Last Exit for the Lost Chapter 1


By Damodred

This is something I wrote (and still am writing) after playing FF7, falling in love with the whole thing, and deciding that things could/should be different. Then I read a few fanfics, saw an idea, and decided to pursue it. This is a serious fic, so be warned...and now, w/out further ado and unnecessary applause....


The tall, muscular young man standing at the reactor control panel looked uneasy, as if he'd rather be somewhere else. He brushed his disarrayed blond hair from his face and asked the tall woman standing behind him, "Teef, are you sure this is a good idea? What about all the people..." "This is no time for second thoughts, Cloud. Do it." Tifa Lockhart fought to keep calm, her fists clenching and unclenching while scanning the area for possible threats. "The others are waiting for us to get the hell out of here, so let's do just that. Hurry up!" She snapped. Cloud flinched, muttered, but worked the controls, impatiently adjusting the strap across his chest. His scabbard was too loose; he'd have to adjust it later. After what seemed like an eternity, he stood back and surveyed his work with a critical eye "There. This should give us about 15 minutes before it goes critical." "Good," Tifa said, "Now let's move." They ran back the way they came, passing hissing vents, blinking warning lights and countless pipes. After banging his sword on a protruding pipe for what seemed to be the hundredth time, Cloud muttered "Shit, you'd think they'd build these damn things with some sort of sense..." Tifa laughed, a short, mirthless sound "You know ShinRa is not the one for aesthetics, just...power," she finished in a half-whisper. Cloud nodded, sensing her mood. They ran on.

A dark, cloaked observer watched the two saboteurs far below him, long white hair undulating in the breeze coming from the reactor vents. He looked towards the reactor controls, subvocalized a short phrase and made a small gesture with his fingers. The panel came into sharp focus and the figure nodded, a flash of light revealing sharp, aquiline features and eerily glowing green eyes. Dispelling the vision, the observer faded silently into the shadows.

Cid Highwind moved through the ShinRa tower with a sense of purpose. He awoke feeling something in the air, and he knew to trust his instincts. In the better part of the last twenty years, they have never failed him. Except...his lips tightened, and the momentary frown on his face made a passing secretary squeak and pick up her pace. He dismissed the memory, stepping into the communications headquarters of The ShinRa Company. "Reno, Elena, report!" he snapped to the couple manning the equipment. As a result of his instincts earlier today, he'd requested a temporary reassignment of duties for the Turks. He felt that tonight, they were the only ones that could be trusted to do their jobs. Time would tell if he was right. "Sir, we had one of those unscheduled maintenance checks at reactor 1, but nothing unusual," the red-haired man called Reno replied without looking away from the monitors. "Sir, their ID's check out, but..." "Oh shit!" Elena interrupted "Uh. Sir. We have a power spike in reactor 1. No adjustment was scheduled for tonight, I'm sure of it!" Cid swore and pointed to monitor L27. "Do those look like goddamn maintenance techs? Goddamnit Reno I'm gonna have your ass if anything happens...Where the hell is Tseng? Call in the regular comm crew and let's GO!" He yelled the last part, already in a full run down the hall. He was joined in the elevator by Elena and newly-arrived Tseng, apparently straight from the bathroom. On the way up Elena leaned towards Tseng and whispered solemnly "You've been smoking in the bathroom again and your fly is open." Tseng's usually unflappable demeanor faltered as he stuttered, ready to deny the first allegation but totally embarassed by the second. He zipped up in silence. Cid's mouth twitched momentarily. He had a good crew, but he'd never live it down if he told them. The elevator doors opened and the Turks hit the deck running towards the prepped chopper. Normally Elena would fly, but speed was of the essence and Cid took the controls. After all, he was the best. The big machine took off and sped towards reactor 1, its warning lights flashing in the dark night, high above the city. Elena was on the radio, trying to raise anyone at the reactor to see to the crisis, when Cid inhaled sharply "God-damn." The reactor seemed to inhale as well, and then suddenly fly apart into ten thousand pieces as a powerful blast annihilated it completely, along with everything close to it in a five block radius. The destruction was breathtaking in its fiery grandeur. Cid had no time to admire it however as the shockwave hit the helicopter. The big machine spun around and out of control, as if swatted by a giant's hand. Cid fought the controls, clawing for altitude. He knew that if they went down, they would all die. The gyrations were too wild and the speed to high for a safe landing. After what seemed like an eternity, falling closer and closer towards the dark streets, Cid regained control and the machine rose towards the sky like a freed bird. He steered the chopper towards the brightly lit ShinRa tower and drew in a deep breath.

As soon as they landed, Cid stepped out of the chopper and walked towards the railing facing Sector 1 and the ruined reactor. He motioned Elena and Tseng to join him at the edge. They looked out over Midgar, taking in the view from the top silently. Cid sometimes compared the city to a rotting umbrella, hanging precariously over the slums built on ground-level by those not rich enough to afford a place on the top of the plate. Sometimes pieces of it would drop off, rusted metal pipes or joints landing on the wretched souls below. He didn't envy them, preferring the air up here, polluted as it was to the eternal darkness and squalor below. When it rained, the water would gather all the filth from the streets of Midgar and pour below in grimy, oily streams. Cid suddenly missed the clean, mountain air of his hometown and smiled briefly, remembering flying above it in his garage-built plane when he was a kid, buzzing all his friends and laughing insanely with the sheer joy of flight. He smiled briefly, noting the tinge of regret that invariably came with these memories. Shaking his head, wondering at the way his thoughts wandered, he took out his lighter and lit up a cigarette. He noticed with surprise that his hands were shaking. He offered the pack to Elena and Tseng, who each took one. Cid's eyebrows lifted in surprise, but he said nothing. He lit Elena's cigarette and passed the lighter to Tseng. They stood in silence for a few minutes, gazing at the firelit Sector 1. ShinRa fire control would be there by now, but it could take hours, even days for the fire to die down enough for any investigation to take place. He knew no investigation was necessary. In a voice deep with some unidentified emotion he said "AVALANCHE."

Cid found Reno in the forward lounge, now as dark as the rest of the ShinRa tower was at this hour. Reno stood with his hands clasped behind his back, gazing at Midgar, his jaw muscles working silently. Cid walked to his side and looked out the window briefly. He had seen the view many times, and it never failed to depress him. He was here on other business. "It wasn't your fault," he said quietly. "You couldn't have possibly kno..." he continued but Reno interrupted "It's my job to know, and I didn't do it." Reno spoke firmly but with a finality usually unlike him. He continued "I would like to..." It was Cid's turn to interrupt "No. I don't need anything from you. Not resignation, not wallowing, nor apologies. What happened, happened." Cid stood silent for a minute then added "Besides, I've already made up my mind."

The lurid glare from the burning reactor created dancing crimson shadows on the wall of the apartment, and on the woman's delicate, pale face. She stared out the window, mouth drawn into a thin line as she thought of all the lives wasted in the explosion. Nevertheless, a small part of her rejoiced at the thought of a Mako reactor destroyed, and the logical part pointed out that if it wasn't for ShinRa, there would be no need for such desperate measures. She shrugged, as if to ignore her doubts in light of reality and wished, briefly, for her lover's comforting presence. She shook her head, irritably and drew the blinds shut. Worrying about him now would do no good, and would only distract her. Laying back on her bed, noting the crimson glare still leaking through the window, she reminded herself why she lived so close to the ShinRa tower. When others simply said they wanted to live close to work, she only nodded and agreed, but in her private thoughts she remembered the old saying "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."


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