After a long time out of the fan fiction world because I had no interest in writing anything for it, I present to you my break back into the fan fiction arc story. I do not own anything aside from the computer used to type this up. Wishful thinking, but still, don't own anything.

Bear in mind that this is a "What-if" type of story that explores a hypothetical storyline that I felt would be interesting to pursue of what might have happened to Cissnei after the events of Crisis Core. (Yes, I am aware of the events of Before Crisis, but I'm playing "what-if" for the fun of it.) Feel free to leave a review if you have the time to let me know what you think of it. Thanks and enjoy the story!

Chapter One - It Began With A Phone Call

"Tseng, I've lost the targets."

My problems began when I let them go.

Flipping my PHS closed with the all too familiar click, I return it to its usual spot upon my belt, a light tremble in my hands at the motion. A blatant lie to the one man who has the power to decide whether I live or die because of this mission. An act of treason unheard of amongst the group of people I represent by wearing this dark suit and tie. I just willingly lied to my superior officer in hopes that the two convicted felons in front of me might have a slim chance at survival out here.

I can only stare in pity at the raven-haired SOLDIER standing like a protective rottweiler between myself and the blonde-haired infantryman propped against the tree, Buster Sword drawn with its rippled blade glinting menacingly in the pale evening light of the western full moon. There is no doubt in my mind that he would not hesitate to bury that weapon into my flesh this time. This is not the same restless 'puppy' I am dealing with, but a full blooded stray attempting escape from a pack trying to murder him. He's scared, and rightfully so. With his friend to protect, he's not only fighting for himself this time.

A severe case of Mako Poisoning from the experiments. Hojo is a cruel man.

"And that's how it is." My words are soft, confident, a vain effort to tell these two that everything is going to turn out all right. I can't say for certain that I'll be able to hold the hounds at bay for long, but it will grant them some time at least. How they use it though, it strictly up to them.

Zack stares at me with those honest mako eyes for several quiet seconds, as though struggling to comprehend what sin I have just committed. He knows as well as I do, that if anyone finds out, I'll be the one who dies tonight. Shinra does not take well to renegade Turks.

A cool, late summer breeze drifts in from the ocean beyond the hills, casting a gentle mist over the far shore where the lighthouse was erected years ago. The rustling boughs of the arrow-like pines sway in greeting to the light spilling across the darkened clearing every few seconds. Somewhere in the brush a cricket chirps a gentle song. If only the circumstances were better tonight, I might have found this to be a rather peaceful place of solitude, pleasant by its own right. But these are hardly pleasant circumstances.

I turn to leave the pair in peace.

"Thank you, Cissnei."

Those words herald their own sense of gratefulness. Oh, Zack. Don't make this any more painful than it already is. Just hurry up and go already. Please. A faint, forced smile tugs at the corner of my lips as I reach for the tiny silver keys in the front left pocket of my Shinra-issued blazer.

I made up my mind a long time ago, when Veld and Tseng gave me the orders for this mission, that I would do whatever it takes to ensure their safety. Tonight, I will not leave them here for the battalion of Shinra soldiers combing the countryside to find and slay. And with Cloud unable to even so much as assist Zack in walking, let alone fighting, it will only be a matter of time before the inevitable happens.

"I have a present for you."

After all, Tseng's orders had been to locate them; not necessarily kill them. Why else would he have had us place sniper rifles within convenient places to shoot at the gunheads? I'm only doing my 'job' per say.

"If you feel you can trust me," I whisper, hoping against all hope that only the crickets and that lighthouse are witnessing this exchange. "Then use it."

I press the silver keys into Zack's palm and curl his fingers around them. Hopefully, he will use some common sense and will take Cloud as far from this place as humanly possible. Somewhere where the Shinra soldiers and the Turks would never think to find them. Then again, this is Zack, the restless puppy, as Angeal once claimed him to be. Puppies never do what you want them to. But that can't stop a more experienced watchdog from trying to help them learn the value of listening to good advice when it is offered.

He nods with that impish smile of his and turns back towards the sickly looking infantryman leaning against the tree. I take the opportunity and start back up the hill. Why don't I feel guilty about any of this? Tseng's going to have my head when he finds out what I've done.

Standing there in the Nibelheim countryside, beneath the light of the full moon and the endless blanket of stars, I watch the pair speed off towards the Nibelheim - Cosmo Canyon Highway and can only sigh. If he is going where I think he will go, we will no doubt meet again. And next time, I might not be able to let him go.

"Please stay safe, Zack. Stay out of danger, for her."

Aerith misses you, Zack. You owe her a visit after these long four years. Go to her while you still can.

I take a seat upon the ridge overlooking the less-than-sandy beach, the waves slopping over the sand where our conflict occurred. Tseng will ask questions about the whereabouts of my bike and just how, I, a high level member of the Turks, managed to lose two simple targets in the gunhead-laden countryside under full moonlight. And I probably won't be able to tell a good story to save my life.

I guess I'll have plenty of time to think about this while waiting for Reno and Rude to pick me up.