[OOC note: The other thread is going to closed shortly after Zack mun finds time to write a response.]Busy day, Rufus thought, as he removed himself discretely from Zack's office and made his way to the elevator. At least that was one thing settled, and he wouldn't have to go and scream at Heidegger, which meant that by and large, it could perhaps be counted as having been vaguely productive.Except for this awful sense of unease that Zack was laughing at him all the way down the hallway.At least if it saved him his life, he didn't have much to complain about. Except chocobos.He thought briefly of his office, and glanced irritably at his watch. 6pm Midgar time. That explained the stream of people starting to pack up and rush for the lifts. Which meant that his secretary would happily be clocking out as well. Which meant that paperwork could, theoretically, wait for another half hour or hour or so. Since he didn't need to sleep and could work on it later that night anyway.He caught sight of the new Turks streaming out of Veld's office as he passed by, and reflected on the fact that the Turks had to be -really- short on manpower these days, or there was something extremely weird afoot. But this was Shinra Inc, after all. Weird was the name of the game.And more importantly, there was someone headed down the corridor in his general direction like the great red warning strobe beacon from Hell.The Old Man. Off to the Honeybee, no doubt. Damn.Evasive actions were called for, and quickly. At points like this, he was grateful that his white suit provided suitable camoflage in the white walled Shinra building, so it wasn't too much trouble to duck discretely down a side corridor. Next -- the stairs, preferably, since the lifts would be out of the question. He shoved his way through the crowd of Shinra employees, carefully accousting someone's confidential report in the mean time for toilet reading later, and ducked into the stairwell.There was one of those new Turks -- the short one with blonde hair -- clattering down. He waved aside her salute, and glanced upwards. Either I take one flight of stairs to the executive level, or ten to my own office..........Executive level it is. I need to pay him a visit, after all.Pulling out his keycard, he swiped his way through the security systems. Little chance that the man had left his office just yet-- ah, the light was still on. Perfect. He rapped once on the door, and slid in without waiting for an invitation."Hello Reeve. It's been a while."
Rufus hastily pressed his hair flat. "Yes. Dark Nation, myself, SOLDIER and the entire Department of Administrative Research. And Heidegger. You should have been there." He sighed, reaching down to scratch Dark Nation's ears as she eyed Reeve. Pathetic that he had to formulate excuses just to get out of the building so that he could talk with an old friend without people recording his every word. "Now is there any place that serves half way decent food around here? And coffee that doesn't taste like acid? I suspect I'll be in office all night. And all morning too."
Rufus grinned very slightly -- grinning was sooo out of fashion these days at Shinra Inc, didn't you know? -- as he fell into step beside Reeve. "Pedophilia? I'm not that young. And besides, the General is, as always, excellent at anything he applies his mind to." He paused, putting on a thoughtful air. "And Heidegger is probably ticklish. We should invite Scarlet the next time. And your boss. Or maybe we should just spike the punch at the next Christmas bash and it'll amount to the same thing anyway."Dark Nation yowled at the very suggestion, and Rufus' grin grew just a hair's breadth wider, before vanishing."Decent coffee in Midgar? I didn't know we had any. I assume this is the upper plate we're talking about. Neither of us are dressed for the slums. Or armed for it."He glanced at the Shinra tower looming high overhead, cast in ghastly green light from the mako reactors. Almost like something out of those old horrors movies. Or Minas Morgul in that Ring film. "And you never did answer my question. How's life in sunny Midgar? Any backstabbing or scandals or nice juicy things I can get a bit of leverage on? There was this little rumor that you were hitting on Hojo..."
[OOC. Uh oh. I think you just landed Rufus in a spot.]"Well, as long as someone spikes the punch. And Hojo ends up sleeping with Scarlet. And someone gets photos." He swatted away Reeve's hand with a brief don't do that I'm not twelve scowl. "Good old Honeybee. Loyally serving and servicing the upper echelons of Shinra management since the foundation of the company. Did you know they started sending me flyers? And the staff actually let those flyers through because that's apparently standard policy where it comes to Honeybee Stuff and the upper Executive?" he rolled his eyes briefly."And yes. Good old sunny Midgar." He glanced heavenwards, where black clouds were curling around the Shinra tower. "And I knew that Zack's office was bugged. How many people are onto that particular rumor? Do I have to kill anyone this time?"Damn. I thought we'd been discreet. How on earth does news travel that fast? It's barely been a handful of hours since I met up with Zack outside Veld's office, and that's not exactly an area open to public access. And if that particular rumor reaches the old man...He paused in midstep as the implications of that hit him.I can look forward to no more escort on my next mission. And it means that either someone must have spotted us and deliberately fed the rumor mill, or Zack himself is feeding the rumor mill, or that little uncleared MP I saw leaving his office...He glanced sharply at Reeve, expression gone piercing and totally serious. "Who did you hear that from?"
"I don't know," Rufus murmured, as they turned off the mainstreet into a quieter sidelane on the way. "They're trying to kill me out there. A little rumor in the wrong hands could be fatal." A brief sigh. "I suppose it's too late now. I'll deal with it later. Even if it's too stupid to appeal to the reasonable person."His hand fell, trailing across Dark Nation's back as the panther stalked beside him and eyed passersby suspiciously. Less than 24 hours into Midgar and he was already tired of all the politicking. Or at least, the politicking that wasn't going his way. This had to change. But not right now. Right now there was the smell of coffee ahead -- really promising stuff, if the aroma was anything to go by. "So what was it you wanted to talk to me about?" he asked.
"Don't I always?" Rufus asked wryly. The smell of coffee had always been a familiar, friendly smell to him. It triggered the notion of 'safe' and 'not-the-Shinra-building', and recalled that lovely little incident some time ago where Dark Nation had very nearly eaten one of those waiters who'd absolutely insisted that their cafe had been too good for animals.Amused recollection turned to ice as he heard what Reeve was saying. Reeve's boss was notorious for getting absolutely nothing done -- it was his quiet second who had designed the reactors and done most of the planning for Midgar -- but the old man liked him. Especially since he could also be counted on for a supporting vote. And perhaps other little things, a voice in the back of Rufus' mind supplied darkly."The outlying reactors... or the Midgar ones?" he asked, fearing that he knew what the answer would be. And all the Ancients be damned... there wasn't such a thing as 'too much mako' to the President. 'Build more tanks', he'd likely say, if the subject was brought up, and if the Head of Urban Development didn't shoot it down first. Squabbles amongst the board for funding for the different departments are now legendary, with the new Space Programme starting to show promise and all that...Perhaps if I got one of those troublesome reactors blown up, it would kill two birds with one stone----No. They would find a way to shift the blame to the reactor design rather than to the terrorist attack, which would damage all of Shinra instead of just the old man. Alternatively..."I've missed a lot of board meetings. Have you tried bringing it up during those? Did the President listen? If he didn't, there's very little I can do, you know. I don't hold any real power here, and I don't even have enough money in my own budget to finance a full scale maintainence operation. And that wouldn't help the overdrawing. Nor is anyone in the habit of listening to me." He smiled wryly. "Except you, but we're in the same boat for this one."Alternatively, if one of the reactors DID blow, or came very close to it, and someone was pushing for an overhaul while the rest of the board and its President dragged his feet on the issue...There were days where he'd hated himself for thinking like this. Admittedly most of those days had occurred when he had been much younger. But time passed as time passed and circumstances changed, and the name of the game with it. And every advantage that he could muster... meant, obliquely, one less assassin's bullet headed his way. The sooner the old man is gone, the better for us all.