Title: Turk Ed
Beta: none, very rough draft
Fandom: FF7 AU (COIverse)
Pairing/Characters: Tseng, misc Turks
Warnings: maybe the faintest hint of yuri
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII and all related prequels and sequels belong to Square-Enix.
Summary: The more experienced Turks try to educate the newbie in their midst.
A/N: Aside from Tseng, the Turks in this fic are all based on playable characters from Before Crisis -- namely Characters A (Gun, female), B (Rod, male), D (Two Guns, male), and E (Martial Arts, female).
As the five Turks exited the SOLDIER barracks, Garret brushed dark hair from his eyes, then leisurely stretched his arms over his head before glancing over at his petite female colleague.
"Well, all things considered, that went better than I expected, Tasha."
The petite blonde with the chin-length pageboy haircut replied acerbically, "I suppose," but her tone made it plain that she was still annoyed by her run-in with the intoxicated SOLDIERs First Class. "But I don't particularly like being stranded on some grungy street corner and being made to look like a total idiot."
The tall long-haired brunette called Vandal gave Tasha a sympathetic pat on the back and said, "Perhaps, but there's not much you could have done with a pair of First Classes breathing down your neck."
"Don't you think I know that? We weren't on an actual mission, so there was no real reason to argue with them. But still...."
Walking a few steps in front of them, Tseng paused, then said over his shoulder, "You made the correct decision, Tasha. There was no need to risk unnecessary injury over such a relatively trivial matter."
The fifth member of their group muttered under his breath. Mac, a lanky young man with short auburn hair was the newest of the Turks, and still in his probational period. Vandal was Tasha's partner, but the blond Turk had been drafted into showing the newbie around, which probably contributed to her general feeling of annoyance.
"Do you have a problem, Mac?" Tseng said.
"Well, yeah, I do have a problem. Is that it?"
Tseng raised an interrogative eyebrow.
Mac jerked his thumb in the direction of the barracks. "Those drunken bozos steal our rides right out from under our noses, and that's it? We hand them over to their superior officer and just walk away?"
"It was merely drunken mischief, with no significant permanent damage to property or people," Tseng replied calmly.
"So you're saying that all they'll get is pretty much a slap on the wrist?"
The dark-haired Turk called Garret shrugged. "A verbal slap, anyway. I doubt this will go down in the official records. SOLDIERs, especially Firsts, can get away with a hell of a lot."
Tseng said mildly, "SOLDIERs are a very valuable resource for Shinra. The corporation is not really interested in their off-duty activities as long as the SOLDIERs do their jobs and obey their superiors' orders."
"And like Tseng said, there's no real harm done. Hell, they didn't even scratch the paint on your motorcycle, Mac," Garret said with a broad grin.
"Although -I- certainly wouldn't like to be on the sharp side of the General's tongue. He didn't appreciate getting rousted out of bed," Vandal commented.
Mac looked unconvinced and complained, "It still feels like a damn copout. I mean, we're Turks, right?"
"And they're SOLDIERs. Not just SOLDIERs, but SOLDIERs First Class. So what's your point?" Tasha said irritably.
"My point being is that all you guys have been saying 'no one messes with the Turks' and stuff like that. But this time, you guys seem perfectly happy to stand back and let someone else take care of things." He glared at Tasha. "For example, when those two drunk SOLDIERs showed up and wanted our rides, you just stood aside and didn't raise so much as a finger to stop them!"
Vandal's brown eyes narrowed dangerously. "And we told you, they were First Classes. What the hell did you expect Tasha to do? Beat them down by herself?"
Mac bristled angrily and snapped, "Hey, I was there, too! It was two against two, and they were drunk!"
Garret smacked himself on the forehead and rolled his eyes in obvious exasperation. "Two Turks against two SOLDIERs, and First Classes to boot. Man, are you fucking nuts? Didn't any of your instructors tell you not to fuck around with SOLDIERs if you can possibly avoid it? Or were you asleep during the training lectures?"
Mac hunched his shoulders defensively and muttered sullenly, "I really don't see what the big deal is. If you ask me, you're all acting like you're scared of these SOLDIERs." He turned on Tasha. "Hell, you even let the redhead SOLDIER kiss you!"
Tseng raised an eyebrow. "You didn't mention anything to me about a kiss, Tasha."
"Bite me," Tasha snapped furiously to Mac. When Tseng, Garret, and Vandal continued to stare at her, she gritted her teeth and said, "The idiot was drunk and I was there, okay? He said it was payment for borrowing the motorcycles." She glared at Mac. "He probably would've kissed YOU if you'd been the one standing closer to him."
"I see," Tseng murmured. As Tasha massaged her forehead and gave Vandal a sour look that said, all too plainly, 'See what I've had to put up with?', Tseng answered Mac's earlier comment with a hint of sharpness in his voice.
"Respect and caution are not the same as fear. Tasha was simply following established Turk protocol. Since you were not in a mission-critical situation, there was no reason to force a possibly hostile confrontation with the SOLDIERs. And the fact they were significantly intoxicated is an even more compelling reason NOT to antagonize them unnecessarily."
"Yeah, you guys were damn lucky that they were simply out for a little bit of fun and games. Trust me, you do NOT want to be around a pissed off First Class," Garret said.
"But I...," Mac protested.
At that point, Tseng's phone rang. Pulling it out, he listened attentively for a moment, then turned to the other Turks.
"We have a developing situation that requires my attention," Tseng said, closing the phone with a snap. "So I'll leave it to you three to educate Mac on the reasons for this particular Turk policy."
"Gee, thanks," Garret muttered.
"Mac, I want an essay on this topic on my desk by 0800 hours," Tseng added.
As the senior Turk departed, Mac found himself the target of the other three Turks's attention.
"You really did sleep through those lectures, didn't you?" Vandal said, her lips curling in a slight smirk.
"That, or he's gotten carried away by his first round of boosters," Garret said, referring to the treatment regimen that all Turks underwent to enhance their physical abilities.
Tasha said coldly, "Mac, there are three basic principles to remember when dealing with SOLDIERs, especially the Firsts. Try to get them through your stubborn head." Ticking them off on her fingers, she said, "First, try to avoid hostile confrontations with SOLDIERs, unless necessary to fulfill your mission. Second, it's best to let SOLDIERs deal with SOLDIERs. And third, whenever possible, do not take on SOLDIERs in close quarter combat, especially not one-on-one."
"I'm sorry, but that sounds like bullshit," Mac retorted. "I've seen SOLDIERs and okay, they're pretty damn fast and strong, but so are we. I mean, I didn't see THAT big of a difference...."
"Then you obviously haven't seen First Classes in action," Vandal said impatiently. "Turks may be stronger, faster, and more resilient than normal humans, but SOLDIERs are in a different class altogether. The performance gap between a fully augmented Turk and a Third Class SOLDIER may not be that big, but even that relatively minor difference can have a huge effect in a fight."
Garret jumped into the conversation, adding, "And to make things worse, that performance gap widens a hell of a lot when you start talking about Second Class and First Class SOLDIERs. And when I say 'a lot', I mean damn near exponentially, okay?"
Tasha glared at Mac and said, "If you want a concrete example of what we're talking about, then think about that little race those First Classes had this evening with the chocobos. They weren't riding the chocobos, mind you, but -carrying- them. And you know what? Each of those SOLDIERS were running a hell of a lot faster and further with a full grown chocobo on their backs than you or I could run unencumbered. While jumping over obstacles, yet!"
Garret stared at the blond Turk for a moment, then burst out laughing. Clutching his stomach, he managed to choke out, "Oh my god! So that explains the grand theft chocobo!"
Tasha said drily, "Well, at least partially. I believe that one of the SOLDIERs said that it was only fair that the chocobos got to ride people for once, or something like that."
"Now are you beginning to understand what you would've been up against if you had gotten into a fight with those First Classes?" Vandal said, talking over Garret's renewed hilarity. "The Turks' policies with respect to SOLDIERs is not about being scared of them, but about being able to realistically assess your capabilities and those of potential opponents."
Sobering up, Garret said, "Seriously, Mac, in close quarter combat, without prep, it probably requires at least two experienced Turks to take down a Third Class. And even then, the odds aren't much better than 50/50."
"You're kidding me," Mac said, starting to sound unnerved.
"No, he's not kidding," Tasha snapped. "And according to current estimates, the number of Turks required to achieve better than 50/50 odds under those same conditions typically -doubles- for every increase in SOLDIER class. That means about four Turks to take down a Second Class, and close to eight for a First Class in a straightforward fight."
Mac glanced around at the other Turks, and saw they were nodding in agreement.
"That's talking about an average SOLDIER of a given Class," Vandal said. "The SOLDIERs you and Tasha ran into were probably the cream of the First Class. And from what I've heard, Zack is about the only person who dares to spar one-on-one with General Sephiroth. So no, it's definitely not a good idea to get into a pissing match with those guys if you can possibly avoid it."
Mac thought about that, then suddenly said, "So what about the General?"
"What about the General?" Vandal asked, a little startled.
"How many Turks would we need to take down the General?"
Garret took a deep breath, then raked his hands through his dark hair. "Take down Sephiroth?" He glanced uncertainly at Vandal. "Isn't he supposed to be a First Class?"
The long-haired Turk laughed sharply. "Sephiroth, a First Class? That's total bullshit. Whoever ranked him as a First Class was either lying or blind. The General's in a class all his own."
Mac blurted, "You've seen him in action?" glancing eagerly between Tasha and Vandal.
Tasha nodded curtly and said, "On a few occasions, yes. Usually during demos or field exercises for the President or Heidegger. He's impressive. VERY impressive."
"And probably not performing at anything close to full capacity, either," Vandal said shortly. "He'd be a Zero Class, if there were such a thing. As for Turks trying to take the General down?" She shook her head. "Oh, I'm sure it's possible, but without serious prep-time, I don't even want to think about it. And as for tackling him in close quarter combat, Sephiroth would be an absolute nightmare."
Garret cocked his head, then said thoughtfully, "Maybe if you got him in a tight space, where he wouldn't have room to use that enormous sword of his...."
Vandal uttered a contemptuous snort. "Look, Sephiroth doesn't -need- a weapon or materia to be deadly. He -IS- a weapon. And as for going after him in a confined space, you couldn't pay me enough to step into that sort of killing zone. I'd sooner start looking for a rocket launcher and lots of ammunition. Have you ever seen him fight hand-to-hand?"
"Nope," Garret said. "Have you?"
She nodded. "Yeah, a sparring match between Sephiroth against three Second Classes and two First Classes. It was like they were trying to fight smoke -- they couldn't even begin to touch him. As for Sephiroth, he moved like they weren't even there. The only guy who managed to get a hold of him did it by pure accident -- he tripped and accidentally ended up grabbing the General's hair. And did that slow the General down? Not a damn bit. The SOLDIER ended up slammed into the wall hard enough to leave an imprint on concrete." Vandal shook her head at the memory. "Sephiroth didn't even have to lay a finger on him. A toss of his head was all it took and the guy went flying."
"I'll make a mental note to myself -- 'Don't grab General Sephiroth's hair.'" Garret said with a lopsided grin.
"Hey, if you're going up against Sephiroth, unarmed or not, and he's seriously trying to kill you, his hair will be the least of your concerns," Vandal retorted.
When Tasha saw Mac listening to all this with wide-eyed fascination, she sighed, then said, "But getting back to the capabilities of regular SOLDIERs, their raw strength is intimidating enough, but it's their speed that's the real killer. The elite SOLDIERs are fast. Very, -very- fast."
Garret rolled his eyes and said, "Tell me about it." When Mac gave him a confused look, the dark-haired Turk clarified by saying, "As in 'dodging gunfire pretty darn easily' fast. Just remember that if you ever try to shoot a SOLDIER, especially a First Class, you can't merely aim at where they are. Because by the time the bullet gets there, the SOLDIER's probably somewhere else. So basically you need to fire at where you -think- they're going to be and then hope that they run into the bullet."
Vandal chuckled and said, "Well, you can always try the 'spray and pray' method."
Garret gave her a sour look. "Yeah, it might work. But if it doesn't -- which I've heard is quite possible with some of the First Classes -- you're going to have a pissed SOLDIER with 3+ feet of cold sharp steel in your face before you know it. Not my idea of fun."
"Seriously? SOLDIERs can dodge stuff like machine-gun fire?" Mac said a startled voice.
"I doubt that all of them could do it. As you yourself pointed out, there isn't -that- big of a speed difference between Turks and Third Classes. So if anyone could do it, it's probably only the best of the First Classes. I haven't seen it with my own eyes, so for all I know, it could be a cute bit of Shinra PR designed to make the SOLDIERs look scarier," Garret responded with a careless shrug. "But from personal experience, I can tell you that a lot of SOLDIERs are capable of dodging handgun shots, and that they're a real pain in the ass to hit."
"That extraordinary reaction speed probably explains why most of the SOLDIERs prefer to use melee weapons. A SOLDIER with a sword can react faster and better to changing situations than a person shooting a gun," Vandal said. "With a bullet, once it leaves the barrel, you have absolutely no control over what it does. So if your target dodges, there's nothing you can do about it except shoot again."
She held up her gloved clenched fist. "But melee weapons and hand-to-hand combat are different, because you have much more control over your weapon at all times." Vandal suddenly lashed out at Mac's face. He instinctively dodged, only to realize that Vandal had adjusted her aim in mid-strike. He froze, as Vandal's fingertips rested lightly on his throat.
"You see? The same principle applies to a sword, a rod, or other melee weapons."
Behind Vandal's back, Tasha and Garret, both handgun specialists, looked at each other, then rolled their eyes in unison as Vandal went into lecture-mode. Vandal, first a trained mercenary and now a Turk, was perfectly competent with firearms, and as per regulations, carried a gun. But her first love had always been martial arts. The complementary manner of Tasha's and Vandal's different fighting styles had been one of the original reasons for being partners, although by now, they were best friends and more.
"And if you have the type of speed like SOLDIERs do, the initial loss in range becomes an acceptable tradeoff for the superior control you have over your attack," Vandal continued. "Besides, guns are not exactly the best defensive weapons."
Tasha watched indulgently as she watched Mac eagerly soak up Vandal's words. Not that it would change much. Vandal was preaching to the converted, since Mac already preferred using a staff or rod-type weapon, much like Reno.
Eventually, Mac said, "Okay, now I get it about wanting to avoid trouble with the SOLDIERs. They're are a lot faster and stronger than Turks. Is there anything else I should know about SOLDIERs?"
"Even if you manage to hurt them, they heal incredibly fast. They're highly resistant to most conventional drugs, poisons, toxins, diseases, and magic. Their senses are much sharper than normal -- sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, and all that, so they're damn hard to surprise or ambush. A SOLDIER's low light vision is said to be at least as good as military grade night vision googles." Garret scratched his head, then shrugged. "I guess that's all the important stuff."
Mac stared at the dark-haired Turk in disbelief. "That's ALL? Shit, are these guys even human!?"
"Technically they are still human, only augmented, just like the Turks."
"If becoming a SOLDIER makes you so much better, ability-wise, than why the hell hasn't Shinra given the Turks the same treatment?" Mac demanded, sounding rather envious.
With a snort, Garret replied, "Probably because we'd all flunk the psych evaluation. It's supposed to be a killer." When Garret saw the wary look on Mac's face, he added hastily, "No, no. Not literally, but it's notorious for being a washout special."
"Why's that? I mean, when I joined the Turks, they made me take a bunch of tests, including psych tests. I passed those."
Vandal chuckled. "The Turks are only interested in knowing if you're stable enough to do the job. The fact that Reno managed to pass should tell you that Shinra's not -that- picky about the mental state of its Turks."
When she saw that Mac still looked disgruntled, Vandal added soothingly, "Don't take it personally, okay? It's not like the Turks are second-rate or anything like that. It's just that the Turks and SOLDIER are looking for different things in their people. The Turks are looking for competent people with useful skills, while SOLDIER is looking for people who are both physically and psychologically able to handle becoming SOLDIERs. Which is apparently a really hard thing to do, considering how rigorous their screening process is."
Garret added, "Yeah, becoming a SOLDIER has all sorts of perks and benefits. But despite all the company rah-rah, being a SOLDIER isn't all fun and glory. You screw around the human body the way these scientists do, and weird shit is bound to happen. What they do with us Turks, that's pretty minor as things go. I don't know what they do to guys to make 'em SOLDIERs, and I'm not sure that I want to know. But it's a hell of a lot more than just a few doses of mako. We're talking about serious physiological changes all around, including brain chemistry and crap like that. And frankly, I like my brain just the way it is."
"SOLDIERs were created to be super-combatants," Tasha said crisply. "On the other hand, as Turks, our main focus is security, investigations, and covert operations. We fight, and fight damn well, but that's not our main purpose. A person who has the mindset and skills to become a Turk may not have the 'right stuff' to become a SOLDIER, just as someone who qualifies to become a SOLDIER may not have the 'right stuff' to become a good Turk."
"So what you're basically saying that the Turks are selected for their brains and the SOLDIERs for their brawn?" Mac said.
As Tasha dropped her face into her hands in exasperation, Garret whapped Mac on the back of the head and said sharply, "Don't EVER make the mistake of assuming that SOLDIERs are stupid or dense, newbie. Some of them are way smarter than you'll ever be and don't you forget it."
Vandal looked at her watch. "Look, let's call it a night, okay? Except for you, Mac. You've got an essay to write that's due in a few hours."
Mac groaned and muttered, "Shit, I forgot all about that."
"Then lucky that we reminded you."
"Maybe Tseng was kidding," the newest Turk said, perking up hopefully.
"Not a chance," Vandal said with an evil grin. "If Tseng tells you that he wants an essay, then that's exactly what he wants."
"And you better make it good. The first time I wrote a report, he sent it back to me covered in so much red, I thought he spilt an ink bottle over it," Garret said, grimacing.
"AND made you take remedial writing classes," Tasha said.
"Please don't remind me!" the dark-haired Turk moaned.
As they headed back to their quarters, Mac abruptly asked, "So if you could have any setup you wanted, how would do you take down a First Class SOLDIER?"
Tasha said calmly, "The best option? Send other SOLDIERS after him, preferably also First Class. Or better yet, send the General."
"Okay, other than that. What would you do?"
"If using other SOLDIERs was not an option?" The petite blond Turk looked thoughtful. "Probably the best way would be to snipe him over a long distance with a high velocity explosive round. If I could manage it, I'd want at least two snipers."
Vandal murmured, "And then hope that your target doesn't detect the snipers or the incoming shots."
"Detect a sniper shot? How the hell could even a SOLDIER do that? Nobody can possibly be THAT good. I mean, it's not like he's going to hear the shot before the bullet hits," Mac demanded.
Vandal shrugged. "Just like Garret said -- SOLDIERs have much more acute senses than normal humans, so there's no telling what sort of clues they might pick up on. If I remember correctly, they tried a sniping campaign against the SOLDIERs in Wutai, but it wasn't too effective. The Wutai side got a bunch of the Third Classes and maybe some of the Second Classes, but I don't think they scored a hit on any of the Firsts or on Sephiroth."
"I never said that it was a perfect plan, but it was the best I could come up with on the spur of the moment," Tasha retorted. "And I'd like to see either of you two do better."
"Well, how about...."