Cutting through the air at tremendous speed, the blades of the chopper almost seemed frantic in their dance across the sky, leaning too heavily to one side, then to the other, until the helicopter entered into a sure pattern of descent, rocking in an uncontrolled spiral toward the ground.
"Rude! Yo Partner tell me you're there!" The thin, red-haired piolet called desperately over his shoulder while still fighting with the throttle, even though he knew it was pointless.
"Reno." A solid, leather gloved hand clamped over his shoulder and he exhaled in relief even as he watched the ground get closer.
"Oh good." He said glancing over his shoulder at his partner. "I was afraid we wouldn't get to die together." He flashed a grin that only he could possibly muster when facing immanent death.
"Or we could use these." Rude held up two parachute packs and Reno's laugh at death suddenly died.
"Rude old buddy, that sounds like a much better plan."
However, once he let go of the stick the helicopter began to spin more violently. There would be almost no chance of them jumping out without getting sliced in two by the blades. Reno jumped back on the throttled, steering frantically. They had little time.
"Go." Reno ordered seriously. "I'll hold 'er as steady as I can for you."
"Go, those bastards will probably just kill you when you land anyway. So don't feel I'm being all that noble. Besides, we still got a job to do right?" He kicked the metal box strapped in the co-pilot's chair. "Its bigger than both of us. Go."
Rude hadn't lifted his hand from Reno's shoulder the entire time and the younger Turk felt his grip tighten for a moment before it left altogether and Rude picked up the package. Before he left, he dropped the other parachute in Reno's lap.
"I'll see you down there."
"Cross your fingers for me buddy!" He said with a strained smile. There was no more time to waste. Rude slid into his chute and braced himself at the open door, waiting to time his jump so as not to get struck. Reno couldn't watch, his task requiring all of his attention but a quiet grunt heard past the rush of wind and screech of alarms told him his partner was gone.
"Here goes everything." He said, letting go. Immediately he was throw forward and smashed his head on the controls, blood erupting out of his broken nose, but he had no time to think, he shoved his hands through the straps of his parachute and made for the door.
It wasn't easy– he fell sideways into the co-piolet's chair, then smashed into another wall before almost falling through the open door. He gripped the sides last minute and watched the swirling image of ground and sky whizz past. This would take a miracle.
There was no human way to time it, luck was all he had, so with a deep breath, he shut his eyes and let go.
Rude struck unforgiving ground but rolled as he'd been trained and absorbed the impact as best he could. However, the metal box in his clutches was forced into his chest when he finally landed face down and he felt a few ribs crack not to mention the forming of a perfectly rectangular bruise on his chest.
He rolled onto his back and looked to the sky but there was only a trail of smoke. He had missed the entire crash of the helicopter– now smoldering in the distance– his descent had been so violent he hadn't been able to take anything in. He felt his consciousness waning but held on as long as he could, searching the sky for traced of a chute– of Reno. But he couldn't see anything.
A low rumbled reverberated through the ground and into his skull, slowly growing stronger. He didn't realize it was a motorcycle until he smelt and tasted the exhaust and by then a figure was approaching. He didn't think he could move.
His body relaxed at the soft voice. Strife. A gloved hand reached down and began patting him over. He cried out sharply when it reached his chest and realized just how much of an impact the case had made against his body. It felt like more than just a few broken ribs as he initially thought.
"Okay, hold on. Help's on the way. Where's Reno?"
"He–" Rude's voice cut off sharply by a wave of pain, even breathing hurt, talking was excruciating but he tried again. "Was supposed to jump...after..."
"Okay." he saw the blond head turn to the sky, then settle on the burning remains of their chopper in the distance and he knew what he was thinking. He wanted to tell him no, Reno was far to wily and if nothing else, too stubborn, to die like that, but darkness crept over his vision and silence fell.
The rush of air.
Too fast, far too fast.
The near back breaking jolt of his chute , then the audible tear.
The ground spinning and growing closer every second.
Too fast, always too fast.
Then the heat of the explosion, hot metal shards blasting by and into him and then dirt, dry and cold and suffocating.
From there on, Reno remembered little more than hands he hoped were Rude's wrap around him, then lights, and movement and screaming and a white hallway.
A long time later– much longer– his green eyes opened on a harshly lit, gleaming white and spotless room.
"Hospital?" he whispered to himself, his voice weak and faint. He looked to his left and saw machines and tubes leading into his veins. Behind them an observation window. To his right was a chair, empty, a small table, a magazine. So someone had been here.
"Rude?" he whispered again, and tried to move.
Shock hit him as he tried to raise his hands but couldn't reach more than a few inches. His limbs felt heavy and panic struck. What happened? What's wrong with me? What the Hell is going on?
His eyes flashed to other side of the room where he saw the door open. A man in a white coat approach.
"Yo doc..." he breathed. "What's going on?"
"You were in quite the accident. Your helicopter crashed. In fact, you were dead for a little over three minutes before we go your heart started again."
"Not to worry. We patched you up nicely, only a few scars to speak of when you're fully recovered.
Reno was being drawn back into sleep but he still wanted answers.
"Listing them all would put you to sleep, which it looks like you're about to do anyway. Don't worry about it, just rest."
But he had one more question, and this one needed to be answered.
A frown came over the doctor's face and he felt his heart skip but it was not enough to keep him conscious and his head rolled uselessly to the side.
Rude kept his face stiff even when he saw the looks in Tsueng and Elena's eyes when they entered his hospital room. He was propped up, his chest and ribs bound tightly and a steady stream of anti-inflamatories flowing into his arm to keep down the swelling that had nearly crushed the breath right out of his lungs.
Tsueng clutched a paper bag, Rude eyed it before looking to his leader.
"What did you find?"
It was not meant to be a cruel act, but Tseung knew that Rude would excuse away any explanation he gave unless faced with undeniable proof. So he turned over the bag and let the contents roll onto clean white sheets.
Rude chose the smallest of the two items to pick up and examine, rubbing away the black soot. Reno's ring. He looked down to the melted mess that were still identifiable as his goggles.
"This isn't proof of anything."
Tsueng sighed. "That wasn't all we found." He watched his companion swallow but just waited for him to continue. "The parachute was still inside and...there was hair."
"Hair? But, no body?"
"They are still combing through the wreckage, you don't understand how destructive the impact was. He may have tried to jump and ended up underneath the helicopter. Or the flames may have simple destroyed his remains."
"But the hair survived?" Rude asked critically.
"Hardly. Just a few burnt strands though it looked like there was more, but it too was unidentifiable after the flames. Its been run through the lab. Its his, Rude. I'm sorry, Reno is gone."
Rude heard a choked sound from Elena but didn't face her. He just bowed his head and gripped his sheets.
"Keep me updated." The injured man spoke without facing them and the two Turks left at the silent request.
Cloud entered the bar, set his sword by the door and slid onto a bar stool. For a moment he rested his head on crossed arms then he became aware of muffled tears above him. His first thoughts were of Denzel and Marlene but their room was on the other side of the house, away from the bar, this one was directly above.
"Tiffa." He sighed, pushed back the stool and silently strode upstairs.
He knocked on the door and couldn't quite hear an acknowledgment but also didn't hear any protests so he turned the handled and slid inside. Tiffa was on the bed, head buried in a pillow, trying to hide the sounds of her sobs but her body shook with them and he moved to her side.
"Tiffa." He repeated, sliding his hand through her hair until she turned to face him. She took a few steadying breaths before gripping him tightly and beginning to cry anew. For a moment he was shocked and sat stiffly, then he slowly closed his arms around her.
"You're not crying over Reno are you?"
"Of course I am." She sobbed into his chest.
"Well I'm sure he'd love that. But I've never seen you quite like this."
"Its Rude." She said and he suddenly was at attention.
"I thought he was supposed to make a full recovery."
"He is." Her voice was still muffled in his shirt. "But you should have seen him."
"I doubt he was crying."
She pulled back and looked him in the eyes. "He didn't have to. You can just see it in him."
"Oh." Cloud was taken aback by the passion in her eyes, but then she'd always been affected by other people's sorrow and grief more than her own. It was one of the things he loved about her most.
"Oh? That's all you can say."
"I know we haven't always all been on the same side, but Cloud, this was...this was our fault."
"We found that information about where the element was. We should have gone instead of passing it off to the Turks."
"Not to the Turks, to Rufus Shinra– to the people who promised to try to rebuild this world after nearly destroying it."
She clenched her fists, frustrated. "Why aren't you upset? How can you feel nothing?"
"I thought you'd gotten past closing yourself off from everyone!"
"Tiffa, just wait."
He huffed out a breath and sat back on the bed. Her frantic red rimmed eyes searched his face and again she asked, though deadly calm this time. "What is it, Cloud?"
"I don't–" he glanced at her and rubbed a hand through his hair. "I don't think he'd dead."
She just stared at him for a moment. "What?"
"I don't think Reno was in that chopper when it burned. I think he got out."
"But there was evidence–"
"Nothing that couldn't be planted in a hurry if need be. I was out there, today. There are tracks, they were mostly covered but if you looked closely enough you could see them. I think Reno made it out, and then I think the people that shot them down captured him."
"The newest competitors with Shinra?"
"Yes. We don't know much about them. We don't know what they're capable of. From what I saw, I think they took him away somewhere, and then made it look like he was killed. Threw his ring, his goggle, his parachute and even a little hair into the fire, just enough to make everyone think he is dead."
Cloud looked up at the ceiling but she forced his head back around to face her. "Why?"
"So no one will be looking for him when they start to interrogate him."
So this was a random inspiration that grew into a three part, 60 some page story. I've just started editing but thought I'd put up the first chapter to see some reactions. This is my first piece set in the FFVII universe, and I may make mistakes along the way so please forgive m but as I have set the stroy post Advent Children (as will become more clear) I feel there is alot to play with in Midgar and Edge. Also, the focus is on Reno, Rude, Tiffa and Cloud. Hope you like and thanks for reading,