The Fallen Chapter 1

By Tiger

He was Tseng. Cold calculation wrapped in steely muscles, thick skin, and surrounded by bumbling idiots. A piercing gaze and a steely aim, a touch both sinister and graceful.

 "It’s cold... isn’t it?" the voice hissed in his ear again, the voice of a mix between wild passion and cold simplicity, both high and low, loud and soft. It was a voice that mirrored Tseng’s own. But was it even again? He couldn’t quite remember. There wasn’t much he could. His mind felt lost, hollow, emptier then he could ever remember it feeling. His thoughts eluded him on a gust of wind, as if he was a toddler trying to read the unabridged version of War and Peace... in Latin.

 "Yeah, it’s cold. So?" he spoke without speaking, had no mouth or lips or tongue to manipulate, to move, no larynx to shape his words, no breath to summon them up from, but he spoke nonetheless.

 "So why don’t you leave?" the voice hissed to him, leaving a trace of the question embedded in his mind, echoing, even after silence resumed.

 "I... can’t." Tseng mumbled after some time, struggling to wrap his frazzled psyche around the situation, what was going on seemed more beyond him then anything ever was before.

 "You can not what?" if a voice inside your head can coincidingly sound both condescending and arrogant while talking about things that made absolutely no sense to you, this one had mastered the trick in spades.

 "Leave. Move." Speak, either, or so he had thought just minutes before, but here he was, answering pointless questions in short, one-word sentences, and with a growing anger. He felt like he was being mocked by something that didn’t exist, talked down to by something that didn’t even have a body. Not a body that he could see, anyway.

 "Of course you can," it hissed to him, and here Tseng almost barked out a retort with several four letter words, but the invisible speaker wasn’t done. "You have only to try." No mocking this time, just absolute finality. And then it was gone.

 The voice disappeared with a slight pulling feeling, as if it had actually had a physical presence inside his mind, and was now retreating, leaving him alone with his numerous confused and stunned thoughts, leaving rolling echoes and traces in his head. He tried to consider its words logically, or as logically as was humanly possible, considering. The voice- and its words- were wrong, lying or insane, they had said he could move!

 But could he? He used to be able to, as did everyone he knew, then, so why couldn’t he now? What was wrong, or what had changed?

 Tseng didn’t know, and for a moment, it was if he almost had to fight to care. He just had this deep rooted, locked up feeling, as if moving was something that lie beyond his grasp. He was dead, wasn’t he? Deceased, stiff, expired. Sephiroth has seen to that by gutting him like a blue gill he’d caught at summer camp, leaving him to bleed dry and die in front of a slew of people he hated. He had gasped in his last breath while being watched by a bunch of slack jawed idiots whom he’d have rather killed then spoke to, looked at, and especially died with. He’d felt his very essence ebb away, and all he could do was lay helpless, spread open, on display like some sideshow freak or a biology experiment, blood running him and down the stairs of the temple like a babbling brook.

 Of course, even more logically, he couldn’t be dead. He was arguing himself- an act which could be identified as odd even without all the moving suggestions from paranormal voices- about whether or not he was living, which meant his functions were working, there was thought going on. Thought requires a mind, a brain, and to the very best of his recollection (recollection being even more evidence to life) Sephiroth had nearly cloven his in two. So either something had changed, something had re-grown, or maybe he was simply wrong. Maybe his entire death had been false, an imagined scene in the Temple, and Sephiroth with the sword and the cutting and the slashing and the bleeding and oh fuck one hell of a lot of pain... maybe it had all been a simple dream, and even he was a dream, his entire life the brain child of some sleeping mental patient. But hell, dreams were fake, and dreams don’t think, and he was thinking, and damnit, for thinking there must be life.

 And so... he was alive.

 The second, the very moment that thought penetrated his fogged up mind, the storm cleared, and the feeling of being tied down fell away with him, taking all traces of and the voice echoes with it. He tried to open his eyes, was hit by a wave of pure green, and slammed his eyelids down at the jolt of a chemical sting. Tseng stopped for a moment, confused, he was surrounded in green, if it was possible to by surrounded by a color. He was surrounded by it, floating in it...

 Sinking in it.

 Tseng feebly kicked his legs, gathered up his strength, and kicked even harder. He felt a gravity pull that directed up, and kicked again, almost desperately this time. His lungs were beginning to burn, and being that he was supposedly in a damned color, we didn’t know whether he could breathe or not. What the fuck is the oxygen content of green, he thought, as he pumped his legs and arms frantically. He was never much of a swimmer, but was rising slowly, almost too slow, but increasingly speeding up, as if a weakening but still present force was pulling at him, dragging him down, not wanting to let him go.

 Gasping, he broke the surface, sucked in warm air, and after a moment of bobbing up and down he realized he hadn’t been hovering in an actual color, but rather in a thick, translucent green goo. The Lifestream. Still doubted to exist on some parts of the Planet, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary located where Mideel used to be. He was in the god damned, doubted, but obviously real f’ing Lifestream. How he had gotten there, or how he was in one, neat, sewed up piece, however, was beyond him. Just one drop in the bucket of all the things that were beyond him right now, each one pissing him off more then the last.

 The sky was bright, painfully so to Tseng’s almost fully dilated eyes, but it was pain mixed with overwhelming relief. No massive, overhanging shadow, and this no proclamation of doom and the apocalypse, of death, hellfire and brimstone. No Meteor. The world was not going to end, at least not soon. Those Avalanche bastards had actually pulled it off, saved the world... or had all been killed and someone else had done it. Tseng liked that option a lot more, but some how knew Reno would be disappointed not by who did it, but the fact they’d succeeded, either way.

 Tseng gazed around, saw a green-grassed shore fairly close to his present location, and began to swim towards it. He was still half dazed, but was beginning to put his thoughts together, began to solve the jig saw puzzle, and he realized the first thing he had to do was find Elena and the other Turks, needed to get filled in on any and everything he had missed, then, as an afterthought, discover how exactly he was alive and whole. But find the Turks first, because one thing a leader needs to know- and Tseng prided himself especially adept at this- was his underlings, his employees, his co-workers, and he knew that his apparent death would freak Rude, Reno, and Elena the hell out. When your a Turk, your level of being freaked out equaled your level of being pissed off, and both of those factors added up into a sky high body count.

 Once he reached land’s edge, he realized another aggravating and seemingly unsolvable problem, one more to the dozens- he was nude. This turned out, by some act of the Planet, to be only a temporary dilemma, because there was no one in sight. Tseng merely shrugged his shoulder length black hair back and lifted himself out of the ‘stream. The green liquid ran off of his body smoothly, not leaving a trace on his tanned but still pale form, leaving him completely dry under the face of the bright yellow sun.

 Tseng ran his hands over his face, forehead, and through his hair. There was no one around him, but he didn’t think that mattered as he growled into the silence, "What the fuck is going on here!?"

 It was a good question- and a far more emotional one then he was used to asking, but he granted himself the excess feelings due to the extreme duress he was currently under. Usually not an acceptable excuse to him, was stress, but this case was way out there. It was a good question all right, but not one Tseng could answer, and in his mind, that made it a bad question. A really, really, fucking bad question. Not knowing the answer to something confuses you, and being confused makes you illogical.

 A Turk, confused, acting illogical, whether he was armed out, in your neighborhood, meant people die. Your neighborhood is gone, about to be smoldering ashes, and you know what you do? You run, you run like the mother fucking wind. But, oh wait, apparently the Planet’s population is getting too high, and corpses need to start piling up, because fate presented Tseng with something that confused him all the more.

 A set of clothing, perfectly folded and piled neatly, warming in the heat of the day. Underwear, shoes, a wife beater undershirt, and his familiar blue suit. A holster on top, his pistol of choice fitted perfectly inside it, a box of bullets beside that. Glittering off to the side of the pile was a small, golden earring, and Tseng was never quite sure, but he could have sworn it was flecked his red stains that wouldn never come off, that could only be seen when you twisted the item the right way in the glare of the sun. The exact set of clothing he’d been wearing when Sephiroth decided to reconsider his career plan as a Soldier and play butcher instead, but without the rip that ran, Tseng assumed, up and down pretty much every article except the shoes.

 Muttering under his breath, Tseng dressed quickly. Too quickly, in fact, he never noticed the long, white- but not so white it didn’t blend into his ghostly colored skin- thirty two inch scar that ran from his crotch to his chin, showing like a blueprint how to open Tseng up, a gory zipper to where Tseng had been vivisected and laid apart. Not too quickly, though, for Tseng to pause as he tried to put on his earring and failed to find the piercing in his left ear. After a moments vain search, the Turk leader merely gritted his teeth and showed the stud of white gold through. It hurt, but Tseng ignored the pain, and concentrated on the task at hand. First step- find the Turks.

 Stretching, Tseng stumbled. His joints were extremely stiff, locked up and sore, moving slowly and creakily as if his tendons had been frayed thin and his blood frozen into sludge, as if he hadn’t moved in over a year.

 The problem was, he hadn’t.


 Sometimes, life is good, Reno decided, resisting the urge to break into a wide grin. A grossly overweight man with three chins and an undersized bowler hat had just laid down a far too casual challenge for a few hands of ‘friendly’ poker. This had been brought on, most likely, by the mask of incompetence Reno had been wearing for the past hour. He’d, wielding an 48 card, haggard deck of cards, played Solitaire, asked some random bar main for a few rounds of ‘Gym’, and he had even dropped his cards and scattered them around the room while shuffling.

 Underestimation. It was Reno’s crutch, and it was one he’d leaned on his entire life, at least since he’d busted out of the Midgar slums where it was nearly impossible to appear worse off then you actually were. But now, everyone underestimated him. Avalanche had, Corneo had- and aided even more so by a dozen new piercings Reno’d gotten lacing up his ears and one popping from his eye brow- this jackass with a bowler hat was underestimating him too.

 He dealt the cards out quickly, using a new, full deck, he’d pulled out from under the table that rested in the dark corner of the bar. He took a quick glance at the hand he’d pulled and hid a smirk behind it. Three jacks stared back at him, flanked on either side by a 6 and an Ace. Reno tossed the digit and dealt himself another card, noting with a wince as his opponent hadn’t asked for another card, which was rarely a good sign. Reno flipped his new card up into his hand and visibly twitched as his features dropped in disgust. He raised disappointed eyes to meet Bowler Hat’s gleaming ones.

 "Would you like to make this a little more... interesting?" the man practically hissed, as if he was actually choking on the greed that laced his throat.

 Reno show cased a moment of confusion, raising his eyebrows so high they nearly disappeared beneath his drooping red bangs. "You mean bet?" he damn near squeaked.

 The bowler hat bobbed along with its trio of chins companions as Reno’s mark eagerly nodded.

 "Um... well, OK, I guess..." it was all Reno could do to keep from laughing, he could have fooled himself with the mixture of uncertainty, ambition, and slivers of fear in his voice. Hell, he may have even fooled Tseng.

 In a matter of moments, Reno had tricked, badgered, and raised Mr. Bowler Hat up to a wager of gil that was low for an entire night of poker, but deceptively high for one hand. Of course it would still seem low to his opponent, who had no way of knowing it would pay the Rent on Reno’s house for a week. How the rich got rich, Reno would never know, and the fact that they stayed rich flat out baffled him. They knew nothing about money, especially when it came to the handling of it.

 "Full house, Aces high. Sorry junior," the extra chins were stretched flat by a grin that revealed a row of teeth stained an almost neon yellow from years of smoking high priced but horrible cigars.

 Reno blinked intentionally, but was still hit with a wave of real surprise. The guy was better then he thought, had bluffed nearly flawlessly, was perhaps a mild hustler himself. Or he’d gotten lucky and hid it really well. Either way, the mockery in the man’s voice made Reno more then a little agitated.

 "Uh... all I have is two, uh, two pair," Reno stuttered, digging his shoe heels into the shin of his own leg to keep a straight face.

 People standing directly behind Reno laughed, enjoying his little joke more then he did, readying themselves for the scene they knew would follow. Bowler hat reached out to grab the pile of gil, even as Reno’s face hardened into a smirk. With cold eyes, Reno tossed his hand face up on the table and slammed his arm down on the money. "Two pair of Jacks," he whispered violently.

 The effect was instaneous, with Bowler exploding every way but literally. He leaped up from his stool, kicking over the table and spilling the money as the ring of observers backed up to give the two room. "You hustled me you son of A BITCH," Bowler ended his statement in a high pitched scream, trying vainly to salvage some of his lost dignity. Reno merely grinned in response.

 "And you tried to take advantage of a seemingly innocent kid’s inexperience," he retorted smugly," I think we come up just about even on the asshole scale. Now pick up my fucking money."

 A flash of movement, faster then Reno thought anyone that fat could move, and Bowler produced a Derringer from out of nowhere, a comically small weapon but still close enough in range to spray Reno’s... well, anything, really, all over a rack of shot glasses that was poised behind him. The now armed fat man cocked back the compact gun’s hammer, too quickly for Reno to back up or even pull out his nightstick for one last desperate shot. Everything in the bar froze for a moment.

 "Double or nothing," hissed Bowler.

 Reno gritted his teeth to keep from screaming out the contents of the entire dictionary of vulgar words, shook his head from side to side. People were backing up frantically, to both hide and find a nice place to watch the action. No one left to find one of the cops who patrolled the Wutai streets, it wasn’t a very nice bar.

 "God damnit, I said double or nothing!" spit flew from Bowler’s mouth a he shook his gun in what he obviously thought was a threatening manner.

 Reno’s lip curled in disgust, but of whom he wasn’t really certain. Bowler for being such a poor sport asshole (ironically, the fact he was about to shoot him didn’t seem as bad as that), or himself for letting his guard down enough to get into this situation. He spat out every word he spoke into his opponent’s face, a thousand threats and insults contained in each one. "You have the fucking gun. Take the money, and get out of my sight while you still can, then leave town. Because if I ever see you again you will die, not just die, but die slow. And I’m not putting another dime on this table." This, of course, was only a half truth. Reno had every intent on killing the man if he saw him again, but he only had three gil left.

 Reno never got the chance to see whether or not Bowler would have taken his advice, as a soaring disk and a sharp ring of metal on metal stunned them both, and Bowler’s Derringer was almost ripped from his hand in a shower of sparks as the metal disc struck it and bounced off. Both Reno and he stared blankly at it for a moment, and then the former Turk exploded into action, dropping flat onto the floor and at the same time curling the contents of his drink into his opponent’s face. The alcohol content in that class could have acted as a paint thinner, and it nearly seared Bowler’s eyes white. The second Reno felt his back touch the rock hard floorboards of the bar he kicked up, flipping his stool up into the blinded man’s arm, shaking the gun loose as it knocked the weapon’s wielder backwards. Reno groaned as his back crack, but hit his two feet running and scooped up the fallen table, still on its side from Bowler’s tantrum, slamming into the stool and driving both it and Bowler backwards into a bar wall, shattering the wooden stool and damn near knocking the man out. Reno, the table, the shattered remains of the chair, and Bowler all hit the ground at the same time, just a few feet from the gun. Reno was the only one of those to get back up.

 The red haired Turk calmly brushed himself off, kicking the Derringer up into his hand and tucking it into his belt even as he produced his nightstick from underneath his jacket. He took a moment to gather himself, then jabbed Bowler in the ribs with a quick shot from his toe. The man groaned and rolled over, staring up at Reno with wide, fearful eyes. His vision was soon obstructed, however, when Reno pressed the tip of his nightstick into Bowler’s right eye. The disarmed man hissed out in pain, but made no further move so as not to get his eye ground into his brain.

 Reno knelt down by him, giving his Nightstick a quick twist just to see bowler jump. "I could kill you like this," he growled, "one twitch and 40,000 volts of electricity flow directly into your brain. But I would never do something like that to someone who didn’t deserve it." Bowler breathed again, until, "And, of course, you definitely deserve it."

 For a moment, Bowler was sure the last thing he’d ever see was Reno’s cold, hate filled eyes, his lips drawn back to reveal a primal and sadistic smile. And then, "That’s ENOUGH!"

 Reno straightened up instantly, drawing his nightstick back just in case the need happened to arise to crack someone’s skull open with it. He loosened his knuckle white grip on it, however, when he realized the objector was probably the one who’d saved his ass with that metal ring to begin with, some weak stomached pussy who couldn’t stand the sight of blood. The young man turned, a grin half-risen on his face, a grin that promptly disappeared. He half opened his mouth to speak, but after a moment of amazingly accurate fish impersonations, he was cut off.


 Reno couldn’t respond for a moment, his mind had just fused. It was one of those Avalanche bastards, those assholes who’d fought him to a stand still a few times, had even taken down Shinra, the biggest and most reliable pay check Reno had ever gotten. He’d figured any one of them would have let him die, or hell, would’ve joined in on the killing. That’s what he’d have done if the tables were turned, even if that report of finding Tseng dying in the Temple was true and they hadn’t done it themselves- a thought that Reno readily dismissed. Of course they’d done it. But Reno had years of training to crush his surprise and anger down, and he managed to break out in his patented grin. "Me."

 The girl- for a girl it was- narrowed her eyes that has flecks of moth mistrust and anger inside them. She put one milky white hand on a leg brace she wore, and the other on her hip. "What the hell are you doing in my town?"

 Reno forced down a laugh, realizing it was better to look intimidating then amused, better to look professional instead of like, well, himself. He took a deep breath and smoothed his hair back, straightened his posture a bit and then exhaled. "My, my... that’s bad language for a little girl like you to be using... and your town? Are we trapped in some kind of cowboy movie? I always thought Wutai was more of a kung-fu bullshit culture, but am I in the presence of the mighty Wutai kid? Should I kneel?"

 He was answered by a haughty sniff that reminded him of every girl who’d ever talked down to him or declined his invitation for a drink, but the eyes, the eyes were pure ice, a look so cold it even matched Scarlet’s in her morning-after mode. "I’m Yuffie Kisargi, lord Godo’s daughter! I’ll have you know I am the heir to Wutai. Is any of this ringing a bell inside that thick skull of yours or were you off your ass drunk every time that I kicked it?"

 Reno’s mind went into a kind of computer filing mode, a habit he’d gotten out of ever since the Turks had split up. Yuffie Kisargi, the only daughter of Godo Kisargi, the reigning owner of Wutai. Mother, Kiko Chall, died during child birth. Arrested a half dozen times for shop lifting, currently 17 years old, first class bitch, a virgin, and an A-Cup. "That’s a little different then I remember it, sis. I remember you running into a big ass tree after you first saw us and started sprinting in the opposite direction. Thought we were gonna rape you or something, I believe, as if I’d lower mys-"

 Reno was cut short as Yuffie lashed out with a vicious smack across his face, half turning him around, just another bruise to pile onto the others. When he turned back he was smiling, but the smile was changed. It was no longer amused, but simply there, lingering and dangerous. "Listen bitch, I’m busy. Unless you have a massive amount of gil, a warrant, or a severe case of nymphomania, I’m not going to bother with you. Fuck, I probably wouldn’t anyway."

 He turned on his heel and left, ignoring the fallen money along with Yuffies outraged sputtering, knowing that as he walked away her fingers were tightening around the recovered Chakram she’d used to save Reno’s life just minutes ago. She wished, just for a moment, that she could bury the killing disc in the back of Reno’s skull, cutting his smart ass grin in half... not knowing that he’d have welcomed it.

Chapter 2

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic