On the Way to a Smile – Episode:Shin-Ra

Rufus was surrounded by a number of men.

“Looks like you’ve gotten yourself in quite a mess, Mr. President, ” said the unshaven man as he pointed his hunting rifle at Rufus.

“Indeed. But now’s the time that I fear most. There is nothing more frightening than a foolish mob,” Rufus said as he looked into the red-stricken eyes of the man before him. He could see the hatred in them and was sure he was going to be killed. He could take out one or two of them with his hidden pistol but— There were three of them in his bedroom and he could hear a few more downstairs— It was impossible to kill them all.

“We might be foolish but at least we know who should be taking the responsibility for everything that’s happened.”

“Oh? Then let me ask you this. What will you do after you leave this house? Have you thought about your futures?”

“What do you mean.”

“There are two kinds of people in this world. People who give orders and people who take orders. It is a question of one’s abilities, not a trick question. Often when an incident occurrs, it is the ones who give orders that are made to take responsibility. As a result, those who remain lose their direction and panic arises. Then everything comes to a grinding halt.”

“You don’t plead for your life very well,” the assailant sneered at Rufus.

“You might be leading a number of people here but how long will it last? What kind of future can you give them?”

“We’re a foolish mob. As long as we can live for today, that’s all that counts.”

“No, not “we”. It’s just you,” Rufus said and was aware the others were looking over at their leader now.

“You have some sort of plan?” asked one of the other men.

Rufus turned to look at that man. He was in his thirties. He seemed to be a relatively wealthier man wearing an expensive looking but worn navy blue jacket and had a sturdy build.

“Why of course. First I would secure my home. Kalm can’t shelter all the Midgar refugees. It looks like you’re one of the locals here—”


“Do you want this town to become like Midgar?”

“—” The man was clearly imagining to himself what would happen.

“It’s only natural we help the people who need refuge!” the man with the gun cut in as he was being ignored.

Rufus answered, “Take this for an example. What do you do when it rains? Where would the overwhelming number of people go? Perhaps anyone would provide them shelter out of good will but think about how big Midgar’s population is. It may not be very big but you can’t shelter them all. Can you lay their discontent and anxiety to rest? What can you tell them when all you care about is living for another day?”

“Shut up!” the man raised his voice. Rufus stayed calm and thought to himself he was right about the man. A military captain of a small team would try to carry out flashy jobs but on the other hand when it was one of a middle-sized team like this, it wasn’t so easy to do.

“Well, you maybe right. What would your plan be?” The man in the blue jacket said with an understanding tone. Rufus changed his mind and thought perhaps this man was the real leader.

“It would cost my life to tell you.”

* * *

When Rude and Reno arrived back in Kalm, they noticed there was a big change since they left in the morning.

“That is a hell lot of people.”

The sudden increase in people was no different even when they arrived back “home”. There were some strangers coming and leaving from it.


They broke into a run but couldn’t get inside. Peeking through the open door they saw men and women lying limp on the floor.

“They’re ill.”

Rude was right. The two had the same symptoms as the people they saw in Midgar — their clothes and bandages were soaked in a black liquid — Many of them were gathered together.

“Rude, you check the first floor.”

Reno made his way up to the second floor careful not to step on the ill. However, it was the same on the second floor. Perplexed that there were no signs of Rufus, Reno gave up and returned downstairs where Rude was.

“He’s not down here.”

“Seriously. Lets go outside, partner. If we stay here we’re going to get—”

Reno noticed one of the ill glaring at him and smiling back insincerely, he urged Rude out.

Elena and Tseng had just returned.

“Chief, our house has been overtaken,” Reno tried to summarise the situation.

“We must find the President. He may have been taken away. We have to confirm if anyone knows what happened.”

“I’ll ask the people inside the house. They’re less likely to threaten me,” Elena said just as she was about to go inside.

“Elena, be careful. They’ve got the disease in there.”

“If it was contagious then I would have been infected already,” she replied and Reno didn’t disagree.

“Well then.”

“Go find any witnesses,” ordered Tseng. Rude and Reno nodded silently and split up into town.

* * *

The two of them returned together and reported back to Tseng how the people they met were only filled with discontent and hatred towards Shinra. There were no witnesses.

“It can’t be helped in this situation,” Tseng said looking over at the ill and wounded who couldn’t even walk on their own.

Even if there were witnesses none of them would tell us anything, thought Tseng.

* * *

Rufus estimated that it’s been two weeks since he was taken away from the house. After he was disarmed, they knocked him out with a drug before taking him away so he didn’t know where he was. However, the man wearing the blue jacket had given his name as “Mutten”— it might not be his real name but Rufus guessed he might be at his villa. He was probably locked inside the basement. A large number of people can be heard walking around on the floor above. If those people were refugees then this might not be a villa after all. But it could also just be Mutten’s friends gathering together. Without a plan, it was best he patiently waited for the Turks to rescue him. Well, thought Rufus as he looked around the strange room. An interior completely in red. It looks high class but he has some bad tastes — There were some furniture that were in the form of men and woman that were half monster. There was a heavy chain around Rufus’ foot which was attached firmly onto a hook on the wall. Thinking about what kind of man Mutten maybe possessing such a room to confine people gave Rufus the shivers and the chain that kept him from moving freely around unsettled him.

Rufus was robbed of his freedom but it seemed Mutten also considered him a guest. A well mannered middle-aged woman who seemed to live in the house would come feed and take care of him. However, it seemed she was ordered not to answer anything.

An old doctor came to have a look at him once. After giving him a simple inspection, the doctor prescribed some medicine and left. Rufus couldn’t ask if he knew he was the Shinra President. He had thought about raising his voice when someone entered the room but he couldn’t imagine what would happen afterwards.

Every few days Mutten would appear. He was trying to learn the development plans Rufus had for Midgar. Rufus had thought about saying his plans were entirely dependant on the information the Turks gathered but even if he did, he probably wouldn’t be permitted to contact them. Claiming that he didn’t have enough information at hand, Rufus only let Mutten hear a small portion of his plan. First he will build a town on the east side of Midgar. The land was level there and work would be easier. They could use the scrap from Midgar as resources. All the machinery or tools they needed to cut and join everything together can be retrieved from the warehouse in Sector Five.

Rufus thought he could only drag out time this way. If Mutten learned everything from him, he would be killed. He smiled bitterly as he thought of himself as a bard that had to weave a new story to entertain the king every night or be sentenced to death.

“Tell me everything. I won’t kill you.”

“Then remove the chain from me. I won’t run away.”

The day we trust each other will never come, thought Rufus to himself.

* * *

The Turks had managed to gather information but it wasn’t enough for them to investigate and learn the whereabouts of their President. Tseng didn’t give up the search. They abandoned the house in Kalm that was now occupied by refugees and turned one of the company residential houses in Sector Five into their office. Following Elena’s suggestion, they spread rumours that Midgar was going to collapse. Many people left believing the rumours. Even without rumours it wouldn’t be long before Midgar, now a nest for disease filled with debris, is deserted. However, Tseng wanted the place deserted as quickly as possible. There were many of Shinra’s secrets in Midgar and he wanted to avoid the refugees getting their hands on the weapons.

“We’ve got trouble,” reported Reno. “Some of the remaining army from Junon have taken over the head office. I think there are about a hundred of them. Some guy named, “Gate” something from military school is leading them.”

“What’s he after?”

“I don’t know. Looks like they’re making preparations for some kind of assembly.”

And so Tseng and Elena went to understand the situation themselves while Reno and Rude left to secure the weapons they wanted.

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