Rufus had it made. He was practically president of the world, he had every town in his pocket, and was sellng his father's beach house for a mere three hundred thousand gil, which he in turn would use to build a summer home in the mountains of Corel. He hated the beach, after all. Summer was a long way off, however, and he was still stuck in his office.
He picked up the reciever of his desk phone and tapped a few buttons.
"Heidegger, This is Rufus. How is the transportation coming along?"
Heidegger was in the presidental office in Junon, overlooking a plethora of helicopters slowly lifting the now-detached canon.
"We are on schedule, Mr. President, and will deliver the canon within forty-eight hours, despite minor setbacks."
"Setbacks? What type of setbacks are you referring to?" Rufus asked.
"Well, our mako consumption rates were higher than expected, so we had to stop our initial lift and refuel the choppers, as well as compensate for our miscalculations." Heidegger reported.
"Anything else?" Rufus questioned.
"There is one thing. As you know, Elena quit the company. However, just a short while ago Reno and Rude were reported missing. It's unknown whether or not they quit as well. How should I proceed?"
Rufus gave it some serious thought before answering.
"...If they don't contact us by the time the canon reaches Midgar, consider them fired and hire new Turks to replace them. We don't need our top men following their own agendas right now."
"Right, sir. I will immediately begin searching for replacements. Goodbye, Mr. President." Heidegger said as he hung up his phone.
Rufus hung up as well but still had some other buisness to take care of. This time, he dialed Reeve's number.
"Reeve? This is Rufus. Could you come up to my office for a moment please?.....Thank you." Rufus said.
He probably could have taken care of the matter over the phone, but he felt it was better to be face to face to a person when speaking to one another. He could read a persons thoughts simply by looking at the expression on their face. This was a trick his dad taught him- well, 'taught' may not be the right word for it, but it was definately something he learned from his father.
Within minutes of the call, Rufus could see Reeve acsending the stairs. Though he was somewhat concerned with Reeve's loyalty, he still admired the man for his ability to arrive at a moment's notice.
"You wanted something?" Reeve said.
"Yes. I'll get right to the heart of the matter. Do you have any control over the Cait Sith that curently has sided with Avalanche?" Rufus asked rather bluntly.
Reeve sighed. To Rufus, that wasn't a good sign.
"Well, actually, no."
"None at all?"
"No. All I can do is see his thoughts. It's really very intriguing. The future he's experienced is radically different from anything I've ever expected." Reeve explained.
"Hmm...Be that as it may, we need more than just a window. I want you to activate another Cait to replace him." Rufus said.
"Are you sure you want to do that? His knowledge of the future can be very useful, if not insightful to us."
Reeve obviously didn't want to destroy the time-traveling Cait; Rufus was unsure of his intentions, but he did have a point.
"Very well then. Though I wish to quickly drop our mole into the mix, I will extend that period of time enough so as you can record as much useful information as possible. Understood?"
"Yes." Reeve nodded.
As Reeve once again decended the carpeted stairway, Rufus slouched back into his chair, put his feet up on the desk, and smiled in satisfication.
"I know we have a weird relationship, but we honestly just want to talk to Elena." Reno said.
Reno and Rude had confronted Cloud and the others in Corel. Cloud, Zero, and Blaze all had their weapons drawn ready to attack at the drop of a hat. It didn't help the Turks any when Barret, Red XIII, and Turbine appeared moments later, making the odds 3 to 1.
"It's alright guys, they don't mean us any harm." Elena said, speaking loud enough for everyone to hear.
She stepped in front of her allies and motioned to them to put down their weapons.
"It's good to see you two." Elena said, pulling them both into a group hug.
"Elena...Please. We have a reputation to maintain." Reno said rather embarrassingly.
Rude wasn't quite as embarrassed as Reno was, but no one seemed to notice.
"Oh alright, tough-guy. What did you want to talk to me about?" Elena said, breaking the embrace.
"Well, uh...Could you guys leave us three alone for a few minutes?" Reno asked the Avalanche members.
"Whatever." Zero said.
"We'll be waiting in the highwind, so don't wander off." Cloud said with a smirk.
As the heroes departed towards the mighty airship, Reno spoke again.
"Are you sure you wanna side with them?" Reno asked.
"Guys, this isn't just about sides. You two should know that better than anyone."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. We just wanna know if this is what you really want." Reno replied.
"I told you guys about my past and everything, right? Well, I've always had this urge to do something about the bad things in this world. I thought I could make a difference when I joined SOLDIER and the Turks." Elena began.
"But you felt you didn't after the fact?" Rude questioned.
"No. Not once did I get sent out on mission that allowed me to help or protect people. The three of us-no, the four of us- could have made a difference in the world. But no. The company had other plans. We were just Hiedeggers lackies."
"Yeah, but we're the best lackies they have." Reno joked.
Elena wasn't amused.
"Are you content with that? I wasn't. Avalanche has given me an opportunity to do what I feel I was meant to do. What about you? Can you say the same?" Elena shot back.
"Actually, I like being a Turk. Though some of the things I'm ordered to do are reprehensible, I get a kick out of it." Reno said.
Elena shook her head.
"Y'know, you don't have to work for Shinra to be a Turk." Elena said, grinning from ear to ear.
"We're not gonna quit the company, if that's what you're implying." Reno said.
"...Besides, we still have to find a way into the northern crater to avenge Tseng. Rufus is going to relocate the Junon Canon to Midgar so he can mount an offense against Sigma and Sephiroth, but we're hesitant when it comes to it's potetial success." Rude explained.
"Yeah, I wanna avenge Tseng's death as much as you guys, but I just feel I have a better shot at it with Cloud and them." Elena said.
"I guess there's no way we can talk you out of it, huh?" Reno said.
"Nope." Elena replied.
"Then that's that, I suppose. Well, I hope we see each other again, so take care and all." Reno said uncharacteristically.
Just as Elena started to leave, Rude spoke up again.
"Elena?" Rude said.
She turned her head to see his hand reaching for her collar.
"You might want to get rid of the bug Rufus planted on you." Rude said, holding up the tiny transmitter.
Rude tossed it onto the ground, allowing Elena to crush it with her heel as she left.
"Oooo-kay, where the heck are we?" Aurie asked.
She had become a master pilot in the short time she operated the shinra submarine, but that didn't help her get any better with directions. Luckily, Vincent was there, and he was a great navigator.
"Well, if we follow the ridge on the right, we'll eventually reach the crashed Gelinka we visited earlier. From there, we can surface and dock at a nearby cove adjacent to the Gold Saucer. I trust you can get us there?" Vincent said.
"No problem! I'll get us there in two shakes!" Aurie said.
"Of what?" Slash asked.
"Huh?" Aurie replied.
"Two shakes of what?" Slash repeated.
"Uh, nothing. It's an old saying." Aurie said.
"Well, whatever. Wait'll the gang sees all the stuff we found!" Slash said exitedly.
"No kidding! We have so much materia and such on board, it's slowing us down!" Aurie laughed.
"...I am particularary fascinated by that anceint key. I wonder what kind of a lock would use one of such?" Vincent pondered.
"Probably a big one." Slash answered.
Vincent almost laughed. He was starting to get used to the irate banter of Aurie and Slash, and he rather enjoyed it. Maybe they were having a bigger influence on him than he thought there would be.
"Ooh! There's the Gelinka! Time to surface again!" Aurie announced.
As soon as the sub breached the surface of the water, Slash tried to contact their friends.
"Yo, Highwind! This is Slash aboard a Shinra submarine. Can you hear us?" Slash said into the mic.
He waited several seconds before a reply came.
"Yeah. This is Cid on the Highwind, and we can hear you loud and f(*&^%g clear. Over." Cid said over the radio transmitter.
"East of the Gold Sau-" Vincent said.
"East of the Gold Saucer. Right." Slash finished.
Vincent was tempted to laugh again. Maybe one day he would give in to temptation, but for now, he was content with being cool.