Chapter 4: We're In This Together


Kess didn't know how long she had been staring at the ceiling. Was she counting the little imperfections in the concrete? Or trying to determine the time of day? She didn't know. Nothing was clear anymore. The only thing she new for sure was that they could probably give up on the thought that Avalanche would come to the rescue. A failed mission, three dead rebels, and a traitor among them.

It was all very hard to absorb.

She sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. The clothes she had been given were nothing more than grey jumpsuits used by the ShinRa janitors. But she was thankful they didn't make her sit in the bloodied clothes. She sat on the side of the bed, her hands still bound tightly behind her back; but she had grown accustomed to the numbness.

Her thoughts began to run ramped as she sat in the dark, cold cell. How much did they know about her? They obviously knew who Ashe was, but what did they know about her? Did they know she was a special ShinRa project who walked away from her last mission and disappeared into history? Did they know about her family, her brother, or the uncle that taught her how to use a gun?

It was slightly bothersome not knowing what the enemy knew about her. She decided to assume that they knew everything. She turned in her spot, leaning back down against the semi cushioned bed. She closed her eyes in an attempt to get some sleep. But just as she began to drift off, the door to her cell opened, bright light from the hallway pouring in.

Tseng's figure entered her little prison and he spoke, "Sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you. We're ready now."

Kess narrowed her eyes, her expression somewhat confused. "Didn't mean to disturb me?", she thought. "Is this guy for real?"

He motioned for her to get up and she did with some effort. She moved out into the hall with him, seeing that Ashe was being escorted from his cell by Jale. Nobody said anything except for Tseng. "Let's get going, Veld doesn't want to waste anymore time."

The group moved from the cold cell block into the warmer part of the building. They took the elevator up this time two floors and then exited. The hallway was white and pristine, a drastic change from the dreary cell block. Various pictures of the ShinRa Inc. logo hung neatly on the walls. They came to a door and Tseng opened it. As they entered, Kess stole a glance at Jale, noticing that his features were completely serious.

He broke off and went into a separate room while Tseng guided Kess and Ashe to the back of the room where Veld's office was. Kess glanced around the room, seeing that only one other person was there. Drake sat at his desk working on his computer, the detonator displayed prominently near the desk's edge. Kess furrowed her brow and looked ahead again as they entered Veld's office.

She and Ashe sat down in the chairs provided for them and glanced to each other. Ashe's expression said it all, "What the hell is going on?"

Tseng reached out and undid their bindings, then left; closing the door. Kess moved her head side to side and shrugged. Veld stood in the corner of the room near an odd looking device. It was like a printer, scanner, computer all built into one machine. He turned to them on hearing the sound of them entering and sitting. "Ah, good. You're here.", he spoke, turning back to pick something up.

"Well," Veld started. "Seems as though your crew caught wind of your capture, or they just figured you for dead. The base the other unfortunate fellow gave us was in fact correct, but they had moved out before we could get there in time. A pity."

Kess and Ashe both released a soft sigh. Veld continued, "Since you're more useful to us alive than in little, bloody pieces, we've decided on the perfect 'punishment', so to speak, for you both."

He turned to them, tossing two thin pieces of plastic across his desk. They came to rest before them, both seeing themselves staring back at them from the plastic cards. Next to the picture, their name, a number, and the word 'Turks' were printed. At the top of the card was the ShinRa logo and title.

"I assume this isn't the first time either of you have seen badges like these. Well these are your new ones.", Veld said sharply. "Either you join us and assist with seeking out your rebel friends or we can go back to the interrogation room and give it a new paint job."

Both hesitate, but at nearly the same time, they reach out and grab the badges.

"Splendid!", Veld smiled. "Marcus and Drake will get you suited up. You will be assigned bunks in the living space provided on the 54th floor. Please, don't forget, any act of disobedience or misconduct will result in Rude executing you on the spot. Now I'm sure you're both hungry, but first, you should meet who you will be working with."

He pressed a button on the phone that sat on his desk. "Drake, is everyone assembled?"

"Yes sir."

Veld stood and Tseng entered. "Please stand up.", Tseng asked quietly.

Kess and Ashe both stood and turned to go back out to the main room. The room had just been empty moments before, but now it was occupied by every Turk. They were lined up next to each other. Most of them looked pretty pissed.

Veld motioned with his hand and said, "Drake, please begin the introductions."

Drake nodded and stepped forward. "I am Drake Everno, third in command behind Tseng and Veld." He stepped back.

Next, the blonde woman came forth. "Becca Pierce."

Then the Turk Kess had shot. "Samantha Baines, and don't you forget it.", she sneered, tossing back her light brown hair.

"Shion Satoshi.", spoke the man who wielded the katana. He adjusted his glasses and stood ridged.

The one they knew as Marcus stepped up. "Marcus Kraten.", he spoke with a smirk.

A voice suddenly came from behind the assembled group. "Yo, I'm Reno and this is Rude, he doesn't say much." The crowd parted to show Reno and Rude sitting in the back casually. Reno waved with a smile.

A slender woman with black hair moved up next. "I'm Tonya Shadow."

Finally, the last two members moved up. The woman spoke first, "I am Cissnei Shizune.", she said very quietly.

"And I am Maximilian Kirsch.", spoke a blonde kid who looked no older than eighteen.

They both seemed very shy, Kess guessed that they were new as well. The blonde guy seemed to have an air around him of wealth. And Cissnei seemed almost childlike with her wavy reddish-brown hair.

Last but not least, Jale moved up and grinned. "Jale Gerrick, but you already know that.", he glared directly at Kess who sneered back.

"Good, good. Now you know your new co-workers. Drake, will you and Marcus escort Miss Reignheart and Mr. Kincaid to the cafeteria?"

"Of course sir.", Drake said sternly.

Veld smiled. "Well, welcome to the Turks."

He turned back to his office as Drake and Marcus walked up, waiting for Kess and Ashe to follow them. They moved slowly, still not sure what to think. But soon they were following after Drake and Marcus as they left the Turks' office and walked back towards the elevator. As they walked, Marcus glanced back to look the two over and then back to Drake. "Okay, is Veld serious?", he started.

Drake gave him a side glance but didn't reply. "I mean, are we just supposed to bring these two on, forgetting what they've done?", Marcus continued.

"Seems so.", Drake said quietly.

They stopped just before the elevator; Marcus went on as Drake pushed the button. "Both of them are the enemy. And just like that, Veld puts them to work with us?!"

"Would you mind keeping your voice down?", Drake questioned, giving Marcus a cutting glance.

"Yea, geez. We're right here and can hear you.", Ashe suddenly interjected.

Marcus glared back to Ashe and sneered, "You think I give a shit, smart ass?"

"I used to be a body guard for Don Corneao and you used to steal cars. We don't all start out on the high rung of the ladder.", Drake spoke to Marcus.

"Bikes, man. I stole bikes.", Marcus grimaced.

Ashe raised a brow. "Are you two for serious? You used to be a body guard for the fat man and you were a bike thief?"

They both nodded matter-of-factly. "Hell, you think that's something. Shion killed like fifteen guys just to rescue a buddy of his. Locked his ass up for months until Tseng heard about him and bailed him out."

The elevator arrived, they piled in and Drake pressed the floor number for the cafeteria. They rode for a moment and Ashe finally spoke up again. "So what about the other Turks? What'd they do to get in?"

Kess edged her elbow into Ashe's ribs and shook her head. "What? I'm curious of the types of people we're going to be working with.", he smiled amiably.

Marcus turned slightly and then just gave up. "Might as well tell you, you won't shut up until you get your answers."

Ashe nodded, "Yea, pretty much."

Marcus thought for a moment then said, "Well, I don't know much about the boss man himself. I just know that he deserves our respect. Tseng came from Icicle or some other northern place that's not around anymore. Anyway, he's pretty quiet and I don't know much about him either."

They continued to descend into the building and Marcus kept talking. "Becca is the daughter of some military teacher in Junon. Reginald Pierce, I believe."

Kess suddenly became interested in the conversation, having recognized the name Marcus threw out. Reginald Pierce was the name her second class instructor. Marcus was still talking. "She turned me down for a date a while ago.. guess she hates me. Anyway, Samantha is from some rich ass family. That girl probably never had to do anything for herself until she picked up that shot gun."

The elevator slowed to a halt and the group exited. Drake led them down the hall while Marcus continued. "Jale claims to have been in the Junon Navy, like we care.", he made a jerking motion with his hand and rolled his eyes.

Kess finally laughed and Ashe couldn't help but smile. "Oh you like that?", Marcus chuckled. "Yea, Jale is basically useless. Anyway, Reno was hired because he was trying to get revenge on someone for killing a friend. I guess he finally found the guy and after the deed was done, decided to stay on. Man, that was before either of us were hired on."

He glanced to Drake who just nodded and kept walking. They small convoy entered the cafeteria. Drake took to sitting at one of the round tables while Kess and Ashe moved to get some food. Marcus waited for them to get their meals and then sat down at the table with them. "Now Rude, he's a quiet guy. You would never think this guy could have a girlfriend or even a date. This girl, who's gone now, had him in her hand. But we found out Chelsea was a rebel spy. When Rude found out, he was pretty upset and from what we know, offed her himself." He made a gun motion to the side of his head, the other hand acting as brains spewing out the side.

Drake just shook his head and sighed, "Can we do without the gory details? I mean, they are trying to eat."

Marcus frowned, "Oh yea. Uh sorry."

Kess and Ashe were actually interested in the backgrounds of their now fellow Turks. It helped explain why they acted the way they did. They ate up their food and listened as Marcus kept going.

"Shion, oh. We already told you about him. Yea, don't fuck with him. Tonya's an orphan, both her parents died in the war. She's nice, chatty. But I think she's pretty upset with the world sometimes."

Kess nodded, actually identifying with the woman slightly. "Max. Max is also a rich kid, but he was raised better than Sam. He doesn't wave it in your face like she does. I think he joined to prove something. To himself? To the world maybe. Cissnei, she's a sweet girl. She's an orphan too. The youngest member I think we've ever had. Don't know much about her either."

Ashe and Kess finished their meals and Drake stood. "Well, now let's get your gear. They'll be putting you to work straight away in the morning.", Drake spoke as they emptied their trays and set them above the trash cans.

Exiting the cafeteria, they nearly ran into Becca, Tonya, Samantha and Cissnei. "Hey Drake, having fun with the prisoners?", Samantha smirked with a sneer.

Drake stopped and looked behind himself, they looked beyond Kess and Ashe. He turned back to her and shrugged his shoulders, "I'm sorry, I don't know who you're talking about."

Cissnei and Tonya snickered. Becca was forcing herself hard to keep a straight face. Samantha tossed her long ponytail in disgust and stomped off into the cafeteria. Becca followed after a moment, but Tonya and Cissnei tool longer. "Nice one Drake. She'll have something else to complain about while we eat.", Tonya laughed, shoving Drake's shoulder lightly.

They moved passed the group, Cissnei still laughing. "On we go.", Drake said, turning back towards the elevator.

Kess and Ashe never dreamed that someone would actually stick up for them. Drake didn't seem that half bad after all. Marcus seemed to be fun too, and talkative. They continued on their way, wondering what the evening was yet to bring.

It had only been a few hours since the rebels left behind the place they had called home for several months. The large faction now found themselves making a new home among the slums of Sector Two. Seeing as there was a train station nearby, it was easily assessable the rebels and it was easy to hide right under the ShinRa's nose. There were several vacant buildings that they were able to take refuge in. The main base of operations was a large building that was mostly used as an underground storage house in the past; now it housed the equipment and weapons Avalanche used in their battle against the ShinRa. The only means to gain access to the building was through a single door on the surface. From above it appeared as a small shack, the interior filled with crates. The only person inside was Biggs who stood guard at the door as usual.

Around the rest of the Sector, a few rebels had taken to the local bar and other shops to blend in. If any ShinRa soldiers showed up to investigate the area, it would be very hard to spot who was a rebel and who wasn't. In the main base, Fuhito was setting up the communications and security. Sears, Raven and Elfe sat together at one of the large tables they were able to bring.

"I still don't understand how the Turks could have anticipated our infiltration.", Raven began. "It should have been impossible with all of the precautions we took."

Sears rubbed his chin thoughtfully, seeming lost in his own world. Elfe replied, "It was impossible. That is, unless there is someone playing on both sides."

Raven nodded. "My thoughts exactly.", she glanced to Sears. "Sir, what about the source you visit? Could they have exposed us?"

Sears shook his head side to side without looking to her. "No. He is reliable and would never do such.", he said quietly.

Raven tossed her hands up and sighed, "Then it has to be one of the rebels. Just great. That's like looking for a needle in a haystack."

"Not entirely.", Sears spoke again. "We just have to keep an eye on people that seem suspicious."

Raven nodded and Elfe stood. "If you'll both excuse me. Fuhito asked that I scout the area with the rebels that know Sector Two. Supposedly there are more buildings with underground storage and they could be of use to us."

Raven and Sears both stood. "Very well.", Sears said, looking to Elfe. "We should call for a meeting tonight once everyone is settled in. Perhaps our backstabbing friend will be in the crowd."

Raven nodded and turned to walk away. "I'll go see what Fuhito is up to and make sure the security is tight."

They dispersed to their own places of need. As Raven made her way through the small warehouse, her thoughts began to flare up. "If by the sheer chance that Kess and Ashe are alive, they could potentially be used against us. I know they would never speak about the goings on here, but because of their skills, they could become obstacles. Especially if they found out about their pasts…"

Raven turned the corner and saw Fuhito at the end of the hallway. She walked faster towards him. "I have to tell the others, but I don't want to see anything bad happen to those two."

The night dragged on. After Kess and Ashe had eaten, they were taken to a small room where an older man with a steady hand took their measurements for their new suits. They were then escorted to the previously mentioned living quarters. Drake unlocked the door and motioned for them to go inside. "You'll both be staying here. There are two bedrooms, one bath and this living area. You will be on 24 hour surveillance, so don't get any ideas."

Marcus chuckled suddenly; Drake shot him a cold stare. "Get your head out of the gutter.", he scolded.

Marcus stopped laughing and straightened his stance. Drake turned back to Kess and Ashe as they stood in the room. "Your wakeup call will be 7am. Goodnight kids."

He shut the door, locking it after himself. The inside of the door didn't have a doorknob so escape from there was nearly impossible. They stood in their spots, looking around the room. There were no windows, and two doors on either side of the long room. In the main room there was a television, a couch with some pillows and a coffee table. The carpet was a dull gray while the walls were white.

Kess moved to check out the left room, Ashe the right. There was a simple bed, desk and alarm clock. Her room had the bathroom. "I've got the toilet in here.", she shouted out.

Ashe shouted back, "In your bedroom?"

Kess shook her head. "No dumb ass, I mean I have the bathroom.", she shot back.

Ashe's head popped around the side of the door and he laughed. "Damn, kill a man for trying to be funny."

Kess moved out towards the living area, taking a seat on the couch. As she leaned her head back she noticed the cameras around the edges of the ceiling. "I wonder what poor sap got stuck with watching us all the time.", she joked aloud.

Ashe took a seat next to her and released a sigh. "Probably the dumb ass that let you escape the first time."

"So, how do we get these things out of our necks?", she questioned.

"Impossible, they're fool proof.", Ashe responded matter-of-factly. "I never thought I'd be testing my own invention though. Kind of creepy."

Kess just grimaced more. "This sucks."

Neither one said anything for a long time. After a few minutes, Kess glanced over to Ashe. He was resting his head against the back of the couch, his eyes closed. "Wondering what *they're* up to?", she asked.

"Uh-huh.", he murmured. He knew who she was talking about.

She looked towards the blank television, her eyes focusing on the dark screen. "I just hope they don't attempt a rescue. It could get messy.", Ashe spoke, tapping the side of his neck.

The pain had finally dulled enough that he could touch the spot. "We'll have to think on how to get out of here in the morning. I'm too exhausted to even brainstorm right now.", he sighed.

Kess nodded, rising from the couch. "Sounds good. I'm grateful that they actually gave us a real place to stay instead of the jail. That bed seemed like a frozen concrete slab with a sheet wrapped around it."

Ashe laughed, moving towards his room. "You've got that right.", he stopped at his door and turned back to her. "Kess?"

She stood in her doorway looking back to him. "Yea?"

He spoke quite seriously, "We're in this together. We can't give up and as long as we stick together, we're going to make it through this."

She was taken slightly aback by his sudden seriousness. "Ashe.. You know I don't give up."

He managed another smile and nodded. "I know. Good night, Kess."

She smiled and replied, "Good night, Ashe."

They both turned to their rooms, shutting the doors after themselves. Not even twenty minutes later and they were both fast asleep.

* * *

Kess shot awake suddenly. There was someone there, she felt it. She turned around in the bed, glancing towards the door. She saw no one, but heard the main door shut. She flipped her feet over the side of the bed and made her way to the main room. Someone was there, but they had left in a hurry. Lying across the back of the couch were two neatly pressed black suits. Kess looked them over, finding that they each had a name tag attached to the hanger to distinguish them.

She took the one with her name label and on the back found a small note. "You are to report to the Turks office at once. Dress and be there in a timely manner."

She sighed loudly; lifting the suit into her arms as Ashe came teetering into the living area. "What's that?", he questioned as he ruffled his messy hair about.

"Our uniforms.", Kess replied.

He walked over and took his own suit into his arms. He glanced over the note that was on his tag as well. "'A timely manner?' Well aren't they fucking polite.", he grimaced.

Kess turned and headed back towards her room. "Dibs on the shower.", she said nonchalantly.

"Hey!", Ashe groaned. "No fair, you take longer."

"Sit on it.", she chuckled without turning around.

She shut her bedroom room door and soon Ashe could hear the shower. He tossed his suit back across the couch and jumped over the back of it, taking a seat. He grabbed the remote for the television and flicked the on button. "Well, what's going on in the world of Midgar today…", he wondered aloud.

The television clicked on, the image of a news woman appearing on the screen. She was in the middle of a report. "Let's go to Bob Figaro who is on location at the ShinRa Building."

The image changed cameras to a man who was standing on the street. "Thanks Cindy. As previously said, five Avalanche members were caught entering the ShinRa Building late last night. Two were killed and the remaining three are currently in custody for questioning. Now, we would like to caution all citizens to report any suspicious activity you see to your local law enforcement; and please keep your distance. These people are armed and dangerous. Security has been tightened, so if you need to travel today, be prepared for long waits.", he smiled. "Back to you Cindy."

Ashe just shook his head. "Bunch of savages in this town.."

He changed the channel a few more times before it came back to the beginning. "What? Only five channels?! What a bunch of bullshit."

He tossed the remote onto the couch, letting the news lady ramble on. He leaned his head back against the couch and closed his eyes. It was then that he heard something else that interested him. The woman was suddenly silenced. Ashe glanced ahead to see her talking to someone but the sound was gone. Furrowing his brow, picked up the remote and clicked mute, and then mute again. Still there was nothing.

"What the..?", he wondered aloud.

Suddenly the sound came back and the woman looked to the camera seriously. "We've just had reports that Avalanche members have been spotted in Sector Two. Soldier is closing in and should have them detained within the hour. That's all for the morning news. Tune in later today when we explore the many uses of Mako energy."

Ashe clicked the television off and stood. He was about to knock on Kess' door when the main one opened without warning. Ashe jumped slightly in surprise and stopped in his tracks. "Yes…?", he questioned.

Marcus and Becca entered, their black suits neatly pressed. Marcus lifted his sunglasses and shook his head at Ashe. "You're supposed to be ready by now.", he scolded with a chuckle.

Ashe just blinked and then a smile spread across his face. "Well, she took over the shower first, so I'm just waiting my turn.", he motioned to Kess' room.

Marcus walked over to the couch and lifted the suit Ashe had draped there moments before. He tossed it at him. "Well, you snooze, you lose.", he pointed to Ashe's room. "Put it on, we'll wait."

Ashe looked down to the suit in his hands and then stormed off to his room, grumbling all the way. "Goddamn Turks, I don't get a shower… Fuck it.", he slammed his door.

It took about fifteen minutes to get completely ready, but soon both Ashe and Kess exited their rooms wearing the stiff suits. Marcus motioned them towards the door; Becca remained silent the entire time. "Well, let's go. The President wants to talk to you."

They made the trek up to the seventieth floor. No one said anything the entire time, so Ashe began to whistle. "Stop that.", Becca suddenly spoke.

Ashe let the whistle trail off and sighed, clasping his hands behind the back of his head. The elevator dinged, stopping at level sixty-nine. Marcus directed Kess and Ashe to exit and walk through a door on their right. They came to a stairwell but instead they turned left. After a few steps, stairs appeared on either side of the large room, heading upward to the seventieth floor. On the right side a man stood, and Ashe noticed that it was Veld. "Ah, good. The President is just wrapping up his meeting.", he spoke rather friendly despite yesterday's encounter. "Do you have your badges?"

Both new Turks produced their plastic cards and Veld nodded. "Good, clip them inside your jacket. No need to show off that you are part of the Turks.", he instructed.

He looked them over and nodded. "Alright, up we go.", he turned and led the procession up the stairs.

As they entered the large room that housed the seventieth floor, Kess and Ashe's gaze swept over the area. It seemed that the meeting was with ShinRa's head officials. Ashe and Kess knew each and every one of them from their previous jobs with ShinRa, but did they remember the two rebels?

A somewhat portly man stood closest to the President, stroking his beard in thought. That was Heidegger. Next to him was a calm looking man, he wore a blue suit and kept his hands to his sides. Ashe remembered that he was Reeve Tuesti. On the other side of the Reeve stood a blonde woman, sporting a powder blue dress, her hair pulled into a loose bun. Unfortunately Ashe remembered her.. it was Scarlet.

"Fuckn' A…", Kess heard Ashe mutter when he saw her.

Opposite these three stood the ever so recognizable Hojo, stark white lab coat fluttering as he moved his hands behind his back. And lastly on his right was the balding and not so popular Palmer. His pudgy fingers clasped together every now and then, as if he were ready for the meeting to be over.

Behind the large desk, dressed in a dark red, pin stripe suit stood President ShinRa. To his direct left sat Rufus, who was spinning idly back and forth in his father's chair. His head tilted towards the ceiling as he yawned. He glanced down, seeing Veld and the new recruits standing at the stairwell. "I think they understand, old man.", Rufus suddenly piped up. "We have more pressing issues at hand."

He nodded to Veld who entered the room a little more, Kess and Ashe being pushed into the room by Marcus and Becca. "Ah, that's right.", ShinRa growled. "Right then, dismissed."

A sudden look of relief spread over Palmer's face as he jettisoned for the stairs. Scarlet raised a brow and suddenly cackled, "Kya ha ha! I bet he missed breakfast!"

She turned to joke with Reeve, still not taking notice of who had entered the room. Hojo shuffled from his rooted position and made his way to the stairs. Kess looked to him briefly but looked away as he neared. Hojo glanced to her and smirked slightly before disappearing down the stairs. Heidegger followed after him with barely a glance to the groups of Turks.

ShinRa spoke up loudly, "Come on over, Veld. Let's have a chat.", he waved them over.

Reeve and Scarlet moved passed the group towards the stairs. Reeve avoided eye contact, but Scarlet giggled and smiled to Ashe. "Why, if it isn't Mr. Kincaid.", she mused. She walked away, her high heels clicking against the tile floor.

Marcus and Becca followed Reeve back downstairs and the two headed for the Turks office to get their daily assignment. Kess and Ashe were placed before the President, Veld took a few steps away. "So, you're the two, little spies that managed to survive. Good for you.", President ShinRa moved back towards his chair, shooing Rufus from it.

Rufus took to standing on the right side of Ashe where Reeve had been prior. "I've heard you both have cooperated thus far.", ShinRa lit a large cigar and puffed at the end to get it going. "You are here because there is something special about you both. Had you just been another piece of rebel trash, you'd have joined your friends who all met unfortunate ends."

He cleared his throat and held his hands, the cigar being held carefully between his fat fingers. "Ashley Terrance Kincaid: Junon military, weapons and science division. You worked on the Sister Ray and developed several inventions, some of which are being tested as we speak.", he chuckled at his joke, the chuckle turning into a cough suddenly.

He cleared his throat once more. "When you left, you destroyed your lab and stole a good portion of the weapons that were there. And now here you are, with the company again.", he trailed off on noticing that Ashe was beginning to smirk. "Oh, you think this is funny now, do you? You think this is a 'hoot'?"

Ashe laughed suddenly and then straightened up. "Uh, no sir. Certainly not. No relation to any owls..", he held back another smile.

President ShinRa's right eye twitched slightly. "You think this is vacation? You miserable, little cuss? You're going to lead us to your friends, whether you want to or not."

Ashe remained silent and his expression hardened. "As I was saying.", President ShinRa shifted his gaze to Kess. "Kess Cerise Reignheart: First Class Soldier, unofficially. Your specialty was reconnaissance and information transport. You were the first and are the only solider to infiltrate Avalanche in their Cosmo Canyon beginnings; only to go missing soon after. And here you are, having joined those filthy vermin.", he clapped sarcastically. "Bravo."

Ashe glanced over to Kess suddenly, his expression one of sincere surprise. "She was sent to infiltrate Avalanche?", he thought. "So when I met her...?"

He looked them over and spoke, "You are both here because you have something that I want; knowledge of the rebels. You are still here because of my good graces... If you want to keep it that way, I suggest you get to assisting us."

Veld's phone rang suddenly and he answered it. "Yes. They're closing in? Right, assemble the Turks, every last one of them. I'll meet with them all in the office."

He turned to ShinRa who looked very interested in the conversation. "They're closing in on some rebels in Sector Two. I've got to go instruct them.", Veld explained.

ShinRa nodded and waved his hand in dismissal. "Take these two with you. I'm sure their comrades miss them.", he said matter-of-factly.

"Sir?". Veld questioned.

"Just do it, and don't forget the detonator.", he said, looking back to Kess and Ashe. "You'll work with the Turks, right? Or else you'll give Sector Two a nice, red coating."

They both winced and turned to follow Veld. They disappeared down the stairs; ShinRa puffed the last of his cigar before smashing it against his glass ashtray. Rufus suddenly spoke up. "I think it's a trap.", he said softly

ShinRa just laughed a little. "A trap? My dear boy, I think you're giving those vermin too much credit. They will be crushed like the insects they are.."

Rufus shook his head slightly and turned around to leave. "I'll be in the Turks' office if you need me.", he breathed in annoyance.

Veld led Kess and Ashe down the hall towards the elevator. He was on the phone the entire time rallying the Turks. "Rude, Reno. I want you two to gather up Drake and Samantha and head over to Sector Five. Marcus and Becca are here so I will get them."

While he spoke, Ashe looked over to Kess and said suddenly, "So, how long after leaving ShinRa did I meet you?"

Kess looked away, already knowing where this was going. "Ashe, I was a spy. But I left ShinRa when I found the truth."

He just shook his head and sighed, "Man, they really got us by the balls."

Veld hung up as they descended to the Turks' office, but soon he called someone else. "Jale, I need you to come in early. As in now. A Squad has a handful of rebels cornered at the Sector Two train depot."

He hung up with him almost instantly. The elevator came to a halt and the trio stepped off, walking towards the office. Veld was on the phone again in minutes. Kess wondered if his fingers hurt yet from all the number dialing.

"Max. Are you and Cissnei finished up yet? Excellent. Gather Tonya and Shion then get to the Sector Two 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 it's over.", he made a slitting motion across his own neck. "So behave."

He turned back to the room where Marcus and Becca were sipping at coffee. "On your feet. You're rolling out. A Squad has got some rebels cornered at the Sector Two train station. Tseng! Let's go."

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

He stepped in to the room and Tseng took the lead. "Yes sir. I won't be a let down."

Veld turned around towards his office. Kess and Ashe looked to Tseng as he turned to leave. They were off. 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 off ahead of them as Tseng pressed the gas pedal to the floorboard. For the duration of the trip, Kess and Ashe said nothing. But each was thinking the same thing: Exactly who did they have cornered at the train station.. and what were they going to think when they saw Kess and Ashe dressed as Turks..?

When they finally arrived, the train depot was nearly in ruins. Several civilians had gathered as close as they could to the barricades that had been set up around the area. Murmurs of confusion and wonder came from the crowd as they looked on in awe. Tseng pulled the vehicle up the small gate that had been put up by the soldiers. After a moment, they were allowed entrance.

Smoke poured out from the area like blood from an open wound. Ashe noticed Marcus' motorcycle parked nearby. Tseng must've seen it too because he parked right next to it. Before exiting the vehicle, he turned to the backseat where Ashe and Kess sat. "You two stay here. Don't need you trying to warn your friends.", he instructed.

Ashe frowned. "So make us be in your little group but keep us tied up like dogs in the middle of this?", he motioned around just as a large blast spewed forth from the upper deck of the station.

Becca jumped out and Tseng followed. "Yup." 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."

Kess and Ashe shook their heads. "This is shit.", Ashe muttered as he watched Becca and Tseng trot out of sight into the smoke screen.

"Best to just sit here and wait.", Kess sighed.

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 just enough debris to crush the fucking car? And then get blown up? Screw that.", he began to fiddle with the device.

"What are you doing?", Kess questioned.

"What do you think? Ashe 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 said, sitting up suddenly.

He turned back to her and smiled, "Kess, have you forgotten who is sitting with you?" He flashed a grin and 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 pushed the button on our necks."

Ashe grunted, his legs pushing him further into the front seat. "Well, if it is indeed the same device I invented, the range is a good one-hundred mile radius."

Kess rolled her eyes. "You know, you're good about using my optimism to wipe your ass."

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

He jerked his arms back as the entire device on the dashboard came loose. He turned back to his companion, dangling the black box before her. "How fast can you run?", he grinned.

Her eyes narrowed on the object and then focused on him. "You're really something.", she smiled.

"I keep trying to tell you that.", he replied.


Tseng and Becca arrived right behind Marcus who motioned for them to duck down. He had already placed his headset on and Tseng hoped the others had as well. "Alright, is everyone here?", he asked over his as he secured it to his head.

A round of checks later, he began handing out orders. "Reno, Rude, Shion, Jale and Max. I want you to circle around the back and remain there as an ambush. Drake, 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 almost at once.

"Alright.", Tseng said. He glanced to Marcus and Becca and they nodded.

Suddenly, Becca and Tseng leapt from their spots and opened fire on the enemy. In truth, it was hard to see the enemy with all the smoke that filled the area. But their shots were returned just as they had anticipated. Marcus watched for the direction of the shots and began to slink towards the area, his electromag 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. Drake jumped over a pile of broken concrete and rushed into the haze. He could see a bit, at least enough to clock the reloading rebel before him in the head with his own gun. From the smoke erupted an angry shout as someone took a fist to the melon. Samantha followed up with a heavy shotgun blast. Tonya and Cissnei came last, heaving their throwing weapons into the blindness. Groans and shouts rose above the gunfire. A voice yelled suddenly, "Pull back!"

That was the cue for Group one. Rude and Jale came from seemingly nowhere and began to pummel the living daylights out of the nearby rebels. Drake's twin pistols erupted with pristine calculation. Rude nor Jale was never in danger of being hit by his shots. Reno began charging his electromag rod and beat down anyone in his path while he waited. Marcus had made his way around to the back and bright flashes were seen in the smoke.

Shion and Max set to dispatching the remnants. Max's weapon of nunchaku easily removed any threat from his path. Shion's katana cut down the few rebels that did enter his arm's reach. Most were being eradicated by the artillery from the train stations entrance.

Drake had stopped momentarily to reload his guns when he felt a sudden pain in his back. He had been leaning against a busted pillar and hadn't noticed how much his left side was exposed. He lurched forward, blood spurting forth from the wound as the bullet exited through his chest. He stumbled for a moment before collapsing against one of the walls and sliding to the ground. A bloody trail was left on the wall he had landed.

Cissnei saw him go down and shouted across her headset, "Man down! Drake took one to the chest!"

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

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 delicate hands wrapped around him. Long hair from his abductor swung against his face. "Where are you taking me?", he managed to cough as blood dribbled down his bottom lip.

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

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

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

"Well, here I am.", she pressed her hand against the side of his face and caressed it gently.

His breath was becoming short. Heavy, fast footsteps were closing in from the direction of the train station. "Drake, I'm glad I could see you..", she managed a smile 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 to the back road behind the station. He's bleeding pretty bad."

"Roger that.", came Tseng's voice.

Cissnei glanced up and down the road, even above. But she saw no one. "How did Drake get out here by himself when he was so injured…?", she wondered silently.

* * *

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 ask questions later."

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

She raced away and disappeared behind a corner. "They might've set up somewhere near here if Raven's fighting. But why's she running away? Are they losing?", Ashe grimaced.

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

Ashe turned back to her.. then to the alley where Raven had gone. But he eventually nodded. "Alright.", he sighed in defeat.

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, it was just a detonator."

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

Nah, I tossed it.", he replied.

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

Indeed, the entire place was in ruins. Chunks of concrete were everywhere; wires and girders were tossed about in a haphazard manner. The car was only yards away, but they heard voices approaching. Quickly, Kess and Ashe 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, we did!"

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

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

Kess swallowed hard. "Let's get back to the building and file our reports. Then head to the bar.", Tonya spoke excitedly. "A propose we toast to our victory."

Tseng followed up behind the happy group, talking to Cissnei about Drake and his mysterious trip. "So, where are those ass wipes we bitched into service?", Samantha spat out as she shouldered her shotgun.

As if on cue, a large piece of concrete fell and landed right on top of the car, crushing the roof. Ashe winced and pulled Kess close as the vehicle suddenly ignited. A fiery inferno erupted where the car sat; concrete and twisted metal flew in a radius around the blast. The group of Turks dove about like scattered ants; Ashe held onto Kess as flaming pieces of rubbish landed all around them. Marcus' bike sailed high over head and crashed into the concrete rubble in front of the train station.

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

"Aww shit! My bike!!", howled Marcus who ran over to the piece of twisted metal almost immediately.

Ashe peeked out and noticed Jale nearby, and he was holding what appeared to be the detonator that had been given to Drake. "Well then, let's just finish off these explosions!", Jale laughed suddenly.

Kess and Ashe sprang up from behind the damaged sign and quickly walked over to the group. "No need, Jale. Kess and I thought we'd stretch our legs.", Ashe started suddenly.

Jale turned to see the pair standing behind him and managed a smile. Ashe continued, "So, you'll just have to miss out today."

He and Kess walked around Jale and up to the others. "Oh Ashey boy. You are good!", Jale shouted, trying to hide his anxiety.

Ashe crossed his hands behind his head and cocked his neck back towards Jale. "I know, Jale. No need 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 up. "Now, now.. You want to inadvertantly squeeze the trigger, would you?", he questioned.

He then turned away and back towards the group. "Let's regroup at the office and report to Veld and the President."

Everyone nodded and dispersed as clean up crews and more soldiers arrived to contain the scene. Tseng walked up to Ashe and Kess, looked between them and then turned to walk away. "I'd watch out for Jale. He's just looking for a reason to blow your heads off."

They followed behind him and entered the back of a nearby soldier truck. "Take us to the hospital in Sector One.", Tseng instructed the driver.

A swift nod and they were on the way. They left behind the ruins of the Sector Two train station. From this distance, Kess could see that the place was barely standing on its supports. Ashe whistled at the damage. "Wow, they sure did a number on that place.", he said matter-of-factly.

Tseng only nodded. "They are violent. If they truly wished to save the planet, then why are they attacking places where civilians gather?", he raised a brow while looking over to Ashe.

Ashe only shrugged, "Maybe they had no choice."

Kess listened but kept her eyes on the scenery outside the truck. "Oh?", Tseng started. "So they kill innocents to stop ShinRa from using the Mako? How exactly is that helping?"

"Look pal, it's for the good of the planet.", Ashe shot back. "Casualties happen, shit happens. But I'll be damned if I'm going to let ShinRa run the world. That fat fuck thinks he is closest to God and his doesn't care who he shits on to get here!"

"I'd watch what I say if I were you.", Tseng tightened his hand on the device in his hand.

"What, right here? You'll get all messy if you press that button. Go ahead, do it. Continue to live blindly, serving that prick without a second thought of who he hurts, all in the name of money."

Tseng eased his grip, but continued to glare at Ashe. Kess' attention was riveted on the two men, her eyes locked onto the detonator in Tseng's hand. "Ashe, just calm down.", she said quietly.

Ashe just shook his head. "Yea, whatever..", he turned away and crossed his arms behind his head.

For the remainder of the ride nothing was said. The truck pulled into the turn about at the Sector One hospital and the three passengers exited the back. "What are we doing here?", Ashe muttered not so quietly.

Tseng turned his head back as he walked up to the sliding doors. "One of my men was injured. He's in critical condition. I want to make sure he's going to pull through.", he snapped back.

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?", she questioned Tseng.

"One of the Turks was injured at the Sector Two train station. Where is he now?", Tseng explained.

The receptionist flipped through her papers and then glanced up. "I'll have to see some i.d. please."

Tseng flashed his badge and she nodded right away. "Take the express elevator to the tenth floor, room 1006. They just stabilized the patient, but he is still unconscious."

Tseng nodded. "Thank you.", he then turned to the nearby elevator and motioned for Ashe and Kess to follow him.

Like dogs, they moved to his side. They rode the elevator to the tenth floor in seconds and emerged to a barren hallway. Their stiff shoes clicked against the white floor as Tseng led them in search of the room. Once finding it, Tseng entered and pointed to some chairs. "Sit there."

Kess and Ashe both sunk into the chairs and Tseng approached the bed where Drake lay resting. He circled around 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 heart only slightly. Instead, it struck him in the left lung. 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 slight blue.

After a few moments, Tseng stood and turned around, his black coat swirling a bit. "Alright, let's go back to the building. At least I know he's stable."

Kess and Ashe stood and exited the room with Tseng. They made their way from the hospital back to the ShinRa building. Once there, Kess and Ashe were led back to their rooms where food was waiting, but it was cold. "What a runaround..", Ashe growled, kicking his shoes off. "They could've just left us here rather than dragging us around.. Nearly got us killed."

Kess sat down in silence. "He cares..", she said quietly.

Ashe glanced over to her. "Yea, about his own men. If it had been one of us, he'd probably put us out of our misery."

Kess picked up some lettuce from her plate and nibbled on it. She didn't say anything else. Ashe looked back to his own food; a salad and a bowl of cold potato soup.. lovely.

Tseng joined the rest of the Turks in the office and told them of Drake's condition. After which, reports having been filed, they all broke for the bar while Veld and Tseng made their way up to the Seventieth 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 exactly what happened."

They entered the office 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 paper work and noticed them.

"Hey pop. Company.", he shouted suddenly.

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

ShinRa turned to see Veld and Tseng standing there in silence. "Ah, you have news?", he questioned.

Tseng nodded and stepped forward. "First and foremost sir, it was an ambush."

Rufus who had returned to his papers snorted quite loudly. 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 due to us killing them all."

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 about in anger.

A small burn had begun to form on the carpet and he quickly 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. I'm sure the ambush was a last minute addition.", Veld said suddenly. "We now know the area they are 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?"

He 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 a lot more. 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 right now."

Veld and Tseng stood there, dumbfounded. ShinRa turned his head back and shouted, "Get out! Now!"

They both nodded and immediately 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 a lot more useful than you think. Should I have some soldiers comb Sector Two?"

"Of course. Make sure to check the bars and any back alley hang outs. They'll not continue to escape my grasp." ShinRa made another put and sunk the ball into the cup and he smiled.


--End Chapter 4..