Shinra Inc. And Space
By: Jason Tandro
"This is the day we've been waiting for. Almost ten years in the making!" Cid announced as he and his team prepared to launch the Shinra 26. A massive crowd was gathered for this monumental day. The entirety of Rocket Town was a given, but there were also most of the members of DevCom and Shinra Inc.
Rufus and Reeve sat together, grudgingly, in a box just outside the main launchpad.
"With this rocket any hope of saving our company goes down the drain," Reeve sighed. "DevCom will become the superpower of industry ."
"Yeah, so I've heard," Rufus grunted. "Guess we both suck at getting Shinra back on its feet."
"In a more civil environment we might call that a truce, but that doesn't seem like us does it?" Reeve asked.
"Not in the least," Rufus retorted, turning his head back towards the rocket. "So if that rocket launches successfully DevCom wins huh?"
"Pretty much. I don't see any potential failures this time though," Reeve nodded.
Rufus stood up. "If you'll excuse me, I'm heading to the restroom."
"Suit yourself," Reeve replied.
Rufus walked out of the viewing box and strolled towards the rocket. His father had approved that space program and Rufus never got why. What was so great about outer space that would warrant the incredible expense? He never liked his old man that much anyways. Nor did he particularly care for Palmer or Cid. That's why he had no guilt about what he was about to do.
"Launch pad area's closed, sir. We're getting our final preparations ready," the soldier standing watch replied. Rufus looked up and could see he belonged to one of the local city militias that until recently was under the command of Heidegger.
"No kidding," Rufus said in his best imitation at a local drawl. "I'm one of the technicians. I've been working out her running final tests."
"You're a technician?" The guard asked.
"Look I'm trying to get some work done so we can launch this damn thing. If you don't believe me then whatever, you can talk to Cid, but he'll just be pissed that we were delayed," Rufus shrugged.
"You know real guards aren't fooled that easily, right?" The soldier asked.
"Hey look over there!" Rufus shouted.
"Uh… do you want some lemonade?"
"I think you should leave, buddy."
In a final act of desperation, Rufus threw a wild punch, but the very well trained soldier blocked it instantly and turned Rufus around on his knees. "Okay, you're coming with me buddy."
"Rufus!" Cid called from above. "What the hell are you doing?!"
"Sir!" The guard asked. "You know this guy?"
"Yeah! Let him on up!" Cid shouted. "I know why he's here."
The guard let Rufus go. Rufus grunted. "I told you so. Asshole."
Rufus walked up the gangway into the rocket proper.
"I suppose you are here to watch from up close then?" Cid asked. "We'll have to kick you out when we're ready to launch."
"Uh, yeah. I wanted to see how things were coming," Rufus said.
"Must bug the hell out of you that we're launching this thing when you tried to stop it. I've already given Palmer permission to join me on the maiden flight," Cid laughed.
"Congratulations. I hope nothing horrible happens to him," Rufus said unconcernedly.
"Rufus!" Reeve shouted. "What the hell are you doing up here?!"
Rufus turned and saw Reeve framed in the doorway to the rocket.
"Oh hey Reeve. How'd you get past the guard?" Rufus asked.
"I told him I was a ship technician and he believed me right away. You know I don't think he's a very bright one," Reeve replied. "But listen I know what you're up to! And I won't let you do it!"
"What do you think I'm up to, huh?" Rufus shouted. "You always think the absolute worst about me don't you?"
He pushed Reeve back into the wall. Reeve hit a lever which sealed the rocket door shut. Neither of them took notice of this, but Cid put his hands up. "Uh guys, can you stop it please?"
"You're trying to wreck this rocket so that you can find some hair-brained way to save the company!" Reeve shouted, pushing Rufus back.
Rufus toppled over onto a control panel and his hand rested against one large red button.
"Guys, seriously!" Cid shouted.
"I'm not going to do anything to ruin this ship, okay?!" Rufus cursed, pulling himself up, hitting the second large red button.
A loud voice rang over the intercom.
"Ignition sequence activated. T minus 60 seconds to launch!"
"Ignition?!" Reeve shouted.
"What the? This thing is taking off?!" Rufus shouted.
"Yep," Cid sighed. "Nice going jackass!"
"We have to stop it! We need to abort!" Rufus cried.
"We're not aborting anything. We're going on this launch!" Cid said. "Palmer! Get your fatass in here and get belted in! And you two better take your seats!"
Palmer waddled in from the engine room and belted in. "Who started the launch sequence?"
"Yo," Rufus sighed.
"T minus 30 seconds to launch…"
"Engineers get strapped in and ready to launch now! We've had an accident and are launching ahead of schedule!" Cid shouted. "All staff clear the launch pad area NOW!"
"T minus 15 seconds to launch…"
Reeve strapped himself into his chair, as did Rufus. On the deck below a shout from a female engineer came up. "All engineers are strapped and ready for launch, Captain!"
"T minus 10…9….8…."
"You ruin everything Rufus," Reeve cursed.
"Shut up!" Rufus hissed back.
The engines flared and the rocket slowly began to rise. Rufus felt every muscle in his body tense up from the force of pushing against gravity. He began to feel like he was choking as the rocket accelerated. He didn't understand how even though he must be feeling to same things as Rufus, Cid was whooping and hollering excitedly.
"Look out the window, boys!" Cid shouted.
Rufus could barely hold his lunch, but he slowly turned his head. What he saw made him forget about the pain in his stomach and the tightness in his throat. Silky blackness stretched out before them with small dots of light just barely visible behind the earthshine. Only a short ways beneath was the curvature of the planet and a cascading sea of white clouds and blue ocean beneath them.
They had made it. They were in space.
"Primary ignition cycle complete," Cid said. "Boosters discarded, and we are now orbiting the planet."
Cid took his belt off and kicked away from his chair. He floated effortlessly. "Oxygen tanks holding at 95% capacity. Mission control do you read me?"
There was a crackle from the radio. "We read you Captain Cid, loud and clear!"
On the ground there was pandemonium from the stands. People were cheering and hugging each other. Tseng and Elena who had shown up as well kissed each other, Elena's ring sparkling in the sunshine. Cissnei, Rude, Reno and Heidegger toasted with shot glasses of whiskey and downed them back. Bosker, his wife and Geneva were clapping appreciatively. Even Scarlet and Hojo hugged each other in celebration.
"Congratulations Captain Cid, you've officially made history! Your dream has finally come true!" Said mission control. "So, uh, what was with the early launch?"
"Oh you can thank these two numbskulls. Rufus and Reeve barged into my ship and accidentally launched the damn thing. But there are no casualties to speak of. We're all A-okay. How's the ground staff?"
"Ground staff was able to clear in time. They're okay. As you orbit the planet you will likely lose radio contact with mission control here at Rocket Town, but we've got our auxillary team at Midgar and even a way station at Wutai so you'll always be in touch with somebody from operations. Remember the plan. Do one full orbit of the planet and then begin secondary ignition to bring the rocket back. If there are any problems with secondary ignition you have the escape pod."
"I understand completely. We'll be back in 6 hours!" Cid replied. "Shinra 26, over and out."
"So…" Rufus said, unbolting himself cautiously and looking towards Reeve. "I guess we're stowaways huh?"
"I guess so. At least now I know you can't sabotage anything without risking harming yourself as well," Reeve said, as he too unbelted himself.
"Why the hell would you want to sabotage this rocket, Rufus?" Cid asked. "It wouldn't solve anything for Shinra."
"DevCom is planning on using space exploration as a new avenue for industry and use it as a method of putting us out of business," Reeve explained. "Although admittedly I'm not certain how they would turn it into an industry."
"Rumor has it that comets and even our moon has valuable resources, maybe he's thinking of off-world mining or some crap like that. I don't really care, so far I'm loving this and would gladly work for DevCom forever doing this kind of stuff," Cid replied.
"Yeah, I bet you would. Of course you forget that it was Shinra who made this possible to begin with," Rufus replied.
"Ah whatever," Cid cursed. "Let's quit bickering and enjoy this time. When else are we gonna get a chance to do something like this?"
A few engineers floated up to the bridge of the rocket. They marveled at the view from the window before conversing with Cid about technical matters which eluded Rufus, Reeve and even parts of which were beyond Palmer.
"So how does it feel to be in space when you argued against rebuilding the Space Program?" Palmer asked.
"I have to be honest. The departure made me want to hurl but being out here now is pretty damn amazing," Rufus said.
"It is," Reeve agreed. "Strange. The world seems kind of lonely from out here."
"Lonely?" Palmer asked.
"Look," Reeve said, pointing out the window. "All life that we know of lives on that blue sphere. The infinity of space stretches out ahead. Who knows what's out there?"
Palmer nodded. Rufus shrugged. "What a load of crap."
"Excuse me?" Reeve asked, slightly hurt.
"Yeah, I get that we're just a small part of a big picture, but we're blessed with the ability to not have to look at the big picture on the day to day. We're charged with only handling the tiny picture that we have to deal with and thank goodness for that," Rufus replied.
"You don't think it's important to think about where we came from or where we're going?" Reeve asked, now positively fuming.
"No!" Rufus shouted. "But I don't think that should consume our entire lives. If you keep sitting here talking about how important the grand scheme is instead of worrying about the day to day-"
"You end up spending money that isn't there and bringing a company crashing to its knees!" Reeve cursed.
"If you two get into another fight and break something else I swear to God if you don't kill us all, I'll kill you both," Cid shouted.
Reeve turned away from Rufus and floated towards the upper level of the rocket which was a lonely observation deck. Rufus floated down towards the engineering deck.
The next two hours were fairly quiet in the rocket, but on the ground there was a lot of discussion between DevCom and its employees.
"Well this is simply remarkable," Alan said, leaning back in a chair and taking an offered glass of champagne from one of his secretaries. "We've officially made history, and now people will be chanting the name DevCom for years to come, not Shinra."
"What are your plans?" Hojo asked, refusing the champagne and looking at his technical notes. "Mining? Scientific research? Or just exploration?"
"A little of everything," Alan replied. "We corner the market on this new field. We can start off by hiring contractors to build a fleet of rockets for various fields of research."
"But you don't have a solid business plan for what you'll be needing," Scarlet said.
"What's that Scarlet?" Alan asked.
"With the Shinra 26, we knew exactly what we'd be needing. A simple rocket to make an orbit of the planet and report back. You expect my department to not only design a fleet of rockets with no idea what kind of tools we'll need, but you also want us to outsource that to contractors spending millions of gil we don't have?" Scarlet asked.
"You were hired for your brains and technical expertise not your business suggestions, so I suggest you shut your mouth before I take the budgetary concerns out on your salary," Alan said sharply.
"What's that? You don't think a woman can make the business decisions?" Scarlet asked.
"Stop trying to paint me as a misogynist," Alan said. "You're a technician, not a businesswoman."
Scarlet quaked at being addressed as this. A technician?! She was a Chief Engineer who held two different degrees and had almost twenty years experience in the field and this officious prick had the nerve to call her a technician?!
"To hell with you, Alan," Scarlet said removing her badge and chucking it at him. "I quit."
"Good. Saved me the trouble of firing you. I know you've been consorting with Reeve for a while now so I no longer needed you. Thanks for all the hard work on the Shinra 26 though. Made it sure as hell easy for us to burn your bridges for you."
Scarlet stalked off. Alan looked at Hojo inquisitively.
"You expect me to quit just because she did?" Hojo asked. "Unlike her, I know what I'm doing."
"Good man," Alan smiled. "I'm sure you'll be useful to us."
"I believe so too," Hojo nodded.
To Be Continued…