Here's a direct followup to my earlier song-ficlet SOLDIERs Just Wanna Have Fun. Sadly, it's not nearly as funny because it's basically my excuse for an info-dump on SOLDIERs, done from a Turk POV. ::sweatdrop::
Title: Turk Ed
Beta: none, very rough draft
Fandom: FF7 AU (COI-redux-verse)
Pairing/Characters: Tseng, misc Turks
Warnings: maybe the very faintest whiff 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 (Gun, female), (Rod, male), (Two Guns, male), and (Martial Arts, female).
-- "Conflicts of Interest Redux" is a MASSIVE rewrite of my old FF7 epic "Conflicts of Interest", which I started years before the "Compilation of Final Fantasy VII" existed.
-- The original game and Advent Children/Complete are canonic for this fic.
-- Before Crisis and Crisis Core are semi-canonic.
-- Various individual plot points from other components of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII (e.g., games, OVAs, FFVII novellas and short stories, etc.) may show up.
As the five Turks exited the SOLDIER quarters, 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. "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."
"I know that! We weren't on assignment, so there was no real reason to argue with them. But it still annoys me."
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 probationary period. Vandal was Tasha's usual partner, but the blond Turk had been drafted into showing the newbie around, which probably contributed to her general aggravation.
"Do you have a problem, Mac?" Tseng said.
"Well, yeah, I do have a problem. Is that it?"
Tseng raised a questioning eyebrow.
Mac jerked his thumb in the direction of the SOLDIERs' quarters. "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 their permanent records. SOLDIERs, especially Firsts, can get away with a hell of a lot."
Tseng said mildly, "SOLDIERs are a very valued resource in Shinra. The corporation isn't 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 nearly half of them are 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 eyes narrowed dangerously. "And we told you, those two were SOLDIERs. 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 completely 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 orientation 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 weren't 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 their leader 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 curving in a slight smirk.
"That, or all that new materia he's toting has gone to his head." Garret shrugged his shoulders. "A classic newbie mistake."
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." She ticked them off on her fingers. "First, try to avoid hostile confrontations with SOLDIERs, unless absolutely necessary to fulfill your mission. Second, it's best to let SOLDIERs deal with SOLDIERs. And third, if at all 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 seem pretty damn fast and strong, but so are we. I mean, I didn't see THAT big of a difference...."
"Then those SOLDIERs you saw obviously weren't even trying," Vandal said impatiently. "Look, we Turks are damn good and damn tough, but SOLDIERs are in entirely different class altogether. The performance gap between a normal Turk and a Third Class SOLDIER is already significant."
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 the 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 SOLDIERs had this evening with the chocobos. They weren't riding the chocobos, mind you. The SOLDIERs were -carrying- them. Over their heads. And you know what? Each of those SOLDIERs ran a lot faster and a lot further holding a full grown chocobo than you or I could unencumbered. While jumping over obstacles, I may add."
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 SOLDIERs?" Vandal said, talking over Garret's renewed hilarity. "The Turks' policies regarding SOLDIERs is not about being scared of them, but about having a realistic view of a Turk's combat capabilities versus a SOLDIER's."
Sobering up, Garret said, "Seriously, Mac, according to current assessments, in close quarter combat without prep, it probably requires at least two to three experienced and fully equipped Turks to take down a Third Class. And even then, the odds probably aren't much better than 50/50."
"You're kidding me," Mac said, starting to sound unnerved.
"No, he's not kidding. You obviously haven't seen the better SOLDIERs in real action," Tasha snapped. "The odds get much worse with the Second Classes, and you do NOT want to hear the numbers needed to even have a realistic chance against a First Class in a straightforward fight." She paused for emphasis. "An -average- First Class."
Mac glanced around at the other Turks, and saw they were nodding in agreement.
"The SOLDIERs you and Tasha ran into were probably among the best of the First and Second Classes." Vandal said. "From what I've heard, Zack is just about the only person who dares to spar one-on-one with 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 Sephiroth?"
"What about him?" Vandal asked, a little startled.
"How many people would we need to take down Sephiroth?"
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 Sephiroth in action?" glancing eagerly between Tasha and Vandal.
Tasha nodded curtly and said, "On a few missions, yes. He's... impressive." She then shook her head sharply. "No, that's not the right word for it. Utterly terrifying is more like it."
Mac's jaw nearly dropped when he heard the icily professional Tasha make such a blunt admission.
"And probably not performing at anything close to full capacity, either. He one-shots full grown dragons without even breathing hard," Vandal said shortly. "As for trying to take the General down with conventional forces or weapons?" She shook her head. "I don't even want to think about it. I wouldn't say that it's impossible, but damn, it would require an incredible amount of planning and preparation. I'm talking complete surprise and a major league trap."
"A massive bomb might do it," Garret suggested.
"That might work, but as for taking Sephiroth down in combat with normal forces? Forget it. It would be an one-sided bloodbath. He'd just slaughter them."
Mac frowned, then said thoughtfully, "Maybe if you got him in a tight space, boxed him in where he wouldn't have room to manuveur or use that enormous sword of his...."
Vandal uttered a contemptuous snort. "Look, Sephiroth doesn't -need- weapons or materia to be deadly. He -IS- a weapon. And as for trying to go after him in a confined space, you couldn't pay me enough to step into that sort of killing zone, even if Sephiroth was barehanded and buck naked. I've seen Sephiroth throw opponents around hard enough to leave imprints -- if not outright holes -- in concrete. With just a backhanded swipe."
"Uh... okay. How about picking him off from a distance? Maybe a rocket launcher and lots of ammunition?"
"Nice try, Mac. But the rocket launcher wouldn't help. I've seen First Classes block or bat aside rockets and tank missiles. Sephiroth could do that one-handed, without even looking."
"Assuming that you can even come close to hitting him," Tasha said briskly. When she saw Mac listening to all this with wide-eyed fascination, she sighed, then said, "But getting back to the capabilities of regular SOLDIERs, their physical strength is intimidating enough, but it's their speed and agility that's the real killers. The elite SOLDIERs are fast. Very, -very- fast. And they can move like you would not believe."
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 damn easily' fast. Just remember that if you ever try to shoot a SOLDIER, especially a First Class, you better be five or six steps ahead of him in your head. Because you're going to have to fire at where you -think- he's going to be and then hope that he runs into the bullet."
Vandal chuckled and said, "Well, there's always the 'spray and pray' method."
Garret gave her a sour look. "Yeah, it might work. But when it doesn't work -- which I've heard happens regularly -- you're going to have a pissed SOLDIER with three plus feet of cold sharp steel in your face before you know it. Not my idea of fun."
"Seriously? SOLDIERs can dodge stuff like gunfire from multiple machine guns?" Mac said a startled voice.
"Dodge or deflect it. Though I doubt that all SOLDIERs can do it, I'm pretty sure the best of the Second Classes and most of the First Classes can," Garret responded with a careless shrug. "But from personal observation, I can tell you that most SOLDIERs have no problems dodging single shooters, hand gun or assault rifle, and that they're a real pain in the ass to hit."
"That extraordinary reaction speed probably explains why 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 firearm specialists, looked at each other, then rolled their eyes in unison as Vandal went into lecture-mode. Vandal, a trained mercenary before she became 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 enhanced reflexes that the 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 with resigned amusement as she watched Mac eagerly soak up Vandal's words. Not that it was really necessary. Vandal was preaching to the converted, because Mac already preferred using baton or rod-type weapons, much like Reno.
Eventually, Mac said, "Okay, 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?"
"Aside from the obviously enhanced strength, stamina, and reflexes, SOLDIERs are incredibly resilient and heal extremely fast. They're highly resistant to most conventional drugs, poisons, toxins, diseases, and magic. Their senses are much sharper than a normal human -- 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 goggles." 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 SOLDIER guys even human!?"
"Well, technically they're still human, only augmented," Vandal said with a shrug.
"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 envious.
With a snort, Garret replied, "Probably because we'd all flunk the psych evaluations, one way or another. 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 of a Turk. The fact that Reno managed to pass should tell you that there's a lot of leeway there."
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, intelligent people with useful skills, while SOLDIER is looking for people who have the right physical compatibility and are mentally stable enough to handle becoming SOLDIERs. Which is apparently a really tricky thing to do, considering how rigorous their screening process is."
Garret added, "Becoming a SOLDIER may have 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. The boosts we Turks get from our materia, that's pretty minor as things go and it's not permanent. I don't know what they do to guys to make them into SOLDIERs, and I'm not sure that I want to know. Whatever it is, 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, intelligence gathering, investigation, and covert operations. We fight, and fight well, when we have to, but that's not our main purpose. A person who has the mindset and skills to become a Turk may not have the right attributes to become a SOLDIER, just as someone who qualifies to become a SOLDIER may not have the right attributes 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 asked.
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 glanced 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 it's 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 added.
"Please don't remind me!" the dark-haired Turk moaned.
As they headed back to Turk headquarters, Mac abruptly asked, "Well, putting aside Sephiroth, how would you guys take down a SOLDIER, First Class?"
Tasha said calmly, "The best option? Send other SOLDIERS after him, preferably also First Class. Or better yet, send Sephiroth."
"Okay, other than that. What would you do?"
"If using other SOLDIERs was not an option?" The petite blond Turk looked thoughtful. "Garret had a good suggestion with the bomb trap. But if you wanted to minimize collateral damage, probably the best way would be to use coordinated multiple snipers with armor piercing explosive rounds, then hope that they get him with the first shots and hit him hard enough to keep him down. Because if they don't...."
Vandal tapped her lips thoughtfully. "That might work, assuming that the SOLDIER doesn't detect the snipers or those first 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.
"Just like Garret said -- SOLDIERs have much more acute senses than normal humans, AND the reflexes to match." Vandal shrugged. "If I remember correctly, the enemy tried a sniping campaign against the SOLDIERs in Wutai, but wasn't too effective. The Wutai side got some Third Classes and maybe a scored a hit on few of the Second Classes, but I don't think they ever managed to graze, much less get a kill, on any of the First Classes or Sephiroth. And FYI, the Wutai are not lousy shots."
"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."
"Hey, I got first dibs on the trap idea," Garret reminded them. "No silly fooling around with poison or anything that takes time. Something instantaneously fatal, because you do NOT want to give a SOLDIER even the slightest chance to fight back or escape."
"A massive earth-shattering kaboom, huh?" Vandal grinned at him. "Maybe you've been hanging around with Rude too much."
"Hey! It may not be subtle, but it'd do the job!"
"Well, speaking about not being subtle, I know exactly what Heidegger would do." Vandal's lips curled in a contemptuous smile. "He'd just throw the entire Shinra Army at the SOLDIER and keep throwing the poor luckless bastards at him until they manage to wear the SOLDIER down through sheer numbers."
"And to hell with the casualties, because we have reserves, huh?" Garret made a sour grin. "Yeah, that's Heidegger, all right."
The Full Disclaimer:
All names, likenesses, and rights of Final Fantasy VII, its characters, and associated works are trademarks, copyright, and property of Square-Enix. The characters and associated materials of these works are used WITHOUT permission for the purpose of entertainment only. The author of this work claims no ownership, part or whole, of the original plot and characters. This work of fiction is not meant for sale or profit.
All original portions of this work is considered to be the sole property and copyrighted to the author Madamhydra. No part of this work is to be reproduced, altered, or adapted in any way without the author's express permission.