Shinra Inc. and The Conference Call

The sun shone brightly over the Costa Del Sol beach. Scarlet was laying on a beach chair. She had two teenage boys waiting on her hand and foot. While one got her drinks, the other rubbed suntan lotion on her legs.

"This is the life," she purred.

She reached over to the table next to her and grabbed her computer. She snapped one of her fingers. The boy applying suntan lotion stopped to set a tray on her lap and set the computer down on it. The other connected a webcam to it.

"Let's see what that idiot wants today," she cursed. "See you later boys."

And with that, the boys left.

---

The sun may have been shining in Costa Del Sol, but not in Junon where a summer storm was battering the city. Tseng was in a hotel room, connecting his computer and preparing to absorb another pointless lecture from Shinra Inc's new ringmaster Rufus Shinra. A splash hit Tseng's head and he looked up to see the roof leaking. He had just enough time to move his laptop to the side before the hole expanded setting a steady stream into his apartment.

He rushed to grab a trashcan and set it under the spill when another spot began to leak- just above the trashcan. Tseng sighed and set down some towels beneath the first stream and sat on the edge of his bed. The blue and white screen stared back at him, with the blinking notice: Connecting…

---

Palmer was sitting with Heidegger in the Icicle Inn pub. The two weren't exactly friends, but when beer was involved the two became quite chummy. Heidegger had the influence to get free drinks and Palmer was funny as hell when he was drunk. A symbiotic relationship in its purest form.

"Okay that's three," Palmer shouted. "That means you have to set up the computer."

"This is an outrage!" Heidegger cursed. "Since when has fatty Palmer been able to chug better than me?!"

"Hey, just do it!" Palmer instructed.

Heidegger mumbled under his breath as he began to fiddle with the wires. He was never the most mechanical man, but fortunately he had subordinates who were.

"Sergeant!" Heidegger shouted, pointed his sidearm at a man who was sitting at the bar. "You have two choices. Connect us to the internet our experience the original point-and-click interface first hand!"

The sergeant was happy to oblige.

---

Hojo was involved in a drinking game of his own. Only his involved forcing lab rats in his old Nibelheim laboratory to drink various solutions that he had mixed up. His sweet young assistant Katy was with him. She was only 19, but one of the brightest scientists of her age. She had short blonde hair and wore thin glasses and a white lab coat.

"So what exactly is your experiment, Professor?" Katy asked.

"Experiment? Oh no, these are just random solutions I mixed from the near-expired chemicals. I just wanted to see what would happen," Hojo laughed manically.

"Isn't that inhumane?" Katy asked.

She set her hand down near a cage and one of the rats took a quick snap at her index finger.

"Ow! Son of a bitch!" Katy cursed. She looked at the rat. "I hope you fed this jerk acid."

Hojo turned and snapped himself. "Katy, stop playing with Hugo! We need to get this computer set up Rufus's conference call."

"Okay," Katy said, wrapping her finger up in a bandage. She began to set up the computer while Hojo watched.

"So Katy, you say you're interested in biochemistry?" Hojo asked.

"Yeah, why?" Katy asked.

"Well… my office is looking for another intern. It'd be a step up from your usual chores. Of course, I can't just offer that position to anyone," Hojo regarded his hands with a particular fondness.

Katy turned. "Are you coming on to me?"

"What?! No! I don't rob the cradle like that… although I do occasionally rob cradles for test subjects," Hojo chuckled to himself.

"Well then what do you want from me?" Katy asked.

"All in good time," Hojo said. "Hurry up with the computer."

---

Rufus was stuck in the conference room with Reeve, his least favorite staff member. Reeve was busy setting up the computer and Rufus was looking over his notes. Their topic today was actually to discuss this new conference call technology.

"Okay come on already!" Rufus moaned.

"I'm doing this as fast as I can," Reeve cursed.

"The user's manual says that this baby can give me visual and audio feed with all my employees. They can also see each other. It actually simulates our conference table using video feed pictures placed in a circle on the display," Rufus said. "That's pretty sweet."

"Well maybe this would go faster if I could use the manual for a moment!" Reeve groaned.

"No way, get your own!" Rufus hissed.

Reeve eventually figured it out and with a few keystrokes the call began. All around the world, computer screens read the message: Incoming Call.

---

"Greetings everybody. Have we all figured out how to use this technology yet?" Rufus asked. "Uh, Hojo you don't have a video feed."

The static-riddled voice of Hojo echoed back. "Hold on one moment… Kathy did you connect this wire here? No… damn this thing!"

"And Heidegger you and Palmer have no audio feed," Rufus announced.

"No we just weren't talking," Palmer replied.

"Oh. Why were your mouths moving?" Rufus asked.

"It's a drinking game. You try to say the alphabet silently to yourself to see how drunk you are," Heidegger replied.

"That's a field sobriety test," Rufus groaned. "You two need better games."

"There we are!" Hojo announced triumphantly. A fuzzy white block appeared onscreen and as Hojo moved away from the webcam the view of Hojo and Katy was revealed.

"Marvelous," Rufus nodded. "Hey that's a nice piece you've got there."

"My name is Katy Akindona. I'm Hojo's assistant," Katy replied.

"Okay. Well don't let him inject you with anything. And steer clear of his needles too," Rufus laughed at his own pun. He turned to Scarlet's panel. "Speaking of eye candy you are looking quite nice today Scarlet."

"Thank you, Rufus. I can barely see you because of the sun," Scarlet's eyes were narrower than usual as she tried to see her boss and co-workers.

"Maybe you should take the computer in doors, or at least in the shade," Reeve suggested.

"I suppose so. I would like to change out of this bikini and into something more comfortable," Scarlet thought.

"What are you doing to me?!" Whined Rufus.

"Sir. Perhaps we should get onto your meeting?" Tseng suggested.

"Uh, yeah okay. Hey, Tseng why is your room flooded?" Rufus asked.

"It's monsoon season in Junon," Tseng complained. "Ten leaks so far. I had to put a tarp over the computer to make sure it doesn't fry."

"Good thinking. Well stiff upper lip. It's what you Turks are trained for." Heidegger commented as he handed Palmer another beer.

"You all have beer!" Hojo whined. "Nibelheim has these stupid blue laws. No drinking on Sunday!"

"That's only until 2 PM. It's okay to drink now," Rufus explained.

"Well I also didn't buy any beer," Hojo mumbled.

Scarlet was now out of frame. The view lifted up and turned back towards Scarlet. "Okay I'm here."

The new view was for some reason a declining one, which showed her whole body. Apparently she was holding the computer above her head.

"You look great Scarlet!" Katy said. "Oh, I wish I was at the beach."

"Uh… thanks I guess," Scarlet said, who now turned the computer around. There was a collective groan from the males. The view now was a walking tour of Costa Del Sol, which was far less appealing. Business resumed as usual.

"Okay, so I wanted everybody to get used to this new conference call technology. We can't always be in the same place, but I like our weekly meetings. This new technology will allow us to stay in touch," Rufus said.

"Oh my god!" Katy shouted.

"What is it?" Hojo asked.

"It's Hugo! He's dead!" Katy cursed.

Hojo examined the specimen. "Yep that's one dead rat. Well one out of fourteen isn't bad."

Suddenly there was several loud screeches. Katy continued screaming and the audio went into a loud hum from overloading. When it died down, the voice of Hojo could be heard loud and clear.

"Well that's all of them. Except Victor. He just grew two extra tails and a third eye," Hojo laughed. There was a faint squeak. "Oh, there he goes."

Scarlet was now in her room. She opened her bureau and picked out a modest nightgown. She turned to the camera and chuckled. "Sorry boys." She tossed a t-shirt over the camera and there was another groan.

Palmer and Heidegger were now apparently bored with the conference call and had started playing a game of darts. Palmer was surprisingly accurate for a drunkard, and Heidegger was fairly poor for a military man.

"You are not better at me than darts!" Heidegger shouted. "That is where I draw the line!"

"Well you better draw it better because Palmer's at 45 and you're still stuck at 108," Reeve announced.

Tseng was now waist deep in water. "Uh sir. I may have to leave you My room is rapidly being flooded."

"Nonsense, just open the door!" Rufus said. "Let out the water."

"That's a good idea," Reeve nodded.

"Uh… okay," Tseng replied. He walked over to his door and opened it. A massive tidal wave splashed through the room and the video feed on Tseng's side went dark.

"Oh that'll ruin your day!" Hojo laughed.

"He'll be fine," Rufus coughed.

Scarlet returned dressed in the night gown she had chosen. She lifted the t-shirt off of the camera and now sat on the bed drumming her fingers.

"Uh can we wrap this up? It's almost bed time over here," Scarlet nodded.

"Same here," Heidegger announced.

"It's 3:00 AM where I'm at!" Hojo shouted. "But does anyone care? No!!! Let's just keep Hojo up all night."

"Hey it's 7:00 AM in Midgar. That's really early for me!" Rufus whined. "Okay then. If we're all sure we know what we're doing I guess we should call it a day or a night or whatever."

"Roger that. Now time to call my boys for a nightcap and massage!" Scarlet chuckled.

"Uh… you're paying their salary right? That's not a company expense?" Rufus asked.

Scarlet grinned. "Oh I'm paying them alright."

And with that her video feed died.

"Professor," Katy moaned. "I'm starting to feel sick."

"Oh good! I was beginning to think my concoction would have no effect on humans! I think I'll call it Deathanol! For those pesky… living people." Hojo laughed.

"What?!" Katy shouted. "You mean I'm going to die?"

"You were only bitten. You'll probably just have a horribly mutated hand from now on." Hojo chuckled.

"But we can fix that with an amputation."

Hojo turned and shut off his camera, but the echoing scream of Katy wailed before the audio feed finally died.

"Okay! I lost darts! But I am better driver than you!" Heidegger moaned. "Give me the keys."

Heidegger cut off his camera and Reeve and Rufus sat alone in the conference room.

"So… what are you doing today?" Reeve asked.

"Finding a new staff…" Rufus groaned.