This is a parallel to my other fic, Survivor, but you don't need to read that to make sense of this. What happens to the girl cycling to work is based on something that happened to somebody I know, although obviously without the revenge.
Disclaimer: Do you really think I own FF7?
A Tale of Midgar
Midgar. Home to twenty million souls, and even more people. The vast, gleaming city with its multiple reactors and towering skyscraper was effectively a showcase of Shinra's power, the entire creation screaming to the onlooker "Don't. Cross. Us."
Such philosophical insights were lost upon the girl cycling to work, her only concern being whether she was late or not. One of the few women with a reasonable wage in sector six who didn't work in the Honey Bee Inn or with Shinra, she didn't have any desire to lose her job. Thus she was extremely irritated when the SUV pulled into the cycle lane in front of her. She braked to avoid a collision, and was sent flying over the handlebars, landing well but tearing holes in knees and elbows before rolling upright. The bike-the quickest way to get to work if you couldn't afford to feed a chocobo, as a car was too wide for the shortcuts she used- hit the bumper, leaving a slight mark before falling over.
The car screeched to a halt and a blonde woman got out, her expression startled.
"It's alright I'm fi-" the girl began before being cut off by a furious "Did you damage my car?"
"I'm fine, thank you for asking."
"You did, look! Are you going to pay for that?" The driver pointed to a mark on the bumper.
"What? That's just tire rubber, look." The cyclist brushed the mark away, then knelt to examine the bike. The front wheel was bent, probably not beyond repair, but she'd have to carry it, and she was already late for work. She glanced up to see a fat kid in the passenger seat, maybe four, sticking his tongue out at her, and flipped a finger at him.
"Don't you do that to my son!" Thus followed a long rant about careless, despite the driver being the one who pulled into the cycle lane, before the former cyclist cut her off with a sudden, barked "What's your name?"
"Guinevere Winters, but-"
"-I'm late for work, I'll get back to you." The former cyclist walked away mid tirade, carrying the bike, fumbling in her pocket for her PHS. She made two calls. The first was to her employer , explaining her situation. The second was not.
Eric yawned. Standing in Vito Corneo's office, being introduced along with five other new guys, he wondered how long he'd have to do this for. He'd wanted to join the Shinra army, but had been unable to gain entry, so in the meantime, he'd gain some experience as an Enforcer for the Corneos. The wage wasn't spectacular, but there were a lot of perks, including free membership too the Honey Bee Inn and free meals at the local deli. He wasn't looking forward to the actual assault and murder part of the job, but at fifteen, he was still young, and after a few years, with a glowing endorsement from the Don, he could more or less do anything he wanted, if he survived that long. A few mysterious deaths were a small price to pay for that opportunity.
A phone rang on the Don's desk. He picked it up leaving the prospective employees to stew for an extra few minutes.
"Hello?...Uh-huh? Okay, Gwen Winters is a common name, she won't be hard to find. I'll see what I can do...No, it's fine, this is a perfect way to test out the newbies. Do you have the registration?" He took out a piece of paper and scrawled some numbers on it. "...Okay, okay. Gottit. ...800 gil. ...This isn't a negotiation, I have a business to run. Take it or leave it. ...You owe me a favour for this...Yes, I know what I said, but-...Goodbye, Alice. And pay more respect or I'll send some guys round to your door one of these days."
He hung up. Skotch poked an enquiring head into the office.
"Gwen Winters, smallish, blond, expensive car, reg SS 3962, young child. When you've found her, send one of these guys. Speaking of which, guys, get out of my office, I have work to do. Skotch'll tell you the rest."
Eric double checked the house number on the wall, then quietly opened the gate. With access to the Shinra database, Skotch had found the address of the target within ten minutes, and had given him instructions and a small bribe for the train guards. Upper sector six wasn't exactly mansions, but it was better than most in the slums. A small front garden, no guards, no dogs. Car parked in the drive. He checked the reg. It matched. According to Skotch, his target was the husband of a minor executive of a car company. The loss of her people carrier would sting, but she would not be left destitute. She'd remember what had happened earlier that day, and would perhaps pay slightly more respect in future. At least he hadn't been sent on an assassination on his first day. He didn't think he was ready for that yet.
Taking the Molotov out of his pocket, he lit the end of the rag, smashed the car window, and tossed it into the front seat. The car alarm went off. He bolted for the gate, jumping over the wall just as the car owner appeared in the doorway bearing a shotgun. An ornamental Guard hound on one of the piers was blown to pieces by her first shot. Cowering behind the front wall, Eric cursed his cockiness and lit his second Molotov. Guinevere saw the flames rising from the car and screamed, another shot taking a chunk off the top of the wall above his head. He tossed the Molotov over the wall-it was hit by a bullet in mid-air, showering him in burning liquid and glass shards. He screamed, and resolved not to do that again. His target was quite an accomplished shot, it seemed. He felt another shot hitting the wall behind his back. He wondered how long he could stay here. In the slums, gunshots might go unheeded, but that wasn't the case on the plate. A Shinra patrol would be coming this way. But then came salvation.
He firmly believed that had Sector 1. Reactor been less timely in its explosion, he would have died there and then. But the reactor exploded precisely when he needed it to, providing both a diversion in the gun toting car owner's attention and causing the instant power cuts to every Mako powered device in the city –including the streetlights, which allowed him to lose himself in the darkness when his attacker –technically, aggressive defender- returned her attention to shooting at him, but now with nothing to aim at. As he ran, he heard a smaller explosion behind, and had the comfort of knowing that at least he'd successfully destroyed the car. He wondered briefly what his target had done, then wondered what the Don would do when he got back.
"Congratulations, kid! I didn't think you'd make it when the reactor blew!" Kotch told him, buzzing him through the security door with a friendly punch in the shoulder.
"I was lucky."
"Of course. You couldn't have gotten through the Shinra crackdown on skill. Go on up, he's expecting you."
Ascending the stairs, he parted the curtain to the Don's office to find the man himself in residence, smiling broadly.
"Still alive, I see. But you got yourself hurt? Black mark right there. What happened?"
Eric gave a more or less accurate account of what happened. The Don arched an eyebrow.
"Shotgun? And you got away? Lucky, but still...Here, you can't expect a reactor to explode every time you need a getaway. Catch." Reaching into a drawer in his desk, Corneo drew out a low calibre handgun and tossed it to him. Catching it somewhat nervously, Eric examined it.
"Get Botch to give you some lessons. Oh, and here's a token of your first success as a Corneo enforcer." A piece of paper followed the gun, following which he was dismissed into the guard room with the rest of the enforcers.
"He seems to be in a good mood." he noted cautiously, not wanting to anger his boss if anything got back to him.
"Of course" Brotch told him happily, "There was a terrorist attack on Shinra today. Which means that we'll receive a generous payment to find them."
"By the way, what'd he give you?" As they hooted over the gun, he glanced at the slip of paper.
Coupon for one free private session
at the Honey Bee Inn
SS registration means Sector six, by the way. In the game, Corneo's officers were Kotch and Skotch. I added two extra, Botch and Brotch.