Characters: General Caden (and a cameo by an NPC named Dominic Kelly)Location: Shin-Ra HQSummary: Caden shuffles through his paperwork and expresses his rather...negative views of what's going on down in the Shin-Ra labs. And then sets up a doomsday clock.Warnings: NoneThere was no war going on (yet). No massive influx of recruits into the Shin-Ra army. No disastrous attempts at reorganizing the entire military structure.So why were there stacks of files on his desk, nevertheless?Daire Caden pursed his lips and gave one of the folders a distasteful poke with his pen. It turned out to be a fatal mistake: his one poke caused the file to push his coffee mug slightly into another stack of folders, resulting in the whole unstable tower toppling over the edge and onto the floor. A lovely domino effect that he’d completely missed.So much for his proclaimed expertise in strategizing.Caden blinked once at the sudden available space on his desk, then glanced at the mess of papers fanning across the ground. There was no way for him to retrieve all of that without crushing everything underneath the wheels of his wheelchair. And he had a hard enough time picking things up in the first place.This could prove problematic.The click-clacking of a keyboard stopped abruptly in the office beside his and a black-haired man stuck his head through the conjoining doorway. He pushed up his thick-framed reading glasses with his middle finger and strode directly over to the disaster area. “If you threw these in a temper tantrum, I’m not picking them up,” he said, leaning down to gather up the folders anyway.“I don’t have tantrums, Kelly,” Caden said, watching his friend dump some of the files on the desk. One sheet of paper nearly slid off again, but Kelly neatly rescued it—and then proceeded to scan the contents.“That is classified information, in case you’re not aware.” Caden made no attempts to take the file away, however.“Again?” was Kelly’s only reply.“Sorry?”“A General is back, and that doesn’t mean you.”Caden dismissed the words with a wave of his hand. “That’s old news. They woke Sephiroth up a good few days ago, along with the others. All of which you have no clue about, correct?”“Absolutely,” Kelly said seriously. A former 3rd Class SOLDIER, he’d left the army following Caden’s accident over a decade ago. Others would’ve permanently avoided the man they nearly killed, but Kelly did just the opposite.Of course, Caden supposed the blame rested on himself, too, for forcing Kelly to drive him that night despite the other’s protests that he’d gotten only twenty minutes of sleep.Either way, Kelly had ended up as his personal assistance, of sorts—although in truth, he was much more than a simple title could convey.“So did they dive into the Lifestream or something and manifest his soul, or how dies this work?” Kelly was rotating the piece of paper around, as though it would reveal the answers from a certain angle.Caden plucked the file out of Kelly’s hands. “I am not so much concerned as to how they did it than what they did.”“Well, they say third time’s the charm.”“Yes, but for who? Shin-Ra or Sephiroth the third?”Kelly considered this, then shrugged, seemingly unconcerned. “At least the lab boys are happy,” he said, heading back to his office. “Even if you’re not.”That was true.But honestly—considering what had happened the last time Shin-Ra created Sephiroth, one would think they’d all picked up a pointer or two on Things Not To Attempt (Again). Apparently, he had too much faith in the company. He wasn’t even going to touch the fact that Sephiroth had been thrown two potential allies, as well. Not natural allies, of course, but he had no doubt Aerith and Zack would join with Sephiroth in one way or another—a common enemy tended to unite people. And once those three escaped...yes, that would be a cause for concern. It wasn’t even a question of if, but when.When indeed.Caden tapped a finger thoughtfully on the armrest of his wheelchair. Five to six months, perhaps? Two weeks for them to realize they had each other, three for negotiations to finalize and differences to be set aside. Two months for organization and planning, roughly a month for setbacks, and a week at most to implement the plan.Perhaps it was a good thing there were no Turks, then. That would cause more of a variation in the last item—with it being anywhere from twenty minutes to three months, depending on how fast the sneaky bastards managed to bribe or blackmail an insider into handing over the keys.So. Five months. But that was a rather loose estimate. Conservatively, he’d aim for more three or four months.Interesting.Of course, he could very well be wrong. It was far too early to tell. Still...Caden mulled over this bit of information briefly, then reached into his drawer and pulled out a stopwatch. He reset it, hit start, and tossed the running timer back inside the drawer.It was a shame he didn’t have anything that counted down, really. But this would suffice.