. R O A D . T O . D A M A S C U S .

A Cloud Strife Story

'Let the Angels do the Battle… And let the Soldiers rest.'

Cloud has a secret, a secret well kept until Zack and Sephiroth found out. From there, their friendship bonded and more. Until they got to Nibelheim, their world turned upside down.

Now, Cloud is on a long journey to find Sephiroth, to rescue or to kill him? That's another secret. A group of rebels, Avalanche, formed on the journey, strange sort of people coming together in a bond like family, each had their own past, their own secrets, and their own sins.

Together, the Avalanchers set a goal, to save the Planet, at first, it was simple, and their archenemy was the ShinRa Co. But, as the time goes on, the farther they traveled down the road, they found it wasn't simply the ShinRa, it was something bigger, something far older and ancient. An eon old grudge.

The world they live on, the world they're striving to save wasn't what they thought it was. It was full of mythical fantasies that no one dared to dream of them ever existing. There are gods and goddess, races that didn't exist existed, guardians and angels.

The Hero isn't what you think, the Villain is not what you think, nothing makes senses then they do. When in the end, everything may seem to be over, but then again, it is not over. Happily ever after doesn't last forever. What more can the Universe give us?

This is Cloud Strife's story.

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This story is an alternate version of Cloud's Secret and the second and last version of Road to Damascus, if you have read Cloud's Secret, you will find it similar, however, a lot of holes had been filled and changed, it is canon to the game story line, however it falls under Alternate Universe greatly.

Spoiler is greatly in this story if you haven't finished the game or played it. I advise you to finish the game, if not, tread carefully and enjoy.

Please do visit the Road to Damascus website and if you have any fan arts, I'd love to see them and I'll post them up on the website.

I'd like to mention here, in the early chapters, you will find that Cloud will be referred as male from the character's point of view and switching to female gender from the author's view. I apologize for the inconvenience if you get confused. I'm trying to figure out how to work this out and I also apologize for my English grammatical errors. I am merely writing this story because I enjoy writing and I am also practicing my English as well. Thank you.

Road to Damascus is part of a larger version of the entire story, called the Road to Damascus Chronicles. It includes many side stories and sequels. This posting will include the four Sagas and the Interlude. Keep watch for the side stories and sequels after this story completes. Here are the stories in chronically order according to the timeline:

Madoshi & Megamiki (Coming Soon)

Jenova – The Tale of the Valkyrie (Coming Soon)

Road to Damascus

Saga One – The Academy

Interlude – Last Order

Saga Two – The Journey I

Saga Three – The Journey II

Saga Four – Advent Children

Seraph & Seraphim (Coming Soon)

Serendipity (Re-edited Version Coming Soon)

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Disclaimer:

Story plot and concept and unrecognized characters © Lady Katilean Yashodoa 2007.

Game Plot and recognized characters © Final Fantasy © 2007 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved. SQUARE ENIX is a trademark of Square Enix Co., Ltd.

Disney Characters © 2007 Walt Disney

Bible Verses © God, from eternity to eternity, all right reserved.

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. R O A D . T O . D A M A S C U S .

. S A G A . O N E : T H E . A C A D E M Y .

Chapter One: To Midgar

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Roman 6:4, The Holy Bible

Deep in the mountain range of the world's spine where the peaks jagged upward to heaven in danger with malicious edges, a small quaint town lay nested at the base of the rocks facing the rolling hills of plains. The town looked sweet and friendly despite the monstrosity of the Nibel Mountains.

A green military canvas truck rolled into the town, as it always did every year for a day, gathering young recruits as it does it usual round across the continent. A large blazing red diamond shaped logo decorated each side of the doors indicating the symbol of the Corporation of the ShinRa.

ShinRa was the planet's largest business in Mako that has it own army, naval and air force, running almost like a government over few minor cities and town that surrounded the main Headquarter set deep in Midgar. The said city was halfway across the world from the small town, nesting center in the flat land with a much milder mountain range bordering its western edge.

Two men suited in dark blue military uniforms stepped out of the truck; each had electro guns strapped to their backs. The one who stood by the passenger seat gave a glance around the quiet town of Nibelheim's square center, full of the town's population with several families giving final good byes to some boys in their mid teens. He then gave his usual addresses to the crowd in a bored manner, "ShinRa recruits line up and sign your name on the board here." He dropped the clipboard on the front hood of the truck, standing aside watching as few boys came up to sign. The driver answered some questions to other boys that appeared too young to join up.

Not far from the square of the town, a small two story house stood near the edge of the road that led up to the dangerous path of the Nibel Mountains. A young blond teenager with unusual gravity defying hair stood at the gate of the yard, facing her mother. She looked a lot like her mother, with blond hair and brilliant blue eyes; one would think they were sisters.

"Cloud, do you really have to go?" The teenager's mother asked, pushing straying blond hair, hints of graying back into its wayward bun. She stood at the doorway of the house, wearing concern on her face. She worried for her cross-dressing daughter, dressing and going around as her son instead of her daughter, but for a very good reason.

Cloud sighed in exasperation, "Mom, I already told you many times before, I got the scholarship to go. It's better for me to go, after all… sooner or alter, they'll find out about me." She gestured to the town behind her.

Her mother nodded, knowing the town's fear of blond haired and blue eyed women. They were fortunate to live among them, yet they treated them with fear and contempt. Though, she wished there were another way for her daughter to have a better life, however, she knew, there was no way. She has to let fate run its course.

She couldn't help but ask, "Couldn't there be a better way than this?"

Cloud shook her head, "No. I am sorry!" She sighed, slightly regretting leaving but she knew she wanted to leave the town. "I'll write to you every week, and let you know how I am. I better go and catch my ride before I miss it."

Her mother came up to her at the gate and hugged her, whispering in her ear, "are you going as a female or still as a male?" She asked, looking into her daughter's sapphire eyes.

"Male. Its better that way, I'll get more from the Academy as a male than a female. You know how the world treats the women."

"All right," her mother nodded, knowing full well how the world had viewed women's place, usually status below than the men. "Promise you will write." She gave an assuring smile and watched her only child take off. She knew deep in her heart, the motion has been set. Her daughter will meet someone in Midgar and from there, the world will topple. She turned back and entered her house, closing the door, wondering if she would ever see her daughter again.

Cloud ran down the short path to the truck and grabbed the pen, signing her name before climbing into the back of the truck along with other recruits. The truck started up again and rolled back out of the town, to continue on its way to Cosmo Canyon in the south in the rocky desert and then to Gongaga in the far jungle beyond the desert. The last stop would be at Costa Del Sol by the port in late afternoon. The trip was uneventful, stopping several times when forced as they encountered some creatures in the wild. The young teenager passengers seized the chance to watch the experienced soldiers battle with the creatures with ease, rather giving shows than demolishing them.

The blond hair bobbed as the truck went over the dirt road with lumps, her blue eyes watched the window to her side with glazed and distorted dizziness, half with sleepiness. The trip wasn't doing any good to her stomach. She was having motion sickness and never was good with traveling.

"Hey, you al'right?" A brown haired boy from Gongaga asked.

Cloud nodded slightly and groaned, "I am never good with long rides."

"We're almost there." Another boy announced as he watched the front window from the back of the truck. The youths could see the long pale golden sands that lined the ocean beside the road from the back flap of the truck. The truck finally halted to stop and the driver announced that they had arrived at Costa Del Sol, a ritzy small tourist beach town by the ocean.

"Good." Cloud groaned and got out of the truck and looked around. Soon her motion sickness forgotten, she ran to keep up with the other boys that were led by one of the soldiers toward where there were queue for registration. She glanced around and saw signs at the head of the lines and found the one where she should stand in. She went over to the one where the line was for the ones who already had recruiting slips or forms from ShinRa. She glanced over to her side and saw the non-form and recruiting slips were longer.

She took out the forms and letters she had gotten in the mail from the ShinRa Academy that she had applied to. She was accepted into the Academy with two years scholarship. It was difficult for her to get the scholarship; she had wanted to go to the Academy to get out of the town and start a new life and worked very hard to obtain the money to go. She was worried about paying for the education since the budget was tight for her mother and her. Her mother was surprised and thrilled that Cloud had gotten the scholarship, she had worried that she'd have to dip into their life saving to let her daughter go.

Cloud brushed the straying bang from her eyes as she glanced around the area, there were two small military ships docked at the port, waiting to transport the new recruits across the ocean to Junon Base for the naval base and from there, the rest would ride over to Midgar, where the Academy and the main Military training center were with the Headquarter of the ShinRa.

After waiting a while for her turn, she stepped up to the table where a man in uniform of a sergeant officer of the ShinRa Army sat behind with several form of papers and clipboard. He looked up to her and held out his hand, "Forms, papers, whatever you have." He said with bored tone.

Cloud handed the papers over and glanced to find a woman in dark sunglasses and sharp navy three pieces suit, the uniform of the Turks. Cloud had heard of them, they were one of the military branches of the ShinRa, serving as body guards, overseer and occasionally dubbed as the ShinRa's Henchmen. They were one of the highest ranking military personnel along with the Elites Soldiers of the Army. They served and worked under the direct order of the President while the Elites Soldiers answered to the General of the Army.

She swallowed, nervously waiting for the man to finish looking over her papers. She had given him the letters, forms and birth certificate. She nearly missed his comment, "All right…" He nodded and wrote down on the clipboard and mumbled as he wrote, "Cloud Strife, male, fifteen, Nibelheim…" He then looked up again, "Perhaps you'd consider joining the military branches along with the academics?"

Cloud's eyes went slightly wide, relieved that the man had overlooked her gender. She shook her head as she took her papers back. "No sir. I don't know yet."

"Very well, you look like a promising candidate for Solders. Consider it and enjoy your time at the Academy." He gave a quick smile as he handed the small slip of paper after ripping it from the board, "Please take this, and wait over there with the others." He gestured toward the crowd on the other side of the area by the harbor. Cloud took the paper and looked at it to find it was a ticket slip, granting her passage to Midgar. She walked over to where she was directed to and walked through the crowd of young recruits to the other side and slipped down the wall of the building to sit along with few others boys.

She studied the crowds to find several more soldiers in different ranks standing guard. She had studied to the extent before coming and recognized each ranks and branches each soldiers belonged to. The naval men were standing at the port in front of the two ships, wearing white and black uniform that was almost a similar cut to the Army branches.

The Army and Air Forces wore same cuts of uniforms with slight difference; the Air Force had jackets and logos of the Air Force while the Army wore sleeveless crew shirt with dark navy pants and brown or black combat boots. She even spotted several Cadets in their dark blue and gray long sleeved shirt and trouser with belt and suspender. The boots were shiny black, reaching high to the knees.

Cloud pondered slightly on if she should join up the military or not. All she wanted to go to the Academy and get the education, perhaps major in the degree and follow his father's footsteps in science, to be precise, Mako Science. However, to obtain such goal, she'd have to pay for the rest of the years after her two years are up and the offer of joining the Military would pay for her education was tempting. It was a tempting idea but with much more risks, she did not want to be discovered of her gender, not until she proved her worth someday.

She looked around a little bit more and found few girls grouping around some women in the services. It wasn't unheard of, but there were a much smaller number of women in the service of the military even though there were military compound for the women only. Their uniform was similar to the men in many ways but with cuts that fitted the women's body better. There was no women military that has high rankings in the history of ShinRa, many of them reached only to Class Three, rarer number reached Class Two. The Class One was also known as the Elite Soldiers or the Turks, very few female in numbers made it to the Turks but never the Elite Soldiers.

Cloud rolled her eyes and looked up to find the brown haired boy he met on the truck joining him at the wall. She had earlier learned his name was Luke and was the same age as she was.

"Mind if I join ya?" He asked as he slid down beside her.

Cloud shook her head. "Nah."

"What you're joining up for?"

"Just going for the Academy. You?"

"I'm going for the Army. There's a guy from my town that got up to Class Two. So, I wanna to see if I can do it too."

"Good luck to you."

"So, you're really not going for the Army?"

"No, maybe get a job to work for the ShinRa, like a doctor or a scientist, like my father was."

Luke smiled as he nudged his shoulder to Cloud's, "Well, at least try to train a bit, maybe you'll like it. The Army is supposed to be like the best job out there. Traveling, fighting and all. You'd even get to see the world. And not to forget, to serve under General Sephiroth! The best General ever in the entire history."

Cloud grinned as she scooted to the side a little bit, fining her space being overcrowded. Luke didn't notice, if he did, he wouldn't bother. "I don't know. I'm never too good with traveling. You've seen me in the truck."

The other boy laughed, "They'll even fix that problem up with no problem. If you get to a rank, they'll infuse you with Mako, make you stronger, strengthen your senses and give you better healing capabilities."

Cloud shuddered at the though of Mako infused concepts. She had read up about it before and found the whole thing a bit vague and sketchy, even if she had gotten every details of it. All of the Army with Class Three or higher were given Mako Treatment, and it was easily to identify if a person were one of them out of uniform with their inhumanly strength and eerily glowing eyes. There were so many side effects that didn't sound pleasing to her to even think about it. Even she was going to major in Mako Science, for only purpose of creating energy for common uses, not in use of human physiology, it just sounded wrong to her.

Luke shot up and urged Cloud to follow, "Come on; let's get the best spot on the ship before we lose it." Sure enough, she heard the intercom crackling and booming announcement for the recruits to board the ships.

Cloud wrinkled her nose and followed the mousy haired boy onto the first ship and soon, they found themselves some spot to settle for the overnight long trip to Junon Base.

Through the night, Luke found Cloud's face interesting to watch, turning several shades of green. Luckily, no contents of Cloud's stomach had spilled yet since the water was fairly smooth all the way through with no encounter of any sea creatures.

From Junon Base, the truck ride wasn't even better but she was relieved when they got to the ShinRa Academy compound that was conjoined with the Military Fortress.

Cloud's jaw dropped as they filed out of the truck to find the looming city of Midgar before her. It was so massive and dark in coloring. There were high walls of concrete lining the outskirt of the city and the ShinRa Military Fortress. Along the face of the wall were electrifying bluish violet light that hummed. She knew if you were to touch it, it would fry you upon contact, solely created for the monstrosity beast that roamed around the areas. She could see the ground nearly black and gray; from ashes remains that dared to venture too close, all around them for a mile, no grass sprouted anywhere.

As she followed the group around the truck to enter the Fortress, she could see massive gates along the walls, about a half mile apart in between all along the edge of the city. What was more awe to the sight of Midgar alone was the massive plate that stood directly over the center of the city, looming and shadowing the area. She had heard somewhere that was the heart of ShinRa, the main Headquarter and the factory that sucked Mako from the earth to feed the electricity to the city and the surrounding area.

The scents were slightly putrid and she recognized it to be processed Mako and pollutions. Wrinkling her nose in a bunch, she turned to follow the rest of the group into the compound, showing her ticket before ushering to the first building to get her paper and passes.

Finally, after long three hours of waiting, she got her papers, passes, identification card and issued uniforms, she found herself onto the Academy base with few others that were also going for the academics. The Academy was off the side of the Fortress with their own buildings for classes and library.Unfortunately, the students had to share dormitory with the recruits and soldiers. She hoped she wouldn't get the worse of bunches for roommates. She found her building and scowled as she had to use her card several time before it beeped her access into the building.

"Floor Two… two… four… six…eight!" she found her door and found it wide open from the inside and hearing voices as well. There were two men already occupying the room. She felt so small compared to them as she saw them, both of them towering over her, obviously older nearly by five to a decade. She suddenly felt conscious of her size and hoped they wouldn't find her too suspicious; after all, she was portraying a young teenage boy.

"Heey! Reno, we got another one, even he has the hair!" The first turned to her with a face cracking smile that flashed perfect white teeth. Cloud returned a shy smile and fidgety tried to smooth her wayward gravity defying spikes on her skull. The man had long ebony hair that fell down to his waist topped with long spiked tendrils going backward from his forehead. He was large build with roping muscles over his chest and arms. He was nice to look at with friendly violet eyes that glowed with hint of Mako in his bloodstreams. She felt she could trust him, but not just yet.

"Welcome!" The other man quipped; slapping Cloud's back, shoving her into the room. He had tanned skin with bright red hair that fell down to his mid back, sticking in uncontrollable mess only to be discreetly tied back in a ponytail. His eyes were dark blue but didn't show any Mako glows.

"I'm Zack, this is Reno." The first stuck his hand out to Cloud and shook hands. The blonde winced slightly as she withdrew her hand from the strop grip and told them her name, making sure her voice wasn't too high, "Cloud Strife…" She then shook Reno's hand, finding the grip nearly strong but not painful.

"Take your pick for bunk. The top one is mine on the right, and he took the bottom on the left." Zack gestured to the small but decently sized room that also had two desks to each other in between the beds and two large trunks at the edge of the bunk beds. There was another door near the left bunk bed leading to a small bathroom with a shower stall. From across the left bunk were a half refrigerator and a counter that lined along the wall. There were some posters plastered on the wall of some famous rock and pop bands, military sport teams' banner and to her dismay, wads of gums that stuck few smaller posters to the wall where thumbtacks ran out. There was a massive broadsword that stood taller than her hanging from specialized hook next to the trunk; she supposed if she were to try to lift it, she wouldn't be able to.

She looked at the two men that watched her expectantly. "The other roommate has not arrived yet?" She asked quietly.

Zack shook his head as he grinned. "No, not yet."

Cloud gave a small smile and found she'd be more comfortable sharing bunk with ebony haired man. For some reasons, he had a comforting and trusting atmosphere to him, rather more than Reno where he felt more mysterious. "I'll take the bottom one." Cloud moved to put her bag on the mattress. Zack grinned more, and Cloud wondered if he could smile anymore before cracking his face in half.

Zack grabbed the issued duffel bag and open the trunk, "There's divided sections, yours on the right, is that all right?"

Cloud shrugged as she pulled out some stuffs from her personal bag. "Fine with me. There are no dressers here?"

Reno shook his head as he sat down on his bed. "Nah. I guess somewhere in the past, the dressers got destroyed more than enough that it was removed from the dormitory. Once you get to the top, you can get your own apartment at the complex at the back of the fortress. So, tell us about yourself, roomie."

Cloud looked up to Reno and gave another shy smile. "You know my names… I'm from Nibelheim and I'm majoring in Mako Science."

Zack stood back up from the trunk. "Not for the military?"

"No."

"Too bad." He sat down on Cloud's bed next to the youth. "Field Lieutenant Zack Donovan, the Residential Advisor for this entire second floor of this building and a whole lot of others; I teach some classes, mostly train the Basic Training. Any problem or question, come and see me." He chuckled, "I'm from Gongaga and in Class Two Soldier if you don't know which rank I am. I don't want to hear any 'Yes Sir', or 'Lieutenant Donovan' from you, Zack will only do." He smirked as he leaned back to rest on his elbows.

Cloud nodded as she took it all in. "Sure, Zack."

"I'm in Class Three Solider, Class Two Corporal, but once I get to Class Two, I'm going to transfer over to Turks. They get better paid and better jobs!"

Zack shook his head in disagreement. "Nah, the best one would be Class One Elite."

Reno scoffed. "If you can beat General Sephiroth."

Cloud frowned in confusion. "Beat General Sephiroth?"

Reno chuckled. "You know of General Sephiroth?"

Cloud nodded, how can she not? This General Sephiroth was known as the highest ranking man in the entire ShinRa Military, the fourth in line of the ranks under the President and the only one in the Elite Class One Solider. He had single handily won the Wutai war a decade ago and was known as the most ruthless fighter and the most cold hearted man to grace the planet. .

"If you get into Class Two, it's better to get comfortable with the rank for the rest of your life. Only way to get into Class One is to challenge General Sephiroth and beat him in a match or if you are up for a trial run, which is very rare. If he deems you worthy of his equal, you'll be Class One. But dream on, no one had ever been Class One for a long time, ever since the Great War."

"Really?" Cloud gaped at the information. "What happened to those who were in Class One before?"

Zack shrugged as he got up from the bed. "Oh, the last of them were killed in the Wutai War. General Sephiroth was the only one left and the strongest out there. You'd not want to mess with him. It is not easy to get along with him; he's like an ice block."

Reno scoffed as he leaned against his bunk bed, "Zack here is the only one who can hang around General Sephiroth without getting killed."

She turned her head to the other man with wide eyes. Zack shrugged in reply, "I'm just a friend… He's difficult to talk to." He laughed and helped Cloud tossing her clothes into the trunk beside the bed.

Cloud soon learned more about the rankings and the two men, feeling slightly at ease after traveling a long way. She figured she might as well get away with it for the next few years as long they don't evade too much of her privacy. She had sought for a better life after a hard childhood in Nibelheim.

She learned that you could obtain a weapon of your choice in Class Three where Reno had an Electrorod tucked away in a specialized box under the trunk and Zack had an issued wide blade Buster Sword with two slots for gems of Materia hanging on the wall in its glory next to their bunk bed. She also learned that Zack dreamed of reaching Class One someday and is working hard on it.

Zack appeared to be jovial, easygoing with rebellious streak while Reno was more reserved with heavy mischievous side to him. Finally, their fourth roommate joined them, a Private, Class Four, just freshly out of Cadet Rank, employing as a guard at the Headquarter named Phil whom they would hardly ever see from now on.

Cloud was given a tour of the fortress by Zack with several other new recruits that lived on their floor in the building. Then they had dinner at the Mess Hall before turning in for the night. She felt relieved that she had made it this far and closed her eyes, wondering how much farther she could go before she could achieve something. Little she knows that her life was just a beginning.

w w w . y a s h o d o a . c o m / r o a d t o d a m a s c u s