The Cry of the Planet Chapter 8

The Meeting

By Edyn Cross

Vincent Valentine parked his company car in his assigned space at the parking garage under Shinra Inc. headquarters. As he was turning off the ignition, another car just like the one he was driving pulled into the parking space next to him at high speed and stopped with its brakes squealing. Vincent watched as the car sat idling. The side mirror of the car was vibrating as the car's loud music and heavy bass drummed in Vincent's ears. The driver, only his outline visible through the dark tinted windows, nodded his head in sync with the music a bit before turning off the ignition, leaving the last bass note echo almost endlessly in the parking garage.

The man stepped out and ran his hands through his hair. Like Vincent, he was dressed in the navy blue suit, uniform of the Turks, but looked a few cans short of a six back. Vincent smiled remembering last night at the bar where this particular Turk, Seth, had tried to out-drink another member, and failed miserably. Although it was a valiant effort, Seth ended up passing out at the bar and falling asleep sitting in the stool with a smile stretched across his cheeks and his face in a puddle of his own drool. After last call, Vincent with the rest of the Turks left Seth at the bar lost in his dreams while swimming in his drool. Vincent smiled a bit wider now imagining the bar tender dragging Seth to his car while trying to close the bar that evening. By the looks of it, Seth's haggard appearance and unshaven face told Vincent that he came to work straight from the bar parking lot.

Vincent got out of his car, stood straightening his suit and looked over at Seth just to see the man staring wide-eyed at Vincent trying to pull off an innocent expression.

"Yo, Vince," Seth said. "How could you guys just leave me at the bar like that?"

Vincent smiled at his coworker, "Gee, Seth, we thought you looked so peaceful that we didn't want to disturb you. Plus, all the hot women kept coming over and commenting on how sweet you looked sleeping there, just like a baby."

"You're a dick, you know that, Vince?" Seth laughed and lit a cigarette. "We're a bit early today, you wanna hit the secretarial department for a bit and mingle with the honeys?"

"No, you go ahead," Vincent said as they started towards the stairs. "I have orders to report directly to President Shinra's office this morning."

Seth looked at him, "No shit? Hope you're not getting canned, man, that would suck."

"Thanks for your vote of confidence, Seth," Vincent laughed. "Appreciate it."

"Anytime, bro. Smoke?" Seth offered a cigarette and Vincent shook his head.

The two Turks made their way up the parking garage stairs that led outside the front entrance to the building. Vincent took the last step up to the surface, looked around, and inhaled deeply. The smell of Mako was very heavy today; it always seems to get that way before Midgar gets thundered with bad weather. Like any other day, a cloud of teal/grey smog that was produced by each of the eight Mako Reactors surrounding the circular city covered the sky.

Midgar was a city on the Planet that existed like none other. The city itself was built high above the ground literally on a large circular steel plate held up by one main support pillar in the center and eight additional plate support pillars. Under the plate were eight named sections, each section had one of the support pillars located within the sector itself, if the support pillar for one of the sectors were to collapse, everyone and everything in that sector would be crushed by that section of the plate above them. Each sector was a named town and people built small suburbs in each sector, mostly those who couldn't afford the high living cost of having their home located above the plate. Each sector under the plate was quaint, had a few homes, small businesses and had generally good people, with the exception to Wall Market, of course. Wall Market, was one sector ridden with con artists, pimps, and whorehouses, mainly owned by the infamous Don Corneo. The only thing very unique about living under the Midgar plate is existing in a world where there is no day or night, always living with constant hum and glow of fluorescent lights.

Vincent himself lived on the upper plate in a small apartment not too far from Shinra Headquarters. He could care less if he lived under the plate, as he did so for so many years growing up as an orphan, but living on top allowed him to live closer to work and was just more convenient. Even though Shinra Inc. paid decent wages, a good number of Shinra employees lived under the plate as a train ran a course that covered the top of the plate and underneath on a track that connected the two by being attached to and spiraling up the center support pillar.

Vincent and Seth made their way to the front door of the Shinra building, as many tired employees were that morning. Although many people spoke down upon Shinra Inc. and the way it was ran, Midgar couldn't possibly exist with out it. Shinra Electric Power Company employed about 70% of all people in Midgar, above and beneath the plate. If the company were to crumble, then Midgar and even other parts of the world would more than likely slide into a great economic depression.

The Shinra building itself had seventy floors and President Shinra's office occupied almost the entire seventieth floor, which was located partially outdoors as it served as the President's personal helipad. Just like his office, President Shinra spared no expense when building his corporate empire. Marble floors, rugs imported from Wutai, all metal was chromed stainless Mithril from the mines nearby, countless security guards, and a video security system networked throughout every floor (with exception to the sixty-ninth). Shinra Inc. had twelve full time chefs serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the large cafeteria on the sixty-first floor. The company also had a large weight and exercise center occupying the sixty-fourth floor that was open twenty-four hours. On the outside, Shinra Inc. seemed like a nice, respectable place to work, but the inside held more scandals and secrets than the average citizen would ever know.

Vincent and Seth made their way inside, not needing to go through routine security, as the guards didn't want to do anything more than nod and smile to those wearing the uniform of a Turk. There was a group of employees waiting for the closest elevator which, was the one that ran on the outside of the building made completely of glass. When the two Turks approached the elevator, the group of employees moved and parted like a flock of birds to let the men through. The elevator dinged and two Turks stepped in. There was room for the entire group to fit, but there was an unspoken rule at Shinra Inc. that if a Turk wants on the elevator, you take the next one. The door closed and the two men selected their floor buttons.

"You sure you don't want any Shinra secretary action?" Seth asked and then sprayed some Binaca breath freshener in his mouth. "Word has it, the chicks have you on their want list, and I hear it's a pretty short list."

Vincent smiled and shook his head.

"Always on the job, ain't cha?" Seth snickered. "We still on for drinks tonight?"

"Aren't we every night?" Vincent replied.

Seth laughed slapped Vincent's back. A moment later the elevator dinged, and the doors opened.

"This is my stop, wish me luck and pray that I get play," Seth said straightening his tie.

"Good luck, God knows you need it." Vincent said.

"Ha! Same to you, hope the execution goes well. Let me and the other guys know what's up with the President later. See ya Vince."

"Later." Vincent said as another man started to get on the elevator but stopped short after seeing whom the other occupant was.

The doors closed and Vincent rode the elevator up to the President's office listening to elevator muzak. Even though he wasn't nervous, he kept wondering what this could be about. On Vincent's ride up through the numerous floors, the elevator stopped twice to pick up a passenger, but after getting a look at Vincent, each passenger said he would take the next one. Finally the elevator dinged and then opened to the sixty-ninth floor. President Shinra's office was on the seventieth, but the elevator stopped one floor below and four armed SOLDIER members stood guarding the two extravagant stair cases leading to the President's office.

As Vincent stepped out of the elevator, he was immediately confronted by a young and seemingly inept man holding a clipboard who didn't look a day over eighteen. Vincent knew how SOLDIERs were trained and also knew that although the kid may be young; he is certainly not inept.

"State your name, title and business, Sir," the SOLDIER said without emotion.

"Valentine, Vincent. Turk," He responded. "I was called by the President's assistant this morning to report to President Shinra's office first thing."

The SOLDIER ran his eyes down his clipboard, then looked at Vincent. "Yes, sir. Go on up."

The SOLDIER moved out of the way to let Vincent pass. The Turk made his way up the large staircase leading to President Shinra's office. As he reached the top step, he saw President Shinra sitting at his desk and yelling into this phone. Vincent stopped at the top of the stairs, expressionless, waiting for President Shinra to acknowledge him.

"I don't give a fuck if your diggers can't finance themselves, I'm pulling the contract." Shinra said to the phone. "Because the archeological dig up in the Northern Crater no longer serves the financial interests of Shinra Inc. You and your diggers will be paid for the work you have done this week, and the trip home will be paid for as well. No. There will be no more discussion, Shinra Inc. considers this project closed. Good day."

President Shinra slammed the phone down and lit a cigar. He looked up and saw Vincent, smiled a fake smile, and motioned for him to come closer.

"Come, come. Have a seat," Shinra said.

Vincent walked up to Shinra's desk, but didn't sit down. "I'd rather stand," He replied coolly.

"What do you know of Nibelheim, Vincent?" Shinra asked.

Vincent thought for a moment, "It's located on the Western Continent just west of Cosmo Canyon built on the base of the Mt. Nibel. Shinra Inc. recently built a Mako reactor in the mountains after a Mako fountain was discovered there."

"Very good, son," Shinra smiled.

Son? Vincent thought. As far as he knew, President Shinra was around his age.

"Let me get to the point," Shinra puffed his cigar. "Three of my best scientists are going to be doing extensive research in the town of Nibelheim and I need my best Turk to protect them."

Vincent rolled his eyes. Christ, he hated those babysitting jobs. He didn't mind being the only Turk assigned, but to a piss poor town like Nibelheim? He knew he was going to be bored to death for however long this "extensive research" was going to take.

President Shinra pushed a button on his phone, "Send in Professor Gast."

A few moments later a man wearing a lab coat, about ten years older than Vincent quickly went up the stairs and entered the President's office.

"You wanted to see me?" The man asked.

"Professor Gast, this is Vincent Valentine," Shinra introduced. "This is the Turk that I will be assigning to keep you and your scientists safe throughout your research in Nibelheim."

"But, President!" Gast exclaimed. "We are in no such need for protection, ESPECIALLY from the likes of a Turk. It's not necessary. Their manner in dealing with…"

"That's enough, Professor," Shinra replied calmly. "You know how many people that are out there just looking for the opportunity to take advantage of something that only Shinra Inc. has. Plus, the last time I was there, the road from Nibelheim to Mt. Nibel was infested with dangerous monsters and I doubt you and your scientists have the means to fight them. This isn't debatable. Your airship to the Western Continent leaves in three days. You have until then to gather your things and say your good-byes, this won't be a short trip. You'll be receiving a memo from my secretary later on today or tomorrow detailing your travel plans. If you have any other questions, speak to her. You're excused."

Professor Gast and Vincent Valentine both stood there a moment in silence before taking their leave. They both didn't harbor any anger towards the other personally, but Gast wasn't fond of the company of the Turks in general, and Vincent wasn't fond of tedious Shinra employee babysitting jobs.

After they both left the office, Gast took the elevator and Vincent decided to take the stairs. He was mildly pissed off on getting assigned to this sort of job, but if the scientists took frequent visits to Mt. Nibel from Nibelheim, maybe he would be able to get in some good gun fighting action with the monsters. He hadn't been in a good fight in a long, long time.

Vincent walked down the stairs lost in his own thoughts, passing a sign that read "Shinra Inc. Science Division:.Floors: 67-68." As he rounded a corner on the stairs, he collided with another man and sent him sprawling. Or at least he thought it was a man, the impact had been so light that it could have been a child. Vincent looked down to see who it was and saw a dangerously thin man about his own age, but much shorter. His long, black hair pulled back into a ponytail had been tangled and loosened by the fall and his lab coat flapped obscenely as he searched for his glasses. The thin man finally found them, cleaned the lenses with his lab coat and stood up. He looked at Vincent with his lips pulled back exposing his teeth, like a rabid dog.

"Why don't you watch the fuck where you're going?" He hissed.

Vincent crossed his arms and stared at the man saying nothing.

"Answer me!" The gangly man raved. "If I had been carrying a specimen or anything else that could have been spoiled by your foolishness, you wouldn't work another MINUTE with this company!"

Vincent yawned.

"You had better watch your step around here," The man's eyes narrowed. "You never know when the Science Division will get bored with guinea pigs and switch to live humans."

The skinny man pushed past Vincent in a vain effort to knock him off his feet, but just bounced off the Turk and almost stumbled again up the stairs. It never occurred to Vincent that he would ever meet that man again. It also never occurred to Vincent that the pale, gangly, greasy-haired scientist would have the one thing on the Planet that Vincent could ever want and never have.

Chapter 9

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic