Shinra Inc And The End

Author's Note: I realize I have tried, and failed, to end this series on two separate occasions – at the end of both Season's 4 and 5. I ended up bringing it back both times because there were topics that I wanted to tackle with the Shinra Inc crew. But all good things must come to an end, and this has long since worn out its welcome. I think 72 episodes is enough, don't you? (Good lord, is my math right on that? 12 episodes a season times 6 seasons… Yep. And if you count a couple of the bonus episodes- Shinra Inc And KupoCon and Shinra Inc And Omake, then it's really 74 or 75).

Point is, enough is enough. I have many other projects I need to finish and new stuff I am working o. I recently released the first book of my FF8 novelization, which covers the first disk, so I recommend you give that a read if it interests you. And I still have to finish my Mario's Existential Nightmare and Autumn Twilight stories. Lots to do and I'd really like to go back to writing some one-shots again to boot. Point is, this series should have ended a while ago and it's time now.

tl;dr – I'm done, and this time, I mean it. Thanks for sticking around!

Reno, Rude and Cissnei made their way through the darkened hallways of the Shinra Tower, weapons drawn. A security alert had come in to their phones in the middle of the night – potential terrorist activity. As they rounded the stairwell to the 65th Floor, they began to see clear signs of sabotage – the floor was covered in petrol and every door to every office had been opened.

"Well, wonderful," Reno hissed as he pressed his back to a wall, raising his sidearm slightly. "I can't remember the last time I actually had to use this thing."

"Last week when that guy cut you off in traffic," Rude retorted, scanning around the corner and raising his fist in an "all clear" sign.

"You two should really cut the chatter," Cissnei barked. "I'd rather not die in this hell hole tonight."

"Ah I've kind of accepted the fact that I'm going to die here sooner or later. Though in my nightmares it's usually me dying of boredom at a miserable desk job at age 60," Reno explained. "Better to die young, right?"

"I still have a lot to live for," Rude replied. "I mean, none of it here, but still."

The 66th Floor was much the same, floors soaked in the sickly sweet oil and papers scattered about to create an ideal kindling. Reno stopped the group as he heard shuffling around the corner. It was unmistakable. At least two other people were moving about, attempting to be stealthy. He raised a palm to silently tell his cohorts to stop and waited for the right moment to strike. The figure was fast approaching now. Reno slowly raised his weapon, cursed himself internally, and then rounded the corner to open fire.

Then Reno's world went black for a few seconds as a pistol hit the side of his face. He hit the floor only to catch his breath a few moments later and seeing Tseng and Elena standing overhead.

"Sorry about that," Tseng said, not entirely convincingly.

Elena bent down and helped Reno up, who was rubbing the side of his face to soothe the pain.

"That's a good way to get killed. What the hell are you doing here?" Cissnei said.

"We were working late when the call came in. Whoever it is must have been in the corridors with us for a short spell and made his way up to the higher floors," Tseng said. "We've been tracking him but so far it just keeps leading up."

"Yeah, I got a feeling I know where it ends and this whole thing could go up at any second, so maybe let's not dilly-dally, eh?" Reno said.

The combined force of the Turks made their way through Floors 68 and 69 without much incident, albeit the mess seemed to get steadily worse as they made their way to the top. It was apparent that whatever was going to happen was going to start in the Presidential Office on the top floor. The long stairwell that led between the secretary station on the 69th floor and the floor-spanning elaborate office on the top, was absolutely drenched in the brown liquid.

"How the hell did this guy carry so much petrol?" Cissnei asked.

"You'd be amazed what you can do when you're properly motivated. For instance the possibility of seeing this place burn down firsthand is the only reason I got out of bed at 3 AM on a Monday," Reno explained.

"Shut it," Tseng ordered. "Weapons ready, but don't go shooting wildly. We can't risk starting a fire."

They slowly made their way up the stairs in a pentagonal formation, Tseng at the lead, Reno and Rude behind him and Elena and Cissnei covering the rear. A hunched figure sat over a large barrel presumably filled to the brim with petrol that was resting just behind the President's desk.

"Freeze!" Tseng shouted.

The figure shook slightly and turned its head just a bit. A thick slab of blonde hair became visible, before the man turned around in full, his hands outstretched.

"Rufus?" Tseng asked. "Are you okay? Where's the terror-"

And suddenly everything fell into place.

"I think this was Rufus's doing," Reno explained.

"No way, he can't have gone that bonkers," Elena suggested. "I mean this is a little extreme, don't you think?"

"You know, I'm right here, guys," Rufus said.

"Shut up crazy person, us saneys are talking," Reno ordered. He tossed him a pair of handcuffs. "Why don't you just cuff yourself for me and we'll deal with you in a minute?"

"I'm not going to cuff myself… why are these fuzzy?" Rufus asked.

"Don't kink-shame me, bro," Reno snapped, turning to Tseng. "What's the call, boss?"

"You were right about this being a stupid reason to be woken up at 3 AM," Cissnei sighed. "Can I go back to bed now, boss?"

Tseng simply frowned and kept glancing back and forth between his crew and his former boss.

"Is this legitimate in any way, Rufus?" Tseng asked.

"Oh yeah. I mean I'm not going to start the fire until we're all out of here, I didn't want to kill anybody or anything like that. But no, I want to see this mother burn to the ground. Well… burn down to the 60th Floor where the steel barricading will stop it. But I don't have beef with those loser floors, just these top ones," Rufus rattled.

"Rufus?" Came a familiar and at this hour unusually shrill voice. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Reeve, nice of you to join us," Rufus said as Reeve walked up the staircase just behind the Turks.

"Your solution to the problem of how to win back your company is to burn the premises?" Reeve asked.

"No, you see, it is! It makes total sense if you think about it," Rufus said, suddenly aware of how covered in petrol he was. "Okay, I appreciate how it's hard to understand from your point of view. Why don't you gather the staff here and I'll explain."

"You want us to invite everybody you have a beef with into one petrol soaked room?" Tseng asked.

"Okay, I realize how that might seem crazy," Rufus nodded.

"Yeah, that and nothing else. Nothing else about this seems crazy at all," Cissnei said.

"You know, I should have just threatened to jump. People always listen to the guy threatening to jump," Rufus cursed to himself.

"I would have told you to try and hit Palmer on your way down," Reno shrugged.

"Listen to me," Rufus said, sliding the fuzzy handcuffs onto his wrists. "I swear this will – ooh these are nice, Reno – I swear this will make sense after I explain it. Just please invite everybody here okay?"

Tseng glanced over to Reeve, clearly not going to be the first one to make the call here. Reeve rubbed his head and sighed. "Fine, I'll make some calls."

"Why couldn't you have your mental breakdown at a convenient time. Like s Noon on a Friday? Half-day leading into the weekend woulda been nice but nooo," Reno cursed.

The Turks and the Directorial Staff now sat in the Conference Room, all centered around Rufus at one end of the table and Palmer at the other. Rufus was still wearing the handcuffs and had been casually flipping through Reno's magazine as they waited for the last straggler, Scarlet, to arrive.

"And you see, they mail it to you with a discreet return address so like nobody knows your business," Reno was saying. "I've used them for years."

"Do you always cuff perps with the fuzzy handcuffs?" Rufus asked.

"Look I left my work pair at home okay. It was very early in the morning. Oh that reminds me I wonder if that girl is still at my apartment," Reno pondered.

"You didn't leave her tied up, did you?" Rufus asked.

"No, silly, I'm the one who-" Reno rubbed the back of his head and coughed. "You know, uh, maybe we should stop talking about this, eh?"

Scarlet walked in with ideal timing and grudgingly took a seat at the table next to Hojo.

"I'm going to smell like gas for the next three months on account of this little stunt of yours," she groaned.

"How are we not passing out from the fumes, by the way?" Hojo asked. "I'm certain we should have expired by now."

"I cracked open a window," Tseng said pointing to an exterior window with several bullet holes in it.

"Old habits die hard, eh?" Hojo grunted.

"At least my pants are still on," Tseng shrugged.

[Author's Note: See Shinra Goes Green]

"So what did you want to say, Rufus?" Heidegger asked, eager to get things started. "I think you've made a dramatic enough entrance."

"Well I was kind of hoping to surprise you, but maybe a little explanation is in order," Rufus said. "Look, the truth is, I think we can all agree that things have gone off the rails here, yeah?"

"The top ten floors are covered in flammable liquid that could ignite at the slightest spark and you are giving a motivational speech wearing fuzzy handcuffs while Palmer is in control of the company," Scarlet said. "Not at all insane. Those are nice by the way. Reno, those yours?"

Reno blushed slightly and raised his hand in a "yeah, yeah" sort of way.

"Anyway," Rufus said, attempting to regain control of the conversation. "I realize that I've taken you all for granted. That I've acted like a fool, frankly. I never really thought things could get so out of hand and when I thought I was losing you all last year I panicked. I just wanted some way to be part of your life again and I didn't really think it through."

"You could have hung out with us outside of work, you know?" Elena suggested.

"Would any of you have honestly come visit me?" Rufus retorted.

"Would any of us have liked to come visit you in your palatial manor full of extravagances that surpass even our most absurdly fanciful daydreams?" Scarlet asked. "I think so, yes."

"Okay, so clearly I haven't handled this well at all. Ever since my dismissal I've just been in a bad place, you know. I realize that I can't undo the past but I thought maybe this would be a way that we could start over. I thought by burning down this tower you'd see that I don't care about the way things used to be, but only about how we can make them better. That I don't want to just be your boss anymore, but I want to be your friend," Rufus said. He stopped himself and glanced around. "Okay, now that sounds pretty crazy too, but bear in mind I've been huffing in these fumes for about four hours now."

"I still don't get how fire solves our distrust of you," Palmer said.

"Think about what it represents. Every one of us has hated this building. I mean yeah I'll grant a lot of that hate was directed at me too, but think about it. How many times have power-cuts sent Hojo's monsters running loose? How many times have our elevators stopped working and forced us to use the stairs? How many pointless meetings have we sat through in this miserable fucking conference room with content that really should have just been emails?" Rufus glanced down at the table for a moment, coughed slightly, and then continued.

"Palmer, you hate how you got stuck with that tiny little office on the corner of the building? Well we can build you a new office. One bigger and worthier of the head of the Space Division. Hojo, your equipment is old and busted from a variety of accident-related accidents. Scarlet, your office is just a hell of paper. We all hate this miserable shit-shack of a building, and I thought I would give you all what your hearts truly desire – to see it burn!" Rufus raised his hands slightly. "Again, not crazy."

Scarlet let out a prolonged sigh. "Rufus, this building was never the problem. We hated coming here because we hated working for you. But all we ever wanted was to see you show that you truly appreciate us and care about our well-being. We wanted some sign that you weren't going to do the same thing you've always done and make a mess of the company while dumping the burden on our shoulders. And I have to say, this ridiculous obscene gesture, no matter how nuts it is, does kind of show it. A bit."

"You're buying this nonsense?" Heidegger asked.

"Rufus lugged something like 300 gallons of petrol and poured it meticulously over every inch of these floors. When has he ever put that much work into anything he's done?" Hojo offered.

"Fair enough," Heidegger nodded. "Alright, I see your point."

"Well," Palmer shrugged. "I suppose I was just being petty. I wasn't really interested in the top spot anyways."

"You don't need to burn anything down, Rufus," Scarlet continued. "It might be painful to look back on, but you can't just erase it because it makes you feel bad. Burning things doesn't solve anything."

"Ummm," Hojo said, raising his hand slightly.

"Well…" Heidegger added, also raising his hand.

"You mean it, Scarlet? I don't have to do that?" Rufus asked.

"Of course not, Rufus. Everything you just said and the… interesting way you backed it up, is all we really need! Right gang?" Scarlet asked.

"Eh, sure," Reeve grunted.

"Yeah, why not?" Tseng sighed.

Rufus let out a relieved sigh of his own. "Thank goodness. Cause to be honest this building isn't even insured and if I burnt it down it would have been one hell of an expensive rebuild. I mean absolutely catastrophic."

Palmer pulled a cigar out of his breast pocket. "Well I suppose my stint at the top had to end sometime. One cigar for the road, why not?"

"Palmer!" Reeve shouted.

It was, of course, too late. Palmer lit the cigar with his lighter, sending a few sparks trailing to the absolutely soaked floors beneath them. Within moments a wave of fire was flooding through the room and traveling fast.

Pandemonium ensued as the group rushed through the burning hallways towards the emergency exit, only to find it blocked by falling rubble.

"What now?" Cissnei shouted.

"The helipad!" Heidegger called. "Tseng, get us a chopper!"

Tseng began punching out a phone number as fire alarms blared all around them.

"Why aren't the sprinklers starting?" Scarlet asked, yelling above the din.

"I disabled them. It seems silly to start a fire if you know it'll just be put out," Rufus shouted.

"And how were you planning on getting out?!" Elena cried.

"Honestly, I was kind of planning on the emergency exit to not be blocked. I may have overdone it a bit with the petrol," Rufus said.

"You did. I'm surprised there's enough oxygen left on the floors to start a fire. Unless air is coming in from somewhere-" Hojo stopped and looked at Tseng, who was using his free hand to hide his gun.

"Sorry about that," Tseng grunted.

"And why are all these floors catching so quickly?" Rude shouted.

"All the paper is acting like kindling. I thought we were supposed to be recycling all of this?" Palmer asked.

"Yeah I haven't been doing that," Scarlet said.

"Me neither," Heidegger admitted.

"Yeah, I basically keep everything I've ever written. Ironically because I didn't want to lose anything important. Seems a moot point now," Hojo grunted.

"So does that mean that everybody in this staff has inadvertently helped Rufus in his plans to burn down this building except me?" Reeve asked.

"You voted for Palmer," Rufus retorted. "In a way, this is all your fault."

"But in a much more real way, it's probably the guy who dumped gas on every floor," Cissnei choked, her lungs filling with smoke as they ascended.

"Probably," Rufus coughed.

The 70th Floor was a giant black cloud of the fire from the floors below. A chopper was waiting outside, and firefighting aircraft were spraying the helipad with water to clear a way for them.

"I can see daylight!" Reeve shouted.

"It's 4 AM!" Reno shouted.

"I was being metaphorical," Reeve shouted back.

"Shut up and move!" Cissnei yelled.

They made it on to the helipad. Palmer was the first aboard the chopper, followed by Scarlet, Cissnei, Heidegger, Hojo, Elena, Reno, Rude and Tseng in that order. Reeve and Rufus were the last ones left when, suddenly, the lower floors shifted, sending the two of them plummeting down two stories before the remains of the helipad leveled.

"Rufus!" Scarlet shouted.

"Reeve!" Shouted everybody else.

The two clung desperately to the side of the wreckage, feet dangling over the edge – both of them one sweaty palm slip away from oblivion.

"I really don't want to die here, Rufus!" Reeve shouted.

"Hey, death is just another part of life right?" Rufus replied, sticking his foot into a crack that used to be a window.

"No, death is death, Rufus. Will you stop rambling and do something?" Reeve shrieked.

"I'm sorry, I'm still a little messed up from the fumes, but I think I have an idea," Rufus said.

"I think I'm going to hate this," Reeve said. Then suddenly the floor shifted again. "I hate this, I hate this!"

"Do you trust me?" Rufus asked.

"Of course not!" Reeve screeched. "Everything that has ever gone wrong in my life has been because of you and if we die here tonight I will kick your ass in Hell!"

"Reeve, listen to me. We have to jump!" Rufus shouted.

"You are crazy. You are crazy. You stupid, crazy, rich son-of-a-bitch!" Reeve shouted.

"Just jump, damn it!" Rufus said, grabbing Reeve's arm and pulling them both away from the building.

They were trapped in free-fall for a spell, during which Reeve had a few seconds to contemplate every horrible decision he'd ever made in his life and simultaneously enjoy a brief few moments of realizing that he would get to see Rufus die horribly shortly before he perished.

Except they didn't die. They both landed a few floors below on the employee patio on the 64th floor. The impact was rough to be sure, Reeve blew out both of his ankles and Rufus certainly cracked a few ribs, but they were for the moment, alive.

"The chopper's coming," Rufus said. "Do me a favor and leave me here to die, okay?"

"If I have to survive this nightmare, you do too," Reeve grunted, dragging the two of them to the edge as the Shinra soldiers lept down to secure them, pulling them all away from the burning ruins of the Shinra Tower.

"Well, I didn't think we'd be caught in the blaze, but I gotta admit, I am happy to see that thing finally die," Scarlet sighed as she lay in a hospital bed next to all of her friends and coworkers.

"I just hope these broken ribs are a worthy tribute to you people to earn my company back," Rufus babbled.

"Is he okay?" Cissnei asked.

"Morphine. He's up to his eyeballs in it," Rude said.

"So we're going to rebuild the tower right?" Tseng asked.

"Yeah," Reeve said. "I'm still the head of Urban Development, so I've already got some guys working on the reconstruction."

"What are we gonna tell people, exactly?" Heidegger asked. "I mean, about the fire."

"Oh just blame it on AVALANCHE. We do that with all our problems anyway," Hojo said.

"Happy Flag Day everyone," Rufus babbled, before breaking out a chorus of "Happy Birthday".

"That guy is now our boss again, eh?" Reno grunted.

"Eh, could be worse," Elena shrugged. "I mean, I'm not sure how, but I guess that's part of the fun right?"

"The devil you know, I think is how he said it," Palmer nodded.

"Well at least working for him isn't boring," Scarlet shrugged.

"Guys, I think we need to reconsider our environmental policy," Rufus said. "We could have saved a lot of fire if we'd been recycling the lead. Let's come up with a new plan to recycle the fire next time so the paper doesn't oil."

"Yeah he's just gone off his nut now," Hojo sighed.

"Well, Rufus. I guess it's good to have you back in charge," Reeve shrugged. "Even though I'm sure I'll be doing more work than ever before."

"This guy are sick," Rufus spit, before puking up a massive mouthful of drugs and coughing out the remnants. He looked around, startled as suddenly reality came back to him. "What the hell? We in the hospital?"

"Yes, very perceptive, Rufus," Heidegger snapped.

"Why do I keep waking up in the hospital? Oh right, all the terrible things I do," Rufus sighed. "Uh, look I feel like I owe you all an apology for what happened."

"It's okay. We'll all live," Elena replied politely.

"I feel like I should close out this chapter of our lives on something pithy," Rufus said, rubbing his chin. "Um… Kids, the moral of the story is starting fires… isn't cool."

"Really? A pun. That's how you want to be remembered?" Reeve asked.

"Well how else should I go out?" Rufus asked.

"I don't know. Probably a long-winded ending scene that doesn't make a cohesive point and ends abruptly," Hojo said.

The End