A/N: So, instead of getting Moon and Shield updated, this happened. Some how, I'm completely unrepentant.
Warnings: Allusions to sexual coercion of possibly underaged individuals, allusions to sexual coercion, some crude language, parody of SOLDIER-ish.
Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own.
We're the secret ones.
Everyone knows those SOLDIER boys – and why shouldn't they? They're out there, risking life, limb, and sanity for the rest of us. They do the work of more of our men than we can count because they're the heroes.
Well, they're labeled as the heroes.
They're efficient and hot, too, so I suppose that helps that hero image.
I mean, by Ifrit, I'm sure that even President ShinRa wants to tap some of those asses, and we all know that ShinRa is purely a lady's man.
(The Turks can squish all the rumors they want, keep all the secrets they want, but there have been too many visits to cover and even the suits must get tired of ShinRa's stupidity. Besides, it's ShinRa trying to keep a secret in the Slums. Yeah, exactly.
It's doomed to failure.)
But, our secret isn't nearly as doomed.
Once upon a time, there was a stupid, simple girl who thought that she might be able to catch a break in life under the Midgar Plate.
She had plain brown hair that hung straight, greyed skin from a lack of sun and the metal shavings and the general grime. She wore plain, over used and threadbare shirts and skirts and tatters of some clothes that had been abandoned by those who grew up.
She had a family. Two parents, a few older siblings, a few younger.
But she wasn't satisfied.
So, she worked to get an education – something that was never guaranteed to those beneath the Plate.
There were odd errands that forced her employers to teach her to count, to add, to subtract, multiply, divide. To act. To read fluently, beyond the few rotting rusted signs that gave directions for those who cared to try and navigate the Slums.
(Those few times the SOLDIERs needed to be called down to deal with a monster infestation. The boys needed reference points, didn't they?
Because, who would talk to the Slum people when they had gotten out and forgotten what it was like to live here, under the might of ShinRa?
Because they had forgotten in the tubes of the Planet's lifeblood in constant fight with the alien blood mixed in and eating holes in the person they fought to coexist within.)
She learned a lot in those years: one plus one is two, two times two is four, help is spelled "H-E-L-P," men like it better when she wears skirts and she can ensure a pay raise on those days, she has to ignore any pains in the next few days if bruises form. She thought she was ready for ShinRa, so she left without a backward glance. Who looks back at the Slums?
But she wasn't ready for above the Plate.
Sky? What was that?
(Some people spoke of a building in Sector 7 where there was a hole in the ceiling that a blue patch would sometimes fill.)
Where's the garbage – the trash?
Buildings that are strong, firm, a color other than grey-brown-worn?
Those things weren't important, though.
So she bowed her head, an insignificant insect in brown, filling out a bright white application in steady handwriting perfected over years and years of careful receipts and order forms.
Some part of her didn't expect the call to schedule her interview. She hadn't learned the shell of confidence that was needed at ShinRa.
And that's when the stupidity really started, if one doesn't consider working for ShinRa to be the ultimate height of stupidity.
It's like those stories of the old time crimes – the mafia Families: once you're in, the only way out is in a body bag.
Sometimes, you weren't even given one of those.
When you take a seat behind the reception desk, you suddenly aren't human anymore. Instead, you become a single, mass produced cog in a machine that's set to devour the world. So maybe it should be a single cell in the behemoth Beelzebub of ShinRa co.
Either way, it still stands that you aren't human anymore.
You're less than an insect, too.
The scientists think that you exist to obstruct them – actually, that's a pretty widely shared opinion.
"Hello, you've reached ShinRa Headquarters in Midgar, floor 12, what can I help you with?"
"I'm sorry, they're not available at the moment and you don't have an appointment scheduled. I see that they have an opening in six weeks, does that work?"
"No, that's the earliest they can meet with you, no I can't do anything about it. If there is an actual emergency, please call floor 17. Thank you and have a nice day!"
You sound like a five year old, hyped up on sugar and unleashed to be the biggest obstacle possible.
Well, it's what you're being paid to do. After all, you decided to become a secretary at ShinRa. That is in the job description.
Everyone thinks that we, and every other woman except Scarlett, only exist as an obstacle or an ornament.
All we do is run errands for coffee and snacks, screwing up the orders and the flavors and the types, screw up the Machines of Wonder – those printers and copiers and faxes and phones and computers and staplers (don't ask). We're here as the mess that exists in all corporations that are allowed to exist if only to try and offset any larger accidents and malfunctions in the corporate machine.
We're the motivation for the heads of departments – the male heads (and if there happens to be a female or two mixed in, well, they don't seem to be complaining).
It's supposed to be a great treat to have more than one of us in an office – that way, if one needs to take a morning off or otherwise be transferred at an odd moment, well, productivity isn't lost much, is it?
Yes, I was angry. I'm still angry.
It was probably 11 at night and I was sobbing, bruised back pressed against the brick of an alley, hands stuffed in my mouth to muffle the noise and so avoid detection. There was no need to invite more trouble.
They came from the shadows, cloaks concealing their forms and faces.
"Would you like to join us?" It was a woman.
"Doing what?" I croaked. Fear wasn't something that was really trying to cloud my mind at the moment. Exhaustion was stilling my reactions and I just. didn't. care. anymore.
"Protection. Clean up. Attempting to reverse the stupidity of ShinRa. A little bit of everything." I think she shrugged.
Thinking back, that's the weirdest job description I'd heard or have heard since.
Yeah, getting offered to be dumped into a glowing green bath was not something I was keen on doing, once I had been rushed down and off to HQ. I mean, we hear stories of Mako poisoning daily in the newspaper, in rumors and just around.
"It's ok, sweetie. I promise, it's not really what you think it is. It's freely given and that makes all the difference."
It shouldn't have made all the difference.
But. Oh. It was warm and it smelled like those sweet apples I once got on a holiday when I was five and it felt like protection.
I felt so clean afterwards.
Up on the podium, the rest of us seated on the odd benches (maybe they were once called pews), our president steps forward.
She's cloaked – we all are – and raises her hands.
We rise and salute as one.
"I now declare the 107th meeting of the SECRETARIES open!"
Earth I = Aerith
So, totally didn't go where it was originally supposed to go, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.
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