Final Hikari: Holy crap, it must be Ragnarok! I'm updating! I'm sorry for the hellacious delay on this. T.T There's no reason to bore everyone with excuses and crap. But you know, I can't remember for the life of me how old the two of you are in his chapter.

Genesis: Woman, where the hell have you been? -.-

Final Hikari: I've been up and down the East Coast and working three jobs. XD

Genesis: And…?

Final Hikari: …And writing for other fandoms? -sweat drop-

Genesis: Thought so. -.-

Final Hikari: All the fighting in these chapters has gotten tough! Although it was kinda nice emphasizing the good points of your character instead of drawing and picking apart every single bad one like I do in humor genre stuff. XD

Genesis: … -.-

Final Hikari: I gotta wrap things up this chapter! -.- That way I can stay on schedule! 17 will be "By Your Side," 18 will be "Anywhere Will Do," 19 will be "Resolutions," and 20 will be "Midgar." However, the chapter titled "Midgar" might be pushed to 21 and 20 might be "Messages Instead." Depends on how things unfold in "Anywhere Will Do" and "Resolutions." Genesis, disclaim yourself!

Genesis: …Right. Final Hikari doesn't own anything from the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.

All That's Left Behind

Chapter 16

Let Me Sleep

Reno Sinclair of the Turks frowned slightly, steering the Shin-Ra helicopter downward carefully. The cliffs that cradled Banora Village into a protected valley were a convenient landing area, but the chaotic sight of the town below was less than welcoming. Not that it was anything unusual for the Turks; Wutaian invasions were fairly common, especially along the continent's southern coast.

However, he had been caught off guard by the surprising orders; when warning of an attack from the enemy army was distributed throughout the Shin-Ra network, he hadn't expected that it would be against the town where he got his first job as a bodyguard. The only strange part of the reinforcements was that even Reno wore a serious expression as the violently beating helicopter blades kicked up a nearly opaque cloud of dust as it touched down on land.

Banora wasn't much of a target. It was on the coast, but not in an overly valuable area. It wasn't close to any major naval bases, or military facilities of any sort. The mako export died long ago and all that remained was some oddly colored apples. Though the people of Wutai were known to eat many fruits and vegetables, it wasn't a legitimate reason to invade a small town on the massive Shin-Ra controlled continent.

The entire town was under enemy control; word had been issued that the mayor and his wife - parents of Genesis Rhapsodos - had been taken as hostages in their own home by the ranking officers overseeing the ambush. The death count was undetermined, though the first support group, including General Sephiroth, reported at least ten dead civilians. The majority of the population had been evacuated to the Banora White Juice factory on the outskirts of the town, where a makeshift hospital run by a few Shin-Ra doctors had been set up on the top floor.

The situation was getting progressively worse as the night went on. The last casualty report was nearly four hours old, which probably meant more people had been hurt or killed since then. Several large areas of the dumbapple orchards had been lit on fire; the blaze was being controlled, but it had been set up in flames with a unique type of Firaga materia that engulfed the damp wood regardless of moisture in the trees and soil. Subsequently, it required materia to extinguish it.

The air around the village was turning black from smoke, slowing the speed at which the rest of the reinforcements Shin-Ra deployed could land and take on sub-missions. It would take a frustratingly long amount of time to find a suitable area to land helicopters, and inconveniently, even longer to reach the town itself.

Additionally, there was a rather disconcerting bit of news mentioned in the last part of the report. It had been very brief, but mentioned an unruly female senior citizen who had given a noteworthy amount of trouble to the all-male group of infantrymen, led by a Second Class SOLDIER, assigned to protect the townspeople. Apparently, she tried to hinder their progress by forcing them to come into her home when they were trying to force her to leave. Something about dangerous mold from severely outdated (most likely poisonous) food products was offered to the military soldiers. But due to the situation and since she was a senior, she couldn't be taken into custody.

She was described as, letter for letter, "unarmed but extremely dangerous to virg---the focus of male soldiers." It had been rather entertaining to hear the untimely humor crackling over his headset in contrast to information on the causalities. Though he didn't claim to know said senior citizen - he didn't need his co-workers picking on him for such a trivial thing. It would ruin quite a bit of his cool - or so he firmly believed - persona.

Reno turned all the helicopter's systems off and quickly pulled his door open as Rude and the young female Turk with brownish-gray hair, one of their firearms specialists, followed suit. He slammed the heavy door closed and started at a run toward the rocky pathway leading down into the massive clearing that Banora Village rested at the heart of. He kicked up small clouds dust as he ran, but didn't look back - there was far too much to be done that night to waste time.

Sekai Kurayami, expression worried and unsettled, hurried to keep pace with Genesis as they walked down the rows of armed Shin-Ra infantrymen toward the tall, imposing factory's entrance. All the soldiers wore helmets that hid their faces and carried heavy looking automatic rifles. They kept extra ammunition and a few small knives on their persons, usually out in the open.

The factory was a massive building containing three floors; first one was divided into several areas for the various steps of production. The middle floor was where the packaging process was completed, and the third contained storage rooms and a few beds for employees who wanted to spend the night. Banora was a walking town and it hadn't been uncommon for workers to sleep at the factory instead of taking the long walk home at dark. However, since it had been converted to a shelter, the entire center area had been emptied of equipment and filled with cots for Banora's many citizens. Since the dumbapples still weren't quite in season, it had been mostly empty for the past few months.

The exterior of the building itself was quite old; it was clear it had weathered many costal storms in the years it had been in use. A few large search lights had been installed on the roof and flooded the area with bright artificial light. It burned Sekai's eyes as she approached, but she didn't let it affect her expression. The gravel crunched beneath their feet as they continued toward the entrance.

Genesis had insisted upon rendezvousing with the rest of the forces walking unaided; his purposeful stride was quick and unwavering, a direct contradiction to his current state. It was an act of pure stubbornness, though she had to admit he did have a point, as it wouldn't have looked very good for him to show up barely able to walk. She was relieved he was capable of such with his injuries, but at the same time felt slightly disoriented.

Only the First Class SOLDIERs are supposed to undergo mako enhancements… She thought worriedly, periodically glancing up at the mako glow of his eyes. She had seen it on the cover of the newspaper; she had known the tinge of emerald in his eyes was being replaced by the cold icy blue of mako. It wasn't standard for members of the Second Class to receive the mako treatment, but he hadn't mentioned it and she hadn't had time to ask about it.

But this isn't natural at all. Granted, they were talking about giving them to all the SOLDIERs, but it would have been on the news if they had changed that rule.


She tired to dismiss the thoughts as they approached the entrance. Two SOLDIERs, one clad in a Third Class uniform and the other in a Second's, stood at the entrance, one of whom she recognized instantly. She smiled slightly when his eyes met her own, relieved to see another of her friends safe. Genesis saluted them both, nodding only briefly to Angeal.

"Second Class SOLDIER Genesis Rhapsodos reporting," he said flatly, pulling a tattered and bloody ID card from his pocket and handing it to the higher ranking SOLDIER.

"I know who you are," Angeal said, holding up a hand dismissively to show he didn't need to look. "Sekai too; I don't need any identification. Just go directly to the desk in the right corner of the entrance room and submit your name. Then take the elevator up to the top floor where they've set the infirmary up."

"Right. Has the newest report been issued up? Are there any changes?" Genesis questioned as Angeal motioned to the Third Class to open all the locks placed over the double metal doors that served as the entrance.

"There are a few. You can check it out when you get new orders in the morning," he replied, avoiding giving a direct answer to the question as he surveyed his friend's condition. "If they don't put you on the reserve, that is."

The lower ranking SOLDIER finished with the final lock and removed a keycard from the reader mounted on the rusted, old metal and pushed one of the two doors open. The loud scraping sound it created as it rubbed against the frame made their words almost indiscernible as the conversation continued.

"Our parents?" Genesis asked softly, glancing over to the infantrymen behind them.

"They're still alive," Angeal replied, tone uncharacteristically dismissive.

She glanced between the two of them as Genesis' expression became more solemn. The Third Class finished with the locks and saluted them both, waiting for he and Sekai to proceed. Genesis looked away, gaze falling to the small room at the entrance as he started toward the doors.

"'Alive' doesn't mean 'alright'," he said quietly.

Sekai hesitated a moment, glancing up at Angeal before hurriedly following Genesis. His expression was guilty, making her worry. Did something happen…? Angeal must have been with Gillian during the time of the attack…but Mr. and Mrs. Rhapsodos…

They reached the desk Angeal had mentioned in the entrance hall within only a few moments. The woman stationed there, wearing a military uniform, only nodded at them briefly as they wrote their names in the ledger. She surveyed Genesis' injuries and pointed at the staircase behind her desk.

"The infirmary is on the third floor."

The trip up the staircase was quiet, for the unpleasant feeling of unrest hung in the air like a slightly suffocating veil. Worry permeated Sekai's thoughts for her own remaining family. Her grandmother, who a few infantrymen swore had been a geisha in the enemy country about fifty years ago, had caused enough trouble to be mentioned in one of the reports. She knew her grandmother was safe, although perhaps facing fines for harassment. Not that it was the first time she faced such charges, of course.

If Genesis had received information on his parents, his expression only showed some indication of it. He looked worried and more preoccupied than before, a definite sign he was keeping something from her. As for what, Sekai reflected, it wasn't too difficult to guess the danger his parents were in. With their status and position of control over the town, it wouldn't have been a surprise if they were taken captive, or worse.

He had only received minimal treatment for his injuries when they reached the exit of the staircase, yet he was still walking unaided. She was glad his injuries weren't nearly as severe as they been for a normal person, but at the same time, she found the situation unnerving. The enhancements he had undergone had changed him greatly, and he hardly seemed aware of it. She seriously doubted Shin-Ra would ever use the word "monster" to describe their SOLDIERs, but it couldn't help but cross her tired mind. They had enough time to make the physical changes gradual, but no amount of traditional training could change the body so vastly that it could handle such injuries so easily.

She was still somewhat lost in her circuitous thoughts when they reached the top floor and Genesis pushed the door to the infirmary open. There were several different rooms tending patients with different levels of injuries. The fairly superficially wounded were being tended in the first room. Nevertheless, there were still a lot of people, mainly men, half naked or stripped to their underwear. There were only a few Shin-Ra nurses, and several volunteers from the town who had medical experience.

The scene wasn't a surprise, but the cheerful voice they heard ring out across the room certainly was.

"I think I just died and went to Heaven's best strip club," a woman with a familiar voice said musically, sounding a little too pleased to be in a makeshift hospital. "I wish I had been an army nurse, these patients are so much better."

The Shin-Ra nurse beside her grimaced and her patient looked afraid. The poor guy was an infantryman and had no idea what to do. The nurse kept glancing over at Mrs. Kurayami, and not because the foreign name was a source of unrest. It was more likely she was concerned with having to treat the man for mental trauma after dealing with the elderly woman.

"Oh God," Sekai squeaked, hiding her face behind her hands.

Genesis' eyes widened at the sound alone. "You can't be serious… It's her?"

"It's her."

"That's ridiculous! Why is she tending the wounded?"

Shocked by the all too familiar voice, Genesis had thoughtlessly let the door slam closed behind them. Several people glanced over in their direction, instantly alerted to the entrance of more people. This included an elderly woman in a horrifying tight, red leather miniskirt, electric blue tights, a slightly transparent strapless blouse, and entirely too much makeup, who stood up and instantly abandoned her patient when she saw the twosome.

As wrong as it sounded, Sekai was somewhat glad to see her granny back into wearing the miniskirt. It was still enough to give most people nightmares, but most people hadn't seen what she and Genesis had that afternoon, and a little comic relief was welcome. She firmly blocked out all memory of her grandmother's bikini - especially since she was relatively sure a normal old person's underwear was much more conservative.

"Sekai!" her granny yelled, hurrying over at speeds she couldn't help but be surprised at, to hug her granddaughter. "You had me so worried! And you're hurt, too! Where on Gaia were you?"

Before she could start harassing Genesis, a nurse from the next room over in a Shin-Ra uniform came over and beckoned him to follow her. He cast Sekai an apologetic look and shrugged before gladly following the woman. Sekai's grandmother noticed but didn't comment; Sekai recognized her 'I'll get him later' look.

"Looks like someone was using his sword a bit too much," the scantily dressed senior remarked.

"Grandmother!" Sekai hissed. "Don't say things like that!"

The Granny blinked so innocently that Sekai swore she could hear angels singing. "Whatever do you mean, dear?" she asked in a cheerfully evil tone that sent a fearful shudder rippling through the men in the room. Without waiting for a reply, the Granny grabbed Sekai's arm and led her over to the nearest cot, which was currently occupied by a rapidly paling Shin-Ra infantryman.

The Granny leered down at him menacingly. "Move darling," she purred, leaning over so that the terrified young man got a horrific eyeful of whatever she kept inside her shirt. "Or I'll do it for you."

The cot was vacant before Sekai could even begin to wonder what kind of man her grandfather must've been to voluntarily marry this woman. Her granny shoved her onto the cot, then plucked a bottle of disinfectant and towels from a nearby nurse. Ignoring the nurse's expression of outrage, she started dabbing at the cut on Sekai's neck. Sekai cringed, but her grandmother's touch was surprisingly gentle.

"Dumb girl," her granny snapped suddenly, her voice uncharacteristically somber. She wiped some more crusted blood off Sekai's shoulder as she continued her outburst. "You should know better. Just because you're always following him around-" and with the less than subtle hint, she jabbed Sekai in the back in emphasis- "doesn't mean you need to get yourself killed."

Sekai blinked, startled at this strange display of concern.

"What in the world are you talking about," she demanded.

The Granny rolled her eyes as she began wrapping a bandage around Sekai's wound. "Oh, please," she said, "I may be over thirty years old, but I can see as well as anybody."

Sekai snorted in response, wincing a little as her grandmother's hands jerked the bandage tightly. "See what?" she countered.

The Granny gave her a look. "I was young once too, you know," she said in a softer tone. "Besides, I have an obligation and duty to keep you safe, young lady," she continued firmly. "And you're not making it easy, you dratted teenager." And with that said, she tied the bandage into a secure knot, then cuffed her granddaughter lightly on the head. "Come on, let's go see how your hunk-er, man, is doing..."

Genesis screwed his expression into one of horror and disgust before wiping it blank and turning his head around. Sekai stood at the foot of his cot, watching nervously as the Shin-Ra nurse stitched up the gash on his torso. Her grandmother – that woman – was not too far behind, sprawled against the wall in what she clearly thought was a seductive pose. He shuddered before turning his attention back to Sekai.

"You-" he cleared his throat, "you're okay?"

She nodded perfunctorily, but didn't respond. Her unmoving stare was beginning to unnerve him.

"What?" he asked, a little defensively.

"I'll tell you what," the Granny piped up. He gave her a 'begone evil one!' look, but she ignored it and cheerfully said, "You should put on a shirt, hot stuff, before I have to sit my granddaughter down and give her The Talk."

Genesis squeezed his eyes shut, trying to ignore how both he and Sekai had turned a bright fire-engine red.

"Grandma," he heard Sekai hiss. "Stop it. Please."

She snickered, but desisted.

"Is it safe?" he asked dully, not quite ready to open his eyes yet.

"It's safe," Sekai told him, equally dully.

He opened his eyes and saw that she had now seated herself timidly on the cot's corner. An awkward silence descended, and he tried to think of something to say, if only to distract himself from the needle the nurse was still poking through his skin. But, he thought with a slight sense of loss, he didn't really know how to talk to Sekai anymore. Anything he wanted to say felt awkward and distant, so he lapsed into silence and avoided Sekai's eyes.

After a few moments, the Granny spoke again, apparently unable to take the overwhelming silence.

"You know, I used to be a nurse," she said musingly, looking around at the men in various stages of treatment. "Wish I'd majored in field nursing, though."

Genesis snorted, unable to help himself. "Who in their right mind gave you a nursing licensure? How many unfortunate souls have you condemned?" he exclaimed, cringing a little as his nurse finished the stitches and began bandaging him up.

The Granny gave a haughty sniff. "Oh, honey, don't you know life's so much easier when you look like this?" she swept her hand in a grand gesture, modeling her latest look. "That nursing degree was easier than my professors to get." Behind her back, a few soldiers gagged. Genesis wasn't certain whether they were faking or not.

Sekai gave her grandmother an odd look. "Sometimes, grandma," she muttered, "I wonder how you ever got married."

"Oh, didn't I tell you, dear?" she replied. "Your grandfather was my Anatomy professor in high school." She snickered frighteningly. "Good times, those were. To be honest, though, I would've married those male models instead if they weren't plastic."

"Alright," Genesis said abruptly. "I've heard enough. Let's go." He stood up and pushed the nurse away, who looked too nauseous to protest.

Genesis adjusted the collar of his shirt and shook his head as they left the infirmary. "That woman…I still can't believe she was a nurse."

"She worked in Wutai then moved to Midgar when I was born," Sekai volunteered. "She quit to come to Banora and take care of me."

He looked at her, a bit strangely. "Wasn't that kind of old to still be working?"

She shrugged in response. "You've seen her stamina," she said off-handedly, mentally kicking herself and her heritage when she accidentally made him cringe at the terminology. "Uh, well, you know what I mean. She's got a lot of energy for her age. Her pension is really good, but I guess that's kinda obvious with the red leather and all…"

"Right…anyway, the elevators are back on," he said, pointing a few doors up the hallway. "We'll take that down instead of the stairs."

"Sure," she agreed with a nod.

This feels so strange…I remember coming to this place as a kid on a field trip, but I never thought I'd come back on such grim pretenses.

They both fell silent as they walked down the hall to the elevator. Although her grandmother had, as usual, managed to lighten the mood, the feeling of unease was already returning. She hadn't been the only civilian treated for minor injuries; there were numerous familiar faces in the room. Even though she didn't know every person's name, she'd seen each of them at some point in the small town.

How wrong this is…I barely know what to say. Even in my most unrealistic nightmares, I never thought Banora would be attacked.

Her only family member was safe, but it was clear the same couldn't be said for Genesis and Angeal. Their conversation outside the factory was still weighing on her mind, and the look of determination on his expression had her worried. He looked like he was planning something, and whatever it was, it was most likely reckless. SOLDIER or not, turning around and leaving for another mission would be dangerous.

I suppose it was lucky for me that he was here…he most likely wouldn't have been sent in if we were attacked any other time. It's eerily coincidental…almost like a set up.

Goodness, what am I thinking? This isn't the time for conspiracy theories… It does seem a bit too perfect for Shin-Ra, but that's just prosperous. Who would sacrifice the innocent lives of civilians for no reason…?

They waited in silence for the elevator to arrive as she contemplated how to ask.

"'Alive' doesn't mean 'alright'."

The memory of his cold words returned as the old elevator doors slid open.

"Genesis…did you hear something about your parents earlier?" she asked, a bit timidly, as they stepped inside the empty elevator cab. "That nurse updated you on the situation, right?"

He glanced up and analyzed her expression, looking somewhat surprised by the direct question. "Well…I suppose lying wouldn't do me any good, eh? Do you really want to know?"

"What happened?"

"The Wutaian forces captured hostages in two locations," Genesis began, his expression becoming serious. "They made a stronghold in the town of civilians, all captured and confined in one residential house. The Hewley household is the site, and Gillian is among the hostages. The second location shouldn't come as much of a surprise, since it's at Rhapsodos Manor. The enemy commander has my parents held hostage and most of the staff either captured or killed. The combat is mostly at a temporary truce, since they're trying to bargain with Shin-Ra for ransom. It isn't the most original tactic; they're trying to organize negotiations and spread their forces before conducting a rescue mission."

"Why would they take civilians?" Sekai questioned, feeling sick. "That's despicable, do they really have to fight like that?"

A cold smirk pulled at the Second Class SOLDIER's lips. "Actually, that's pretty humane. They won't be killing them until morning if we don't meet their demands. It's Shin-Ra policy to sacrifice all hostages in order to eradicate the enemy unless said prisoners are company elite. They're doing us a favor by calling in Sephiroth and the Turks for a recovery mission."

The Turks…Reno…

"I'm sorry," she said quietly, her gaze falling to the floor. "If you'd gone home sooner, none of that would have happened…"

"Hey, don't start with all that," he said placing his hand on her shoulder and managing a small, reassuring smile. "I wouldn't have been ready anyway and they sent half their assassins to kill anyone who put up a fight. It was probably good luck for me to have stayed. I'm on the reserve now anyway, so you don't have to worry."

She looked up to meet his eyes, but before anything more could be said, the elevator stopped abruptly on the second floor. She hadn't expected the sudden jolt and stumbled forward as the rickety old doors slid open. Genesis reached out and placed his other hand on her shoulder to steady her, creating a rather awkward image for the young nurse to walk in on. She seemed to be at least half Wutaian by her dark hair and salted eyes, looking surprised at what she saw. Sekai blushed, quickly pulling away to lean against the back wall.

Her uniform was perfectly clean, perhaps unusually so, and her demeanor was rather sunny for the moody situation. The briefcase she carried didn't resemble any of the supply bags her coworkers kept with them, but as the hospital was assembled so quickly, it didn't stand out as particularly unusual.

"Oh, I'm sorry, am I interrupting something?" the young woman asked a bit nervously, shifting the briefcase she carried to her left hand. The object seemed a bit unusual for a nurse, but they hardly noticed.

"Uh, no," Genesis replied simply.

Like there's anything else to say…

The Wutaian woman nodded politely and stepped inside, pressing her button on the metal panel before standing at the corner by the door. Her act was flawless, and it was only better she'd interrupted them. They were less likely to observe her, or ask any questions. Neither the Second Class SOLDIER or the young girl at his side spoke with the presence of another person in the elevator, and rode in silence for a few moments as she silently studied them, chancing only a few sporadic glances to prevent suspicion.

Genesis Rhapsodos. The reports all match, so this girl must be Sekai Kurayami. They didn't have a picture of her but the latest report said they were still together. The first two attempts to kill her failed. I don't understand why the general instructed us to kill her and not him, but orders are orders… I'd kill him as well, but the general wants him alive. I mustn't begrudge the general's desire to take credit for killing a SOLDIER.

Still, even if her blood is deluded with the scum of this country and her heritage can no longer be seen, she still bears a name of our people. She must have some affiliation with Shin-Ra if she's our target. Perhaps the daughter of a traitor.

…Ah, why am I even wondering?

Orders are orders; she reminded herself a second time, it isn't going to matter in a few moments anyway. This is, after all, a suicide mission…

After the report from the mine, there will be no surviving this…

Right on cue, the lights in the elevator went dead and it stopped moving. The halt wasn't quite as abrupt as the first time, though just as unexpected.

"What the…?" Sekai murmured in surprise.

"Jeez, how screwy is the wiring in this place?" Genesis grumbled. "I know it's been closed for a few months, but this is ridiculous…"

The Wutaian woman reached into her pocket and drew a small weapon from within, the cold metal feeling heavy in her hands. It would very soon carry the weight of two lives; both her target's, and, subsequently her own.

Such an honor it is to act as an assassin…

The general said her death was one of our goals in the mission…Arakawa failed, and so this is now my job.

"Is this what was happening earlier?" Sekai questioned, though the simple conversation sounded forced.

This is an honor for a plain soldier.

"Yeah, so they said," he replied. "They'll probably realized it stopped in a few minutes…I don't think I have my phone to report it."

I can die for my country, accomplishing a vital goal to victory in the occupation of this town.

"Why not ask that woman…?" Sekai suggested quietly.

It'll be out first captured territory on this forsaken country; and I shall contribute to it, more than any of my counterparts!

'That woman' tapped a button on the side of her glasses and squinted in the darkness as the device's secondary purpose activated. The blurry heat signals from the two other occupants in the pitch dark compartment appeared within a few moments. She took a step forward, her high heeled shoes clicking against the metal floor as she did. She lifted the weapon and took aim, pointing the barrel of the tiny pistol at the young girl's chest.

This is…for Wutai. And this is for Gaia.

A soft click penetrated the silence, so quiet it went unnoticed by Sekai. Fortunately for her, the same couldn't be said for Genesis; the telltale sound was painfully memorable. He reacted before he thought, wrapping an arm around Sekai's waist and covering her mouth with his free hand as he hurriedly pushed her to the floor. She gasped, giving away the movement. The loud crack of a bullet shooting across the confined space shattered the quiet as they landed on the metal floor painfully.

Sekai felt the air knocked out of her lungs and instantly grimaced. Genesis was back on his feet and halfway across the elevator by the time she looked up. Another deafening gunshot sounded, echoing ominously throughout the small metal cab. She heard a forceful thud and scrambled to reach in her pocket for her cell phone. She heard a feminine voice curse as the gun knocked from the woman's hand and clattered to the floor. She heard Genesis kick it aside, out of the assassin's reach.

It happened so suddenly it was difficult to follow in just a few seconds, but even more difficult to take in. She flipped the small device open with shaking hands, and the dim light was just bright enough for her to see by. On the side of the cab, Genesis had the Wutaian woman's hands pulled behind her back. She was shoved against the wall and winced in pain as the lights in the elevator came back on.

This is how he lives…

Sekai stared numbly as the woman tried in vain to struggle against his grip on her wrists.

This is normal, isn't it? Danger after danger, even in a place that's supposed to be a sanctuary…

Still unaffected by the gravity of the situation, she glanced over to her right as the elevator lurched back into motion. The pistol the assassin had shot at them with just a moment before was only a few feet away. The situation felt familiar, almost like protocol. She reached out, only a bit hesitant to grab the weapon. As soon as the cold metal was in her hand and her finger over the trigger, a morbid sense of security settled over her. She didn't like the feeling, but felt as though it was going to become very familiar.

It only took a few moments for them to reach the first floor, but it left ample time for her to raise the pistol and take aim at the woman. The thought crossed her mind to shoot, as she had a clear line of fire at the woman's heart. There was little reason not to - it wasn't a crime to kill an enemy in war, especially when said enemy had fired the first shots. In fact, it probably would have saved a lot of time and energy to just pull the trigger right then and there. Not to mention save the woman fighting for her country a great deal of torture by the hands of Shin-Ra in Midgar; it would almost be an act of mercy.

I've…I've already taken someone's life tonight. And Genesis' hands are drenched in blood. Would it be better just to…?

Before she had time to ponder the situation further, the elevator reached the first floor and the doors slid open. Having been alerted by the sound of gunshots, several infantrymen with their weapons ready stood waiting in the doorway. They hurried inside wordlessly before she had time to react, their machine guns and rifles pointed at the Wutaian woman as soon as they realized what was happening. Genesis released her and backed away, leaving the soldiers to do the rest.

"She infiltrated our forces to make an assassination attempt," Genesis explained flatly, his voice darkly monotonous. "Apprehend her and store her with the rest of the soldiers we've captured; follow company procedure from there. We'll transfer them to Midgar for further interrogation after the battle."

"Yes, sir," the soldiers all said in perfect unison.

He turned to Sekai, his eyes landing on the weapon only briefly. He reached out to help her up, expression impassive. "Are you alright? I'm sorry to have been rough, but there wasn't much reaction time."

"I-it's fine," she stammered, lowering the weapon and taking his hand. He pulled her to her unsteady feet. "What about this?" she questioned, lifting up the pistol.

"You can keep it with you tonight if you don't want to be unarmed. There isn't any need for evidence where she's going."

"What are they going to do with her?" Sekai asked hollowly, holding on to his hand as he guided her out.

He paused for a moment before he replied. "Capture, transport to the prison beneath the Shin-Ra building, interrogation, torture if need be, then execution; standard company procedure."

Final Hikari: Um…I have issues. XD Only a few odd people can go from talking about invasion, arson, death counts, then switch to a perverted grandmother. XD Not to mention the theme here is getting pretty morbid; very serious, very violent.

Genesis: -deadpan- This chapter switched mood too much.

Final Hikari: Well, that's what happens when two authors write one chapter. XD

Genesis: That's a horrible excuse!

Final Hikari: My enemies in this section must have though I was dead. :O Ah well, livin' well's the best revenge.

Genesis: What sort of gibberish are you babbling? And your readers probably thought the same thing. -.-

Final Hikari: Thanks go to the great Dr. Meh for editing this chapter, and writing the granny scenes! I nearly died laughing when she sent the chapter back to me with some of those lines…XD But as a note, I did write the reference to her in the first scene. Three guesses what 'virg-' is. XD