A/N: Ey, I love Rufus Shinra, so this is basically a character study of him and why he's such a douchebag, and also an opportunity to give all of Shinra more screentime. A lot of artistic license during all the pre-Crisis Core chapters is used to fill in some things, but I didn't do anything to the canon (except Sephiroth's age. I may have messed that up and there is no way to fix it). This timeline sucks though seriously it's a mess. This fic starts out when Rufus is like four and unable to have snarky conversation, so it's mostly the Turks and their shenanigans. So I hope that's enough to tide you over until Rufus grows up into a warmongering sociopath.

WELCOME TO THE REWRITE. The first five chapters were originally written when I was sixteen, so I decided nobody should have to see that crap, so if you REALLY wanna see it then you gotta PM me and ask for it yourself. (Don't do that. Love yourselves.) So enjoy this instead. BEGIN!

########

What Started It All

President Shinra was a model leader, husband, and father. He held his company and his executives to a high standard of work, and made sure to be a very present employer. HOwever he also managed to spend time with his family, and included them in functions and public appearances. He both appeared to be, and was, a loving family man and a devoted leader.

Of course, it was never as simple as the public saw. The president and his wife argued, as married couples do, and there was the odd affair that went on behind the scenes and threatened to sully the family's good name, but they made it a point to never let it ruin their marriage and their loyalty to each other. They worked out problems they had instead of breaking apart, all for the sake of the world, and for their son. And for it, their relationship was stronger than any couple who had never endured complications and arguments. The president and his wife brought out the best in each other, and together they brought energy and a better life to the people of Gaia.

Wutai wanted nothing to do with this company's new energy, however. Well, most of the small country did. There were those who supported Shinra as well, but they were a minority. There wasn't a single territory that unanimously supported or opposed anything, after all. However this caused so much controversy that people began to talk of war.

And then one day, there was an attack. The president's wife was killed.

They had been out in the open at a public address, announcing the new SOLDIER program to the world. It was a risky move at such a time of strife, and Shinra had underestimated the threat. The president of Shinra Company was left with a country in outrage, and a four-year-old son who didn't understand that his mother was gone forever.

President Shinra would ensure that he never made the same mistake again. Only the Goddess knew whether his actions would help the Planet, or do more harm than good. For one emotionally estranged boy, only hindsight can tell.

########

When the shot rang out during the address, the few SOLDIER at the event surrounded the president and immediately showed the world just what the program was capable of. They made a wall and stood ready to face any opponent, unafraid of any development, while the Turks rushed in to investigate from the shadows. They found the president's wife fatally shot, presumably instead of her husband, and rushed the two remaining Shinras away from the public eye.

And that was how the commander of the Department of Administrative Research ended up handling a crying four-year-old.

He wasn't even four yet, but that didn't matter. The boy didn't even know why he was crying, probably, and therefore there was nothing Veld could do about it as he rushed the boy back to his estate to be cared for by the nanny, until things calmed down. Maybe he would stop crying once he saw someone familiar.

He'd warned the president not to be out in public at such a time, but the man had insisted that it would be good for their image if he was the one to announce the new SOLDIER program. Veld had relented, trusting that nobody would go so far as to attack the man outright. That mistake had cost that poor woman her life. It wasn't Veld's first mistake, and it wouldn't be his last. The best he could do would be to follow his orders and keep this insufferable child safe until Security arrived and he could go join his men in the field.

The boy had struggled fiercely, screaming for his mother as Veld whisked him away and into an unmarked car. It wasn't equipped with a child's seat, so Veld could only hope the boy wouldn't wriggle out of his confinements and get himself injured. Luckily, the boy seemed content with merely sitting there and wailing away. He drove safely and inconspicuously, just in case. He told himself again that he would be free once Security took over.

He arrived at the estate outside the city shortly. It was easy enough getting past security with the president's personal instruction, but getting back in after they closed the barrier would take a little longer. He didn't mind if it meant keeping the culprits of the attack inside the city, and any other shady characters outside the city. He drove up to the gate and scanned his Shinra ID before heading through and into the garage. Then came the unpleasant job of removing Rufus Shinra from the car and taking him up to the house. He sighed, and held the squirming, wailing boy as gently as his could without dropping him.

He suspected that the nanny would hear Rufus crying and come running, but Veld hit the doorbell anyway. two seconds later, Yori tugged the door open, a worried expression on her young face. "Sir! Did something happen?" She assumed that if one of the Turks was holding her charge, and not one of his parents, something unexpected happened that was keeping the parents busy.

Veld couldn't get a word in with the boy's wailing (thankfully he had stopped squirming), so Yori quickly relieved him of his burden. When she saw the blood on the boy's white coat, however, she looked up at Veld with terror in her eyes.

"He's fine," he said just loud enough to be heard, and Yori nodded stiffly and left to calm the boy down and clean the blood off of him. Veld gave her props for not losing composure and adapting to the situation.

Veld stood in the doorway, feigning patience. There was nothing he could do about the president's irrational orders, no matter how much he wanted to argue and change the man's mind. He was just a Turk. Turks didn't have opinions; they just did their job. If the president ordered him to babysit his son, then Veld would have to do so. His face twitched in frustration. He shouldn't be here, not now. He should be out leading the investigation. Otherwise, the culprit might get away. But he couldn't move; it was against his orders. And so, he coped with his impatience, and stood silent, unmoving.

It was about ten minutes before the girl came back out, wringing her hands in front of her nervously. She walked slowly towards the Turk, thinking of exactly how to word her question. She gave up on anything complicated, and simply asked, "What happened?"

There was no hesitation from the Turk, and no emotion in his voice. "There was an assassination attempt during the address today. The president's wife is dead."

Yori's eyes widened, and she gasped. She was speechless for a moment.

Veld went on, "I have been ordered to guarantee his son's well-being. Is he safe?"

The girl's eyes didn't move as she answered, in shock. "Yes, he's sleeping. Oh..." She brought her hand up and ran her fingers through her hair, a pained expression on her face. "Who... who could have done this? His wife was a kind person, why would they want to kill her?"

Again, there was no hesitation. "It seems that she was trying to protect him. She must have seen the culprit before they took the shot, and got in the way." He cursed himself, wondering how the woman had seen, and his Turks had not.

The girl's lip trembled as she fought off tears. She looked at the floor, holding her arms in front of her and shaking her head. "I don't understand... they're good people! Why would anyone want them dead?!" She lost the battle, allowing tears to stream down the sides of her face.

It was like this guy wasn't even human. "That's what we're trying to find out. The few Turks in the area are searching the city, looking for anyone suspicious." He shifted in place, the only action that hinted any sort of unease he might have felt. "I am to remain here until more security arrives."

Yori was silent for a moment. "How... how is the president doing?"

For the first time, the man hesitated. "He... he is quite well, given the circumstances. He is currently planning the funeral ceremony and the future of the company."

Yori was a bit shocked. She probably thought it was too soon. Veld almost felt for her; the girl cared about the family like they were her own. "Is there anything I can do?" the girl asked.

The hesitation was gone from Veld's voice as quickly as it had revealed itself. "The best way would be for you to stay here, and continue to fulfill your duties, until further notice."

The girl looked up. "So... Rufus will be staying here, and I'm to care for him?"

"Precisely."

Worry crept over the girl's face once again. "What... what kind of security will be here?"

The Turk shifted again. "There should be a few infantrymen coming for now. They have their own supplies and such, so you won't need to worry about housing or feeding them. If need be, more security will be provided." As if on cue, a truck pulled up in front of the estate, and one of the said infantrymen jumped out of the back, shouting some orders. "It seems the time has come for me to leave. Good day to you, miss." The Turk did a half-bow, and let himself out the door.

"Oh... how could this happen?" the girl asked herself.

########

Veld left the girl to her own devices as he trudged down the path away from the house. Two of the soldiers were already heading up to the house, presumably to confirm the safety of the people inside. They slowed their pace when they saw the black uniform of the Turks, whispering to each other.

"Hey, isn't that a Turk?"

"Heh, it looks like."

"What the hell are the Turks doing here? This is our mission, it's our time to shine!"

"Well, I guess the Turks were called too. I mean, do you really think just the three of us can handle this?"

"Whose side are you on, anyway?"

Veld had noticed their semi-quarrel—it seemed a bit one-sided—and quickly tried to make his way past them to his transport down in the garage. He reached them in no time and turned to walk around them. "Excuse me-"

One of the soldiers—the more belligerent of the two—slung his rifle around from where it had been hanging off of his shoulder, and pointed it right at the Turk. "Hey man, hold it right there!"

The Turk stopped in his tracks, a bit startled at the fact that someone was pointing a gun at him. He looked at the culprit, and his eyes narrowed into slits. "Excuse me?" He said once again, this time with outrage.

"You know what, old man! I saw you just now, you came from the Shinra estate up there!" The grunt jerked his head towards the rather large house in front of him. "You look just a little bit suspicious to me. We were told to keep everyone away from this place, and that includes you. How did you get in here?!"

The Turk's eyebrows furrowed in disbelief. Was this a joke of some kind? What was the army teaching these kids, anyway? He looked at the belligerent grunt's counterpart, who looked nervously at the ground. His helmet covered most of his face, but the Turk could tell he was frowning. Veld closed his eyes, and said with distaste, "I was the first to arrive at the scene. I am no criminal. Now, I have a job to do, so if you'll excuse me-"

"Look, bud, I have the authority to gun down anyone within fifty yards of the entrance. So you'd better tell me what the hell you were doing in there-"

"What the hell are you doing, private?!"

Both of the infantrymen jumped at the sound of their captain's gruff voice. The more timid of the two turned and snapped off a salute, with the other hesitating before following suit. "Sir! We were securing the perimeter, and we found this-"

The captain cut him off. "Do you have any idea who this is?! This is the leader of the Turks! Not only is this severe insubordination on your part, but he could very easily kill you. Both of you, get the hell out of here and check the rest of the perimeter!."

The timid grunt gave a respectful nod, then grasped his rifle and headed back down the path, while the other gaped at his superior. He ran after his comrade shortly after. The captain watched the two go, making sure they did exactly as he ordered. When he was satisfied, he turned to the head of the Turks.

"I'm very sorry about that sir. They're still rookies, so you can't really blame them. They'll grow up, I'll make sure of it."

The Turk narrowed his eyes; he didn't like the way the captain was using their inexperience as an excuse. This was an important mission, dammit! Why the hell were rookies sent in for a mission like this? He decided to call for backup as he left, forcing himself to calm his outrage at the sheer nerve of some people. This low quality of work was common in the army, and it was something he would never accept.

The captain turned toward the house, where the cadets were splitting up and scouting for any activity. "We can handle it from here, don't you worry. You must be busy." He saluted the Turk, then headed past him, up the path to the house. Veld gritted his teeth, then resumed his stride. He pulled out his phone, flipped it open, and dialed a number, still heading towards the garage. "Hello, this is Veld. I think we'll be needing more troops here at the estate. The security here is… insufficient." There was a confirmation on the other side of the conversation, and he snapped the phone shut, shoving it back into his pocket. He reached the car, got in, and sped away with it. With any luck, the new SOLDIER would be stationed at the city's barrier and not more incompetent infantrymen.

########

The door slid open to the Cadet's lounge on the 65th floor, admitting three people. Two were boys, about fourteen years of age, with jet-black hair that reached their shoulders. One wore glasses, and held a sheathed katana in his right hand. The other wore his hair pulled back in a high ponytail, and held a handgun. As opposed to glasses, he had a small black dot in the middle of his forehead, resembling a tilak. In front of them, a girl of about ten years of age with reddish-brown hair held a large red shuriken in her small hands. All three of them were ruffled-looking and tired, as they had just returned from the training room on the same floor.

"Ah, thank the Goddess for air-conditioning!" Cried the girl as she raised her arms above her head, stretching, as well as narrowly avoiding the katana-boy's head with her shuriken.

"Hey, watch where you stick that thing! You almost cut my head off..."

"Aw, I knew your head was there, and that's why I didn't hit it!" cried the girl, once again. "Don't worry, I won't kill you unless it's on purpose." She flopped down on the sofa next to the window, setting her shuriken down on the table next to it. The boy with the katana looked at her with exasperation, and sauntered over to the armchair in the corner. The other boy pulled off his gun holster and sat down on the other side of the sofa, his head propped up on one hand with his eyes fluttering, fighting to keep themselves open and alert.

It seemed an argument was blossoming in the katana-boy's head. "Look, I don't trust you with that thing. I mean, you're a friggin' eight-year-old girl! You don't have the experience to control it!"

"Okay, one, you're wrong. I'm ten years old. And two, it doesn't matter how old I am, I'm still the same rank as you, cadet," the girl retorted. She folded her arms and rested her leg on the other, leaning backward.

The boy wasn't satisfied. "I'm still two weeks ahead of you..." he muttered.

The girl scoffed, but didn't say anything. The argument didn't last long, but it was bound to come up again. All three of them struggled to keep their eyes open, and were failing miserably. It wasn't fair that regular Turks got paid for their hours. The cadets were paid by the company, but it all went towards food and housing, which wasn't cheap. So they had virtually no extra spending money. They lived in the main building, all on one floor, where space was limited. With the two separate training rooms and lounges for both initiated Turks and cadets, along with the offices for the initiated Turks and the commander, there was only room for five cadets to have their own quarters. Someone would have to be initiated for another cadet to come in.

The girl sighed, and stretched her arms above her head once again, wincing slightly. She had pulled a muscle in her shoulder, and it was still irritated. She looked at her fellow cadet, the one sitting next to her on the opposite side of the sofa. His eyes were closed, but she could tell he was still alert. It seemed he never let his guard down.

It didn't stop her from trying, though. The sofa was large, but short enough for her to reach over with her arm, and attempt to poke the dot in the middle of the boy's forehead.

There was no hesitation. "Don't even think about it," the boy said calmly. The girl pulled her arm back, disappointed.

"You still haven't told me what it is," she pouted. "It's just begging to be poked, too!"

The boy cracked an eye open. "Can't you control yourself for even a little while?"

The girl smiled. "Of course I can. I just choose not to. It's a lot more fun that way, I've found." She crossed her arms again. "Geez, you're so vain..."

The boy sighed. "Maybe..."

They were silent. The boy was never really good for conversation, anyway. The girl looked away, staring ahead of her. The boy in the armchair was sleeping, it looked like. They remained like that until the girl got restless again.

"You still haven't told me what it is."

The boy's half-open eyes narrowed, if that was even possible. "Just leave it alone. You wouldn't understand."

"Try me," the girl grinned.

The boy sighed. "It's... sort of like a right of passage. I got it a year ago, when I turned thirteen."

"So you're fourteen?"

The boy looked at her. "Almost. In about a month, in fact."

The girl perked up. "Really? That's cool! See, that wasn't so hard! Now I know what it is, and I can get you a birthday present later!"

"Please don't, you don't have to..."

The girl didn't give up. "Just wait, it'll be perfect." She beamed. The boy just looked at the wall with embarrassment in his eyes.

The girl turned to the boy in the armchair. "Hey, Katana, how old are you?"

"Fifteen..." Apparently he wasn't sleeping at all. This guy never let his guard down, either.

"Really? You look about five to me."

"Hey, if I'm five years old, you're five days old."

The girl jumped up, pointing at him. "Hah, wrong again! If you're gonna insult someone, at least do it accurately." She folded her arms in front of her, as she stood with her chest puffed out, looking as arrogant as a little girl could.

The boy opened his eyes and raised an eyebrow. "Huh...?"

The girl smiled gleefully. "It's simple really. It's just a matter of proportions, that's all." The boy looked at her incredulously. "I'm ten years old, and you're fifteen, right? That means I'm two-thirds of your age. So if you're five, I would have to be at least two-thirds

of five years old, which makes me three and one-third years old. That's a lot more than five days, isn't it?"

The boy looked at her with his mouth hanging open. His eyes narrowed to slits as he shut his mouth, thinking of nothing to use as a comeback. How in the hell did a ten-year-old know proportions? What did they teach at that academy?

"Hah, I win again! First in training today, and now-"

"Okay, just shut up already!" The boy grumbled, then closed his eyes again, burrowing into the corner of the chair as far as he could go. Usually he wasn't this ill-tempered, but the lost training match had destroyed most of his patience with both himself and the little girl.

The door opened again, admitting the other two cadets. They both looked about the same age, around sixteen years of age. One was a girl with long, dark brown hair pulled back into a high ponytail. A few loose strands of hair that escaped her hair-tie framed her face. She held a collapsed metal rod in her left hand and she stepped into the lounge. "Would you guys be quiet? We can hear you all the way down the hall."

The other cadet, a boy with short, unkempt, bluish-black hair, looked at the little girl as if to agree with the one standing next to him.

The girl looked at the newcomers with a pleading smile. "Sorry, I was just excited..."

The older girl gave a sigh of exasperation. "Just be quiet. I've got a test tomorrow that could determine my future, so I'm trying to focus." She walked towards the other armchair opposite the first, and flopped down with a soft thud. Her eyes were shut before she sat down.

The older boy walked to the corner of the room, to the left of the cadet wearing glasses, and sat down against the wall with his head on his knees. The little girl with reddish-brown hair looked at him, curious.

"Rough day, huh?"

"You have no idea."

The girl sat back down on the sofa, sighing. "So, who won this time?"

"No one," the older girl answered, wearily. "We tied. Again." Suddenly, she jerked her head up and clenched her fists. "It's so frustrating! What am I going to do if I can't even beat you?" She cried, gesturing toward the boy in the corner.

Said boy barely responded. "If it's any consolation, I didn't go easy on you, and I'm just as tired as you are."

The girl put her head back down in her hands, rubbing her eyes. "That's no excuse. I've been here a lot longer than you have, and I'm specialized. I don't just pick up anything and learn how to use it in one day!"

"Hey, shut it. You're the one who's being loud, now." The katana-boy said, irritably.

The girl rubbed her temples. "I can be loud, because I'm the one with the test tomorrow. And besides, it's only afternoon. We haven't even been training that long!"

"Four hours is a long time, with you," said the one in the corner.

The girl's head jerked up, once again. "What, now you're complaining?! You were the one urging the others to keep going!"

When the boy didn't answer, she jumped up. "Look, why don't we just settle this, right here, right now? I know you're not that tired. Get up."

"I'm tired."

"No, you're not."

"..."

The girl's face burned red with anger. "Fine, I'll force you up if I have to!" She walked towards him with murder in her eyes.

"H-hey, just calm down!" cried the little girl. "You're not supposed to fight in here! You guys will get in trouble!"

"Like I care-" Just before she reached the corner, a blade met her throat. She flinched as the cool metal just barely touched her skin,

"You're tired too. Why don't you go take a break, somewhere where you won't try to kill your own comrades?"

"Katana..." the girl glared at him. The boy in the corner stood up slowly, using the wall to help him. He raised his head, his dark burgundy eyes resting on hers.

"We agreed to finish it tomorrow. You should get some rest now."

The girl gritted her teeth. "I changed my mind." And with that, she smacked the katana away with her now full-length rod, while throwing a punch at the one in front of her.

The oldest boy grunted as he caught the punch, and attempted to throw the girl out into the middle of the room. The girl was faster though, and she caught his knee from behind with her foot, pulling him down to the floor and flipping him over onto his back behind her.

Before long they were both back up, the girl still on the offense, and the boy still on the defense. Katana had backed away, unwilling to get any more involved, with the little girl watching as her fellow cadets brawled, unable to do anything. "You guys! You can't do this! What if you get kicked out of the program, what will you do then?!" She pleaded, but to no avail. She gasped as the boy was thrown into the wall next to the sofa, over the armchair that Katana had been sitting in, narrowly missing the hard table. "Guys! Please! I don't want you to-"

"Veld, Sir!"

Nobody had noticed the door open abruptly, and the boy with the ponytail snap to attention. The little girl and Katana followed suit, leaving the oldest cadets to stare at the doorway, which housed their superior. Only the fear of losing her one and only job forced the older girl off of her victim, allowing him to stand as she snapped to attention.

The room was silent once again, as the head of the Turks scanned the newest members of the force. It was expected of these troublesome youths, actually. He had known them well enough to know how often they fought with one another. Though the thought only disappointed him even more. There were already very few Turks to begin with, and when they lost a particularly good one nine years before, there was no role model but Veld himself for the younger ones. Both he and Valentine had been the top two Turks, setting an example for the others. But when the latter was lost, everything went downhill from there. Now, as he saw his new cadets quarrel with one another, he wondered if there really was hope for the program anymore.

"At least one of you remembers discipline..."

All ten of the cadets' eyes were glued to their superior's, not daring to move. Was this the last straw? Were they all finished? The maddening fear in their hearts threatened to kill them if the suspense built up any more.

"At ease. If you'll allow me, I have some news to give to you."

The five pairs of eyes widened. Was there something wrong with him? Wasn't he going to fire all of them, right there?

"S-sir?" The little girl's voice rang out.

"You may wish to sit down. It isn't good news."

Oh no, here it comes... That's what all of them thought then. None of them sat though; they wanted to stand tall and proud In their last moments as Turks. Well, cadets, technically.

"I assume you all know of the event that went on today, the address. The president was to officially announce the SOLDIER program to the public, one that would help to protect the people of the world Planet than the army has ever done." The little girl nodded slightly, showing that all of them knew of what he spoke. "The address was successful. The populace now knows of the long-awaited SOLDIER that will protect them. However..." He paused. "There was an interference."

The cadets looked on with confused looks on their faces. Veld went on, ready to give the finishing blow. "There was an assassination. The president's wife was killed."

The eyes widened again, this time with a small gasp escaping the lips of the youngest cadet. "W-what?"

Just as he had with the young maid, Veld gave his answer with no emotion. 'It seems she was protecting her husband, and was not the actual target."

The silence was deafening. It was else was there to say? The president's wife was dead now, and there was nothing he could do about it. The head Turk looked on, showing nothing of the frustration that was practically pouring out of him.

"W-why?"

Veld looked at the girl, her eyes wide and full of worry. He suddenly thought how young she was, and already having to deal with the disaster of war. At least, that's what he thought it was at the moment.

"That's what we're trying to understand. The few Turks in the area, aided by the army, are scouring the city for anyone suspicious, in hopes of catching the culprit. This is only my speculation, but there is reason to believe that Wutai was behind this."

The boy with the ponytail flinched. Wutai? Would they really do something this drastic, just because of some disagreements? What would happen to their relationship with Shinra, now?

"The president has decided that our security forces are too few in number, and thus, are in need of more members. It is a good time to be cadets, and experienced ones, at that. You all could expect a promotion very soon if my predictions are true."

All ten of the cadets' eyes widened both in surprise, and excitement. The moment was short-lived, however. They were probably thinking, was it really right to be celebrating at a time like this?

"However, we are in need of help right this instant. Because two of us are out on missions and won't arrive in time, we are undermanned. Gun!"

The boy with the ponytail jumped back to attention. "Y-yes, sir?"

"As of this moment, you are a full-fledged Turk. Your first mission is to aid us with the investigation, and attempt to apprehend the suspect. I'll brief you on the way. Are you ready?"

The boy stared for a good few seconds before responding. "Y-yes, sir! I just need my weapon..." He turned, looking around frantically for his holster, with the others staring at him with both shock, and extreme envy.

The boy passed right by his holster a few times in his nervousness, and would have kept doing so if the little redheaded girl hadn't tapped his shoulder.

"Here you go, sir," she said, holding it out for him.

The boy looked at her with slight awe. She had just called him "sir." Why had she done that? Wait, he was a Turk now, a higher rank than her. It only made sense... ah, take it! He took it from her and strapped it around his waist. He looked up at his superior with nervous, yet determined, eyes. "I'm ready, sir."

"Good. Then let's move," Veld said, turning on his heel toward the door. He pressed the button next to the door, causing it to slide open. The new Turk behind him followed, stopping at the door. Veld hesitated before he walked through the doorway. "Oh, and one more thing for all of you." He looked over his shoulder, but failed to meet any of the cadets' eyes. "It would be in your best interests to remember your discipline, just in case the president no longer sees this program as an asset, and rather as a liability." He turned back around, and walked out the door, the nervous rookie Turk in tow.

The remaining cadets stared as the door slid back with its metallic hissing sound. It was all so much to process-the president's wife being killed, Gun's promotion, the threat of the Turks being eradicated... none of them knew how to respond. Eventually, the little girl stepped away, heading back to the sofa. The others took their places, save for the oldest boy, who took Gun's place on the sofa.

"Wow..." said the girl.

"I don't understand... We've been trying so hard to keep peace with Wutai. Why would they attack us?" said the oldest girl.

"Perhaps they finally got tired of Shinra trying to meddle in their affairs," answered the younger boy, pulling off his glasses and cleaning them.

They were silent once more. Why couldn't Wutai just accept that the rest of the world was evolving, and they were behind? Didn't they care that they were at a disadvantage without mako energy? Shinra was only trying to help them-why were they fighting so hard against it?

The oldest girl growled. "The whole thing is stupid. We're trying to help, dammit! Why don't they just accept us already?! Now they're causing even more hate and suffering because of their stubbornness!" She slammed her fist down on her leg, causing her to wince.

There was nothing else to say. The president's wife was dead, killed out in the middle of the city, in broad daylight, while they were screwing around in the training room. They hadn't even known because they never looked at the news boards. The older girl leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees and hanging her head. "If only we weren't fucking cadets. Stupid, weak, lazy cadets..."

The youngest was silent, for the first time it seemed. Her eyes did nothing to contain the sorrow, sympathy, pain, and anger they held. The others had never really seen her angry before. Her bottom lip quivered, her lips separated by a sliver of space. The oldest boy looked at her, almost as if asking her what to do next.

Suddenly, the little girl jumped up, breathing hard, and darted over to the side of the sofa. She grabbed her shuriken, and headed for the door.

The other looked at her. "Where do you think you're going?" asked the older girl, almost apathetically.

The young girl spun around, a determined glare in her eyes. "To train. I don't want to stay a stupid, lazy, incompetent cadet forever, you know." She stood there as the others watched her. She looked at the floor, uncomfortably. "Besides..." She looked back up at them. "I'm not gonna let Gun pass me up for long! I'll be a real Turk in no time!" She spun back around, punched the button, and ran out the door and down the hall.

The others watched as the door closed with that familiar hissing sound, both awe and confusion plastered on their faces. She did have a point. They were behind now, and not only that, but they could all be fired if they didn't prove their worth. The older girl stood, brushing off her shirt, and holding her rod with a death-grip that turned her knuckles white. The boys did the same, Katana strapping his weapon to his belt. The girl smirked, and swung her rod up to rest on her shoulder.

"Well, I know I'm not gonna let her pass me up. No way." She waltzed over to the door, pressed the button, and left, the others following close behind her.

########

A/N: Yeah, I killed wifey. We don't know anything about how/when she died, so I took the opportunity to tragically kill her off. To be clear, Rufus probably would have turned out the same if she hadn't died because Shinra sucks the life out of people. How sad.

Is Tseng from Wutai? What is his real age? We just don't know. I picked a headcanon and stuck with it.

Two OCs were harmed in the making of this chapter. They don't exist starting in Crisis Core, so I wonder what will happen to them fourteen years from now? Maybe they go on vacation :) Obviously this will be a recurring theme, me creating people solely to fill the void that is the pre-Crisis Core timeline. Hope you enjoy them while they last.