Redemption Chapter 5
By Janet Monstwillo
"Who are you?" asked Raieyana, half-frightened.
The man chuckled. "I had no idea I would be startling to you. I'm sorry. Your father must have been very detailed in his descriptions of his late colleague."
"Well, I admit, he was. I knew who he was before I ever caught a glimpse of him. Of course, I was very young at the time."
"Considering Jack Reno died fourteen years ago, I would expect so."
She folded her arms across her chest. "So you aren't pretending to be him. What is your agenda?"
"My agenda? Is...rather long. I will tell you though, if you let me come in to sit down. Unless you'd have to go ask your father first..."
"My father?" Raieyana scrutinized the caller's face. "My father has been dead for over twenty years." (Both my biological father and Tseng. What's up with this guy... I wonder how cautious I should really be...)
"What do you mean? Alcor hasn't even existed for twenty years yet, how could Reeve Jordan have died before it was founded?!"
"Well that would be impossible. But Reeve Jordan is my husband! My father was Tseng Amine." No one outside of Avalanche and their close friends knew of Raieyana's real family ties, for the obvious reason of keeping her from any more public scrutiny than she received as the wife of a prominent businessman.
The man looked shocked. "My humblest apologies. I was not aware Reeve had taken a wife so many years his junior."
"So many? I know ten is quite a bit when people are younger, but now it seems as inconsequential as a week's difference."
"This is all very confusing. I had you pegged as Reeve's twenty-one-year-old daughter, Aeris."
(Pegged?) "If I invite you in, will you tell me why you were spying here?"
"Fine." Raieyana coolly met his eye. "If you tell me who you are, we can continue this conversation."
"My name is Ryald. Jack Reno was my father."
* * * * * * * * * * *
"Dark forces are converging on Undor-Hai once again. They began five years ago. I waited for any indication of trouble, but I have seen nothing." Red XIII looked at the group watching him. "There must be something there, though. Trying to tell us we can stop the problem before it starts." He had woken up Barret's entire household at 2 a.m.
"We probably couldn't figure out what it would be until it does start." Always the sensible businesswoman, Marlene shook her head. "I didn't spend years at the Junon Academy and even more in business school to run around after mystic problems friends of my father have."
"I have been feeling negative vibes at home for quite some time. I could notice a difference in the atmosphere of the landscape, as soon as I left the Midgar side of the continent," said Aeris.
"Dammit anyway," said Barret. "In my day, it always was the Shinra. Nowadays, no one knows the hell's goin' on!"
"There haven't been any problems yet, Dad."
Red XIII's head snapped up. "I have been alive for nearly thrice the time you have, child. For my species, I am barely entering adulthood, but for yours, I would seem elderly. I know when the presence of energy is a slight setback and when a crisis is brewing. Well, I see 'crisis' written in neon letters above Undor-Hai."
"What do you propose to do about it, Nanaki?" asked Aeris.
"What did you call me?"
"Uhh...Nanaki. That's your birth name, isn't it?"
The creature cracked a grin, which was only identifiable from a snarl by the way he rolled his eyes. "To tell you the truth, Rissy, I've been called 'Red' so long it startles me to hear 'Nanaki.' Even the youngsters in the Canyon call me 'Red,' or Planet forbid, 'Reddie.'"
"I suppose it's like how everyone calls me 'Rissy' so no one thinks I'm an Ancient come back from the dead."
"Precisely. My idea for right now is to call Tifa out here from Cosmo Canyon. She just became an Elder, and her area of expertise deals with positive and negative energy flow, as well as auras. She has a theory."
"Teef, an Elder at the Canyon?" Barret beamed with pride. "An' she's one of the original Avalanche, after Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie."
"A theory on auras?" sniffed Marlene skeptically. At twenty-six, she had definitely left all fairy tale possibilities aside. She hardly believed that materia could be used to cast magic.
"Don't make me do a disservice to her great effort by expecting an explanation. All I know is how it has to do with the energy a person projects, and how that energy works when groups of people interact with each other."
"Sounds like new-age-y bullshit."
"Marlene! Who th' hell told you to go and be sayin' shit like that to people?" spouted an embarrassed Barret.
He was met by three pointed looks.
"I suppose I'm not the best role model for propa English...but she's a girl and should talk more, y'know, lady-like."
"It's hard to be a lady when your daddy has a gun grafted into his arm," she retorted.
Patting his gun arm, he gave his adopted daughter a little smile. "Honey, if it wasn't for this, you'd have to go tellin' people 'I ain't got no daddy.'"
"True." She managed a smile. "Since Tifa probably won't arrive within the hour, can I go back to sleep now? I took time off from Alcor to go home, visit my dad and stepmother and all. But the most important thing on the agenda was actually sleeping."
Marlene's stepmother was Elmyra, of course. She and Barret grew quite fond of each other after spending so much time being neighbors. Marlene adored Elmyra after their time together during the battle versus Sephiroth and the prevention of his resurrection. This was all very fortunate, and the couple made it legal after they learned Elmyra was the only one who could manage Marlene in her wild teen years.
"Yes, of course," said Red XIII. "Let's all go back to sleep. I'm sure that's what Tifa's doing, and probably all of Undor-Hai, for that matter."
* * * * * * * * * * *
Poor Red XII was incorrect about the state of slumber in Undor-Hai. Raieyana let Ryald into her living room, barely suppressing her shock. "Reno never told me he had a son," she stated accusingly.
"Of course he wouldn't. He didn't know he had one. I was illegitimate, obviously, and my mother knew his reputation as a Turk. She'd rather be a single parent then let him have me murdered to escape child support. I suppose in your world, Ms. Jordan, having babies is always bliss." His whole statement was filled with bitterness.
"I understand perfectly how that could happen. My life, including birth and the related things, has not been bliss, but that's not really any of your concern. What is of your concern is how much I want to impress on you that your father would never have done such a thing as have you killed."
"Why not? Everyone in the world knows he let the plate loose on Sector 7 back in the days of Shinra."
"No excuse is enough for that incident. He had his orders. As my father was also involved with the plate release, and I know what a good man he was, I never faulted Reno for that, either."
"It was also part of his job to cut all ties, lose all responsibilities except to the Shinra."
"Who told you all of this foolishness?" asked Raieyana, puzzled.
"My mother. She knew how things in Shinra worked. She dated men from the company just to learn as many secrets as possible."
"Ryald. My father was a Turk, I knew Reno very well, and my husband was the director of public relations for Shinra. My cousin was Rufus Shinra's successor. My ties reach far out to the heart of the company, and I tell you she was mistaken."
"Of course you would defend them," he said.
"I gave the orders for the attack on Edinborough, and I gave the okay for the Mako blast to be set on Midgar. I infiltrated their building in the Junon days and released prisoners. I doubt I was their most favorite person. I had a warrant on my head at one point, and later, during your father's second stint at the Turks, he was given the offer of over a million gil to kidnap me and give me to the Head of Science."
The silence seemed to separate the two from connecting with each other. "I don't understand. You say Reno wasn't bad, though."
"He was my husband's best friend. They founded Alcor together. He took a knife in the chest to prevent my kidnapping. He and Reeve surrendered themselves to Shinra to buy Junon a time to prepare for attack and a woman named Elena to escape the city."
"You speak of him as if he was admirable."
"So I do, Ryald. The day he died, he saved the lives of my husband and my youngest son, my best friend's husband, and many of my friends. He also saved my life."
He shook his head. "Who are you to say that it wasn't all for personal gain?"
"He did it because he cared!"
Ryald stood up, disgusted. "Look, all I came here for was information on my father and whether or not I should be rightful heir to Alcor."
"This is information."
"Just because you were foolish enough to be taken in by him..."
"Tell me one thing, though. How'd you arrange his death to give your husband full control of the company? He had no connections, if he gave it to Reeve there would have been no question. You guys were so stupid though, making out a will leaving it to you."
"He wrote those words..." Raieyana turned away.
"Look at me and hear me out!" He grabbed her by the shoulders. "I'm here to get what's mine!"
She looked at him in surprise and fear. (I can't reach my weapon.) She had left it at the door, still in a confused state from Ryald's resemblance to Reno. (God, they have the same eyes.) She tried to look into them, see some piece of her lost lover, but the blue in these eyes were ice cold.
Ryald drew a knife. "Maybe I should leave your husband a present so he takes my message more seriously." He held the blade up, and it sparkled in the moonbeam that streamed in from the window. "Or maybe I should just leave him the message...written in your precious blood."
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