On the Way to a Smile, Episode: Shin-Ra [Revised]

Revised Audiobook Edition by Pixel

At the Ancient Ruins — The mission assigned to Tseng, leader of the Shin-Ra Company’s Department of Administrative Research, also known as the “Turks”, was to obtain the ancient and mysterious stone, known as the “Black Materia”. Just as he had almost fulfilled his mission, Sephiroth suddenly appeared and severely wounded him, leaving him on verge of death. The bleeding wouldn’t stop, and he could feel his consciousness slipping away. Just when he had already accepted death, Aerith and her friends appeared. They too had arrived at the ruins in pursuit of Sephiroth.

For a long time, Tseng’s main duty had been to monitor Aerith, a descendant of the Ancients, waiting for the right moment to recruit her for the Shin-Ra Company. Occasionally he would feel pressure to use some of his subordinates more ‘persuasive’ methods, but all in all, this practice was an exception within Shin-Ra Company. Previously, they had tried to control Aerith’s biological mother with force, but unfortunately this led to her death. This new approach was clearly a consequence of this earlier failure. Tseng’s guilt made him reflect heavily on his own actions.

Aerith was the last remaining descendant of the Ancients. Tseng felt unworthy to be in the presence of such a majestic existence as her. He embodied the dark machinations of the company he served. He couldn’t let himself get too close.

* * *

The first time Aerith spoke to him was when she was still just a child.

“Thank you for your hard work as always.”

At first Tseng couldn’t believe what he had just heard from the young girl. Seeing how silent he stayed, Aerith continued.

“You’re protecting me, aren’t you?”

When Tseng thought about his mission, it was probably best to take advantage of this situation. But Tseng went ahead and told her the truth. That was probably the most honest moment in his life.

“I’m Tseng from Shin-Ra Company. I have something to speak to you about.”

“I hate Shin-Ra!”

As he watched the young girl run off, Tseng was relieved. He felt that he had done the right thing. Even if the day came when he would have to take her away by force, he still wouldn’t be able to lie to her.

Years passed. Eventually Aerith came into contact with the anti-Shin-Ra group Avalanche, and the situation took a sudden change. Tseng became agitated by Aerith’s political stance. He couldn’t get a grasp of the situation at hand, and because of that, he treated Aerith with an attitude of such pretense evil that even his subordinates turned cold toward him. He tried to think of what he should say to them.

This isn’t pretense evil. To Aerith, Shin-Ra itself is evil. That’s why evil should act like evil—

* * *

In the end, aware of his approaching death, he chose to approach Aerith as a Turk.

“Damn it. Letting Aerith go was the start of my mistakes.”

Even so, Aerith still shed tears for Tseng. She didn’t see him as an enemy, but rather a casual acquaintance who had watched over her since she was a child. Tseng knew that this unexpected encounter, at the moment of his death, was something positive, but all he could mutter was a sarcastic comment.

“I’m not dead yet.”

After Aerith left, Tseng quietly awaited his death. But it never came. He was drifting in and out of consciousness, but he still couldn’t feel his spirit merging with the Lifestream.

It was Reeve who saved Tseng in the end. An odd little robot cat – riding on the back of a Giant Moogle – appeared before Tseng. Reeve was assigned the mission to spy on Aerith and her comrades using this robot cat.

“That was close, Mr. Tseng.”

“Where’s the Black Materia?”


There was no answer. The robot stood, frozen, as if it had stopped working. It took a while before it began speaking again,

“Excuse me. I’m controlling both No.1 and No. 2 at the same time – it can be a little difficult.”

“I see.”

Tseng had no idea how difficult it actually was, but he waited for Reeve to speak again so that he didn’t disturb his concentration.

“I’ve handed the Black Materia over to Cloud for the time being. That is a wiser choice than letting Sephiroth have it, yes?”

Cloud. The fact that he was so closely linked to this chain of events was a mystery, but on the other hand it was logical, inevitable even. Somehow Cloud was the key to all of this, but no matter how much Tseng thought about it, he couldn’t figure exactly out how he fit.

In any case, the Black Materia was better off in Cloud’s hands, if he wanted to prevent the Ultimate Black Magic, Meteor from being summoned.

“Cloud has the Black Materia — I see.”

“As for yourself, Mr Tseng — I’ll contact Shin-Ra for you.”


“One more thing— My identity as a spy has been found out but I will be staying with them. They’re quite an interesting bunch. I’m very interested in what they will do. Right, lets get you moved somewhere.”

Tseng had a lot of questions for him, but as he was lifted up by the Giant Mog, he lost consciousness due to the pain. His memories of what happened next were sketchy at best.

Three men carried Tseng onto a boat. The men were his former superior and his subordinates. Why had Reeve contacted them, and not the company directly? Had he been in constant contact with them. Question after question came to mind, but Tseng didn’t have the strength to say anything. He was unconscious for most of the trip. When he regained consciousness, he found himself in a small room. The air had a distinct smell of sea foam and rusted metal, he knew he had been taken to Junon. A doctor arrived almost immediately and began his treatment.

* * *

While Tseng was incapacitated, Aerith was killed, and the Black Materia was now in Sephiroth’s possession. He used it to summon the Ultimate Black Magic, Meteor. It was said that upon impact, everything on the Planet would be gone within three to seven days.

Ultimately, it was meaningless whether the planet was destroyed in 3 days or in 7 days, the people needed some ray of hope to cling onto, something to focus on.

* * *

Midgar, Sector Zero, close to the Shinr-Ra Building—

On huge pillars, constructed almost overnight in Sector Eight, sat a dangerous looking weapon, a cannon hastily flown in from Junon. Scarlet, Head of the Department for weapons research, was responsible for overseeing the development of this super weapon, naming it “Sister Ray”, which seemed like a funny name, considering this weapon was their last defense against Sephiroth. Sister Ray was connected to all of the Mako reactors surrounding Midgar by a pipeline system, and the power was further amplified by means of a Huge Materia. The cannon was expected to completely destroy Sephiroth, who lay dormant in the Northern Crater, a large cave in the far north. It was hoped that if Sephiroth died, the nightmare in the sky which he summoned would also disappear. As soon as the threat to the planet had passed, the all powerful Weapons would surely return from whence they came.

“Theoretically, it’s perfect,” Rude said looking up at the Sister Ray.

“Theoretically? What about non-theoretically?” Reno asked with a serious tone he didn’t usually have.

“It leaves me concerned.”

“Then I’m relieved.”

“What do you mean?” Rude questioned.

“I thought I was the only one worried. Are we seriously going to fire this thing? Don’t we have to test it out first? Will Midgar be alright?”

“Would you be reassured if I said it’ll be alright?”Rude replied to the torrent of questions with a stern tone in his voice.

“Hey, don’t get mad.”

Unfortunately, Sister Ray didn’t fulfill their expectations and ended up as a huge pile of scrap metal. At the same time, a bombardment of fire from one of the Weapons took out the upper floors of the Shin-Ra Building. As members of the Turks, Rude and Reno were used to the sight of destroyed buildings, but they felt differently for the Shin-Ra Building. They spent most of their time on outside missions, rather than pushing pencils around, so this building was like a home they could return to when their work was done. The gratitude of their colleagues, the scoldings by their superiors, joking and flirting with the female employees. When they’re out, they are on duty, but when they were back at the office, they could just kick back. It was the complete opposite for the regular employees. Nevertheless – or perhaps because of it – the Shin-Ra building was a very important place to them.

Reno and Rude’s concern grew stronger when they learned that the company president, Rufus Shin-Ra was missing. There were many staff who witnessed the president’s office receiving a direct hit from Weapon’s energy beam, so the word “missing”, in this case, had a very different meaning. There was also uncertainty about the fate of most of the board members and senior staff. The Shin-Ra Company had nobody to lead it.

There were also many employees who had already given up their positions. With Meteor’s imminent impact, it was understandable that they had more important things in their lives to think about.

Reno and Rude waited for the elevator so they could go up to the presidents office and see what happened to Rufus. The direct elevator to the executive floors wasn’t working, so they would have to try the regular staff elevators.

“This thing isn’t moving.”

“It looks like the emergency lock system was activated.”

“They managed to get that working pretty well.”

“Reno, Rude. Take the stairs.”

The two looked at each other blankly, before turning in the direction of the voice. A long haired man they were all too familiar with stood before them. They definitely hadn’t expected to see him here.


They had received reports that Tseng had died. Elena had even sworn revenge for her boss, and pursuit Cloud and his party to the Northern Crater. But she returned to Midgar unsuccessful. They both had vivid memories of how she had come back cursing, and repeated the word “revenge” like she was under a spell. All of the Turks were still under the belief that Tseng was dead.

“What’s wrong?”

Rude and Reno looked completely dumbfounded.

“You’re alive, Chief.”

“As you can see. But now isn’t the time to explain.”


Reno nodded several times to show that they needed no further explanation.


Suddenly, they heard the voice of a young woman. The three turned around to find Elena standing there. The youngest member of the Turks made no attempt at all to hide her joy at finding the Chief still alive. She quickly ran to Tseng and hugged him.

“Oh come on, Elena. You know I want to do that too,” said Reno.

“No need to hold back, Senpai.”

“I’ll pass.”

Tseng placed a firm hand on Elena’s shoulder and stepped back a little. He took a good look at his three subordinates, and nodded.

“—Come on. Time to get to work.”

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