Chapter 5: The Mark Has Been Made


President ShinRa thought it would be easy as pie to capture those Avalanche dogs, but in fact it was going to be much more difficult to root them out. The rebels weren't holed up in bar or the back alley hang outs of Sector Two. They were deep within the city, under the business district of the sector. A few had split off from the main group and taken to hiding wherever they could; but the majority of them stayed where Sears settled.

A meeting was taking place between Sears, Fuhito, Elfe and Raven. They gathered around their table, trying to hash out how the ShinRa could've known about the move. "There's got to be someone working for them among us. It's the only way.", Elfe suggested.

Sears nodded. "Indeed, it would've been impossible for them to pin point where we went after Sector Six without someone giving them the information."

Fuhito was silent as was Raven. "If anyone from Ashe's team survived, would they have talked?", Elfe asked.

Raven shook her head. "No way. Well, maybe Rekrab, but I'm pretty sure he was one of the ones that bit it."

"Besides.", spoke Fuhito. "None of them knew where we were going to relocate. They were told to rendezvous at the parking garage in the shopping district in Sector Eight."

Raven nodded. "I hate to think that the spy is still loose; spilling their guts about our plans."

There was a knock at the door and a man entered holding some papers. "Sir, these were recovered from the wreckage of that ShinRa vehicle.", he entered and tossed the singed folders down.

Sears reached forward and snagged one of the files, pulling it open. "Thank you, Wedge. Dismissed.", he said quietly.

Wedge nodded and exited the room as Elfe opened the other folder. "Well shit.. ", Sears muttered.

Raven's eyes widened and Fuhito leaned forward. "What, what is it?", Raven asked.

Sears and Elfe both tossed the papers down, Kess and Ashe's photos clearly displayed on them. Near the photos were i.d. numbers and beneath than was their personal information. The information of their previous employers and that they were now in the Turks.

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

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

Elfe appeared disappointed. Sears was silent. Raven stood up suddenly and made for the door. "Raven! Where are you going?", Fuhito asked angrily.

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

Fuhito glanced to her and then to Sears. "Any ideas?"

Sears shook his head. "Raven will be fine. She is an ex-Turk herself. About the other two, I think we should be prepared to shoot first."

After leaving the base under cover of night, Raven made her way to the Hospital in Sector One. She came across many groups of soldiers but managed to keep a low profile. When she arrived, she entered the hospital by using the fire escape. It was easy for her to jump up to the first ladder; indeed her previous experience in the Turks taught her much.

She moved silently up the side of the building, glancing into each window as she passed by. Finally she came to a floor where a few soldiers were loitering about the hallway. "This must be it.", she muttered silently.

She walked around the fire escape on this floor and came to the room she guessed was Drake's. She hit the window's frame hard, but quietly and the latch came loose on the inside. She opened the window only when she was sure Drake was the only one in the room. She entered the darkened room and immediately crossed the room to lock the door.

The click wasn’t even noticed by the soldiers in the hallway.  Raven then turned back around and took a seat back on the bedside.  “I didn’t expect to see you here.”, came Drake’s voice in the darkness.

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

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

Raven furrowed her brow. "How can I hate you.. after all we've been through."

Her thoughts drifted through time. She thought of the good times, and the hard times. They held hands lovingly at the Midgar anniversary three years ago. He had proposed to her that night. She had said yes. And then she left the Turks. What they did sickened her. She left it all behind, even he whom she loved so dearly.

"It was never you, Drake.", she said softly. "I came to hate the company, and I saw them for what they were."

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

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

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

The soldiers in the hall began to move about and Raven could see their shadows shifting at the base of the door. "I better get out of here before they discover me.", she murmured softly.

Drake only nodded. "I'll come back, tomorrow night, okay?", she smiled.

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

"When this is all over, I'll be waiting..", she smiled before sliding the window shut.

He leaned back into the bed and closed his eyes. He was finally sorry that the company had come in between him and his love. It was then that he made the decision that had been gnawing at his brain from some time. He'd leave the ShinRa behind to be with her. It was the only way he'd ever be truly happy.

Raven walked along the streets for sometime before returning to the base. Upon entering, Biggs stopped her. "Miss Raven, Sears has been looking for you. You're needed in a meeting of the utmost importance."

"Thanks, Biggs.", she nodded and made her way to the meeting room.

She entered and took her seat among the others. "Alright, what have you got?"

Raven was surprised to see only Sears sitting in the room. She paused momentarily then spoke, "You wanted to see me..?"

Sears nodded, his arms folded across his chest. He didn't look up, just nodded. Raven moved from the doorway and took a seat across from him. Nothing was said for the longest time. Finally he spoke. "How long as it been since you've joined our ranks?", his question hung in the air for a moment.

Raven cleared her throat and placed her clasped hands onto the table. "It's been three years now, since I left the Turks and joined Avalanche.", she spoke quietly.

Sears nodded again, his mind was a buzz with questions; most of them already had answers. "How many other times have you run off to visit Drake? Are you hiding something from us?", he accused.

She furrowed her brow and through grit teeth asked, "Are you having me followed now? I can't be trusted, is that it?"

He waved his hand slightly and shook his head, "I'm just saying; it looks bad. You already have a black mark from when you were a Turk. I don't want Fuhito to have any reason to question your loyalties.."

Raven bit back a few nasty comments and pushed her fingers through her dark hair to calm herself. "I didn't say anything to him that would put this operation in jeopardy. Drake was injured during today's scuffle, and I wanted to make sure he was okay."

Sears glanced up to her and met her eyes with his own. "I just want to make sure, Raven. And yes you were followed, but by me personally. You think I'd want to give Fuhito any ammo against you? You're our best commander."

Raven crossed her arms and sighed heavily. "Then hear what I say now. It is the truth. The girl I used to be died the night I left the Turks and Drake standing alone in Sector Eight. But just because that girl is long gone, doesn't mean I still don't care about what happens to those she cared about."

Thinking long and hard about what she just said, Sears finally nodded and moved to stand. "Good, I was just making sure."

Moving towards the door, he left her sitting at the table. Without even turning back to her, he spoke, "If I was you and I cared about my position, I wouldn't go see Drake again. Just let him go."

He left but Raven didn't move for a long time. She sat in the chair stiffly, contemplating all that Sears had said, and all that her heart screamed at her. Yes it was true; she still loved him after all this time. It just made the pain of their separation even greater. But she had a duty and she had made an oath. Down with ShinRa and whatever the cost she was determined to follow through with her words.

For now at least..

The night was mainly uneventful for everyone. The rebels counted their losses for the train station fiasco, the Turks celebrated in their favorite bar for a job well done. Ashe and Kess however, were still on lock down in their apartment-like cell. They were given some sleeping clothes, and so donning those, had taken to watching the crappy five channels on the television.

Their eyes riveted upon the flat panel screen, the show that was currently playing was some sort of reality show. Neither one was exactly sure what they were watching; just that it entailed having to race a chocobo to gain freedom. All of the contestants were trapped in the Coral Prison and each person had to make it to the Gold Saucer above to race. After a few more moments of the program, Kess reached up and clicked the television off. "This is so stupid.", she groaned, her head flopping onto the back of the sofa.

Ashe blinked suddenly as if waking from a trance. "Ah, thank you. My brain was being destroyed by that crap. Race for freedom? Where do people come up with this stuff..?"

"I don't know, but I'm about ready for bed..", Kess sighed, tossing the remote onto the floor.

Ashe nodded and pushed himself to his feet. "Yea, after today, I don't see how those Turks keep going. Must be the ability to drink large quantities of alcohol after a mission.", he chuckled while stretching.

He extended his hand to Kess and helped her up. "To bed then. Tomorrow is another day in this hell hole.", his attitude was less than encouraging.

They parted ways to their bedrooms, each falling asleep within minutes of lying down. Their rest was dreamless, but that at least meant they rested well.

Sometime near sunup, there was a knock at the door. Ashe woke up first this time and went to inspect. "Why would someone be knocking when I can't open the door?", he thought as he scratched and stretched.

He made his way to the front room and saw a piece of paper on the floor near the door. He stooped to pick it up and blinked several times before the writing was legible. "Meeting at nine. It's seven thirty now.", Ashe read aloud. "Well heck. At least I can get a shower in."

He went to his room to gather his suit and quietly moved to Kess' room. He slowly opened the door and moved to the bathroom to get ready. As he closed the door behind himself, he stole a glance of her sleeping. "She looks so cute.", he mused with a smile.

The door shut and he locked it. Moments later, Kess awoke to the sound on the shower. She peeked over the covers and saw a thin stream of light was showing from under the door. "Oh, that sneaky bastard.", she sighed before turning on her side to face away from the noise.

Ashe didn't take long and soon was exiting the bathroom dressed in his black suit. The tie hadn't been added yet simply because his hair was still wet. Kess rolled out of bed after he left the room and proceeded to get ready herself. She didn't even have to complain about the state of the bathroom. Ashe had wiped up any water from the floor, cleaned the mirror and even put the toilet seat back down. She couldn't help but smile.

Kess was pushing it when she finally came out into the main room. She helped Ashe tie his tie and then did her own. Ashe looked over the note once more and then to the door. "So, are they going to come get us, or what?", he wondered aloud.

As if to answer his question, the door suddenly clicked and opened. They moved forward, but didn't see anyone in the hallway. "Mechanical door, I guess. Probably testing us to see if we'll show up.", Kess spoke as she poked her head into the hallway.

"Hmm.. show up or blow up. I'll take the first choice for $300.", Ashe joked as he followed Kess from the room.

They moved towards the elevator and pressed the button they remembered seeing pressed before. The doors shut and they were on their way to the Turks' office. For some reason this ride seemed must faster than the previous ones; probably because they were alone. The elevator came to a halt and opened up to reveal the hallway leading to the familiar office.

Ashe and Kess walked forward side by side, the sound of someone coming their way made them both focus on the other end of the hallway. Ashe just cringed and muttered, "Fuck me.."

Kess' eyes focused on the individual walking towards them and recognized Scarlet immediately. "Oh Ashely! Fancy meeting you here!", she giggled, her eyes shifting over the young man's form.

Kess stood there dumbfounded. Ashe suddenly snapped back, "Scarlet, I didn't know they let tramps run lose in the building. I should inform security.."

Kess nearly choked from trying to not laugh out loud. She managed to hold back and tried to act normal. The remark didn't even phase Scarlet. "Oh Ashey, you act like you hate me or something. After all the time we spent apart, I thought you'd be happy to see me.", she pretended to pout, pushing back bits of her bleach blond hair.

"No, no. It was entirely too short a vacation from you. In fact, I'd like to make sure I never see you again.", Ashe crossed his arms. "And besides, I'm quite immune to you. As you see, I have developed super powers in which to repel your sluttiness!"

He suddenly thrust his hand out and slapped her in dead center of her forehead. "Whore, be gone!", he shouted.

Scarlet's face suddenly lit up in anger. "Why you!!", she shouted, her hand reeling back to deck him.

Suddenly, her hand stopped in mid air, grabbed by an arm from behind. Ashe and Kess looked over Scarlet's shoulder to see Reeve standing there. A serious look on his face. "You may want to rethink that action. You could end up blowing your hand off.", Reeve spoke, releasing her hand once again.

Scarlet's face flushed a bright red and she pushed her way through Kess and Ashe towards the elevator. Her bun bounced so hard as she stomped that it unraveled all the way. Reeve nodded to both Kess and Ashe before walking on his way.

Slightly puzzled, but otherwise fine, they continued on to the Turks' office. Upon entering, they were readily greeted by Tseng. "Ah, good morning.", Tseng spoke as if in a good mood.

Kess and Ashe took the seats offered to them and took notice that the other Turks were all there as well. Veld walked out from his office and glanced around the room. "Good, everyone is here.", he shuffled some papers around in his hands and then began to delegate. "Alright. I've got new orders here and some new assignments. With Drake out of commission for a while, Marcus will be assigned as Tonya's partner."

He handed the two of them a piece of paper and then continued. "Kess, Ashe and Jale will be the next group. Jale is being put in charge of the detonator, and it'd be easier if the newbies were in one group should they decide to renegade.", he glanced to Kess and Ashe with a smirk.

"Becca, Samantha and Shion will remain a group. As will Max and Cissnei; same with Rude and Reno ", he glanced around the room. "Any questions?"

Seeing as no one had anything to add, he handed the rest of the papers to the other groups. "Each paper gives you your shift schedule and assignment."

As the individual groups looked over their papers, Rufus entered and glanced around for Veld. "Sir, they're starting upstairs. The President asked that you and Tseng sit in.", he spoke as he remained near the door.

Veld nodded and Tseng moved to gather up their paper work. "Right, thank you Rufus. You are all dismissed.", he spoke aloud as he moved for the door.

When he passed by Jale, he handed the detonator to him. "This is to be locked up in this office every night, you are not to take it out of this building when you're off duty, understood?", he whispered

Jale nodded with a smile, taking the device. "Of course sir. I wouldn't think of it."

Veld nodded and continued on his way out the door. After the room had cleared of the higher ups, Reno put his paper down and sighed, "Alright, who got what this time?"

Everyone began to swap papers and look over the other team's assignment. After a moment Reno sighed and chuckled, "Isn't there any one of these that doesn't entail hunting Avalanche?"

"Nope."

"Uh-uh."

"Not a one."

The answers were quick and made the other's laugh. "So let's see.", Reno started. "My team, consisting of myself and Rude, are to scout out the Wall Market for any signs of terrorists. Jale and the other two are supposed to check Sector's Eight through Five. Minus the Wall Market in Sector Six. Bec, Sam and Shion are going to Sector's Four through One. Marcus and Tonya, are supposed to check the train stations and other public transport, but that isn't until tonight. Max, Cissnei are off right now, but have to come back in tonight to check the upper levels of the city for activity."

Everyone nodded. "Well then, let's get going.", Rude replied, motioning everyone for the door.

Each group took to the streets, some to the trains to get to the Sectors they were assigned to. With the exception of Marcus, Tonya, Max and Cissnei, the Turks were out in force.

* * *

While ShinRa's personal task force was combing the city below, a very important meeting was taking place in the executive room. Tseng and Veld stood off to the side while waiting for everyone to arrive. All of the executives were in attendance with the exception of Mayor Domino. President ShinRa had made sure that meddling man wasn't there. He glanced from the head of the table around the room to everyone. Tseng and Veld entered the room and they commenced.

"Finally made it, eh?", President ShinRa muttered as he lit a cigar. "Good. I'll start by asking the obvious. Veld, any news?"

"No sir, but the Turks have their new assignments. Not a Sector of this city will be over looked. They will sweep through the area and arrest anyone suspicious.", Veld explained, not even a hint of nervousness to his voice.

ShinRa nodded and puffed at his cigar. "As I very well expected from that pack of miscreants you claim to be in charge of. What of those two rebels?", he glowered.

"Kess and Ashe have been set up with Jale who has their detonator. Any offense and he'll make sure they're taken care of.", Veld replied.

"Might I add, they have been cooperative.", Tseng quickly interjected.

"Details details.", ShinRa said, waving the smoke from his view. "They are rebel scum and after their usefulness has run out, I want them executed."

An unsettling silence befell the group and no one said anything for a long time. Palmer fiddled with his thumbs, Scarlet yawned to display her boredom. Hojo merely sat at the end of the table, thumbing through documents and mumbling to himself. In fact, it seemed that only Reeve and Heidegger were interested in the current topic.

Even Rufus who had been invited was staring blankly out the window behind his father. ShinRa pushed his cigar into an ash tray and eyed Hojo at the end of the table. "What are you looking at there, Hojo?", he said suddenly.

Hojo glanced up slowly as if he couldn't pull himself from the papers. "The files for Cer-Kess and Ashe. Very interesting, very interesting.", he muttered some more, his glasses having slid to the tip of his nose. "You know, I spoke with Director Lazard about these two. He even remembers Kess.. yes. Seems as though he figured her for dead and such.."

Hojo continued to ramble on and ShinRa finally waved his hand. "Whatever. My only interest right now is squashing Avalanche, anyone else have anything useful to bring to the table?", he asking, his blonde eye brows raising a bit.

"We could lure them out. Stage something they'd be interested in and ambush them.", Heidegger suggested suddenly.

ShinRa's eyes lit up. "Ah, an idea! Finally! Stage what? Do explain."

Heidegger shrugged a bit, his brow furrowing. "Er, well. That is. How about..?"

"Let them destroy a reactor."

All eyes were suddenly on Rufus. "Destroy?? Let them destroy more of my city??", ShinRa huffed.

"No, you paranoid, old man. Simply put, let them think they are going to destroy it.", Rufus explained as he removed his hands from his pockets and placed them on the table. "They will jump on that idea. The prospect of ruining such a large investment is just too tempting."

ShinRa began to rub his chin in deep thought. The boy had a point, it would definitely lure out the enemy. Reeve suddenly interjected. "Sir, I'm afraid that I'm going to have to object. Think what would happen should they succeed. The cost to those living near the reactor would be enormous. It's just too risky."

"Nonsense Reeve! We'd never let them actually destroy it. Rufus, my boy, that's a wonderful idea.", ShinRa praised.

Reeve slumped back into his chair, and glanced askance to Rufus. He didn't like the idea that so many lives would be at stake. Apparently all Rufus cared about was what his father cared about: killing the rebels at any cost. Even at the cost of innocent lives. He had to act fast if he was going to stop this from happening.

"So which reactor shall we stage our little welcoming party at?", ShinRa began.

Scarlet extended her hand and looked over her nails idly. "What about Two, it was damaged slightly in the battle at the train station.", she said nonchalantly.

"Scarlet, smartest thing you've said all meeting.", ShinRa smiled.

She smirked, "What can I say. I've got a knack.."

"Good then, tomorrow night we'll close off the area for repairs, that way no citizens are injured..", ShinRa spoke, looking directly at Reeve.

Reeve nodded in slight approval. "Good, Mr. Tuesti agrees. Anyone disagree?", ShinRa asked.

No one said anything, he looked to Veld. "Have your men assembled for tomorrow night. Make sure those two rebels are put in the forefront. If they prove themselves good, if they don't make it, just as well.", ShinRa instructed as he lit another cigar. "Dismissed."

Palmer, once again, jumped up and bolted for the door. Heidegger and Scarlet took their time; Hojo gathered his mess of papers and shuffled out of the room. Reeve continued to eye Rufus as the young man exited the room. He knew why he had suggested the reactor idea. He'd known for a while that Rufus supplied the rebels with money and weapons.. All in an attempt to bring down his father.

In a weird sort of retaliation, Reeve took to selling information to Avalanche, to keep them from hurting civilians. But recently they had been ignoring his requests. He'd also picked up on the fact that Rufus had someone working for him. He fumed as he walked from the meeting room and took to an elevator. He had some documents to search through. He would figure out who Rufus' contact was, and he'd put an end to him.

Veld and Tseng made their way back to the Turks' office. "Sir, are you sure that this course of action is wise?", Tseng suddenly asked when they were in the elevator.

Veld cleared his throat a bit and straightened his jacket. "Our President has decided. Therefore we must obey.", he spoke without even looking to Tseng.

Tseng knew that the orders bothered him. Even if they had Soldier's aid, the Turks would be vastly out numbered to the amount of rebels that would surely show up. It could turn into a blood bath. "We should call everyone in tonight before the night shift. They need to be physically and mentally prepared for this."

Veld only nodded. In truth he hated this idea. He cared about his team a great deal, and the President just continued to treat them as cannon fodder. "I'll speak with Heidegger and see about Soldier reinforcements. It'd be a big help.", he sighed.

The two men arrived to their floor and made for the office to prepare for tonight.

Deep in Avalanche's new headquarters, Sears, Fuhito, Elfe and Raven were having a meeting as well. Elfe and Raven were listening to Sears and Fuhito bicker for the most part. They were hashing over ideas on how to hit the ShinRa Company where it hurt. So far, all the ideas were flops. In a corner of the room, a television they had set up was turned on, but the volume muted. Currently, it was their only link to the upper level.

Fuhito was shuffling through some papers, his eyes and mouth busy as ever. He was trying to get Sears to agree to attack Junon once more, but Sears wouldn't have it. The last time had been a disaster and he refused to allow that to happen again.

"Besides," he started. "They've moved all their Soldier troops there after the last thing we tried there. Any operation we would plan would just end up with our forces dead."

Fuhito sighed and replied, "Or captured and turned against us."

His eyes shifted over to Raven who was glaring back. "Kess and Ashe may have been forced into the Turks, but they will not fight against us. I know them. They hate ShinRa, the company destroyed their lives.", Raven interjected.

Fuhito only shook his head. "They must now be treated as turncoats. We don't know what they were thinking. Hell, they could have fabricated everything they told us, just to get in, learn our secrets and go running back to ShinRa with them. They cannot be trusted.", Fuhito was beginning to get upset.

Sears' eyes rested on the television across the room, grateful that Fuhito had left him alone for the time being. Elfe piped up. "I trust Kess and Ashe. Before any harm befalls them, I want to speak with them, should they come back. The ShinRa doesn't care who it hurts, even its own employees are abused. I believe Raven is right when she says they have been forced against their will to aid the Turks."

Fuhito only nodded. "Yes, but we still have to look at all possibilities.", he instructed. "You can't let your emotions or gut feelings make your decisions."

Sears' gaze remained riveted on the tv, a photo of reactor Two was displayed prominently on the screen. He reached for the remote and turned up the volume. A woman's voice suddenly filled the room. "A possible red alert goes out to those living in Sector Two tonight. For anyone living near the reactor, ShinRa Electric Power Company has issued a warning. Due to the damage sustained in last night's train station bombing, Mako fumes could be leaking from damaged piping. ShinRa urges anyone living in the area on the upper plate to evacuate their homes and or businesses. They will be quarantining the area off tonight and beginning repairs tomorrow evening. Again, those living in the area are asked to leave in an orderly fashion. You will be instructed by this news station when it is once again safe to return."

The news caster repeated herself and a ticker appeared at the bottom of the screen. Sears turned to the group and actually smiled. "We can hit them where it really hurts. Taking out a reactor would be a huge loss for the ShinRa, and it would stop the draining of Mako. Why hadn't we thought of this before?", he wondered aloud.

"Uh, how about because that would kill a lot of people if we were to bomb that place.", Raven shook her head.

"But they're evacuating the area. It would only be ShinRa employees inside. It's perfect.", Sears continued.

He stood up and moved closer to the tv in case there was anything he had missed. Raven looked to Elfe who seemed to like the idea. Fuhito was already grinning. "Indeed, this would deal a great blow to the Company. And seeing as they are evacuating, it would cut down on the cost of innocent lives. We await your orders, Elfe.", he spoke quickly.

Elfe thought for a moment and then looked to Raven. "If there are no civilians there, it would be a big win for us. Yes, let's do it.", she agreed.

Raven nodded; still worried that it could be a disaster. But she would support Elfe in her decision. "Good, let's begin the preparations. I'll go to our explosive division and see if they can't ready a bomb just for this occasion.", Fuhito said excitedly.

He jumped up and exited as Sears walked back over. "It is almost too perfect.", he started. "But think of the victory. The ShinRa would actually begin to fear us."

Raven crossed her arms as she stood to leave. "I hope you're right.", she murmured as she walked from the room. "I'll prepare the authorization and get one of my girls to start preparing some access cards. I assume we're going in under cover as ShinRa employees?"

She turned back to catch Sears' nod. "Right, I'll get the cards in order and dig up some uniforms.", she continued on her way out to complete her tasks.

She didn't like this much, but she would follow what Elfe asked of her. Something about the whole thing just didn't feel right at all. She couldn't quite say that it would be a trap. It sounded perfectly reasonable to evacuate an area for repairs. But something just felt wrong. As she made her way to the technicians, she wondered what Kess and Ashe were doing.

The truth was they weren't doing much. Having finished their rounds in the Sectors given to them, they met up with Reno's team in Sector Five. Jale had the detonator tucked away, so at times, Kess and Ashe even forgot that they were prisoners. They were all laughing it up in a Sector Five bar. Ashe had even told them the story about this morning's encounter with Scarlet, which had them nearly falling on the floor in hysterical laughter. Jale sat at the end of the bar, keeping his eyes on the group.

Reno took a sip of the drink he had ordered and tried to calm himself. "I can't believe you did that, yo! Do you know how long I've wanted to tell that crazy bitch off?", he snickered.

Even Kess and Rude were laughing, the two most serious people in the group. Reno slapped Marcus' shoulder and suddenly said, "Hey, tell them about the time in Costa del Sol, when I was on vacation, yo."

Marcus almost lit up with laughter, "Oh god! Okay, so Sam and I were on assignment trying to root out Avalanche and I had just joined. Reno here was on leave and we run into him on the beach. Well Sam was a new recruit too. She hadn't met Reno yet. So we're on duty, questioning people on the beach and Sam decides she's going to question Reno."

Reno suddenly jumped in, "I decided I was going to mess with her."

Marcus coughed a bit and held back a laugh. "Okay, so I've already met Reno. I see her walking over to this skinny red-headed bastard and think, 'What the heck is she doing?' But I'm too far away to say anything to her in time. She walks over, tossing her hair around like it's not even attached and glares down at Reno."

Reno tried to hold back a snicker but almost choked. Tonya was listening eagerly as she hadn't heard this story yet either. Rude had heard it a million times from Marcus, but was still listening for humor sake. Kess and Ashe quietly waited to hear what happened next.

"Reno's laying there, one of those foil tanning curtains up around his neck and she just stands there waiting for him to notice her. In truth, he'd been staring at her the whole time, but she couldn't tell because of his sunglasses. Finally, she clears her throat to get his attention. He jokingly says, 'Ah yes, my cabana girl. Fetch me some lemonade, will you?' Well as you can imagine, this pissed her off.", Marcus was smiling the entire time as he recounted the story.

"So anyway, she got pissy and said something like 'How dare you' or 'How dare you insult the Turks'. Reno, keeping as straight a face as he can manage, says, 'Chop chop woman, I'm getting dehydrated.' To which she suddenly whips out her badge and shouts for all to hear, 'How dare you insult the Turks! You will pay for this!' or some crap."

Reno can barely hold back his sputtering laughter. "So I finally get over there as she says this and I go, 'Oh, hey boss. Getting some good sun?' Well her face turned bright red and she looked between us. 'Boss!?' was I think all she could say. I go, 'Yea, hey would you mind getting us some lemonade? I'm pretty parched and I'm sure Reno here is too.' Reno just smiled and her eyes got all big. She looked like a puffed up frog. I thought she was going to explode. Instead she just stomps off. Needless to say, we didn't' get our lemonade, but we did get a good laugh."

By that point, everyone was laughing hard. Even Rude was laughing with as many times as he had heard that story. Reno was howling the loudest and started to draw attention from around the bar. "So if you want to mess with her, just ask for some lemonade.", he laughed. "But be prepared to duck. She's been getting angrier about that joke lately."

The bartender walked over to refill everyone's glass. Even Kess and Ashe were allowed to participate in the group drinking. "Oh, no more for me, good sir. I've got to get going.", Reno spoke, pushing away from the bar.

He moved to pick up his electromag rod and walked towards the door. "Hey, where are you going?", Marcus called after him.

"Errand, yo. I'll meet up with you guys later.", he spoke, tapping the rod against his shoulder.

He flicked his red ponytail over his back and walked out of the bar. Rude stood with him and moved to follow. Tonya and Marcus sipped at their new drinks and leaned against the bar.

"Marcus.", Jale said suddenly, having appeared behind the group. "Could you watch over this for me? I have to run a quick errand for Tseng. I'll only be about twenty minutes."

He pulled the detonator out of his coat and handed it off to the young man. It was the first time all evening that Kess and Ashe were reminded of their positions. It made them uncomfortable. Marcus nodded and tucked the detonator away. "Yea sure."

Jale finished his drink. "Why thank you, it shouldn't take long."

"Alright, well if we get kicked out for being too rowdy, we'll meet ya at the building.", Marcus joked.

Tonya snorted, nearly gagging on her drink. Jale stood and walked out the door. Kess and Ashe began to settle back into their prisoner frame of mind. Marcus noticed their suddenly silence. "So… got any more Scarlet stories..?", he asked with a smile.

Ashe's face suddenly lit up. He smirked and said, "Do I ever…hehehe"

* * *

Reeve had planted himself in his office. He knew that the informant working for Rufus was a member of the Turks, but which one? He was sure that he would discover the culprit hidden in Rufus' personal files. But he would have to snoop through Rufus' office on his own, and frankly that was too risky. Instead, he would use a new device he'd been working on for some time. This creation was the perfect infiltration machine. With a remote control radius of several hundred miles, Reeve could sit safely in his office and control the robot from there.

He just hopped that no one took notice of an upright walking cat doll.

Watching through the kitty's eyes, he moved the invention he had dubbed Cait Sith about the floor containing the executive offices. He passed by Scarlet's office in which he was able to discern some rather questionable noises. He shuddered slightly and pushed the movement stick forward to keep going. Heidegger's office door was standing open. He peeked around the corner and saw Heidegger sitting at his desk, tapping his fingers against each other. He seemed like he was waiting for someone.

Quickly, he scuttled the kitty across the doorway, Heidegger not even taking notice of the oddity. Reeve moved Cait into the next open door when he suddenly heard a noise from behind. He glanced out to see Director Lazard leaving Scarlet's office and head into Heidegger's. Back in his office, Reeve suddenly gagged. "Okay, that was disgusting…", he muttered.

Lazard shut the door to Heidegger's office and Reeve listened for a moment as they began talking. He slowly eased the electronic kitty out into the hallway and continued on to Rufus' office. After trekking for only a few more yards, he came to the door, and not surprisingly it was locked. Luckily, he had equipped Cait with lock picks. It only took a few moments, and soon the door creaked open.

He pushed the stick on the control pad, sending Cait into the room. He used the robot's tail to shut the door behind himself and found the office to be pitch black. Not to worry, he had also equipped Cait with night vision. The kitty toddled across the room to the desk where he pulled himself in the chair and began checking all the drawers, out of all of them, only one was locked. That was quickly popped open and Reeve began sifting through the files. After searching quickly through the papers, and finding nothing of interest, he shut the drawer and locked it again.

Nothing in the desk.

He pushed the kitty to hop back to the floor and was walking him over to a file cabinet, when the door handle suddenly jiggled. "Shit.", Reeve muttered.

He pushed the control stick in a circle, looking around the room. Suddenly, he moved Cait under Rufus' desk, his little back pushed up against the side closest to the door. The door opened and footsteps could be heard. The lights flicked on and Reeve listened closely while trying his best the keep Cait hidden. The door shut.

"Well, I'm sure you've already heard of my brilliant plan.", he heard Rufus' voice clearly.

The other individual scoffed slightly, Reeve only being able to tell it was a man. "You are to accompany the Turks into battle," Rufus continued. "And do your best to sabotage whatever they attempt to do against Avalanche."

"You know, this is going to cost you more.", the man said.

"Whatever, money isn't an object. My old man is the one footing the bill since he thinks that money can control better than fear.", Rufus snapped. "Poor, old bastard. I bet he'll never even guess who is behind his downfall."

Reeve was trying so hard to place the voice, when he suddenly realized where he had heard it before. Late night, a few nights back ;in an elevator. But he wasn't sure; he'd have to see the man to be sure. But peeking out now would be too risky. He continued to listen. Rufus opened his desk drawer and fumbled around for a moment. "Here, this should suffice the danger I'm putting you in.", he said suddenly.

Silence for a few moments, then, "Yea, this will be just fine."

"Excellent. A pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Gerrick.", Rufus spoke.

Reeve's eyes lit up. "Of course!", he hissed through grit teeth.

"Well, I'm going to go prepare for my night out. I'm babysitting those rebels.", Jale spoke with the hint of a chuckle.

The door opened and shut, leaving only Rufus and Cait wedged under his desk. Rufus moved to his chair and took a seat, Reeve moving Cait from under the desk to stand in front of it. How was he going to get out of here undetected? He noticed that Rufus was rifling through his desk again.

Now or never! He moved Cait to the door quickly, jumped up and pulled on the door knob. The door opened and he pushed the kitty into the hallway quickly as Rufus glanced up. He stood from his desk and moved to the door instantly. Rufus stuck his head into the hallway and looked both ways, seeing nothing. He narrowed his eyes and went back inside, shutting the door. Reeve breathed a sigh of relief, moving Cait out from behind a nearby potted plant. Hastily, he made his way back down the hallway to his own office.

Once Cait was safely back in his room, he set to pacing back and forth. So it was Jale. He had suspected it for sometime, but without the proof he could do nothing. Now, he had something and could act. First things first, he set to devising a way to stop Jale and put Rufus' betrayal out in the open. As long as Rufus continued his scheming, who knew how many lives he would destroy; all in an attempt to take over the company.

Reeve decided he would stop them both. It was the right thing and he refused to see anymore innocent people hurt in this power struggle. He moved back to Cait's controls and activated the kitty. He would first stop Jale, and then he could figure out how to expose Rufus. In either case, Cait was going to help.

Reno found the trip to Sector One to be a nice one. It had been some time since he'd wandered the streets without a mission. He found the freedom wonderful, it was something he missed a lot these days. He glanced back to Rude who followed idly behind. "Yo, Rude, you want to stop anywhere before we meet with the others?"

Rude shook his head quietly as Reno's PHS rang. He flicked it open with a grimace. "Reno here. Yo, Tseng. Yea, we wrapped up our search. No, found nothing."

He continued to walk the semi-crowded street, not evening noticing that people were parting to allow him by. "A meeting? Sure, I'll be back in time. I'm not with the others right now, it's just Rude and I. But if you talked to Jale or Marcus, then they know what's up.", he looked over to the shops as he walked by them. A few items in the window caught his eye be he plodded on. "So, what's the plan?"

Reno nodded to Tseng words as they came over the PHS. Reactor Two, Avalanche, ambush. The words melted together as Reno's green eyes floated over the shops and his nose took in the smells. "Yea, we'll wrap up what we're doing now and be back by then. Of course, sir. Bye."

He flicked the phone shut and turned to a large building that had suddenly sprouted up on the avenue. He entered and turned his phone off, making his way to the front desk. He was greeted by a young woman in a white uniform. "Heya ma'am. Looking for-", he began but she cut him off.

"Just need to see some i.d., hun.", she smiled.

Puzzled, Reno showed her his badge and she nodded, "He's up in 1006. He's awake."

Reno nodded and thanked the woman, Rude followed after him and the receptionist waved him by. They took to an elevator. "What did Tseng want?", Rude asked as they rode along.

"Some great new idea to trap Avalanche. He wants us back in an hour, and this won't take long.", Reno explained.

The ride was short and soon they were on the tenth floor. Reno greeted the guards outside the door and entered the quiet room. He glanced around and saw Drake propped up watching television. He glanced over when the door opened, a barely noticeable smile on his lips.

"Hey man!", Reno happily shouted as he crossed the room.

Rude nodded his head and followed Reno without a word.

"Reno, Rude! What brings you two here?", Drake asked kindly.

Reno pulled up a chair and straddled it backwards while Rude stood behind in silence. "Just seeing how you're doing. You better recover fast. They put Marcus in Tonya's group. And I think the electromag user is cramping her style."

Drake chuckled a bit and then grabbed his side. "Sorry, Reno. Doctor's orders are that I stay in bed for the next week at least."

"Man, that sucks..", Reno sighed, slumping into the back of the chair. "You're going to miss out on the fun tomorrow."

Drake turned away from the tv and raised a brow. "Fun?"

"Yea, Tseng and Veld are planning an ambush tomorrow night for Avalanche.", Reno explained.

Drake's eyes suddenly narrowed, but he managed to hide his surprise. "Really? Where?", he did his best to not sound worried.

Reno reached out and cracked his knuckles. "Reactor Two, just after midnight. They're just hoping that Avalanche takes the bait.", Reno spoke nonchalantly, taking no notice of Drake's surprise. "Yup, too bad you can't be there."

"Yea..", Drake trailed off, then looked back to the tv.

Nothing was said for a while, they both stared off at the sitcom, not even really paying attention. Rude shuffled his feet and asked suddenly, "How's the food?"

Drake turned to him and smirked. "Eh, the meds are better."

They all shared a good chuckle as there was a knock at the door. It opened to reveal a nurse pushing in a food tray. "Speak of the devil!", Reno smiled, moving out of the nurse's way.

Drake chuckled a bit, "You mean torture time. I meant it when I said the meds were better."

The nurse only smiled, "But you're going to eat every last bit of it, aren't you."

"Of course.", Drake spoke as the nurse set up the meal in front of him.

Reno stood idly by and then stuck his hands into his pockets. "Well we're going to jet man. Gotta get back for that meeting.", Reno waved a bit and turned to leave. "Eat up and get better. We all miss you."

Drake waved back with one of his large hands. "Good to see you, Reno."

Rude moved to follow, but stopped and looked back to Drake. "Rest well, we really do miss you.", he spoke solemnly.

Drake nodded and smiled, "Thanks Rude. Really, that means a lot to me."

The pair left and moved quickly through the hospital back to the streets. Once they were moving towards the building, Rude spoke up, "Pity."

Reno turned to him and tilted his head to the side. "What's a pity?"

"Drake.", Rude replied. "Seeing such a strong guy in a hospital bed. He's very lucky to have survived his injuries."

"Yea, well. He is a tough guy." Reno pushed the thoughts away as they hastily made their way back to headquarters. He didn't want to think about losing a member of the team.

* * *

The Turks had begun to regroup at the building. As usual, they had nothing much to report, but had made a few arrests. Unfortunately, none of the offenders had anything to do with Avalanche; there were just local disturbers.

As everyone gathered, Tseng then moved to join Veld's side on noticing that everyone was present. Veld stood to address his team as the door opened revealing Director Lazard. "Ah, there you are, Lazard. We were just about to begin.", Veld greeted.

Lazard waved lightly with a white gloved hand. "Sorry that I'm late. I was hashing out the details with Heidegger."", he explained, pushing his glasses back into place.

He moved over to stand by Drake and Veld continued speaking, "Good evening everyone. As I'm sure some of you are aware, we will be having a very busy evening tomorrow night. President ShinRa has instructed that we, along with Solider," he motioned to Lazard. "will be taking place in an ambush at reactor Two."

He looked over the group and folded his hands behind his back. "Now, we're not for certain that any rebels will show up. But this operation is being set up in such a manner that they will not be able to resist striking us."

"You will be designated to the current teams you are in. Reno's team will take point at the reactor's entrance. Do not attack; simply keep those rebels that may enter from leaving. This way a retreat is nearly impossible. Jale's group will be placed near the 'damaged' area.", he used air quotes. "Here will give you the perfect vantage point to pick off the rebels from a distance."

Kess and Ashe swallowed nervously. They were going to be forced to fire at their comrades. This would not be easy. "Marcus' team will rush in from the ground floor with the Soldier reinforcements and finish off the remnants. It's easy, simple and fool proof. That is, as long as Avalanche takes the bait." Veld coughed heavily and covered his mouth.

"Reno's team will consist of Rude, Becca and Shion. Jale's team will be Cissnei, Kess and Ashe. Finally, Marcus' team is Tonya, Samantha and Max. Tomorrow evening, we will meet here to discuss any final details. You will all be given tomorrow off to prepare for this. Lazard has gratefully offered to have Soldier take over the streets for a day so that you all may rest.", he cleared his throat again. "Please have a pleasant evening; I'll see you all tomorrow."


--End Chapter 5..