Yuffie stunned all by handing over Mercy willingly. "I just can't do anything with it," she said. Raieyana put it in one of the slots in the Evenstar.
"Just wonder why Shinra needs this report so bad," said Cloud.
"I think Raieyana has it," said Reeve quietly.
"So, why's it so special?"
Raieyana told her whole story, and exhibited her tattoo. They all looked at her in awe, except for Reeve.
"Sephiroth's..." whispered Cloud.
"That's what's wrong with Aysta," Raieyana said.
Barret stood up. "How the hell do you know it's not gonna happen to you!"
She stood up and faced him. "I don't! But I've stayed sane until now, at least."
"Well, what are we going to do about Ruther, Legolas, and Denmae?" Tifa asked.
"What about them?" asked Barret.
"In case you haven't noticed," said Tifa, "they're not here."
"When we were at Icicle Inn, we saw Soldiers looking for AWOLs. I just wouldn't have thought them to be stupid enough to get captured," said Blane.
Ishmael looked at Raieyana. "Denmae is on Aysta's good side, for one thing. She got promoted really fast. She might be able to get off. But that leaves Ruther and Legolas. Now, what to do about that, I don't know. Ray, do you have any ideas?"
"I think Aysta probably has complete control over Denmae now, because you said that they were in close contact."
"So what," Cid said, "are we just going to forget about them? Is Aysta's control so powerful?"
She shook her head. "No, I just think we're not going to get Denmae back at this point." Vincent asked her if she thought Denmae was a spy for Aysta. "I don't know. That might have been what she had in mind when she went with us. But we have to get Legolas and Ruther, before Aysta has a chance to do...anything. She might have had them for nearly four days now."
Cid started walking over to the Highwind. "So where we headed? Junon?"
Raieyana shrugged. "Junon is the best place of any."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"President?" Scarlet walked in to Aysta's office, leading Denmae. "On top of everything else, the Airship has been spotted at Ft. Condor." Aysta's chair spun around to face her.
"Good to know," she said, "now Scarlet, leave my friend here." She smiled at Denmae. "We have some catching up to do."
"Yes'm." Scarlet undid Denmae's handcuffs and left the room.
Aysta's smile had turned cruel. "Now what did you think you were doing, friend, leaving Junon, leaving me? It wasn't a very nice thing to do now, was it?" Her voice was bewitchingly sweet, like poisoned candy.
Denmae looked ashamed. "I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking, Ays--"
"What were you thinking?" Aysta'a yell rang through the room. "You went and joined with the enemy. Went AWOL from Soldier. Betrayed not only me, but everyone here in Junon. Did they tell you I was bad, did they tell you I was wrong, did they tell you I was the enemy? Who is your friend? Who has done so much for you? Who have you denied?"
Denmae started to cry. "You, Aysta. I am so horrible, so terrible, no punishment you have could be bad enough."
Aysta reclined in her chair. (Really, mind control is so boring.) "I think you've had punishment enough. As for your two companions, well, they have a little something special in store for them." She pushed a button on the intercom. "Heidegger? Have you prepared the acid yet? Oh, another two hours? Well, that better be just as long as it takes or...uh-huh, okay, if it's to wait for the stronger stuff, I may be able to understand. But you know my compassion only lasts so long. Unless it is ready pretty damn fast...well, you get the picture. I don't want to be kept waiting any longer than necessary. Hurry, if you know what's good for you." She looked at Denmae. "You will go down with me and see how I treat traitors that I don't know so well."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Raieyana looked over the edge of the deck of the Airship. She looked at Reeve. "I really don't want to parachute down there."
He hugged her. "Me either. Last time it was a stuffed body. I felt a little more comfortable then. But we can't risk getting caught walking in to Junon, now that our disguised selves are wanted for Airship theft."
Yuffie shrugged. "Anything to get off this Airship!"
Cloud walked over. "Are you guys ready?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," said Raieyana.
He looked over at Barret, Blane, Tifa, and Vincent, who were suiting up. "Remember, don't come down until thirty minutes after we do. We check top half, you check bottom."
Blane glared at him. "If you repeat those orders I've heard a million times already one more time, I swear to God you won't be saying much of anything again."
"Blane!" Raieyana just looked at him. "If you don't want these guys all to jump you, you better just shut your mouth. All right, let's just get this over with." (Since we have absolutely no idea how we're going to infiltrate the Shinra building.)
Ishmael walked over. "Here's all the passwords," he said. "Be careful, Ray."
"I will," she said, and they walked to the railing. "Here goes nothing."
They parachuted down into Upper Junon and landed in front of the weapons shop. They quickly went into an alley to get rid of the parachutes.
"So is that our plan?" Raieyana asked. "Use passwords, hope they work, find our friends, hope Aysta hasn't decided to torture them to a horrific death?"
Yuffie looked at her. "Better be ix-nay on the horrific death part. My stomach still hasn't settled yet. That would not be a good plan."
"Well," Cloud said, "besides that, it's all anyone could come up with. At least we have the passwords. We have Ishmael to thank for that."
"I think," said Reeve, "we should get going now. We have the top half of the building to search, right?"
Cloud nodded. "Yup, the others got the bottom."
(So we got in no problem, right? Why did we take the elevator?) Slowly moving to floor 35, Raieyana was musing in the elevator. (So Aysta, what floor is your torture chamber on? You never used to forgive anyone when you were little, why should than change now? The more the power, the worse the vengeance.) The last sentence repeated through her head like a mantra. Ding.
"Floor 35," Reeve joked, "silks and fine linen."
Cloud looked at him. "What was on floor 35 when you worked at Shinra, Reeve?"
"Oh, the Soldiers' quarters..." They were greeted by ten heavily armed guards. "ummm, guess it still is."
Yuffie jumped forward and immediately hit them with Slash-All. One of the Soldiers shot her in the arm. "Owww," she said. Raieyana promptly started beating that one on the head with her staff.
(That looks pretty funny) Reeve thought. He suddenly found himself one-on-two. (But this is definitely not funny.) He clumsily drew his knives. He twirled them around in a strange pattern. One of the soldiers stuck a sword in his leg. Cloud cut off his head. "Thanks, man," Reeve said.
Cloud shook his head. "Don't thank me yet." He started battling another one. Yuffie cast Earth2. Two more dead.
"Another one gone, and another one gone, another one buts the dust, yeah!" A Soldier hit her on the head with the flat of his sword. Raieyana pushed a button or her staff. Two star-shaped blades popped out of the ends. She cut off the heads of two more and started after a third. She jumped back as Reeve cast a blast of Fire2, and Soldier-boy went up in a puff of smoke.
"Y'know, you could have told me you were gonna do that."
"Sorry, Ray, I was aiming for that one." He pointed to the one who was still beating Yuffie. Raieyana shrugged and quickly slashed off the heads of the two that had tried to sneak up behind them. Cloud walked up to the last one, who was still taking out his frustrations on Yuffie, and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Hi," he said, the Soldier turned around, and then Cloud cut off his head.
Yuffie groaned. "Cure, anyone?" Cloud cast White Wind.
Reeve looked at Raieyana. "Ray, you still got a cut, and it's bleeding." He reached up and touched her forehead. She shrank back.
"I'll just cast Cure."
"Reeve, I'm fine." She headed toward the building directory. "Well, guys, we have just been battling the force on the defense headquarters floor. According to this, we've knocked out 10 of the 15 officers stationed in this building. Oh yeah, and the jail is the entire 65th floor."
Cloud walked over. "Well, to the elevator."
"Just a sec," called Raieyana, as she attached a bandage from the first aid kit on the wall over the cut on her forehead.
"To floor 65," said Yuffie as they stepped into the elevator.
(36...37...38...why didn't the materia work on me? 43...44..45...why does Reeve look so cute staring at the lighted up numbers like a little kid impatiently waiting for the right floor? 54...55...56...how does my hair look?) Raieyana took out a mirror and checked her face. (Fighting is bad for my complexion.) They stepped out onto floor 65. Everything was silent.
"Okay," whispered Cloud, "me and Yuffie go left, you guys go right. The ones who find them yell really loud. Got it?" Raieyana and Reeve nodded. "See ya guys, then."
Raieyana checked the first three cells on that side of the passageway. (Empty.) (Empty.) (Empty.)
Reeve was checking the other side of the corridor. (empty...empty...empty) "Ray, no one's in these."
"Here either," she said.
"Aww, too bad," a voice said. They both spun around and were face to face with six guards. Only two of them were officers, like the first ten, wearing cute little badges. Two guards reached out and grabbed Raieyana.
"Hey," said Reeve, "let her go."
One of the officers shook his head. "We were watching you guys on the closed-circuit television. We know you're a lame-ass when it comes to fighting and it's her that we need to keep an eye on. Besides, we have a little something special in mind for your friend." He reached over and caressed Raieyana's cheek. His hand moved slowly lower. "Hey, she might come out alive if she cooperates..."
Raieyana shrank back. "Don't touch me!" she said.
Reeve glared at him. "This is your last warning."
The officer walked up to him. "Don't you get it? We know what we want and we know we don't need to be afraid of you."
Reeve got a funny look in his eyes. Suddenly there was a flash of red all around him. The officer's throat was slashed within a second. Three guards rushed towards Reeve, leaving only two holding Raieyana. She grabbed each of them and slammed their heads together.
"Nighty-night," she said. Meanwhile, Reeve, who had the other three killed, ran over and decapitated the two she had sent to slumber land.
Then he calmed down. "What did I do?" he asked.
Raieyana shrugged. "Ummm, proved what a good fighter you are when you stop thinking quite so much?" Then she heard a soft sound. "Shhh," she said.
"Raieyana...over here...it's Ruther...cell B43." She ran over and broke the padlock with one of the blades on the ends of her staff. Ruther looked pretty bad. He had a messy gash on his arm and one of his eyes had swollen shut. "Legolas is next door, he's worse...hurry, they're going to do something to us."
She left and was back in about five minutes, supporting an ailing Legolas. "Reeve, go get Cloud and Yuffie. This is bad."
Everyone who had parachuted down was on the 65th floor. Blane looked at his two Soldier buddies. "You guys, we have to get them out of here."
Barret shook his head. "We're gonna go give those fuckin' Shinra what they deserve!"
Tifa tried to calm him down. "Look at them, Barret. You don't think they fed them here, do you? We have to go back with them now. And we better hope it's easy going getting out of here."
Cloud looked at the group. "Elevator?"
Vincent shrugged. "Might as well," he said.
"Wait!" said Yuffie. "What about Den-what's her name?"
Legolas groaned. "They separated us from Denmae right away. I don't know why..."
"Aysta..." Raieyana whispered. Everyone stared at her. "What?" she asked.
Blane pushed a button, and opened the doors of the elevator. "Let's get out of here and hope Denmae had an easy time with Aysta," he said.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"They what?" Aysta was this far from killing Heidegger then and there. "Killed twelve of my officers, took the two prisoners, and then left without a struggle? You better hope I'm hearing you wrong..."
Heidegger stuttered. "Aysta, I wasn't even here, Bruce was in charge, and now he's...well anyway, I just was out for dinner, and I come back, and they're all dead...please don't kill me, Aysta!"
(Blithering idiot! But I suppose he can't help it. Well, sweet sister, the showdown will be sooner than expected. And I'll have to use full force and pull out all the stops. And that means Ishmael and Blane, Raieyana. I bet you never thought they would be the ones to betray you. Well, maybe they wouldn't consciously choose to betray you, but then again, free will isn't very fun anyway. But I can't do anything until you find the White materia for me. If you possibly thought I would go get it myself, when I knew you would...well, let's just say this will be interesting.) "Heidegger, go get Denmae. And some more guards. In fact, beef up security here. I don't want any more incidents like this one. That will be all."
Heidegger got up from his hands and knees. "Sure thing, Aysta."
Aysta glared at him. "I said that will be all." Heidegger scurried out. Aysta leaned back with her hands behind her head. (I wonder who will win? The sly sister, or the naive one who'll spend her whole life trying to save other people's just to make up for her father's actions. It's just too bad her life won't last very much longer. This was just starting to get entertaining.)