Combat Diary Chapter 4
"So-o-o-o, why're we doing this again?" Byran asked.
"Ha, ha, ha! Quit being so suspicious! There's some kind of public expedition that Shinra's holding, and since it's available for the public to see, I thought we'd go and have some fun!" Dio replied.
The two friends rode on Zelda's back, who was taking her time. Neither of the two men minded, for it was a very nice day. The blue sky had very few clouds that day, and it was neither hot nor cool, making it ideal for an outing. Noel had refused to come along.
Once the two friends made it to Midgar, they entered through the Slum gates. Down there, the sun could not be seen. A foul-tasting air drafted throughout, and dilapidated buildings stretched as far as the eye could see. Byran hurried Zelda on past the beggars, thieves and murderers that had taken up residence in the slums. This particular slum Dio believed used to be called Cornia town. However, the plate above it was called "Sector 1", and people began referring to Cornia as "Sector 1 slums" instead. It seemed to be a shame, "Cornia" seemed to have a nice ring to it.
Soon the duo had reached a train. With some negotiation, they convinced the train manager to let them take the Chocobo on-board as well. Within minutes, the train began its way towards upper Midgar. Dio and Byran just made small talk the whole way up as people admired the large golden bird they had with them. Zelda could tell she was being admired, and strutted her feathers and let out a small "wark!". Dio shook his head and repressed a laugh as Byran tried to get Zelda to settle down a bit. About 10 minutes later, daylight broke through the train's windows, indicating that they had reached the upper plate. Dio and Byran took Zelda by the reins and walked towards a crowd of people.
It took them a moment, but then they noticed it.
Against the backdrop of 3 and 4 story buildings made mostly of concrete and low-grade metal, there, in the middle of Midgar stood the tallest building in the world. It stood at about 70 stories, the top floors still under construction, or perhaps remodeling. It shone with sunlight bouncing off the finest metals in the land, and tinted glass so reflective, one would think they were staring into another world.
It was the Shinra building.
People from around the continent were here, all eager to see what the Shinra corporation had whipped up this time. People had cameras and video recorders on them. It wasn't every day that Shinra made such a public deal out of things.
"Would ya look at this crowd?!" Byran commented.
Dio just nodded. Zelda twitched nervously. The two men and the bird made their way closer to the front, near the main entrance to the Shinra building. There, a podium was erected, and two SOLDIERS stood watch, if only for show. After the crowd calmed down a tad (mostly from boredom, some having stood there for near an hour), President Shinra emerged from the building. He was a short man who was gaining some weight. He wore a dark red expensive-looking suit, and had blonde, slicked-back hair. He was escorted by a young boy, his son, Rufus. Rufus was only about 6 and had blondish orange hair. He wore a lavish sports jacket, polished shoes, and had an air about him which made him seem older than he was. The other person was a tall, busty woman with ink-black hair and was wearing a gold dress, a diamond studded necklace, and had bracelets on each hand with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of precious-looking gems. However, it was obvious she bore no relation to Rufus OR the President. A wedding band or even an engagement ring were absent, and Rufus paid her no heed, and didn't look like her at all. The two took some seats near the podium, facing the crowd.
When Shinra came out of the building, the crowd had cheered, mostly out of respect for tradition, not so much because they liked him. Two more men came out of the building behind Shinra: Mylard, head of the Peace Preservation and Weapons Development, and another man named Gomez, who headed Urban development. Mylard was a taller man, almost 6 feet tall, and was somewhat muscular. However, any good impressions ended there. His thick, bushy mustache was dwarfed by his large nose, which in turn was matched with deep-sunk beady eyes. He was going bald, as well, but one could not tell this, for he was wearing a green beret. However, one -could- see the ketchup on his chin which he was wiping off while he walked to his seat.
Gomez was a skinny man just over six feet tall, and wore a cheap, light tan suit. He had darker skin than most people, and had brown hair which was neatly cut. He stood fully upright and proper, and his movements seemed robotic in their precise repetition. He and Mylard took seats on the opposite side of the podium as Rufus and the woman had (except Gomez swiftly dusted off his seat first before daring to sit).
"Good day!" The president said. The crowd stopped their applause... except Dio, who was found still clapping after everyone had stopped. A few people turned their heads, and Dio, flushed with embarrassment, quietly slowed down and stopped.
"Thank you for your overwhelming support, friend!" the president said to Dio. A few laughs came from the crowd, and Byran snickered. President Shinra began to continue...
"Now, the purpose of this public gathering is one of making sense. You see, this was supposed to be a SECRET military briefing, but it's just TOO BIG to keep secret. Now, if any of you have friends in Junon, you may have heard of this already, however..." The president took a breath, a drink of water, and flipped his cue cards...
"...However, for the rest of you, this will be a spectacle indeed!" the president said, all while having to raise his voice. A loud "whooshing" noise was coming from the southern mountains. Zelda began to sway uncomfortably, despite Byran's best attempts to keep her calm.
"What's with her?" Dio asked.
"I... I don't know... maybe that noise has something to do with... with..." Byran said, turning his head to the source of the noise.
It was BIG.
It was SHINY
It was coming in REALLY FAST!
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! MAY I INTRODUCE THE LATEST IN MILITARY TECHNOLOGY... THE..." The president flipped his cue-card. He couldn't believe his eyes. He motioned Mylard over....
"Is this right?" he whispered, covering the microphone.
Mylard looked at the card "I'm afraid so, sir." Mylard replied.
"Well, we can't call it THAT!" The President replied. "Who made this thing?"
"Uhm, Conrad Highwind, sir."
"Hmmm..." The president motioned for Mylard to sit, and now the airship began to circle Midgar...
"AHEM!" The President took the microphone again, "MAY I INTRODUCE... THE HIIIIIIIIGHWIIIIIND!"
At that, the "Highwind" opened up it's rocket launchers, and fired at the crowd!
Oh, relax, they're just fireworks!
Fireworks exploded just meters above the crowd, panicking Zelda, but she stayed put. The crowd cheered at the display, and reporters flashed their cameras.
Meanwhile, inside the airship...
"Highwind... now why the hell didn't I think a' that?!" Conrad thought aloud.
"Mebbe cuz you're a dumbass?" Cid said with a smirk. However, that smirk faded super quick....
"HEY!" His father said with an-almost-smile.
"... aw, rats..." Cid pulled out 10 gil and plopped it in his father's hand.
"You're gonna end up losing alota fuckin' money if you...don't... aw..., uh, darn." Conrad gave Cid the 10 gil back.
"Yo, how many times have we passed this between us?" Cid asked, looking at the 10 gil. Conrad shrugged.
"About 20 times in the past hour?"
Back outside, people were cheering the appearance of the Highwind and the fireworks (which honestly didn't look all that grand in the day time). Rufus then pointed out the "Naked lady" on the side, causing a fit of laughter from the crowd. The president then began taking questions.
"What runs it?" A reporter asked.
"Lots of gerbils and lots of wheels!" the president replied. This got a few laughs, but the president screwed up the timing, making the joke only semi-effective. He cleared his throat... "heh, uh, Seriously, It runs on basic gasoline. Now that most things are powered with Mako, there's a lot more gasoline for aircraft."
"Why not use Mako?" another man questioned.
"Mako is only efficient when it can be readily extracted and used. If stored and not used, it goes bad, and becomes less efficient." The president replied.
"Aren't you worried about the Wutians learning of this new weapon?" a female reporter asked.
"Actually, I'm COUNTING on it. Perhaps if they have any sense, they will surrender and help avoid any more worthless bloodshed." the president said, taking another sip of water.
"Will you be giving tours?"
"I'm afraid not..." the president stated plainly. "It's one thing to know of the airship's existence, but we cannot have any enemies learning how it works, after all." The president looked at his watch. "Well, I'm afraid that's all the time we have." And as if on cue, the Highwind opened a door, and a small short-range helicopter emerged. It touched down near the front of the building, and the President, Mylard and Gomez got on. A MP got out to make room, saluted, and walked into the Shinra building. Rufus and the lady followed the MP as the helicopter lifted off and went back to the Highwind.
Soon, the crowd began to dissipate, and the Highwind took off for Junon.
"Uhm..." Dio began, "Why are we still standing around here?"
"Zelda's still shaken up. I don't think she'll wanna go anywhere." Byran replied while trying to sooth the shaken bird. She warked weakly.
"Hmm, we better find someplace to stay tonight around here. I don't want t' ride her back to Kalm if she's as stable as a rotted wooden plank," Dio commented. Byran nodded his head in agreement. "Ok, you go find an Inn, make sure they'll let us keep Zelda with us... I don't trust the City."
"SHH!" Dio said, "It might hear you!"
Byran rolled his eyes... "I meant the PEOPLE!"
"Ha, ha! I knew that!" And with that, Dio strutted off to find an Inn.
Inside at last the "MP" thought to himself. He looked around the lobby... It was three stories tall, and yet it seemed like the Pagoda of the Five Sacred Gods could fit in here, given if the staircases were removed. However, he had no time to stand in awe. He had to figure out how to get around this place, and where to find the information he needed. First, he needed to get to the bathroom.
He headed off to the side on the lobby, and a door marked "MEN'S" presented itself. He entered, then locked the door. He removed his mask...
Zangan looked at himself in the mirror. The mask messed up his hair, so he straightened it out quickly. He washed off his face, proceeded to relieve himself and placed his mask back on. As he walked out, a man in a red uniform stopped him.
"Hey! Where d'you think you're going?!" The man yelled.
Zangan looked around, wondering if he'd been found out. He just shrugged.
"What? You don't have a duty-list?"
Zangan just shrugged again.
The commander raised an eyebrow. "Have you forgotten how to address your superiors, uh... " The Commander looked at Zangan's uniform... "Say, where's your rank pin?"
Zangan tried his best to disguise his voice, "Uhm, I must have lost it, sir." The truth was, Zangan had found some spare uniforms inside the Highwind where he was hiding; he had not expected that anything else was needed.
"Well, you better find it, soldier! And when you do that, report to Hojo's lab... wait, don't tell me, you lost your keycard, too?"
Another thing which should have been on this uniform, Zangan thought. He reached in his pockets experimentally, and felt a card-like object, and pulled it out hoping that it would be what he needed...
It was a pinkish card that read "Honeybee Inn Preferred Member".
The commander smiled, and nudged Zangan with his elbow. "Oh, so is THAT where you lost your rank pin? Heh... Lose anything else there? heh heh...."
Zangan had no clue what the commander was talking about.
"Okay, okay, don't screw and tell, gotchya... hmm, I'll tell ya what..." The commander reached into his pocket and pulled out an old "lieutenant" pin and a keycard. "I'll trade ya these for that, and no one says a thing? I can tell you're the silent type..." the commander said with a smile.
Zangan held back for a second, just to be convincing, but "begrudgingly" handed the card over. He pinned the ranking onto it's correct place in his left shoulder, and slipped the keycard, which read "67" into his pocket.
"Awwright, now get up to Hojo's lab for guard duty..." The commander said, walking away, not even waiting for a salute.
Zangan didn't know what he needed the card for, but he assumed he would soon find out.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic