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The Fifth Act, Chapter 12

Title: The Fifth Act

Rating:
T for violence.

Summary: FFVII Time-travel. Gen. Cloud has an accident with a Time Materia.

Author's Note: Neighbours thought it would be awesome to start partying at 4:30 in the morning and still haven't stopped. So this chapter may contain more mistakes than normal. Please point out any that you see.

This chapter is mostly verbal chess with Tseng.


Previous Chapter


__________________

The Fifth Act

Chapter 12


__________________


Genesis slammed his palms against the desk, the sound of leather striking wood snapping harshly in his ears. “He’s already here? Then why haven’t you found him yet?”


“We didn’t expect him for another week, so we weren’t able to catch him at any of the gates as we intended,” Tseng replied calmly. “Luckily, an informant on the ground spotted a man matching his description in Sector 7.” And later, in Sector 5. Always in the slums. That could work in ShinRa’s favour. People frequenting the slums were typically in want of money. “He must have hitched a ride the rest of the way. It’s difficult to track someone across the wilderness.”

“But he’s here now. Why haven’t you brought him in? Sephiroth is wearing a hole in carpet, you know!”

The General wasn’t the only one wearing a hole in his carpet, but pointing that out wouldn’t make Tseng’s life any easier.

“We have people on the job,” he replied instead, and hoped his attempt at soothing didn’t get misconstrued for condescension. It was always a fine line with the poetic Commander. “Midgar is a big place, and there are only so many Turks available for the job.”

“The man has hair like a chocobo and an enormous sword on his back! How hard can he be to find?”

“There are over forty thousand people living in Sector 7 alone,” Tseng explained patiently. “We can watch the main roads, but we can’t check every inn and alleyway for travellers. As you say, however, our man stands out in a crowd, so it’s only-” His PHS buzzed against his thigh, cutting him off. “Excuse me, this may be important.”

“Tseng?”

“Is there a problem?” Cissnei had been scheduled for guard duty in Sector 5.

“I found the guy you were talking about at yesterday’s briefing.”

Sooner than he expected, especially when considering Cissnei didn’t belong to the task force currently on that particular stakeout. He watched Genesis from the corner of his eyes – the Commander had stilled at the words, and was now poised like a serpent ready to strike. Once again, Tseng cursed SOLDIER hearing. “How?”

“Routine check in the usual place on the way to my shift. Thought he was a vagrant at first, was going to chase him out. Want me to?”

An alarming development. Just a coincidence? “No, I’ll head over there myself. Keep your distance, and let me know if there are any changes.”

“Roger.” The line went dead, and Tseng slipped the PHS back into his pocket.

He spent a moment gathering the necessary papers, conscious of the First’s sharp blue eyes following his every move. Without preamble, he explained, “You might not have to wait much longer. It appears our man has been spotted. I’ll be heading there now to make contact.” Fortunate he’d awoken early to get a head start on his gathering paperwork. The idea of this stranger turning up so close to a person of such importance unsettled him.

“I’ll accompany you,” Genesis declared immediately.

“Respectfully, Commander, this isn’t your jurisdiction,” Tseng cut in. “This is why you brought the matter to the Turks in the first place, wasn’t it?”

Genesis folded his arms and fixed him with a steely glare. “Hmph. I didn’t expect people of your expertise to take so long in this matter, or I might have just sought him out myself.”

“I have no doubt in your abilities, Commander, but please let me take it from here. Negotiations will not be helped with the presence of additional parties.”

No matter his standing in the company or his involvement in the present mission, Tseng knew that he held the power of command in this instance. He could also see that the SOLDIER First Class was by no means unaware of the political game he was playing, and knew when to stage a retreat. “…Then if you’ll let me know, as soon as he’s agreed.” The words were bitten out, drenched in forced politeness. “That is, of course, assuming you can arrange even that.”

Tseng didn’t take offence – to the frustration of the Turks forced to deal with him, Genesis was something of an actor, and the man would only ever show the reaction he wanted them to see – in this case, displeasure and petty barbs designed to propel them into faster action out of pride. The only counterattack Tseng had was to refuse to rise to the bait. “What’s your rush?” he asked, for he couldn’t think of many things able to incite the First to use this sort of tactic.

Genesis scowled, and the room felt like it darkened. “It’s nothing. I’d simply very much appreciate it.”

A lie - one Genesis hadn’t even tried to hide. But then, they were working for ShinRa. There were occasions when lies were safer for everyone involved.

Tseng adjusted his cuffs, and didn’t call him on it.

Even Turks disappeared, sometimes.


……………………………


Something in the atmosphere had changed. Cloud’s brows furrowed, and his fingers tightened automatically around First Tsurugi, propped against his shoulder. The steel radiated a cold air that reached his palms even through the padded grip and gloves.

There again. Sounds, unfamiliar. Dangerously close. Should he continue feigning sleep, to catch the intruder by surprise?

“You’re sleeping here?”

Cloud opened his eyes and groaned. “Zack.”

“The one and only!”

Cloud closed his eyes again and let his head bounce back against the stone. "What are you doing here?"


"Aeris told me you'd been sleeping in the church," came the smug reply.


Figured. He'd been avoiding Sector 5 during the day so he wouldn't run into either of them, spending the time trying to see what contacts he could rustle up in Sector 7 instead. That part of the plan wasn't going very well - without someone like Tifa to vouch for him, people assumed him SOLDIER and loyal to ShinRa no matter his protests. He’d been naïve. After spending almost all of his gil on bribes, he had nothing to show for it but a handful of low level of pass cards, half of which were probably expired. “And you got up this early to catch me here?”


“I couldn’t let sleeping beauty waste away in here all day, right?”

Cloud frowned, checking the ambient lighting. Telling the time below plate always proved a challenge, but he guessed he’d slept late. He’d forgotten to eat yesterday – his body must have been trying to compensate for lack of energy intake with rest.

So now he had a stubborn SOLDIER Second Class to deal with. "-I mean, Shiva, Cloud, how bad can ShinRa be? It's gotta be better than sleeping on the street!"


He'd take the street over a mako tank any day. Cloud just shifted a little and looked away.


The SOLDIER Second made himself comfortable on the ground next to him and continued talking, apparently completely unbothered by how loud his voice sounded in the quiet atmosphere. Zack never had been very good at reading the mood – would make his own mood, instead. "You remind me of something I heard some of the Firsts talking about after Wutai. They would set up to ambush a camp, right, but when they stormed the place, the Wutai were up and fighting in seconds! Nobody could believe it – it takes a couple of minutes to put on your shoes, get outfitted, you know – they figured they’d at least get them out there barefoot and unprepared! But it didn’t make a difference. You know why? It turned out the Wutai would sit up with their swords propped against their shoulders like some kind of security blanket! One loud noise, and bang, they were ready to fight! Hey-" Zack's gaze turned calculating. "You're not-"


Cloud glared and hunched his shoulders. "Do I look like I'm from Wutai to you?"


"Those guys are masters of disguise!" Zack protested. "We found a spy who looked like a kid, and another one running around as hot dame!"


"They can't have been that good at disguises if you found them out."


"No way, you should have seen them! Totally convincing."


"I'm not from Wutai, Zack."


"Yeah, I guess not. You're a bit too conspicuous to be a disguise." Cloud punched his arm. "Ow, hey! It's not a bad thing!"


He chuckled, but then nearly choked on the sound in his throat.

What was he doing? Joking around with Zack, when he was planning on killing two of the highest-ranking members in ShinRa? He forgot himself so easily. This was why he’d been stealing only a couple of hours sleep in the church a night, doing his best to avoid the SOLDIER and his girlfriend! Anybody associated with him would eventually be in danger!

What else could he really do, though? Cloud couldn’t tell him to just go away. Even if he managed to force the words past his lips, Zack wouldn’t listen anyway. He’d already proven that much by coming to search him out like this.

“You know,” Zack rambled on, completely unaware of his internal conflict, "Aeris calls you 'Mr Nobody'."

“Hn.”

“That doesn’t bother you?”

“Why should it?”

Zack shrugged. “It’s kind of sad, isn’t it? To be a nobody. Normally, you’d want to be a hero, right?”

Cloud looked away, mood thoroughly soured. “I could never be a hero.” The word itself made his skin itch. People kept slapping him with that label, after Meteor and then again with Kadaj’s Reunion, but he never deserved it.

“Why’s that?”

Heroes didn’t let their closest friends die. Cloud remained silent.

“Well, I’m gonna be a SOLDIER First Class. I’m gonna be a hero,” Zack announced. “With that strength, I can protect anything. My honour, my dreams, everyone I meet!”

A traitorous thought stole through his mind – that in the end, Zack had only been able to protect one person, and it cost his life.

In Cloud’s opinion, it hadn’t been a fair trade.

“I’m sure you will,” he murmured instead, and hoped his bitterness didn’t show in his voice.

Zack turned earnest. “Why don’t you reconsider, Cloud? SOLDIER could use a guy like you. It has to be better than sleeping in the church, right? SOLDIERs get private rooms, three square meals a day, and when you get to First Class you can turn down missions you don’t like! In ShinRa, you can make a difference. What are you going to do out here?”

"Why do you care so much?" Cloud grumbled. They were strangers, here. They had a short conversation when he first arrived and then hunted some monsters together. Hardly attachment enough for Zack to have reason to seek him out so persistently.

“Hell, I don’t know.” He grinned. “It’s weird, but I guess I kind of feel like we’re a bit similar?” His gut lurched. “And Aeris likes you. She’s a good judge of character. And you totally had my back on that mission! I might have been in for some serious hurt if you weren’t there.”

“I didn’t do anything special.”

“Are you kidding me? You handled that like a pro. It’s just…” He ruffled his black spikes, grimacing a bit. The hairstyle resembled the one he remembered, but the bangs were different – made him look softer, younger. When had Zack changed his hair again? “I don’t get it. I just can’t understand why someone who can fight like you would drift around the slums sleeping in churches when you could be out there, making a difference.”

He couldn’t take any more – couldn’t listen to another word praising ShinRa from Zack’s lips. Not after everything they’d done to him. Cloud rose to his feet, and slung First Tsurugi over his shoulder. “You should stop worrying about me. I’ll only bring you trouble.”

Zack leapt to his feet to follow after him. “Hey, don’t be like that, I just want to understand-”

“I have my reasons for not wanting to join ShinRa,” he snapped, patience wearing thin.

A new voice echoed through the church. “I’d be curious to hear those reasons, if you wouldn’t mind sharing.”

Cloud came up short, hand already on First Tsurugi, ready for action. At the sight of the black suit standing in the church doorway, he started warming up the materia.

"Tseng!” Zack slid gracefully between them, so smoothly Cloud couldn’t believe it to be an accident. “What are you doing here? Come to apologise for blowing me off the highway again?”

“We’ve been over that already.” A faint note of amusement tinged the Turk’s voice. Cloud didn’t relax. “Actually, I’m here to talk to your friend today.”

Definitely not good news. Cloud started mapping out escape routes. He preferred not to kill Tseng if he could help it. It was a little early to be on the Turk hit list.

Zack turned wary. "Hey, you're not going to, uh-"

"We're interested in recruiting him," Tseng explained.

Zack pumped the air. "Yes!"

Cloud stared at Zack, betrayed. He’d been sold out?

Seeing his dismay, the SOLDIER Second quickly backtracked, waving his hands frantically. “Wait, I didn’t tell anyone how awesome you were, I swear! I mean, it’s great that they’ve found out on their own – hey, how did you guys find out?”

“Your reputation precedes you,” Tseng explained, addressing Cloud directly. “I’m Tseng, a representative of ShinRa.”

He let his hand fall from First Tsurugi. Of course ShinRa was aware of him. He might never have actually been a SOLDIER, but there was no hiding the glow of mako in his eyes. The process to create a SOLDIER was supposed to be a ShinRa company secret. Most people could guess at the involvement of mako, but only idiots would risk poisoning to try and replicate the process for themselves. And then he’d been stupid enough to pick a fight with Sephiroth. Didn’t he ever think anything through? No wonder Tifa constantly despaired over him.

“There’s a café nearby where we can talk in privacy over brunch, if you can spare me some of your time. My treat,” Tseng offered.

His stomach growled at the thought of food, but Cloud didn’t budge. “You already heard. I don’t want to work for ShinRa.”

“But-” Zack started to interject.

“But won’t you allow me at least the chance to try and change your mind? Possibly you’re not aware of the full scope of benefits ShinRa can offer its employees. And if your protests are ideological in nature, we’d like the opportunity to hear about them. Feedback from the community allows ShinRa to grow in positive directions.” A flawless quotation of the company line, and from the look on his face, Tseng knew it. It didn’t matter. Cloud could read between the lines. Turks didn’t take no for an answer. If he didn’t at least hear Tseng out, there’d be trouble.

“I’ll listen to what you have to say, but I doubt you’ll change my mind,” he conceded. Strategic retreat. Lose the battle, win the war.

“He’s stubborn,” Zack informed Tseng. “I’ve been bugging him to join ShinRa for days.” He said days as though he meant years.

His only response was a bland “I can imagine how that went.” For a second, Cloud saw a bit of the human side of Tseng, and remembered the Turk’s habit of cracking dry jokes with a perfectly straight face. Tseng changed surprisingly little over the years. Amazing how someone could witness Meteor and emerge on the other side exactly the same as before.

“So, brunch, yeah? Let’s get going! You must be hungry, hey Cloud? You don’t look like you’ve eaten since you got here. How a skinny thing like you carries around a sword like that-”

“Lieutenant, I thought you had a mission today? Your drop-off is leaving in approximately-” Here Tseng checked his watch. “Forty-five minutes?”

Zack’s mouth dropped open. “You have my schedule memorised?”

“Zack, the mission,” Tseng prompted.

“Right, right.” He glanced anxiously between the train station, Cloud, and Tseng. Cloud had the weird feeling he didn’t want to leave them unsupervised. “Aww, but I want to-”

“Leave it to me. I’m sure if you’ve been telling him about ShinRa, I won’t have a hard time convincing him to work with the company,” Tseng assured him. Cloud crossed his arms, glaring at the floor. Things were starting to get messy, but he had no choice but to go along with it.

Cloud didn’t like not having control of his own destiny. It reminded him too much of-

Zack seemed to weigh Tseng up, then nodded. “If you say so. Keep an open mind, okay Cloud?” He slapped him on the back, hesitated as though he wanted to say something else, and then took his leave with a jaunty wave. “Don’t let me down, Tseng!”

The Turk chuckled, and once the SOLDIER was gone, invited, “Follow me. It’s not far.”

The blond trailed Tseng out of the church in a dark silence. The slums were only just beginning to stir – businesses tended to open later below-plate, particularly in the areas where the nightlife thrived. The few people up and about gave the two men a wide berth – a SOLDIER and Turk walking side-by-side usually meant trouble.

"How did you come across Zack Fair?" Tseng asked.


Cloud examined the statement for a hidden agenda, but couldn't find anything other than open curiosity. "I stopped in at the church when I first came to Midgar. He and his girlfriend were inside." Best not to mention Aeris by name. Bad enough they were probably already implicated as acquaintances.


"You're a religious man?"


"What?" The angle caught him by surprise. "No. I just wanted a quiet place out of the way to stop for a while." Realising how his intentions could be misconstrued, he belatedly added, "Midgar's a bit... overwhelming, after travelling." The last thing he wanted was for the Turks to think he wanted to hide. Even if he did.


"I understand. Sometimes our recruits from the country take a while to adjust to the crowds.”


Tseng was being warm, friendly, and conversational. It only served to make Cloud more anxious. He didn't mind Tseng so much - after Meteor, the Turks and Avalanche had reached a sort of understanding, and would even give their patronage to the bar on occasion - but the very nature of the job made him suspicious.

They stopped outside a moody little café. A couple of shingles were missing from the roof and the paint on the windows frames was peeling, but the interior looked clean and modern. Tseng fit right in with his perfectly pressed suit – Cloud suddenly felt conscious of his dust-caked shoulder guard and crumpled clothes. He hadn’t laundered or showered since the Gold Saucer. For most places in the slums, it didn’t matter. “Here we are.” The Turk signalled the owner, who didn’t so much as look at them as look through them. It made Cloud feel only marginally better “I reserved a table for two, up the back, please."

The waiter led them to an alcove in the rear, directly underneath a lazily whirring ceiling fan and concealed by a generous collection of plastic plants. Cloud’s eyes tracked the fan’s blades for a moment. He hadn’t seen an electric fan in motion since Meteor. Electricity became expensive after the reactors shut down – Reeve predicted it would take fifteen years for the alternative energy sources to catch up to the levels of power mako had provided.

The waiter came for their order, and he chose black tea and plain toast. “You don’t need to hold back,” Tseng offered. “I, for one, always take advantage when the company’s footing the bill.” He ordered the deluxe breakfast, complete with coffee.

“I’d prefer to get straight to the point.” Cloud didn’t want to be there. Maybe he hadn’t eaten for a day or so, but the whole affair destroyed his appetite.

“Of course. As you’ve already surmised, we’re interested in offering you a position at ShinRa. Specifically, we think you’d make an excellent addition to our SOLDIER program. I have some leaflets, if you’re interested.”

“I already know about the SOLDIER program. I can’t go through with it.” He pointed at his eyes. “More mako won’t be doing me any favours.”

“Considering the circumstances, we’d be willing to initiate you directly into SOLDIER. There’s only a small exam you’d be required to pass, but from your exploits in Wutai, I don’t believe you’ll have any problems with it.” Their food arrived, and they paused a moment to take a few bites. Tseng ate slowly, talking between mouthfuls. He recognised this tactic, too – Reno used it all the time at the bar, dragging out his meal to force people to stay and talk to him longer. No doubt the real reason Tseng ordered the deluxe breakfast. Life as a Turk must be complicated. “We’re giving you quite an opportunity - SOLDIER is highly regarded, and difficult to get in to. Hundreds apply every year, and less than twenty make the cut. They’re well paid, and in the higher classes, the working hours are flexible and the benefits generous. ShinRa will take care of all of your needs.”

Cloud chewed on his dry toast. His expression didn’t change in the slightest.

Tseng sipped his coffee, before returning it to the saucer to cool some more. “I’m sure you’ve heard all of this from Zack already. However, in your particular case, ShinRa is willing to offer extra incentive. More money, specific working conditions – anything is negotiable.”

“I don’t get it. You said yourself – you get hundreds of eager applicants every year. Why hire from outside the company?” Cloud stated flatly. His toast grew cold on his plate, half-eaten. He didn’t want it anymore.

“You seem like an intelligent individual, Strife. So I’m sure you understand that ShinRa is concerned about a man of your talents going to work for a competitor. It is in our interests,” the emphasis on the word spoke volumes, “that you come to work for us. We are willing to be accommodating to make this happen. If you’re not interested in joining SOLDIER, perhaps another department is more to your liking? We’ll provide any necessary training free of charge.”

Cloud stared at the table as Tseng patiently waited for a response. It was all too confusing – ShinRa bending over backwards to hire him. Alarm bells were ringing in the back of his mind. He’d thought about working for ShinRa simply as a way to get to Hojo, but he had two very good reasons not to. The first being fear of the Science Department, and the other being the small matter of him attacking their precious General in Wutai. Did Sephiroth and Genesis not know about this? Why would ShinRa be trying to hire him after he’d threatened to kill their star employee?

Science Department first. “This is just some ploy to get me into your labs, isn’t it?”

Tseng didn’t miss a beat. “Why would you think that?”

“Isn’t SOLDIER just one big human experiment?” Cloud asked. This time, he didn’t bother hiding the bitterness in his voice.


"Not at all. ShinRa is always on the look out for talented individual such as yourself. Why would we hire someone and then take risks by experimenting on them?" He spread his hands in a disarming manner, though Cloud knew better than to believe Tseng would ever truly leave himself open. "Though I will not lie to you. We are extremely interested in who it was that gave you your mako treatments."


"No treatments," he murmured. "Mako poisoning. Severe case. I recovered." Not entirely a lie, either. That Hojo inflicted the first round of mako poisoning would simply complicate the issue.


"I see. Then you would not be adverse to our scientists-"


"I won't be a guinea pig," he interrupted again, voice soft.


"I wasn’t suggesting that. But I trust you won't object to a standard physical?"

Cloud frowned. “That would be one of my conditions,” he said. “No physical. No blood tests. No doctors or scientists of any kind.”

If his request surprised Tseng, the Turk didn’t show it. “If you feel so strongly about it, I’m sure that could be arranged.”

“And I want to be able to refuse missions. I’ll hunt down all the monsters you want, but I’m not going to go around taking out ShinRa’s political enemies.”

“We already extend that privilege to Firsts. If you pass the exam, you’ll be inducted as a Third, but it will be a small matter to make that exception for you.”

Unbelievable. The proposal sounded genuine.

“Can I take it that you’re changing your mind? Is there anything else?”

Did he really have a choice? If Tseng kept up his end of the bargain and he could fly under the radar of the Science Department, then this was the best opportunity he could get at infiltrating ShinRa.

Except it was too easy. ShinRa wasn’t supposed to come to him. “It’s just – I don’t get it. You must know I threatened Sephiroth.”

Tseng nodded. Apparently he’d also forgotten his food – already the wisps of rising steam had petered out, and the meat grew greasy on his plate. “We are aware of the incident in Wutai, yes. And that’s where we come in with a condition of our own. Obviously, we would prefer it if you didn’t try to kill fellow employees.”

“And you’re willing to just take my word on that.”

“Sephiroth is capable of taking care of himself. But ideally, we’d like the opportunity to make amends. Has Sephiroth wronged you in the past? ShinRa has a wide variety of compensation packages you might not be aware of.”

Leather creaked as Cloud’s hands tightened to fists. “There is nothing,” he seethed, “that ShinRa could do to make it better.” An entire village. His mother. Aeris, Zack, his hopes and dreams and four years of his life. How could they possibly make reparations? All the money in the world couldn’t fix the damage. There were some memories he’d never recover, and others he’d never be able to erase. Rufus had known better than to offer.

“I’m sorry,” Tseng apologised. “But if you could at least tell us-”

“I won’t kill him,” he interrupted. “But don’t ask me anything more than that. I’ll do it. I’ll sign up with ShinRa, if you can keep those three conditions.” He wouldn’t kill Sephiroth while working for ShinRa – but once he destroyed Hojo and Jenova, his contract would be void anyway. If he were lucky, they might even send Sephiroth to get rid of him.

“Excellent. I’ll draw up the paperwork immediately. We should be able to have you take the test as early as tomorrow. Is there any way I can contact you?”

Cloud fished out his PHS and displayed the number. Tseng made a note of it. “I don’t think I’ve seen that model before,” he observed.

Because it didn’t exist yet. Cloud shrugged. He couldn’t be bothered making up excuses for every little discrepancy, not in such a sour mood.

“That’s everything for now, then. Given your circumstances, we can provide lodging for you at an inn above-plate tonight.” He slipped a business card and a train ticket across the table. By now, the blond couldn’t even bring himself to be surprised at the evidence of the Turk’s assumption of success. “Tomorrow night we can provide you a room in the SOLDIER barracks.”

“If I pass the test,” Cloud reminded him, voice dull. He’d failed before, after all.

“I have every confidence in your success.”

He made a non-committal grunt in response. Tseng might not look so pleased about it if the Turk knew what Cloud considered success.

That was when the realisation hit him.

He was going to be working for ShinRa again.

Somewhere, in a different time, on a different world, Rufus would be laughing at him.




Next chapter



Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
i_make_rain
Dec. 6th, 2009 12:50 am (UTC)
Tseng!! Turks!!! Love them. Adore them. No fics seem complete without them.

I think it's brilliant to show the other areas Turks are capable of. And Tseng is so Understatedly Brilliant that I just love reading anything that has him inside.

And it may seem inappropriate, but I feel that Genesis is too adorable. The way he behaves is just endearing. I've always had a neutral stance regarding this character, but reading Fifth Act really makes me like him more and more. =)

Your neighbours have the most awful sense of timing and lack of consideration. Maybe once they have stopped to rest, you can blast some super annoying/whiny music back at them.
sinnatious
Dec. 6th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
That would be a great plan, except I'm pretty sure that they don't sleep. Ever. ;__;

I'm so pleased by the slow conversion into Genesis fans! :D I will have to be sure to deliver on this in the future. I always felt Genesis didn't get enough of a look-in.

Hana-Kimi~! <3
firedraygon97
Dec. 6th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC)
I didn't think you'd post again so early! :D

Hahaha, Cloud's not cut out for bribery. XD I can just imagine him trying to go up to someone with his glowing eyes and Chocobo hair. Poor guy.

Tseng! Not my favourite Turk of all time (that's reserved for Vincent), but he's definitely fun. Haha, I love how Cloud recognizes the slowly-eat-your-food tactic. All these tricks of the trade must be taught in Turk 101. >D

Genesis is so cute, eaves dropping on the phone convo. I'm not sure if he'd run to tell Sephiroth or keep that tidbit of information to himself. XP Maybe taunt Sephiroth with it. "Guess what I know~?"

I like that Cloud can negotiate himself a deal, though he really could've held out for more. Not that he'd need it, haha. ALSO! Tseng getting worried about Cloud being close to Aeris is interesting. Looking forward to more!
sinnatious
Dec. 6th, 2009 11:45 am (UTC)
It wasn't early, really - back to regular Sunday/Wednesday schedule. ^_^

Cloud's no Turk, but he's not stupid, either. :P What else could he have bargained for, you think? 'Bring me Hojo's head on a platter'. :D
firedraygon97
Dec. 6th, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
I usually check Saturday night for a Sunday update (I'm in Canada), so when I checked it in the morning I was pleasantly surprised. XP

"...and I want gourmet meals every third day, and my own private room, and, oh yeah, a key card to the science labs. Y'know, for kicks."

:O When will Hojo appear?!
ixtey
Dec. 6th, 2009 01:23 am (UTC)
Turkeys! Tseng! Turk-y manipulation! jhdfaksd love this chapter so much.

Genesis' actions are going through my Gen/Cloud-deprived head like alcohol. hsakdhlsakd WHY ARE THERE SO FEW GEN/CLOUD FICS OUT THERE *sob*

Has Sephiroth wronged you in the past?
>There we go again, haha. Wasn't wronged in the past, bb. Will be wronged in the future.

About your neighbors. Why not get back at them by throwing a party of your own? AFAIK, it's your birthday tomorrow-- the perfect excuse for an all-night party! See if they like how it feels.
sinnatious
Dec. 6th, 2009 11:48 am (UTC)
It's okay! There will be more Gen/Cloud fics! We'll start a wave or something! I'll write at least one. ^_^

Heh, thanks for the idea, but I suspect they'd just use it as an excuse to throw their parties all the time. Bad neighbours are like a plague in the suburbs at the moment. I don't know of anyone who doesn't have obnoxiously loud neighbours these days.
swyrel
Dec. 6th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)
CLOUD HOW COULD YOU SELL YOUR SOUL TO THE DEVIL LIKE THAT?! At least the first time, you didn't know all that they've done...but this time even if you're just going to try and advance your plan to kill everyone, you will still have to do some work for the evil ShinRa. T_T And all that time he spent convincing people he wasn't ShinRa. And OMG Chibi!Cloud is gonna come, and everyone will see them! *flails* I hope he will at least...

Vincent~ Are you still gazing at Lucrecia? Come back and play with Cloud. T_T

Great chapter, even if Cloud did just give his soul to the devil...
sinnatious
Dec. 6th, 2009 11:51 am (UTC)
Well, he sold his soul to the devil... with every intention of double-crossing the devil. :D So who really got the raw end of that contract? ;)

Thank you!
swyrel
Dec. 6th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
But will the devil double-cross him first? D8
searisme
Dec. 6th, 2009 10:12 am (UTC)
So much love for verbal chess, especially if it is with Tseng, whom I just adore. And Tseng saying all those glossy, fake, public-relations-sounding things about ShinRa - so much yes. Still can't help being anxious for Cloud about working for ShinRa, with Hojo still somewhere in the woodwork.

Mr. Nobody indeed... only saviour of the planet x2, Seph's rival and so on and so forth... But the bitterness which followed that was just gorgeous.

Ah, partying neighbours, don't we all love them? I was sick last weekend, so saturday went to bed early. That didn't really work out... Since I'm a student I live on a student corridor - and I'm pretty sure I had a couple making out, like, right outside my door - nooo, just don't do that!
sinnatious
Dec. 6th, 2009 12:21 pm (UTC)
It was so much fun to imagine what ShinRa PR would sound like. Even more fun to imagine it coming from Tseng. <3

Ouch, on campus, it's impossible to ever have a quiet night! Train your sleeping-through-noise skills now, as they will be indespensable for the rest of your life...
searisme
Dec. 6th, 2009 12:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Especially that ShinRa will take care of all of your needs. Yes, the burning need to be experimented upon for somewhere round 4 yrs. Leaflets, indeed.

Meh, campus here in China isn't all that bad (except for some weekends). It was infinitely worse back home! *still grumbling about the neighbour upstairs*
caterfree10
Jan. 3rd, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
Mmmm, word chess, gotta love it. Especially when it involves Turks. x3

Don't have too much I want to touch upon this chapter, hrm. :Va Though I adore the hell out of the last line. Because if Rufus was aware of what's going on in this timeline, he would be laughing his ass off. XD
(Anonymous)
Apr. 25th, 2012 07:50 am (UTC)
Cool story. Probably the only time-travel tale I've read that's attention holding. It doesn't fall into that unimaginative, rerun-but-the-way-it-should-have-happened type business they usually do.

Unfortunately, a lot of your story also seems to depend on Cloud being an idiot. I mean, it's fine in that way that a person can justify Cloud's stupidity, but it still leaves a bleh taste in my mouth.

That said, I'm curious if maybe Cloud could have asked Tseng to keep him updated on Hojo and Hollanders whereabouts? Tseng is basically saying that Cloud can ask for anything, and since Cloud made a point of displaying his distaste for science, perhaps he could parlay that to his advantage somehow.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 5th, 2013 03:42 am (UTC)
I think it's less a manner of intelligence, and more a combination of lack of social graces (due to a difficult, semi-isolated and ostracized childhood resulting in shyness and distrust + 4 years of his adolescence as an experiment + 1 in a coma-like state + all the insanity of FFVII) and the fact that he was only starting to more or less get over all his traumas when he was thrown right back to stare them all in the face one more time. It's a difficult situation to be in.

He hasn't had a nervous breakdown, but all that holding it together through channeling all his efforts into destroying Sephiroth, Jenova and Hojo are eating away at all his attention, so anything that requires planning beyond kill kill fight fight fight isn't working out very well for a lack of proper planning.

If Cloud stopped to think and plan for pretty much anything that wasn't Sephiroth, Jenova and Hojo, I think he would make smarter decisions, but he simply isn't the right mental state to relax on those areas.

I mean, I get what you mean, it is frustrating from the point of view of a reader, and I remember all that helplessness and missed chances annoying me the first time I read the story, but upon other re-reads I realized how well it all fit together. Cloud is resilient and competent to an extent, but boy, does he have his many, many faults.
sinnatious
Jan. 5th, 2013 04:23 am (UTC)
Ah, your comment made me realise I never replied to the original comment. It's kind of nice when other readers will wade into the dicussion for me, though!

It's a valid enough suggestion, but I am always wary of making Cloud (or Vincent, for that matter) into a Gary Stu. He's already armed with foreknowledge and strength enough to defeat Sephiroth - if he were emotionally rock-solid and had a genius-level flare for planning as well... I don't think I could write that in a way that made him still feel in character and keep the stakes as high. Maybe some authors could, but it's not how I chose to write this one.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 7th, 2013 03:55 am (UTC)
anon you replied to
C:

To pull of something like that in any believable form would require a different approach than normal "what ifs" and time travel fics, and the result would be very, very different from something like The Fifth Act, for example.

In fact, someone did a somewhat short, interesting story along those lines, with Vincent, of all people:

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8281862/1/The-Turks-Way

I give the author kudos for at least doing things I would never have even expected and both solving problems I didn't think of while not managing to solve everything.
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