sterling: (Sephiroth - Creativity)
[personal profile] sterling
Title: Headlights Off
Rating: R (Language, Violence, Adult Themes)
Genre: Action/Suspense
Chapter Word Count: ~3400
Characters: Reno, Rude (Turk-Centric)
Disclaimer: FF7 is owned by SquareEnix. I'm not making a profit with this writing.
Summary: Post-Crisis Core, Turk-Centric, Rated R for Language, Violence, Adult Themes. A mysterious attack sends Reno and Rude on a mission to discover the truth about what's happening to their organization.
Chapter Links: one - two - three


Headlights Off
Chapter 2 – Standard Procedure

As soon as Reno arrived back on base, he was immediately separated from Rude and taken into custody. He hadn't resisted arrest, mainly because he was so surprised, but also because he couldn't possibly fathom what he'd done wrong. Cuffed and dumbfounded, Reno kept asking questions, but wasn't getting any answers.

"What the hell is going on?" Reno shouted. "Somebody answer me!"

Things didn't make any sense, and no one was explaining anything. He'd not seen any of his superiors or any other Turks since he'd last seen Rude. His escorts had been a team of six mid-rank Shinra military troops, all of which kept their faces hidden. Reno heard a few of them speak; he paid close attention to the sound of their voices, just in case it became important to identify them later.

The room smelled like stale coffee, which instead of disgusting him, made him ravenously hungry. He hadn't eaten in hours, and he rubbed his stomach, willing it to calm down. Much to his dismay, his hunger wasn't the only problem plaguing him: his craving for a cigarette was starting to make him feel tense. Reno leaned against the security mirror, trying to ignore the knot forming in his neck, and stared intently at his reflection, trying to see through it. He knew that it was no use; the glass was impossible to see through without bright light on the other side. But he continued to stare, hoping he was making eye contact with the person responsible for putting him in this damned interrogation room.

Reno was no stranger to his prison. It was inside these very walls that he had conducted his own questioning sessions; sometimes his partner helped by watching behind the glass, and other times Rude stayed in the room itself, standing menacingly by the door or hovering over the shoulder of their unfortunate captive. People tended to fess up quicker when they were afraid, so Reno did what he could to facilitate a little bit of the unknown during his interrogations. Although, things were very different now: he had become a prisoner on his own turf. He hoped he wasn't going to be on the receiving end of a classic Shinra-style interrogation. If things were done by the book, it wouldn't be so bad, but if not… Reno didn't want to think about the possibilities.

Time was passing slowly. The soldiers had stripped him of all of his tech gear and weapons, including his cell phone and ear piece, so he didn't have a very good idea of how long he'd been imprisoned. Trying to stay alert and awake, he alternated between watching the mirror, door, and security camera in the room, until finally, the door opened.

Tseng walked in, looking as calm as ever, carrying a couple folders, and a laptop bag. Impeccably groomed, Tseng wore his normal, no-nonsense expression on his face as though it were part of his uniform, and looked ready to get down to business. Hungry, tired, and frustrated, Reno fought to keep his composure intact. Even though he was upset that no one had bothered to explain any of this to him, he hated to admit how happy he had been to see Tseng enter the room. At least his interrogation would be fair; Tseng was definitely well known for following the rule book to the letter.

"Tseng," Reno said, sounding as pleasantly fake as possible, given the circumstances. "How nice of you to finally drop in."

"Reno," Tseng said. "Please do not make this any more difficult than it has to be."

"Oh, sure. Wouldn't want to make this hard on you or anything."

Unaffected, Tseng walked over to the small metal table in the middle of the room and put his materials down. He gestured at the empty seat across from him.

"Please, sit."

Reno paused, eyeing Tseng for a moment before he complied. Even though Reno reliably obeyed orders, he still possessed a keen dislike of authority, especially when it was so one-sided. Observing that he had little choice, Reno sat down reluctantly, stretching his arms across the table, to make sure that Tseng had a good view of the handcuffs that bound him.

"These are a bit uncomfortable," Reno said.

Tseng reached into his pocket retrieved a small key ring, then tossed it across the table to Reno. He caught it easily, and flattened his wrists together so that he could unlock the restraints.

"And, I could use a smoke."

Tseng paused, and Reno watched him intently. Reno was aware that Tseng hated the fact that he smoked with a passion. Tseng was always advising him to quit, but since there were no official company rules against smoking as a personal habit, he couldn't enforce anything. Most of the floors in the Shinra building were strictly non-smoking, but the one he was on now was not. Letting prisoners light up often helped the Turks get the information they needed, and was a technique he often employed. Reno hoped Tseng would do the same, but wasn't going to hold his breath. It was worth a try.

Much to his surprise, Tseng reached into his jacket pocket again, and this time placed a crinkled, already-opened pack of cigarettes and a cheap plastic lighter on the table. Both were Reno's; they were amongst the items that had been confiscated upon being taken into custody.

"Use the ashtray," Tseng said, sliding them across the table.

"Certainly," Reno said, with a crooked smirk, taking the cigarettes and lighter almost as quickly as Tseng's hand had moved away. He didn't waste any time lighting one up, either. As he inhaled deeply, allowing himself to taste the spicy nicotine rush he'd been craving, he almost forgot where he was. Tseng's voice brought him back to reality.

"Try not to take offense. This is all standard procedure," Tseng said, his lip curling with mild disgust, which was an obvious reaction to the smoke swirling around the room. "We had to make sure that you were still loyal to the company."

"Had to make sure?" Reno said, echoing Tseng's words as he spoke. "What do you mean, 'had to make sure'?"

"We put you through some tests, including a SIT session…"

"What?" Reno said, his voice cracking. "I don't remember any of that."

"You wouldn't."

"I know," Reno said, annoyed that he'd not thought of the possibility of a SIT test sooner. Once injected with the SIT (standard induced truth) serum, a subject could be asked any question, and they'd answer it with complete honesty. As a side effect, the subject wouldn't be able to remember any details about the session, no matter how hard they tried. The test was thorough and virtually error free, if it was successful. The downside was, that the SIT session didn't work on everyone, so they still sometimes had to resort to traditional methods. He wasn't sure what made him feel more like an idiot, the fact that he didn't realize he had been administered a SIT test, or the fact that one had actually worked on him.

He rolled up his sleeves and looked at his arms, inspecting his veins, looking for evidence of the test. His brow furrowed when he saw the little tell-tale red dot on his arm, centered right on the crook of his elbow, on one of his most prominent veins. The fact that he'd been given the SIT injection meant that his interrogation was already over. While that pleased him on some level, knowing that he wasn't in for any torture, or long winded questioning, it also infuriated him. He was one of them: a Turk. How dare Tseng humiliate him like this?

"Who the hell ordered that? I want to see the tapes."

"I did, and you passed with flying colors," Tseng said, looking at Reno with a weary eye. "Stop acting so childish, Reno. I would not have ordered the session if I had not deemed it completely necessary. We have a serious matter on our hands, and Shinra needs your help."

"Shinra needs my help, or you do?"

"Both. Take a look at these files."

"Is this about the shooting last night?"

"Not exactly," Tseng said. "But it is probably related in some way."

Tseng slid a single manila folder across the table and opened the cover. Inside was a typical-looking report that was several pages long: more pages than Reno could count with his estimating eyeball, and definitely more pages than he wanted to read.

There were four photographs paper-clipped to the front page. The snapshots were much more interesting, and definitely didn't require as much time investment to understand. The first was a close up of a standard issue handgun, lying in a pool of fresh, wet-looking blood. The second, made his eyes widen with surprise.

"Holy shit! Is this Gun?" Reno said, picking up the second photo to study it closer. He was certain he was looking at a picture of a dead Turk: her bright blonde hair was stained and streaked with crimson gore, and she was lying face down in what appeared to be her own blood.

"Yes," Tseng said.

Some of the other Turks picked code names solely based on their weapon specialization, while others chose what they considered a snazzy code name, much like he had. Whether that code name was their real first name, or something completely made up, was anyone's guess. Unless a Turk told you the truth, you'd never actually know. While Reno didn't really understand why anyone would chose a name like "Gun", he knew, at least in her case, that it was probably the lesser of the two evils. She hadn't been very creative, lacking both artistic skills and a sense of humor, so naturally a rumor had emerged that her original code name choice had been so terrible, that Verdot, Tseng's predecessor, had actually started the new naming convention just for her.

Reno wished he had known what name she had originally picked, but he was as clueless on the matter as the rest of the Turks claimed to be. He hadn't known Gun very well, nor had anyone else he'd ever asked about it. It wasn't anything personal; Gun had just been completely unreachable on almost every social level imaginable. The only time she even seemed human, was when she would talk about her father and how proud of her he had been. Reno had tried a couple times to get her to laugh, but she'd been much too serious for him, even going as far as continuously asking him to stop bothering her, and telling him that his jokes were not funny. He respected her because she had been very good at her job, and so he eventually decided to leave her alone, even though it disappointed him that she'd never come around. He figured she was probably lonely all the time, and may have even liked it that way.

Surprising himself, Reno suddenly realized that he was going to miss her, but he knew that was nothing compared to how Gun's rookie sister was going to feel when she heard the news. From the rare interactions he'd seen, neither girl actually seemed to like each other, but he just figured they had some healthy sisterly competition going on. Losing a family member never seemed easy on anyone, no matter what sort of relationship hung in the balance.

"The rookie is gonna freak out--"

"Elena has not been notified yet," Tseng said, interrupting Reno, and correcting him. "The trainees are isolated from the matter at this time. It is in our best interest to keep it that way. Understood?"

Reno nodded, turning his attention to the other two photos. Both were detail shots of the corpse and her wounds. It wasn't a pretty sight, despite the camera being a little out of focus. From what Reno could tell, Gun had been killed at close range, execution-style, with one bullet placed right between her eyes. The irony of being killed with her specialty weapon wasn't lost on Reno. Not only must that have sucked, but it was terribly humiliating. Someone knew a little bit more about her than they should have, and appeared to have some sort of grudge to have added insult to injury in this manner.

"Who could get close enough to execute a Turk like this?" He dropped the pictures on the table and rubbed his face with his hands, his exhaustion catching up to him.

"I think perhaps it could be another Turk, but I have no evidence to support a motive," Tseng said.

"What? That's... crazy," Reno said, his speech gradually slowing, as he thought about what Tseng had said.

Tseng had a point; a Turk definitely could have done it, but that wasn't exactly the sort of thing he wanted to be true. Turks were supposed to have each others' backs; they were family. In fact, Reno often thought of most of his fellow Turks as the kind of family that he had never really had. His mouth felt dry and useless as he realized that Tseng could very well be right, but he couldn't bring himself to acknowledge it out loud.

"It is a real possibility, Reno. Do not dismiss the thought so quickly," Tseng said. "Have you heard anything odd or suspicious lately?"

"I don't think so," Reno said. Suddenly remembering that his partner was still a suspect, he changed the subject. "Where's Rude? Is he alright?"

"He is being prepped for questioning right now."

"Seriously, Tseng, there's no way he's behind anything like this. I'd know."

"Your faith in him is impressive. While I am inclined to agree with you, we just cannot assume anything right now." Tseng handed Reno the file on Guns and the laptop bag. "If he clears--"

"He'll clear," Reno said, without hesitation.

"When he clears," Tseng said, rephrasing. "The first thing you are both going to do is pursue this lead we have. Cissnei is missing. Although she is not the only one that is missing, her location is the most concrete lead that we have at this time."

"Missing? Since when?"

"She did not report in after specimen retrieval case 13-M78 was aborted. That makes her MIA for almost three days, which as you know, is a code red situation. She was spotted today by a security camera in Junon."

Specimen. What a nice way to talk about a human being. Tseng was, of course, speaking clinically about Zack Fair. It wasn't Reno's place to judge, but that thought didn't keep him from being keenly aware that Zack had been handed a raw deal. Thankfully that experimental bullshit was a different department altogether, and didn't have much to do with the Turks. Professor Hojo and his ilk gave him the creeps, so he was glad they usually kept a healthy distance apart.

Considering how badly mission 13-M78 had gone wrong, he figured that it was pretty obvious why they hadn't heard from Cissnei. She had been very close to Zack, closer than the other Turks, and may have even been a friend or lover. Rumors had always circulated around about them, even though it was commonly known that Zack had a girlfriend in sector seven. Reno didn't buy into the rumors; people just liked to talk. But if asked, he wouldn't deny that they had some sort of connection that went past the duties they performed for Shinra.

In the retrieval effort, somewhere along the chain of command, orders had been misheard or deliberately ignored. The Turks had been given the order to capture Zack Fair and his ward alive, and the military had been ordered to kill both on sight. The army had reached the targets first, and the rest was history: Zack Fair had been eliminated, and the subject he had been protecting was MIA. Truth was, their failure wasn't as embarrassing at it seemed at first glance; it had only been a matter of logistics. The military had been closer to Zack's location and that made all the difference in the end result. But the detail didn't matter. A failure was a failure. To make matters worse, most of the Turks knew Zack personally, and many of them, including Cissnei, probably felt like they'd let a friend down.

The guilt associated with such a circumstance was enough to break some people, and maybe even change their loyalties. Cissnei was still very young, not even into her twenties yet. So, it was possible that she didn't quite have enough maturity or life experience to handle situations like what had happened to Zack. Even Reno had trouble dealing with the heavy stuff sometimes, and he wasn't that much older.

"Sounds like she might have cracked," Reno said, musing out loud, taking great care to make sure Tseng saw him snuff his cigarette out in the ashtray. "You don't think she killed Gun, do you?"

"Frankly, Reno, I don't know. She needs to be brought in for questioning. Guilty or not, we cannot have a rogue Turk who is not reporting in running around doing Gaia knows what. She is a danger not only to herself, but also to society, and the company."

Reno knew that Tseng had hit the nail on the head, despite his priority order being a little mixed up. Shinra cared about the company's interests first, and then everything else was a distant second. He picked up the folder with his assignment inside, and placed it into one of the inside pockets on the black leather laptop bag. Tseng stood up, and Reno did the same.

"Use this card to get the rest of your things from the security strong room," Tseng said, handing him a small plastic card. "Then go to your quarters and finish your report on the incident in the alley."

"Yes, sir," Reno said, taking the card with a slight bow, too mentally drained to be anything but respectful.

"This mission is extremely confidential. Do not discuss any details with anyone except those I authorize. To do otherwise, would be quite foolish and would likely put you in a compromised position. I am going to finalize the details on Cissnei's file, and I will send it to you once it is finished." Tseng paused, adding, "You might also want to head to the clinic to have your face repaired before it becomes infected."

Reno touched his cheek and winced, noticing that in addition to the pain, the area he'd scraped on the concrete the night before was slightly swollen. It had gotten a bit worse, but the injury wasn't anything the clinic couldn't fix up with a little bit of mako magic.

Both men left the interrogation room and started walking in opposite directions. Reno stopped, having had a last minute thought come to him.

"Tseng, wait. I almost forgot," Reno said. "Have Rude bring up some takeout when he's done in there. I'm starving to death."

Tseng nodded then turned his back on Reno almost immediately after he'd stopped speaking. Reno rarely ever got a noticeable rise out of Tseng, so he hadn't expected one now, but he could tell from the shadowy circles starting to form under his superior's eyes that Tseng was almost completely tapped out, if not already completely exhausted. Sometimes Reno could coax a good scolding or lecture out of his boss, but not today. Tseng was definitely too occupied to make the effort. As Reno watched him disappear into the next room a little bit further down the hall, he couldn't help but think about the incredible burden this case must be for Tseng. Like most of the previous lead Turks, Reno knew that Tseng had a lot of compassion for those who worked under him, even if he didn't show it very well. Having almost all of your subordinates disappear at once was more than concerning, it was downright troublesome. Tseng probably wouldn't rest easy until the situation was stabilized, and Reno had a hunch that neither would he.

Reno gathered his all of his willpower and forced himself to continue walking toward the strong room. Step by step, he overcame his intense urge to follow Tseng to the other interrogation room, to check on Rude. Despite his confident front, Reno was worried about his partner, as any good Turk would be. He only hoped that his instincts about Rude were right.


A/N: To Chapter 3...

(no subject)

Date: 2009-12-14 03:06 am (UTC)
brutal_priestess: (Invincible)
From: [personal profile] brutal_priestess know...I love this fandom. I'd almost forgotten.

Ya got me, I'm intrigued. I can tell already...this is gonna be gooood.

Still waiting on pins and needles for Rufus.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-12-14 12:37 pm (UTC)
brutal_priestess: (Invincible)
From: [personal profile] brutal_priestess
Heh. Actually it's the only FF7 icon I have right now. I think I might go upload a new one right now. Reno, of course. ^_^

On a geekier note, now that I'm blonde I could totally cosplay Rufus (although my hair's a touch too long so I'd have to do some styling magic to work it out properly).

(no subject)

Date: 2009-12-15 04:12 am (UTC)
brutal_priestess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] brutal_priestess
I think you made it. I lost a few or deleted them off my photobucket for some reason so I had to unearth my old IJ account. @_@

I could do Cloud too. My hair could be definitely spiked to such admirable and tousled heights. But I'd do a better Rufus to be sure. I'd have to get blue contact lenses. My eyes are hazel.

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