AN:// Go to the bottom for real notes.

The Grunt's Tale

Eh?

Why do you want to – ?

Fine, fine... I guess it's none of my business. So I guess I don't need to tell you then.

Hey! No need to be uptight! Sheesh… look, it was what? Two years ago? Three? I'll tell you, but you're buying.

Thank you kindly. Now, where to begin? Probably with the why. You can never get the point of the story if you don't first know the why.

You look, what twenty four? Twenty five? So I'm presuming you remember SOLDIER and the guys who made it into the ShinRa Elite. Well, I was a grunt for ShinRa, as you probably already knew. Why else would you – FINE. I'm getting there. Let me tell this, ok?

Anyway, the SOLDIER were a bunch of bastards headed by the biggest bastard of the lot with his second being an equally big bastard. I wasn't there when the General was killed with his second, but I do know that the guy who took over wasn't half the bastard they were and so had no hope of keeping them as firmly in line. What? Surprised I admired old General Sephiroth? Everyone did. I was young, and had tried out for SOLDIER only to find my body couldn't tolerate the mako and narrowly avoided getting sent home. This was about three years after he'd died, but his name still held something, still drew me there. It was the same for a hell of a lot us, I can tell you.

Still, I resigned myself to being a grunt to pay the debts I'd raked up in Midgar. Again, nothing new. I was dutiful and hardworking and all that shit and managed to secure myself a decent job. SOLDIERS treated us grunts like shit, but that was life as a grunt for you. It was two years later when my big break occurred.

Is there another – ah. Thanks, you read my mind.

So, there was me with seven of my company staked out on the cliff that oversees Midgar, with news that two runaway specimens from Hojo's lab, monsters most like, were coming our way with all due speed. We'd been sent out as part of the operation to eliminate them a few hours before. All fired up and ready for action we were, especially after hearing they'd managed to take out our mates at the base.

We could see them in the back of that yellow truck, coming along as oblivious as you please. It would take them half an hour to get there if we guessed right – a benefit of ShinRa technology that we saw them.

Then, orders came through from the top Turk dog, Tseng. No killing. No anything – just a long wait and surveillance until the Turks came to pick them up. More likely to kill them. What else are Turks good for, after all? I'm guessing most of them went into hiding after Meteor. Turks are like cockroaches, you can't get rid of them, and I'm damn sure that there's a guy running loose that was once named Tseng – you can't kill a Turk that easily. Nor can you find them once they've gone to ground.

Anyway, we all figured this for bullshit but the rest in my squad were happy to kick back and relax despite that. I didn't.

Look, those Turks get all the glory! So did those bastards in SOLDIER, and every last one was a murderer or a freak of nature! Is it so wrong that I decided today would be my day? That today would be the day that the grunt refused to be pushed around by higher up politics? I don't think so. I don't think so.

So I fired. I fired once, twice – six times in total, enough to empty my magazine. I got the black haired one, freakish monster that it was, and didn't bother to unload on the other. Hell, it was practically dead anyway, just a vegetable. Why blackie had bothered to save it I don't know, because it practically jumped in the way of my bullets to save it. Who knows what monsters think?

I didn't bury it. Why should I? I got pulled up and kicked out for it – so much for glory. But like hell I was letting the Turks have that one. That one was mine. I saved the people of Midgar from a filthy monster and as long as I know I was a hero, that's fine with me.

What's up with your face? You look like I just shot your puppy.

Wait – what the hell?

Oh shit.

Oh – for the love of Shiva don't – don't – don'tplease I have a wife and kid on the way please don't kill me

Wait.

The vegetable.

It was you…

Monster.

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AN:// Guessed yet? Well, the grunt who shot Zack was tracked down by Cloud, probably just before Advent Children. Naturally, he was unwilling to tell his tale without Cloud buying the rounds, and so to get the story out, to make sure he had the right man, Cloud did. And Cloud did have the right man. It's up to you to put in the facial features, the tone of voice, and what Cloud did to make him so scared (although that's not exactly hard to imagine), and what Cloud did after he was called a monster. What you have here is one half of a conversation, no more.

This piece is based more on Last Order than the events of the game, because I remember the grunt who shot first saying something about not letting the Turks get the glory, and I was hit hard by the irony of a grunt taking out Zack like Cloud-the-grunt took out Sephiroth the first time. And how someone who would have been a comrade would have been killed if not for being an apparently mindless body. And I was hit hard by the resentment embedded in that statement. I cried when the credits rolled, I admit.