Getting to Know You


Cid had faced many obstacles on the path to his pilot wings. The first was his parents, who had failed to understand his logic that by giving him the surname Highwind, they were more or less (emphasis on more) obligated to indulge his flying dreams. Or perhaps they did understand it but understood more that flying schools were expensive and they didn't want to waste any gil on indulging the silly fantasies of a boy who sometimes thought he was a plane.

Those silly fantasies never did leave though (the pilot part, not the being a plane part. Cid only rarely ever spread out his arms and made whooshing sounds) so Cid did what he had to do. He sold his soul and signed up with ShinRa, company of insurmountable greed, environment raping and the one sin Cid could never truly forgive – way too much paperwork. He excelled there somehow, rising up the ranks until he was selected to be the Planet's first man in space.

Then he had found a whole mess of failure. His conscious wouldn't let him let his assistant get crispy fried by the rocket's engines, resulting in the flight and his dream being aborted. From then on, Cid Highwind was confined to the low earth except for the occasional excursions on his beloved plane, the Tiny Bronco.

And then ShinRa had raised his hopes of getting the space program going again. And then a bunch of weirdoes had traipsed into town asking to borrow the Bronco. And then lard ass Palmer showed up and flat out demanded the plane. And then a fight had broken out between ShinRa and the weirdoes with Cid stuck in between. There was a lot of gunfire and yelling, Palmer bounding around the makeshift battlefield like a retarded rubber whale and then out of nowhere, a truck driving up and sending tubby flying off its grille (that part had actually been pretty good). And then the Bronco had started up, seemingly of its own volition.

But Palmer was more resilient than Cid realized, the weirdoes were faster jumping onto a plane than Cid realized and the ShinRa troopers more capable of hitting the broad side of a barn than Cid realized and the next thing he knew, he was jumping onto the Bronco too. After making his way into the pilot's seat, there was a brief moment of glorious flight (whee!), followed by the sputtering of an engine that had taken one bullet too many (oh, crap!) and ending with Cid setting down the now disabled plane in the middle of the ocean with his newfound group of friends (mother #$%#$%!!)

He checked their position. Nothing but blue up and down and all around, save for a trail of smoke bleeding out of the Bronco. Cid wished he'd had time to get one last cup of tea. He really wished he'd been able to dump a ton of whiskey into it before getting it too.

Chesty complimented him on the flying skills that had enabled him to land with everybody in one piece. Cid grumbled in response. He'd been using all those skills to save his own skin; everybody else's skin was just a bonus.

The Bronco began rocking in the ocean as everyone sought out perches less precarious in nature. Some were better at walking on the wings than others. The little ninja twit moved around like she had Velcro on her feet. It was giving Cid a headache and he yelled at her to knock it off. The little ninja twit took this as an invitation to plop down in the passenger's seat behind him.

"So, old man…Think you can get this hunk of junk moving again?"

Hunk of junk? Little #$%! "Sure, just as soon as I pull a new engine out of my ass."

"Sounds tricky. Better get started then."

Cid wasn't a religious man, but there were times when he felt powerfully filled by the Stabbity Spirit. He couldn't do anything about it now though because, unlike some people, he did not go around all day with a weapon as large as he was strapped to his back so the little ninja twit was spared his divine wrath and received only a volley of sarcasm in return.

"Or maybe we could wait for Leviathan and his happy fish pals to come along and swim us all to safety!"

In response, the little ninja twit stuck out her tongue. Or tried to. The movement brought a decisive victory to the motion sickness she'd been fighting to hide since the Bronco took off. She pitched forward with a gurgle, clasping her hands firmly over her mouth.

Cid recoiled in disgust, resolute on retrieving his spear sooner rather than later. "If you puke on my plane, so help me, I will kill you!" True, death by spear would end up messier than a little puke but Cid had his principles.

Pinky dipped her head under the wing to check on the little ninja twit. "Yuffie, are you all right?"

"If you answer her and anything other than words comes out of that pie hole…!"

"I'll take that as a no," Pinky said. She produced a green materia and held it out in front of the younger girl. Once Yuffie seemed to relax a bit, Pinky revealed a syringe in her other hand and drove it into Yuffie's arm without warning.

Some bedside manner. Cid resolved to never get sick around Pinky.

"Gawd, Aeris! Are you trying to rip my arm off?!" Despite her protests, the little ninja twit seemed to get better. She vacated the passenger's seat to go wing walking again, albeit more slowly than before.

Pinky took the empty seat. On the surface, she appeared to be the most normal of the bunch. Cid might have given that title to Chesty, but there was something about a woman who went around in a miniskirt beating up monsters with her fists that said to him, 'I've got issues'.

Now Cid liked watching those kind of women on late night TV, wrestling around in rings filled with mud or oil (Cid wasn't that particular) but talking to them was a different matter. He had some awareness of his mouth and its tendency to shoot out profanity and less than flattering manners of address. He had more awareness of the negatives effects that had on people. Normally, he just didn't give a crap. But Chesty was a whole other kettle of fish. She could pound the giving of a crap into him while pounding all the other crap out of him.

The worse thing about Pinky seemed to be the calm stare she gave everyone. It said, 'we're going to talk and it's going to be nice and there's nothing you can do about it so suck it up, buddy'. Cid sighed in preparation for the chitchat.

Like Chesty, she complimented Cid on his skills. Unlike the little ninja twit, she didn't complain. "I grew up in Midgar," she explained. "I never saw the sky much less had a chance to fly in it. Thank you."

"Yeah, we'll see how much you thank me when we're all dying of exposure out here."

"Hmm, I don't think so." Pinky closed her eyes. Just when Cid thought she was going to start in on some fruit and yogurt, hippie-dippy meditative hum, she opened them again and pronounced land to be close by.

As small as the plane was, everybody heard. Everybody but Cid believed.

"How the #$% would you know?"

"I'm an Ancient," she said casually, as if she hadn't just admitted to being the ringmaster to a last of a mysterious race freak show.

Cid paid her the due reverence. "Uh…"

Sensing she was losing her audience, she explained further. "I can hear the Planet around me and there are definitely signs of land near us."

"You…hear voices?" There's way too much crazy on this plane.

"Yeah, there's a dog that lives around my neighborhood that tells me to kill any crusty pilots that I come across." She saw the glimmer of horror in Cid's eyes as if he really believed her. She was tempted to run with it but that pesky compassion of hers got the better of her. "It's more like I feel these vague impressions that give me a rough idea of what's out there."

Well, whoopty do! If pressed, Cid might concede that the Ancient thing was kind of impressive. Kind of. He could do the same damn thing with a map and a compass without any need to tap into the mystic forces of the universe or whatever horseshit Pinky was using. Of course, being the stubborn mule of a man that he was, Cid wouldn't ask for directions from anybody, the Lifestream included, even if there was a gun held to his head.

As it turned out, a gun arm was awfully close to Cid's noggin. The big guy leaned over the front of the plane to ask Cid if he needed any help. He had mechanical knowledge and some tools on him for maintenance of said gun arm.

Cid, relieved that somebody here might turn out to be useful (and that he had an excuse to ignore Ms. Nature Valley), gamely asked him if he had a screwdriver attachment for that thing.

"Nah, I can hook up a chainsaw though!"

Sure. Who the #$% doesn't carry around a chainsaw to use as a hand?

Beggars couldn't be choosers though so Cid was going to accept the help with silence and a smile. He thought a good rule of thumb was to not piss off people who could replace their thumbs with chainsaws.

He told Pinky to move it so he could retrieve the tool kit he kept stowed behind the passenger's seat. The Big Guy started working on removing the panels around the engine. With somebody else doing the work, Cid took the opportunity to finally take a peek above the wing.

He would regret that.

Perched front and center of the wing was the broody guy, face staring stoically over the sea while his cape flowed out majestically behind him in a breeze Cid was pretty sure wasn't there. From what little he knew about him, Broody struck Cid as a reject from one of those dumb romance novels Shera always read – something with 'Dark' and 'Forbidden' in the title and possibly featuring vampires. Cid figured he'd be useless in their current predicament unless he could somehow figure out a way to harness the mystery cape wind.

That would be a fun task. He could rig up his spear as a mast pole, tie one end of the cape to the top and one to the bottom and then start reciting emo poetry to get the wind howling. They'd be at cruising speed in no time.

The sniggering Cid got out of his mockery of Broody and his magical cape of drama was not long lived. Multiple glints of sunlight got him to stop looking at the inhabitants of the wing and to take a look at the wing itself. He did not like what he saw there. He did not like it at all.

There were small peels of metal in clusters of four standing up horrifically from the wing. They started near the center and went off in a trail towards the left side where another plane occupant sat. It was the cat - the freaking huge orange talking cat with a flame at the end of its tail.

There was probably a rule of thumb concerning the treatment of such beasts and how that treatment should always be gentle lest you not be in possession of a tranquilizer gun and protective padding, but Cid didn't care. The affront to his baby Bronco was too big.

"You! You clawed up my plane!" Cid seethed.

The cat gave a very human like shrug. "How else was I to hang on unless I used my claws?"

The cat had a point if Cid cared at all about him hanging on. Cid most certainly didn't. He would have tossed kitty into the drink right now if it could somehow undo the scars of those terrible metal ribbons.

"I think the important thing is that everybody is okay," the chocobo headed kid said, completely ignoring the vile wounds that wretched cat had inflicted upon the poor, innocent Tiny Bronco.

And to think, Cid had actually liked the kid for asking about the rocket. He should have known better. The kid was the leader of this pack of weirdoes, making him the Weirdo King. The hair should have been a big clue as well. There was more engineering in that blond mess than the ShinRa 26. His sword probably had more metal in it than the rocket too. How the hell did he walk around with that ludicrous thing strapped to his back without the sharp blade constantly whacking him in the can anyway?

To be contrary, Cid questioned the okay-ness of their situation. "Yeah, we're great now. Out in the middle of the ocean with jack and shit to get us by – yeah, we're so great!"

"Aeris said there was land nearby," the kid countered. Everyone else in the group nodded along.

Clearly, logic and reason were not these people's strong points. They'd been bumbling all over the Planet with no clearer directive than 'follow that black caped guy!' while relying upon the luck of children and fools to get their mission accomplished. So far, it had worked out for them in the sense that they hadn't gotten themselves killed yet but it sure wasn't for a lack of trying on that front. If they were going to get out of this mess, Cid was going to have to be the one to figure out how. And he'd need a better plan than capes and poetry.

He didn't have an engine up there but maybe if he fished around a bit, he could pull a plan out of his ass. He thought for a moment, said '#$% it' to himself and came up with the brilliant solution of using what power the engine had left to get the propellers moving so he could turn the Bronco into a motorboat. It was crazy, but it seemed like something these people would do.

"I can help," said a tinny voice to Cid's right.

Cid refused to look over. He knew what had to be there and he had enough shit on his plate to be getting a heaping serving of messed up.

The voice wouldn't shut up though. "I've got experience with mechanical stuff."

It was mechanical stuff. It was a squinty-eyed, overly hyper, cat shaped, crown and bowtie wearing, megaphone toting bunch of super #$%ed up mechanical stuff. And it was dancing around on top of a goofy looking, fat mechanical moogle. Cid couldn't decide whether the builder of that thing had been on really nasty shit or really awesome shit. He couldn't figure out why these people, upon seeing it, decided not to run screaming away, but to travel with it instead. He really couldn't comprehend how that monstrosity had gotten on the plane and stayed there while everybody else was clinging desperately for their lives.

What he could do is get the hell away from it. Employing the classic and mature tactic of 'la, la, la, I can't hear you!', Cid dropped back under the wing to put his plan in motion.

"At least let me tell you your fortune!"

Cid knew what his future held. I'm going to die surrounded by crazy people. Such a fate was too terrible to contemplate for long, so he got to work.

After lighting up a cigarette from a pack he kept stored in the tool kit, Cid began tinkering with the engine while he listened to the party discussing their new pal. They came to the conclusion that he was crabby and that he better be able to do something about the plane.

Cid didn't think much of their assessment. They'd be crabby too if he had barged into where they lived, begging favors and drinking all their tea and then handing them a big pile of shitsticks in the form of pissing of ShinRa for their efforts. Even if this plan panned out and he got back to Rocket Town safely, what was going to happen? He had no doubt there was a nice man or woman in a navy blue suit cleaning his or her weapon (Turks were known to be fastidious with their weapons – probably because they used them so damned much) waiting to say hello.

He supposed he could set up shop someplace else but he knew it wouldn't feel right living somewhere where that rocket wasn't dying. And there was Shera to consider. Well, not Shera per se, but more of the question of what to do housekeeper wise. Shera put too much starch in his shirts and her steaks always came out chewy, but she brewed a damn good pot of tea and Cid doubted he'd be able to find another maid who could disassemble and reassemble a complex motor in five minutes flat.

So he needed… He had use of… She came in handy… Cid cursed and refocused on the fixing the engine. He'd only contemplate the role Shera had in his life once survival ceased being an option and nothing had a role in his life.

He came as close to done as he could get and barked at Big Guy to get into the pilot's seat to flip switches. Cid hated giving up the seat but he had to keep watch on the engine in case it started to look like it was going to blow.

He gave it a smack because he knew there was no way this was going to work the first time and Cid liked to be prepared. It hurt more to smack a hot engine too.

Cid gave the command, Barrett hit the switch and miracle of all miracles, the propellers started propelling. They were still up shit creek but now they had a paddle.

There was still the matter of where to go once they hit the land Aeris was so sure was there. The party was exchanging ideas when Cid volunteered what the President's son (Rufus might have been the President to the rest of the world, but after the little shit tried to have his plane stolen, Cid would never think of him as anything but the little shit to his father's big shit) had said about Sephiroth and the Temple of the Ancients. They ate the information up with a spoon.

For dessert, they looked beseechingly at Cid. He knew what they wanted.

It wasn't like they could take a bus to this temple place. Hitchhiking wasn't an option either. Even if Chesty borrowed Pinky's staff and did a little dance around it along the roadside, the moment the driver got a look at the bunch of freakjobs that would come along with her, they'd all be eating exhaust fumes.

They needed Cid. Technically, they needed the Tiny Bronco. But the first person to suggest that the pilot and the plane weren't inseparable was going to get a spear implant where the sun didn't shine.

It wasn't a great option but Cid didn't even have a list of half-decent ones. Bad ones? Oh, yeah. He had a ton of those. He could go back to Rocket Town and face the wrath of ShinRa. He could go back to Rocket Town and face a life of domesticity with Shera. He could putter around the ocean on his broken ass plane until either he or it ran out of gas.

Cid once again uttered to himself the words that signified a destiny rocking decision had been reached: Oh, #$% it.

He announced that he would be joining up with the numbskulls and traveling with them to the Temple of the Ancients.

In response to this glorious news, the party looked at each other and then at Cid. "Numbskulls?"

"Yeah, I figure anybody who goes up against ShinRa has to be a bunch of numbskulls!"

They might not have figured the same but it hardly mattered. Cid was one of them now. Naturally, he'd have to start using nicer names to refer to the group. He might even take care of some trifling information that he'd either forgotten or never bothered to get in the all the excitement.

"So who the #$% are you people anyway?"

Author's Notes: Inspired by a conversation about the absurdities of our beloved cast and the question of 'are any of them half-way normal?'. My position was either Cid or Yuffie, and possibly Tifa, could pass. But the rest of them…?

I love you, Cloud and company, but you're way too easy to make fun of. :P

P.S. I've used the game's method of using symbols for cursing for Cid and they're showing up okay on my end but this is ff net. Please let me know if ff net eats them in the name of their crusade against evil unusual punctuation. They should appear as a pound sign, a dollar sign and a percentage sign. Thanks!