First story i've done for FF7. I do not own any characters anyone recognizes. I only own one OC, who you will see in this chapter. Obivously this is AU.

The SOLDIER Test and a Duel

These guys think they're SOLDIER material? Pa-leeze, a cocky young man thought as he surveyed his competition. Most guys were either so dumb they couldn't tell the hilt from the blade on a sword and probably only found their way to the training center because of the guides. He would be willing to bet most of them were never in a real battle before either.

The door opened and most people stepped to attention. He didn't see what the big deal was though; it was just that girl that had been hanging around watching them take the SOLDIER exam earlier. She had to be the daughter of one of the examiners; why else would she be there? She was kind of pretty. Maybe he'd ask her out to lunch once this was over.

As she got closer, he noticed a gun almost half-as-long as she was tall holstered in a special harness on her hip. It looked as though it would dislocate her shoulder if she even tried to fire it. She probably can't even pick it up, he smirked mentally.

She was definitely younger than him, maybe fifteen if he had to guess. She was bouncing around on what appeared to be knee-high leather boots on high heels, matched with a short, black skirt and a tight and midriff-baring red leather vest. An impressive amount of cleavage was visible. She was humming some ditty to herself and her lips were curled in an innocent smile, a contrast to her sluttish attire.

Her big brown eyes, glowing with flecks of emerald and ruby, looked around the room, studying each applicant. Her gaze settled on him, leaning on the wall.

"Heyya!" she said, white teeth showing through her lips. "So you're that guy with the disciplinary problem they told me about. Fair, right?" she stopped in front of him and looked at him curiously.

"Zack," he offered. "So what's a pretty little girl like you doing here? Don't you know there's lots of men that would hurt a poor thing like you?"

If anything, she smiled wider. "I'm okay," she answered.

"So what ya doin' with that?" he asked her, smirking and pointing at the gun. "Have you ever fired it?"

She nodded. "Lots of times," she answered, cracking a wad of bubble gum she had been chewing.

"Really?" Zack asked her, doubt and challenge in his voice.

"Yeah," she answered, her eyes narrowing in retort, chomping down extra hard on the pink, sticky candy. Clearly she was not use to being treated like anything other than the little plate-princess her dear mother and father had diluted her into thinking she was. Man, was she in for a wake up call. "You don't believe me?"

"Sorry, Princess," Zack said sarcastically. The girl's smile was gone now. "There's no way that you've ever fired that gun. You can't even lift it."

"Wanna bet?" she challenged, fire blazing in her eyes.

"Don't hurt yourself now," he teased her.

One of her hands went to her side and grapped the leather-covered stock. Without flinching or blinking, the girl un-holstered the gun and held it horizontally at eye-level with the same hand. That gun had to weigh a good fifty pounds, yet she held it like it only weighed two.

"Convinced?" she asked him.

Sure, her strength was a little impressive, but it didn't prove she was anything special.

Zack smirked at her, bored. "Nice trick. Your boobs real, too?"

All around him, the other people and instructors looked nervous and took several huge steps back. The girl was not amused by his little comment. Not at all.

"Think you're so all and mighty, do you?" she hissed. "Fine. If you're so good and stuff, fight me!" she took a fighting stance several feet back, her weight balanced on her back foot and the gun now pointed in his general direction, waiting for him to accept her challenge.

"I don't fight little girls," Zack said, giving her a patronizing smile.

"Good thing I'm not a little girl then," she shot back. "Come on. What 'cha got to loose? Tell ya what, you beat me, and I'll get you onto the Silver Squadron."

The Silver Squadron…that was one of the three highest-ranking squads in SOLDIER. The General Sephiroth was the captain of the regiment, and only the best of the best could get into it. It was made of entirely first-class SOLDIERs and very few could ever make it that high.

"Really now?" he asked. "All well, saves me lots of time," he smirked down at her.

"Pick your poison," she said, grinning ear to ear, glancing over to the wall of weaponry.

Piece of cake, he thought as he selected a short spear from the available choices. There was no sense in dulling a blade for this. He turned the spear in a circle several times in his hand to get a feel for it before turning back to her.

Most people had moved away from the two and given them plenty of room, scared for the young and foolish man. Did he want to die?

"Tell ya what, since I'm such a nice guy and everything, I'll let you have first hit," he smirked at her again.

"I f you insist," she called before firing off a quick shot.

It missed, but Zack had the feeling she had wanted it to. What was more surprising was she shot the gun, and the recoil hadn't dislocated her wrist or her shoulder. She was sending him a subtle message that she could handle that gun.

"Your turn," she smiled overly pleasantly, returning to her stance, shifting her weight from her back foot to her front foot again and again, ready to repeal his attack.

With a shout, he charged forward to slash her across her midsection…and he totally missed. She dodged to the side and to add insult to injury, she booted him across his buttocks as he fell past her, sending him crashing to the ground. The observing other hopeful SOLDIER candidates 'ugh-ed' in sympathy.

Cheeks burning red in embarrassment, Zack raised himself back to his feet with a grunt. He narrowed his eyes at her, smirking and basking in his folly. He gripped his spear in both hands and noted now was not the time to be a gentleman if she was going to spit in his face for it.

"Nice," she commented, "but were you trying to hit me? I couldn't tell."

"Show me what you got," he snapped at her.

"If you insist," she said before firing her gun at him, sending a bullet through his upper thigh…near an area that would be very not good for him if she hit it. He grunted with the pain as the bullet ripped through the other side of his leg, but tried not to let that beat him. After all, he knew she shot him there because she knew it would be more annoying and painful than life threatening.

"This is kind of boring," she sighed.

Feeling quite clever, Zack attacked as she yawned and closed her eyes for a brief moment. He swung the tip of his spear at her hand and knocked the gun out of her slacked grip, sending the behemoth of a firearm clattering to the ground.

Elated, he went to swing the spear around again and set the tip against her pulse point in her neck to bring the match to its close, but she had other ideas.

The smirk that was on his face was wiped off as he realized that she had moved faster than he could follow.

He had made one miscalculation when he accepted her invitation to fight. He hadn't known that she didn't need to be armed to hand him his rear end, so it really didn't matter that he had managed to disarm her.

As he stumbled forward trying to halt his momentum, a knee blasted into his abdomen and an elbow into the center of his spinal column, sending tingling sensations right to his toes and every nerve in his body.

He landed face first, curled into a ball to protect his probably bruised vital organs. Not that he would admit it, but that hurt! Maybe she wasn't just some girlly-girl plate-princess after all…

"Give up yet?"

"Never," he growled, flipping to his feet, his spear back in his hands.

Her smirk was absolutely evil as she said, "Suit yourself."

Before he was conscious of her movement, she growled at him as she jumped toward him and her knee connected quite painfully with his temple. Before he swooned to the ground his last thought was, She has some nice taste in underwear…

He was laid flat on his back, staring dazed up at the white ceiling of the training center. He felt a weight on his chest as one of his opponent's boots settled on top of him, like a hero of old who had just struck down their latest foe.

She sighed rather heavily as she said in a bored tone, "You're hopeless. Try again in a few years once you get your big-boy muscles."

Zack would have been insulted had his body not chosen that time to fall into unconsciousness.