((As always, I'm looking for a beta. So if you would like to help or know someone who can, PM me!))
A/N: This is a gift for karupin sama, my 250th reviewer of 'Fourth Time's the Charm'. Initially, this was supposed to be a oneshot, but much like 'Cause and Effect', my mind went a little wild. And like 'The Battle of Nibelheim' this will likely come in five parts except this one will only be around 15,000 to 20,000 words long respectively.
So, I hope she and my other readers enjoy the first installment of this story. It was her wonderful prompt that caught my attention. It certainly is a new twist to the time travel world.
Rating (chapter): T
Warning(s): This story will/potentially include violence, blood, abuse, adult situations and m/m relationships. I will not repeat this General warning statement.
Disclaimer: I do not own. Nor shall I ever. Really. This is for fun.
Summary: Gift for karupin sama: It was a twist of fate that no one expected, especially not the three men thrown from their world into its future. Watch as Sephiroth, Genesis and Angeal learn the truth about themselves and their destiny.
A twist of fate
Part One: Welcome to the warzone
A twist of fate. An accident. An occurrence that no man could have predicted. It had many names but in the end, there was no understanding exactly how it happened or why. The day had begun like any other—unpredictable— but such is the nature of war.
Gunfire ripped through the pre-dawn air of Wutai, startling the sleeping SOLDIERs from their bunks. Of all the idiotic moved to make, attacking one of the permanent encampments mere miles away from the main base? The Wutaians must not have known whom slept among the supposed cannon fodder. Well, such was their mistake.
Three young Firsts, their bodies enhanced beyond that of any other SOLDIER alive, plunged into the erupting battle like a lightning strike. The trio moved together in a fluid sequence that only familiarly grew and gained. All three armed with their chosen weapons, the three SOLDIERs cut through the enemy force with ease.
Genesis Rhapsodos, the auburn-haired elder of the trio at twenty-three and by far the most impulsive, spun and jumped like a dancer, Rapier flashing with every strike. Intermixed with his swordplay was the distinctive flash of mastered materia—specifically, Fire. A wild grin worked its way onto the young man's face, looking almost playful on his boyish features. Dressed in distinctive red trench coat, the 'Crimson Magician' should have been an easy target, but his lithe body allowed for speeds that defied the laws of human logic.
Beside him fought Angeal Hewley. The dark-haired man was broad and bulky, the typical 'SOLDIER' type. His movements were quick, precise and powerful—sending ripples of energy crashing through the Wutaian forces that upturned the very ground beneath their feet. Calm, reserved and focused on his task, the man never faltered as he struck down his enemies with either the standard-issue broadsword he held in one hand or his fists. Very few wished to be in his path of destruction.
Then there was the silver General that led the charge. The usually near-silent tactical genius barked commands to the troops as he wove his way through an all-too-familiar dance. His very presence was enough to shake the resolve of the attacking force. Men cowered in his presence. He was, after all, the Demon of Wutai. In his hand he held the legendary Masamune, a blade that reached nearly seven-feet in length, its history one of bloodshed and turmoil. Only by the warrior it has chosen may Masamune be called, and she chose Sephiroth, the youngest of trio at twenty-one.
Together, the three friends were unstoppable. Gunfire soon ceased and what remained of the opposing army had long since fled the scene. Standing amongst the corpses of both allies and foes, blood pooled at their feet and splattered across their faces, the trio came together and stood side-by-side. Their men, whose lives might have been lost in great number should the three SOLDIERs been posted elsewhere, let out a cry of victory.
Sephiroth was the only one who did not smile. Rumor has it that he never does.
But what marked this day as different than any other…what changed their fate and that of the Planet itself… was the whisper at the back of the silver General's mind. It was an unfamiliar voice, soft and distinctly feminine. She told him that he was destined for great and terrible things that would, in the end, destroy him and those he considered friends. The voice offered him a chance to change everything. To save the world and everything he held dear.
Weary of battle and the pointless war that spanned for nearly a decade, Sephiroth accepted her offer. Never one to believe in what cannot be proven by logic and science, the silver General did not think that anything would happen by entertaining a mere fantasy inside his head. Fatigue likely led to his hearing voices…no need to fight against it when sleep would cure all ills.
That was why it was such a shock when he took two steps forwards into the crowd, his friends at his heels, and everything went dark.
Sephiroth opened his eyes with a groan. Every inch of his body hurt as if he had been trampled by herd of overweight chocobos. Sitting up, the silver-haired warrior came to realize that he had actually been laying on the ground…the next thing he realized was the fact that someone was holding a sword at his throat. Had he passed out after the battle? Had his men actually abandoned him and allowed for his capture?
No. The man that stood over him was definitely not of Wutaian descent. His skin was pale, possessing the soft glow of a forming tan; his eyes were a startling shade of blue rimmed with mako's taint; and his hair was a disarray of blond spikes that resembled the backside of a chocobo. Add in the bordering feminine contours to his face and a pouty mouth, the blond was gorgeous. That is, if one liked big eyes and an angelic face that portrayed an innocent nature.
"Shit, Seph, who the hell are these people!" It was Genesis. The silver-haired warrior glanced over to his side to see the auburn warrior with both hands raised in a submissive gesture, his hazel eyes glinting an off-shade of blue. Sephiroth followed Genesis' gaze to find his eyes locked upon the barrel of gun pointed at his face. The General allowed his eyes to trail up the fearsome weapon to its welder and found himself bewildered by what he saw. The gunman was a Wutainese man, except, his skin was unnaturally pale and rather than brown-eyes his were a violent shade of ruby. What bothered Sephiroth the most, however, was the golden claw molded to the man's free arm. This particular character definitely would be dangerous even unarmed.
"I do not know…" Sephiroth murmured, willing for the auburn man to remain calm. If they presented themselves as unthreatening, these strangers might lower their weapons. Then, a heavy boot came to rest on his chest, forcing him to lay flat on his back, and the blond lowered his face so that their eyes were barely inches apart.
"You do not know who were are? Who I am?" Those blue eyes were hard and cold, telling of a life full of grief and battle. Whoever he was, the blond was a veteran of war. Which made sense seeing as, for almost the past decade, the two most powerful nations on the Planet were at each other's throats. "Honestly, do you take us for fools, Sephiroth?" The blade against his throat began to cut skin when the blond spat out the silver warrior name with disgust. "After all you have done to us…you act ignorant of your crimes. Tell me, do you at least remember Aerith, the young woman you callously murdered…inside a church no less? What about when burned down Nibelheim in the middle of the night because Mother told you so? Tell me, Sephiroth, do you remember now?"
"I-I have no idea what you are talking about," Sephiroth growled,"I've never seen you a day before in my life…Never even heard of Nibelheim…and why would I kill a woman? They have no place in war."
"Cloud…I don't think he's lying." Another voice, but this time Sephiroth could not move to see who it was. But 'Cloud' looked to the side, lessening the pressure against his chest enough for the silver General to catch his breath.
"He's manipulating us again. That's what he does, Zack." Cloud snapped, his brows furrowing with frustration.
"Then why are Angeal and Genesis here?" Zack asked, his voiced strained with emotion.
"I don't know. It's a mind game, obviously enough, but it is new."
"I can't kill him again, Cloud. I refuse."
"I am not asking you to, but remember, whoever that is, it is not Angeal."
"But he looks like him…I told you, I've already killed my mentor once, I refuse to do so again."
Sephiroth was certainly confused by this point by the two men's exchange. They knew their names yet certain things did not add up. For one, Angeal never had a student, in fact, the man was barely a First himself. Two, Angeal was very much alive and had never at any point died. Three, why was this Cloud person so adamant that Sephiroth remember events that had never occurred. Obviously these two were not quite sane…He could not make the same observation for the red-eyed man, but then again, he had yet to say a word.
Zack began to whine incoherently and that apparently annoyed the snappish blond, whom stood up, took his foot completely off Sephiroth's chest (though the point of the oversized sword he carried still remained poised at his throat) and began to bark with authority. "Lieutenant Zackary Fair, you will cease this inappropriate behavior at once! It is disgraceful to display such poor conduct before the enemy."
"Cloud…" Zack sounded hurt, but that quickly changed when he followed up the name with a trained response,"Yes General, sir. I understand."
General? The pretty blond was a General? And his whiny companion was his Lieutenant? Perhaps he merely struck his head on a rock when he passed out and this was all a strange dream…
"You three, stand but make no move for your weapons. If any of you so much as look at me the wrong way I will not hesitate to kill you." The sword moved away from Sephiroth's throat but the blond gave him a glare that was positively lethal. Cloud wanted nothing more than to kill him, no questions asked. So why was he letting him live? "I will humor my Lieutenant by proving that you three are not whom you appear to be. Until then, you are prisoners of Neo ShinRa."
Neo ShinRa? Again, none of this was making any sense.
"Thank you, Cloud." Zack said and Cloud merely grunted, his gaze remaining on Sephiroth.
Genesis was the first to his feet and in a dramatic display he began to wipe the dirt off his clothing and picking twigs from his hair. The gunman with the ruby eyes watched with apparent indifference, his rifle remaining raised and aimed to kill. The auburn man, when he finished his preening, flicked his gaze over the man and smirked. "They call me a show off because I wear a red coat. You, my friend, take the cake. Honestly, how do you go anywhere in those pointy-boots and leather get-up? The golden arm and cape scream, 'Please look at me!'"
"Genesis…" Sephiroth warned and the auburn SOLDIER merely sniffed in response. Taunting the man who pointed a gun at your head was not the best was to stay alive.
"I agree with Seph." Angeal added, though the silver General said nothing more aside from the First's name. They knew each other well enough to recognize the underlying meanings of every phrase and flux in tone.
"You three, shut it." Cloud snapped, flicking his sword purposefully. "I want to hear silence between here and our destination. Understand?" Sephiroth narrowed his eyes, loathing being ordered around by this…tiny General. Yet he held his tongue, his curiosity gaining the better of him. His instincts were clashing like a thunderstorm inside his head, half of him wanted to attack and the other half warned him that such would be a bad idea. Their captors were dangerous and aside from the Lieutenant, they seemed willing to kill one of the trio without qualm.
Apparently satisfied with the lack of reaction, the blond General stepped behind Sephiroth and gave him a solid shove forwards. "Move out!" He commanded and the silver-haired warrior found himself actually a small bit afraid. The force of Cloud's push had caused him to stumble. Him! The great and powerful SOLDIER whose strength surpassed that of any other in existence. Angeal and Genesis together barely posed a threat to him, but in that single motion, Cloud instilled himself in his mind as a significant danger. Catching himself, the silver General at least saved his dignity by not falling flat on his face.
He had to keep moving, though, because the blond pressed that ungodly sword between his shoulder blades as a reminder that he was a prisoner. And that still irked him. His fingers itched to draw Masamune and beat the blond into bloodied spot on the ground. Cloud, apparently sensing his thought, dug the sword a little deeper than need be and twisted. Pain lanced through his body as steel scraped against bone and tore through muscle. He could not control the small spasm in his shoulder that was his body's reaction to the abuse.
Gritting his teeth, Sephiroth turned to look at the blond. Yes. He would kill that son of a bitch when the opportunity showed itself…Cloud's face bore no trace of emotion—neither joy or malice at inflicting pain on his prisoner. If he was enjoying it, he did not let anyone know. When the blade scraped against his shoulder blade again, the silver General could not help but hiss with frustration.
"Pathetic…the fearsome Sephiroth can't handle a little pain?" It was not a taunt; in fact, he was not exactly sure what to consider it. "Of all the people to impersonate, you chose him. What are you, an idiot? No wonder you do not remember Nibelheim. An imposter wouldn't."
Imposter? No, he was not an imposter. He was Sephiroth, the one and only. People feared and revered him. No one spoke to him in such a manner without risking their lives. Yet here was a little blond playing General who decided he could. That was it. Cool façade be damned, he was not going to put up with this shit any longer! He was the epitome of perfection. The ultimate weapon. No man stood his equal and never would there be a man who could.
His temper got the better of him. Ever since he became General, never once had he lost his passive cool, his burning ice. He was above such petty emotion yet he felt it bubbling to the surface and consuming him. Without thinking of the consequences, Sephiroth leapt forwards, turned, and summoned Masamune.
Some would call it a twist of fate. Others, an accident. To everyone involved it was an occurrence no one could have predicted. But the moment he turned around, he realized that he had made a mistake that could cost him his life.
Cloud's eyes flared with mako shine, the lifeblood of the Planet burning in his veins like a beacon. The sword in his hand quickly split into two and the blond was on top of him in an instant. Sephiroth brought up Masamune to deflect the onslaught, only to have himself pushed backwards by the force of the impact. He sucked in a quick gasp of breath and dodged a strike aimed for his knees.
His heart pounded, his blood rushed, his focused narrowed until all that existed was he and his opponent. Sephiroth twisted his wrist so that he held the blade parallel with the ground before launching himself forwards at the smaller blond. Steel met with a clash of sparks and Cloud showed no sign of strain. He simply stared into the silver-haired man's eyes for a short moment before breaking free of the lock.
Cloud landed a short distance away, the cumbersome blade proving to be no obstacle for him. He bowed his head for a moment, before slamming the two blades together and locking them back into one. Then, he pushed himself into the air in an acrobatic maneuver that only First's ever could attempt. Once in the air, the blond seemed propelled by an unseen force down and forwards, his blade moving in a series of slashes that proved devastating to Sephiroth's normally impenetrable defense.
Bracing himself, the silver General took the onslaught, Masamune catching the brunt of the damage but the sheer power behind Cloud's blows were enough to numb Sephiroth's arm. Gaia! It was not possible. No one could best him in battle. No one ever made him have to put forth any effort! He was undefeatable.
At least, that was what he thought.
Again, filled with that foreign sensation known as fear, Sephiroth attempted to call forth on the natural energies inside of him. He normally avoided using the strange darkness that allowed him to attack without blade or materia but he was desperate! Unfortunately, in the seconds of hesitation that it took to call forth this energy, Cloud closed in yet again; landing a powerful Braver attack that disrupted his concentration and would no doubt leave a bruise.
Who knew the smaller man could throw that good of a punch? He would likely best Angeal in hand-to-hand had the scenario ever presented itself. But right now, Cloud was not fighting Angeal with his fists, but him with a sword. Deciding it was a lucky shot, Sephiroth pressed forwards, lashing out with Masamune with a deadly thrust.
Only, Cloud avoided the blade, sidestepping it and actually countering the attack in one fluid movement. When the edge of the sword slammed into his wrist, Sephiroth could not keep his hold on Masamune, no matter how hard he willed himself not to drop her. But at the sound a sickening crack, his whole hand went numb and she fell from his grasp.
Shocked, Sephiroth froze and he remained completely still as Cloud touched the tip of his sword against his throat yet again.
"I should kill you." Cloud deadpanned.
"You should…" Sephiroth replied slowly.
"But I find your attempts to fight me…amusing." The blond murmured, the smallest of smiles curling on his lips,"I think I'll let you live a little longer now that I know you pose no serious threat." Cloud glanced over at the four men standing to the side and Sephiroth allowed his gaze to join his.
Genesis and Angeal were white as ghosts as they lay on the ground, their weapons torn from their grasp and tossed out of arms' reach. Zack, whom looked a great deal like Angeal—except his build was leaner his eyes more aquamarine than cobalt, and there was a smile on his face that would so out of place that suited the man—stood on the bigger SOLDIER's back. Beside him, Genesis, looking disheveled, kept flicking his gaze from Sephiroth to the boot resting between his own shoulder blades.
It was then, oddly enough, that Sephiroth realized that their captors were wearing something resembling a uniform. All were dressed in black leather pants and sleeveless roll necks; aside from the gunman, they wore calf-high boots with three buckles. Cloud wore a slightly ornate set of metal pauldrons while Zack only one of his left shoulder and the gunman none. All three wore two wide belts with a matching symbol on the buckles, leather gloves, and a scarf of some color.
"Zack, Vincent…you may let the prisoners stand."
Genesis scrambled to his feet and would have rushed to Sephiroth's side had the gunman (apparently named Vincent) not placed his golden claw between them. The auburn man growled but Vincent looked unbothered.
Angeal was slower to his feet. Watching Sephiroth's defeat proved that fighting at this point was a fruitless endeavor.
"Come, we have a walk ahead of us."
Cloud lowered his sword and smirked at the silver-haired warrior smugly. Sephiroth gritted his teeth and resigned himself to be guided along like a sheep towards the sacrificial alter. There was no defying fate this time. His destiny lay in the hands of a blond General and his companions. He could not help but think back to the little whisper that had echoed at the back of his mind. She had offered him a chance to change his destiny…to save the world and his friends. Yet here he was at the mercy of another man.
A tiny part of his mind urged him to keep his sights set towards the future. Before him lay the unknown and a path he might never have before dared to walk. Sometimes, that little part of himself said, when you are standing at the edge of a sea of possibilities and unrealized dreams… you must make a choice.
To either stand back or take that leap of faith.
A/N: ( Review please and keep reading! I thrive off feedback. Even an "I like" or "I dislike" is better than nothing. And before you ask, there are three set romantic pairings in this story and if you pay attention they should be easy enough to figure out. Hehe. How they get together and the trials they must face are a secret until this story unfolds further. So sshh, Don't ask. =3 )