Shinra Inc. And The Old Boss
By: Jason Tandro

Suggested By: Geronimo

"Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship beer can. It's continuing mission. To seek out thirsty and sober people. To boldly go where no man has gone before."

"Yeah, into your fat ass Palmer," Rufus hissed.

Palmer was in the process of trying to open one of the beers that he'd smuggled aboard the rocket. His stubby fingers did not make the best tools for the job.

"When else am I going to have the opportunity to be drunk in space?" Palmer asked.

"Aren't you always drunk?" Rufus replied. "Besides I'm no scientist, but I get the feeling that this isn't going to work-"

Palmer finally pried the can open and as he put it to his mouth the liquid slowly rose out of the can in large drops.

"No get back here!" Palmer demanded.

"Just like that. You must be happen there's no gravity in space. Bet you haven't moved like that is years," Rufus sighed.

"Yes, we get it, I'm fat. Stop taking out your pent up aggression at Reeve and aiming it at me," Palmer demanded.

"But you're such a large target… you're right. I'm sorry," Rufus said, arranging his body into a laying position even though there was technically no need.

"I think I'll go up to the observatory. You ought to try and sleep a bit. We've still got four hours to go and you'll feel better after a brief power nap," Palmer said.

"That's not a bad idea," Rufus said, pulling himself towards one of the chairs and strapping himself in. He reclined the chair back as far as it would go, which was not very much and leaned his head back.

"Just call me if you need anything. I'm going to try and cook something next," Palmer said.

"Don't start any fires," Rufus replied closing his eyes.

"So, Hojo," Alan said walking into his laboratory. "I appreciate your willingness to stay on, but I thought we had a little chat about the monsters."

"Indeed we did," Hojo replied. "So make no mistake. There is a legitimate purpose for these monsters. Take a look at the one in the right culture tank."

Hojo pointed to a tank which contained a large brown-toned creature which appeared to have a drill for one hand and a hammer for another.

"I call him Crusher. He requires no oxygen to live and can even survive in a vacuum. He will make drilling off-world extraordinarily easy," Hojo replied. "And the one on the left."

He pointed to the opposite tank which looked like an overgrown shrub.

"This one actually generates oxygen like an ordinary plant, which will help for long journeys through space," Hojo explained.

Alan seemed genuinely impressed. "Now that's more like it! These will most definitely come in handy for our research and exploration."

"I thought you would approve," Hojo smirked. "I need to run a few final tests so would you mind so kindly leaving me be for about four hours?"

"Of course, take your time. With that initiative, Hojo, you'll go far in this company!" Alan smiled as he left.

The iron door slammed shut behind him and Hojo turned to his monsters and grinned himself. "Oxygen, carbon monoxide. They're close enough right?"

He let out a terrible cackle that rang through his laboratory. Alan opened the door.

"Did you call me?"

Hojo stopped laughing. "Oh no, not at all. I just remembered the funniest joke about particle acceleration."

"It gives you a hadron?"

"Oh you've heard it too! I love that one!" Hojo laughed merrily this time.

Alan left looking slightly puzzled and shut the door.

"Murder gives me a hadron too," Hojo laughed maniacally again.

Alan opened the door again.

"Hey I'm running for coffee did you want anything?"

"Yes! You to leave!" Hojo then remembered himself and smiled. "Uh, I suppose a soy latte would be fine."

"Gotcha, big man! "Alan smirked, leaving.

Hojo waited a full thirty seconds. Alan did not burst in again.

"You see, this is why I hate soliloquy," Hojo sighed.

Rufus awoke to complete silence. All the lights appeared to have gone out on the ship and only the darkness of space and the scant bit of earthshine through the window welcomed him.

"Guys?" Rufus asked. "Is it nap time all around?"

"It's nap time for you, Rufus," came a familiar voice from the level above.

Rufus floated up towards the bridge. There was somebody sitting in Cid's chair. But it wasn't Cid.

"Who are you?" Rufus asked.

"What's the matter Rufus? Don't recognize your own father?" The man turned the chair around.

Rufus stared in horror. President Shinra, his deceased father, sat in the chair. He looked exactly as he did in life, except for a faint blue hue emanating from his body.

"D-dad? Forgive me p-pointing out the obvious, but you're dead," Rufus stammered.

"No shit, Sherlock," Shinra sighed. "The dead don't often get to appear to people on the earth. It's a bit easier out here. Less chance of being caught you see?"

"No, I can't say I do."

"There's a rulebook 300 pages long. Dying's easy. Being dead is a pain in the ass," Shinra sighed. "Before you ask, you're still asleep. I'm appearing to you in a vision because I could not just sit here any longer and deal with your bullshit."

"Excuse me?" Rufus asked, sounding slightly hurt. "Not, 'Hi son, glad to see you weren't killed by terrorists'? Or, 'Hi son. I just came to tell you how mom is doing'? You came to tell me how much I'm screwing up? I already have Reeve for that."

"And do you listen to him?"

"No, he's kind of a prick," Rufus replied honestly.

Shinra chuckled. "I thought that way too. I never particularly liked Reeve, but I kept him on my staff. Do you know why? Because he's good at what he does. He knows this business aspect much better than you ever did. In fact you turned out to be such a disappointment that I was considering making him my successor."

"Oh. Okay. Well thank you for this emotional assassination. Give mom my best. And if you come back to haunt me at Christmas I swear to god, I'll piss on your grave," Rufus replied.

"You're going to listen to me," Shinra said, appearing directly in front of Rufus as he turned around. "Because being dead I now realize that the reason you turned out to be such a disappointment is because I was a miserable father."

"Huh?" Rufus asked. Okay he wasn't around much when Rufus was growing up, but he wouldn't call him terrible. After all he always gave Rufus exactly what he wanted.

Shinra sighed and rubbed his head. "I didn't treat you like a father. I treated you like… well to be honest I was indifferent to you. You were just 'also there'. I figured that if your mother had survived she would be the one to take care of you. But as she did not, I just didn't bother with you. When you were old enough, my fatherly affection lasted just enough to make you my Vice President but even then you were just an employee. I can't tell you how your mother is doing. Her and I… aren't in the same place."

Rufus didn't know what to say. He wasn't very good at moments like this. He always wore his emotions on his sleeve, but they were always superficial. Nothing ever cut him too deep. At least until recently.

"You're actually turning out to be a better man than I am. You have friends who genuinely care about you and you treat them like friends, not like employees," Shinra said. "You just need to learn to listen to them and to trust them. I know it's my fault for how I raised you, but you're not always right Rufus."

Rufus didn't like to admit it, and later he would deny it even to himself, but something changed in him at this moment. He felt a sickening twisting in his stomach and for the first time since before he could remember felt close to genuine tears.

"Sorry I ran your company into the ground dad," Rufus said, coughing and turning his head to the side.

"Sorry I was a lousy parent," Shinra shrugged. "I'd hug you, but that's pretty much impossible for a spirit."

Rufus chuckled and sniffed. "Yeah, I think I've had enough bro love for one day with Palmer at any rate."

"I figured you'd eventually need some help. At first when I saw you start to fail I figured you deserved it, but now I see how much you've grown in this past year. When you get back talk to Reeve. Tell him the 'secret sleeps underground'. He'll know what that means."

"The secret sleeps underground. Got it," Rufus nodded. "So, I have to ask… what's it like to die?"

"Well, yours will hopefully be different. But for me I felt a really sharp pain in my back and then I-"

"Okay, that'll do old man," Rufus interrupted.

"Yup. You're about to wake up anyways. Sorry in advance," Shinra said.

"Sorry for what?"

"RUFUS! GET UP!"

Rufus jerked awake. "What the hell? I was having a conversation with my deceased father."

"Well had I not woken you, you would have been able to continue that conversation indefinitely!" Cid shouted. "We got a major leak in our oxygen tanks. Tank number 7 just blew. We don't have enough for both secondary ignition and breathing. We need to get to the escape pod!"

Rufus unbelted and followed Cid down to hall where he saw the wreckage of tank 7. "Was anybody hurt?"

"No, thankfully nobody was down here," Cid said. "The others are already aboard, I came back to get you. We figured all the shouting and chaos would have woken you up."

"Where are we now?" Rufus asked. "How long was I out?"

"We're over sea next to Midgar. Damn ship didn't even get a full orbit," Cid sighed. "But hell on the bright side this will be an exciting story to tell the kids one day. "

"Assuming the escape pod survives re-entry," Rufus grunted. "How did that tank blow?"

Cid stopped. "Palmer, man. The dude tried to light a fire to cook something. Idiot forgot that compressed oxygen while not flammable itself makes the tiniest explosions much bigger and much faster."

"I'm amazed the entire rocket didn't go up in flames."

"You and me both, buddy."

They squeezed into the escape pod and took their seats. "Glad the model was built to house a few more people than required to man the thing," said Cid. "Although I've half a mind to leave Palmer behind."

"I was hungry!" Palmer shouted.

"You were stupid!" Cid replied. "Door is sealed. Let's jettison!"

One of the engineers pulled a lever near the door and the pod detached from the rocket, and the fell away towards the planet.

"That's odd, the damage doesn't look that bad from out here," Palmer giggled. "I've always wanted to make that joke too!"

"I will murder you slowly," Rufus said. He looked over to Reeve who was glancing out the window of the escape pod. "Hey Reeve. If we survive this can we have a talk?"

Reeve seemed taken aback by Rufus's politeness. "Uh, sure, Rufus."

"Thanks," Rufus nodded.

They broke through the first layer of the atmosphere and the gentle descent turned into a massive freefall. The escape pod screamed through the atmosphere.

"I sure hope this hits water. Otherwise it's gonna be a bad day," Cid replied.

"Such a glamorous thing. I can see why you always wanted to do this Cid," Rufus groaned, barely holding onto his lunch. "I don't know which I like better. Leaving the planet or coming back."

"Launch the parachutes! " Cid shouted.

The same engineer who released the pod pulled another lever and the chutes deployed . Then after a few seconds they blew away.

"Well… fuck," Cid sighed.

"You have a backup chute right?" Rufus asked. "Right?!"

"Yeah, you see, here's the thing-"

"Don't bother. We only have about ten seconds left anyways. Nice knowing all of you lovely people," Rufus grunted.

The pod splashed down into the water with incredible force. Rufus banged his head on the cushion behind him and everything went black.

To be concluded…