Wasted Chapter 1
He drew on the black armor-backed glove with a small sigh, wincing a little as the rough material slid over a cut on one of the knuckles.
The glove was too tight for him, causing his hand to flex on its own. But it was tradition. Past training masters had used this very glove to teach, to instruct new Turks. The well-worn holes in it didnt matter. It was a special artifact, retaining almost sacred value.
Rude clenched his fist in the glove, felt the thick fingers grow taut. He cleared his mind of all conscious thought, concentrating at the task at hand, just like his old training master had taught him.
Taught him with this very glove
Rude shook his head, shook aside lingering doubts that threatened to test his resolve. What difference did it make that Elena was a woman? There had been women Turks before, just not in his lifetime. So what?
Ive always wanted to be a Turk
Dammit, why did she have to be so happy?
He checked his watch. Close to three PM.
It was time.
Quickly he did what hed done since childhood, what had gotten easier and easier to do: Hide his emotions. Sweep the turbulent storms of feelings raging inside of him under an imaginary rug, never to be seen again. Lock everything behind a stern and vacant mask of stone, and toss away the key. He had gotten quite good at it.
He left the small room that was his cabin, stepping into the main part of the Turks staffroom. It was a nicer staffroom than the one lower employees got, he had to admit. The Turks certainly were important to Shinra.
Probably because there were so few of them.
Though he had never been a training master before, Rude wasnt worried. He had seen the job done often enough to know all about it.
Testing his resolution, and finding it firm, he glanced about for the rookie.
Elena stood in the center of the staffroom, beaming. She was wearing her new uniform and seemed immensely proud of it. To be honest, the ensemble did become her. The womans version of a Turk uniform was only slightly dissimilar from the mans- flared pant legs, a more feminine jacket, and high-heeled shoes- but had a very different effect. If Elena wiped that grin off her face, she would look a true professional.
"Hi, Rude," she greeted him, clasping her hands in front of her. "How do I look?" She threw her hands in the air and twirled around, just in case he might miss something.
The word "chic" came to mind, but Rude didnt mention it. Instead he cleared his throat.
"Its time for your training, Elena." He paused a moment for effect (and to think of how to word his next phrase). "Because you are a rookie and only know how the Turks operate from the outside, it is my job to break you into the inside job." He hesitated awkwardly. " .."
Reno was a lot better at this kind of thing than him. In fact, if the red-headed Turk hadnt been injured, Reno would be helping him out now. Another reason to curse AVALANCHE. Bad enough they had been causing one headache after another with all the destroyed and such, but now he also had to train the rookie by himself. It seemed to Rude he always got landed with the boring job.
Elena was looking at him strangely. He should be saying something. Damn! He always got like this whenever he had to make a speech.
Maybe she thinks its some kind of test, Rude thought hopefully. Fat chance.
"Whats wrong, Rude?" she blurted out, looking nervous. "Did I do something? Are you angry?"
" .Im not very good with speeches," he admitted, then closed his mouth. Of all the things to tell the new rookie!
Elena waved a hand airily. "Oh, thats okay. I dont like speeches anyway. Theyre boring."
Privately Rude thought so, too. "Very well. Well begin." He snapped his fingers. Instantly two Shinra guards armed with machine guns stepped forward, weapons pointed at Elena.
She looked to Rude nervously. "Is this some kind of joke?" The faintest note of nervousness was discernible in her voice.
Rude stepped toward her, rubbing the knuckles under the armor-backed glove. No expression was visible on his face.
At that instant, the door slammed open. Rude froze. The gunmen froze. Elena whirled around.
Tseng was standing in the doorway, feet spread apart, hands behind his back. He always stood like that, like an army drill sergeant, but it seemed especially appropriate now. His long black hair was slicked back away from his scowling face, his gray eyes dark and foreboding.
Tseng was angry. It was evident not only on his face, but in his long, quick strides across the room to where Rude was standing.
Tseng didnt yell. Tseng never yelled. His softly spoken words somehow carried more weight than barked orders or angry reprimands. When he spoke in his whispering voice, men snapped to attention. It was unheard of for the leader of the Turks to raise his voice.
"I sent word to the front desk that this Turk was not to be trained in the traditional fashion."
"I received no such orders, sir." Rude spoke calmly, although inside he was positively frightened. Tseng only used that lethal growling tone if he was feeling murderous.
Tseng glared at him a moment, then turned away. "Youre dismissed!" he barked to the two gunmen, jerking a thumb at the door. After one look at his face, they hurried out.
Rude stood sweating while the other man appeared to compose himself. Tseng straightened his tie, drew a breath, and attempted to smile at Elena.
"You must be the rookie. Im Tseng, your leader."
Elena was looking thoroughly confused and intimidated by this time. "My name is Elena," she murmured, blushing beet-red and staring at the floor.
"Are you all right?" he queried, shooting an accusing glance at Rude.
"F Fine, thank you," she stammered.
"Good, Tseng said brusquely. "Would you mind leaving me with Rude a minute? I need to discuss some important matters with him.
"Certainly," she said quickly, rushing out the door. And then Rude was alone with Tseng.
They stood staring at each other for several minutes. Rude was well used to Tsengs way of catching others unawares- Reno called him "The Ripper" because of his tendency to slash them wide open when off-guard- and waited him out. At last Tseng sighed, drummed his fingers on a countertop, and started in.
"Rude, do you know what you almost did?"
"I almost told what was expected of me, sir," he responded steadily. He knew that type of reply would only infuriate his leader further, but it was the truth.
Tseng closed his eyes a moment, then reopened them. "Okay, Rude. Lets go over this together. Why did we recruit a new Turk?"
"Because Renos injured and were lacking people," he answered dutifully, thinking about all the things hed rather do than hear this lecture. Sleep on a bed of razor-sharp nails
"Good. And why else?"
Be crucified on a tree and then be struck by lightning "Because last night we failed to prevent AVALANCHE from escaping when they invaded Headquarters last night, resulting in the loss of not only the Ancient, but the other specimen as well."
"Right. Why else?"
Drape poison vipers all over his body while standing with one foot on a needle "Because afterward Heidegger threatened to skin us alive if we ever slacked off again."
"Yes." Tseng sighed. "And thats why we cant train Elena."
Eat a "What? Why?"
Tseng leaned forward. "Rude, it takes well over a year to properly train a Turk. We need a fill-in now. If you started training her, we wouldnt be able to use her until who knows how long. She may be a rookie, but maybe she can pick up enough not to embarrass us."
Rude doubted that, based on what hed seen, but said nothing.
"Im depending on you to watch her," Tseng said, looking the other man straight in the face.
Rude averted his gaze. "Yes, sir."
"All right." Tseng leaned back, apparently satisfied. "Dismissed."
The silent Turk left, thinking furiously. Damn Reno! Whyd he have to go and get injured? Of course, none of them had been expecting AVALANCHE to be very difficult to handle. Reno had learned how very wrong that notion was- the hard way.
But at least he didnt have to teach a silly little girl to be a Turk.
Rude shook his head and shoved it to the back of his mind, as he often did. No sense worrying about it now. He had a better idea.
As soon as he left work that day, hed go to the bar.
Sunlight streamed through the blinds on the window, casting a striped pattern across the rumpled mound of blankets on the bed. A red-haired man, tangled in the sheets, stirred slightly. It was past noon.
Reno yawned widely and sat up. Immediately he was greeted by knives digging through his skull. He lay back down and pressed both hands against his temples, trying to keep his head from splitting apart.
The headache subsided after a moment. As it did, Reno gradually grew aware of more pain; in his arms and legs and especially his shoulder, where a bullet from that bastard Barret had resided. In fact, now that he thought about it, he wasnt sure what hurt worse- the hangover or his injuries.
He moved a little and groaned. The hangover, definitely.
After a few minutes of working up the strength, he managed to sit up again. With more groans and a few scattered swears, he was able to grab the edge of the dresser (making a few empty beer bottles sway precariously) and stand up.
Water. He needed some goddamned water. His throat felt like hed been drinking motor oil.
Maybe I have, he thought dryly, thinking of his flat wallet. He had been graciously granted a paid vacation, but had seen no hint of the money yet. And guess whod had to cover the medical bills?
Damn them anyway, he decided. Why cant those tightwads give me my salary when I need it?
By now hed reached the kitchen of his two-room apartment. He grabbed hold of the water tap and turned it on full blast, then ducked his head under the water. He emerged, dripping wet. There. That was a little better. Not much, but better. At least he could see straight now.
He returned to his bedroom, stopping when he caught a glance of his reflection in the mirror. He looked like hell. Dark shadows under his eyes, one arm in a sling, a face no mother could ever love. His red hair was absolutely frightening. He looked drawn and haggard. And tired.
Turning away from the face in the mirror, he spotted his jacket hanging on the door handle. He grabbed his wallet out of the front pocket and looked inside.
With an explosive curse, Reno flung the wallet across the room and swept the beer bottles off the dresser. They crashed to the floor, sending glittering splinters of glass everywhere.
Reno paused then, hesitated. Then he pulled open the top drawer of his dresser and slowly pulled out a small bag of gil. He had been saving this for emergencies. But now he needed a drink more than he needed anything else.
He grabbed his jacket from the door handle and slammed out of the apartment, slamming the door behind him.
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