream of terror. A motorcycle engine roared to life and the source of the noise could soon be seen speeding along the mountainous paths of Gaia's western continent. The motorcycle's passenger wore no helmet and was female—obviously panicked as she kept stealing frightened looks over her shoulder. After a few tense minutes of swerving along the bridges towards Wutai, the woman sighed with relief, turning to face forward once more. She relaxed as the gates of Wutai came into view…she was safe …until another motorbike seemed to appear from the shadows, cuttingher off. This was obviously her pursuer, and the cause of her fear, as the victim let out another shriek and swerved away from the hunter. Her tires lost traction and her motorcycle crashed to its side, the rocky terrain slicing into the metal as it skidded towards a clump of trees. The smell of gasoline was in the air, and upon contact with the new element of kindling, the bike exploded into flames. The second bike came to rest a few yards from the small forest fire. Boots crunched on gravel as they approached the flames. There was a small groan from the flaming pile of metal as the injured passenger could be seen crawling away from her ruined vehicle, trying futilely to escape. Swift strides carried her tracker to her struggling form. One large boot came down on her ankle, and an audible snap was heard.
"Please…" she whispered through clenched teeth. "Don't kill me…" Her pained, brown eyes looked up through blonde hair at the attacker.
"Oh, don't worry, pet. By the time I'm done with you…you'll be begging for death." A chilling laugh followed as the flames burned higher and higher, lighting up the night sky and illuminating thepoor woman's resigned eyes. Her screams were lost to the flames and the stars.
If there was one thing that Yuffie Kisaragi hated above anything else, it was being woken at ungodly hours of the morning—like six-thirty for instance. But when the sirens broke through the fog of sleep that Yuffie had been enjoying, she awoke not with hatred at the sounds, but with dread at what it possibly meant. Throwing herself out of her warm bed rather unceremoniously, she hurried out of her apartment, not even caring that she was supposed to be Wutai's modest princess and that she was running around in a pair of short shorts and a Chocobo tank top.
Hurrying towards the sounds of the sirens, Yuffie came to a dead halt at Wutai's gates. Where a small patch of trees had once been, there were only charred and smoking remains, encircled by police and an ambulance. Slowly approaching, Yuffie's grey eyes took in the horrific scene. A motorcycle rested among the remains of the trees, just as destroyed by the fire as the foliage. But worst of all was the nude, female body, limbs jutting out at odd angles, the surrounding grass stained dark by blood.
Fighting down the bile that threatened to make an appearance, the small ninja walked up to her father, who was solemnly overseeing the whole scene. Godo acknowledged his daughter's presence with a small nod of his head, before speaking in a strained voice.
"I didn't think he would make it to the western continent. All the previous murders were nearer to Edge. But I was wrong. Wutai is no safer than any other city."
"It is him, then?" Yuffie's eyes searched her father's as sadness flickered through them.
"This crime scene is like all the others, and his treatment of the poor girl is the same. He tracked her all the way from the southern tip, where she had gotten off of a boat last night. Scared her senseless, caused her to crash, raped her, murdered her, and then left the area." Yuffie suppressed a shudder of disgust.
"Does anyone know who she is?"
"I'm afraid not. Let me handle this, Yuffie. Get back inside and for Leviathan's sake, put some clothes on." Godo turned away from his daughter without another word. Yuffie sighed, stuck out her tongue childishly, but in the end she turned her back on her father, and headed towards her apartment. All the way back, she was lost in thought over the Planet's newest problem.
It was a couple months back when the murders started. At first, no one put the killings together, but as the number of victims began growing, and with the similar method of operation in all cases, it was deduced that a serial rapist and killer was prowling Gaia. All the crime scenes were pretty much pristine, and the lack of evidence was making the tracking and capture of the killer extremely hard. Edge seemed to be the center of the grisly killings…until now.
Walking into her apartment, Yuffie flopped into a chair and put her head in her hands. It was then that the air seemed to crackle with tension, and the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. Slowly raising her head, she took in the appearance of her apartment and realized that something was incredibly wrong. The pit of Yuffie's stomach lodged itself into a nice, tight knot as she slowly walked through her house. Not a creature of immense neatness, Yuffie was used to the messy clutter that usually made up her home, not the pristine house laid out in front of her.
Walking back into her bedroom, she found her bed, which had been a tangle of blankets and sheets upon her exit maybe half an hour before, was neatly made. Not a wrinkle marred the lavender bedspread. The only thing out of place was a small piece of paper on the pillow that Yuffie's head occupied at night. Pacing slowly towards it, keeping her senses on alert for anything else, the ninja picked the paper up and read the four words on it.
You'll be next, Princess.
Whirling with a sudden surge of fear and adrenaline, Yuffie spotted the open window. The killer had left, but the damage was done. The future Lady of Wutai could feel the paranoia beginning to set in, but she forced it back with a bit of will and a potent scowl. Throwing on a pair of black shorts with a bright green tank top and lacing up her ridiculously tall white boots, Yuffie grabbed her Conformer and picked up her PHS from her bedside table. Pushing a few buttons, she put it to her ear and turned to face the window, gazing out at the Pagoda in the distance. Her call finally went through.
"Hey, old man! Wanna give a princess a lift?" If there was one thing Yuffie Kisaragi knew, it was that she couldn't stay in Wutai any longer.
The only sound that could be heard was the steady clank, clank of boots on metal as Yuffie paced in one of the Shera's corridors. Her hands were laced behind her back and her dark eyes troubled. One of her pockets contained the frightening note from earlier, but she was trying to think less about that, and more about what she was going to do now.
Yuffie would be the first to admit that her decision to leave Wutai had been rushed, paranoid, and spur-of-the-moment. That didn't mean it was necessarily the wrong plan of action though. A heavier clanking along the floor alerted her to someone's approach, and the slight smell of cigarettes affirmed that it was Cid, instead of one of his annoying crew members. Whirling to give the pilot a wide grin, the shin obi threw herself at him in a bear hug.
"I missed you, old man! It has been way too long since I've hung out with AVALANCHE, ya know!"
Cid seemed a little thrown by the sudden show of affection, but he returned the hug with as much warmth. "Yeah, brat…I know. But with the state of Edge, it's been hard to get in and out without a &in' inspection every time. At least Spike and Tif are holdin' up alright…"
Pulling back from the older man, Yuffie looked at him intently. "How're things in Rocket Town? Shera's okay and everything?"
"She's fine…a little worried, after the murder last week, but other than that, she's fine." Yuffie's eyes had gone wide.
"There was a murder in ROCKET TOWN? And you left Shera alone?! CID HIGHWIND! YOU WILL DROP ME OFF AT REEVE'S OFFICE AND THEN YOU WILL GET BACK TO ROCKET TOWN TO MAKE SURE YOUR WIFE IS SAFE!"
Obviously taken aback by Yuffie's anger, Cid went so far in his shock as to take a step back in an attempt to escape the fury radiating from the small girl. A light laugh erupted from somewhere behind Cid.
"Yuffie, Cid may be an irresponsible, chain-smoking, old man…but he's also not that bad of a husband." Shera strode down the hallway towards the shocked pilot and angry ninja, her ponytail bouncing with each step, eyes shining with amusement. Giving Cid a swift peck on the cheek, she pulled Yuffie in for a hug. "I'm honored that you got so worked up about me, but it really was unnecessary, Yuffie."
"Oh. Okay then," was all the response Yuffie's fried brain could sputter out. "Uh…can we get me to Reeve's office now?" Cid shook himself out of his stupor and focused a glare on the girl in front of him.
"Wanna &in' explain what this is all about now? Shera, could you whip up some tea?" He began, but Yuffie shook her head stubbornly.
"It'll be better for you to not know. Just don't worry about it. I need to speak to Reeve, and maybe even Tseng. Then my little…issue will be ironed out. Just…I need to get there as soon as possible."
"And I'm sposed to not worry about your situation, when you're in a hurry to meet with Reeve and Tseng? The President of WRO and the leader of the Turks? #&, kid, you put a lot of stress on an old man." But Cid shuffled away back to the bridge, and Shera followed with a concerned look over her shoulder.
The stares as Yuffie walked through Shin-Ra HQ made her uncomfortable, but she did her best to take them in stride. Pacing up to the large front desk, she waited for the receptionist to look up. The woman's obvious surprise at the Princess of Wutai standing in front of her made Yuffie grin.
"Morning! Any chance I can get a word in with Reeve, or is the old pervert busy making more robotic sex toys?" Before the poor woman could answer the awkward question, Reeve's smooth voice floated in from somewhere behind Yuffie.
"I'd appreciate it if you didn't refer to Cait as a sex toy, Yuffie. It offends him, you know." Spinning on her heels to smirk at the man, Yuffie placed her hands on her hips.
"Oh come on Reeve! Just 'cause I'm the only one who actually says it out loud doesn't mean I'm the only one who's thinking it." He gave the ninja a small smile before pulling her into a tight hug.
"It's been far too long since I last saw you, Yuffie. To what do I owe your royal presence?" Pulling back, his eyes were alight with curiosity. The happiness in Yuffie's eyes immediately dimmed, and she reached into her pocket to fiddle with the small piece of paper.
"Umm…maybe somewhere a little more private?" She suggested, noting the receptionist's sly interest in the conversation.
"Of course, of course." Reeve began to lead the way to the elevators as Yuffie followed, beginning to be irritated by all the fuss her royal status caused.
"I'm thinking that maybe Tseng should be there, too. I'm not positive, but the Turks might be able to help me out."
"…and that's why I'm here. I figured that any information the Turks might've gathered about the killer would be helpful…when I go after him. While the killings were still east of Wutai, it wasn't exactly my problem. But the second he set foot in my country, it got a whole lot more personal." Yuffie gazed at the two men across the desk from her; fire blazing in her stormy eyes.
There was dead silence for a full minute before Reeve spoke.
"So…you intend to go after him, then?"
"Well…duh. He's messing with me and my country. I'm not gonna sit back and just take it."
"…Out of the question."
"What?" Surprise flitted across the young woman's face.
It was Tseng who finally answered. "Yuffie, you are of royal blood…the last in your line, and this man has made it obvious that he is after you. If you think we are going to sit back and let you go after him, then you obviously don't understand the situation. Right now, you are in grave danger…and with your danger, there comes danger to Wutai's future. I think…it would be best if you were placed in some kind of protective housing…with one of the Turks stationed with you. Sort of like a witness protection program."
Yuffie's mouth fell open in outrage. "But—I…you—he—WHAT THE HELL?!"
Tseng smiled a little at the seething princess. "It's for the best. We can't have you risking your life against a serial killer with Wutai's future looking so promising."
"I TOOK ON FREAKING SEPHIROTH, THOSE FUGLY SLIVER-HAIRED TRIPLETS, DEEPGROUND SOLDIERS, AND THE TSVIETS, AND YOU THINK I CAN'T HANDLE ONE LITTLE NIGHT CREEPER?! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU'RE TALKING TO??!!" Yuffie didn't care who heard her angry ranting. She had jumped up from her chair, her breath coming in short gasps, and fury radiating from every cell in her body.
"The White Rose of Wutai. Yes, Yuffie…you did all those things. Three years ago. There hasn't been danger like this in three years, and none of those people were after you specifically. This man is, and he won't stop until your blood is on his hands. For the sake of Wutai, and it's peace with the rest of Gaia…we can't afford to lose you." Reeve was smiling gently and Yuffie flopped down into the chair she had occupied previously, crossing her arms like a teenager who had just been grounded. In a way…that's what she was. Tseng was speaking quickly into his PHS, and snapped it shut shortly after Yuffie's rant.
"It's all settled who'll be your bodyguard, we just need a few hours—a day at the most—to get your living situation all sorted out. Your bodyguard should be here in a moment."
Yuffie muttered something about 'It better not be—' before the door swung open to reveal none other than Reno. He swaggered into the room, nodding to Tseng and Reeve, and throwing a playful wink at Yuffie's stunned face.
Turning slowly to face Tseng, Yuffie's face had turned murderous. "Tseng…you had better hope he does a good job keeping me wherever you send me…because the second I get out of there…I will find you…and kill you."
(AN: R&R please! Constructive criticism is much appreciated, but please no flames. I'm not using a beta or anything, so any typos are my own mistake and probably due to the fact that I do most of my writing at ungodly hours of the night. The next chappie is mostly done, except for some minor editing cuz, so if you enjoyed this at all, drop a review and it should be posted shortly)