THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 

Cigarettes

By Capeton Yusshuk
NX74205II@Aol.Com


Chapter I
Ambition

"Whoa. Now That's one huge building," muttered the young 19 year old. He was fresh from a 2 week trip from his home in Mideel, to the newly completed Shinra Tower, in Midgar. He was looking for a job, after hearing of the troubles those self-righteous Wutai upsurgents had been causing, he decided he was going to do something about it. But, he had decided, he'd be damned if he became some mindless SOLDIER grunt. He was here to join the Shinra's fledgling Air Force. He'd learned to fly years before, at home, on an ancient triplane that was older than anyone still living in town. Now he was here to put his skills to good work. Fearless, he walked in the main entrance, and looked for a clerk of some kind. Spotting a desk to his right, he moved over, and slammed on the bell.

"Hey, I've spent 2 &^$%ing weeks on a cramped bus, and the least ya could do is have a clerk here!" he shouted.

Promptly a red suited manager scurried over from a back room.

"Yes? may I help you Mr...?"

"Highwind. Cid Highwind. I'm here to be the best Air Force commander this &%$@ing company's ever seen."

The manager blinked twice. "Ah... You understand that even if you're accepted, you start off at the same point as everyone else, don't you?"

Smugly, Cid gave his reply. "Just you wait."


Chapter II
The Beginning

Cid walked out of the elevator onto the 66th floor. He could still smell the fresh paint, and man, it stunk. He shook it off, and looked for the Public Maintenance & Order Office. He was told to ask for Mr. Heidegger, the current head of Shinra's Military Branch. Thinking to himself, he bumped into a rather portly fellow in a tan suit. "uh, Cid Highwind, uh, Sir. Sorry"

"No, It's quite alright! What are you doing up here, may I ask?"

"I'm here to enlist in the Air Force. Do you know where Mr. Heidegger is?"

"Hoo hoo, you're in luck. Mr. Heidegger's been called away on assignment. I'm Joseph Palmer, his Aide. You're joining the Air force? Come, then, let's go to my office!"


Cid followed Palmer into the office. Palmer settled into the plush seat behind the desk, while Cid pulled up a chair, and put his feet on the desk.

"So, Whaddo I gotta do to get in, Palmer? Y'better not be expecting me to have any of that Injection crud I've been hearing about."

"Hoo? Oh, no no no! That's only for our SOLDIER Candidates! You're only going to be a Pilot! Um... no offence."

"None taken, whaddya need from me?"

"Some background information, name, age, parents, education. That type of thing."

"That's all? Cid Highwind, 18, Joe and Mary Highwind, and I graduated last year. I Learned to fly off of a relic triplane the town'd kept around for no good reason. a VF-19, I think."

"Hoo, well, we'll see when Mr. Heidegger gets back, but it looks like you've got a job! Congratulations, Lieutenant (j.g.) Highwind!"

Palmer extended his fatty palm, and they shook hands.

"Good! Now, when do I start?"


Chapter III
Development

"How did I get myself in this &$%@ing Mess..." said Lt. Commander Cid Highwind, as he took a slow drag from a cigarette, and skipped a rock over a small pond. He knew exactly how, of course. Four years after he'd shaken hands with the Fatman, he'd finally been sent on a mission worthy of his skills, he thought. He'd been sent alone to take a message to Wutai itself. His plane had been loaded with Incinderary Bombs, and was supposed to lay a blanket of fire around Wutai. But just as he approached the city, he'd spotted a small group of Wutai soldiers on the ground, and the last thing he remembered was a bolt of lightning rising up to strike his plane.

He's been hiding out, with his beacon on for two weeks, waiting for someone to come and get him. So far, nothing. Not even anyone from Wutai, to check on the strange flying machine they'd crashed. However, he had discovered one thing. In the wreckage of his plane, some mechanic had left two cartons of cigarettes. After the first few days, he was bored, and curious enough to try one. the first few weren't so great, but he'd grown to like them, just as he was running out.

Suddenly, he heard the familiar Thump-Thump-Thump-Thump of a Helicopter from the east. He turned to look, shielded his eyes from the sun, and saw a Shinra VH-68 'chopper Flying in. He waved to it, and it landed a few yards away. He grabbed what was left of his gear, and hopped on, to be surprised that the Fatman himself was aboard.

"Hoo hoo, Cid! How are you, hoo?" said the jolly Palmer. "Just fine for sitting on my %^$ for two weeks! What took you so long!?"

"We had some things to take care of! And good news! After the Wutai rebels realized that their precious city could be leveled, they folded down and surrendered! President Shinra himself took notice of your actions!" Palmer would have been hopping up and down, if there was room. Instead, he shook around in his seat.

"The President? What did he have to say?" Cid said tiredly.

"He has a new assignment for you. He wants to have a long range, high speed armed transport. He wants you to work with the designers, and after that, he's personally garunteed you get command!"

"Really? Sounds kinda drab t'me, I'm a Pilot, not a desk jockey..." Cid turned around, and tapped the 'chopper's pilot on the shoulder.

"You wouldn't happen to have a Smoke on you, would you?"


Chapter IV
Crossroads

The newly promoted Commander Cid Highwind stepped off the military transport at Junon. He'd just returned to Junon, from Midgar, to show the Executive Board the two designs that had come out of the cooperative effort of him, and all those scientists. As he thought back, he once again cursed the fact that those scientists had no idea how a machine was meant to fight, not just work. They kept wanting redundant this, and back-up that. They didn't understand that with all those different systems, it made it impossible to be an effective machine. While the pilot's trying to figure out what button does what, the opponent shot him down. Of the two designs, he liked the first one. He'd been actively working on that one, and it looked like a blimp, with two support struts out the back, and large propellors. They'd dubbed it the "AirShip". The other design he wasn't thrilled about, but the Executives decided it might be good for use as a Cargo Plane. As he walked down Main Street, towards the elevator up to the top floors of the giant fortress, he noticed something different, from when he left. He looked up, and say sparks flying from a large tower, on it's side, looking vaguely like a cannon. "What purpose can a cannon THAT $#&%ing big be useful for!?" He sighed to himself, and rode the elevator up to the top, and walked out, bumping into a young lady in white lab coat, hurrying along. "Hey, watch where you're going, lady! This is a Military Base, not a playground."

The young lady blinked a few times, and stammered out "I- ... I- I'm so-sorry Mr. Highwind...!"

"Commander Highwind, and that's better, who are you, anyway?"

"Sh-Shera Lochley, Sir." Shera uncomfortably tried to slip away.

Cid blocked her, and asked another question. "You're one of those Engineers who're going to work on my AirShip, right?"

"Y-yes, sir..."

"Well, if you're going to work on My AirShip, You'd better try and grow a backbone. I won't have cowards working on my Ship!"

"Yes, sir!"

"That's better. Now, get back to work!" Cid watched her scurry off, heading back to his office to find out how his AirShip was coming along, wishing he had a cigarette.


Chapter V
Ambition Realized

Cid was asleep with his feet on the desk, and a Cigarette in his mouth, in his office at Junon. 2 years had passed, and all in all, Cid was getting bored with this project. he was proud to be involved with 'his' AirShip's construction. but after two years, it was getting tiresome. the good news, was that it was nearly finished, and he was going to take it for shakedown cruise the next day. A knock at his door woke him, and he reached for his cup of tea.

"Come in."

A Private walked in, and saluted. "Sir, preparations almost complete, Sir! Any further orders, sir?"

Cid returned the salute lazily "Yeah. Be sure to have someone aboard who can some decent tea. oh, and one other thing. Find the young engineer...Sara Locks, or something."

"Shera Lochley, Sir?"

"Yeah, that's it. Make sure she's on the ship." He paused, patting his pockets quickly "You have any smokes on you?"


The next day, Cid awoke at his desk (he supposed that he'd been assigned quarters somewhere, but had never checked) and looked in the mirror. He noticed that his hair was starting to grey out slightly, and cursed to himself. He picked up his bomber jacket, and walked out to the elevator, and rode it down silently to Main Street. On the way down, he noticed that Cannon looked almost finished.

"I still don't see what they plan to do with that &%$#ing monstrosity..." he muttered. He then got off the elevator, and strolled down to the new airport wing of the Junon Fortress. As he rode the craft elevator up to the runway, he looked in amazement at the AirShip, his AirShip. It looked more striking then the blueprints, and artists conceptions had ever hoped. As he walked over to it, he eyed a few technicians working on a scaffolding, up near the main veritcal lift rotors.

"What the &%$# do you think you're you doin up there? We've got the launch scheduled in a few hours!" he shouted up to them.

"Sorry, Commander. We're just fitting in some new back- ups." replied a vaguely familiar voice.

"Lochley? That you &*%$ing around up there?

" "Yes, Sir. We'll be done in a few moments."

Cid drew out a fresh cigarette, and lit it up. "Well, Be quick about it. We've got a deadline to meet, and don't intend to be sitting around on my $%# while you're installing more back-ups!"

"Yes, Commander." Shera's team locked up the panels, and climbed down, and had the scaffolding removed. Cid walked over to Shera.

"I see you've worked up some nerve, haven't ye?"

"Yes, sir..." she replied.

"Good. Now go get packed, we Launch in 3 hours."

Cid walked back to his office, sat down, when not a minute later, a knock at his door.

"Come in," he said tiredly. It had better not be another engineer, he thought. He was completely surprised by who walked in, however.

"Commander Highwind. I have been instructed to have you follow me," said Tseng of the TURKs. "Your presence has been requested at the Director's office."

Cid sighed to himself, and wondered what was happening as he followed Tseng up to the top observation offices, the nerve center of Junon. As he walked in, he was surprised to see the three top executives of Shinra, the President, his son, Rufus, and Heidegger. the President started off, while Rufus stayed off to the back, silent.

"You've done well, Commander. I see our faith in you has not been misplaced. The Long-Range AirShip Launches this afternoon, correct?"

"Yes, Mr President," replied Cid.

"Good. when you return, we have another assignment that may be of interest to you. Until then, I am sending Rufus on your cruise, as an observer. And I belive Mr. Heidegger has something for you, as well."

"Gya ha ha ha ha, That I do! In recognition of your exemplary service to the Shinra Company, I hereby promote you to Captain, and assign you command of the Long-Range AirShip!" stated Heidegger. Rufus stepped forward, and extended a hand.

"Congratulations, Captain Highwind. I trust there will be no problems during out short cruise."

"Thank you, Mr. Vice-President," replied Cid, shaking his hand. He looked around nervously, patting his pockets again.

"Um, would any of ye happen to have any smokes?" he said cautiously.


Chapter VI
The Dream

Four weeks later, Cid found himself being escorted back to that same office, along with Rufus. They'd just returned from the AirShip's shakedown, and Cid had decided he didn't like Rufus much. They walked in silence to the office, to once again be greeted by the President, and to Cid's surprise, Palmer. As Rufus once again took up a position off to the side, the President started off.

"Rufus tells me you did an excellent job with the AirShip. We now have another Job for you. Tell me, have you heard of our recent advances in jet and rocket propulsion?"

"A little, Sir. There was talk of perhaps installing them on the AirShip. I'm not sure if the engineers did, though." Cid replied, thinking about those last minute Back-Ups Shera had installed on the Ship, and the ominous lever on the command console.

"Well, with the great advances we've made recently, there's talk of perhaps space, or even our Moon being visited by living humans, in the near future. would you be interested?" said the President matter-of-factly.

Cid froze, thinking of all the times he had gazed at the stars. He knew that there would be great risk, probable failure...

"I'll do it, Sir."

His words surprised him, but it was too late now.

"Good. I've promoted Mr. Palmer here to Head of Space Development. He's your new boss. You'll only report to him, and me."

With that, he excused himself, and he left the room, leaving Cid, Rufus, and Palmer. after a minute of awkward silence, Rufus uttered a simple phrase.

"You're dismissed. I have work to do."

Palmer hobbled out, next to Cid, and after a few minutes of meaningless chit-chat he asked.

"So, Cid, what do you need for this project to get going, hoo? We have selected a site, North of the Nibel Mountain Range. We have all the materials, and personnel."

Cid thought a minute, and replied "Two things. One, I want a plane. I Can't truly appreciate the Stars, if I'm stuck on the &%$#ing ground the whole time."

"Hoo, that's easy! The President's assured me that you'll get anything you need."

"And second," he continued. "A young engineer, Shera Lochley. She's been of great help to the AirShip project, and I want her on this one, too," he finished.

"Hoo, It's done!" Palmer said, hopping around.

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have a smoke, and catch some shut eye" he said, pulling out a cigarette from the pack under his flight goggles.


Chapter VII
Shattered Destiny

Cid dropped down the ladder from the cockpit of Shin-Ra No. 26 into the Engineering bay, swearing to himself profusely.

His day had just gone from the best he could ever have joped ofr, to the worst possible day of his life. It had started earlier that day, as he had walked into the cockpit of his finally operational rocket, waiting for the launch window. But, Shera was still running tests when the rocket's engines began to came online, and no matter how he tried to get her to leave, she would not. He had been forced to abort the countdown, and now his beloved rocket was creaking, and leaning at an alarming slant, from its abortive launch.

"Damnit Shera, I ORDERED you to leave! Do you understand what this means!?" he shouted at Shera, not stopping to let her speak. "It will be months, if not years, if not EVER that this &%$#ing opportunity will ever come again!"

"C-Captain, I'm Sorr-" she tried to stammer out, true and honset sorrow brimming from her eyes. She had only been doing what she could to make sure the the Captain would be as safe as possible, and now, because of her, he may never realize his dreams. She had grown to care for this abrasive, egotistical man. And now, she had destroyed his dream.

"Sorry? Sorry!? That doesn't &%$#ing change anything!" he yelled. Then, calmly: "Finish your tests. You have plenty of time now."

And he stormed out of the rocket angrily, pulling a fresh Cigarette, and lighting it.


Chapter VIII
Fulfillment

Cid couldn't belive his ears. His new allies, the spikey headed boy with serious mental problems, that overoptimistic friend of his, the one who could make Da Chao seem less stone-faced, the bratty girl from Wutai, of all places, that damned cat riding a moogle, the other talking cat, and that self important walking tank, cannon and all had just informed him that his rocket was finally going up, and they were going to stop it. He pondered this for some time, thinking, wondering what was worth more to him, their fight for the Planet...or his life-long dream...

Cid watched his rocket soaring off towards the great threat to the Planet, known only as Meteor, from a tiny escape pod. He watched the stars. He could almost hear them singing. Then he saw Shera. He recalled the incident with the Oxygen tank, not minutes ago, and realized. He'd been treating her like Shit for years, and in the end, she'd proven to be right. Then, as the pod fell back towards the Planet he spoke. "Shera, I'm sorry..."

"I know."

At a loss for words, Cid wished he had a cigarette.


Chapter IX
Epilogue

Cid thought back to the past. Of his triumphs. The mission that ended the Wutai rebellion. His AirShip, finally named the Highwind, by his allies, his friends. His greatest triumph, the first man to gaze at the stars without the annoyance of a gaseous atmosphere in the way. Then he thought of some of his mistakes. The monstrous cannon at Junon did prove useful, to his great surprise. He'd picked up the annoying, and seemingly obsessive habit of smoking. And then there was Shera. He knew what he'd done had been wrong, and planned to make up for that mistake today. Cid walked away from the Highwind II's construction gantry, and towards his house. He was almost finished rebuilding the Highwind II with parts from the rocket's now-useless gantry, and the scattered's wreckage from the original AirShip. But his mind was on other things as he walked into his house, reaching into his pocket.

"Shera..." He pulled out a Materia studded ring, forged from wreckage of his rocket's escape pod. "...Will you marry me?"

She dropped her cup of tea, speechless. "Oh...Yes, yes I will!" she smiled.

He light up a cigarette, and smiled back.





Author's Note

Well, First off, I want to thank Addrienne Rourke, E-Mail at Sail0rsun7@Aol.com, for support, and convincing me to actually write beyond School-mandated Essays. This is my first attempt at writing something, so I hope ya liked it. if not, then YOU come up with something better. I might be doing s'more, I dunno. if y'liked it, lemme know, if not, also lemme know, so I know what I did wrong.

-- Capeton Yusshuk, NX74205II@aol.com

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