Chapter 13: The Big Comedown

Morgan arrived just in time to slide into her seat. Fuhito came in after her and so there was no need for an excuse. Shears glanced over to her and turned his hands over in question. Morgan shook her head with a grimace. Fuhito stepped between them and took a seat. Around the table sat Morgan, Shears, Jessie Rasberry, Emery Biggs, and Alex Perez who unwillingly went by Wedge. "Good afternoon everyone. As you all know we've come up with the next plan that is to be implemented tonight," Fuhito began. "We've already assembled the team to infiltrate. Ah, where is Elfé?" he asked Shears pointedly.

"She's resting for tonight. She wasn’t feeling well," Shears said with a hint of authority.

"Ah, well one would think that a leader would be present for the briefing."

Shears' expression became strained as Fuhito turned back to the group, raising his voice once more. "As I was saying, we've already assembled the team. Under Morgan's direction, Jessie, Emery and Alex will manage the bomb that our people have assembled. It is to be attached to the controls in the heart of the reactor. Once detonated, a chain reaction will destroy the computer system, sending the reactor offline. We've managed to procure some maintenance uniforms. If someone tries to stop you or talk to you before you are inside, direct them to speak to your team lead."

He took a deep breath and glanced around the room. "You will suit up in the supply shed next to the armory and then meet in the designated spot in Sector Six. Once inside the reactor, you will go to the main control center in mako storage to attach the bomb. It's on a timer, so once you've radioed that it's in place, you will have ten minutes to get out."

"We will have a few groups on standby to provide cover fire should Soldier, or Minerva forbid, the Turks show up."

Fuhito noticed that Elfé was now standing at the end of the platform a few paces behind Shears. Her eyes looked tired and her body weak. "Anything to add, fearless leader?" Fuhito asked in a condescending tone.

"Yes actually. I know our last mission was a failure and I blame myself. If the Turks are there, they may try to use Kess and Ashe against us. If at all possible, avoid hurting them. But I understand if you must take their lives to save your own or this mission. I will be with the standby team this time to assist."

Shears looked startled at the unexpected announcement, but Elfé put her hand out before he could protest. "I need to be there, this mission must be a success."

Shears remained silent and gave a nod. She took a seat next to him and leaned back in her chair. "Right then," Fuhito continued, "you have your orders. Suit up at ten o'clock sharp. We go in at midnight."

He stood up and walked away from the table towards the door. Jessie looked to Emery and said, "Getting to work together will be nice."

Emery crossed his arms and gave a grunt as if to agree. "Indeed. It will be a good change of pace to do something besides guarding the door."

"Tell me about it, Biggs," Alex added with a laugh.

Morgan stood at once and addressed the three of them. "Let's do this one right, ok guys? In and out, hit those bastards where it counts."

The trio agreed and everyone put their right hands in the center of the table, layering them. They gave a small cheer and lifted their arms. Morgan moved to leave the room, catching Fuhito's attention as he lingered by the door. "Ms. Narshe, where are you going?" he asked from behind her.

She stopped and craned her neck back to answer, "Out."

And without waiting for a reply or his approval, she left the room. Fuhito turned to Shears and shook his head as a parent might. "Don't," Shears began but he was interrupted by the scientist.

"Don't what? Assume that Ms. Narshe's loyalties may lie elsewhere?" Fuhito snapped.

Jessie, Emery, and Alex ceased their conversation as Fuhito grew louder. "You three, out." He pointed an accusing finger to the teammates.

Without another word they filed out of the room. Elfé stood up and got between Shears and Fuhito, unsure of how to respond. "Hideyaki, Shears, please," she pleaded. "We can't afford to fall apart before this mission."

Shears defiantly crossed his arms. He waited a moment before replying, "Well, go on. Get it out. You have something else to say?"

"Nothing," Fuhito sneered and gathered his papers to leave.

"Please, both of you," Elfé pleaded. "We need to work together for our common cause. I trust Morgan. She and I spoke at length about her past relationship with the Turk, Drake Everno. I know that he was injured yesterday at the train station. It's hard to stop caring for someone you loved for so long. But I also know that she wouldn't betray us."

Fuhito shot Shears a cutting glance but seemed to regain his composure. "Fine. But you both know that I only wish for the advancement of Avalanche and the downfall of Shinra. I do not want to squabble over petty things. But we can never be too cautious.. Especially with Ms. Reignheart and Mr. Kincaid. I saw the news report last night, claiming that they had infiltrated us and returned to the Company."

Shears moved to speak up, Fuhito held up a hand to stall him. "I know that it was propaganda. Do you think I’d believe anything that they say on the news? Preposterous. However, we can't count out that they are 'working' for Shinra now, either by choice or by force."

He turned to leave but tossed over his shoulder once at the doorway, "Mark my words, we will have to deal with them at some point."

With that statement, he was gone and Elfé turned back to face Shears. He clasped a gentle hand on her shoulder. "I hate admitting that he is right. But Kess and Ashe may very well become liabilities. And if Morgan doesn't put her focus on our cause, we may have to deal with her as well."

Elfé closed her eyes, the thoughts digging into her mind. "I know. We stand together and can't let the actions of a few dictate the fate of many.." She placed her hand atop his but then pulled away and left the room. Now Shears was alone. He settled back at the table, resting his chin on his hands and heaving a great sigh. "This ship will not sink... This ship will not sink.." he repeated to himself in a whisper. He leaned back in his chair, his lips moving as he chanted.


Sector Five bustled with life as usual. The most popular of the sectors, it was a beacon to the younger crowd, but could draw in anyone with its small, wall to wall shops and quaint restaurants. People laughed and carried on, walking the streets and spending time with each other. Despite the attack on the train station in Sector Six only days before, people were still out enjoying their afternoons without a care in the world. They joked with friends, shopped with family, and took public transport; interacting with the world around them without fear. It dawned on Becca as she sat at a corner café, sipping her drink; you can't halt progress and you can't stop the spirit of the people behind it.

Despite knowing this and being genuinely warmed by the feeling, she knew that there were others out there with a more cynical view of the world. One of them being her little sister, Elena. She was always trying so hard. Whereas Becca came into the role naturally, Elena pushed herself mentally and physically to outperform her older sibling. Becca wondered what she was up to at that moment. Checking the time, she knew school was still in session for the day in Junon. She made a mental note to drop her a message later to check in.

The girls, plus Shion, had brought their shopping trip to an end by sitting down to a casual lunch at one of Sector Five's top cafés, Mon-a-Mi. Shion, Tonya and Becca sipped at piping hot cappuccinos while looking over the menu. Cissnei and Samantha had skipped lunch and went straight for the dessert tray. Samantha spooned some chocolate ice cream into her mouth and winced as the cold numbed her teeth. Tonya smirked at the sight. "Feeling any better?" she asked.

Sam nodded, her mouth too full of the tasty treat to speak. Becca sipped her drink a bit more before setting it down. The waiter returned to the table and took their orders. He gathered the menus with the promise of returning shortly. Tonya watched as he walked away and snickered, "I could stare at that man all day."

"Unfortunately, we don't have all day," replied Becca, a small smile on her lips.

Tonya released a sigh and leaned back into the chair. "I know. It's so disappointing." She pouted and looked over to Cissnei who was enjoying a parfait. "Remind me to get one of those before we go, eh Ciss? The green tea one."

Cissnei closed her eyes with a delighted grin. "Oh, and it's sooooo good toooooo..!"

Tonya glared jokingly and threw a napkin at the younger girl. "Shut up and clean your chin."

Taking the napkin, Cissnei giggled and wiped her face. "I wonder what the men are up to.." Tonya sighed.

Sam stopped stuffing her face long enough to speak. She scoffed with a grin, "I think you mean 'boys'. Probably getting shit-faced and hitting on anything with two legs." She fed herself another spoonful of ice cream.

"This early in the afternoon?" Cissnei asked.

Samantha raised her right brow. "Ok, well maybe just hitting on things with two legs."

"Chocobo have two legs," Shion said before taking another sip from his tiny cup.

Sam looked back to Shion, her expression had turned to one of disgust. "That's just wrong.." she spoke, her mouth still full of dessert.

The others chuckled and caused some heads to turn their way. "Good one Shion," Cissnei laughed.

"I try," he said with a smile as he set his drink back onto its saucer.

The food arrived after the girls quieted their laughter. Shion, Becca and Tonya were just settling in when Cissnei's phone received a text message. Everyone glanced at her as she pulled out her phone and opened it. "Hah, it's Marcus. ‘Where r u guys??’, he asks."

"Why do people text like that? Like he never went to school and learned a damn thing." Tonya snickered as she bit into her wrap.

Becca shifted in her seat and sighed, "Technically, he was raised in the Coral Desert and robbed people for a living."

Tonya took on a serious tone, "Oh, good point."

"Quite," Becca replied.

"What are you telling him?" Samantha asked Cissnei as she began to type back.

"Where we are," Cissnei said nonchalantly.

"Oh, don't do that!" Tonya groaned. "Now he's going to show up."

Cissnei smiled sheepishly and held her phone up showing the message had already been sent. "Oops, too late.." The little Moogle charm on her phone swaying innocently.

Becca remained indifferent to the conversation, choosing to focus on her food; the thoughts from before still rolling around her mind. Samantha finished her sundae and set the dish aside. "Oh well," Tonya began, "we should be getting ready to go soon anyhow."

She glanced at her watch and noticed it was close to two o'clock. "We've got to be in Sector Four by three to get our uniforms," she reminded the group.

"Those stupid, unflattering Public Security uniforms.." Samantha grumbled.

"Technically you'll be dressed as maintenance, Sam," Becca replied.

Sam pouted. "Even more unflattering… ugh!" She leaned her head into the table.


Marcus snapped his phone shut after reading over Cissnei's message. He knew where they were, now for Reno, Rude, and August. He stood out in front of the usual bar in Sector Five, readying another text to Reno. Max stood idle, a little more relaxed now that they were on the upper plate. "Odd that they're not here," he commented. "Are you certain that you checked the whole bar?"

"Hey, I already told you that I checked well enough. I stood in there for ten minutes and nothing. Even if they were in the crapper, they'd have come out while I was in there."

Max glanced nervously to Kess and Ashe who had taken to sitting on the curb. Marcus pressed out a message on the phone. "Where r u?" he spoke aloud while typing.

Reno's voice came from behind him, "Behind you, yo."

Marcus jumped and hit send. He turned to see Reno and Rude sauntering over while August helped support him. Rude was clearly intoxicated. "Where were you guys? We've been here for nearly thirty minutes."

"Sorry man, had to make a few extra stops," Reno smirked, his phone chiming.

He fished it out of his jacket pocket and flipped it open. "Ah, a message from Marcus."

Marcus narrowed his gaze, wondering just how much the three of them had been drinking. From the sight of Rude stumbling around while August fought to keep him steady, it had been a lot. Reno glanced over the message and began shaking his head. "No actually, it's the grammar police. They say to get a fucking dictionary and learn how to type."

Marcus just glared. "Anyway. The girls and Shion are eating lunch. Shall we intrude?"

"But of course," Reno laughed as he reached out to steady Rude. "Obviously the booze tasting bad has nothing to do with its effect on you," Reno added. "C'mon, we're going to go crash the girls' party."

Rude moved towards the car, sticking close to Reno for support. "Didn't you guys drive?" Marcus asked.

"Nah, we took the train. And then walked here." He popped the back door open, setting Rude in the backseat and motioned for Kess and Ashe to cram in next to him. Kess looked a little worried. She leaned through the window to look at Rude and shook her head. "He doesn't look so well," she commented.

Reno poked his head into the backseat, glancing first to Rude, then to Kess with a smile. "Yea… he might make a mess on the seats."

She glared back and then pushed Ashe into the car. "Hey, why me!" he protested.

"Because if you don't, I will pummel you anyway when he pukes all over me."

Reno laughed at the threat to Ashe. "The lady makes a fair argument."

Ashe thought for a second before conceding and moving towards the car. He slid into the middle seat while Kess followed. Reno motioned for Max to join them. "Marcus, take August, would ya?" he instructed.

"Yea, no problem," Marcus replied as August moved towards the bike.

Reno got behind the wheel while Max occupied the passenger seat as the car was started. Marcus took to his motorcycle and pulled up next to the car with August on the back. "They're at Mon-a-Mi. Meet you there!" He revved the engine and took off in a burst of speed.

Reno's brows twitched up with a little smirk and he wobbled his head side to side. "Oh, how decadent of them," he cooed in a foppish voice.

Max's attention had been focused in the backseat where Rude was looking green in the face. He gave Reno a nervous glance. "Um.. you were both drinking, right? Are you alright to drive?"

"Mmm.. Probably..?" Reno replied with a sarcastic shrug.

Max was confused by the answer and started to say something, but Reno cut him off, "You got that 'thing' right?"

Max shook his head, lost on the word 'thing'.

"You know. The 'thing'? The 'THING'?"

He placed his hand to the side of his head and made an exploding gesture; complete with a small 'ka-boom' and then hung his head to the side.

Max's face lit up in recognition. "Oh! That thing!" He pressed his hand to his jacket to feel it still there. "Yes, it's right here."

Max pulled it out and moved to hand it to Reno. "What the hell are you doing? I don't want it."

Max looked disappointed. "But, but I—"

"Not a snowball's chance in hell, pal. You just, put it right back in your damn pocket and hang onto it. I've seen too many action movies and don't think I should touch that thing."

Max did as he was told and sighed in defeat. Kess and Ashe exchanged side glances and Ashe shook his head. He thought it odd that this had been done to them, but no one wanted to be the one to push the button. Well, except maybe Jale. But in the big scheme of things, he had noticed that the other Turks were quite close to their humanity on issues that involved taking out the Company's enemies.

It was such a strange revelation that hit him just then; he wished he could have shared it with Kess. It wasn't their jobs that the Turks seemed to enjoy.. It was their time spent with each other. It was then that he decided, if he and Kess made it out of this scrape, he was going to go to Morgan about reinventing the spirit of Avalanche. Tseng was right; their motives were no different than Shinra's when it came to the common man, woman or child. Their actions had hurt many.. How many innocent people had died at the train station..? How many more innocents would suffer before Avalanche brought the Company to its knees? Ashe cast his gaze downward and Kess turned to him in question, but he shook his head and mouthed 'Later.'

She placed her hand over his and squeezed it. She resumed looking out the window in silence as Reno pulled the car onto the road and made his way to Sector Five.


"Why in the world did I buy this..?" Tonya muttered while fumbling around in a shopping bag.

"Didn't you say that all the Shinra issued bangles are hideous?" Becca said as she signed her name to the receipt.

"Because they are."

Becca's cell phone rang and she pulled it from her jacket pocket. "Max..? Hmm.." She answered the call while the girls continued their conversation.

"And you've wanted one ever since you first left for your assignment," Cissnei added.

"True." Tonya had pulled the silver bangle out and was inspecting it. She wondered what sort of materia to fill the open slots with.

"Doesn't that one have one less slot than the Shinra model?" Shion chimed in, having counted the holes along the bracer.

Tonya's lips curled into an unpleasant grimace. "Well shit.." She hadn't even noticed.

"But it is really pretty!" Cissnei chimed in.

Tonya's expression lightened. "I suppose so.."

She was placing the bangle back into the tissue paper filled bag when Becca closed her phone. "That was Max, they're almost here."

A motorcycle engine revved in the distance. Glancing over her shoulder towards the street, Cissnei saw Marcus rounding a corner. "Look out everyone, here comes trouble," she snickered.

Marcus came tearing up the street, his motorcycle pressing almost double over the set speed limit. August clutched the fellow Turk's middle for dear life as they raced passed a yellow traffic signal. The girls all moved to get a better look as the bike neared them while Shion pushed in his chair. At that moment, a Shinra company car drifted up to the curb, obstructing their view. The car lurched to a dead stop, Reno at the wheel, Rude passed out against the back right window with Kess, Ashe and Max looking terrified.

"Wow, keeping it classy," Becca commented.

Marcus' bike pulled up in front and he glanced around August to Reno as he stepped from the car. "How the hell did you beat us here?" Marcus shouted as he lifted his goggles.

"Short cut, yo."

The girls began to stand and gather their shopping bags. Shion followed suit and walked over to their car. "Aww… you're already done?" Reno pouted.

"Yup, just ran the company card. You'll have to run your own," Samantha smiled.

"Hmm, I could go for some ice cream.. Rude, you want something?" Reno asked.

He glanced back to the car, noticing that Rude had slipped further down the window leaving a trail of drool and face grease in his wake. Reno waved his hand in dismissal and turned back to the girls. Cissnei took notice of Kess and Ashe looking rather dejected in the back seat. "What about them?" she asked sweetly.

"What about them?" Sam snapped.

"Well, I feel a little bad that they haven't had anything to smile about in a while.." Cissnei sighed.

Samantha interjected. "Ciss, would you try to save a dog that just bit off your hand?"

"Well no, but—"

"They are deserving of nothing." Samantha sneered and picked up her single bag. She turned back towards the street, her chestnut colored eyes stopping on Rude. "What the hell's wrong with him?"

Reno glanced over his shoulder. "Rude? Oh nothing, he's just a little under the weather."

She shook her head and moved to the car they took as Shion slid behind the wheel. "I knew they were getting drunk.." she muttered under her breath.

Tonya slapped a gloved hand to her forehead. "Aww crap!"

Cissnei turned to her in confusion but then remembered. "Oh, your parfait!"

Tonya shook her head in disappointment. "Oh, well. Next time."

Cissnei hoisted her bag higher onto her shoulder. Reno and Marcus glanced at the ladies. "Well.. shall we?" Marcus asked, a hint of uneasiness to his voice.

Reno moved back to the car as Max was exiting it. "Yo, where are you going?"

Max glanced toward Samantha and then back to Reno. "I had something to give to Sam."

"It can wait, we need to get our asses over to the barracks."

Defeated, Max slid back into his seat. He set the flower on the drink console of the car and looked back as their vehicle passed by. Marcus took the lead and they were on their way.


By the time the Turks arrived at their destination, Rude had sat up and was leaning against the back seat. Reno noticed him in the rear view mirror. "Feelin' better, man?"

Rude nodded. He pressed a steady hand to his smooth head and rubbed back and forth for a moment. The spot felt sore. "Did I fall?"

"Nah, just leaned on the window too long," Reno explained.

Rude glanced to his window and took note of the face shaped smear of grease. He appeared to be embarrassed. "You better clean that up before Tseng or Veld notice," Max warned.

Rude pulled his jacket sleeve over his hand and wiped the window, succeeding in making the smear worse. Noticing this, he rubbed more furiously. "Right, here we are," Reno said as he pulled through a pair of large gates.

The Soldier barracks were nestled in Sector Four; the entire area had been designated for the military. It wasn't anything compared to what Junon housed, but as the two cars and motorcycle approached, Ashe let out an impressed whistle. Reno stopped the car long enough to give the gate guard a welcoming 'Yo'. The man pressed on a keypad and the arm blocking the entrance rose. Reno leaned back into the car and drove on.

The buildings were large and numerous here. Both Kess and Ashe had a vague idea of what sort of things might be housed within, but wouldn't allow their minds to be distracted. They looked ahead, wondering what sort of sights they would see. Perhaps they would gain some knowledge on how well prepared the Shinra army was. Ahead, Kess noticed a tall figure waiting in front of a building that was somewhat smaller than the others. Near him stood a motorcycle and who Kess assumed was Marcus. Once they were closer, she noticed the other man was Tseng. Reno stopped the car and jumped out. "Hey boss!" he greeted.

"Good you've all arrived."

He motioned for everyone to follow him inside as the other car came to a stop. Everyone exited the vehicles and made their way after Tseng. By this time, Rude was able to walk by himself without feeling dizzy. Reno and Marcus waited for Kess and Ashe to exit the car before bringing up the rear. Shion, Tonya, Cissnei, Becca and Samantha all followed. Once inside, Tseng led them to a separate room where there was a long table. "Marcus, Max, Tonya, Samantha, Kess and Ashe. Your uniforms are here. After getting dressed, we'll head down to the armory to get you all outfitted with the standard equipment and the other uniforms for the rest of you," Tseng explained.

He pointed to a table at his side where the maintenance uniforms were folded. Samantha grimaced but tried not to show her utter displeasure. Tseng began again, "Veld will be here soon, so I want you to get dressed in the next five minutes. There are locker rooms behind me." He motioned out from his side to the doors at the back of the room. "The rest of you please remain here. I will be right back."

He motioned for Kess and Ashe to follow him after picking up an outfit each. They did so, disappearing with him around a nearby corner. Marcus walked up to the table, snatching the uniform that donned his name and began to head for the locker room. Max looked a little nervous, but nonetheless, followed after Marcus once he had picked up his uniform. Tonya practically had to drag Samantha over to the table. "Hey, come on, girl. Time for action," she coaxed. "After this, we can all go have a spa day. Get pampered. We totally deserve it."

Samantha pouted. "Promise?" she asked, picking up her bundle. "Mani pedis too?"

"Of course," Tonya smiled.

Together, they walked towards the other locker room leaving Rude, Reno, Shion, Cissnei and Becca behind. "Soo.. do we know what the full plan is yet?" Cissnei asked aloud.

Reno shifted his stance and moved towards the table. He hopped onto the surface and hunched over, letting his legs dangle idly. "Well, from what I've gathered.. They're going to 'shut down' the reactor for 'repairs'." He made air quotes. "Then those four along with Kess and Ashe and a bunch of Soldiers are going in dressed as maintenance to 'repair' it. Meanwhile the rest of us are going to wait at various points as the welcoming party."

Rude sauntered over to the table and leaned his backside against the front next to Reno. "And how will we ensure those two won't be warning their friends?"

Marcus emerged from the locker room doorway and wandered back over to the others. "Rude, I'm glad you asked!" Reno replied. "They've got explosives in their necks. Nuff said."

Marcus cleared his throat, bringing attention to himself. Reno turned to him and gave him a look over then a nod of approval. "Marcus, if you should ever leave the Turks, you should definitely become a maintenance worker. The outfit does wonders for your curves. Or a merchant. Either works."

"Har har.. Shutup," Marcus groaned.

The getup consisted of overalls, a shirt with rolled up sleeves, boots and a cap with a bill. The whole thing was grey and brown, and very dull. Max emerged from the locker room and Tonya soon after. They walked back to the others and Cissnei piped up, "Where's Samantha?"

Tonya thumbed over her shoulder. "She's too self conscious to come out."

"This is so unflattering..!" her voice echoed out from the locker room. She made her way through the doors and joined her fellow maintenance workers. "After this is over, I will be writing a letter to whoever is in charge of Shinra uniforms. Changes must be made."

She crossed her arms and leaned against the long table. At that moment, Tseng reentered with Kess and Ashe dressed like the others. He motioned for them to walk back to the table to stand with Marcus when Veld entered the warehouse. "Everyone, good evening. All suited up?" Veld asked.

"Sir!" came from Marcus, Max and Tonya.

A less than enthusiastic 'yes sir' came from Samantha.

"Good then. Let's head to the armory to get everyone else outfitted and armed." He turned to the left, walking toward a double door elevator.

Everyone followed suit, Kess and Ashe near the end with Max and Marcus following up the rear. Tseng arrived first and pressed the down button on the console. After a few moments, the doors opened to reveal a freight elevator in which everyone could fit. They traveled down only two floors before coming to a stop. The doors opened to reveal several Soldiers, 2nd and 3rd Class units, lining up with orders from commanders dressed in red.

Kess and Ashe were alarmed by the sheer amount of them. Would Avalanche bring an equal number of units? The group of Turks funneled into the room, standing off to the side as one of the commanders came over to address Veld. "Your uniforms are over here, sir. Rifles are being gathered now."

Veld nodded. "Very good. Thank you."

He turned back to his group and offered them seats on nearby benches. "We’ll wait here," he instructed.


After the meeting earlier, Fuhito had busied himself with preparations for that night. He returned to his lab, tossing his packet of papers down on a side table and sighed. A puff of smoke in the near darkness caught his attention and he narrowed his gaze. "I thought we had said all that we needed, Mr. Margriff."

A light chuckle from the corner of the room, the tip of the cigarillo lit up gently. "I’m just checking in," came Jale’s voice.

Fuhito crossed the room, anger tightening over his expression. "I’ve already told you before, please do not smoke in here.. The equipment is very sensitive." He sank into the chair at his desk and turned his back on the man.

Jale stepped out of the shadows and walked over, snuffing the smoke out on the edge of the desk. "So touchy.. And after I came all this way with good news for you," he teased.

"Oh do tell," Fuhito sneered, turning his monitors on without glancing back.

Jale now stood at the edge of his desk. "You’ve been given the green light to win this one," he relented. "Our mutual benefactor wants to see the reactor in ruins. Well, at least nonfunctional for the time being."

"I suppose that is a silver lining.." the scientist replied without glancing over. "Now if he could do something about some of the Turks.." He was certain that Morgan had indeed left the base to visit Drake.

Jale laughed, walking towards the door. "Don’t you worry. That’s a problem that’s going to be taken care of tonight as well. Good luck with your mission."

Fuhito glared as he left the room. The sheer arrogance baffled him only momentarily before turning into anger. He stared hard at the burn mark on the edge of the desk.

Allowed to win? He fought the urge to flip the desk in front of him.

Jale left the base as evening was coming on. He needed to get his plan rolling if he was going to dispatch Drake and still make it to the reactor in time. He hadn't given much thought to how he would end the Turk, but he was sure that an opportunity would present itself. He needed a cover though, and so stopped at a florist to get a small bouquet of flowers. He attached a card that said 'Get well. –The Team' and then set out for the hospital. Once reaching the building, he glanced at his watch, but the hands were frozen in place. "Great," he muttered, "gotta get a new battery now."

He entered the main lobby, the clock near the front desk showed that it was a little after 9 o'clock, well past visiting hours. But he was confident that he could persuade a nurse to let him up to the room. His coy expression faded when he saw that instead of the cute little nurse he envisioned, there sat a mean looking, portly woman. "Oh great.." he muttered to himself.

He arrived at the counter, using his nicest voice. "Excuse me ma'am, I brought these for my friend and I wanted to take them to his room."

The woman glanced up and raised a brow. "I'm sorry sir, but you'll have to come back tomorrow. Visiting hours are from seven a.m. to six p.m.—"

Jale interrupted her, "Yes, I know. And I had to work. I just want to drop these off, not—"

"Did you j'est interrupt me?" she snapped. "You heard what I said, now do as I say. Come back to-mor-row."

Jale wasn't in the mood for this woman or her prattle. He leaned on the counter, getting close to her face. "You listen to me lady, I'm one of the Turks and this is for our comrade who is laid up in this joint. Now you let me up or I might have to--."

"Turks? You threaten' me?!" the nurse heaved herself up from her chair, her huge arms hulking as she pressed her hands into the desk. "I wouldn't care if the President himself wanted up in here! You aren't getting in!"

At that point, a doctor had been walking by the station and overheard the conversation. "Turks? Go ahead and let him up, Mary," he stated. He said to Jale, "Room 1006."

The nurse looked at the doctor in disbelief and shook her head. Defeated, she held out the visitor's log for Jale to sign and pressed the button on the desk that controlled the doors. All smiles, Jale signed and skipped away, flowers in hand. Mary the nurse watched him the whole time and when he got to the door, he turned and stuck his tongue out at her. Mary slammed her hand on the door button, and it swung into Jale's turned face. An audible "Owww.." was heard from the other side.

"Pasty ass, Turk. Ya'll don't come up in here demanding things from me. Snap yo lil turkey neck," Mary muttered to herself as she settled back into her seat.

Jale rubbed his sore nose as he made his way up to the tenth floor. He emerged into the hallway and began his slow walk towards room 1006. The nurse station was vacant and he was grateful to not have to deal with any more nosy people. He continued on his trek and soon arrived at the door. Seeing no light shining from underneath, he smiled to himself, "Perfect. He must be alone."

However, Drake was not alone in the room. Morgan had arrived not long after his medication was administered and he was out cold. No matter, she had only stopped by to check on him, not have a lengthy conversation. She had just unlocked the door and was walking towards the window when she heard the doorknob being handled. Lighting fast, she dove to the floor and pushed herself beneath the bed. She caught a glimpse of what appeared to be white dress shoes before the door shut once more and sucked the room back into near darkness.

Jale approached the bed, unsure on how sedated Drake was. He placed the flower vase on the bedside table and using a pin light, began to look over the I.V. medicines being fed into him. Morgan held her breath on and off to control her breathing. Was it a doctor coming to check on Drake? That seemed unlikely at this hour.. Then who was--

Her answer came when Jale stepped closer to the bedside, the familiar snakeskin boots coming into view. She held her breath. What was Diego doing here?! "What are they pumping into you, buddy... What can you overdose on...?"

Morgan recognized the voice's owner and grit her teeth on hearing what he was planning to do. Had someone sent him to specifically kill Drake? "Ah, I guess morphine will be good enough. Don't worry Drake, you won't feel anything.. Rufus did request a quiet farewell," he spoke aloud.

Morgan almost gasped, but clasped a quick hand over her mouth.

Rufus? Rufus Shinra?! Why is Diego working for him?

"Nighty night, Drake. Maybe in your next life, you’ll think twice before shoving a gun in someone’s face," Jale sneered.

She had to stop him. As quietly as she could she pushed herself out from under the bed. She rose, seeing Diego dressed in a black Turk’s suit looking over the console at Drake’s bedside. Silently as a cat, she rounded the foot of the bed and suddenly reeled back her leg, kicking Jale in the back of the knee. “Surprise, shithead!” she hissed.

Completely caught by Morgan’s surprise attack, Jale went down hard. His face slammed into the machine that controlled the morphine, several buttons being pushed at once. He turned back to Morgan, his sunglasses now broken. He tossed them aside and lunged for her. A student of Zangan, she was no slowpoke. Before he could grab her throat in his grasp, she had dodged to the left out of his path and brought her elbow down into his neck. An alarm sounded on the vital console, Morgan’s eyes seeing Drake’s heart rate dropping dramatically.

Jale reached out and grabbed hold of Drake’s I.V. From the ground, he reached up with the tubing and circled it around her neck. She may have been fast, but Jale was much stronger than she was and it took hardly any effort for him to yank her overhead, the I.V. ripping out of the machine and spraying foul smelling medicine all over. He spun around, straddling her chest, trying to choke her with tubing. Morgan reached up, pushing both fingers into his now exposed eye sockets while pulling her legs upward and over his arms. Jale roared in pain as Morgan shoved him backwards off of her, using the strength of her legs to push him away. She reached up to the table and grasped the flower vase, bringing it down to shatter on his head, sending shards of glass, water and disarrayed blooms all over the floor.

The door opened suddenly next to them, two nurses rushing into the room with a crash cart. "Lights on!" one commanded.

The room lit up to reveal the two wrestling on the floor where blood and morphine were splattered from Jale ripping out the I.V. Jale shoved himself back as Morgan’s leg swung at him and he pushed himself past the two nurses. He raced back down the hallway, fleeing the scene in a frenzy. Morgan used her momentum to propel herself upwards, landing on both feet. She raced into the hallway intending to give chase but there was no sign of him. "Dammit!" she choked, rubbing her sore neck.

Other patients had now opened their doors and were peering out into the hallway. At the end of the corridor, the elevator opened to reveal two security guards. They drew their shock batons and began a fast paced walk towards Morgan who was still standing stunned outside Drake’s door. She glanced back to the open room as one of the nurses plunged a large syringe into Drake’s chest. "Are you responsible for this?!" the second nurse shouted in anger.

Morgan's thoughts began to collide all at once. Diego had tried to kill Drake on orders from Rufus Shinra. She stumbled as the guards approached, her face wet with hot tears. "No! It wasn't me!" she managed to sputter out.

Drake sat straight up in bed and cried out. He caught a momentary glimpse of Morgan as she turned to run away from the room. "Morgan! It's an ambush! At the reactor!" he managed to shout.

He fell back and grabbed his chest in pain. The nurse caught him and held him in her arms. "There now, there now. Calm yourself..." she said as she eased him back into the pillows.

The two guards walked by with heavy steps and proceeded down the hallway in pursuit of Morgan. Drake felt weak and heavy. His breathing refused to regulate and he lay heaving in the bed. "Nurse.. that woman.."

"Don't worry, security will have her soon. She'll pay for what she tried to do to you," the second nurse stated.

Drake tried to shake his head, but found it impossible. "No..she... she.. wouldn’t.."

"Shh now.. rest.." the first nurse said comfortingly.


Morgan's footsteps echoed throughout the empty corridors. She had no idea where she was going. She had entered the hospital through the main entrance well before visiting hours were over and hid in an empty office. Now as she raced from the security guards, she was doing her best to not become trapped. Drake's words stuck in her mind and with what she now knew about Diego’s alliance, it all made sense. Kess and Ashe had been right. She had to warn Shears; maintenance on Reactor Six was a set up. Shinra must have thought that the promise of taking out a reactor would be too much to resist for Avalanche. And now they were marching right into a trap!

She knew that there was a utility elevator somewhere on the floor for housekeeping, but was at a total loss for its location. The rush of more footsteps echoed throughout the area. It would only be a matter of time before the guards had her pinned. Taking a sharp right, she landed herself into a darkened hallway. One of the overhead lights flickered unsteadily creating a foreboding atmosphere. She had little time to remove her cell phone from her jacket pocket as the footsteps were fast approaching. She auto dialed Shears' number and pressed the device to her ear to hear the ringing. But it never ceased and she was forced to hang up and resume her escape.

Morgan sprinted through the short hallway and found that at the end of it lay the inner stairwell used to access all levels. With a defeated sigh, she pulled open the heavy metal door. Stepping out into the concrete room, a cold breeze rushed over her as a sudden realization hit. Diego was the leak. He had to be! He was the reason that Ashe's team had gotten caught. He was the reason Siena, Rosco, and Higashi were on their way to Junon tomorrow to be executed. She took to the stairs, holding onto the railing in case of a fall. She was about two floors below when the door above was flung open and the two guards stumbled in. "Where'd she go?" asked one.

They both looked around, catching sight of her as she pressed against the wall. "There! Stop or we will fire!" the second one shouted.

She kept running, refusing to be caught. Gunshots ricocheted around her as the two guards attempted to catch up or wound her enough to stop her. The exit came into sight, two more floors to go. The guards were closing in as she grabbed the handle. She felt a tight grip on her arm and was yanked back, but she refused to yield. With an previously unknown burst of strength, she shoved the guard that had grabbed her. He careened backwards into the other one and together, they crashed to the ground, falling down the next flight that led to the basement level.

She was free and burst onto the street, sweat drenching her hair and back. She spun her head either direction as the guards both struggled to their feet behind her. But Morgan was faster and raced for her nearest get away, an alley that led to the next block. She intended to lose them in the crowd but when she stumbled to the street, she saw that there was no crowd at all. The roadways were empty and quiet, lit every few feet by dim lamps. The sun had set long ago, plunging the lower streets into near darkness. A bus on the other side of the street was filling up for its last run and she determined that would be the safest way out. Moving automatically, she approached the bus and was able to get on at the moment the guards erupted onto the deserted street. Looking back, she saw them shaking their heads and holstering their weapons, apparently giving up the chase.

Morgan slouched over, placing her hands on her face and then pressed them through her sweat slicked hair. Her legs quivered with energy, but it was leaving as fast as it had come. Her heart refused to slow down and the feeling was making her sick to her stomach. An elderly woman sitting across from her fished a flowery handkerchief from her jacket pocket and held it out to her with a wrinkled hand. "Here honey, you look like you've run a marathon," the woman observed.

Morgan took the handkerchief, wiping her face. "You wouldn't be wrong," was all she could muster as a response.

She handed the damp kerchief back with a 'thank you' and the old woman tucked it away. She had to get back to the headquarters to warn the others. What time was it? "Excuse me ma'am, do you have the time?"

The woman looked at her watch. "Yes, dear. It's quarter til eleven."

They’ll be getting ready to move.. I might be able to reach him.

Morgan thanked her and took out her cell phone. She dialed Shears number once more and pressed the phone to her ear. After several rings, his automated message came across. "No.. no no..." she said with desperation.

She tried again and the results were the same. She shoved the device back into her pocket and looked out the window. Sector Eight was blurring by, the bus was heading back to the station to end its run. But she needed to get to Sector Six. She could call a cab now and have it meet her at the station. Yes, that would work.. She called a number she had saved and made the arrangements. She then leaned back against the plastic seat and texted a message to Shears and Fuhito to make sure it would not be misunderstood.

*Diego is working for Shinra. Mission is compromised.* She hoped at least one of them would get the message and call it off.


Fuhito sat still for the most part at his terminal, his hands moving gracefully across the keyboard, typing out various formulas. Though his expression betrayed nothing of his inner thoughts, his mind was racing about the possible outcomes of tonight. He had known for some time about Rufus' wishes to be rid of a majority of the Turks. How perfectly convenient that it aligned with his wish to be rid of Avalanche.. He continued to type away on his document, expanding on different theories and hypotheses. He clicked through a few screens, some filled with text and others with images. One in particular showed a diagram of a woman's body with another image showing a closer view of the hand. The word 'Zirconiade' was prominent under the close up.

Admittedly, he was surprised when approached by Rufus Shinra a few nights back. He had been lurking near the building when Ashe's bomb ripped through the lower levels. He waited for a clear moment and then entered through the rubble, finding the elevator to the upper levels. When he arrived on the 67th floor, he headed straight into the heart of the science department. His time was limited, but he was able to meet Professor Hojo face to face once more. It was exhilarating to see the man in his element. And though it was brief, he felt that he and the Shinra scientist may have had a connection.

He smiled to himself, tapping away on the keys. It was in the elevator on the way back to the first level that Rufus stepped on right before the doors shut and leveled with him. If he would betray Avalanche, a very secure position awaited him alongside Professor Hojo. Rufus had been in the very next room unknown to Fuhito when he expressed his adulation for Hojo's work. Seeing this as the opportunity he had been waiting for, Rufus wasted no time in following Fuhito to the elevator.

Fuhito accepted the offer without hesitation. He vaguely recalled the trip back to headquarters that night. But had been able to return with enough time to set up the extraction console for recording the information Kess had gathered. His presence had not been missed and no one seemed the wiser. He felt his pocket buzz. Pulling the cell phone from its spot, he flipped it open to read Morgan's revelation and shook his head. "Oh dear.. Sooner than I expected.." he muttered.

He stood calmly, snagging a few folders before moving to the door. He made his way down the narrow corridor connecting his office with the main briefing room. Turning the corner, he saw Shears standing with Elfé near one of the black boards that had the night's plans mapped out over it. His eyes fell to the board room table where Shear's cell phone rested. Without pausing to greet them, he walked over to the table and placed the folders over the cell phone. He then moved to his colleagues, stopping behind them. They did not even notice he had entered and it took Fuhito clearing his throat before they turned to him.

"Ah good. The team is ready. They are already on site, and have reported back all clear. We're just waiting on Morgan to arrive," Shears shared.

Fuhito narrowed his gaze. "Good. Have you heard from Morgan? I assumed she would have reported by now.."

"No," Shears spoke as he shook his head, "she has yet to report."

The tension left his chest with each breath. A smirk formed on his lips as he glanced over to Elfé and then back to Shears. "Very well. I'm done waiting for her to get her act together. Send the team in."

Shears turned to him in surprise and Elfé gave Fuhito a glance. "We'll take our positions, Elfé head out with everyone. We cannot continue to wait for Morgan to be present. There's work to be done while she trifles with her ex-paramour."

He left, walking passed the table and scooping up both folders and Shears' cell phone with them. Shears and Elfé looked to each other and Elfé turned to leave. "I better get going," she said.

As Fuhito rounded the doorway, he pocketed the device as it buzzed in his hand.

I could just destroy it.. But who knows what other juicy tidbits I could find.

He pulled it out momentarily to glance at the screen, seeing that a few messages were blinking on the phone, all but a few were from Morgan.. But one from a strange name that was a string of numbers. He recognized the first three numbers as Shinra issued. The rest was hidden behind a pass code. "Of course.." he chuckled. "I need to kill a little time."

Slipping the device back into his coat pocket, he returned to his office and shut the door.

--End Chapter 13..