The Dark Mirror

BY : k505
Category: Final Fantasy VII > Threesomes/Moresomes
Dragon prints: 725
Disclaimer: I do not own the Final Fantasy Series. It belongs to its creators and various publishers. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

The Dark Mirror

Book One of the Toy Soldier Series

Written and Illustrated by k505

Additional Illustrations by No One Yet

Edited by No One Yet

Extreme Graphic Adult Content

Disclaimer: I do not own the Final Fantasy series. It belongs to its creators and various publishers. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. This fictional story is the product of my imagination and shared for entertainment purposes, but not profit purposes. 

Main Paring: Vincent Valentine/Sephiroth/Angeal Hewley/Genesis Rhapsodos/Zachary Fair/Cloud Strife

Introduction: Walking a Lonely Road

“An old man can tell a tale and a young one can spin it. Time is the master of us all. No one can stop time, no one can defeat it, time is immortal. Our personal stories come to an end with fate. Time is strong and structured, destiny, fate’s sister, is tenuous and fleeting. As destiny weaves along the loom of time, fate snips the final string. Except for one man who lives immortally. Stolen from time’s grasp, a child of destiny and the enemy of fate, Cloud Strife is a unique individual. Cloud needs a second chance to find happiness and time is shattered by Gaia.”        

The broken city of Midgar stands as a stark contrast to the blue skyline filled with cumulous clouds. The rising sun casts its light on the rubble and glints off the metal and wet concrete. Plant-life had taken root over the abandoned city. It is as if Gaia is attempting to consume the last reminder of the Shinra empire. It has been over the hundreds of years since the events of meteor. The legendary heroes, known as Avalanche, have passed into the life stream, all, but one. The eternal youthful man studied the rising sun from his perch atop the last steel girders, which have survived the horrific events of meteor. His sword, first Tsurugi, is strapped to his back. He carries the sword with an ease that bellies its formidable size. A lot had changed since the silver-haired triplets’ attack occurred. Everyone moved on, except for him. No matter his friends’ encouragement Cloud could not let go of the past. It was a good thing he had not in the end – immortality was a painful thing for everyone.

Tifa Lockhart had eventually moved on; leaving her infatuation of Cloud behind her. She had married a handsome bartender, Nicolas, who Cloud didn’t know very well, due to his unfounded paranoia that Cloud would steal his wife. They had grown distant overtime, but Cloud still looked after her, albeit from a distance. When she died from old age, Cloud had looked on after her husband (who had mellowed over the years) and her children. Then her husband passed away and then their children, leaving her grandchildren and then her grandchildren’s children. Barrett Wallace had died in an accident leaving his amassed fortune to Marlene and her husband, Denzel. Despite growing up together, Denzel and Marlene did not love each other platonically, like siblings. Their love was the stuff of fairy tales, Denzel would have pursued Marlene across the world, he would have braved untold horrors and even suffer the bowels of hell, for her, as she would for him They had two daughters, who had children and their children had children.

Cid likewise left his fortune to his wife and since they were childless, Shera had left the money to charities once she realized that Cloud would never accept it. Yuffie refused to settle down. Despite that she refused to settle, she had several suitors which resulted in numerous heirs. All of whom were just as spirited and wild as the princess, much to Cloud’s horror. Yuffie passed away after her oldest child was coronated.

The last to die and the one, who Cloud would morn the most, was Vincent. Vincent and Cloud had become lovers for a short while before an accidental explosion killed the former Turk. Life went on and Cloud watched as time passed and aged Gaia’s inhabitants – all, but him. Cloud would cry sometimes, silently, in the darkness of night. He had been left behind by time, by fate and by those he loved. They had gone somewhere he could not follow. The Life Stream would not accept him.

Cloud had become something of a hermit after the last of Avalanche passed away. He lived in the rubble of Midgar, a silent specter to many who dared treasure hunt in the broken city. The legend of Cloud Strife faded into obscurity and only the descendants of Avalanche remembered the real stories. Eventually, they assumed Cloud had died. He had not died.

It began like any other day. Cloud woke up, but he didn’t wake alone. He had a visitor, a ghost from his past. He stared astounded at the translucent image of Zack Fair. He had not seen this ghost since the silver-haired triplets. Zack offered his hand and Cloud slipped his hand into Zack’s. A painful flicker of hope crossed Cloud’s face, making Zack’s heart hurt.

Prologue: Once a Hero

The past was not as I remembered it. My physical appearance was different and so was my mother’s. I performed at much higher level at school, one which couldn’t be rationalized by the return of my old memories. In fact, at eight years old, I was attending middle school and my peers were all five years older than me. My mother, Rayne Strife, worked as a mechanic at a nearby fuel station. Something which did not endear her to our neighbors.

Nibelheim was filled with traditionalists who believed a woman’s place was at home. Mom rode a motorcycle for fuck’s sake and she was significantly younger, having given birth to me at seventeen-years-old. She was a loudmouth with no filter and overly cheerful. She certainly hadn’t been born in Nibelheim. She was a strong, independent woman and somewhat lost at how to care for a child. She was lucky I wasn’t your average child. We lived in a small cottage near the main road. Mom couldn’t cook to save her life and for the first years of my life we ate instant noodles with diced meat and vegetables hazardously thrown in. I took over the cooking shortly after my sixth birthday. “Mom, I am cooking from now own. I’m making it my birthday present. You’re to go nowhere near the kitchen.” I declared with vehemence waving around a wooden spoon theatrically.

She just put her hands on her hips and said, “I thought this day was coming. Not you too! How can no one appreciate my homecooked cheesy noodles!” She swooned dramatically. I snickered at her dramatics. So, I cooked and I learned to clean and repair the house. When things did not contain mechanical parts my mom was at a loss of how to fix it. She is a (mechanical) prodigy if a bit awkward, socially I mean.

My days were consisted of school (which lasted until noon), cooking, cleaning and training myself in secret. While, Mom was working, I would sneak out of the house into the forests which surrounded Nibelheim and run. It was an exercise in speed, agility, stamina and avoiding obstacles. Additionally, I built up my strength and reflexes. I also hunted the local animal populace for meat, so mom and I weren’t dependent on the asshole of a butcher. I use the innyards of my kills to make thread, needles out of bone and I used the pelts to make our drafty house warmer.

I didn’t have any enhanced abilities, save my severely heightened senses. So, I couldn’t exactly go wake up Vincent, immediately, with the many monsters patrolling the Shinra mansion and I couldn’t go into the mountains with the dangerous Nibelheim wolves and dragons. Well, not until I managed to build my skills more. It was slow going. Mako not only heightened your physically abilities, it also sped up the development of muscle memory. I contemplated “falling into a Mako pool”, but decided I didn’t want to freak out my mom if I fell into a coma.

I was six when I got my first glimpse of my former hero turned enemy. His picture was in one of those trashy magazines my mother entertained herself with. The differences are subtle, but startling to me. Instead of the classically handsome square-jaw, Sephiroth has an angular one. His face is narrower with higher cheekbones and the shape of his eyes is rounder. His lips are fuller. Instead of his previously thin lips, he has perfect cupid’s bow lips. Sephiroth is not as pale as he used to be. He used to be so pale that his features were nearly washed-out. He has a pale cream-and-peach complexion. His hair is no longer the pale-silver (almost translucent) color that I was familiar with. His hair is a steel-gray with even darker undertones. His most shocking changes are the length of his hair and the color of his eyes. His hair is cut barely below his chin and had slight waves. It had more volume, being feathery. His eyes were a gunmetal-gray and were framed by long eyelashes. His eyebrows were thicker than they were previously. His shoulders were not as wide and while he was not as bulky he still has a considerable amount of muscle and he towers over others, if the other Soldiers in the photo are any indication. I was astounded and privately admitted to myself that Sephiroth was even hotter now.

Zachary Fair’s eyes slide into focus and he starts, nearly chocking on the damn cigarette in his mouth, as his memories acclimated. He spits out the cigarette and rushed to the mirror across the room to stare in shock at his changed features. The Centra had warned him that his appearance could possibly change, they were right. His hair is short and feathery, sticking up like he had just had the best fuck of his life. His face is narrower with a longer nose, angular chin and higher cheekbones. His eyes are no longer a blue-purple color, but a startling sapphire with darker rims. His lips are fuller, but still on the thin side. He is seventeen-years-old and a first-class soldier. Last time he had been nineteen before he was promoted from second-class to first-class. Currently he wasn’t wearing his specifically tailored fatigues. He wore a pair of low hanging jeans and nothing else.

Reviewing his memories, he is surprised to know that Angeal was not his mentor in this timeline. Although, he had privately worshiped the ground that Angeal walked on. His buster sword is different than Angeal’s. His sword looks narrower and is more like a fancy meat cleaver than a buster sword. One sided is curved and sharpen to a point and the other side mimics the buster sword. It also has a row of materia slots, which he stores elemental and haste materia in. He had a fan club, mostly composed of young men – since he’d came out of the closet publicly after a girl had assaulted him.      

Zack is thankful that he is in between lovers. He wants Cloud, damn it. Aeris and he had broken it off shortly before he was shoved into his current universe, timeline and new form. Aeris had forgiven him for inadvertently leading her on. He had been in denial about his sexual preferences and obsession with Cloud. Not any more, fuck it, not any more.  

I rested my head in my hands, staring apathetically at the countryside. The truck makes its way to Midgar, swaying and puttering along the dirt track. I am almost to Midgar, a smile tug at the corner of my lips. When I was eight my mother rescued an amnesiac trapper from certain death in the snow storm. He was an older man, maybe in his mid-forties, he had ebony hair which was graying at the temples and gentle caramel-colored eyes. Crow’s feet line the corner of his eyes and lips are turned up in a perpetual smile. He had been caught in one of his traps, his leg was mangled. Mom dragged him home through the storm and tended to his bloodied leg. He survived with a limp. He adored mom and me. Mom was sweet on him and apparently, he returned those feelings. They married to the surprise of the neighbors and then I got two younger siblings, who were fraternal twins. Tempest Strife was the oldest twin and my baby sister. Squall Strife was my adorable little brother. I didn’t feel so bad leaving mom behind for Shinra. I was leaving her with a loving family.

Speaking of my mom, she had let me in on a secret. Her birth name wasn’t Rayne Strife, which didn’t surprise me. However, what did surprise me was her heritage. The conclave had been a hidden monastic sect on the tip of southern Wutai, which had repudiated history and animal appetite in hope of reaching enlightenments through the control of all desires and circumstances. For three-thousand years, this Monastic Sect bred its members for intelligence and for motor reflex. Members of the Sect were raised to control their emotions and use other’s emotions to control them. They were also taught to master a rudimentary logic and deduction skills. Three thousand years of work destroyed, when Doctor Hojo took an interest in the rumors about them. The sect chose ritualistic, mass suicide via fire before Hojo could reach them. There was only one survivor – a young girl, Sapphine Ares, my mother, who was kidnapped by a young eco-terrorist, Aether. Aether was my father.

Mom had loved Aether, but apparently Aether hadn’t been in love with Mom. I was conceived accidentally. Mom was discarded by my father and his colleagues when she refused to build a weapon to defeat Shinra. Aether didn’t know about me and my wounded mother didn’t care to inform him. Not after he broke her heart. She had disguised herself as a mechanic and moved as far away from Aether as possible, all the way to Nibelheim. I inherited the best of both my parents.

 I had my mom’s intelligence. I could enroll in Midgar University at ten-years-old, if I were so inclined. I had my mother’s speed, agility and reflexes, my physical figure and facial features taking after my mother. However, I had my father’ coloring. Where my mom had pale-blond hair, an almost white-color, my father had passed down his golden-blond hair, like sun-ripened-wheat, to me. I had my father’s blue eyes, but mom said mine were far more beautiful. Mom had pale-green eyes, which Tempest had inherited. Tempest and Squall had inherited my mom’s intelligence, but not her physical attributes. Their coloring is an amalgamation of dad and mom. I didn’t think of Aether as my dad. He was just “sperm donor” or “father”. Tempest took after the old me, all long limbs and clumsy. Squall was only marginally better. I loved my siblings whole-hearted and swore to protect them.

The truck rattled to a stop and I was surprised to realize that we had made it to the edge of the city. “Alright?” the driver called peering in the rearview mirror. I nodded and grabbed my belongings jumping off the back of the truck. I made my way through the impoverished districts to the train, spending quite a few gil for a ticket up to the plate. The gentle swaying of the train nearly put me to sleep.  It was late, the sunlight waning, when I reached the top. I got an inexpensive hotel room in a small forgotten corner of the plate. I had begun collecting my gil from the monsters I killed in Nibelheim. I used most of that money to fix up the house and expand it, much to my mom’s protests. My siblings each had their own rooms and my parents shared one.

Monster hunting was a lucrative, if dangerous, business. It was something, even without my Mako enhancements, I excelled in. In the past, when I took out ordinary monsters, it had been overkill when I was with my enhancements. It was a challenge, without Mako, to take on the Nibelheim wolves and I loved it. I am a total adrenalin junkie, or so mom says. I returned to my hotel after grabbing a sandwich at a nearby café and then headed to bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.

The timeline had changed significantly, when I arrived at Shinra today, they were in the middle of the Wutian war. Originally, I was enrolled after the Wutian War. Tifa was several years younger than I was. At the age of thirteen, Tifa was only ten years old. Master Zangan, the Wutian Martial Arts master, had arrived and taken on Tifa as his apprentice at nine-years-old. Master Zangan was interested in mom and me, but we avoided him. Vincent hadn’t been entombed in the Shinra Mansion. All evidence pointed towards that he was a genetically-enhanced Turk. He was one of the earlier test subjects and had stopped aging, this I discovered in Hojo’s notes. There were other chronological differences, including Aeris’s age in comparison to Zack’s and mine. She was twelve years older than Zack and fifteen years older than me. I had found articles in a Scientific Journal in Kalm, when Mom took us there briefly for her work. Zack had been featured in a scandalous article about a woman to who assaulted him and he promptly outed himself as gay. Aeris was married to Reeve Tuesti. Aeris had become a scientist and was employed by Midgar University as a Professor and worked as a specialist in Behavior and Biological Sciences Specialist at Shinra. 

I woke with the sun the next morning. I packed my belongings and left a tip in the room for the staff. After turning my key at the front desk, I made my way to the massive building a little off center on the plate. The seventy-floor building towered over the plate. The glass and chrome of the modern building reflected the sunlight into my eyes. I was nearly blinded by the light and lifting an arm to shield my eyes. I nearly ran into Lieutenant-General Genesis Rhapsodos. The Lieutenant General’s appearance had also changed.

His hair was a darker-auburn and far more vibrant, although it was still chin-length and feathery. His eyes, behind those stylish square, black-framed glasses, were a stunning golden-color and framed by long eyelashes. He was also more muscular and his shoulders were broader. Opposed to the near blinding neon-red of his previous battle gear, he wore a tight black, muscle t-shirt and charcoal-gray leather trousers. Over the top of it he wore an open charcoal-gray sweater and on his feet, were black-leather boots. His dark-red scabbard and rapier with its gold design was fastened to his waist on a black belt.

He caught me like a swooning maiden as I stumbled, making me blush and scowl.  He chuckled as he set me back on my feet. “Hello, to you too.” He said in a warm and friendly baritone. His eyes trailed over my slight figure and the defined, albeit wiry, muscle of my arms and waist. I blushed even more furiously. “Are you enrolling for Soldier?” he asked and I nodded sullenly. “Good luck, kid.” He said sweeping past me, “Hope to see you around.” He said.

“I’ll try my best.” I answered him softly, turning to the Shinra building in front of me. I failed to see Genesis’s eyes widen and his abrupt turn around. He stared after me in shock as I made my way into the building.

Once I entered the building, I approached the secretary cautiously. A female Turk, Cissnei, was flirting with the flabbergasted female secretary. The Secretary cut Cissnei off by speaking to me “Hello, how may I help you?” She asked. She sounded somewhat relieved.

“Hello,” I said, “I’d like to apply for the Cadet program.” I said.

“Alright, honey, let me call up someone to escort you to the interview room.” She said, quickly turning to her phone and dialing a number. “Hello, yes, may I speak with Mr. Tseng? Yes, there is a new cadet applicant.” She paused, “Yes, Miss Cissnei is here. Alright, I will tell her.” Placing the phone back, she looked at Cissnei and with a sly smile said, “Cissnei, dear, Mr. Tseng said you’re assigned to interview the cadet hopefuls.” Cissnei huffed giving me the evil eye, which I ignored. I cockily gestured for her to lead the way.

Smirking she reached for my arm, no doubt to knock some sense into me. I side stepped her automatically and had to restrain myself from retaliating as she stumbled forward in an overly exaggerated manner. She was testing me. “Hmm… maybe not some useless pretty boy after all.” The copper-red haired petite woman commented. Cissnei straightened and signaled for me to follow her over her shoulder. I followed her cautiously into the elevator. We rode the elevator in silence two-floors up. We stepped off the elevator into silent and empty reception hall. There was no secretary behind the desk. She led me to an interrogation room with glass which was one-sided. She seated herself with her back to the glass, so I was facing the mirror. She indicated that I should take the seat in front of her. “Alright,” She said pulling out the draw and retrieving a document, “What is your full name?” She asked, a pen at ready. I glanced up in the mirror sensing the presence of two observers. Reluctantly I tore my eyes away from the mirror to focus on her as I answered.

“Cloud Ramiel Strife,” I answered in a toneless voice.

“Current age and birth date?” Cissnei asked.

“I am fourteen years old and I was born August 19, 1986.” I said.

“Place of birth and parents?” She asked.

“I was born in Nibelhiem, Northern Continent, to Rayne Strife. I do not know my father’s name.” I said.

“Do you have any siblings?” She asked.

“Two younger half-siblings, Tempest Strife and Squall Strife.”

“Who is their father?” Cissnei asked.

“We call him Ethan Strife, as far as we know he was an amnesiac trapper. He got caught in his own trap and my mom rescued him.” I answered. Cissnei tapped her pen pausing to consider he next question.

“Does your mother have a habit of sleeping with strange men?” I knew immediately that she was attempting to provoke me. I pretended to bristle slightly before answering quickly, but not angrily.

“From what I understand, my conception was due to rape,” I said using the lie my mother and I had crafted beforehand. It didn’t offend me personally, it was a silent jab at my sperm donor. “Ethan is a good guy. He’s been there for my mom and I, when no one else was.” I said shrugging.

“How do you feel about you. being the result of rape?” She asked.

“My sperm donor is an asshole, but too many people are. What you going to do? I know my mom loves me. She doesn’t hold the method of my conception against me.” I said.

“And if she was lying?” Cissnei prodded.

“Then at least she treated me fairly. I grew up and I am my own person. I am not going to let that hold me back.” I said keeping my tone of voice calm and contemplative.

“What is your stepfather’s occupation?” She asked.

“He is unemployed due to his wounds, but my mom works as a mechanic.”

Cissnei blinked in surprise, “Where did she learn to be a mechanic?”

“Self-taught,” I answered.

“So, your mom is something of a genius?” She prodded.

I snorted, “Not really. She can’t cook worth shit and she can’t fix anything without gears.” I said, a smile tilting my lips, “Mom is human, just like the rest of us.” I said.

“Alright, how far is your schooling? What did you learn?” She asked.

“I finished middle school. I can read and write, do most math equations. I know how to create solvents or nullify acidic compounds.” I said shrugging a little bit. “I can also do a bit of mechanic work.”

“Hmm,” Cissnei said writing what I said down. “So, why do you want to join Shinra?” She asked.

I internally smirked. “Well, Miss Cissnei, I want to be a hero.” I said.

A twitch formed above her eyebrow and she jotted down that. She was probably marking me off the roster as a candidate for Turk. “So, you have a medical examination before you join boot camp.” She said marking down a few more things. “I will get back to you in just a moment.” She said standing and leaving the room.

After a few minutes, she returned, “Alright, let me lead you to the doctor’s office.” I nodded and followed her obediently. She led me even further down the hall to a medical room, where a man in a white lab coat was preparing out several tools – such as a stethoscope and adjusting a scale. The door closed behind me leaving me alone with the doctor, I suppressed a shiver.    

About an hour later, I was given the results. I am in excellent health. I do not have communicable diseases or illnesses. My blood pressure is not too low or too high, after rigorous exercise. My cholesterol was on the high-end, but average for the diet I was raised on, which was common in colder areas. My fitness exam marked me for the fast track, since I have admirable stamina, speed and agility. My strength needs to be improved, but I was in the eightieth-percentile of the expected strength of new cadets. I was assigned the “Boot Camp” for a two-month period opposed to the five-month period most individuals attended for. If I didn’t manage to improve my strength by then it was my work ethic and not my body’s capabilities. The doctor worked out a unique diet, which would be passed on to the Boot camp mess hall to improve my cholesterol and build up more muscle. The doctor also assigned me to a group of potential cadets, who had my body-type, for their specific exercises.  

Having finished the exams, I was passed back to the Turk department, who having finished my background check were going through my luggage. I snorted and Cissnei paused with one of my boxers in her hands. “Well, now that you’re done I am to escort you to boot camp.” She said straightening and throwing my underwear back into my bag. She zipped it closed and handed it to me. She silently led me back to the reception area on the first floor where I was met by several grunts. “Corporal, please lead Mr. Strife to the helicopter where he will be taken to the Boot-Camp site.”

“Which one should we deliver him to?” The young corporal asked.

“Helipad 052, the base in Gongaga. He’s a cold-weather guy, let’s see if can handle the heat.”

“Alright, Mr. Strife, follow me.” The corporal instructed leading me away through a side door.

Chapter One:

To begin anew

Gongaga was a humid little village on the edge of a massive jungle. I had always wondered about the place my mentor and friend had been raised in. Now, I knew why he left so quickly. The place was infested with bugs, especially leeches and ticks. Every morning you had to pry the damned bugs off you. Most of those pesky blood suckers avoided me, but flies and gnats were my enemies. Besides the awful heat and bugs, boot camp was not that difficult in comparison to my usual routines, but with the added nutrients to my diet, my strength began to grow. I would never be the strongest soldier, able to bench press Shinra tower, but I could lift my body weight in dumbbells. Compared to my peers, that was a remarkable thing. My speed, agility and stamina also increased exponentially. When not running the track, lifting weights, rigorous stretching for limberness and spending time in the classroom flying through standardized tests, I spent hours throwing a rubber ball against the wall and catching it. This increased my reflexes.

In classes, we studied Reading Comprehension/Writing Formats, General Sciences, Mathematics/Logic and Deduction, Minor Mechanics and Communication Sciences. I excelled in reading and writing, alongside mathematics/logic and deduction and mechanics. I was decent in general sciences and communication sciences. We spent hours assembling and disassembling short-wave radios. We were taught standard codes and how to care for various weapons, especially guns. We also learned the appropriate titles and ranks, alongside marches and formations.

Then my two months were up, I had graduated the program.

Cloud looked over the other recruits thoughtfully, four of them would be placed in a bunk with him and work as his teammates. Having snuck a look at the records of the Cadet program, Cloud discovered that program differed from the one he vaguely remembered. There were five cadet levels, cadet level five being the lowest of the low. As you proceeded up the levels you gained more options as what to study and specialize in. At cadet level two you were assigned your position from your specializations and your strengths and weaknesses. The positions were Mage, Medic, Swordsman, Scout and Captain-Cadet.

Also, instead of three SOLDEIR levels, there were four. The fourth level was for recently enhanced Soldiers to readjust to their physical abilities and hone their skills under the direction of First and Second-Class Soldiers. At the age of twenty-one, Sephiroth had already been named the General of the Shinra army. The two Lieutenant Generals were twenty-years-old Genesis Rhaspodus and twenty-three-years-old Angeal Hewley. A highly motivated and prodigy Soldier, seventeen-years-old Zachary Fair had already been ranked a first-class Soldier. He was the youngest among them.

The five levels of the Cadet Program usually took three to five years to complete on average. Zack had flown thru the Cadet training in one year. Cloud, smiled thoughtfully as he waited in the hall for the fourth-class Soldier to return with their bunk and team assignments, along with their new uniforms. Cloud’s intention was to stand out, but not pass Zack’s record, which he could easily do. He intended to pass in two and a half years along with his team. While, they could pass Soldier individually, Cloud wanted to make new bonds among his peers and form strong connection. Allies among the Soldier were needed to cull President Shinra’s plans. Zack hadn’t been able to do that.

The fourth-class Soldier reentered, Cloud along with the other cadets quickly stood at attention. “At ease, Gentlemen,” The soldier instructed. “Alright, when I call your name and bunk, I want you to follow the infantry man assigned to escort you to your bunk. He will bring your uniforms to you, this evening. You’re early graduates. You will begin classes earlier than your peers in the accelerated program. However, in three weeks, the other graduates of the boot camp will arrive and you will have our annual welcoming ceremony. You’ve been selected for the accelerated program from your test results. For the accelerate program, you need to remain ahead of the other graduates. If you lag you will be placed in a different bunk and have the simpler curriculum. I hope no one will disappoint me. Alright, bunks are as follow. Bunk One-C will be Aeron Blackwood, Cloud Strife, Mikhail Kostova, Sebastian Cortez, and William Thomas. Bunk One follow infantry soldier, Samuel Kirk.” The fourth-class Soldier instructed, “Also you will submit a name for your bunk by tomorrow morning.”

The five cadets followed a non-descript infantry soldier through several halls and outside to a series of concrete and steel underground bunker entrances, which looked like they could have withstood a massive elemental attack. Entering a bunker entrance, which was labeled “One”, they came to an underground hallway illuminated by florescent lights. The underground bunker was two levels tall and houses fifteen bunks. They were led up to the second level, passed a bullet-proof glass door with a swipe card, and down a hallway labeled “1-C”. There were four doors in this hallway, one labeled – “bunks”, one labeled “communal showers”, one labeled “Study Hall” and the fourth and final label was “community room”. Opening the door to their bunk beds, they entered. The metal bunk beds were arranged in neat lines, under each bunk were two built in shelves and two combination lockers “The shelf and combination locker on the left is for the bottom bunk and the top bunk gets the right shelf and combination locker.” The infantry soldier instructed, “Now, you will be sorted into bunks alphabetically. Aeron Blackwood, bunk A-1, on the left, farthest from the door, you will be sharing with Cloud Strife. Please place these identification plates at the end of your bunk,” he said passing out their plates as they called their names. Cloud and Aeron approached bunk A-1 and waited calmly for the others to be assigned. “Bunk A-2 will be Mikhail Kostova and Sebastien Cortez, the last Bunk A-3, will belong to William Thomas, he will be bunking alone. I will leave you for fifteen minutes to store your belongings before I get the tech to scan your prints and register a swipe card for you.”

“Hey Cloud,” Aeron called, “Mind taking the top bunk, you’re lighter than me.” The blond nodded and slid his name plate into the holder at the bottom footboard of the top bunk. The heavier built cadet slid his below. The two of them found the combination codes under their pillows and quickly placed their private belongings in the combination lockers and their other belongings on the shelves. 

“So, what do you guys, think about our bunk’s name?” Cloud called out softly.

“Hmm,” Mikhail murmured, “Any suggestions?” His words were met with silence.

“How about we name our bunk after a bad ass summons?” William, call-me- “Will”, said.

“No, too generic,” Sebastien said, “I checked out all the other bunks listed, many were named after summons.  How about a type of spell from Materia?”

“I don’t think so… too simple.”  Mikhail said.

“Storm Phoenix,” Cloud murmured.

“Hey, that’s a clever idea.” Will said, “Anyone disagree?” The others remained silent, “Alright, we’re Storm Phoenix.” The others nodded their approval.

“Unique name,” the Infantry soldier said making his presence and the tech’s known, “Cadets usually name their bunks after summons, but you named it both a summons and an element. Now please line up with your Identification cards. We’re registering you into the system.” Quickly grasping their identification papers, the group lined up alphabetically. The tech took their finger prints and issued an entrance card to their bunk with their unique id to keep track of their entrance and exits. The tech paused over Cloud’s unusual name before registering him and collecting his papers.

“Alright, here are the rules, lights go out at ten and I mean this literally. The electricity is cut at ten. I suggest you settle in before nine forty-five. The doors also seal. So, there will be no traipsing about after hours. No alcohol in the bunks and if you do go out and get drunk, trust me you’ll get a rather unpleasant punishment. No in-dorm fighting and no bullying. Those who are caught are immediately transferred from the Cadet program to the Infantry program, no excuses. Furthermore, it’s not a three year wait for the next time those bullies can test in again. They need to wait for eight years. No illegal substances such a performance enhancements, we do tests regularly. Wakeup call is at six, but you’re free till six forty-five to get ready. Breakfast is in the Bunker hall, bottom floor at seven exactly. We provide three meals a day, with two snack periods. You will only receive the healthiest of foods available. You will be escorted by a fourth-class SOLDIER to your classrooms for the first day, but after tomorrow morning you will be directed to go alone. Classes start at Seven-thirty, your schedules will be available tomorrow. To enter a classroom, you need to scan your card, this also registers your attendance. I suggest you arrive on time, tardy individuals will be punished. Last suggestion; study hard, work out like a mad man and follow orders. You’ll be just fine. Do you understand?”

“Sir, yes, Sir.” The group responded.

“Alright, good night. You have two hours before bed, get use to your bunk and get comfortable with your team, you are Team Storm Phoenix.” The door shut behind the infantry man, his and the tech’s steps retreated.

“What does he mean by team?” Sebastian asked.

“This is not well known among Cadet Class five,” Cloud said quietly, “but when you reach Cadet Class two, by your scores and the electives you take you are placed onto a position in the team, whether it be Mage, Swordsman, Medic, Scout or Captain-Cadet. Furthermore, the general Soldier test you are tested as a team. However, you can also pass if selected for superior skills or nominated for the advanced testing by a trainer, because you are the only one passing in a failing team. If you pass as a team you’re noted for more advanced missions. This was implemented by the recently named Soldier directors – Lazard and the scientist Aeris Faremis. Her employees performed a series of tests and those cadets who work as a team tended to be more stable as SOLDIERS and out-perform and out-rank all other Soldiers.”

“What about Sephiroth? He’s like the General of the Army and he worked alone.” Will asked.

“General Sephiroth worked with his best friends, Lieutenant Generals; Genesis Rhaspodus and Angeal Hewley. Initially they were rivals, until Aeris Faremis and her mentor Reeve Tuesti took over the Science department.” Cloud said.

“Huh,” Sebastien said, “Then if we don’t want to drag each other down, we should probably work our best together and study together.” The others nodded in agreement.

“Cloud, how do you know about all this?” Aeron asked.

“Although, Miss Faremis doesn’t know this, we are distantly related. I’ve kept track of her career since I was a child.” Cloud said softly, wistfully, Aeron nodded in understanding. His older brother was already a third-class Soldier. He had barely passed the Soldier test and confided in his younger brother that it was by recommendation alone that he had manage to pass. What Cloud had said made sense, especially since his older brother, Rolf Blackwood was plagued by bullies among his team because of jealous among his team for his superior skills.

“You guys want to check out the rest of our bunker?” Will called. The others nodded.

Their first stop is the communal showers, on one-side is the stalls for the toilets and the other side is the stalls with the showers. The far wall has a line of sinks. The toilet stalls had doors, while the showers have beige plastic curtains. The whole room is tiled with light beige tiles and mirrors hung over the sinks.  “Not too bad.” Someone comments. They move on. The community room is filled with two long, brown couches, a small coffee table, and a longer wooden table with two benches. A bookcase is filled with wooden strategy games, a deck of cards and several fiction books. The glaring absence of a television makes a few of his peers disappointed. The study room is state of the art. There are five desks, each with a stationary computer, a pile of new, multi-subject notebooks, folders, pencils and a messenger bag for each cadet. On the far wall is a community printer, boxes of paper and a copy machine. There are hanging shelves against one wall filled with a few resource books and stack of untouched blank poster board covered in a light dust. There are also some markers left lying about. A white board and white board markers sits unused in a corner.  

“We’ve got an hour,” Will comments, come on let’s get ready for bed, “We can get to know each other better in our bunker.” The others agree filing out.

Shinra Science Labs – Floor 67

 Twenty-eight years old, Aeris rubs the tension out of her former mentor’s and now husband’s, Reeve’s, shoulders. They’re at work late again and the rest of the staff has been dismissed. While, they had been fortunate enough to find and destroy Jenova’s host, her cells were too deeply engraved in Sephiroth to eradicate her altogether. Thankfully, they had found a suppressing chemical that slowly shut down her sentience. Unfortunately had to be applied monthly and to keep Sephiroth stable, Aeris and Reeve had slowly integrated a strong comradery amongst the Soldiers and furthered it by introducing it to the Cadet program.

Their solution, if Sephiroth were to go off the deep end, which likely hood seemed to diminish, was to create a serum specially devised for Cloud to make him on level with Sephiroth without pumping Cloud full of the Jenova gene sequence and without further experimentation. They had first wanted to introduce it to Zack, but Aeris disqualified him knowing that the teen was too impulsive in general and overly protective of Cloud. They had of course created a SOLDIER serum for regular soldiers in the Shinra program without using Jenova cells. However, they were at a momentary pause in their work. They could not calibrate the serum from Cloud without a current DNA sample and they had no way to get it without him first being promoted to SOLDIER. 

They had naturally been elated to see his name added to their database today, he had made the advanced placement program. However, they did have other projects to work on until then. Such as a method to recycle Mako energy as to not destroy the planet by over using its life force.

While, Aeris specialized in bioengineering, cellular-based enhancement, hematology, neurosciences, psychology, biochemistry, Osteology, Kinesiology, and myology, Reeve specialized in Sociology, Psychology, Social Anthropology, Population planning, Engineering, Viral Sciences, Viral Engineering and Industrial chemistry. They were better suited to their work than Hojo and Hollander who were trial-and-error scientists, using their knowledge from their failed human experimentation which displayed certain characteristics they wanted. They would then isolate the genetic materials used and incorporate it in further human experimentation. All together it was very unethical and ineffective. Hojo had only a degree in Bioengineering, while Hollander had studied bioengineering and viral sciences.

Shinra Executing Soldier Floor – Floor 53

The fifty-third floor was an opulent series of private quarters, housing General Sephiroth, Soldier Director Lazard, Deusericus, Director of the Turks Tseng, Lieutenant Generals Genesis Rhaspodus and Angeal Hewley, and one First Class Soldier, Zachary Fair, and First-Class Soldier, Christopher Merriam, student of Genesis.  There are eight empty private quarters on the floor. The fifteen quarters have a bedroom, full bathroom for the resident, a half-bathroom for guests, massive kitchen, sitting room, private library, private study, dining room and a small attached balcony. The glass windows are made from bullet proof glass, although they can be melted by an intense flame (as demonstrated by Genesis). They are nearly impenetrable by man. Sephiroth and Lazard possess the largest of the private quarters, followed by Genesis, Angeal and Tseng.

Angeal is lounging on his couch, a book in his hands, in his private quarters as he listens to his subordinate, Zack’s, animate narration of events among his Cadet Class. The kid, despite his youth and hyperactive tendencies is a talented swordsman and had been elected by Lazard and Sephiroth to teach the accelerated Cadet program, basic swordsmanship. Although often misjudged by older cadets, Zachary always earns their respect for his handling of swords and teaching methods. He is known to be fair and works overtime to assist Cadets, but is known to hate bullies. He also creates unusual nicknames for his students and teases the mercilessly. He has earned mixed following of Cadet and newer Soldiers who look at him with mixed pride and disbelief. He is certainly entertaining and a fabulous storyteller.

Genesis and his student, seventeen-years-old Chris are talking in low voices about Chris’s Materia classes he teaches to the accelerated Cadet program. Chris is the antithesis of Genesis. He’s got the patience of saint and the modesty of nun, but he is considered fair, just and kind by his students. Genesis selected Chris as his student for his incredible is somewhat uncontrollable skill in casting Materia. Genesis has beaten control and regulation of Materia usage into his student’s head. Despite the rumors, Chris and Genesis are not romantically involved. Genesis prefers men who are more submissive albeit not feminine and can hold a debate with him. Chris on the other hand loves women, and is tall and broad. He also prefers a partner who is a bit of a spitfire and who is very passionate. Although after his recent break-up with his girlfriend of four years he is using these rumors as a reprieve from the dating scene. Angeal, while bisexual was not looking for a man or woman in his life currently.

There is a knock on the door and Zack immediately stiffens, knowing that knock as Sephiroth’s. Angeal has never been able to understand why Zachary Fair, while not outright hostile towards the silver-haired general is a bit cold towards the man. Zack, on the other hand cannot forgive his former friend from his originating universe for the torture he put Cloud through. Whilst still in denial, it would be obvious to anyone else, what Zack felt for Cloud was not a platonic love, but rather a romantically-inclined one. Ignoring Zack’s abrupt silence Angeal called out, “Come in, Sephiroth.” The door opened and the handsome General of the Shinra army entered.

Sephiroth was dressed casually in a generic white t-shirt and a pair of dark jeans that showed off his trim waist. Cat-like gunmetal-gray eyes with sapphire and silver flecks, that appeared after Doctors Aeris Tuesti and Reeve Tuesti took over the Science program, scanned the room’s occupants. “Oh, good,” Sephiroth said in his deep and smooth baritone, “Zachary and Christopher are here. I brought the recent files for the Accelerate program’s newest cadets.” He said placing a pile of folders on the glass coffee table.

“Sephiroth,” Angeal complained, “I thought we agreed not to bring work home?”

“Yes, well I thought we could share some ideas on training exercises, considering this are an unusual batch of Cadets.” Sephiroth said with a small smirk, “And considering that we never have the privacy to do this anywhere else…” He trailed off, watching amused as Zack dove into the stack of fifteen files, like he did with every new cadet file. There were three different teams indicated by the colored tab. Bunker One was colored Blue by Sephiroth, Bunker two was Yellow, Bunker three was Red, while Bunker four was purple, bunker five was orange and bunker six was green. These were always between thirty and sixty graduates of the Boot Camp process. Each bunker was made to contain two teams for every year of the Cadets program, with a spare bunk. Of these cadets, there were only ten to fifteen who made the Accelerate program and only five cadets passed as an accelerated team if any, statistically. The other accelerated cadets could pass as normal cadets if they failed the accelerated test, but any normal Cadets had a one-chance final test of which between one-half to one-fourth graduated, usually leaving fifteen to thirty-five graduating Soldiers.          

Seizing Bunker two, Zack began to flip through them, sitting on the rug, Chris reluctantly joined him. “What’s so special with these Accelerated Cadets?” Angeal asked intrigued.

“We have three testing record breakers. One cadet seems to have an extremely high IQ and scored the highest in speed and agility we have ever seen from someone not enhanced. The other two record breakers are remarkable, one by his half-Wutian heritage and the other by his talent with codes and languages. The last also tested first in strength.” Sephiroth said, remembering the details. “They placed the first in Bunker One and the other two in Bunker Three.”        

Zack and Chris both grabbed Bunker One’s file before Chris let go and went for Bunker Three. Flipping through Bunker One, Zack found Cloud’s file, while mental admiring Cloud’s new looks, he crowed about the kid’s golden blond hair and big blue eyes. Clouds golden-blond hair, the color of ripened-wheat, was less messy thus allowing him to wear it to his shoulders in downward spikes. His big blue eyes had some gold, green, turquoise and brown flecks, like a blue speckled egg. His skin was still fair and he was still slender, but his muscular stature was more toned with wiry, compact muscles. He also had long limbs. His legs seemed to go on forever like a male model, but it also lent him some height that he had not had in their former lives. “Well fuck me sideways,” Zack exclaimed, “The kid is fast.” Zack said thrusting the file at Angeal, the clocked reading written in the file was comparable to a Fourth-Class Soldier with the first level of enhancements, “Can’t wait to see speedy get enhanced.” Zack laughed.

“Yes, very impressive.” Sephiroth muttered. Zack gave him a mild glare before turning back to the file.

Chris took the file from Zack, passing the third bunk files to Zack. The other two Cadets were Kirito Kusanagi and Lukas Gordon. They were remarkably fit, but not at the same level as Cloud. Cloud’s IQ shone even brighter than his physical fitness. “Who wants to bet blondie will pass early?” Zack asked.

“Not me,” Sephiroth said, “Reports state, the kid it a team player. He’s likely to help his teammates pass together.” Sephiroth answered.

“Huh?” Zack commented.

With a languid movement Reeve settled over his wife and started to ignite her arousal. His hands went straight for her sex. He watched with dark satisfaction while Aeris writhed under him and tried to desperately increase the attention he was giving to her clitoris. “Ooh, so good…” She moaned. He placed open-mouth kisses over her full snowy-white breasts, suckling on her pink nipples. He breathed in her addictive scent. It didn't take Reeve long to have her panting and moaning in pleasure and right before she climaxed he sank into her.

Reeve didn't expect the scream that was forced out of her throat when he entered her, or the violent muscle contractions that clamped onto his cock. “Oh fuck, so damn hot and oh, fuck…” he cussed, while he helplessly hammered into Aeris for a moment, said woman could just writhed underneath him as she came and came. She was struggling against him pushing him deeper and deeper into her, her nails scrapped along his back exciting him. She fought to hold onto reality as the pleasurable bliss over took her.

Reeve was sweating. He breathed hard through the pleasure that was Aeris's orgasm with precise and slow thrusts and only when he felt that Aeris's contractions were weakening he picked the pace up once more.

The woman underneath him didn't know where up or down was, she was floating in undulating waves of orgasmic bliss. Her lower body felt hot and heavy, swollen with pleasure.

“Oh, god… fuck … harder,” She moaned wantonly as he thrust in harder and harder, pushing her up against the head of the bed with every thrust. The bed creaked ominously beneath them. He continued to pound away.

A surprised sob escaped her when she felt another peak building, tears ran down her face and she helplessly tried to hold onto something to anchor her to this world, but with even her arm muscles spasm, it was a futile endeavor. Aeris could only move her pelvic weakly into the thrusts and take what Reeve was giving her. He moved deeper and deeper into her still.

God, she was hot and slick, tight and responsive. After her second orgasm Reeve slowed down a bit, his strokes became languid and deep and finally Aeris had a chance to catch her breath. He hit impossibly deep in her and stayed there for a moment. Reeve groaned and shivered at the single hard contraction he elicited and the slight pain on his back from her nails, before he doubled his efforts once more. As a result, Aeris’s moans turned a tad desperate once more which only provoked an arrogant grin from the man. “God…. Oh, harder Reeve… give me… more… deeper.” She breathed.

When Aeris's third orgasm hit neither of the pair was prepared for it and the woman wasn't even able to moan, her mouth opened, but no sound came out, while her eyes rolled into the back of her skull. Unable to withstand the pressure this time, Reeve finally let go and sank himself with nearly impossible fast thrust into Aeris's body before he too climaxed. The man desperately closed his eyes while he felt waves of pleasure running through his genitals, while he came deep inside her. His seed poured out of his cock in ropey spurts, deep within her.

Cloud woke at five, when he heard the click of their bunker doors unlocking. The small noise startled him awake. Sliding from under his blankets, he quickly made his bed to regulation standard before climbing off it. The bunk bed was very sturdy, so his movements had not shaken Aeron awake. Kneeling, Cloud withdrew his new uniform from his shelf. The uniform, unlike the one he was familiar with as a Cadet in his original dimension, was an olive-green jumper with a brown leather belt combined with two brown-leather straps that crossed the chest in an “X” shape. They also had workman’s brown boots. On the left arm of the uniform was sown their bunker “1-C”. A personnel badge would clip to their left breast pocket and their Swipe card, which they would get this morning had a secured, retractable tether to a belt loop. Cloud made his way to the shower with his regulated hygiene products. Stripping quickly, he entered a stall and turned the water to lukewarm as he was familiar with in his hometown. As he soaped up, he let his hand trails over his scars. Pausing briefly to identify the ones from the pack of Nibelhiem wolves he had killed – driving them off from the livestock, and those from an old Nibel Dragon, who had interrupted his exercises and attacked. Skill had killed the Wolves, but luck has saved him from the Dragon. The wounds had healed well leaving only light marks and barely any raised skin. His mom had taught him to destroy the build-up scar tissue by massaging it. After washing up, Cloud toweled dry and dressed quickly.

After his shower, he entered the study hall and selected a sturdy brown canvas messenger bag and loaded it with spare pencils, two highlighters, a pen and six notebooks.

The morning bell rang at six. Will was the only one still asleep. The others were struggling to gather their clothes and head to the showers, sleepily. Making his way over to Will, Cloud shook him gentle, easily dodging a punch. “Ugh, why’d you wake me, Cloud?” The bigger and louder boys asked his blond teammate.

“I don’t know about you, but I would be up early to make a good impression.” Cloud answered, stepping away. Blinking sleepily, Will recognized the wisdom in Cloud’s words and nodded, staggering to his feet.

“Hey, how early do you get up?” Will asks pensively.

“I usually get up at five am, every morning to tend to the household chores. I don’t imagine myself sleeping in. Why?” Cloud asked curiously.

“Ah, was wonder if you could wake me up at six, until I made this a habit. I am a heavy sleeper.”

“Sure, why not.” He said with a shrug.

They all finished showering at exactly six thirty-three and each prepared with a messenger stuffed full of materials, which Cloud had put together. Hesitantly they left their bunker and were met with there by their Infantry Soldier that had instructed them yesterday evening. He blinked in surprise at them, “Well, you’re certain faster than some. I hope you all showered, because you’re not going to get to shower until four in the afternoon. If not, tell me here and now.” No one responded, “Okay, here are your identification cards and Swipe cards.” The infantry soldier said passing out the cards. Cloud accepted his and examined it. The ID card had his picture and full name, rank – Cadet and his Commanding officer – Chief Warrant Officer 3 (1) Richard Brewer. He noticed among the other identification cards, only Aeron also possess Chief Warrant Officer Brewer. Cloud then examined his swipe card, again the information was replicated – picture, full name, rank, commanding officer, but there was also a security level. Cloud’s level was 1CLevel46. His team’s badges mostly read 1CLevel42.

“Excuse me, Sir,” Cloud asked, “I was wondering about my security level.”

The Infantry man looked at Cloud’s badge, “Ah, yeah, you’re IQ level scored off the charts, figure they’d assign you to assist the clerical staff in filing select documents. Other than that, can’t think of a reason.” The Infantry soldier said with a shrug. “There’s nothing there, but the archives for low security risk information, some unused science and mechanical laboratories, Clerical offices and a few empty board rooms.” Cloud looked down on his badge and smiled mentally, someone was prepared to allow him unmonitored access to the labs, probably Aeris and Reeve. Considering that he had a personal love for mechanics, even in his own dimension, which had appeared to have grown more powerful here – especially since he understood more about it.

“Here are your schedules,” he said passing out the folders with their names on them, “You’ll notice, in addition to Course work you have as level five Cadets, you have also been assigned one or two level-four-cadet electives. Please follow me to the Bunker mess hall. You can look at them there.” The infantry soldier instructed.

They were led down to the bottom level and passed eight bunkers, before at the back of Bunker 1, was an open space containing a series of private rooms on the second level for Infantry Soldiers working with the cadets, on the bottom floor was the mess hall. There were four massive low tables with long benches. To the right was a cafeteria line, there were trays at one end to be picked up. The servers were already at work despite that only their team had arrived. They got in line grabbing a tray. Sliding the tray along the metal bars next to the servers, a mixture of slice fresh fruit was added, followed by toast, runny eggs and several charred pieces of bacon. Well, they tried, Cloud thought comparing this meal to the inedible food in the other Shinra cadet program. Taking a seat, along with his team at the end of one table. They slowly ate their food, while opening their folders.

Name: Cloud Strife

Rank/Bunker: Accelerated Cadet/1C

Commanding Officer: Richard Brewer

Assigned Medic: Doctor Heather Whittle, M.D, 

Classes: Physical Fitness (X5), General Sciences and Mathematics (X3), Logic and Deduction (X5), Minor Mechanics (X5), Communication Sciences (X4), Unarmed Combat (Boxing and Kick Boxing) (X5), Marksmanship (X3), Basic Materia Usage and Materia Theory (X1), Martial Arts (Jujutsu, and Aikido, Level 4 Cadet Elective), and Strategy and History (Level 4 Cadet Elective)

“Hello, so you’re the new team?” A rough voice said, albeit a friendly voice. Cloud looked up to find several older Cadets, taking a seat near his team. The cadet, whom had spoken was a tall and thin with sinewy muscles and a thatch of dirty-blond hair. His hazel eyes were shrewd and calculating, even as he spoke encouragements. “Well looks like you beat us here. That’s quick thinking on your first day.” The blond commented. His eyes scanned the group for any indication of emotions. Cloud saw several members of his team glance at him, out of the corner of his eye. The dirty-blond turned cold eyes and triumphant eyes on Cloud. Cloud held in a small smirk. So, the older cadet was looking for his competition. Apparently, this guy thought he was the strategic of the bunch. They said no bullying, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t sabotage. Quickly eyeing the older cadet’s team, Cloud concluded that they were mostly brawn than brains, though smart enough to be in the program. As his team responded positively towards the older cadet – “Call me Elliot”, Cloud watched this Elliot carefully, but kept his face cheerful and friendly. He pretended to enjoy his team’s compliments, as they ate.

Once team Storm Phoenix had finished eating, as they parted ways and Elliot smiling smugly at their backs, did Cloud acknowledge Elliot’s feeble attempt at breaking into social circle and then misleading them with contradictory or false information or turning them against each other. Cloud had seen this type of sabotage too many times to be fooled and while not partaking in the art himself, knew how to interpret it and counter it. “Well, it was certainly nice to meet you,” Cloud called over his shoulder, “Although, I think your team would prefer you to keep your advantage to yourself.” Cloud said smiling and waving over his shoulder, commenting on the few tips Elliot had given them.

When they had left the mess hall, Will cornered him. “Why did you tell Elliot that? He was just being friendly.” Will demanded. Aeron caught Cloud’s eye and nodded before answering for Cloud.

“Apparent Cloud also caught onto this Elliot’s game. They said no bullying, but that doesn’t mean the other cadets can’t sabotage us or make us turn on each other.” Aeron said.

“What are you talking about?” Sebastian asked indignantly.

“Let’s put this to the test, okay,” Cloud said, “What are several suggestions that Elliot made and what are some facts he said?” The blond asked.

“Well he said, the track closes at seven in the evening, but the instructor doesn’t give a shit if you’re on it until nine.  He also said that Instructor Davis prefers to be called Sir.”

“He told us, there are some vending machines outside of the second-floor infantry private rooms and they have the best chocolate bars.” William answered sheepishly, he was a chocolate addict. 

“How about, that the best way to get the instructor of unarmed combat to notice you is to volunteer for demonstrations.” Sebastian added. Someone outside of their group started snickering. Turning the group froze in shock, but Cloud immediately recognized third class Soldier, Kunsel.

“Well, I am certain happy you caught on,” The soldier said collecting himself, “Team Bahamut is probably the best at sabotaging new cadets. They’ve never failed to put one team or another in lower ranking or get kicked out altogether. I am sorry to say, but if hypothetically you went to get chocolate bars from this mythical vending machine outside of the Infantry private rooms, that is a strike to your record. That is an off-limit area and do it after hours could lead to expulsion. Track closes at seven, no if, ands or buts. If you volunteer in unarmed combat, expect to be the sorest of the group, the instructor is a brute. The only truthful thing the kid said is Instructors Davis likes to be called Sir. Considering, instructor Davis is a ranking officer, I’d even call him Sir.”  Kunsel said.

“So, he was sabotaging us?” Will asks in indignant fury, “Why hasn’t he been kicked out?”

“We don’t tolerate bullying, but indirect sabotage is something you can’t court martial. It is your choice if you if act on false information or not. However, the key to avoiding it is awareness. I’d listen to what these two say. Pretty perceptive of you, Cadets?”

“Cadet Cloud Strife, Sir.” Cloud answered, saluting.

“Cadet Aeron Blackwood, Sir.” Aeron said mimicking Cloud. Realizing belatedly, they were speaking to a third-class soldier, the others quickly saluted in their superior and fell into attention stance.

“Name’s Kunsel, Cadets.  I’m a third-Class Soldier. I’ll be taking you to your first class.” He said withdrawing a schedule, “and that would be physical fitness. When we reach the gym, I am going to call out the X-levels you will go to the individual class I have identified. Highest class is X5 that is where you should aspire to be. While, the lowest class is X1. Now, form a line, and let’s go.” The group marched after Kunsel.

He led them out of the bunker and just passed the Shinra building, a steel box masquerading a building came into sight. Kunsel led them directly for it, “Okay, Kunsel said pushing open the door, “This way. Leading them to the far right they reached a large indoor track, weight lifting materials and mats with mirrors lined on the walls were on one side. Nodding at the door, Kunsel indicated the X1 emblem on the door, “Alright whose got X1?” None of them answered, “Well that’s new, you guys must’ve been good at boot camp, lucky you. The gym smells like sweat and stinky feet.” Turning a corner, Kunsel led them passed three more doors before reaching another, even larger track, with more weights, resistance bands and bar and a vault notched at various heights, “X2?” Kunsel asked. Mikhail blushed and started forward before Kunsel caught his hand, “First you need to swipe your card, through here,” he said showering Mikhail the scanner, “or you won’t register as attended. You’ll be marked absent on your first day and we can’t have that.”

“Yes, Sir.” Mikhail said, quickly swiping his card and joining a boy he recognized from boot camp, waiting for the other cadets to arrive. The others watched him for a moment, before Kunsel herded them down the hall and down another passage. The X3 gymnasium was the largest so far, being two stories tall, top level with track and the bottom level contained even more weight machines, resistances bands, medicine balls and even more notched bars, vaults and a space for a padded obstacle course. “Alright, X3?” The Soldier asked, immediately Aeron, Sebastian, and Will lined and swiped their cards entering the room. They waved goodbye to Cloud, when they noticed he had not entered after them. “So, next is X4,” Kunsel said leading Cloud forward.

“Sir, X4 isn’t necessary. I was placed in X5.” Cadet Strife said. Kunsel stopped and gave the blond a disbelieving stare. “Mind if I check your schedule?” the Third-Class Soldier asked.

“Yes, Sir, you may of course,” Cloud said passing his folder to Kunsel. Kunsel flipped open the folder and examined his classes and time table. The dark brown-haired Soldier whistled.

“Most your classes will be with level three to one cadets. You’re also pretty loaded with classes. Hell, it seems you even have a private class today.” Kunsel commented.

“Can I ask which one is a private class?” Cloud asked biting his lip with nerves, his adolescent body made it impossible to control his emotional reactions completely.

“Yeah, you have a private instruction in Aikido, the Dojo Master, Fujiwari-sensei only accepts those naturally inclined to his art, with speed, agility and grace, which are pretty high standards for adolescents during growth periods. He’s extremely selective and rarely teaches Soldiers. Any idea why you were enrolled in this class?” Kunsel asked Cloud, handing him back his class folder. Cloud slipped it into his messenger bag.

“I lived in Nibelhiem, near Rocket town, I spent the mornings guarding the livestock and chasing off Nibelhiem wolves. You need to be pretty damn quick and sly did kill off hungry wolves.” Cloud answered honestly, carefully omitted his age and his battles with the high ranking Nibelhiem wolves.

“Hell, you’ve got quite the background. Anyway, let’s get you to your class before it begins.” Kunsel leading the out of the main building and into a steel, domed building. Inside there was a single pass card scanner, which Kunsel instructed him to access with his personal swipe card. Cloud followed his instructions and they entered the massive gymnasium.

Three stories tall, the top story was an indoor track, followed by a series of cardiovascular exercise equipment, and the bottom floor was filled with weight machines, resistance bands, notched bars and vaults, a permanent obstacles course, which could have part swapped in or out, medicine balls and bare mats with mirrors lining the far wall. There was already a group of Cadets waiting for their instructor, a massive crystalline timepiece hung from the ceiling. The timepiece indicated class would begin in ten minutes, as the newer students roamed the room, the older students began to do warm ups. Seeing the wisdoms of the older students, Cloud bid Kunsel goodbye and began his own stretches and light exercises to warm up his muscles. Cloud failed to notice that Kunsel had not exactly left, but slipped into a hidden room to watch Cloud.

Cloud began with basic stretches – one arm over the other, reaching toes, putting his nose to his toes, one leg over the other and so. Slowly he progressed into weightless leg lifts and then a few sit up reps, followed by a few pushups (okay, his definition of a few was a little extreme). He finished with a standing backbend, he completed into flip, just as the doors opened, allowing their instructor, who had been watching Cloud and his other students covertly. Marching up to Cloud the instructor, Fourth Class Soldier Markus Oak, demanded, “What’s your name cadet?” He bellowed, the other Cadets, the newer ones, who had not done warm up exercises, chuckled hoping for a good belittling of the young blond.

“Cadet Cloud Strife, Sir.” Cloud answered, the instructor pulled out a digital board (3) and using the screen’s virtual keyboard typed in Cloud’s information.

“Very good Cadet,” The fourth-class Soldier commented, “Unlike these useless Cadets, you figured you’d need to warm up before we begin exercises. You took the initiative. I take it you’re a recent recruit?” Cloud nodded, “Alright Cadet Strife, start laps on the third-floor track, fifty laps with the older cadets.” Taking, the steps up two at a time, Cloud joined the other older cadets, just as he heard the other Cadets groan. Soldier Oaks had just informed them that they’d be doing eighty laps after a series of warm up stretches. Strife kept pace with the older Cadets easily and listened to their chatting.

“So, Strife, was it?” Another cadet asked. This cadet had long ebony hair and surprising emerald eyes. “It’s good to know not all the other Cadets are stupid. Where are you from?”

“Nibelhiem, near Rocket Town,” Cloud answered, softly.

“Huh, we’ve a got a Cadet from Rocket town. Never heard of Nibelhiem.” The older Cadet said.

“Yeah, well it’s the boonies.” Cloud Strife said, “They’re so backwards and strict, might as well have an electricity pole up their collective asses.” Cloud said bitterly, “My mom was a bit of a traveler before she had me, a mechanic by profession, didn’t take well to their holier than thou attitude and told them they should go screw a pig. The mayor doesn’t look too fondly at us.”

“I already like your mom, she sounds like a spitfire.” Cloud smiled in return.

“Well, that and she refused to run electric cables through snow, when the Mayor insisted that she install his electricity for his new house. She said, I may not be from some fancy university, but at least I am not a complete idiot, who’d fry himself like some overly curious chicken. Apparently, the mayor went to Kalm University and flunked out. He didn’t take it too well.” The older cadets were trying not to laugh. One failed and had fallen out of line.

Catching his breath, the other Cadet rejoined the line. “I like you kid.” The older Cadet said. Cloud just smiled in agreement. “What bunk are you in?”

“I’m part of bunk 1-C.” Cloud said. What Cloud had failed to notice was that he and the other Cadet were now leading the pack in running. They had passed all the other Cadets and just kept at it. A few other cadets stuck close to the rear and were laughing as they listened to the two of them talk. Cloud finally, noticed that he’d gone over sixty laps. “Well, I better see what our instructor wants me to do next.” Cloud said stepping off the track. The other Cadet nodded with a smile. He met his Instructor at the stairs.

“Well Cadet, get down stairs and use the resistance bands. I’ll have one of the older Cadets show you our specialized exercises.” The Soldier said eyeing the blond cadet who was barely out of breath.

“Yes, Sir, yes.” Cloud said saluting before continuing down the stairs.

Cloud was sweating lightly when the buzzer sounded for the end of the two-hour exercise.  Cloud finished one more abdominal curl hanging upside down from a bar, before flipping to his feet. The Cadets new to the X5 program was splayed on the ground groaning weakly from their exercise as the Instructor bellowed at them. There were of course a few new cadets who had managed well, but most were so exhausted they’d fallen off their feet. They were a major source of amusement among the older cadets.

“Alright, everyone must rinse off, at the showers.” The instructor boomed. The older cadets filed out into the showers. Cloud followed them quickly before the newer cadets could peel themselves off the mats. He stripped of his clothes and quickly rinsed down before dressing again. Kunsel met Cloud outside of the X5 gym with the rest of his team. “Hey,” Will greeted, trying to get a good look inside the spacious gym, “What’s it like inside?” Kunsel had just finished telling Cloud that needed to scan out with his card. Cloud did as direct, while Kunsel answered.

“Get to level X5 and you’ll see.” The Soldier said blocking the view of the gym with his broad build, “Now onto Hand to hand combat.” The team, except Cloud, groaned audibly. “Hey,” Kunsel chided, “I had to do this too, so don’t go whining about it being unfair. I’ve done it too and became a better person because of it.” Kunsel said as he led the group to a classroom in a complex just behind the Shinra tower.  

Hand-to-hand combat used the disciplines of kick boxing and boxing, as inelegant as it was, Cloud still managed the methods well enough. Several of his classmates were exhausted from the activity, but Cloud was proud to note his teammates were not among those who had collapsed. Cloud had been paired up against Mikhail. Mikhail had struggled at first before Cloud began to correct his stances. “Why are you helping me?” Mikhail had asked almost immediately afterwards.

“Because we’re in this together.” Cloud said firmly. Mikhail kept sending him honestly surprised and thankful looks afterwards. After hand to hand, Aeron asked Cloud for some footwork pointers and Cloud complied.

Shinra Executing Soldier Floor – Floor 53

Sephiroth lounged languidly on his massive black leather couch in his quarters. A worn and beloved copy of “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu rested on his chest. He wore a pair of black silk pajama bottoms and a simple white t-shirt. He was contemplating a conundrum that was Zachary Fair. He was uncertain as to why the teen disliked him so much and immediately at that. He’d see adoration, infatuation and even hatred for his person, but not this intense dislike and slight revulsion. Those were new emotions.

Sephiroth’s mind flitted to the new recruits and despite feeling like a dirty old man, he was immensely attracted to the seemingly-delicate blond boy who Zack had pointed out. He wasn’t even aware that his hand had traveled south to his clothed cock to caress it, as he thought about the alluring blond. The boy had a beautiful mouth. Full cupid-bow lips, which appeared soft and sensitive. He imagined his cock in between those lips as the blond looked him in the eyes, a blush dusting his cheeks, and gave a languid and powerful suck. His cute, kitten tongue would lick the slit of his cock… He was abruptly jolted out of his revere when his cellphone’s reminder went off. The digital clock read 9:55 pm. He sighed, burying his face in his hands as he notes that his cock is fully erect and jutting out of pajama bottoms. A little precum covers the head of his massive cock. He hopes that the cute blond is a mouthy, disrespectfully and useless piece of shit for both their well-beings because for fuck sakes… he had been masturbating to a young man seven years his junior and a proverbial stranger. Fuck, yeah, he needed to stop thinking about the blue-eyed tempter, but first he desperately needed a cold shower.

Hey, hope you like chapter. This is an updated version of my FF7 Story "The Children of War" on A03. This will also be posted over there in the future. Feel free to contact me with review - I would love positive responses or constructive criticism. Please no flames -

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