As usual, i don't owe anything to do with FF7. Please review!

The Known Stranger

It was gone midnight when Reeve visited the bar and revealed that Yuffie has been located. AVALANCHE learnt that currently the ninja was being held at a 'stable' where men can view women before deciding to buy them. on a notorious market known as the Midnight Market that specialised in the trade of humans, supplying slaves and women to brothels, rich buyers and private houses.

"Because of the nature of this market, it's not a simple task of going in and taking Yuffie. Therefore someone needs to pose as a buyer and sneak her out without alerting much trouble." Reeve sighed.

"I'll do it." Cloud almost immediately elected himself but Reeve shock his head.

"According to my contact, your face is well known in the underworld and there needs to be two men that can easily blend in, one to get Yuffie out whilst the other provides cover should anything arises."

"Then I think it should be Vincent and Cid." Tifa said. Both men looked at her then each other, Vincent with indifference at being elected to the task and Cid with dismay at being so.

"Why not me?" Bellowed Barrett.

"You don't exactly blend in with the crowd being the biggest out of all of us." Tifa politely pointed out, receiving a scowl for her effort.

"I agree it should be Vincent and Cid. You'll need to dress more appropriately for the kind of place you're going to. You'll be wearing these earpieces as the contact will be guiding you through this one." Reeve placed a small box on the bar counter and removed the lid to reveal the said earpieces that were designed to sit deep in the ear unnoticed.

"Cid? Have you got a spare set of clothes I could borrow? I've haven't got much in a way of a wardrobe." Vincent quietly asked as Cid growled.


"Are you sure my trousers aren't tight?" Cid asked, eyeing Vincent who sat opposite him in the back of the car.

Vincent looked down at the pair of blue jeans teamed with a black roll neck jumper and black leather jacket that smelt of beer, oil and smoke which made up of the outfit Cid kindly leant the gunman. He wore a pair of black boots burrowed from Cloud as he was too big to wear Cid's and his hair was tied back though shorter strands stubbornly hung across his face, hiding the unnatural shade of his crimson eyes.

He nodded as he looked back at Cid who actually looked…smart for once.

Dressed in black trousers and a dark red shirt with his hair slicked back, he looked like some dodgy salesman, perfect for where they were currently being driven to by taxi.

After paying the driver once they stopped at a street known for being rife with tacky sex shops and whore houses (Vincent was uncomfortable with telling the driver where they wanted to go, instead Cid did so with much glee.) they walked over to a quiet lane on the pretence of lighting a cigarette when actually they were discreetly wiggling the small ear pieces into their ear and await the contact from their guide.

"Didn't know you smoked." Cid smirked as Vincent took a deep drag of his cigarette and exhaled into the short man's face.

"I used to in the Turks."

"Hmm! Well Sheera keeps telling me to quit before these things kill us." Cid drawled.

"I think nowadays it'll take more than a nasty habit of smoking to kill me." Vincent muttered as he took another drag and turned to survey their surroundings.

They stood across the street from a shop window lined with 'the latest porn' as the sign proudly proclaimed, the word 'SEX' flashed rhythmically in neon red lights.

Two women in short skirts were laughing as they tottered alongside a car which pulled up, they bantered with the driver and with a deal intact, they climbed into the back of the car with their new client.

Vincent watched Cid curiously eye up some mucky pictures posted alongside the building they were standing next too, advertising call girls, he threw his cigarette down into the drain when a voice in his ear responded.

"I wouldn't litter here if I were you, despite being a seedy area, you can still be fined for littering. Something I can't help you with if you get caught."

Cid visibly jumped next to the gunman who froze then slowly eyed their

surroundings.

"I wouldn't try looking for me Vincent, I am well hidden. You look nice, makes a change from the leather and cloak for once." The feminine voice echoed in his ear asHe looked at Cid who was trying to choke back a laugh.

"You both need to listen, you need to do exactly as I say if you want to get Yuffie back. There's WRO team ready to raid the place after you get Yuffie out. They're on stand by and will be ready to intervene when I say so. I take it Reeve asked you to conceal your weapons well?"

"Yes." Vincent quietly acknowledged.

"Right, you need to start walking up the street before you. You're looking for Waterman's Café. There's an alley by it which you need to turn into."

They both started walking, eyes looking out for the café as they ignored the gaudy lights and sounds around them.

"It's the place with a whale lit up on the front." Their contact helpfully added.

"There!" Cid pointed out, they saw the dark alley the contact had mentioned and started walking down it.

"You'll reach a door on the left hand side. Knock and when he lets you in, you need to say "You're here to view some possible purchases.". Make him think you've been here before."

"You better leave the talking to me Vincent." Cid spoke quietly as they walked down the alley, out of the darkness loomed a small wooden door and Cid held up his fist and knocked three times.

There was a click of a lock and the door opened inwards, revealing a large swarthy man similar in bulk to Barrett.

"What?" he barked.

"Me and my chum here are here to view some possible purchases." Cid drawled, jabbing a thumb over his shoulder to indicate Vincent who stood silently, letting the man eye him them step back to allow them in.

"We got a good stock tonight, better than last time gentleman, you know the way in." The man closed the door behind them and locked it.

"You need to walk through the central door and down the stairs."

Cid lead the way, opening the central door of three and stepping down the stairs to where another door was open and they could hear sounds of men's voices, the shrieks of women and the smell of sex and tobacco greeted their noses.

"You should come to a large hall where the women are kept; you need to look as if you're interested in some of the women. Don't give the game away."

"Oh Gaia…" Cid whispered, his eyes widen at the number of women chained to their posts. Some cried and shrieked whenever they were touched whilst others looked dazed and scared, looking away from the crowd that watched them. And a few unfortunate women were already in the hands of their buyers, being subjected before the crowd.

Vincent turned his head away from one woman who screamed as a man ripped her dress away revealing her bruised, naked torso.

"I can't do this…" Cid muttered.

"You're nearly there. You need to hold on for Yuffie. She's the third one down at the far left side."

They walked down, slowly so they wouldn't draw unwanted attention until they reached a woman who looked seriously pissed off, sitting on the floor with her arms crossed and her back to the rest of the room.

Reaching down, Vincent picked up part of the long link of chains attaching her to the post and gave it a small tug; pulling on the Ninja's arm.

"Fuck you!"

Vincent yanked harder, pulling the woman's frame over and she angrily turned to regard her tormentors.

"Yuffie, it's me…Cid and Vinnie." Cid hoarsely whispered and the Ninja blinked her eyes in recognition.

"How…?"

"Sssh, just pretend we're here to buy you." Cid whispered as Yuffie hesitantly walked towards them, tears already swelling up in her eyes as she looked from one man to the other.

"They didn't hurt you?" Vincent asked she shook her head, "They only roughed me up a little. I kept kicking and biting so they left me alone."

"Thata girl." Cid praised her as Yuffie stood before them with a hue of bruises across her slender body.

"You're interested in the girl? She's feisty if you're into that kinda thing? Guarantee ya myself she's a virgin and an unspoilt one." A huge man appeared, taking the chain from Vincent's hand and yanked it hard, pulling Yuffie to him and holding her jaw so they could get a good look at her face.

The Ninja squirmed but the man's huge hands held fast.

"You need to say to the man you wish to see for yourself she's a virgin and ask is there's somewhere where you three can go?" The contact's voice echoed in the two men's ears, Cid looked stunned and Vincent swiftly stepped in.

"I only got your word she's untouched. Is there somewhere where we can see for ourselves?"

The man chuckled and reached to pull out a small ring of keys and undid the chain round the Ninja's wrist.

"Follow me gentlemen."

They followed him, glaring at the man's back as he hauled Yuffie along in his grip down the very end of the hall and through a door which lead to a small room.

"I'll give you five minutes gentlemen. If you're not buying her, don't spoil the merchandise." The man pushed Yuffie ahead of him into the room and let them step in then closed the door behind him.

"Great, now see the window above you? The grill covering it is not secured properly. You just need to undo the bolts and then climb out. The window is street level to a lane outside."

"Vinnie!" Yuffie gave the man a life threatening hug as Cid reached up and started undoing a bolt in the lower corner of the grill.

"How did you find me?"

"We got someone helping us as we speak." Vinnie managed to get Yuffie's clinging arms off him and started helping Cid, "Keep a watch on the door."

"Last bolt." Muttered Cid as he used a Gil coin to unscrew it, the grill slid down and was carefully caught by Vincent who placed it on the floor, Cid reached up and opened the window, cringing as the rusty hinges squeaked.

"Hurry, he could be coming back any second!" Yuffie hissed as Cid hoisted himself up and out the window then turned to help the woman out, aided by Vincent who gave her a leg up.

Just as Vincent began to lift himself out, the door slammed open and there was a surprised shout as the man thundered into the room in pursuit of Vincent who was half way out the window.

The gunman kicked out as the man's meaty fist grabbed his ankle and hearing his booted heel connecting with something soft and then a roar of pain as the man let go, Vincent let Cid and Yuffie haul him out onto the wet concrete of the street.

"Move!" Cid snapped, yanking the man to his feet as the three of them started to run.

"I have visual on you, keep running. You're being followed."

"Keep running where?" Cid panted.

"Just keep moving! The WRO are moving towards you as we speak…keep your head down!" The command came just as gunfire broke out.

There was a din of noises as men chased them, calling out and firing their weapons as their feet thundered down the small lanes.

Over the chaos, Vincent's ears picked up a familiar sound of gun fire that made him think of Cerberus, Yuffie wheezed as she ran next to him, casting a glance over her shoulder at their pursuers. "Someone's firing at them."

"I know, keep running…"

There was a yowl of pain as Cid toppled forward.

"I've been shot in my leg!" He spat, holding his leg as he rocked on his back, hissing in pain. Vincent and Yuffie tried to pick him up between them but the delay meant the men that chased them were drawing closer.

"Get him up and keep running!" a voice shouted, sounding louder in person than when she had spoke through the ear piece.

There was a blurred motion as something landed directly in front of them after jumping down from a nearby roof.

Standing before them was a woman with long white hair dancing in the night breeze, from a holster attached to her leg; she pulled a gun strikingly similar to Cerberus but silver in colour and aimed it at the approaching mob.

She looked over her shoulder at Vincent and he saw her eyes were yellow.

"I'll divert them, keep moving."

She turned back and expertly started shooting down her individual targets, the dirge of her gun echoing down the lanes and into Vincent's mind as he hauled Cid 's arm over his shoulder and started running up the lane.

"Who is she?" Yuffie panted as Cid cursed loudly in pain.

But Vincent kept silent, mind focused on the current dilemma at hand.

They saw Shadowfox driving towards them, Reeve driving behind the wheel, his eyes widened as he recognised the three of them.

The vehicle screeched to a stop and the back door flung open, WRO soldiers scrambling out and running down the lane with their weapons ready where soon more gunfire volley sounded behind them.

"What happened?" Reeve asked, helping Vincent lower Cid in the back of the vehicle.

"Shot in the leg."

"Go, cover that damn woman, I'm fine here for a moment." Cid waved them off, pulling cigarettes from his pocket and lighting three at once.

Without waiting, Yuffie, Vincent and Reeve turned and ran back down to where the WRO stood, slowly advancing on the mob as they fell back.

The woman leading them forward stopped firing and pulled from her back her two Katanas and charged into the fray, slicing and hacking as she went.

"Move forward!" she bellowed and the soldiers obeyed, charging up to the few stragglers that were the remains of the mob and forcing them to surrender.

She stood back and flicked her blades free of blood and slowly reached behind her to return them to their sheaths, she watched the men being herded up and looked around her.

"Something's not right…there was more of them." Vincent hear her mutter.

What happened next was almost too fast to see but a building exploded outwards, showering the crowd with rubble as a huge mechanical 'spider' clambered through the hole it made.

"A Black widow? Where the hell did these men get it from?" Reeve shouted as the Widow scuttled up the side of the building and started firing down at the people below.

Vincent moved forward, pulling out his gun as he did so, he had expertise in dealing with this sort of things. After all, he dealt with them on his long mission against Deepground. He let off a few shots as the woman took aim and fired as well.

"Get everyone out now!" she screamed over to Reeve as she dodged a mechanical, flailing leg as the Widow charged towards her. The noise it made as its spider-like legs thudded into the pavement was deafening as the woman charged towards it with her gun stretched outwards, shooting as he went.

Vincent leapt away from the small missile the Widow fired in his direction, the explosion causing the men behind him to shout as smoke filled the night sky, the cries of men as they pulled out from the small lane.

He looked to see the woman leapt onto the back of the Widow, trying to prevent herself from being flung off as she shot at the main body of it. Vincent started to run forward to help when a WRO soldier stepped forward with a rocket launcher held on his shoulder.

"No!" he yelled but the launcher fired, propelling the rocket through the air, whistling at the speed it gained.

He saw the woman look up in surprise but it was too late as the rocket hit its target, exploding into a huge ball of fire as both spider and the buildings around it fell from the air.

Smoking debris laid across the pavement as the fire from the initial impact roared, catching the timber of building beams alight.

Reeve pushed past Vincent, rummaging through the rubble.

"Hades!" he called, making every nerve in Vincent's body jangle to a halt.

Hades?

"Reeve, I doubt she had survived that explosion." Yuffie called out from a safe distance where she seen the whole thing.

Reeve looked up from his frantic search to regard Yuffie a hard stare and went to open his mouth. Before he could say anything, there was a disturbance of rubble as something pushed upwards from beneath.

There was a cough as the rubble clattered away from the woman. She slowly stood up, smoke still rising from her body as the clothes she wore were ether burnt in large parts or torn away.

She raised a bloody hand to the back of her neck then twisting it from side to side to work out the kinks. She turned and looked at Reeve, wounds scattered across her arms, legs, torso and neck.

But perhaps more gruesomely was the bloody head wounds that exposed the raw flesh where rubble and metal shrapnel has sliced away at the skin. Vincent couldn't believe his eyes as he saw the skin knit together, he could even heard the flesh rasp as it healed right before him.

"Who fired that fucking rocket?" the woman demanded in a deadly tone that spelt many things for the pour soul.

The man didn't even had to raise his hand for she stalked over, ignoring his wide eyes that watched her accelerated healing flesh and grabbing him by the lapels of his jacket and lifted him a few inches off the ground as she snarled, "You fucking prick!"

Without a warning, she brought her knee up into the man's groin and dropped him into a crumpled whimpering pile.

"Reeve, make sure this man gets disciplined for not awaiting orders." She angrily turned to the commissioner who held up a hand in a soothing gesture that did nothing.

She then turned to look at Yuffie, her eyes looking over the young woman for any obvious signs of her recent ordeal.

"You ok?"

"Shouldn't I be asking you that?" Yuffie retorted incredulously.

"It's just scratches and they've healed." The woman held up her arm and wiped at her wounds to show the smooth skin beneath the smears of blood. "Hasn't your friend been shot?"

"Cid? Oh crap I forgot about him!" Yuffie turned and ran to the van.

The woman turned back to Reeve then her yellow eyes slid over to Vincent.

They stared at each other for a moment.

"Vincent." She stated.

"Mira…" was his somewhat breathless reply.

"It's been a while." She simply said.