Chapter 10: One Way to Get There

Kess felt as though she could burn a hole through the back of Veld's head with the stare she had locked onto him. President Shinra had no problem throwing that information out, as if he was proud of what his subordinates did and without any questions to loyalty. She kept her eyes on him as the three took the elevator to the Turks office on level 42. Veld paid her little notice, he was on his cell phone the entire time rallying the Turks. "Rude, Reno. I want you two to gather up Drake and Samantha and head over to Sector Six. Marcus and Becca are here so I will get them."

Veld hung up as they descended, but soon he called someone else. "Jale, I need you to come in early. Head to the train station in Sector Six. A squad has a handful of rebels cornered at the depot."

He hung up with him as the elevator came to a halt and they exited. Veld was on the line again within seconds. "Max. Are you and Cissnei finished up yet? Excellent. Gather August, Tonya, and Shion then get to the Sector Six train station. Tseng and the others will meet you there in fifteen minutes."

He turned to the pair behind him as they entered the office. "Any funny business and Tseng will have no qualms with plugging both your codes. So please, behave."

He turned back to the room where Marcus and Becca were sipping at their coffee. "On your feet. You're rolling out. Public Security has some Avalanche members cornered at the Sector Six train station. Tseng! Let's go."

Both Marcus and Becca tossed their drinks into a garbage bin and raced towards the door. They stepped passed him as Tseng walked up. "Li Feng, it's time to see if you've learned all that I have taught you," he smiled and placed his hand on the younger man's shoulder. "I'll be waiting here when you return."

He took the detonator when Veld held it out to him. "Sir, I won't disappoint you."

The trip to the lobby was much faster since they used the express elevator. Moments later, they were on the street in one of Shinra's fastest vehicles. Becca joined them, but Marcus took to his motorcycle. He sped ahead of them as Tseng pressed the gas pedal to the floorboard. The setting sun spilled vibrant orange hues across the cityscape. They reflected off the tall, fortress-like office buildings that sprung up along the sides of the highway. The sky above was clear and night was invading. Bright green lights illuminated the landscape, creating a thick haze in the distance along the edges of the city. Massive plumes of billowing steam from the mako reactors gave the city an otherworldly feeling.

The car raced along the expressway towards the Sector Five interchange. Kess was surprised at the speed Tseng was driving that he didn't end up clipping anyone. They entered the tunnel that would take them to Sector Six. Overhead lights streamed by in a green blur. Becca was busy checking her gun and ensuring it was well prepared when Marcus' motorcycle raced by. He cut into the lane ahead of them and blasted the gas pedal to speed away. Tseng clicked his tongue as if annoyed but amused.

No words were spoken during the ride. Kess and Ashe were in the backseat, watching the city pass by as night approached. Tseng took an off ramp, leaving the twisting highway for a lower road that would take them to the train station. By the time they arrived, several onlookers had gathered close, stopped only by barricades set up by security. Murmurs of confusion and awe came from the crowd as they looked on in awe. Tseng pulled the vehicle up the small gate that had been set up in haste. After a moment, they were allowed entrance.

Smoke poured out from the area and several structures were noticeably damaged. Ashe spotted Marcus' motorcycle parked off to the side and Tseng turned the wheel, parking right next to it. "Shit man, looks like they've been using materia." Marcus said as Tseng exited the car.

"You two stay here. Don't need you attempting to warn your friends," Tseng instructed.

Ashe frowned. "So you gang press us into the Turks but keep us tied up like dogs in the middle of this?" He motioned around as a large blast spewed forth from the upper deck of the station.

Becca jumped out and Tseng followed. "Correct." He slammed the front door and pressed a button on the keys as he walked away.

On the dashboard a small red light began to blink and a robotic voice chimed, "Armed."

"This is bullshit," Ashe growled as he watched Becca and Tseng trot out of sight through the smoke screen.

"Best to just sit here and wait," Kess said calmly.

Ashe had already begun to lean into the front seat to get a better look at the blinking red light. "You mean sit here and wait for them to blast enough debris to crush the car? And then get blown up? Screw that." He began to fiddle with the device.

"What are you doing?"

"What do you think? Ashely Kincaid is no waiter." He tugged on a few of the wires to expose them.

"Ashe don't! It might detonate if you mess with it!" She sat up to stop him.

He turned back to her and flashed a grin. "Kess, have you forgotten what I do in my spare time?" He went back to fiddling.

She sank back into the seat and crossed her arms. "Even if we do get out of here, how far could we get before they push the button?"

Ashe grunted, his legs pushing him further into the front seat. "The range is probably a mile or two." He tried to position himself better. "Unless they added a booster or something.. But let's be real, they're too lazy for that."

Kess rolled her eyes. "For fuck's sake, Ashe."

He glanced back. "Hey, you asked." He turned back to the front. "Maybe, if we're fast enough, we could get the thing removed before they notice us missing..? Maybe?"

He jerked his arms back as the entire device on the dashboard came loose and the doors unlocked. He turned back to his companion with a grin, dangling the black box before her. "How fast can you run?"

Her eyes narrowed on the object and then focused on him. "You know, you're something else."

"I keep trying to tell you that."


Tseng and Becca arrived right behind Marcus who motioned for them to take cover. He had already placed his earpiece in and Tseng hoped the others had as well. "Alright, is everyone here?" he asked as he secured it inside his ear.

A round of checks later, he began handing out orders. "Reno, Drake, Shion, Jale and Max. I want you to circle to the back and remain there as an ambush. Rude, August, Cissnei, Samantha and Tonya. After Marcus, Becca, and I distract them, I want you to do a full frontal assault. We'll draw them out and you can begin the ranged attack. Group One, when they begin to pull back, you may enter close ranged combat when the chance arises."

"Yes sir," everyone said in unison.

"Alright," Tseng said, "engage!"

Becca and Tseng emerged from their spots and opened fire in the direction of the enemy. In truth, it was hard to see with all the smoke that filled the area. But their shots were returned as they had anticipated as little blips of light danced through the haze. Marcus watched for the direction of the shots and began to slink towards the area, his electro-mag rod already sparking with raw energy.

Tseng and Becca ducked behind a concrete pillar that had been partially destroyed. As they huddled there, Group Two began their assault. Rude jumped over a pile of broken concrete and rushed into the fray. August followed, deciding to flank the anticipated rebel as Rude closed in. Rude could see a bit, at least enough to clock the surprised rebel in the head while he had been reloading. August guarded Rude's back, taking out a man who sprung up, ready to unleash an assault rifle full of bullets in Rude's direction.

Samantha followed up with a heavy shotgun blast, wincing as her tender arm was kicked back by the force. Tonya and Cissnei came last, heaving their range weapons into the brawl. Groans and shouts rose above the gunfire. A voice yelled, "It's the Turks! Pull back!"

That was the cue for Group One. Max and Jale came from nowhere and began to pummel the living daylights out of the rebels in arms reach. Drake's twin pistols erupted with pristine calculation. Rude nor August was ever in danger of being hit by his accurate shots. Reno began charging his electro-mag rod and beat down anyone in his path, bright flashes lit up in the smoke as he made contact.

Shion set to dispatching the remnants with his katana, cutting down what few rebels entered his arm's reach. Any that were unfortunate enough to be rooted out through the main entrance were being eradicated by the artillery delivered by Public Security.

Drake had stopped momentarily, leaning against a busted pillar to reload his guns. Without warning, pain pierced his neck. A stray bullet had caught the exposed side of his body, blood spurting from the wound. He spun around, firing into the darkness, the sound of a hit greeting him with a loud curse. He stumbled for a moment before collapsing against one of the walls and slid to the ground.

It was Cissnei who saw him fall. "Man down! Drake's been hit!"

She glanced back to see that his body was suddenly nowhere to be seen. "Wait, where the hell did he go!?"

Careful hands had gripped Drake around his midsection. He felt himself being dragged away from the fight, the sound of the battle becoming shallow and distant. It was colder here and he managed to open his eyes to see gloved hands wrapped around him. Long hair from his wouldbe abductor swung against his face. "Where are you taking me?" he managed to groan.

"Don't talk," spoke a familiar voice. "I'm getting you out of this fight. I don't want to see you dead."

Drake was silent for a moment before murmuring a name. "…Morgan…"

Drake was pulled onto a side street and propped against a wall. His rescuer stepped before him and indeed he was correct. "So, it is you.." he sighed. "Didn't think I'd ever see you again.."

"Well, here I am." She pressed her hand against the side of his neck, holding a cloth against the wound.

His breath was becoming short. Fast footsteps were closing in from the direction of the train station. "Drake, I'm glad I could see you.." she smiled while pushing back her dark brown hair. "I'm sorry I can't stay longer.."

And like that, she was gone. Cissnei and Tonya raced from the shadows of the station to Drake's side. "We found him, Tseng. We need an ambulance on the back road behind the station. Shot in the neck. He's bleeding pretty bad."

"Roger that," came Tseng's voice.

Cissnei glanced around the road and even above. But she saw no one. "How the hell..?"

The ground gave a sudden violent shake and Cissnei grabbed the wall to keep from toppling over. "Oh no!" she cried.

It only lasted a few seconds and she pressed the receiver once more. "Did anyone else feel that?"


Having escaped the car, Kess and Ashe made their way along the outer side of the train station. "If we could just find someone that knows us, we could--"

"What, get shot in the head?" Kess interjected. "If they are trained well, they will shoot first and maybe ask questions later."

"Yea. But if we could find--" Ashe stopped as he saw a familiar figure go sprinting by. "Morgan!" he whispered.

She raced away and disappeared behind a corner. The gunfire in the background had all but ceased. Kess tugged on the sleeve of Ashe's suit. "I don't think we're going to have much time. We should go back and plan something better than this."

Ashe looked to her.. then to the alley where Morgan had gone. "Alright." he conceded.

They turned back and began to move towards the car. "Did you leave the bomb in the car?" Kess asked as they returned to the front of the station.

"That wasn't a bomb, just a detonator."

"Okay, did you leave the detonator in the car?" she asked sarcastically.

"Nah, I tossed it."

When they emerged near the front, they first noticed that the smoke had thinned out in their absence. "Wow.. this place looks like hell," Ashe said with a whistle.

Chunks of concrete were everywhere; the innermost wires and girders of the structures were exposed like open wounds. Several small fires had ignited in the area and smoke was billowing from the station. The car was a few yards away, but they heard voices approaching. They moved behind a large fallen sign as the Turks walked out into the open. "We sure showed them!" howled Reno. "Gave them the old one two!"

August shot him a cutting glance and Reno snickered. "Actually, you did that. I gave them the ol' jab jab."

The stern Turk smiled. A group of security officers approached from the barricaded area and began to head into the ruins. "You'll have an easy job, boys," Samantha gloated. "I don't think we left anyone alive."

Kess swallowed hard on hearing Samantha's words. Tonya slapped her hands together adding, "Let's get back to the building and file our reports. Then head to the bar. I propose we toast to our victory."

"The bar? True, it is a little after 7pm. Kind of late to be starting," Becca chuckled.

"Nonsense!" Reno shouted.

Tseng followed up behind the happy group, talking to Cissnei about Drake and his mysterious relocation. "So, where are the new recruits?" Jale asked with a laugh. He retrieved a lighter from his jacket pocket, intending to light up.

As if on cue, the street shuddered beneath their feet and a large piece of concrete fell and landed right on top of Tseng's car, crushing the roof. Ashe winced and pulled Kess close as the vehicle exploded instantly. A fire broke out where the car sat; concrete and twisted metal flew in a radius around the blast. The group of Turks dove about like scattered ants to take cover. Ashe held onto Kess as flaming pieces of rubbish landed all around them. Marcus' bike sailed high overhead and crashed into the concrete in front of the train station. It skidded several feet before igniting itself and creating a second explosion.

Tseng had ducked where he stood. He rose to one knee and closed his eyes for a long moment before answering Jale. "They were in the car.."

"Aww shit! My bike!" Marcus howled as he ran over to the piece of twisted metal.

Ashe peeked out and noticed Jale was holding what appeared to be the detonator that had been given to Tseng. "How the hell did he get that…?" Ashe wondered.

Jale was ready to see some more action. "Well then, let's just finish off these explosions!"

At once, Kess and Ashe sprang up from behind the damaged sign and walked over to the group. "No need, Diego. Kess and I thought we'd stretch our legs," Ashe said coolly, trying to play off the fact that they had totally broken out of the car despite Tseng's warning.

Jale turned to see the pair standing behind him and managed a smile. "Oh Ashey boy. You are good!" Jale shouted, trying to hide his anxiety at being called his cover name.

Ashe crossed his hands behind his head. "I know. You don't have to gush all over me."

Tseng had already begun to walk over to Jale, and as the latter squeezed at the detonator in his hand, Tseng plucked it from his grasp. "Now, now. I only asked you to hold this momentarily.." He turned to address everyone. "Regroup at the building. I will phone Veld so that he can report to the President."

Marcus' whining about his destroyed bike was getting excessive. Tseng turned toward the crumbling train station. "Marcus, that's enough! We—" He dead stopped on seeing Marcus standing a few feet from him.

"What.. Is that noise…?" Tonya asked.

Everyone turned back as the last legs of the station finally gave out. The high pitched whining Tseng had thought was Marcus was the sound of bending steel. The plate shook once more and the shrill noise grew louder all around them. "Fall back!" Tseng shouted as he turned and grabbed hold of Tonya as more rubble fell around them.

The ground groaned in protest as the station collapsed in ward. Despite Avalanche's best efforts to leave the abandoned base intact, the infrastructure couldn't take anymore and the area began to sink into the gutted out cavern below. Tseng shouted instructions for everyone to evacuate the area and the Turks dispersed as Public Security arrived to contain the scene. Tseng led Kess and Ashe beyond the barricades and motioned for them to enter the back of a Shinra army truck. As they took seats, Tseng spoke to the driver, "Take us to Our Lady Minerva's hospital in Sector One."

A swift nod and they were on their way. Tseng returned to the back and climbed up, sitting between Kess and the gate. As the truck pulled away, Kess saw the extent of the damage that the area had sustained. "Wow, they sure did a number on the place." Ashe said in awe.

"They are violent," Tseng’s voice interjected. "If they truly wished to save the Planet, then why would they attack places where civilians gather?" He raised a brow while looking over to Ashe, his tilak lifting with his expression.

"I was talking about your guys."

Tseng scoffed at the man's ignorance. "You think it was Public Security and the Turks that caused all the damage? Avalanche retaliated with explosives of their own. Several people were injured that were neither Avalanche nor Shinra employees. They were regular people, taking the train to go home, to meet friends, to visit family."

Ashe crossed his arms, not having a response ready for that revelation. Tseng continued while Kess listened. "Do you know who lives in Midgar?" he asked. "Regular people. Ninety-eight thousand regular people. Over ten thousand of them live in the lower city. Avalanche seeks to destroy the Shinra Company which is run by a handful of individuals. The rest of the workers and security make up ninety-nine percent of the people Avalanche has sworn to kill. All in the name of stopping Shinra from using mako. An energy source that has given those ninety-eight thousand people a chance at clean air and water."

"Look pal, what Avalanche does is for the good of the Planet," Ashe shot back. "If Shinra keeps draining mako on such a massive scale, even more people will die."

"How many people would have died without the energy Shinra provides?" Tseng posed. "It's benefits far outweigh the drawbacks."

Ashe was silent. It was true, and he knew it. As much as he despised what the Company had done to him, a vast majority of their actions had saved lives. The cool night air floated into the back of the truck and he looked out to the view. Massive buildings lit up the sky all around them. Opportunities that would have otherwise been wasted, human progress, time, labor, and money. Being a logical person, he knew that for the moment, Shinra had done more good than bad. But being a pragmatist, he knew that it would only go on for so long before they hit the ceiling and all the progress came crashing down.

Silence befell the three in the back of the Shinra truck. Tseng had pulled out his cell phone while Ashe and Kess watched the city speed by in the night. Feeling the chill of the night, Kess drew her arms around herself and settled back into the hard bench she shared with Tseng. Her mind wandered back to their comrades who had fled the Sector Six base. She hoped that wherever they had gone, they were safe and far from Shinra’s grasp.

Nearly an hour and thirty minutes had passed since they left the station. Traffic and such slowed down the journey, but finally the truck pulled into the turnabout at the Sector One hospital and the three passengers exited the back. The truck pulled away as Tseng gestured to the large building behind him that stretched several stories into the sky.

"Getting back to the original conversation," Tseng started, "people are saved every day because of this hospital. Would this have been possible without the energy Shinra provides? How many would be suffering right now from preventable diseases and illnesses? It is because of Shinra that they get to live. Are their lives more important than people that might be saved in the future? Why?"

"What are we even doing here?" Ashe grumbled, looking upward.

Tseng had already started walking away but he turned his head back as he approached the sliding doors. "One of my men was injured today and he's in critical condition. I want to make sure he's going to pull through."

Ashe tilted his head side to side in a mocking manner, moving his lips silently. They entered the hospital and walked up to the receptionist. "Yes sir, how can I help you?"

"Drake Everno, from the Sector Six train station. Where is he now?" Tseng inquired.

The receptionist set a clipboard and pen on the counter for Tseng to sign. "And I'll need to see some I.D. please."

Tseng flashed his badge and she nodded. "Mr. Tseng, please take the express elevator to the tenth floor, room six. They've stabilized the patient, but he's still unconscious."

"Thank you."

He walked through the lobby toward the elevator and motioned for Ashe and Kess to follow him. Upon arriving on the designated floor, they were greeted by a barren hallway. Their stiff shoes clicked against the white floor as Tseng led them in search of the room. Once finding it, they entered and he pointed to some chairs. "Sit there."

They sunk into the chairs, unbuttoning their jackets as they sat. Tseng approached the bed where Drake lay resting. He circled the end of the bed and picked up the chart that hung there. He flipped through it and discovered that Drake had been very lucky. The bullet had missed his jugular by a hair. It passed through, leaving a nasty wound to stitch up but he would live. The doctors had been able to repair the damage, but Drake was still sleeping. Tseng took a seat at the side of the bed where a few I.V.'s hung. One contained clear liquid and another was filled with a diluted mako mixture. The luminescent green liquid pulsed through the tubing, making his veins around the area turn a slightly bluish tint.

Kess watched the sleeping man, his chest rising and falling. She wondered if Morgan still cared for him as she once had. Pushing back some hair from her gaze, she looked over to Tseng and saw that his expression was quite serious. In fact, he seemed to be rather upset over the situation. Ashe continued to scowl, keeping his arms crossed and looking at the clock on the wall noting it was just after nine-thirty. After a few moments, Tseng stood and addressed them, "Alright, let's go back to the building. At least I know he's stable."

In silence, they stood and exited the room with Tseng. A car was waiting at the entrance when they walked outside. The drive back to headquarters was equally as silent. When the Shinra Building came into sight, Kess had a sudden sinking feeling in her core. They were returning to their prison and nothing would deter it. They were escorted back to their room where two trays of food were waiting.

"What a runaround," Ashe growled, kicking his boots off. "They could've left us here rather than dragging us around. Nearly got us killed. What was the point of all that?"

Kess sat in silence, lifting one of the tray's lids up to see what was for dinner. There was a bowl and next to it a small plate with a skimpy salad and a biscuit with a small container of soft butter. She set the lid aside and picked up a fork to dig into the salad.

Ashe joined her on the couch and revealed his meal as well. "What do we have here..?" He looked into the bowl. "Ah, my favorite. Ice cold potato soup."

He put the provided spoon in and pulled it back out, letting the viscous liquid drip back into the bowl. "So, earlier.. what President dipshit said about you and.. me.." Ashe began.

Kess wondered when he was going to rip off that band aid. She toyed with the lettuce on the edge of her plate. "By the time you and I met in Cosmo Canyon, I had already deserted."

Their eyes met. "But what he said was true. I was your next mission, wasn't I?"

For a moment she said nothing, but then looked away. "The scientist who blew up his lab. He was supposed to be my next target.. But I wanted to leave that life behind. I wanted to see what Avalanche in Cosmo Canyon had to offer and it just happened that you were there too." She looked back at him. "I was already done doing their dirty work by that point. I wasn't after you anymore.."

Ashe managed a nod and smirked. "Well that's a relief. Pretty sure I wouldn't be here right now if you'd decided to take me out. I've seen you in action. You're kind of a bad ass.."

"Yea, well. Probably.."

They both laughed and Ashe spoke up, "No hard feelings. We're both on their shit list now.."

"That is true.."

She ruffled her hair a bit between her fingers, dark roots catching Ashe's attention. She noticed his curious look and answered what she figured was going to come out of his mouth. "No, not a natural red-head." She laughed, "Uhh.. It changed.."

He tried to eat a spoonful of the cold soup without cringing. His frown said it all. "Changed? You mean, you dyed it?"

She shook her head. "No.. I.. um. Another strange thing I can do apparently. I can change little things about my appearance."

Ashe pulled a face as he took another bite of the soup. "Wait, you mean like a chameleon?"

She nodded. "It was one of things Hojo was elated about.. I don't understand why really." Kess spoke again after a moment. "Funny."

"Yea, this shit gets cold instantly."

"Not the soup.. I mean, my hair. My family were all pretty fair haired.. I was the only one with dark hair."

She sank into the cushions of the couch and Ashe tried to make it past another few spoonfuls. "You gonna eat?" he asked, eyeing the untouched food.

"Huh? Oh yea.. I guess I better." She picked up her own bowl of soup and drank like it didn't faze her.

Setting the bowl aside, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and returned to her thoughts. Ashe finished his food and settled back into the cushions. The couch dipped and he slid into her thigh. "Oh hey, sorry there." He moved to readjust how he was sitting.

He leaned against the arm and looked over to the television. "There's only a few channels.. Maybe there's something about the train station. Maybe they'll talk about what there were in the way of casualties?" Ashe moved to pick up the remote.

He flicked the screen on and the room illuminated in a dull, blue light. Kess was so lost in her contemplation that she didn't even hear what the people on the program were saying.

Dark hair.. Like that woman I thought I saw in the kitchen when I was younger. She had dark hair.. I felt such a strange connection to her.

Ashe remained on his side of the couch. He had taken to leaning on his hand and was beginning to doze off. Kess snapped to when she heard him snoring. She glanced over in time to see a big string of drool drip off his bottom lip. "Geez Ashe.." She laughed and pulled herself up. She moved him to a resting position and propped a pillow beneath his head. She then turned the television off and retired to her own room.


Tseng joined the rest of the Turks in the office and told them of Drake's condition. After which, reports were filed and they all broke for the bar while Veld and Tseng made their way up to the 70th floor. "So, what are we going to tell him?" Tseng asked on the way.

Veld grumbled a bit, running his fingers through his goatee. "We'll tell him what happened." Stepping onto the elevator, he went on. "You led your men into battle, it happened to be an ambush and everyone is fine."

"But Drake.."

Veld shrugged. "We get hurt in the line of duty, it happens. I've been shot before and stabbed, among other things." He trailed off, looking to his left shoulder. "Anyway, look at me, I'm still here."

"Your arm, though. Losing it must have been traumatizing."

Veld looked away. "This wasn't from any battle.. I lost it when Kalm was destroyed.."

Tseng looked surprised. "Sir?"

Veld looked back out to the city. "My wife and daughter.. they didn't make it. I almost joined them," he confessed as he touched the glass wall of the elevator in the direction of Kalm's location. "Such a long time ago.."

The elevator rose upward, the city lights spilling out below them. "I owe my life to my partner. He pulled me from the rubble and they sent me to Nibelheim to recover." He let his hand drop. "That's what we do. It's all we can do. We look out for one another. Have each other's back." He smiled in a fatherly manner to Tseng.

"I'm just glad we got to Drake in time."

"I'm sure he is too."

"What about the damages to Sector Six?" Tseng asked.

"It is what it is. How could we have known that the structure was unsound.. I am sure that Director Tuesti will try to pin everything on Public Security and their tactics, as usual.."

They exited the elevator and walked the rest of the way to the President's office. Once there, they entered and saw that the President was in the middle of putting a golf ball across the floor towards a cup. They waited for him to finish. Rufus was working on some paperwork and noticed them. "Hey pop!" he shouted, "company."

Shinra over swung and the ball surpassed the cup. "Rufus, you blond devil. What did I say about interrupting me when I was about to make a shot?" He looked to his son who motioned to the door.

Shinra turned to see Veld and Tseng standing there. "Ah, you have news?"

Tseng took charge. "It was an ambush."

Rufus snorted to hide his laughter. Shinra's smirk turned to a grimace. "There were a few civilian casualties and one of our men has been hospitalized. The train station is in ruins and we were unable to capture anyone."

The cigar fell from Shinra's mouth and rolled across the floor. "Where did you get your information from? Did you even check the source before rushing off to save the day?" He flailed his arms in anger.

A small burn had begun to form on the carpet and he stamped it out. "You could be getting information straight from those rebels for all you know!" he shouted.

"The information came from a very reliable source. Our own security team cornered them. I'm sure the ambush was a last minute plan," Veld explained. "We now know for certain this was the area they were holed up in. It's only a matter of time before--"

Shinra interrupted, "Before what? They start to blow up the reactors and ruin my city?"

Rufus' brow twitched slightly as if an idea had occurred to him. Hector snatched up another cigar and lit it. He held it in his fingers as he pointed to Veld and Tseng. "You better threaten those little shits you captured to start spilling their guts. I'll be damned if I have to tear my city apart just to exterminate a few rats."

He turned away and picked up his putter once more. "Now if you'll excuse me, I am rather stressed at the moment."

They both nodded and left. Shinra turned back to his golf ball and shook his head. "I don't even know why I keep the Turks around if they are going to continuously come up empty handed."

He took his shot and still missed the cup. Rufus sighed. "They are more useful than you think."

Another knock at the office door interrupted Hector's putting and he glanced up angrily. "What is it now..?" he snapped.

Anette was standing in the doorway. "Hect—" she corrected herself, "Mr. President. Director Tuesti is here to talk numbers about the damage in Sector Six.."

He scratched his forehead with his thumb and nodded. "Fine, fine. Give me a moment.."

She nodded and closed the door. Hector looked agitated. "Should I have Public Security comb the Sector Six slums?" Rufus asked.

"Of course. Make sure to check the bars, whorehouses, and any back alley opium dens they might have scurried off to. See if you can squeeze that self proclaimed Don for anything useful.. They'll not continue to escape my grasp." Hector made another putt and sunk the ball into the cup.

"Opium dens..?" Rufus questioned. "You're so old fashioned.."


President Shinra thought it would be easy to capture those Avalanche vermin, but in fact it was going to be much more difficult to root them out. The rebels weren't hiding out in a bar or the back alley hang outs of the Sector Six slums. They had vacated the entire sector. Morgan led the team that returned to ensure that they left no trace of where they were going. The fires set inside did as promised and erased most of what had occurred there. What they left behind in the destroyed ruins of the headquarters didn't give the Turks much to go on besides what they already suspected.

When Fuhito had finally finished setting up, he met the others in the defunct mill. He was eyeing Morgan as she recalled what had occurred at the old hideout. "After we entered from the sewer entrance, we went to check that the explosions had done their job. Most of the main rooms had all but caved in, the only areas still intact were the briefing room and the barracks. While the fire had torched anything material left behind, the walls themselves were sound."

She picked at her fingernails while giving the report. It always annoyed Fuhito when she did that. He curled his lip and looked over to Elfé who was listening with interest. "After checking the place out, we left from the train station. We made it to the gates but someone must have spotted us and before we knew it, the Turks were on site."

Fuhito glanced back at her but Shears spoke up before he had a chance. "Someone saw you, or someone knew you'd be there."

"Who would.. Are you saying there's a spy?" Morgan asked.

Fuhito's brow twitched and he narrowed his gaze. Shears sat up and leaned against the makeshift table. "How else were the Turks able to pinpoint your location, and show up in full force so quickly?" Fuhito explained.

Morgan looked as if someone had slapped her across the face. Elfé looked between them all. "A spy makes sense. It would explain why the mission at the building went south. The Turks were ready for them." She turned to Fuhito. "We must look over the list of the latest recruits and see if someone jumps out—"

Fuhito interrupted, "Do you think that Shears or I would have let someone slip through? We are very diligent in our vetting, Elfé. You know that.."

Shears' furrowed his brow. He hated when he spoke to Elfé like that. He felt his fist clenching under the table. Feeling the tension between the two, Morgan did her best to smooth things over. "No one is accusing anyone here of being lax in their duties. But I think that it may be worth looking at who's not around when we get jumped," she said.

Fuhito crossed his arms and leaned back. "Feh," he sounded annoyed.

There was a knock at the door and a man entered holding some papers. "Alex, what is it?" Shears asked, waving the man over.

"Sir, these were taken earlier today."

Fuhito took them before the man got to Shears. Elfé leaned over to get a look. "Well that’s unexpected," Fuhito muttered.

Morgan's eyes widened and Shears leaned in for a closer examination. "What is it?" Elfé asked.

Fuhito tossed the papers in agitation, images of Kess and Ashe sitting in the back of the Shinra vehicle were too prominent to be mistaken for anything else. Another image showed them standing with the Turks, both dressed in identical suits. "What does this mean?" Elfé asked.

Morgan sank back into her seat and shook her head. "Impossible. I won't believe it." She buried her face into her hand and took a deep breath.

Elfé appeared disappointed and Fuhito seized on the opportunity. "You suspected a spy among us. Well, here you are. Two of them."

Shears looked infuriated. "If this is true, we must now treat them as enemies."

Morgan stood up and made for the door. "Morgan! Where are you going?" Shears called after her.

Without a word she exited and slammed the door. Elfé spoke up, "She intends to find out for herself."

Fuhito glanced at her and then over to Shears. "So now what?"

Shears shook his head. "Morgan will be fine. About the other two, I think we should be prepared to shoot first."


After leaving the base under cover of night, Morgan made her way to the hospital in Sector One. She came across many isolated groups of meandering Public Security officers but managed to keep a low profile. When she arrived, she entered the hospital via the fire escape. It was easy for her to jump up to the first ladder; indeed her childhood training with the master martial artist Zangan taught her much. She moved up the side of the building, glancing into each window as she passed by. She came to a floor where a few guards were loitering about the hallway and guessed this was the correct floor.

She walked around the fire escape and came to the room she assumed was Drake's. She hit the window frame hard, the latch coming loose on the inside. She opened the window after making sure Drake was alone. She entered the darkened space and crossed the room to lock the door. The click went unnoticed by the guards in the hallway. Morgan then turned back around and took a seat on the bedside.

"Another place I didn't expect to see you," Drake whispered in the darkness.

She glanced over to him and noticed he had propped himself up a bit. "You should be sleeping," she scolded, easing him back into the pillows.

"I'm glad, you know. I thought that you hated me."

Morgan grimaced. "How can I hate you.. after all we've been through."

Her thoughts drifted through memories of them. She thought of the good times, and the hard times. They held hands at the Midgar anniversary three years ago. He had proposed to her that night, she said yes. They had just gotten the news that there would be a child. But then they lost it. She left the Turks not long after. The Company. Everything. What they did sickened her. Veld tried to make it right, he gave her time. But the healing never occurred and she left it all behind.

"It was never you, Drake. I came to hate the Company, and I saw them for what they were. For how little they cared about us."

"And I chose to stay, because the pay was good." He tried to smile but the muscles pulled uncomfortably. "How would I take care of us without a job? But you left that night and I didn't see you again."

He shifted a bit and looked at her. "I still love you, Morgan. Always have and always will."

She smiled and bit her lip in an attempt to keep from crying. "It's been torture living without you. But I can't condone you working for those murderers." She grasped his hand.

"If I work for murderers, then who the hell have you thrown your chips in with? They weren't exactly handing out bread to poor children in Sector Six today..." He turned away, showing a few bandaged cuts above his eyebrow and a swollen cheek.

Morgan turned to face the window and then cast her gaze to the floor. She couldn't bear to look at him. "I.. I know. I never meant it to be like this. But Fuhito, he's got Shears' ear and we follow our orders; just like the Turks. But we are fighting for the greater good, for the children who will inherit this Planet after us. It was never our intention to attack anyone at the train station. But my team was spotted, security showed up, and you know that Avalanche doesn't retreat. We retaliate."

A light beep emitted from the console near the bedside and Drake's breathing grew softer. She figured it to be the automated drug dispenser and she wondered if he was drifting off once more. She squeezed his hand and shook it a bit. "Hey, don't leave me yet, I needed to ask you something."

"Hmm?" came his voice though he did not open his eyes.

"The Turks add some new recruits to the roster?"

For a moment Drake didn't reply. She was sure he'd fallen back into a drug induced sleep. "Drake, are there new Turks..?"

"Mm... yea. Two of your guys.. Veld saved their necks.. For now." He was out again, and the room was silent.

She was still left wondering the exact circumstances, but knowing he was too drugged for her to get any real information. She heard a shuffle from behind and turned to look at the light shifting under the door. Drake lay motionless on the bed, but Morgan still spoke to him. "I'll come back tomorrow night, okay?"

She sat up from the bedside and unlocked the door before making tracks for the window. She stepped out onto the fire escape and Drake called out to her very faintly, "I love you."

She smiled before sliding the window shut. He let sleep take him and drifted into internal thoughts that were much less taxing on his energy. He was sorry that the Company had come between them. It was then that he made the decision that had been gnawing at his brain from some time. He'd leave Shinra behind to be with her. Just like he left the Don when he saw the effect it was having on him. It was the only way he'd ever be happy.

Morgan walked along the streets for sometime before returning to Sector Seven. She thought about the times before she left. Still working with the Turks, happy but blind to their purpose. She took her orders, did the jobs, and was pretty much 'one of the guys'. Sometimes she missed it, especially the times with Drake. Other times, she questioned why she lied to herself for so long. When she told Drake that she was pregnant, he proposed almost immediately. But then she lost the baby and the depression carved a deep rift between them.

She walked in silence on the upper city for some time. Misty rain began to envelop her in a haze. She crossed the border between sectors, heading into the heart of Sector Eight. The crowds picked up, taxis and trolleys packed the streets. Couples walked hand in hand, stopping momentarily to gaze into well lit shop windows at the latest gadgets. Morgan's feet kept their pace, moving at a speed matched only by the feet she noticed were following her. She took a sharp turn, dodging into a darkened side street and when the individual passed by, she grabbed them without warning and pulled them into the alley. A butterfly knife was pressed into their neck and under the flickering lamp light; Morgan saw that it was Shears.

"Out for an evening stroll?" she hissed.

Shears said nothing, glaring into her eyes intently. She released him, flipping the knife and putting it away. He pushed himself off the brick wall and dusted his backside. For a moment, nothing was said. Passers by moved beyond the alley paying the pair no attention. "I could ask the same of you," he spat.

Morgan turned away from him, looking back to the street beyond the alley. "Following me now, are you?"

Without moving from his spot, he replied, "How many times have you run off to visit Drake? Are you hiding something from us?"

"I can't be trusted, is that it? Because Kess and Ashe were seen with the Turks, obviously I'm the leak. Is that what Fuhito is trying to spin?"

"I'm just saying; it looks bad," he replied, tucking some fallen hairs away into the bandanna.

Morgan bit back a few nasty comments and pushed her fingers through her dark hair to calm herself. "I didn't say anything to him that would put our mission in jeopardy. Drake was injured at the train station, and I wanted to make sure he was okay."


She turned to him, her hair whipping with her. "And I asked him what they were doing with the Turks."

Shears walked to her, closing the gap between them. "And?"

She crossed her arms and looked away. "He was too drugged to give an answer.. He mentioned Veld saving them from being executed. But I don't know what's going on.."

Shears looked away, watching the streets beyond them. "I just want to make sure, Morgan. And yes you were followed, but by me. I don't want to give Fuhito any ammunition against you. You're our best commander."

Morgan crossed her arms. "Then hear what I say now. It is the truth. The girl I used to be is gone. She died the night I left Drake standing alone just a few blocks from here. But just because that girl is gone, doesn't mean I still don't care about what happens to those she cared about."

Thinking long about what she said, Shears moved to leave the alley. "Good, I wanted to make sure."

"Wait," Morgan stopped him. "Now that we’re out of the base, I want to tell you what Kess and Ashe told me yesterday before they left."

Shears turned around. "Did you know that Diego Margriff was a Wutai Crescent?" she asked.

Shears’ expression showed that he did not. "Even so, what does that matter?"

"The Crescents were wiped out by a traitor. Don’t you find it a bit peculiar that he’s still around?" Morgan explained.

Shears crossed his arms and leaned on the brick wall. He said nothing, contemplating her words. Finally he spoke, "I’ll look into it.. Meanwhile..stay away from Drake. I don’t need Fuhito up my ass anymore than he already is.."

He left and she didn't move for a long time. She leaned on the wall, thinking over all that Shears had said. Yes it was true; she still loved Drake after all this time. It made the pain of their separation even greater. But she had a duty and she had made an oath. Down with Shinra, whatever the cost, and she was determined to see it through to the end.

--End Chapter 10..