Disclaimer: Not mine!

The air was cold, frigid. This of course was not unexpected from a night in the middle of winter; still Zack felt it was unwelcome. He fingers felt numb, the only way he knew his sword was still in his hand was to look down and check. Speaking of, Zack let his gaze fall to his hand briefly. His sword was still tightly clutched in his hand, ready for what ever would come at him.

He raised his eyes to look out into the valley before him. Bodies lay strewn across the snow covered ground, all in different stages of decay. Some new, some from battles ages past, bodies of the young mingled with the bodies of the old, all with one thing in common, death. Zack's eyes moved to the body closest to where he stood. It was still a good ways away from him, but eyes could clearly make out the form of a young boy, blond from the looks of it, no more then sixteen years old. There was a deep jagged cut across his throat. The youth's eyes were still open, staring unblinkingly up into the night sky, the expression on his face one of shock.

Zack snorted. How could anyone come to this field and be surprised by their own death? Zack had expected to die years before now. It was those who survived that should be surprised. To fight an Elite was to fight the best soldiers the world had ever known. They were ruthlessly efficient. It would take them a matter of days to topple a whole country. Zack had seen it done first hand. He had watched as the Elite, under the command of King Shinra, had destroyed the kingdom he had grown up in. He went to bed under a blue banner and had woken up under a red one.

He had watched as his older brother had run into the streets to fight, he had seen him cut down, watched his brothers body crumple under the Elite's sword.

As the years had passed Zack grew curious. He decided to learn all he could about the new king and the new army. At the age of fourteen he had left his parents and had gone to join the army. After all, the best way to defeat your enemy is to think like them, know their moves, their feeling, and their motivations. When he had joined he never thought he would join the ranks of the Elite, especially by age sixteen. Now at age twenty he was second to no one, save one man, General Sephiroth, the leader of the current campaign.

He was as skilled as he was brilliant. No one fought him and lived. That is no one except Zack, fought him and lived, although the only people who knew this were Sephiroth and Zack himself. At the time Zack did not think much of it, it was just sparring. When he had one he had thought it no more then a game. It wasn't until the next day that he realized the importance of that victory. Sephiroth had made special attempts to make sure he got to know the boy who had defeated him. Today Zack was in Sephiroth's inner circle, his second in command, along with Vincent an Assassin for the King, a dark mysterious man that the more you asked about him, the less you found out.

Zack finally tore his eyes from the body of the youth and turned his gaze back farther down the valley. Here they were in the outskirts of the country of Runa, once again taking the freedom from another country, forcing them to convert to their beliefs. The first wave of opposing soldiers had already come and gone. It was a quick victory that took less then an hour to achieve. Now they waited for the second wave.

Zack had volunteered to stand as watch in case the Runan army decided to make a brazen night attack. So far there were no signs of such event, but the night was young. A few strands of midnight black hair fell into his eyes, momentarily obscuring his vision. A breeze was beginning to form in the night air, he could hear the fabric of the tents behind him catch and rattle. Zack sighed. That's all they needed, more snow.

"Are you thinking what I am?"

Zack was pulled from his thoughts from a deep silky baritone. He turned to see that the great General Sephiroth had decided to join him atop the hill. The General was an impressive looking man, a good two inches taller then Zack; he had the aura of a god. His deep green eyes were emotionless and full of feeling in the same breath. His long silver hair had been pulled back, tied with a simple black string. His gaze was trained in the valley below, yet he did not seem to be focusing on anything.

Zack shifted slightly, returning his gaze back to valley as well.

"I am afraid we might be getting a storm before dawn."

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Sephiroth nod in agreement.

"It shouldn't affect us too much; we came prepared for such an event. At most it will delay the campaign a few hours."

Zack shrugged slightly.

"I wasn't worried."

He felt the Generals intense gaze turn to him but did not look over.

"No, you weren't, were you?"

It was not so much a question as a statement.

Zack straightened his stance but remained silent. His body suddenly felt cold, the wind finally piercing the many layers of clothing he wore.

"Go down and get some rest." Sephiroth spoke. "I will send some one to take your watch. I need you sharp tomorrow."

Zack nodded his head. He turned and began heading down the hill.

"Good night, Zack."

Zack smiled and glanced over his shoulder. The General's back was facing him.

"Good night Sir."

Zack turned and headed into the camp.

After hearing the footsteps retreat until there was no sound, Sephiroth turned to watch his second walk to his tent. Sephiroth had known the boy since he had first decided to join the army. He never thought the boy would make it through the first week let alone become an Elite. The boy finally ducked into his tent and disappeared from view. Even after all these years the boy remained a mystery to him. Knowing the boys past, he could never figure out why the boy had joined the army that had murdered his brother. He had asked Zack this question before only to be greeted with silence.

He turned his head back to the valley. In a matter of hours he would be fighting again. His men would bring another victory to the Shinra kingdom. It sickened him to the core.

He heard footsteps behind him and quickly turned to see a young foot soldier approaching him. The boy had light unruly blond hair, sticking out in various directions, vaguely reminding the General of hay. He had seen the boy in the company of Zack recently. Cloud, he believed the child's name was.

"Sir." The boy said nervously.

Sephiroth eyed him wearily for a moment before speaking. He suppressed an annoyed sigh as the child squirmed under his gaze.

"What is it?" He asked sharply.

"Sir, Commander Zack requested that I take his watch Sir, he told me to inform you." The boy said, his voice belying his fear.

Sephiroth snorted. He had planned to take on Zack's watch himself; no doubt the boy had known that.

"Very well." Sephiroth muttered.

Sephiroth turned and headed down into the camp. He could use the extra sleep anyways; no doubt he would need it by dawn.