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Rising Beneath Midgar

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--

 

"What do you mean you blew up Reactor Two!" Zack's tinny voice bleated through the speaker of Clouds phs. Honestly, it didn't even sound like a question, more of a series of squeaky exclamation points echoing out of the device- particularly because Cloud was holding it a solid two feet from his ears, in preparation for this type of reaction.

"That’s not the important thing here," the blonde said, attempting to bulldoze over Zack's oncoming tantrum. "I need-" the phs made a sound like a miniature grandhorn and Cloud frantically mashed the 'volume down' button. "Zack, shut up for a-" more grandhorn noises. "Right. I'll just let you get that out of your system for a bit," he muttered, and pressed 'end call.'

There was a solid thirty seconds of blessed silence in the closet where the time-traveler was hiding before the device began to ring again. Cloud declined the call and instead, sent a brief message: "Are you going to yell at me if I pick up?"

Five seconds later, he got a reply of "I hate you." Grinning, he placed the call.

"So what were you saying about Vincent?" he began with.

"I hate you very much. We are not done talking about this."

"Later," Cloud said, flapping his hand, as though to brush away the concerns of a man who was literally hundreds of kilometers away from him and could in no way see the gesture. "What did you do to my vampire?"

"I didn't do anything! Apparently it's you he dislikes." Zack managed to sound both smug and disappointed in himself at the same time. "Those pamphlets you made up? Apparently they're both insane and obviously false, so he booked it as soon as he could. Now tell me about the reactor."

"We didn't really blow it up, it's just a bit… melted. And my pamphlets were fine! What did you say to him?"

Zack laughed, a touch hysterically, from the other side of the line. "Fine? King, I read one of them after he bolted. No sane person on the face of the planet would take those things at face value! You sounded insane! And possibly like a cult leader," he added, sounding a bit confused. "Are we in a cult? The Vincent guy asked me if I need help getting out."

Cloud had to take a moment and think over his past life choices. "I don’t think we're a cult?" he said, while shuffling around and finding a sealed bucket of some sort of cleaning supply to sit on. "Does it feel like a cult to you?"

"Dunno. I've never been in one before."

Not according to Cloud's memories, but whatever. "Me neither," he lied. "But lets assume we're not anyway. What happened after he ran away? Did you see where he went?"

"Yeah man, he went straight to the center of town, and then found the Turks stationed here. They talked a bit, but I couldn't hear them. The wind's crazy in these mountains did you know? Like, how does anyone have kids up here, they should all have blown away by now. I swear I sa-"

"Yeah, I've been there before, it's insane sometimes, but that's not the point," the blonde said, trying to get Zack back on track. He was a great guy, Zack, but sometimes his attention span needed a bit of help. "What happened with the Turks?"

"I don’t know. They walked off to the inn, and one of them was on a phs at some point. I can follow them tomorrow when they leave, but I'd be late heading out to Corel."

"Ugh, that’s not good, we need you there to drop off the head!"

"Well, I could just hitch a ride with these guys, same as before. It'd be less suspicious than if the transport simply lost a trooper somewhere in the mountains like we planned."

"True. And I got word from the team in Corel that they're ahead of schedule, so it could be as easy as dropping it off and leaving." He mulled it over.

"It would be only barely slower for me to wait and take the chopper than it would be to go by bike anyway," the purple eyed man helpfully pointed out.

"You just don't want to have to drive all night in the cold, don't you," Cloud grumbled.

"Well, I’m just saying. Speed, comfort and a chance to eavesdrop on what the Turks are planning? It doesn't sound like a bad idea to me."

And then it hit the time-traveler like a freight train. "Shit. It won't matter if the head's in Corel anyway if Vincent tells them it's all a charade. The Turks might have already called their boss, and the gig is up." He sagged into the wire frame shelving behind him and accidentally knocked over a mop. Perhaps the closet wasn't the best place to hide in. "Did he keep any of the pamphlets? What did you tell him?"

"Dude, I did exactly like I practiced, and I'm not sure how much you can take away from the pamphlet- it was definitely creepily cultish."

Zack might have gone on, but Cloud stalled and stopped hearing things. "Wait. You practiced? What did you practice?" Dread filled his stomach. "Who did you practice with?"

"Don? Don gave me a script and your updated pamphlet thing. I mean, I've got a couple of the original ones too, those ones were better, I thought, but he's right the new ones have better dramatic flair. Also, what's his actual name? Don's a title right? Is Coreno his first name or his last name, do you know?"

"Zack. I didn't authorize any updated pamphlet." And another creeping realization came to him. "Oh Gaia. Don Coreno thinks Vincent is an actual vampire. Zack, please tell me Don Coreno didn't give you a script to recruit a vampire."

There was a long pause on the line.

"Well, it started with Greetings oh great Lord of the Night, so I'm not sure what you want of me here. And the pamphlet had blood stains on it. Bonus though, he didn't take it with him."

Cloud slammed his head into the wall. "Well, maybe we're safe. But yeah, I think it's probably better if you took the chopper to Corel. Also, do me a favor and read off that pamphlet for me?"

--

Reno was moping. He'd called Tseng, to get his opinion on whether Subject Zero's possession of the late Lieutenant Fair's sword meant that the ex-SOLDIER was dead or not, and had been informed that someone had lit Niblehim on fire without him.

Not that he wanted to light entire towns on fire generally, but if that was the job to be done, obviously, he sort of expected that he warranted a part in the mayhem.

Sure, it wasn't actually the entire town that was on fire, just the reactor, the old Shinra mansion and one particular house that had previously been occupied by the Strife duo, but that was three whole buildings that Reno hadn't been allowed to light on fire! And on top of that, the preliminary report that Tseng had sent back implied that there was a whole host of other advantageous discoveries that had been made. Insights into the whole origin of the zombies! Cover-ups by Hojo! Not actually dead former Turks! All in a small mountain town that had absolutely no zombies in it. What. What had he done to Tseng to deserve being left in Midgar?

Trying not to sigh like an overdramatic teenage girl, he rolled onto his back and stared morosely up at the bottom of the plate above him. Predictably, he was on a roof again.

Technically, he was supposed to be surveying the entrance to Reactor 3 and overseeing the safety of the barriers that a few infantrymen -disguised as slum dwellers- were attempting to build around the major roads in the area, but really, there were cameras pointed at the entryways and the only zombies he'd seen all day were the two sitting and drooling on a crate just outside the doors. Frankly, after nearly seven weeks of this, the novelty and horror of the generic zombies was beginning to wear off.

He was drifting in and out of consciousness, staring blankly upward, when something suddenly moved in the corner of his vision. Reno blinked back into focus, staring incredulously.

There was no way.

No. No one could possibly be stupid enough to try rappelling down to the slums from the underside of the plate could they?

He tentatively flipped over and clambered further up the corrugated metal roof. Yeah, that was definitely a thing, probably a person, or maybe two people, hanging from a rope from one of the massive pipes on the underside of the plate.

Of all the stupid, suicidal things to do in the middle of the zombie apocalypse! He grabbed the pair of binoculars that Tseng had inflicted upon him a couple of weeks back, took sight of his target and immediately burst out laughing. Professor Hojo and one what appeared to be a young lab flunky of his were dangling several dozen feet from the bottom of the plate.

He grabbed for his phs and went to dial Tseng, but paused, thumb hovering over the 'call' button. No. There was a better option. He switched to messaging and sent off a quick notification to his Boss before dialing General Sephiroth.

The General picked up on the second ring. "Turk. What business do you have calling me?" he said in the most soulsuckingly monotonous tone Reno had ever heard.

"My dear General, there's no need for that tone, you know I'd only bother you with the most serious and dire of concerns," he drawled, watching the delusional scientists sway on the rope. The no-name lab assistant appeared to be simultaneously clinging to Hojo desperately and trying to touch him as little as possible.

"And what is it that is so dire?"

"Yo- were you aware that our darling Professor Hojo has broken out of his cell?"

"What."

"Mmhm, he appears to have recruited one of his assistants and is currently trying to get off the plate."

"Location," he demanded. The distinct sound of Sephiroth's leather coat swishing through the air and a door closing issued through the phone.

"The underside of the Sector 4 Plate, near the edge of Sector three. They're hanging from a rope off of one of the water main pipes, I think. If you look up, you can't miss him."

"…hanging from a rope?"

"Yep. It's too short to get them to the ground, from what I can see."

There was a long and measured exhale on the other side of the line. "I'll be there soon. Have you informed Tseng?"

"Sent him a message, I’m sure he's trying to call me now, but you were more invested in his removal, so I thought I'd give you the honors."

"Mm. I do appreciate it. Thank you, Reno." And then the man hung up, leaving a baffled Turk staring blankly at his phs. Had he really just been thanked by the General of Shinra? Was that normal? It didn't seem normal. Honestly, he hadn't even expected the man to know his name.

His phs began ringing and he picked up Tseng's call. "This better not be a prank Reno," his boss said, or rather, hissed, from the other side of the speakers. Damn, he must be having a bad day.

"No, not a prank. The good Professor and an associate of his are hanging off the Sector 4 Plate's water lines. I don’t think they're going to get to the ground any time soon though. Unless they fall."

"I don't have time for this," the man muttered, and wow, he must be having a spectacularly bad day, if he was saying things like that out loud.

"Don't worry boss-man, I know you're busy, so I called the General. He said he'd take care of it."

And then it was Tseng's turn to say nothing for a few seconds. "Well, I guess that does make my life easier. I'll coordinate with him if it comes to that. Keep an eye on things for me, Reno."

"No problemo, how's the mess in Corel doing? Anything you need help with? If you need more hands on deck, you know I'm your guy right?"

"I need you here, Reno. We have Corel under control at the moment."

Well that was disappointing. "Of course it is, but I'm just sayin'."

"Keep me informed," Tseng demanded, and hung up. Well. Apparently his boss could take lessons on manners from the General.

The red-head amused himself with watching the antics of the struggling pair for the next twenty minutes. They looked rather like an insect trapped in a spider web, attempting to wriggle itself free, but with utmost futility. It was a lovely situation to find the repulsive man in, and he would cherish this memory forever, he decided. When he caught a flash of distinctive silver hair watching from a similar rooftop vantage point half a kilometer away, he gave a perfunctory sweep of the boring entrance to Reactor 3 before running off to meet up with the General. There were enough cameras that he wasn't really necessary anyway.

He caught up with the SOLDIER just on the other side of the wall to Sector 4 and got a cursory nod acknowledging his presence before the man dropped to the street level and bee-lined for the wayward Professor.

Eventually they drew close enough to hear the man's weasel-y voice. And consequently, be noticed.

"Sephiroth, I do hope you've come to your senses by now," the man started, sneering.

"My senses were never impaired, Professor," was the General's bland response. "Yours, apparently still leave much to be desired, however. Tell me, what are you hoping to accomplish from there?"

"Well obviously, I'm escaping to stop this damn mess. Surely that much is clear, boy!"

And, like, wow there was a lot more animosity between the two than Reno was aware of. Wasn't the Professor supposed to be the General's dad?

"It has certainly been made clear to you, Professor, that there is a severe lack of confidence in your motives and ability to do so."

"Ha, if that idiot of a president can't see the necessity of my work, then that's not my problem. We both know I’m indispensible, I'll find another lab, another way to make this cure. And when I figure that out, and figure out how this disease is cheating death, I'll take great pleasure in denying the insolent fool the chance to live forever with me!"

The General's face seemed to have developed a tic at one edge of the upper lip. "That is, of course, dependant on your ability to escape. You don't seem to be doing so well. Can the vaunted and brilliant head of the Science Department not measure out a simple length of rope? It certainly doesn't speak well to your planning skills, does it?"

Gaia, Reno wished he had popcorn. And had had the forethought to record video of this. He absently opened an app on his phs to begin recording audio of the rest. Better late than never, right?

"THIS SITUATION IS NOT MY FAULT! If this IMBECILE here had bothered preparing better, we'd be gone by now!" The tech clinging to the irate scientist scrunched further into himself, cowering but unable to hide from the shrieking madman. "Now, if you would put aside your petty disbelief and help me down, we can have this whole debacle wrapped up within the month, so for once in your life, do as your told boy!"

Oh man, how the hell did the man thing that calling The General petty and a boy multiple times was going to make him inclined to help in any way? Or even inclined to keep him alive, for that matter?

Unsurprisingly, Sephiroth seemed to have come to the same conclusion. There was a particularly nasty smile cutting a gash across his face. "Why certainly, Professor, you'll be on the ground in just a moment," he said. And without a hint of warning, his unnecessarily long sword was arcing through the air. A moment later, the rope above the professor snapped.

Well, Reno supposed, that certainly was fulfilling the man's request. And was not entirely unexpected really. The Professors shrill yell as he plummeted and the dull crunch and snap of the pair of men hitting the ground from thirty feet up was… not quite satisfying, but more like the period at the end of a particularly damning report.

The pair had landed in a heap, just on the other side of a trash pile half the height of the lopsided houses on either side of them. With those poor lines of sight, Reno really should have guessed that they'd end up finding a nasty surprise waiting for them around the corner.

When the Turk and the General came into sight of the downed scientists, they found Hojo unconscious, possibly dead, having been landed on by the tech. The tech, was awake, but seemed to be in shock, clutching his visibly broken leg and bleeding at from a head wound. He was also cowering and pointedly not looking in the direction of the milky white gaze of Subject Zero, at the other end of the street. The lab tech must have known about the watcher, and for some idiotic reason, not said anything.

Zero had the late Lieutenant's sword resting lightly in his grip, tip pointing at the ground, but there was something extremely unsettling about the stillness of him. Reno's hand settled on his mag-rod unconsciously, and beside him, Sephiroth's hand went immediately to his own sword.

"You. Technician. Get over here."

The science flunky hastily scrambled to his good leg and limp/hopped to Reno's side as fast as he could manage. Zero let out an echo-y, inhuman growl at the poor man's retreating back, and the tech whimpered, looking as though he might burst into tears at any moment.

"This one is ours," the General said to Zero as he stepped partially in front of the terrified technician. Then, pausing as if weighing his options, the silver haired man conceded, "that one is dead. If you want him, we won't fight you for him."

Reno's sharp inhale could not have gone unnoticed by the General, but he didn't say anything. Slowly, Zero's gaze dropped from the General to the body between them. The zombie seemed to sniff, cocking his head to the side. In slow, predatory movements, he crept forward. Reno seized the tech around the waist and the three of them retreated in equal measure, not taking their eyes off of Zero.

The zombie crouched to inspect the late professor, laying a pale hand on what looked to be a crushed portion of his rib cage. Seemingly satisfied, the zombie growled once more at them, grabbed the body by the ankle turned his back on them, dragging his prize away.

"Oh shit," the tech said, sliding slowly to the ground once the creature was out of sight. "Oh shit, oh Gaia."

"Damn," Reno echoed, suddenly finding that his knees were shaking uncontrollably. "Ha, Sephiroth, if we end up having to deal with an undead Hojo, I’m blaming it all on you." He stumbled to the nearest stable vertical surface and leaned his back against it. "Maybe, if we're lucky, they'll try to eat him and get sick."

Sephiroth hummed an agreement. "We need to leave before more of them show up."

"Sure man, just give my knees a minute. I gotta call Tseng."

--

It wasn't as if they hadn't explained the whole thing with the scientist, or that their explanation was lacking in any way. It was just that it seemed wrong to throw a person into a mako reactor, regardless of whether or not he was a horrible person or already dead. So she felt she was a justified in ignoring King for a while.

Well, not entirely ignoring. She was happy to stick around when that Shinra Director man yelled at the King for abandoning their well thought out and supposedly foolproof plan on the very first day. (Though if she was honest with herself, it wasn't King's fault- Don Coreno had more of a hand in that than he did.) No irreparable damage had been done, as far as anyone could tell, but it was a bigger scare than any of them had wanted.

And King couldn't possibly have predicted the escape of the Science Professor either, so they couldn't have planned that if they'd wanted to. But really, it could have been handled less… distastefully.

In her newfound time, she ended up hanging out with the newly acquired Strife family. Skye was a very nice, if slightly oblivious woman, and her son was a darling boy, shier than her Aerith had been at that age, but curious and adaptable all the same. Little Cloud was very enthusiastic about learning the ways of the zombies, and while Skye was still confused over the whole plot, she seemed willing enough to play along, if only for her son's sake.

So when the call finally came in that the Flying-Purple-People-Eater had been destroyed by the Turks in Corel, she was happy to include the pair of Strifes in cleaning Aerith up in preparation for 'the grand unveiling' as King kept calling it.

It was rather odd that King was so amused with Don Coreno's dramatic streak when the man seemed so oblivious to his own.

Don Coreno, obviously, had wanted fanfare and a show when Aerith emerged from the reactor, but honestly the man probably would have included trumpets and harps and a chorus of dramatically sighing ladies if he could have, so no one was listening to him anymore. The mess with the vampire thing had come too close for too many people, and even now, no one knew what that Vincent fellow was up to. The last time she'd seen Don, he'd been adopted by his own kitchen crew, who seemed to be determined to keep him out of the way by burying him in cake batter.

To be honest, it seemed like he was rather enjoying his newly enforced hobby.

King, on the other hand, had argued that Aerith should appear to have tamed the entire hoard of zombies that currently occupied Reactor 3, and lead them along like chocobos behind a their rancher all the way through the slums.

Thankfully, all Elmyra had had to do to shoot down that plan was give the ridiculous blonde a severely disappointed look for a solid thirty seconds.

And so, one early afternoon, Elmyra's beloved daughter simply decided that she was done waiting for everyone else to make plans for her. She gathered the people she wanted, and, freshly showered, she simply poked her head out of the front doors of the reactor. After checking that there weren't a bunch of snipers or Turks waiting in ambush, she just walked out. Skye and her son, both looking dirty but fully alive, followed her. Little Cloud towed zombie-Zack out by the elbow behind them. Elmyra followed them, in her own practiced zombie shuffle, making sure to look as lost as Zack did.

The small procession made it half way to Sector 7 before their Turk entourage became obvious, and her darling girl kept up a constant stream of chatter with Cloud to make it apparent that neither of them were any danger.

They wandered past the house she hadn't been back to in weeks, and Aerith waved at a few midday shoppers, who waved confusedly back. Goodness only knew what would have happened if they hadn't sent some of the makeup crew out to spread rumors of a 'cure' that they would be implementing.

The group of five piled into the abandoned church, and Skye immediately frowned at the state of cleanliness of the place. Elmyra recognized the look, she had had many similar thoughts about the place.

And thank goodness for Skye and her boy! They put up with Elmyra and Zack's zombie act as they pushed them into cleaning. Cloud seemed to have a lot of fun pulling and pushing Zack into doing whatever it was he wanted, much to the panic of the Turk in the rafters, she was sure. Together the four of them tucked church benches into alcoves, gathered dusty and rotted wood, loose stone blocks and old clay ceiling tiles together and out of the way. They swept, Skye dusted and Cloud's boundless energy made it nearly fun.

Aerith, meanwhile, plopped herself down in the small plot of flowers she had started a few years back, and set herself to the task of communing with the planet. The process had been explained to her by King, and while Elmyra was extremely skeptical (talking the planet? The last of a separate race of pacifist humanoids? Getting advice from those long dead ancestors that exist in a lifestream? What in Gaia's name is a lifestream?), but she kept her mouth shut. She had less experience with these Cetra things than the other man, and Aerith seemed to understand what he had prattled on about, so she was willing to let Aerith give it a shot.

They slept there overnight, for which, Elmyra's back most certainly did not thank her. Actually, it was more correct to say that everyone save for Zack slept, and when they eventually woke, Zack drifted off, still sitting upright in a pulpit and looking every inch a brain-dead corpse. Eventually, they began bringing in dirt to fill other shattered sections of the floor and Skye began slowly transferring Aerith's hard grown flowers out of the middle of the church. Just in time, too. They had only just finished clearing the circle Aerith had designated when all of a sudden there was water bubbling up from nowhere.

Well, who would have guessed! King sort of knew what he was talking about after all.

--

"I hear congratulations are in order," Reeve said dryly. "The Zombie threat has been eliminated, and the slums have a new Queen."

"Shut up. It's not my fault the plan went to shit."

Reeve gave Cloud a single raised eyebrow of disdain, and said nothing.

"If you hadn't made us put together a plan in the first place, there wouldn't have been a plan to mess up. So I'm blaming you," the five-hundred-year-old said, with the pout and logic of a stubborn eight year old. "We clearly didn't need it anyway."

"Yes. Clearly. Because you had a defined goal more than an inkling of how to wrap the whole charade up without allowing President Shinra to swan back in and resume his control."

A lesser man would have stuck his nose in the air, crossed his arms and ignored the sarcasm. Cloud was trying reallllly hard not to be the lesser man.

Below them and across the street, there was a small pack of zombies being gently and slowly shepherded by Zack and Elmyra into the church. Inside, Aerith was watching over the use of her holy water to wash off the elaborate makeup and prosthetics. Camera crews from the upper-plate media stations occasionally poked their lenses through one of the broken windows, but were otherwise banned from the interior. Instead, the nosy reporters waffled between keeping a weary distance from the pack of zombies, and trying to engage Lieutenant Fair in conversation. The one media spokeswoman with bright red nails and a simpering tone that even Reeve flinched from seemed particularly persistent.

Needless to say, Elmyra was doing most of the zombie wrangling. Zack was practically using them as meat shields.

"Why are you really here? The Turks have to be following you."

"Following you, more like. They stopped caring about my movements a long time ago. Tseng had too much else on his plate." Reeve said. "But now I'm here to offer you a job."

The blonde whipped around. "Say what now?"

"Well, from what the Turks have uncovered, you're a lab tech of some qualification who has been enhanced by this virus and since cured. They want to assess your knowledge and offer you a place as either a scientist or in the army, I assume. The science department is rather…understaffed. Has been for a while now. Something about 'hostile work environments' or so I'm told. And the army is always looking for new recruits."

Cloud ogled at him.

"Or they might just want to interrogate you and then hide you in a dungeon for the rest of your unnatural life," the director deadpanned.

Strangely, that was much more comforting, and Cloud felt his shoulders relax. "Yeah, that sounds much more realistic. Not that I'm gonna let that happen, obviously, but good to know."

"What are you going to do then?"

Cloud shrugged. "Dunno. Guard Aerith for a bit, probably. Blow up some reactors, if I feel the urge. It's really a shame we didn't take out a few more while we had the chance. I'll have to find Vincent and set him straight at some point too."

"Hmm, I don't think that last one will be too hard," the darker haired man said, with a knowing smirk. "I saw him just this morning. He came back with Tseng and his crew from Corel a few days ago, apparently."

Cloud, now gripping the edge of his patch of roof very hard, managed to wheeze out a "and you only thought to mention this now?"

The other man shrugged. "Didn't seem relevant. He wasn't part of the plan anymore. Because, you know, the plan got ruined on day one."

"You're an ass, and I hate you."

"Are we resorting to name calling now? I thought you had more class than that 'King'."

Cloud elected to ignore him. "Did you find out what they know? What did our lost vampire tell them?"

"Apparently enough that the Turks were the ones to set the mansion in Shinra on fire, and decommission both the Nibelheim and Corel reactors. So, it couldn't have gone any better, really."

At this point, Cloud was not ashamed to admit that he was actually gaping. "How the fuck did we manage that?"

"I haven't the faintest idea," Reeve said with a placating smile. "But I'm sure that between them and Aerith, the rest of the reactors will go soon. The citizens of the plate love her, apparently."

"Yeah, yeah, good job you sly bastard, you're a media manipulating wiz," was the grumbled response.

"It's not as though it was difficult. There was obviously something wrong, some abysmal cover-up going on and everyone was looking for a savior. You provided one handily enough, and ta-da. Anyone with half a brain could have done it. I just happened to have… resources."

"And now they're calling her the Queen of the Living," he sighed.

"Yes, and now they're calling her that. Did you know that there are already fan groups that want you and her to become a couple? The Queen of the Living and the King of the Undead. You're a romantic pairing for the ages."

Cloud, horrified, wheezed so hard that he fell off the roof.

Laughing, Reeve peered over the side to look down on him, sprawled in a mud pile and still sputtering, aghast and offended. "So about that job offer."

Cloud gave him a single fingered response and went to go rescue Zack from his red-nailed huntress. He could use some therapeutic destruction, and the poor Lieutenant probably wouldn't ask questions until it was too late. If the Turks and Aerith were going to team up to shut down the reactors, he wanted the chance to ruin one himself before there were none left.

--

"By the way, Reeve, whatever happened to the rest of the board of directors?"

"Hmm? Oh. Well, the president said he'd call us when it was safe. We haven't been called, so we're continuing to operate to the best interest of Shinra Company and Midgar as a whole until then."

"Nobody's told them? Why the hell has no one told them? The Turks should've at the very least!"

"Tseng sent an update, once, but for some reason, he hasn't gotten a response back." Reeve said, looking the picture of innocence. "I think he's using the time as a vacation, now. The poor man has been extremely stressed lately. And really, they abandoned us. It only seems fair, doesn't it? Besides, I'm sure they're perfectly happy on their isolated little island."

Cloud caught the calculating glimmer of Reeve's look. "What island did you say they were on again?"

 

--

 

The End