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Chapter 1: Reveille
Radiant Garden Military Academy…
Barracks of SOLDIER Elite Strike Team…
Sephiroth yelped as the loudspeaker blew reveille at far too loud a volume, startling him awake. He winced, his head having banged off of the bunk above him when he sat up too quickly.
"You okay down there?" asked his roommate.
"I'm fine, Dilan. Just putting dents in the furniture…" Sephiroth muttered, rubbing his head irritatedly.
From the bunk above his own, a smirking, raven-haired man with his long hair bound in dreadlock-like braids peeked down on the silver-haired warrior. "Now is that any way for the so-called 'greatest hero in Radiant Garden' to behave?" he teased.
Sephiroth rolled his eyes. "Please. I'm no hero. I just have good luck," he said, sitting up and stretching.
Dilan chuckled and rolled off of his bed, landing catlike and popping his neck. "You sell yourself short, m'friend. When those insect things followed that mouse-guy in from offworld, I thought we were goners. You and that oversized butterknife of yours saved all of us," he said, patting Sephiroth on the shoulder.
Sephiroth shuddered at the memory. "Like I said: Lucky. The Masamune is good steel, and its range was just barely able to keep those things at bay. I really need to learn some defensive and healing magic, like the new kids are," he said. He sighed, and then chuckled. "What about you?" he asked, "Isn't this your last day before transferring to the Hollow Bastion research team Lord Ansem is building?"
Dilan grinned sheepishly, opening his footlocker and putting on his uniform, armored boots and gloves, with basic black camouflage clothing girded with a light armor, glowing runes on the shoulders, chest, and thighs giving it defense against magic to go with its physical protection. "I still can't believe it. I just submitted that research paper as a joke to the candidacy office. I had no idea it was actually worth anything!"
"You're smarter than you think you are, old friend," Sephiroth said, lightly punching Dilan in the shoulder as he got dressed himself.
"Don't forget your coat," Dilan said as he pulled his lance out of a nearby storage chest, pulling out a whetstone to sharpen the tip.
Sephiroth grimaced. "That thing looks ridiculous and you know it."
Dilan smirked. "The One Wing coat is the highest honor in all of Radiant Garden. You really want to disrespect Lord Ansem in front of the rookies?"
Sephiroth looked ill. "Good lord, is that today?"
Dilan nodded. "We both agreed to help break in the new SOLDIER applicants. By all accounts, they're some of the best fighters and mages in the Garden forces. There's a couple that Cid himself endorsed."
Sephiroth looked surprised. "Highwind actually endorsed a rookie? And more than one? I was under the impression that barmy old codger hated everybody under twenty-five."
Dilan chuckled. "Hey, don't diss my mentor. And yeah, I'm being serious. He said he saw something he really liked in these kids. Now c'mon, grab your coat and let's get going."
Sephiroth sighed, putting on the ceremonial coat with its large, decorative wing. He looked at himself in the mirror, tying his long, silvery hair into a ponytail, and sighing.
He had to admit that the armored jacket, when added to his regular uniform, did make him look impressive. Even the wing added to the effect a little, especially when his sword was drawn.
He took a melodramatic pose, and rolled his eyes.
Then he yelped, falling back a few steps as the image in the mirror changed, becoming that of a buxom, blue-skinned woman with long, silvery hair, her sensual body garbed only in a loose-fitting silk gown.
"My son," she said adoringly, "How handsome you look."
"MO-ther!" Sephiroth said, his voice a harsh whisper, "What are you doing?!"
Jenova gave her son a pouty look. "Can't I greet my son before he goes off to work?"
"You can, it's just… Mother, I don't like you taking risks like this. I can't divert Ansem's attention away from you and those… 'experiments' of yours if you keep showing up here," Sephiroth said, smiling sadly.
Jenova sighed, and reached through the mirror to hug Sephiroth. "I know, dear, I know. My experiments in the forbidden magic have put me on Ansem's shit list. But I'm willing to take the risk to see my boy."
Sephiroth sighed. "Just… Just be more careful, okay? You're all I have left. I don't want to lose you."
"I'll be careful," Jenova said, kissing him on the forehead, "But I did have an ulterior for manifesting here. I was wondering if you could join me for dinner tonight? I have a special treat planned."
Sephiroth smiled. "I'll see what I can do, mother. I have several new recruits to break in."
Jenova quirked an eyebrow. "Figuratively, I hope."
Sephiroth blushed. "That was an accident and only happened once," he said.
Jenova giggled. "Go on, go play with your toys. Hope to see you tonight," she said before disappearing from the mirror.
Sephiroth smiled, feeling better about the day. Dilan poked his head in and said, "Hey, what happened? Get your jock tangled in inappropriate places again?"
Sephiroth rolled his eyes. "Your problem, Blowhard, is that you only think you're funny."
Dilan smirked. "I do what I can. Now get out here. We got rookies to whup."
Sephiroth grinned, finished buttoning up his coat, and ran out after his comrade. The two almost immediately began to race to the training field, a macho tradition that both men loved.
And, as usual, Dilan called up his wind powers to cheat his way to a victory.
"You're a bastard. You do realize that, don't you?" Sephiroth said, grumbling as he came up to Dilan, waiting patiently at the edge of the training field as Sephiroth trotted up to him.
"You're just jealous 'cause you don't rock as much as I do," Dilan said.
Sephiroth nodded, and looked over the field. The other four main battle commanders, Vincent Valentine, Laguna Loire, Adelbert Steiner, and Kefka Palazzo, were there, along with a group of youngsters that all looked just barely into their teens.
"So young," Sephiroth said softly.
"Younger than we were when we joined up," Dilan said, sighing as he and Sephiroth walked up to join the others, "But we have a duty to train them for Radiant Garden's defense."
"Right," Sephiroth said, nodding. He looked over the recruits, and pointed to two of them in the front, a spikey-haired blonde with a zanmato, and a young, buxom teen who looked to be unarmed. "Who are those two?"
Dilan chuckled. "Those are the two that Cid likes. The girl is Tifa Lockheart, and she's strong enough to punch a hole through solid steel. The boy is Cloud Strife, and he's said to be just as good a swordsman as you are."
Sephiroth smirked. "Well now. This could be interesting after all," he said, as he and Dilan joined the other four battle commanders, who were all looking over the recruits.
"Okay brats," Sephiroth said, "Let's begin. I'm Adrian Sephiroth. The grim creeper here is Vincent Valentine. The fruity-looking wizard is Kefka Palazzo. The walking tank is Adelbert Steiner. Smilin' Jack here is Laguna Loire, and the asshole with the girly hairstyle next to me is Dilan Aeronok. But for the next few years, our names are 'Sir,' or 'Commander.' The harshest training of your lives begins today, kids! So get ready!"
To Be Continued…