CM: Yes, we've finally decided to put up a FF7 fic. We've been wanting to for the longest time now, and its finally a happening. As always we will do our best to keep the characters in character. This story will focus mostly on bringing in BC characters and such, so it takes place a year before the start of BC. So get ready, get set for...
A YEAR TO REMEMBER
Disclaimer: We do not own ff7 or any of its characters.
Chapter 1: New Year Prize
It was the New Year, and around the globe people were celebrating, each in their own individual way. Many towns held festivals and many families had parties. There were also a handful of people who drank themselves into such a state they could no longer aim the alcohol into their own mouths. Reno wished he was one of those people. Instead, he and his partner Rude had been sent out on an assignment, holiday be damned. It wasn't as though Reno couldn't get drunk off his ass any time, but it was the nuances of it all.
So rather than sitting in a bar inebriating themselves, they were sitting in the shuttle car which would take them to the Golden Saucer. The amusement park was holding a grand celebration of its own; Drinks, fireworks, the whole shebang. And they wouldn't even get the opportunity to enjoy any of it.
The journey to the Saucer was silent and dull. What made things worse was the knowledge that on their arrival, they would be in the center of this huge celebration and would not even be able to enjoy one bit of it.
"Welcome traveler! Enjoy the festivities and be sure to make it to our annual battle tournament," the Greeting Chocobo exclaimed when the two exited the train. "We have a special guest this year that is our undefeated champion. You don't want to miss that battle."
Reno's lips turned up and he cocked an eyebrow at his partner. "No… don't figure we would."
This gave Rude reason for concern. Whenever the red head got that smile, it usually meant that his mind was plotting something to "shake things up". The two of them went to the ticket booth and flashed their lifetime passes before entering the park. There were kids running amuck all over the place, many without their parents who were probably off doing their own celebrating.
It was noisy and several times they were forced to move out of the way as a group of munchkins went barreling past. "Now I know why I don't come here on holidays," Reno muttered. "Turns into a freakin' daycare center."
Rude nodded in silent agreement. "Where do you want to start looking?"
"What? Didn't you here the fat chocobo out front?" Reno asked heading towards the tunnel that read: BATTLE ARENA. "We don't wanna miss the undefeated champion of the year."
"Do you really think this person is SOLDIER material?" Rude asked as he followed him into arena.
"Who knows," Reno said with a shrug. "Either way, it should be an entertaining way to search for new recruits. What better way to know if there are any powerful people present than to see them in battle?"
The battle arena was packed with spectators, and the two Turks had to squeeze their way through the crowd. They managed to find a decent viewing point close by the edge of the dungeon-like battle ring. Several members of the crowd were holding cups of alcohol and shouting for the tournament to start.
When the announcer came out, the crowd went into an uproar. "Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the Golden Saucer's New Year Tournament! Tonight our best fighters will be putting on a show that will knock you out of your seats!"
"And if that won't do it the drinking sure as hell will," Reno commented.
"No," Rude stated suddenly.
"We're on a job," Rude explained. "You will not be participating in the drinking."
Reno scowled, crossed his arms and childishly slumped his shoulders. Rude merely shook his head at the red head's antics.
The announcer introduced a large many with glistening oil black skin wearing nothing but shoes and a pair of tight shorts. A large griffon was released into the ring and the fight began. As Reno and Rude observed the introduced fighters, there were some that were exceptional, and then others that were just average. After having participated in several SOLDIER scouting missions, very little seemed to impress them anymore, and both knew that only a handful of the candidates they brought back would have a shot of making SOLDIER anyways. Halfway through the tournament, Rude lost sight of Reno for a few minutes. During which time the announcer took the stage once more.
"Alright folks! Now that you've seen our fighters in action, its time to pit them against one another to see who will be the one to face our reigning champ!"
A new wave of shouts and cheers shook the room. Rude was beginning to feel a headache coming on.
"Hey, big guy, you look like you could use a drink." Reno had returned, holding a cup of beer in each hand. "Taste like crap but, ya know, can't be choosy in a place like this."
"I told you no alcohol," Rude muttered.
"Lighten up," Reno said sitting down and handing his friend the other beer. "Even you have to admit you need a drink in this place."
Rude grudgingly tried a sip of the beverage. The moment it hit his taste buds he immediately agreed with Reno that it indeed tasted like crap.
"Oh, and I already had a quick word with the host of the tournament so all the lucky losers will be shown to where they need to go," Reno told his partner, grinning at his own job well done. "Course they'll probably put up a fight at first, always do." Rather than sound troubled by this he looked eager. They continued watching the fighters trade blows with one another, and one by one the participants fell. Reno had finished his beer and Rude, not keen on finishing his, didn't put up a fight when Reno stole his cup while he amused himself by heckling the fighters.
At last, it had been narrowed down to one fighter. A behemoth of a man who looked as though he'd been popping growth pills since he started walking. Again, Reno and Rude weren't terribly impressed. Granted he knew how to fight and he definitely wasn't slow physically or mentally. However, he hadn't won his fights through technique or strategy, but by brute force and nothing else.
"Now, for the moment you've all been waiting for!" the announcer said in a very excited voice. "The final fight of the night. Bruno, the last fighter standing goes against our reigning and undefeated champion, Aven!"
The crowd roared to life louder than it had all night. Chants were heard scattered around the arena and Reno leaned forward in his seat so as not to miss the champion's entrance. Moments later, the door opposite of the behemoth opened and the red headed Turk erupted into laughter as the champion made their way to the center of the ring.
The champion was actually a girl in her early-mid teens with a scrawny build and shoulder length pearl white hair that was gently curled. Her eyes shone in the somewhat dim light of the arena with excitement and devoid of fear. In comparison to the behemoth in front of her, she appeared to be a tiny girl facing a giant. She girl appeared calm as she spoke a few words to her opponent which were drowned out by the crowd.
"Now this I gotta see," Reno stated, and for the first time during the whole tournament he was taking an actual interest. Rude felt the same. Either this whole thing was a farce, or this girl had a true reason for being the Battle Arena's standing champion.
The girl reached to her hip and grabbed what was presumably her weapon, neither of the Turks could tell because she was holding both hands together.
"Say goodbye to your reign as champ, little girl!" Bruno exclaimed flexing both his hands that were large enough to engulf the girl's head.
The fight began and Bruno lumbered towards the girl at a terrifying speed for one of his size. The girl just stood waiting, then… within two seconds there was a blur of white, a flash of silver and Bruno was suddenly stumbling around howling in pain and covering his left eye with his hand as blood spilt onto the ground.
Meanwhile Aven stood off in one of the corners holding in her hands the length of a chain whip with a pointed dart at the end.
It took a moment for Bruno to regain his bearings and quickly spun around to face her again. "You little..." he threatened holding his hands at the ready as blood continued to fall to the stone floor. "You're dead!" He rushed forward once more as the girl leapt into the air and effortlessly sailed right over his head. As she righted herself for her landing, she flicked her whip, catching the man's ankle and pulling his foot right out from under him.
He landed face down on the ground heavily with a large thump and Aven easily walked onto his back, whip in hand. She then proceeded to wrap it around his throat and pulled it tight. The behemoth flailed and kicked trying to knock her off as well as grab a hold of the item cutting off his air. About a minute later, however, the flailing stopped and the champion removed her weapon and stepped off her opponent.
The crowd erupted into cheers and whistles as raindrops of beer showered down over the heads of the spectators. "Well, well, looks like it wasn't a hoax after all," Reno commented with a small laugh.
As people rushed out to drag Bruno's inert body away the announcer strolled in and held up Aven's hand. "Ladies and gentlemen, our champion! With deadly whip skills that can tame the most ferocious beast, is there anyone who can stand against her?"
"Yeah!" Several men from the crowd erupted as they started storming the ring.
"Alright, anyone who wishes to challenge our champ will have to attempt to land one good hit using any means you can think of while she will refrain from any weapon use," the announcer shouted into the crowd. "Any who manage to accomplish this challenge will earn 100,000 gil. Those who wish to challenge her please form a line into the ring and await your turn. Believe me you'll all get the chance."
Aven had already wounded up her weapon and put it away. Now she stood waiting for the first challenger. The first person to step up was a blonde guy who was muscular but nowhere near as big as the hulk she had faced second before. When the announcer called start, the man rushed at her. She easily dodged away. When he tried faking her out, she saw through it and dodged once more. This happened several times until he cornered her against the wall, and just when he thought he had her, she grabbed his arm and used his momentum to smash his head against the wall, knocking him unconscious.
When the next person tried, a husky looking woman, it was the same result, with Aven dancing out of her opponents reach, then using their own power against them. Reno and Rude both watched with growing intrigue. What the girl lacked in physical strength, she made up for in her evasiveness and ability to read her opponents.
The next opponent pulled out a blade and it was clear he knew how to use it. Aven's expression didn't change, however, and after a few missed swings she stepped to the side of a near miss, grabbed the wrist holding the blade and pulled him forward while aiming a kick at his legs. He landed heavily on the ground and was declared defeated.
After that display of skill, the other contenders began looking very apprehensive and took several steps back.
"Come on, it's just a single hit you have to manage," the announcer said trying to get the people excited again. "It's 100,000 gil. Will no one else take the challenge?"
Rude turned his head the slightest to the red head sitting beside him. "Another SOLDIER candidate?"
"Hell no," Reno replied, his blue-green eyes dancing with jubilation. "I got an even better idea." Reno stood up draining the rest of the beer cup and pushing through the crowd where he literally flew out of the stands and landed as nimble as a cat into the ring.
The crowd's cheers steadily turned into a buzz of anticipation as Reno straightened up and bore a lazy grin. "I'd like to try my luck."
Rude felt like hitting his own forehead in exasperation. He made a mental note to himself to request from Tseng a leash for the younger Turk. This thought was immediately discarded however, because Rude knew there wasn't a leash in existence that could hold Reno.
The announcer eagerly went with it, throwing up his hands. "We have a challenger!"
Aven smiled at the newcomer with excitement dancing in her roaming eyes. It was clear to Reno that she was simply sizing him up before the match.
"Ready, Aven?" The girl nodded and for the first time took on a more guarded stance.
"Are you ready, challenger?"
"Not yet, let her have her weapon," he replied smugly. "She'll need it."
"Wow, the challenger actually wants her to use her whip. Should we allow it this time?" the announcer asked the crowd. The roar of excitement was a clear answer and Aven unhooked her whip preparing for her final match.
Aven stood waiting, but much to her surprise, the new competitor didn't make a move. "Aren't you going to come at me?"
"Nah, I'll be a gentleman and let the lady go first," Reno replied.
A flicker of wariness passed through the female champion's eyes, but she gave a small shrug and conceded to his bout of "chivalry". Her arm moved, and the whip lashed out quicker than a serpent strike. Reno twirled out of the way, avoiding the cutting path of the whip. Aven looked for a split second surprised but quickly recovered and began spinning the whip, snapping it and lashing it at the red head. Reno hopped, skipped, and dodged around each strike.
Aven began to get a little frustrated and made for a horizontal slash with the whip. Reno ducked, rolled, and by the time he was on his feet, his EMR was in his hand and fully extended. He smiled. Good, she was beginning to get impatient.
Aven's eyes narrowed slightly as she watched his movements cautiously and pulled her whip in tightly at her side. The two fighters slowly walked in a circle, not taking their eyes off each other. Then all at once, Aven's whip shot out at Reno with only the smallest amount of movement on her part. It flew through the air faster than before, but once again Reno easily sidestepped it and then ducked the backlash of the attack without turning to see it. Aven was beginning to get agitated that she wasn't able to land a single hit and was contemplating pulling out her ace in her sleeve.
Rude saw that Reno was doing what he did best, drawing out his opponent. The girl didn't even seem to realize she was falling prey to her own game. The crowd all around was cheering for their favorite fighter as the two continued to jump and dance around the ring. Then, there was a flash of blue and Reno's legs were stuck to the floor. Even in such a predicament he was able to turn his head just in time as the point of the whip lashed out and swiped his cheek, drawing blood.
Reno, rather than feeling abashed, only felt further invigorated. So that's how it was going to be, huh? Well then…
The white haired girl didn't even ask Reno if he wanted to forfeit, she already knew the answer. He still believed he stood a chance. She'd end it quickly, and without too much damage. She drew her arm up and struck out with her weapon.
Reno was ready and at the last second his own weapon came up. There was a flash of electricity and Aven was thrown backwards landing hard on the stone floor, the arm that had held the whip was now weaponless and twitched involuntarily.
The crowd went momentarily silent as they saw their champion fall. Then, a single person started clapping which led to a enormous roar as people starting chanting Aven. Slowly, she got to her feet and forced her shocked hand to stop twitching while she faced her opponent once more.
"Heh, looks like you got me that time," she said her smile back in place. "You're really good. I didn't even see that one coming."
By this time, Reno had freed his legs and was now shouldering his weapon. "I could say the same," he replied, wiping at the bleeding cut with his thumb. "What are you even doing wasting your time here?"
Aven stared at him, puzzled by his inquiry. "How is it a waste?"
"Because here you're just showcasing yourself to a bunch of drunken spectators when you could be doing so much more." He shook his head despondently as if it was the saddest thing in the world. Meanwhile, the crowd was yelling for the fight to continue. The girl's thoughtful eyes roamed the battle arena, but returned to the red head when he spoke once more. "And the moment someone stronger comes along, that'll be it for you."
"Maybe," Aven agreed with a shrug, retrieving the fallen whip. "Then I'll move on to the next place. I never expected to be here for the remainder of my days." She brandished her weapon once more. "I'm sorry but, you're going to have to leave this ring, conscious or not."
"Heh, my thoughts exactly," Reno said, and as she moved towards him, he drew a triangle in the air and gave a small flick of his wrist. Aven recoiled as her head smacked into something solid.
"A barrier...what are you doing?" she demanded looking all around at the prism surrounding her. Her smile was completely gone now and she no longer held a pleasant demeanor. "Hey, I go where I want and do what I want. I don't take orders from anyone...now drop this shield already."
Reno simply laughed. "Come on, you're the champ, aren't ya? Break yourself out."
Aven tried hitting and kicking the walls of the pyramid, but she might have blown on it for all the good it did.
"Hey, ref, I think this match is over," Reno said looking over at the announcer. "But instead of the money, how about I take HER off your hands?"
"B-but she's our biggest draw right now," the announcer stuttered. "I don't think..."
"Go ahead," a burly man stated heading into the arena.
"D-Dio. H-he's attempting to take away our reigning champ," the announcer explained worriedly.
"I know, I was watching the whole thing," Dio replied with a smile. "The kid did a good enough job. She really raised the bar on the competitors so we'll be able to find a replacement well enough. Besides, these guys are from Shinra and frankly I really don't want them breathing down my neck.
"Hey, thanks, pal," Reno said with a grin before turning to the captured girl. "Ya hear that? You're my prize."
Aven scowled at him and she looked as though she was trying to set the Turk's head on fire through sheer force of will.
By this time Rude had eased his way through the squirming crowd and into the ring to join his partner. He had guessed Reno's intentions from the moment the brat jumped in to fight. It wasn't as though Rude disagreed with Reno's assessment but, they could have just as easily approached the girl after the tournament was over.
Rude however knew if he told his partner as much, the red head would laugh and say, "But then it wouldn't have been as much fun."
"Dio...come on, you can't let them just take me like this," Aven shouted. "Using a barrier is a cheap move since it can only be broken from the outside," she grumbled.
"It doesn't matter," Dio retorted. "You've done good work here...but your work is done. Enjoy Shinra."
"Rgh! Just who do you people think you are?" Aven demanded towards Reno and Rude.
They looked at each other, Reno wearing a smirk while Rude's face gave nothing away. The bald headed Turk drew back his fist and punched the pyramid causing it to shatter to pieces and disappear.
It was then Reno simply replied, "We're the Turks."
Aven's eyes widened in recognition, the anger and indignation all but vanishing. "You two are… you're really from the Turks?"
"Strange, most people get frightened or even more upset when they hear it's us," Reno thought curiously.
Aven laughed. "You should have said something to begin with, I would have said yes in a heartbeat."
Once more, the pair of Turks exchanged glances only this time Rude was frowning at Reno who appeared almost sheepish.
"So," Aven said glancing back and forth between the two of them. "When do I get to start?"
CM: Haha, well wasn't that fun? So that was our first chapter. Hope you all enjoyed it and that you'll be sticking around. :D