Sephiroth looked over the vacant field, smoldering fires still burning in pits. The boggy peat smelled awful, and Zack pinched his nose in distaste. Maybe three clicks east there was a battle line, but this place…was desolation.

"Fuckin' ninja's got their hands on something big…tank by the looks of it." Zack said, looking at the ground. His commader nodded absently, kicking over a burned out plank.

"I do not think anyone survived. Let us go." He said, green eyes scanning the ruins. "Let these men rest in peace." It was the most funeral they would get, he was sad to say.

They were tromping back to their chocobos when it happened. Zack had watched the general pause, and then his eyes went wide. Zack heard it then, and instantly identified it.

"Seeker!" he hissed, and they took off, missile in hot pursuit. They ran for almost four minutes, dodging the thing, before both were taken down by a rope strung between two trees.

Zack expected the worst, until a grimy form leapt from the tree, flinging a hastily lit flare upwards. The Seeker ended up as so much shrapnel, and the trooper landed hard and rolled, coming up armed.

"who the fuck are you?" Zack asked, looking at the wary boy. He grabbed his helmet, flinging it off. Zack was struck by the sight of blond spikes smeared in blood and glowing blue eyes.

"Generals Sir!" he said, startled. He must not have been able to see them with the helmet. And he saw why…his blue eyes glowed.

"At Ease, Soldier. What is your name?" Sephiroth asked in his commander voice, and the boy dropped to an easy rest.

"Sergeant Cloud Strife. Field medic for the thirty second, sir." He said, voice weary and boyish. He couldn't have been older than sixteen…Zack wanted to hug him.

"What happened here?" he asked instead, and the blond shook his head.

"Kamikaze, sir…hit us about four days ago. Wiped out my MASH unit and the unit attatched to us sir." He reported, pulling a pack from the tree. He whirled then, rifle firing a report as a swamp covered man rose, springing at him.

"The swamps full of enemy units, sir. I've been on the move towards base camp." He said, shouldering the pack and rooting through the dead mans pockets. He came out with a set of dog tags and a potion.

Then Zack saw the blonde's wrist when he unwrapped his scarf. Dozens of dog tags were wrapped on their chains, and the boy added this one too.

"Wow…" Zack watched as the blond rewrapped the scarf tightly.

"They deserve a funeral too. Since I got no time for grave diggin' this'll have to do." Clouds voice was tired as he spoke. Sephiroth nodded.

"You say you're a Field medic…." He said, and Cloud nodded, leading a slime covered swamp chocobo out of the underbrush.

"Yeah, been here since…three years ago." Cloud said, and he looked at the men. "Permission to join company, sirs!" he said formally, and Sephiroth nodded. The boy had saved their hides after all.

The two Soldiers only turned, heading back for their birds. The blond followed behind, watching the rear. He seemed far too wary for a simple swamp, and now in the company of the generals.

Sephiroth decided he'd find out what was bothering the boy when they got back to camp.

'' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' ''

Back at base camp, Cloud was bathed, given a fresh set of too-big fatigues, and ushered into the generals building. He still held onto his side pack, now carrying the dog tags.

"Tell me, Sergeant Strife, why you were back there and survived, if everyone else was dead." He said softly, and cloud sighed.

"I…I made as many of them comfortable as I could, sir. But…the Fever took quick. My body's resistant to shit like that, 'count of the Mako in me, but the others…weren't so lucky. I managed to quarantine the chocobo, and washed both of us in alcohol once I left the place." He said, and the general nodded, motioning for him to sit.

"You say Fever….what symptoms?" he asked, and Cloud recited the list, as if he'd gone over it a million times before.

"Body temperature exceeding 108 Degrees, shaking, vomiting, inability to consume fluids. Green veins three hours prior to death." He said, reaching into his bag. A battered notebook was brought out, and the General looked it over. The boy had documented well…

"Bioweapon?" he asked, and cloud shook his head.

"no…swamp maybe. It was infection, not germs, I know that much." He said, and Sephiroth nodded.

"Dismissed. Eat and rest, Soldier." He said, and cloud balked.

"I'm only a Medic, sir…not a Soldier." He said, and Sephiroth smirked.

"consider this a field promotion. I saw you with that sword earlier. See Zack. You've just become the First Class medical Specialist." He said, signing a file and handing it over. Cloud just gaped as he was led from the tent.

'' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' ''

YAY!!! Another project eating mah brain. This is what happened…

I was reading a fic where Cloud was in the war. Mash was on. Add my own brand of dramatics, and you get this piece of shit.

R&R and I love you all forever!!!