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If they come back, they'll come home stronger.

And if they don't, you'll know.

October 2016

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shinra_dog: (mug shot)
"Recognize where we are, Cloud?" Reno asked condescendingly as they approached Healen.

Cloud gazed out the window momentarily, recalling the scenery. "Healen? I would have assumed Rufus would have relocated after all this time. Maybe I expected more of him?"

"Or maybe we're just that good at keepin' secrets from you," Reno replied with a grin. "Besides, what's t' say he doesn't relocate on occasion?"

They trundled past the sign, the lodge itself visible across the beautiful ravine.  The car motored up the trail to the drive in front of the building.

Cloud pushed open the back door of the car and climbed out, making his way over to the long wooden ramp that made its way up to the entrance of the facility. He didn't particularly feel a need to wait up for Reno and Rude.

Rude killed the engine and jogged after him.

"Hey, whoa there, pal!" Reno called angrily as he jostled out of the SUV and ran after Cloud. He reached out to grab his arm, then jerked his hand back when he remembered the wound. "The boss doesn't like uninvited guests. Hang back a minute, wouldja'? Damn, gotta be so difficult..."

Cloud stopped as he felt Reno's hand grip his arm. He turned his head to look at Reno as the Turk explained the situation. Cloud then relaxed his body and sighed. "Fine, let him know I'm here then," Cloud mutters.

Rude nodded and edged past Cloud and went inside.

After the two had vanished into the facility, within Cloud's eyes Uriko had just landed in the front of the door, smirking at Cloud.

It taunted him waving him to come at him. "Come on, want to know the cure?" Uriko took a step back and faded through the door.

Cloud could have sworn he just saw that damned Seraph that had attacked him in front of Midgar. It couldn't be though, could it? "Hm.. Reno, did you see something up on the platform there?"

"Tsk." Reno gave him a perplexed look over his shoulder and shook his head. "Doomed," was all he said before shutting the door to go talk to Rufus.

"Mr. President, it's my understanding that the Seraphs have been attacking towns in the immediate area of Edge that have been supplying the city," Tseng spoke, standing with his hands placed behind his back in front of Rufus' desk.

Rufus looked up from his paperwork, calm and quiet as he shuffled them into order and leaned back in his chair nonchalantly. "Showed up sooner than I thought," he said with a sigh. "Guess I shouldn't be surprised, considering how much of a trouble magnet you tend to be."

"Yes, that is the current picture we have of the situation."

Reno snuck up to the office door just in time to hear that bit and, despite the looming crisis, couldn't help smirk to himself as he heard Tseng described as a "trouble-magnet." It was true, the man had it bad. Stabbed, shot, couldn't keep a girl he liked to save his soul and couldn't notice another girl right in front of his face. That was Tseng.

"That's the case, yes," replied Rufus.

Tseng continued to maintain his statue-like pose. "Well, if I may say, sir, this actually sounds like advantageous information to us. We have narrowed down possibilities of where the Seraphs may strike next."

Reno glanced up at Rude, still shamelessly eavesdropping, suddenly much more interested. Tseng actually figured out clues already?

The corner of Rude's mouth twitched disapprovingly at Reno's action, but he couldn't help but cock his head to listen in as well.

The voice spoke up into Cloud's mind. "They have the cure...they have it...but they won't let you have it. They are plotting on how to use you for their next set're their puppet."

Rufus raised his eyebrows ever so slightly. "Their next move? That is valuable indeed. How did you come across that information?"

Tseng nodded his head. "Elena had called me over to one of our warehouses this morning under an emergency. When I got there, we had a close call with a Dark Seraph. We overheard it talking about a few things, though the attacks were what stood out to me the most."

Cloud could have sworn he heard a voice somewhere. How annoying. He must be getting feverish due to the wound or something. He started to make his way up to the entrance of the building. Reno and Rude were taking much too long to get back.

"Hmm... So they are finally making a move on Edge." Rufus tented his fingertips. "I had wondered what became of Dr. Aiden's abominable... project, but it appears it has, indeed, been fruitful and now that ripened fruit is upon us. We reap what we sow, Tseng." His eyes flicked up to the Turk's. "A Dark Seraph in one of our warehouses is no accident, make no mistake. What else did you find?"

Reno's eyes widened and met Rude's, which he assumed were just the same behind the other man's sunglasses. So, Rufus was familiar with the Dark Seraphs after all! Reno was stunned. At least, he thought to himself, Rufus wasn't directly involved in their creation... He hoped. No, he couldn't be.

"Unfortunately that is the crux of it, Mr. President. Otherwise, he was merely babbling about the other Seraphs it seemed," Tseng continued to explain.

Cloud had reached the door of the office holding his forehead. He had noticed the two bumblers crouching down in front of the cracked door like children listening in on their parents. Cloud put on a perturbed face before he planted his foot to Reno's ass and humorously kicked him through the door.

"FUCK!" Reno blurted as he face-planted into the door and skidded along the floor.

Rufus cocked his head to the side and raised an eyebrow, obviously not amused.

Tseng turned his head to find his number one subordinate sliding along the ground to his side. One could only imagine the embarrassment.

"Rufus," Cloud spoke as he stepped into the office. "The hell is with these Dark Seraph things? They had mentioned something about ShinRa to me."

"Cloud Strife... Do come in," Rufus said with a tense half-smile -- the "smile" part not fully reaching his eyes. "Reno, get up, can't you see we have a guest?"

Reno stifled a groan as he pushed himself up off the floor, rubbing his face and dusting off his clothes.

Rufus' tent collapsed as his fingers laced and he sat back easily in his chair, his position suggesting a relaxation that the Turks knew better than to believe. "So, you've encountered the Dark Seraphs as well? Surprise, surprise. Tell me how that went for you... Cloud?"

Cloud grabbed his arm for a moment, leaving the room silent for a moment before he lifts it to show the ShinRa President.

Tseng's eyes narrowed fearfully as they acknowledged the familiar wound on Cloud's arm. "It can't be..." Tseng couldn't help speaking out of turn.

Rufus sighed. "And yet it is."

"Doomed," Reno muttered under his breath.

"I heard that, Reno."

"Sorry, Boss."

Rufus gently massaged his temples. "I know why you're here, Cloud, but I am afraid I don't know a cure for infection. At least... not at this time." He looked into the ex-SOLDIER's eyes slyly.

"They are lying..." The voice spoke.

Cloud barely heard a voice or noise inside his head. He ignored it, this was much more important. "Tch, you're going to tell me you're just as clueless as them?" Cloud asks with an extended arm, clearly pointing out Reno and Rude. "You must know something more, or someone else that has more information."

"Of course, Cloud, are you really that simple?" Rufus smirked. "As far as I know, some of Dr. Aiden's research still exists. If it were analyzed by, say, the proper people, it stands to reason that more may be discovered about the nature of the beast. Including a reversal."

Cloud looks at Rufus for a moment. "Oh? Well is there anyone that could be placed on researching those notes?" Cloud never thought he would wish Hojo was still alive.

Reno's mouth gaped. Did he just hear that? Cloud must be desperate!

Rufus let his amusement at Cloud's request show openly. "Cloud Strife, are you sincerely asking me that question?" he asked smoothly.

Reno imagined it would sound the way a devil might ask for a soul.

Cloud clenched his fists once again. It always burned to ask Rufus for any help at all. It couldn't be avoided here, though. "I'm no good if I'm dead. I'll destroy these things with my own hands, but I have to live that long first," he answered Rufus' question implicitly.

Rufus smirked contentedly as he leaned forward once again, pleased with the obvious success of the conversation -- well, on his part.

"A wise decision, Cloud. I have the perfect specialist in mind." His eyes met Reno's for the briefest of moments, and the redheaded Turk blanched, feeling a sudden drop in his stomach.

"In the meantime, you're going to have to do some digging around. Any copies that ShinRa had of Dr. Aiden's notes have been destroyed, thanks to Meteor. But the originals must still exist, the presence of successful Dark Seraphs being the proof. I have reason to believe Aiden had a hidden laboratory for himself in the ruins to the east of Edge."

Rufus paused. "If you see nothing, you may want to search for an underground shelter. The man was never quite the same after witnessing Meteor..."

Cloud nodded and turned around, about to step out.

Tseng decided to finally speak up again. "Before you go Mr. Strife, you may be interested in what I have to say."

Cloud stopped in his tracks at what he heard. "Mr. President, with the knowledge we've gained we may be able to intercept the Seraphs here and start to push them back. I know you're more familiar with the patterns they have been following in their destruction so far. If possible we may be able to launch a defense against them at their next stop."

The creature began to pick at his mind and provided the image of the exact location of where the underground lab entrance was. "Marcus...Marcus...the traitor. The creator is human...humans are the betrayer...Such imperfection...All will be perfected once again." The creature spoke so clearly that it sounded like it was standing right next to him.

"Pursue it," Rufus told Tseng curtly. "Use all the resources at your disposal. Mounting a defense when they least expect it may buy Cloud enough time to find what we need. He is of more use to us in finding a cure, is he not?" Rufus looked at Tseng, then Reno and Rude, meaningfully.

Rude nodded.

"But!" Rufus interjected. "Leave no trail so that they may get the upper hand again. This is a covert operation, and it will stay that way, understood?"

"Wait a minute..." Cloud spoke up, turning around once again to face Rufus. "Finding the notes is important, but nobody would know more information than those things themselves." Cloud pushes his hair out of his face and continues. "I won't be any help once those notes are being looked at. I'll find the notes today, and then go join in the fight tomorrow."

"Hmph. Ever the hero... Cloud." Rufus turned his attention back to his guest. "You'll be plenty of help while you're out there -- his lab is bound to be a hotbed of Seraphs. Since you'll be facing resistance, I'll give you... two days to return before we assume the worst." Rufus smiled as if he was being generous.

Reno's eye twitched. Damn, that was harsh. But Rufus wasn't unnecessarily cruel, which led Reno to the only conclusion he could possibly entertain: Rufus believed Cloud could do it. Well, he'd saved the world several times over, now... Reno sighed. It was out of his hands -- less stress to just leave it in faith with Cloud.

"Tch," Cloud clicked his tongue and turned to make his way out once again. "Reno... I'll see you tomorrow after I've found those notes." He spoke spitefully. Cloud didn't know why, but he felt like he knew exactly where the lab was located. He started to make his way out of the room.

Reno held back a shudder. "Y-yeah..."

"Remember -- time is of the essence. Especially yours... Cloud." Rufus' voice could be heard.

Cloud pauses for a moment as he takes in what Rufus said before leaving completely.

Tseng watched him leave before turning to Reno. "Reno, you, Rude and Elena will be going with me on this operation.
I'm going to stay here with the President for a little while longer to discuss where we think the next attack will occur. After that, I will go inform Elena of our mission."

"Elena's alone?" Reno blurted out, sensing Rude asking the same question with his body language. "I thought you said we had t' move together? I figured she'd be here with you?"

Rufus, too, gave Tseng a questioning look.

Tseng nodded. "I can't say I have any excuses for this. Someone had to come here to speak with Rufus, but it was also necessary to get the word out to the other Turks. I'll make it my priority to find her immediately." Tseng bowed in apology.

Wouldn't that be moving alone? Reno was tempted to say, but he could see Tseng wasn't in the mood. "Alright," he agreed. "We'll meet up later. Let us know when you've found her, unless you want us to go get her instead?"

Tseng shook his head. "It was my mistake. I don't expect anyone else to correct it." He looked back to Rufus. "Sir, I believe that it is important we have a discussion about our mission. When would you like to discuss this?"

"As soon as possible," Rufus answered without hesitation. "However, judging from your report, Tseng, Reno has actually engaged one of these Seraphs in battle. I would very much like to have everyone present for his report, as it should influence our next move significantly, don't you think?"

Tseng pondered for a second and nodded. "You are correct, Mr. President. In that case, shall we gather everyone early tomorrow so we may all be present for Reno's report? We can then use that to help determine our strategy."

Rufus closed his eyes. "Mn. It is late. Tomorrow will have to do."

"Wait!" Reno blurted out.

Tseng turned his head quickly in surprise at Reno's outburst. "Yes, Reno?" Tseng asked sharply. To cause a riot like that in front of the President of all things.

"Y' don' mean here, do ya?" Reno asked nervously. Rufus looked at him hard, a look that squeezed for answers.

Tseng's face turns curious. "Oh? Was there somewhere else you had in mind, Reno?"

"Boss, this place might have known ties to ShinRa," Reno replied. "You just found a corpse in a ShinRa warehouse."

"We shouldn't all be together in an obvious location," Rufus finished Reno's thought. "We'd be a rather easy target, wouldn't we?" He smirked. "So where else did you have in mind?"

"Er... " Reno rubbed the back of his neck. He hadn't exactly thought of that part, yet. "Well, somewhere that's pretty much the opposite of ShinRa. Like, the epitome of anti-ShinRa, even."

Tseng brought his hand to his chin to think on it for a moment. "A place that is anti-ShinRa... I wonder..." Tseng continued to ponder on the thought.

Rufus glanced at his senior Turk before growing very serious. "What about the rubble about Sector 7?" His gaze swept over to Reno and Rude.

Reno cringed. The thought had crossed his mind. "That's... a pretty good one."

Reno still had nightmares about that place and hated it with a passion. But business was business. It all came down to what Tseng thought, and he waited with baited breath.

"The crumbled grave of AVALANCHE... Not only anti-ShinRa but also barren. Nobody would be looking for us there. This may be the best plan of action." Tseng nodded his head. "That is of course..." The Turk leader turned to Reno. "..if going there won't surface any guilt from someone here."

"It's fine," Reno said gruffly with bravado.

Rufus eyed the redhead for a moment more before accepting his answer. "Sector 7 it is, then."

Tseng brought his attention back to Rufus, bowing to him respectfully. "Well with that decided, if you don't mind Mr. President, I must go find Elena."

Rufus nodded. "Please. And, Tseng, if we'll be moving, I'll need an escort as well," he reminded his subordinate.

"I'll make sure to pick you up personally before the meeting, sir," Tseng assured his boss before standing upright once again.

"You are dismissed."

Tseng bowed his head lightly once more before excusing himself from the room.

Reno and his partner followed suit.
shinra_dog: (Daze)
Cloud revved up the engine on his motorcycle. It was his silent way of telling Reno and Rude he was ready to go.

"I don't think you should drive anywhere right now, Strife," Reno said dryly, eying the other man on the motorcycle.  "I mean, ya bit it pretty bad back there... Besides, how ya gonna find Rufus without us, eh? I ain't ridin' double."

He snapped his fingers with a Eureka! look. "Rude can drive us!"

Cloud watched Reno for a moment before he decided to shut his motorcycle down.  He climbed off the vehicle and pressed a button on the console. This caused the compartments on the side of it to open up, one of them holding Cloud's Fusion Sword. He pulled the weapon out of it and slid it into a sling which he wore on his back. "Fine then. Let's go."

Cloud made his way over to the two Turks.

Rude suddenly looked at Reno, his eyebrow raised in muted disbelief.

Reno shrugged helplessly with a smile, but it looked pretty insincere.

Rude let out a resigned sigh and walked off to get his car.

The redhead grinned. "Thanks buddy! I owe ya one!"

A few moments later, Rude pulled up in a shiny, new black SUV.

Yuffie's eyes narrowed as she watched Cloud grab his Fusion Sword and follow the two Turks. So, for reasons unfathomable, Cloud could be trusted with information, but she couldn't? She didn't know if she should be offended by that or not. Yuffie watched as Rude walked off, presumably to get his car, because it was obvious that they were all up to something.  She waited in her inconspicuous location on the roof as Rude's car pulled up. As soon as everyone was in the car, she jumped from her perch and landed flawlessly and with the slightest thump on the roof of the SUV.

"D'ju here that, yo?" Reno asked, cocking his head to the side, his eyebrows knitting together.

Rude glanced up quizzically.

Cloud was leaning his elbow against the back door of the car, resting his cheek on a clenched fist. Reno and Rude were unfamiliar with it, but Cloud had a pretty good idea of what that sound was. He sighed and leaned forward a bit as he reached behind himself. The materia he had placed in his sword from the fight was still there. He plucked it out of the slot, than lowered the window of his door. Cloud then proceeded to hold the materia out the window in plain sight. With materia being so rare nowadays, he knew how irresistible this would be.

"Hm?" Reno noticed Cloud holding a materia out the window in his rear view mirror. "Cloud, what're ya doin'?"

Oh, Yuffie saw the materia Cloud's dirty hand held outside the window. And even better, it was indeed a rare piece of materia. Yuffie had to use all of her willpower to not pluck the rock from his fingers. Curse him. Leviathan curse him for eternity. But somehow she managed to suppress her klepto urges and refrained from grabbing the rare materia.

"I'm fishing for greedy ninja," Cloud replied as he began to toss the materia up and down. "Sure would be a shame if I dropped this materia and lost it on the street," he said loudly.

Rude glanced in the rear view mirror with a 'WTF' eyebrow raise.

"No way..." Reno said slowly, getting the idea. He rolled down his window and pulled the top half of his torso through to take a peek, propping himself up with his elbow.

Curse him! Curse him! CURSE HIM! Cloud was really making this stealth operation significantly harder than it had to be. The only upside to this was that she could now somewhat hear what they were saying in the car since Cloud's window was slightly down.

When she heard the other window roll down, Yuffie cursed to herself and lowered her body onto the back of the car. But she knew she could stay there long, so she maneuvered herself under the car, holding on for dear life. She was so close to the fast-moving ground that she could feel her hair being brushed by the ground every now and then.

Oh well, at least she didn't get caught.

"Hn... " Reno narrowed his eyes. "I coulda' sworn... Well, ain't nothin' up there now."

Rude just kept on driving.

Cloud caught the materia one last time and shifted his eyes a bit to the side. He knew she wasn't gone, but it didn't matter. "I guess it was my imagination." Cloud brought his hand back in to the car and popped the materia back into his case.

Reno swung back into the passenger seat and got comfortable again. "Man, Cloud, you already startin' t' see shit? We are doomed. It's over, call the presses."

A hush faint voice began to speak into Cloud’s mind. “Kill them…kill them all. Before they kill you…There is no cure, but death.

Cloud heard the sound of a voice very faintly, but he couldn't even make out what it said. It must have just been the radio, Cloud thought, and just shrugged it off.

"Look, no promises on Rufus," Reno was saying.  "Even when you're not, y'know, a diseased specimen of the living dead, you're usually considered a hostile presence."

Cloud shook his head, sitting back with his arms crossed. "Rufus is stubborn, but while I hate to say it, he's much more understanding than his dad ever was. He'll talk to me," he reassured Reno.

"That last statement doesn't sound hostile at all," Reno muttered. "Whatcha' gonna finish it up with, Strife, 'or else' ?"

Rude pulled off the main streets of Edge and pulled onto the highway out of town, the bleak landscape beginning to fill their vista.
shinra_dog: (Bad Day)
After a few more turns here and there, it wasn't long before Reno and Sam arrived in a much nicer part of town. "Here we are," Reno said as he stood in front of a small, but chic, apartment. "Rude's a real classy guy. Let's go see if he's home." He jogged up the short set of stairs and rang the bell.

Sam followed behind him and had to respond to his words. "Oh? Is that what you call your apartment?" she joked.

"What, classy? Pffft, yeah right."

There was an inquisitive rustling on the other side of the door before a languid sigh could be heard through the door and it opened up, revealing the large, bald Turk in his sun glassed glory.

"Yo, Rude!" Reno greeted him cheerfully. "How ya feelin'? Can we come in? We've got pizza!" That last bit was emphasized with a large, suggestive grin.

Sam arched an eyebrow seeing the new face that came to the door. She would be lying if she said he didn't look threatening.

He considered it for a moment before shrugging and beckoning them inside. He motioned at the coffee table for them to set the pizza box.

"Awesome, thanks buddy!" Reno turned slightly to give Sam a reassuring thumbs-up over his shoulder. Sometimes he forgot how scary Rude could look. To Reno, he was just his partner.

"Thirsty?" Rude asked as he walked towards the kitchen to grab them plates.

"Uh, yeah, sure, I'll take a beer, an' for the lady...?" Reno looked at Sam questioningly

Sam decided to follow them in and hung out against a wall close by. She shook her head at the question, "No thanks..." She wasn't going to question his choice. She didn't find it the best time to drink.

There was a soft clatter as Rude got the plates and pulled a beer out of the fridge for Reno. As he approached, there was a sudden crash and heavy footfalls as he sprinted towards Samantha and grabbed her by the throat. He pushed her against the wall.

"Fuckin' 'ell, man, calm down!" Reno jumped up and tried to pry him off of her. "Leggo', Rude!"

Sam was a bit surprised by the sudden aggression and immediately reached at her throat being grabbed. Her eyes began to take a red glow and she gave a loud inhuman growl. Her hands turned into claws as she slashed one of them right across his chest. She didn't hold any hesitation back in the strike.

Years of experience and lightning reflexes saved the Turk some considerable pain and extended sick leave as he weaved his body back. "What the hell is SHE doing here?"

"Rude, I swear, I can explain everything!" Reno said hurriedly. He then glared over his shoulder. "Bad Sam! No claws! Bad!"

Sam took a step forward flexing out her clawed fingers ready to come at him, but stopped hearing Reno. She gave a hiss before retracting her claws and her eyes resumed their normal look.

Rude hesitated; looking back from the traitor to the man he'd worked with for years and trusted with his life, then back at his apartment. He didn't want to lose his security deposit... and the mess would be Biblical. Slowly and cautiously, he lowered the woman to the ground and took a step back, his eyes hard and glaring at her.

Reno sighed, relieved and grateful for Rude's trust. "Thanks. An'... sorry. Guess I shoulda' warned ya... er, but then again, you'd have pro'lly called Rufus..." Reno rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "Okay then, let's all get back t' pizza an' try t' calm down while we sort this out, yeah?"

Rude merely grunted in response and sat down, never facing away from her.

Sam glared at Rude with a death glare. This was off to a bad start and she was on the verge of bypassing Reno and redecorating this whole apartment. She remained where she was, not going to go anywhere near him. She was not afraid of him, but afraid she may actually snap.

"Ooookay then," Reno said anxiously, easing back down into his seat with his arms outstretched, half defensively and half to, well, try to defuse the situation. "Rude, I can see you already recognize Samantha Yagasaki..."

Rude grunted.

"Aaaand Sam, this is my partner Rude. He's very loyal and protective."

Sam rolled her eyes at that, "I can see that...Not very friendly either." She rubbed her neck for a moment.

"He just takes some getting used to..." Eheheh. Sweatdrop. "Okay, well, um, I guess that just leaves the big issue worth strangling over, uh... 'Kay, Rude, she's not against us. Really."

Rude raised an eyebrow; that wasn't the case the last time he checked.

Sam could tell this was going to take some time, but 'time' was not on their side at the moment, "Trust me or not. I care very little. You better watch who you strike or else there will be one less Turk in this damn place," she threatened.

"I am not here to waste my time on the Turks, but there is an issue going on and you better be ready for it. We will be working together if you like it or not. If you come at me again, I can't guarantee I'm going to stop just because of Reno here."

Reno's face fell. Well this wasn't exactly going as planned. "Rude," he said firmly, trying to prevent another fight. "She's right. Rebellion or not, we got a wayyy bigger mess on our hands right now, an' she's the only one who can help. Didja already get a call from Elena?"

"Yes," he replied. "Cryptic."

"Okay, well, Elena doesn't know all the details yet either, dude," Reno explained. "We got a new crisis buildin' on us, there's these creatures called Dark Seraphs that can infect a person an' use their body as a host and just use it up." He looked to Sam to explain better.

Sam snorted and looked away not at all sure she even wanted to talk to him about the subject. She wasn't exactly in the mood too.

Rude simply shrugged and went for a piece of pizza. Some people just enjoyed pitching a fit, he supposed.

Reno sighed. "Okay then. Well anyway, they infect ya an' then they take over ya from the inside out until they're all that's left in there, apparently. They're tryin' t' wipe us all out, man, an' they're stronger than they look! Gotta really burn 'em good to take 'em out. Thing is..." Reno trailed off for a moment. "We dunno exactly how many there are now."

Rude chewed his food thoughtfully for a moment, swallowed and gave a "well, this isn't good" tilt of his head.

"Yeah, I know man, I know." Reno shook his head.

Sam closed her eyes and spoke to Reno, "Don't worry about the numbers. If I told you how many there were you may not be so willing to fight any of them."

He blanched. "Eh, maybe you're right, there. Anyway, the reason they're gettin' so strong is they've been snappin' up all the little places first, see, an' NOW they're comin' t' Edge an' the big places an' pickin' us off. You heard 'Laney found a body, right?"

Rude nodded.

"Look, man, I'm convinced it's a message for us," Reno said gravely. "It's in the main ShinRa warehouse, dressed up an' left with graffiti art? No fuckin' way that means nothin', yo. It's like what we used t' see in the slums -- they're comin' for us, dude, specifically and it's crazy. I mean, it's like a personal vendet-- shit." Reno interrupted himself again with another epiphany. "Sam, is this over Marcus?"

Sam opened her eyes at the mention of Marcus. She looked over at him. "This is no act of revenge I assure you. Marcus made these creatures and they became as vicious as they are now."

"Then why would they target ShinRa now?" the redhead wondered out loud.

"Because a bunch of humans...That is the only reason they need. ShinRa is targeted because it is one of the resistances that keep this place alive. Destroy the weapons and the creatures will have free roam of the place without much of a struggle."

Rude gave his "still seems a bit theatrical to me" shrug.

"You've got a point, Rude, we're not as strong as we used to be," Reno conceded. "But I guess we are a part of the feeble protection this place's got. I mean, we just restocked all the emergency supplies an' whatnot. That's there t' deal with panic an' shit, we can't afford t' have another run on them like after Meteor."

"Well, anyway, that's about the long an' short of it," Reno finished. "We gotta move in teams now, anyway, so I figured we'd come get you an' tell you what we knew. I think all of us should meet up, though, get all on the same page an' then make a plan of action! An' by that, I mean, let Tseng do his thing an' make a plan of action! 'Cuz these things are intense, man."

Rude finished downing his third slice of pizza and paused and tilted his head towards Sam questioningly.

Sam narrowed her eyes again when Rude gave her eye contact. She forced her eyes away. So much tension was building in this apartment.

"Anyway, I'm waitin' t' hear back from 'Laney an' Tseng about where we're gonna end up. I'm thinkin' we should go plain-clothes, obviously, more inconspicuous..." Reno went fishing in his pocket for his cigarettes.

Rude sat up and slapped the coffee table and gestured out the door.

Reno winced. "Ah, yeah, I forgot. Sorry, dude, takin' it out." He let himself out the front door and closed it behind him, absorbed in digging in his pocket and lighting up as he sauntered down the stairs.

He inhaled deeply and closed his eyes, then exhaled slowly trying to relax and let the drug do its work.

Rude grunted disapprovingly before taking another slice of pizza.

The sound of a motor roaring in the distance could be heard from down the empty street. The noise grew in volume rapidly as a motorcycle could be seen closing in on the entryway of the apartment. Upon reaching its destination the rider tried to slide the vehicle to a halt, but in doing so ended up tossing himself a short distance away from his bike. "Agh!" the rider let out a small cry as his skin scrapped against the pavement. It was surprising to see him make such a pitiful stop on his bike, but it was no mistaking this man was Cloud Strife.

Rude perked up a bit, the familiar sound disrupting the quiet of his home... or what was left of it.

Reno's forehead creased with curiosity... then suspicion... then outright concern as he heard the motorcycle get closer, and he ventured a look in the direction. When he saw who it was coming straight for him, he almost had no time to react at all. He jumped back instinctively as the bike skidded down the street and Cloud was thrown. "What the -?"

His curiosity got the best of him, and Reno ran across the street to where Cloud lay, scraped up and leaving a trail of blood down the asphalt. "Dude, you okay? What happened, yo?"

Sam heard the roar of the motorcycle and the sound it made when the bike landed. She grew very curious at what that sound was as well. She began to head her way out of the apartment. She didn't like being cooped up in there anyway.

Rude swore inwardly as he got to his feet, apprehensive that the already circus-like atmosphere for the normally Zen solitude of his home was going to escalate.

"Tch..." Cloud clicked his tongue before rolling over. He lifted his body up and caught himself on one knee, holding the arm which had an almost alien wound on it. His sight was going in and out of focus; however, it wasn't from his fall just now. About an hour ago Cloud had awoken to find himself laying outside of Midgar.

He wanted to believe the encounter he had was nothing but a nightmare. He knew, though, that wasn't the case. "We were created by a ShinRa scientist named Marcus..." Those words rung through Cloud's head when he tried to recall what had happened to him. He knew who it was he needed to talk to. "Reno..." Cloud managed to steady himself and return to a standing position. Cloud places his hand over the wound on his arm. "Reno... I need you to take me to that bastard Rufus..."

Reno's look of concern turns to one of annoyance. "No way. Why should I take you anywhere, speakin' about the President like that?"

Rude exited the apartment to see an unfortunately familiar sight. With a sigh, he approached cautiously.

Cloud's eyes narrowed as he shot Reno a glare. "I ran into one of those.. things. The hell were they called?" Cloud's thoughts trailed off for a moment as he tried to recollect everything that was said during his fight. For some reason his mind was hazy. "I think he called himself a Dark Seraph or some crap... Either way he mentioned ShinRa. I know Rufus knows something about all of this."

"Whoa whoa whoa!" Reno's hands were immediately up and he started backing away. "You got hurt by one? A Dark Seraph? When?"

Rude walked up to them.

"That's not important," Cloud replied with a hint of annoyance in his tone. "I need to find out as much information as possible."

Sam seeing the new visitor was very curious of him. Until of course, she heard about him running into a dark seraph and is obviously hurt. She moved her way closer to Reno and got in between them. Her eyes narrowed as she looked into Cloud's eyes. "When did you get infected?"

Reno nodded cautiously. "Sounds good." He looked at Sam. "We'll think about that later. Right now, we've got more important things t' deal with."

Cloud's eyes shifted with avoidance to the side.. He wasn't sure of what the details were. He knew though from what that Seraph had mentioned to him earlier that this 'being infected' thing had to do with being controlled by them. "You don't need to concern yourselves with that detail..." was all he could say in reply.

"Don't need t' -- are you fucking KIDDING me right now, Cloud?" Reno exploded.

Sam narrowed her eyes and she pulled her sword off her back to point it right at him, "It greatly concerns us, now tell me or I'll end your suffering right here and now," she threatened.

Rude watched with interest.

Cloud clenched a fist tightly but decided if he wanted Reno to cooperate with him it was best not to start anything here. Whether he liked it or not, Rufus was slippery and Cloud had no idea where to find him right now. He lifted a hand and pushed Sam's sword out of his face with the outside. "Such a pain... Yes, I had an encounter with one of those things."

"Duh." Reno rolled his eyes.

Sam didn't lower her sword, "You didn't answer my question... When...did you get infected?" She needed to know this information or else this could be a very difficult situation very quickly.

Cloud's eyes shifted to the nosy woman accompanying Reno, he wasn't really sure who she was but she certainly had a lot of questions. "I just woke up about an hour ago outside of Midgar... I don't know how long ago it was that I fought the thing..." Cloud faced Reno again. "Worrying about that is useless though. I need answers not questions.. That monster mentioned ShinRa. I want to know everything he knows about them."

"Yeah, well, here's an answer for ya," Reno said with a snort. "It ain't useless because, at best, ya got a week t' live based on whenever ya met that thing. An' after that, th' rest of us are fucked because your world-savin', hero-strong corpse is gonna infect us all."

Sam lowered her sword and returned it onto her back not seeing any reason to strike him down now since it has only been an hour, but knew in time he will need to be. She moved away so that Reno and Cloud could talk.

Cloud shook his head, "That just sounds like another good reason why you guys are wasting my time... Unless of course you already know a cure?" Cloud retorts to Reno with a glare.

"I wish." Reno sighed and crossed his arms. "At least then I wouldn't hafta imagine all the ways you'll be slicin' me t' pieces, every time I close my eyes for the next week."

Cloud closed his eyes and gripped at the handle of his motorcycle. "That's what I thought." He reached into his pocket and pulled his goggles out, placing them over his eyes. "In that case bring me to Rufus. If you don't want me going on a rampage in the next week then I need to talk to the right people," he tried to reason with the Turk.

Reno groaned and looked behind him to Rude for help. He didn't know if Rufus knew any more than they did -- though, it would make sense, he supposed.

Sam spoke up to answer it. "There is no cure for it. I highly doubt a ShinRa head is going to know of any cure or else this wouldn't have gotten as far as it has. No one knows least not anymore."

Cloud hopped over on to his bike. "Hm? I don't expect that guy to know enough to fix this, like hell if he's been the answer to everything for me before. He's the only lead I have right now though, he's my best bet for figuring out who I should be turning to."

Sam shrugged her shoulders not at all sure what else to tell him.

Rude watched the exchange in silence. He had to admit, if Cloud was in trouble, they were all pretty much screwed.

Reno sighed again with Rude's body language. "Alright..." he groaned. "I guess it can't be much worse than this. Rude... um... d'you have wheels, though? We, uh, walked here."

Sam chuckled and began to walk away. "You guys go right ahead, I am going to head myself back to the apartment okay?" she told him. She was not going to get on another vehicle again.

"Oh... right. Yeah, better she stay away from Rufus anyway... Uh... she can stay here, right?" Reno looked at Rude pleadingly.

Rude sighed, typical of Reno... He nodded, it'd be fine as long as she didn't screw anything up, and not that he was TOO worried about it. He wasn't thrilled about the idea of a stranger in his personal sanctuary poking around, pacing, impatient, but he had very little choice at the moment.

Sam shook her head and waved that off, "No thanks, I think I’ll go back to YOUR apartment Reno. You guys have fun, 'kay?"

"THANK Y-- uh?" Reno was interrupted by that. "Muh-muh-my apartment?"

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