Reunion Chapter 14
By Janet Monstwillo
Professor Shelding looked calmly at the five blue-suited Turks in front of him. Laida was sitting in a chair, smiling at how uncomfortable they looked.
"Look, Professor," said Elena, "the only reason we took the Junon job was because of our lag in work recently. We had no idea it was going to be so...unorganized. We have no desire to do another job for the Shinra."
Lucas pulled of his glasses and set them on his desk. "Look, this is an easy job. Get me this girl--no questions asked--in good condition, and there's a sum of money in it for you."
"How much?" asked Rude.
Lucas shrugged. "Give me a minute and I'll tell you my offer. But first, I want to make this clear. Tseng Amine spent the good part of fifteen years trying to find this one Ancient. I know he had some feelings involved and that's what took him so long. If you accept, I'll pay you a hundred thousand up front. You're guaranteed at least another hundred thousand if you eventually deliver her to me. The amount will decrease the longer it takes you. One month, I'll pay you the million; after that, it'll be less. If you get the girl within a month, I'll pay you a million gil. That doesn't sound bad to me. Or too difficult."
"The girl must be a peach if she's worth a mill," said Dorn.
Isabel giggled, "gee, Dorn, I had no idea the pay would be so good when we joined the Turks."
Reno looked at the new members with disgust. (It takes two to replace me, I know, but they had to find a couple of tittering idiots, didn't they?) "Look, I want facts on this girl you want us to find," he said, "most recent pic, full name, any aliases, complete physical description, last known whereabouts, last known companions. The more info you give me, the faster you get her. No picture, no description, no full name, you'll be lucky if we ever find her. I want two hundred thousand up front, I want a million guaranteed if we find her within the year and a five hundred thousand gil bonus if we get her in your hands within the month. I drive a hard bargain but I do my job. What'll it be?"
Lucas walked to the computer and punched some keys. "You can look at my information file on her. This is my final offer. Two hundred thousand straight up, one million if you find her in six months, two hundred and fifty thousand as a bonus if you get her within a month. Deal?"
Reno nodded, "Sure thing." He watched in amazement as the picture came into focus.
Raieyana Amine. Current Age: 24. Last known whereabouts: Shinra building, Junon, seven years ago. Companions: Cloud Strife, Yuffie Kisaragi, Reeve Jordan, Ruther Randolph, Legolas Masterson. Physical Description: 5'4'', about 115 lbs., brown hair, green eyes. Comments: created in a Shinra lab by Prof. Hojo. Mother: the Ancient, Aeris Gainsborough(deceased); father: XXXclassifiedXXX; sister: XXXclassifiedXXX.
"So," said Elena, "it's that pesky daughter of Tseng's."
"Shelding," said Reno, "what the hell do you mean by this 'classified' shit?"
Lucas shrugged. "You're not Shinra. Some things you just don't need to know."
"Give it up, Reno," said Rude, "we know it's Tseng's kid. Probably some more of the stupid 'Promised Land' nonsense."
"I hesitate at accepting this now that we know it's the child of our former colleague," said Reno.
"He turned Aeris in himself, all in the name of his work," said Elena, "this is our work. I would kidnap you, Reno, for my share of one and a quarter million."
"Any comments from the rookies?" asked Rude. Isabel and Dorn shook their heads adamantly, by virtue of both the amount of money involved and never meeting Tseng.
"We accept," said Reno, "and we'll find her well within our month."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Rude passed at Elena's invitation to the bar. He finally had everything set where he wanted it. A call and he would have things all fall into place. He took out his cell phone. "Hey, hon. In a few days...by helicopter...we will have our hands on a major bargaining tool. Something the Science Department at Shinra wants...the president of Alcor must want... Baby, we'll be rich."
"Rude, what if I want out?"
"Too late now. I'd have to kill you and take the kid. How is she, anyway?"
"Look, when we talked a couple years ago...I was angry. I wasn't ever serious about us...being anything. I never loved you."
"Somehow I think you will. After I'm in the money. I'll call you when the day comes and you'll be waiting at...our place."
"Better not wait up for me."
"If you're not there, I'll come and find you. You won't deny me what I want."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Laida was at her desk when the phone rang. "Yes?"
"Laida. Some police from Junon are here with warrants for Heidegger and Scarlet."
She chuckled. (I know. I gave the officers the anonymous tip myself. And the evidence that implicates them in the fire.) "Look, let them go get them. It would be bad for our P.R. if we were harboring the culprits responsible for the 'Fire of Junon.'" She hung up on that line and pushed the button for line three--Communications Department. "Martin? After Scarlet and Heidegger get hauled off, give a press conference announcing our embarrassment at the criminals we have found in our midst...oh, and give a sugary-sweet message directed to Alcor offering to help them out in any way possible during their time of need. Bye." She sighed. (I'm so busy today.) She dialed a Junon number.
"Alcor of Junon, may I help you?"
"Hey, Lavana. They just came for Scarlet and Heidegger."
"That's great. So, it's not going to be too much longer, is it? I mean, with the co-presidents in jail, can't you just ascend to their position?"
"It's not that easy. Lucas is ahead of me in line."
"There's co-presidents. You'll get the other position. Besides, you like him. He's developing the fountain of youth for us."
"I still don't want him to be president instead of me."
"Of course not, but maybe he'll give it to you so he can pursue his sciencey stuff."
"I will soon move to Edinborough...after getting all the inside information I can here. Did you know Reno quit here?"
"Actually, I do. He's back with the Turks, running a job for Lucas."
"That's very interesting..."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Lavana hung up the phone. (Very interesting, indeed.) She decided she needed some coffee, even though it was well into the afternoon, and left her temporary office. She ran straight into Raieyana and Aeris and Ishmael. "You shouldn't bring kids into a place of business," she said, matter-of-factly.
Raieyana shook her head. "I just need to talk to Reeve really quick."
"He may be busy. After all, he's working. Although someone like you doesn't understand things like that. It's funny that after a few days with you, Reno ran straight back to the Turks, perhaps...choosing the lesser of two evils?"
"Ray." Reeve stopped and kissed her on the cheek. "What're you doing here?"
"I was going to the store to pick a few things up and wondered if you needed anything."
"I need some more cigarettes. Can you get me a carton?"
Raieyana laughed. "You've been trying to quit for seven years! I doubt you ever will."
He shrugged. "I've been trying. Well, see you later, bye." He walked away.
She gave a pointed look to Lavana. "I told you I would only be a minute. I know he has to work. But I don't think you ever do."
Avoiding the comment, she gave Raieyana a half-smile. "Unless you're pregnant again, I'd cut down on the sweets," she said. Raieyana turned and left. Lavana smirked. (That has to be my greatest comeback ever.)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
It had been two days, and still the remark rang in her ears: "Unless you're pregnant again, I'd cut down on the sweets."
Raieyana looked in the mirror. Her abdomen had begun to swell slightly, but she had thought the bulge was only noticeable to her. (I never showed anything so soon the last time.) She had hoped that the baby would develop at a normal rate, but it was starting to fly out of control. (At this rate, I'll have the baby in...about four months.) Six months gestation? Unheard of. This was no normal baby. She placed her hand over her abdomen, as if she expected some detectable motion so early. (It wouldn't surprise me totally if I went into labor tomorrow.) Raieyana looked towards the birth with dread. The baby could not be normal. The morning sickness had come and gone too quickly...and what Lavana had said... It was nasty, to be sure, but it had a foundation, no matter how petty and small. (At least I'm not getting fat. Hey, Lavs! I am pregnant again. And I doubt my hips are going to expand to enormous proportions.)
There was a knock on the door. "Come in," she said.
"We're leaving tomorrow for Wutai," said Vincent, "and even though I wanted to spend the last night talking to you and Reeve... I have to tell you something. I saw Reno today. He wants to meet you...tonight...alone. I didn't tell him anything. I just said I'd deliver the message. But...he was wearing the Turk uniform."
Raieyana sighed. "I don't doubt he was. I'm sure you could recognize it a mile away in the dark. Vincent, I have to go. I have to apologize. I made it seem like he...was, like, constantly hitting on me...and I caved into pressure or something. I know some of it I initiated myself. I'll go and apologize and move on. Maybe he'll come back to Alcor. It would make me a little less uneasy. He's a very good shot with a gun...I'd rather have him on my side."
Vincent nodded. "I'll cover for you. He wanted to meet you at around eight o'clock. Outside some deli thing... I don't know what that is."
"Well," she said, "it used to be a 'Shinra-only' bar, but Weapon destroyed the patronage. Now it's a deli."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Raieyana felt little guilt as she stepped out into the clear night. (I don't want to lie...but Reeve would die if he knew about this. I just have to say my thing to Reno. I don't want to leave this unresolved, because you never know when the day will come and a person will be gone forever. No one alive on this Planet knows that better than I.) She really didn't mind walking into the city. The only thing she disliked was going through the deteriorated Under Junon. The pollution and everything depressed her. She didn't have to pay the elevator guard any money anymore; all the police and civil servants had full faith in Alcor. One thing was for certain: the Shinra didn't control Junon anymore.
She glanced around Sondra's Deli. Perplexed, Raieyana checked her watch. (Eight o'clock... Maybe he meant the back of the deli.) She walked around the building into the dark alley. She heard a crash and a yowl. An alley-cat ran out of a dumpster, pursued by a large dog that looked at least half St. Bernard and part Golden Retriever. But no one else was there. She shivered in the shadows.
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