Just Causes

A while back, a friend reccommended to me that I check out this website. The fanfiction section got me hooked, and I ventured over to FF.net in order to see more. Unfortunately, the fandom I chose - Final Fantasy X - has been told to grab its ankles by self inserts, Marty Stu, and typo-ridden lemons. There IS some fanfiction on there that is very good, but the authors come far and in between. This spurred me on to write something that strayed a little from the classic formula.

For those of you familiar with FF:X, you’ll know just how many fanfictions starts off with somebody from Earth “falling into Spira”. I decided to use this idea just to show what potential it actually has.

And thus came “Just Causes”.

Here’s the first of eight chapters so far. This one is kind of short, and I tend to think of it as somewhat of a prelude, but they DO get MUCH longer.

DISCLAIMER: “Just Causes” rated M for reasons including (but not limited to): graphic violence, drug and alcohol use and reference, adult situations, strong explicit language, and disturbing content that may not be suitable for younger readers. Reader discretion is advised.

[i]Ain’t found a way to kill me yet.
Eyes burn with stingin’ sweat.
Seems every path leads me to nowhere.
Wife and kids, a household left -
Army Green was no safe bet.
The bullets scream to me from somewhere.

“Rooster”, Alice in Chains[/i]

The pounding rain drummed out a savage tattoo upon the tin roof of the bunkhouse, the din muffled only by a dense mat of fiberglass insulation that sagged down through uneven gaps between the rough pine rafters. Inside the squat structure, amidst a cluttered circle of low cots and footlockers, sat a small cluster of dangerous looking men. There were six of them, hardened men in body armor. The older men, mostly veterans of Special Operations, had seen action everywhere from the Ho Chi Minh Trail to the Sunni Triangle. All of them were past thirty, and the two oldest were in their fifties. There were no young men employed with Blacktip Security Solutions, only grizzled and prematurely gray men for whom combat was a way of life.

Not that they saw much combat with their current employer. Shining Horizons Genetics Research and Development was a genetics research company nestled deep in the mountains of rural Brazil. Its biggest worries were corporate espionage and the occasional stray jaguar. This gave the Blacktip administration pause. They (Shining Horizons) had specifically asked for the most experienced contractors. They got them, for a price whispered about in the corridors of the complex back in Farmington. Six of the most dangerous men in the world were sitting in a wooden shack, enjoying a not-insignificant salary to stand in the rain and watch for wildlife and lost tourists.

Ostensibly, the men served as a deterrent to any rival research companies making less than satisfactory progress. After ten months of rain, snow, and more rain, the corporate espionage of which Shining Horizons was so publicly paranoid had not stuck its white-collared neck out from behind any trees. The only five hostile rounds fired the entire tour came about as a result of a jungle cat getting loose in the compound. Regular security, poorly trained locals in ill-fitting black and white uniforms, fired off four wild shots before the contractors killed it with the Walther WA2000 that one of the BSS snipers carried. There was target practice in the jungle every week, regardless of weather, but nobody mandated attendance. Everyone always came anyway. Even some of the security guys showed up one week, but left after their 9mm Beretta pistols gave them an inferiority complex amongst the deafening rattle of automatic, large-caliber rifles. Expensive, automatic, large caliber rifles.

One of the contractors, Felix “Diesel” DiMarco, lay on his back on the uncomfortable cot assigned to him. He was reading an old, faded magazine that had been left in the bunkhouse by one of its previous denizens. The 1962 magazine held little interest for him other than a diversion from the mind-numbing day-to-day rhetoric. Felix tossed it aside and tuned in to the usual bullshit.

“I got her screamin’ my name, right? So I—”


“My kid’s turtles get more action than you!”

Another merc in the bunkhouse spoke up. “I got a story to beat all y’all. So I’m in Oregon, right? And the guy’s payin’ me three grand a week to keep his wife safe. So I says, ‘I wanna see the mark’. I shit you not, she looked like she got Fords parked up there! So he leaves, and we’re alone in his office. Next day, the boss is askin’ me if I spilled a drink on his desk. I says ‘No boss, why would you ask that?’ So then he says, ‘CAUSE MY DESK CALENDAR GOT WATER DAMAGE!’”

A gray-haired, stocky man, whom the contractors collectively called “Gramps”, snorted. “Knock that bullshit off, now. None of you kiddies could screw your way out of a wet paper bag. Now, I don’t want any more of that shit. ‘Sides, I was poundin’ two chicks at once behind the PX before any of you four was even a twinkle in your daddy’s eye. Diesel, Smitty, you pricks are on duty tonight. Get your asses in gear and relieve Kirk and Hoser. They been out in the rain all night.”

Felix/Diesel rolled off his cot, stood up and took his gear out of his footlocker, donning it in the routine he could have performed in his sleep. First, he strapped his “soft” body armor around his muscular chest. A Kimber TLE II rode inside a protective thigh holster to finish his first line of gear. A plate carrier covered with pouches and carrying ceramic trauma plates completed his second line. After checking that all the pouches were full and the magazines loaded, Felix picked up his rifle from his cot. The damn AR was reliable as sin and just as lethal. He jammed a filthy Padres hat onto his head and stepped into the downpour. The rain drummed on his head, rivulets running off the hat that motor oil and a commercial solution rendered waterproof after a period of some years. Smitty, who habitually slept in his full combat gear, stumbled and cursed in the mud way ahead of him.

Felix and Smitty slogged across the muddy compound, the muck over their boot tops at times, and saw Kirk waiting for them at the entrance to the main building. José “Hoser” Gonzales was nowhere to be seen. “Hey Kirk, where’s Hoser at?” Felix yelled.

“Went to take a piss,” Kirk said as he walked toward them. He made a show out of checking his battered Rolex. “You’re five minutes late.”

“Blow it out your ass,” Felix laughed, grinning. “Gramps is on his cycle; you better hurry back.” Kirk nodded, and set off for the bunkhouse at a steady jog.

Felix leaned against the slick concrete wall, yanked his rifle’s charging handle, and began dearly wishing the world would stop being so goddamn wet. He habitually glanced around every now and again just to make sure that no secret agents, turistas, or local fauna were running en masse out of the jungle. A deer bounded across his field of vision, and Felix, a hunter, felt a severe temptation to shoot the damn thing.

He sighed. His bank account did little to justify the gargantuan fucking rip his continued military services tore in Felix’s family life. Time after time he returned home to some new crisis to face, be it rent or new schools or those goddamn credit card payments refusing to go away. Felix couldn’t turn to his family anymore, either; after he bought that apartment in Chicago, they refused to assist the man who dragged the DiMarco name through the mud. He spat. Fuck everything. Give me my next goddamn paycheck so I can go home and argue over who gets what.

Not as though getting paid would fix much. Car payments, rent for a three-bedroom apartment in rural Chicago, taxes, cigarettes, booze… Shit, that didn’t even include the legal fees for the ongoing legal S.N.A.F.U. with Tracy. The check he got every two weeks just managed to cover all these and leave him a little leeway. Like money for food. Blacktip Security wasn’t bad to its employees, just not very kind to the ones whose decisions in the past cost the company considerable amounts of money to counteract bad PR.

He flicked his gaze down to his tattooed wrist. The glowing tritium hands of his Invicta dive watch said that he had been soaked to the skin for only half an hour. The wind kicked up considerably during that time, and now drove the fat raindrops sideways into Felix’s eyes. “Fuck this,” he growled, “I’m going inside.” He grabbed the slippery aluminum handle and pulled the door open.

The two men stood muddying the white concrete floor, large puddles of water and silt collecting underneath them. Felix grabbed a pair of metal and plastic chairs from the waiting area and slid them in front of the door. “There.”

Smitty laughed. “Too bad Kirk didn’t think of that.” He collapsed into the chair, body armor impacting plastic with a dull thump.

“Got a light?” Felix asked, as he pulled two cigarettes from a plastic “baggie” rolled up inside a pouch on his plate carrier. He offered one to Smitty, who produced a lighter.

“Yeah. Quit smokin’, though.”

Felix shrugged, and replaced the unwanted smoke. His wet thumb worked the steel roller until a fat little flame extended from the top of the cheap plastic lighter. “I can’t quit.”


“Unh-uh. Colombia.” He blew a cloud of smoke out of his mouth.


“So heard anything from the ol’ lady?”

“Yeah. That new custody hearing starts in a few hours.”

“No shit?”

“None. Looks like Alec’ll be growin’ up without a dad.”

“Gramps is givin’ you emergency leave in a few days, right?”

Felix snorted. “Yeah. Already tried to delay the hearing. Judge said that it wasn’t his fault I didn’t put my family first. Lawyer says he’ll do what he can to argue my side, but Tracy can look damn convincing when she cries. That judge’ll give in to the bitch easy. I got no case.”


“Damn right.”

More silence.

“What’d her lawyer say about the house?”

“Bitch wants it all.”



Smitty gave a low whistle. “She’ll make out nice.”

Felix laughed, despite himself. “Fucker’s even trying to get her the Ford.” He shook his head in disbelief. “Gotta love the American justice system.”

The two contractors watched big, fat raindrops spatter against the tempered glass with increasing velocity. “Crazy weather we’re havin’.”

“Hell yeah. It was seventy-five and sunny yesterday.”

“And it was windy as all hell before that.”

“Wonder if it’s that ‘El Nino’ thing the weatherman keeps bitchin’ about.”

“Could be.”

The mutually agreed upon silence resumed.

The building shook from a massive roll of thunder that wasn’t thunder, and the sky flashed with lightning that wasn’t lightning. The building shook and Felix split his lip open against the floor. “HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT, WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?”


Felix didn’t have to open the door. It lay somewhere in the mud, torn free from its hinges. Outside, the rain stopped. But the thunder continued to roll, the lightning to strike, and the wind blew harder. He could feel the rifle pulling hard against the polymer clips of the sling that held it firmly against his body. Felix’s filthy hat flew from his head. The contractors looked up at the eerily swirling, glowing sky

“Mary,” Smitty breathed, “mother of God.”

The spiral began to accelerate, and the lights dotting its ripples pulsated irregularly. A finger of lightning reached down from the epicenter and exploded in front of the contractors. From the smoldering crater crawled a human-sized, bizarre, bird-like creature. Spiked wings opened to reveal four glowing blue eyes. The unearthly illumination cast stark shadows on its writhing gray skin. Felix lifted his rifle and emptied a long burst into the creature’s head. Blue liquid spouted from it in irregular spurts. It shuddered and fell over. Small pink and orange orbs emerged from the carcass and floated up lazily to the sky. “Jesus.”

Something bigger burst forth from within the spiral. “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT!?”

A bright trail of white flames traced a vicious swath through the clouds. The shape unfolded into a huge bird, bigger than anything Felix had ever seen, and flared its enormous wings to avoid impact with the mire. Red and gray feathers ruffled in the wind. The black, lidless eyes on its skeletal face turned toward him. Talons pierced the ground. It let out a cry, a hellish sound that brought a primal and dormant fear to the surface.


Kirk and Hoser came sprinting from the jungle, carrying one of Blacktip’s .50 caliber machine guns. They dropped it to the tripod and threw the bolt back with a loud crack. Felix could feel the concussions in his chest as round after round of steel-cored ammo exploded out of the big gun’s chamber. He dropped into the muck on one knee and his own rifle began bucking against his shoulder, a deadly percussionist rattling along with others in a disorganized symphony of lead. The stink of cordite, hot metal, and ozone filled the air.

Smitty’s mouth moved, but Felix couldn’t hear what he screamed.

The creature drew its head back. The mouth opened wide. The fuck is it—

A white-hot ball of energy shot from the mouth. It exploded into the building, taking most of the reinforced concrete and steel structure with it. The air stank of ozone and the horrible rancidity of burning flesh. Felix hit the ground hard again; the red, sticky film draining from his forehead obscured his vision. Worse than in any artillery barrage or rocket attack, the desire to haul ass away from whatever the fuck this thing was kneed him in the balls. He rolled onto his back and tried to stand. Something hit him hard from behind, and he heard the ceramic fracture. Thank God for SAPI!

Felix looked to the side and saw his friend bleeding out into the mud. A piece of twisted reinforcing steel protruded from his sternum. Felix couldn’t do a damn thing.


A contractor who Felix thought might’ve been Gramps came running from the jungle, holding a long tube over his shoulder. LAW. Good. The man dropped to a knee, and the tube sent a rocket flying toward the creature. It exploded in a fireball… Without touching the target. Some kind of shimmering field surrounded the creature, and nothing was getting through. The creature let out another cry, an unnatural sound that rippled through the compound. More of the smaller creatures flew from the pulsating spiral. Felix fumbled with the pouches on his plate carrier, trying desperately to get a grenade out. He pulled the pin, and hurled the metal sphere with every ounce of his strength. It bounced off the field and exploded harmlessly in the mud, sending a shower of debris into the air. We gotta kill this fuckin’ thing. We gotta stop it. Somebody threw a white phosphorous grenade, and a violent white light illuminated the battlefield. The burning chemicals dripped off that goddamn energy field, baking the mud below until it fused into crackling glass.

A realization hit Felix with a force equal to a shot from the fifty. It’s toying with us. That sonuvabitch is toying with us!

The creature shrieked again, and another ball of unholy energy crashed into the earth. This one sent Kirk and Hoser flying, their gun position completely destroyed. Felix used every round of ammo he had, and that damn thing continued to defy all logic. He tossed the now useless rifle aside and took off toward the bunkhouse for another one, Preferably a rifle that shot a bullet bigger than the AR did. Something grabbed his leg and pulled him to the mud. Felix rolled over, and saw one of the smaller winged creatures clinging to his leg. He could feel the searing pain of a deep cut along the long rip in his green tactical pants. He struggled to get his pistol free. He slammed the steel frame of his handgun into what he hoped was the creature’s head. He heard the mushy sound of something hard impacting flesh and bone, and the vise on his leg released its hold. Felix sent a pair of hollowpoint rounds drilling through his attacker’s brain.

Another winged creature ran toward him, and Felix stuck out his left arm in the way he had been taught at Ft. Bragg. Get the dog to latch onto your arm, then shoot the bastard. Teeth pierced deep into his tattooed flesh, causing him to scream with pain. He pushed the muzzle of the gun against the grotesque face and fired. The cloud of cranial matter spewed out of the ragged hole and splattered against him. Felix pried its jaws off his arm, and his own blood streamed down his arm in a crimson sheet.

The crawl through the mud to what seemed like a safe spot was almost a swim. He forced his head up, to look at that… That thing that seemed to be invincible. Someone in a red robe –what the hell? - was standing beside the massive creature. Whoever it was didn’t seem to notice the hellspawn only a few meters away. Move, you dumbass! MOVE!

The man with the dirty red robe turned, and Felix tried to discern who the hell the crazy bastard was. He wasn’t familiar, but his presence seemed to calm the creature, which drifted away from the building with an uncharacteristic lethargy. It floated until Felix could almost count the feathers on the avian’s wings. He rolled onto his back, honoring a pact with himself that he would die with the wounds in front. As vision faded, he could make out the outlines of two clawed talons reaching down for him. Felix suddenly felt weightless. He squeezed the serrated match trigger one more time, determined to send that damn thing back to hell. He passed out after the gunshot sounded, and the pistol slipped from his dirty, bloody hands.

The last thing he heard before fading completely was his own, shallow, frantic breathing.

Subsequent chapters on request… or not. Thanks for looking!

Hmm… got feedback?

Personally speaking, lack of time.

Sorry I haven’t responded to this yet. I’ve been…kinda busy with job hunting.

This looks extremely promising. I agree, so much of FanFiction.net is filled with self-inserts and Mary Sues that it’s downright horrifying. I haven’t ventured much into the Final Fantasy sections in recent years, so I can’t judge how much things have changed, but this first chapter looks great.

If there was only one real criticism I have, it’s about the language. I understand you’re trying to keep things adult, and that’s great and all, but there are a few points where it seems like the characters are swearing for the sake of swearing and nothing else. Still, this is extremely minor.

Please, if you can, keep posting here. I’ll check the fic out on FF.net, and if you wish, get it HTMLized and ready for the next update.

Thanks for the props, Galloway!

The language in this chapter, yes, was harsh and frequent. Not because I’m trying to come across as “mature” or “adult”, but because that’s how combat men sound. It’s not as bad in later chapters, though.

I’ll work on HTMLizing the other eight chapters. Thanks again!