I Must Be Insane.By AF
WARNING: THIS FIC CONTAINS AF'S WRITING. IF THAT KIND OF THING FREAKS YOU OUT I SUGGEST YOU TURN BACK NOW TO AVOID THE INSANITY. THIS FIC ALSO CONTAINS A FAIR AMOUNT OF SWEARING AS WELL AS A NOMINAL AMOUNT OF SEEDY SLUM LIKE THINGS. IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED YOU PROBABLY SHOULD BE READING SOMETHING ELSE.
DISCLAIMER: I DON'T OWN ANYTHING OTHER THAN A COMPUTER, A SMALL COLLECTION OF BOOKS AND A VERY WORN AND BATTERED PLAYSTATION. CHARACTERS ARE STOLEN FROM SQUARESOFT WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION AND ARE BEING HELD CAPTIVE AGAINST THEIR WILL.
RATING: R FOR VIOLENCE AND SWEARING. NOTHING MAJOR. 'CAUSE YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE READING THIS AND YOU ARE UNDERAGED KNOWING THAT THE FIC IS RATED R WILL IMMEDIATELY MAKE YOU STOP AND NOT CONTINUE READING WON'T IT?
Reno wiped the rain off his face irritably and tried to flatten his body further up against the building behind him in the hopes of getting his head at least out of the pouring rain. He wasn't used to having to deal with rain and he found the weather annoying and a pain to see through. He knew that the men that pursued him were not far behind him, but because of the rain, he could neither see nor hear anything that might give their whereabouts away. Reno found himself actually wishing he were back in the slums, under the cover of the plates. Where the rain wouldn't be bothering him and he knew the streets better. Up on the plates he was more blind to his surroundings than the men that chased him. A definite down side. He was a long way from home and nowhere nearby anything he knew as a safe house. What was worse was this irritating feeling that the terrorists weren't the only ones who tracked him tonight. At least he had been able to deliver the message before all this had started up. No doubt his troubles would have doubled if he had led his pursuers straight to his boss' contact.
A loud booted footstep close to his position made Reno suck in his breath and hold it unconsciously, flattening himself further against the side of the building. He could hear the footsteps clearly now, closing on his position. He didn't dare move though. He had been safely hiding in this spot for twenty minutes or so, the odds that they had seen him in that time was very small. More than likely, whoever it was, was simply walking along the path. The person would have to look directly in Reno's direction to see the man huddled snugly in the shadows of the building. He tensed his body anyway, ready for any eventuality.
As he had suspected, the person passed by the lip of the alleyway only taking a quick look down before moving on down the street. He hadn't seen Reno, but Reno had been able to get a good look at him. Harold. One of Whitley's muscle men. Whitley was the head of one of the biggest terrorist groups in Midgar these days. And one of Reno's own boss' biggest enemies. Reno's boss was a man by the name of Rankin. Rankin's group wasn't in all actuality much better than those they opposed. Not a terrorist group in the truest sense, but definitely fit snugly in the realms of rebel group. And Rankin wasn't the only one of his kind either. But then again, neither was Whitley. The terrorist groups like Whitley's were primarily against the Shinra. They opposed being oppressed by the Shinra for many differing reasons. Some were against the lengthening division between the classes. The rich on the plates and the poor in the slums. Some were against the control this company had over the general populous of Midgar. Some even argued environmental reasoning. Most were revenge fanatics or those paid to be just that. The rebel groups were against all forms of terrorism. Whether it be the terrorists themselves or the big companies of Midgar spreading their own forms of terror. All were dangerous to the population and therefore usually resulted in more deaths than if Shinra or another had been left alone to do their own thing. These groups usually consisted of people who had been wronged by both sides. Most had suffered deaths in their families due to the fighting between the two groups. Well the leaders of these groups at any rate. The actual bulk of the men working for the various rebel groups were there to be paid. Almost anyone in the slums can be convinced of a cause so long as that cause paid well and kept them out of the streets. Most of the time they were just rats. They would sniff out big goings on then promptly tell the right people before the plans could be carried out. Sometimes such information went (anonymously of course) to the terrorist groups. And others such as this time, when it was the terrorists turn to be stopped, information was taken to the Midgar authorities.
Since most of the work involved spying then ratting out various different parties, Reno had found himself quite a lucrative position. A job for once he had actually excelled at. It was a dangerous job sure. But since a lot of people paid good money for certain types of information, the group was always well funded and Reno hadn't found himself going hungry in quite some time.
How different had that been from a few years ago when he had been kicked out of his home and onto the streets. His mother (well he had assumed it had been his mother) had kicked him out because her new man didn't want to hassle of having extra mouths to feed. In those days Reno had been a rather good thief. Around sector three he had stolen just about anything of worth he had laid his eyes on. Stupidly he had given just about every gil he made to his mother hoping that one day she might actually buy herself a life that didn't involve drugs or the fantasy that maybe one of the creeps she bought home constantly might turn out to be her white knight. A man who would save her from her wretched life and shower her in love and riches.
She had obviously thought that the last slime ball was one such man. Since then, Reno had vowed never to be that stupid again. People didn't change because you wished them too, no matter what you did for them. Still, former occupations had turned out to be good practice when it came to sneaking around where you didn't belong without attracting attention. Skills he had learnt of older boys he could now use in his new trade as a rebel group messenger. Only this time, every gil he earnt went straight into a carefully hidden jar. The jar held his life savings. He wasn't so fooled as many of the guys he knew that thought if they saved up enough they might buy themselves a one way trip topside. Reno knew that things just didn't work that way. Instead, the eternal pessimist that he was, saved up his money for that sure day in the future when he might again find himself called worthless and tossed out onto the street. He had vowed after the first time that had happened that he would never live like that again, and that this time he would be prepared.
That was how nineteen year old Reno found himself to be standing out in the middle of a rain storm in a part of the city he was unfamiliar with and being chased by two different groups that would enjoy nothing more that catching him and trying to wring every last secret out of him. And quite possibly trying to accomplish this in the most painful way possible.
Still, as with every god awful job presented to people of limited choices. Reno had begun to find ways to amuse himself. It somehow made the job easier to handle and less desperate. If it made him one of the more known and hated among Rankin's messenger's…well…so be it. Reno had never objected to the idea of being famous.
He had picked up his terrorist followers again after ditching them earlier by the train tunnels. They had followed him as far as the plate before Reno had managed to shake their tail. Tricky too. It was that group that be had been sent to rat on to Midgar's police. Unfortunately a messenger as well known as him almost constantly had a tail. But because he had been seen going up onto the plates, he had now five or six of the bastards to worry about rather than the usual one or two. To make matters worse, he had managed to attract the attention of an off duty Turk. Just his luck to have literally run into the bastard on his way back to the train tunnels. It would definitely teach him to watch where he was going from now on rather than being too engrossed in who might be following him. All it would take would be a quick five-second phone call and he would suddenly find most of the Shinra Turks on his tail as well.
Well, Reno tried to never let a situation get to him anymore and had immediately (once he had outdistanced the Turk) started thinking up new ways to turn the shitty situation in his favor. Picking his favorite idea, and obviously most dangerous and amusing, he headed to the area where he had last seen his terrorist friends. Finding them were he expected them to be he had led them on a merry chase through the city, finally leading them to a more quiet neighbourhood where he thought the terrorists might assume to have him cornered in.
Such a thing might even be true had the terrorists not known how adept this messenger was at sneaking through dark shadows and climbing onto roofs.
Letting out the breath he hadn't been aware of holding, Reno stepped away from the wall of the building and crept further back into the alley. He found a huge dumpster, as was usual in the alleys of the business districts, and boosted himself up onto it. From there it was an easy jump to the fire escape that would lead him up onto the top of the building. He made the jump virtually soundlessly, quickly pulling himself up.
As much as he enjoyed leading the terrorists around by their noses, he had something more important to attend to. He had some Turks to find.
They were just where he expected to find them. Predictable as ever. After Reno had lost the first Turk earlier, he had called in the cavalry and were, at present, staking out the train station. As if Reno would ever have certified I.D. that would allow him to pass through the security sensors anyway. Reno wasn't surprised. Their leader was an absolute joke of a man named Hawkly that Reno had had the misfortune of meeting face to face last year. A good fighter no doubt, but his thinking abilities left a lot to be desired.
He had Reno cornered in a bare alleyway and had refused to call for backup thinking nothing of Reno's own abilities to defend himself and being too sure of himself to care. He had holstered his weapon swaggered up to Reno, probably thinking the poor slum boy would cower in fear in the presence of the mighty leader of the Turks. Actually he had managed to beat Reno for quite some time never once questioning why his opponent hadn't once tried to fight back. Sure that he had beaten him into submission, he had gone to cuff him when Reno had struck. Reno had never been an advocate of fair fighting, especially when your opponent was armed and you were not, and had received worse beatings walking down the street in sector six for some milk that what Hawkly had dished out. While the Turk was crouched next to him, Reno had neatly elbowed him in the groin before slamming his fist into the man's face. Hawkly had passed out, and Reno had limped home, message delivered and paycheck waiting. Being in his mid-forties, Reno just assumed that the man had received his rank from age rather than skill.
There were five Turks and probably only two real brains amongst the lot of them. It was one of these brains in particular that Reno had the biggest problems with. While forced to follow his leader, this man, Reno could tell, knew more than the elder Turk and certainly whenever Reno was simply playing with the group for his own amusement. In a group, forced to follow orders, this man was no problem. On his own, he was a force to be reckoned with. He personally had almost caught six of Reno's fellow messengers and Reno himself more than twice. Quick thinking, skillful and lethal. Tseng was his name. However, because he knew what was happening before his boss, playing with Tseng was so much more fun than without. Tseng knew, but could do nothing about it. It amused Reno to no end to see the wonders of a Shinra hierarchy at its best.
Seeing the Turks spread out and around the train station, Reno now had the easy job of trying to attract their attention. To accomplish this, he decided the steal one of their sidearms.
Scanning the choices he was left with few options. All the Turks were competent fighters, something he would never forget, but not all were as great as they pretended to be. Not wanting to get caught before he had started, Reno picked out the most likely target amongst the group. Funnily enough it turned out to be Hawkly. He was standing with his back up against a brick wall of a building opposite the train station. He was the only one standing on his own without a partner. Tseng and his partner Dallen were over by the departure gates, and nowhere Reno wanted to be going real soon. Gafford and Arkette were by the ticket booth and of no interest. All five decked out in their patented navy blue suits. In other words they were sticking out like a pair of green chocobos eating grass on the Midgar Number 1 during rush hour. People walked around them as if they carried diseases and kept their eyes lowered when they did so.
It made Reno stop and pause for a moment. He wondered why he had ever gotten himself as a known face to one of the most feared group of enforcers in Midgar. He guessed it was because he had the dubious luck to be the most known spy and messenger in one of the largest rebel groups in Midgar. It seemed as though an unofficial part of Turk business was dealing with various Shinra opposers. Still Reno felt an odd sort of pride that he alone had been the cause to bring all Turks out into the middle of a rainstorm in the late hours of the night. He smiled slightly at this and silently determined that after tonight, he may even manage to get a few Soldiers out after his blood as well. After all, Hawkly seemed to harbor an intense hate for Reno after knocking out a few of his teeth. A few troopers weren't too much for Hawkly to ask for in the name of revenge for a bruised pride now was it? Well, certainly not for the egotistical leader of the Turks anyway.
Reno had lifted a hooded coat from a man sitting under an undercover bus shelter on the way over. Now he slipped the coat on and pulled the hood well over his face. After all, it was pouring, and wouldn't be odd in the least to see a man wandering through the streets with a hood over his head. Nothing that was likely to let him walk passed the watchful eyes of the assembled Turks for any great length of time. But for what he had planned, it would serve good enough.
He brazenly walked out into the well lit area surrounding the train station and headed toward the leader of the Turks, sheltering himself under the overhang of the building across the street. He kept well out of Hawkly's line of sight, but not so much to draw unwanted attention to himself. His silent footfalls, muffled by the heavy rain kept his approach secret. In fact the feeling of a slight touch at his side was the only warning Hawkly had before Reno stepped around the Turk and straight in front of him from the side. Hawkly peered at the hooded person in front of him in confusion for as much time as it took for Reno to raise his head and stare at him with a pair of sparkling blue eyes.
Hawkly took a few moments to gape open-mouthed at Reno's audacity before his hand went for the gun in his side holster. The gun, of course, was no longer there. Reno dangled the weapon in the man's face.
"Got yer gun."
He grinned as Hawkly's eyes widened slightly, then took off with all speed, across the road and down an alleyway to the right.
He kept his pace light and easy, not wanting to lose the perusing Turks, but not wanting to fall into the range of their guns. They were undoubtedly following him. He could hear Hawkly's angry shouts almost the second he had turned and ran. Now all he had to do was get back to sector one and where he had left his buddies, the terrorists, looking for him. He hadn't been gone long and hoped they hadn't given up the search.
Taking the gun had solved two of his problems. For one thing, Reno didn't have a weapon like a gun. Rarely did Rankin allow them to carry one for one thing. And for another, they were more expensive than Reno would have imagined. He had needed a way to get Hawkly's attention and to give chase. Taking his gun had been insulting him to the extreme. He had also needed something capable of a lot of noise. And the only thing Reno ever carried on himself was a knife concealed down the top of his boot for emergencies.
Nearing his destination, he began to feel his body start to tire. But Reno pushed himself on. Pouring on the speed, he pulled away from his pursuers, adrenaline and fear natural when being chased by almost half a dozen armed professionals. Always good incentive.
He broke out into a courtyard surrounded by restaurants and classy boutiques. A fountain dominated the area, over flowing from the heavy rainfall. Reno ran past all this, as fast as his legs could carry him. He ran straight into the street on the other side, leading directly off from the courtyard. He was running so fast that he had to practically skid to a stop in front of a big burly man toting an impressive looking semi-auto. The gun was out and at the ready, but he looked so surprised to see Reno run around the corner that he had little or no time to bring it to bear before Reno had done a one-eighty and started off sprinting back the way he had come.
Reno pelted back into the courtyard. Still there was no sign of the Turks. He hadn't realized how much distance he had gained. It probably had a lot to do with Hawkly. He wasn't much of a sprinter and arrogance would make him want to be physically leading the rest of the Turks in the chase.
To make doubly sure that both groups knew where he was. He fired three shots in the air. Satisfied that his plan was working, he ran over to the storefront of a restaurant that had graciously left a number of tables out over one side of the courtyard. Still running when he reached it, he leapt onto a table closest to the actual store and using his momentum flung himself at the overhang of the roof of the store. It was quite a jump and he almost dislocated both of his shoulders grabbing onto the overhand, but he managed it. Hanging there for no longer than a few seconds he pulled himself up onto the roof where he promptly collapsed, finally out of breath.
It was mere seconds later when he heard the outraged shouts and answering gunfire. Reno managed to lift himself up enough to look out over the courtyard. On one side of the area, the terrorists were taking cover, locked in a vicious gunfight with five Turks taking cover themselves on the opposite side, the side closest to Reno.
Reno smiled idiotically at the spectacle.
All this over little me. Gee, I guess this is why they hate me so much.
Keeping low, Reno began to edge away from to side of the roof. Before he got too far his eyes caught sight of a lone person staring in his direction. One of the Turks was taking cover by the side of the fountain. The water in front of him erupting in tiny waves as bullets hit the surface. The Turk paid it no heed, he was too engrossed in Reno edging away from the fight. Reno strained his eyes to see who exactly it was. When he realized, his smile only grew bigger.
It was Tseng.
The look wasn't telling Reno that he was going to kill him or anything similar. In fact he seemed a tad impressed.
Reno offered a casual salute to the Turk before resuming his escape. Maybe this time he had even surprised Tseng.
Hmmm, Reno thought as he lowered himself over the back of the building and onto yet another handily placed fire escape, definitely time Hawkly called in the troops.
Reno waltzed out of the weapons shop, quickly stuffing the two hundred gil he had received after selling off Hawkly's gun into his pocket before greedy eyes could take note. And there were enough around these days in sector six. Unfortunately he hadn't been quick enough. A woman standing over by the bar saw him and immediately smiled. It wasn't a warm smile. It was a calculating smile really. He tried to pay no attention to her as he walked passed but she stepped in front of him before he got too far and pulled him to a stop beside her.
Hand on one of his arms, the other casually circling his waist she leaned in close to him and widened her smile.
"Reno." She practically purred. "I see you've been in some luck lately. How bout treating a gal to a good time eh?"
Reno forced a thin-lipped smile onto his face and tried not to inhale the toxic perfume that assailed his nostrils.
"Not today Rita. Have to report in, you know the drill. 'Sides I think my bunkmate is getting a little pissed at me as it is."
"Awww, Tarran won't mind. If he's as well off as you at the mo' I might even make special allowances ya know."
Reno winced at the thought. "You really should stop acting like I'd be doing you a favor by taking you home with me Rita. Especially when I know what shit you usually have yourself in. What is it this time? More of Mac's gambling debts or something of your own?"
Rita didn't seem surprised by Reno's insightfulness a merely shrugged her thin shoulders. "Bit of everything. Mac was fired a week ago."
Reno had expected as much. Rita wasn't often out on the streets like this and was usually only a last resort in desperate need of a quick money fix.
Sighing he dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out a large note, quickly handing it over to Rita.
"I wont take no handouts." Rita stated proudly. "I'll work for any money I get."
Reno raised an eyebrow at her statement. "Laying there like a dead fish while some guy grunts over you isn't work Rita. Most work requires effort." He saw the look she was giving him and quickly added, "Besides I ain't giving this to you for free. Go over to the dorms and find Tarran. I owe him a favor, go show him a good time. Just be done before I get back."
With the littlest offering she snatched the money off him and tucked it down inside her blouse. "A true pal Reno. But I can't shake the feelin' that you're just handin' me off 'cause I don't interest you. Her arm around his waist tightened and she moved in closer. "I did once."
"You interested me once Rita because you had breasts and you were cheaper than the honeybee." Reno answered pointedly, untangling Rita's arms from around him and moving away.
"Liar!" Rita called after him playfully. "I know you want me!"
Still walking away from her he showed her his middle finger.
The building that housed the bulk of Rankin's group was a rather large brick building set into the sector four slums. Rankin, previous to becoming the leader to the rebel group had been a moderately wealthy businessman that had lived in Upper Six. After the death of his wife in a terrorist bombing of a Shinra warehouse close to where his wife had owned a clothing shop, he had promptly sold off his business and moved down the slums intent on revenge to any group in Midgar that caused death and destruction. Basically honorable, passionate and deserving of respect, the only thing that had drawn Reno to him had been the thought of a steady paycheck. While he liked to think that working for Rankin was better than most of the other jobs he could have ended up with in the slums. He never deluded himself into thinking that he was playing on the side of good and right. Though Reno didn't think there was such a side as right and good in Midgar. Just bad, moderately unsavory and downright evil. It was good enough that Rankin was within the moderately unsavory category. Still, as long as he was getting paid, Reno might've found that even his loose morals were looser than he had first thought and taken a job with the downright evil. One never did know. Rankin was the first to offer, and so Rankin had gotten him.
The building that Rankin had bought with the money made from selling his business housed his headquarters as well as a couple of floors of dorm rooms that supplied bedding for those of his men without families for a small percentage of their pay. That worked out fine with Reno. Sure he had to share his small cramped room with another person, but it worked out to be much cheaper living than trying to get his own place somewhere.
This was the first time he had seen the building since yesterday afternoon when he had been sent on that errand up to the plates. It had been early morning when he had finally cleared the tunnels and made his way back down into the slums. He had also wanted to get rid of the gun before he went back. Rankin only allowed guns in extreme circumstances and being caught with one wasn't worth the hassle. Not when he could go and sell the gun for some extra cash anyhow.
He walked past the two sentries at the main doors and headed toward the stairwell. Rankin's office/living quarters were on the topmost floor of the four story building. His own room was on the second, but he didn't bother heading there first. Sure he smelt like the oily rail tunnels along with a combination of rain soaked clothes and Midgar pollutants, but he doubted Rankin would care much. It was rules that whenever a person returned from a job they had to check in personally with him within two hours of getting back into the sector. Well Reno hadn't been back in Sector four for two hours, but he had returned from the plates some three hours ago. Rankin was especially careful when sending messengers up onto the plates and would have been waiting for Reno's return since the early hours.
Reaching the top floor Reno followed the straight corridor down the end where it met with a rather unremarkable door. Without pausing to knock or otherwise announce his presence, Reno opened the door and waltzed into the makeshift office, taking a seat before the beat up metal desk that his boss sat behind.
Rankin had been reading something off a loose piece of paper when Reno had walked in, but had put it aside to greet his guest with a solemn nod.
"Glad to see you made it back. As well as surprised. Sounds like you had yourself a bit of fun last night."
Reno grimaced and shifted his position uncomfortably. "That was fast."
"Indeed it was. My contact in Shinra heard early this morning what had happened. When I heard that you had both the Turks as well as Whitley's men after you I thought you'd be as good as dead." Rankin took a deep breath and rubbed his gritty eyes with his fingertips. This caused Reno a little more apprehension. It seemed as though Rankin had been up most of the night because of this. "As it turns out I'm not sure I'm glad that you aren't. I've put up with these little games of yours for years Reno. Sometimes I find them even more amusing that you apparently do. But this can't be overlooked. You've fucked up royally this time. I don't care about Whitley's men. There was perhaps no way for him to know it was you that lead his men into a trap. The Turks of course killed all of them. But I really don't enjoy the idea of having a pissed off Shinra Turk watching our every move."
Reno stopped being worried and grinned. "C'mon, I did those bozos a favor by leading them toward a group of terrorists. There were what? Six of Whitley's men? I doubt that shit for brains leader Hawkly could have found such a prime catch on his own. At the moment they're probably enjoying big cash bonus' and sipping champagne on their terraces."
"I'm sure they are." Rankin grumbled, "That is, what's left of them will be."
Reno blinked at his boss in surprise, the earlier grin slipping off his face. "What?"
"Your stunt last night resulted in the death of two Turks. /Two/ /Turks/ Reno. And because they were able to make a positive I.D. on you, they think that I am responsible for it."
"Chocoboshit. Hawkly is just trying to scare you. He knows that whatever I did, I did on my own. Any of those clowns would."
"Yeah well, Hawkly was one of those among the dead. Him and Gafford."
Reno leaned back in his chair and scratched his head thoughtfully for a moment. "Hawkly's dead?" Then a sly smile crept onto his face. "When's the party?"
Rankin scowled at Reno and shook his head. "Hawkly may have been an asshole, but he served his purpose."
"Oh c'mon, he was an incompetent prick that spent so much time with his head stuck up his ass he wouldn't have seen…." Reno trailed off.
"Exactly." Rankin finished. "Because as far as Turks went he /was/ an incompetent prick. Now we may find our business in a lot of peril. Hawkly couldn't find his nose on his face. Whoever takes over from him might be just pissed at us enough after last night, and competent enough, to make our lives a living hell."
"Whose in the running?" Reno asked a little more subdued.
"Arkette and Tseng. Both aren't great choices. Arkette is a sadistic bastard with an evil mind. Tseng, well, is more than competent enough to snag each and every messenger we send up onto the plates personally. You've put me in a very uncomfortable situation Reno. Knowing you, you probably could have shaken both groups and high-tailed it back to base. But you just had to have your fun didn't you."
"If it's any consolation; it was. Fun that is."
Rankin almost let a half smile slip. "I can imagine." He covered it up quickly though. "I suggest that if you want to keep your job, you kiss my ass severely this time Reno. And to do this I want you to complete a special job for me. A job that I will not waste another life on. A job that you aren't going to like one bit."
Reno quickly did a mental calculation in his head on the amount of money he had saved up so far. Finally deeming it not enough to live on for any great length of time he simply nodded and sat up straighter in his chair.
"What do you want me to do?"
Notes: Famous last words from Monsters if I remember correctly. Anyway, I wasn't too happy with this one. I may write a better one at a later date but hopefully this may serve to amuse at least a little.
Hehe isn't Reno just the little bastard. And Turk killer extraordinaire. Go you little bastard you!
Be one with the fic
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