Hello everyone! This is my first Final Fantasy VII fic! Finally! After obsessing over this game for… a little over 2 months now, I've written something of my own!

This story came to me when I saw this pic:

www. zerochan .net/ 139750

And also the song 'Citizen Soldier' by 3 Doors Down.

This is set during the Crisis Core timeline, but before any of the stuff with Genesis happened, including his desertion.

I don't own anything to do with this. Except the plot of this particular piece of writing.

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Chapter 1 – No Choice

Sephiroth knew that something was up the second that Hojo stepped into the meeting room. It wasn't an uncommon occurrence; it was mandatory for the head of the science department to turn up to the monthly board meeting after all. No, it was Zack's reaction to the scientist that sparked the general's unease.

Sephiroth had been required to bring someone to help him in this meeting, someone of lower class than himself, Zack had been the only one he could think of at the time, adding to the fact that the Second really didn't mind crashing a board meeting. If anything, he'd make it more interesting.

Upon seeing the professor, however, Zack's whole demeanour changed. His pupils had shrunk to pinpoints, his eyes were wide and glowing brightly as if a torch was being shone from behind them. His whole body had started shaking, tremors racking him from head to toe and the softest of whimpers escaping his throat.

Sephiroth frowned, cat-slit green eyes flicking between his SOLDIER and the scientist who dared to call himself the general's father. His scowl deepened at the fear clouding the Second's eyes.

"Zackary." The brunette turned, almost begging with his eyes to be let out of the room. Sephiroth tilted his head. "What's wrong?"

"I need to go…" Zack whispered, his eyes flicking from the SOLDIER to Hojo, who was only just settling in his seat at the other end of the table. "I need to get out of this room… right now."

"Why?"

Zack hesitated, biting his lip and one hand rising to his long bangs. He tugged at them, as if he were trying to transfer pain from one part of his body to another. "Please… I'll tell you later, or Angeal. Just please… I need to... Cloud…"

Cloud?

"What's this got to do with clouds, Zackary?" Sephiroth's eyes moved from Zack to the rest of the board, who were chatting animatedly while they waited for the president to appear.

"Cloud… I need to find him… have to get away… please Seph…"

"…" Sephiroth ran through his options. I could let him go and just deal with the meeting myself; or make him stay and risk a… he glanced at Zack again. A potential mental breakdown.

Sephiroth nodded.

"Very well, go. I'll talk to you later."

Zack looked at him gratefully before bolting out of the room.

The silver-haired man watched him go, looking to Hojo once the door had closed, only to frown and narrow his eyes in suspicion. The scientist had watched as Zack left, a smirk twisting his features.

What is he up to?

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Zack bolted through the corridors, his heart hammering in his chest and mind in a panic.

"Must find Cloud!" he gasped. "Have to hurry…"

"Zack?" blue eyes met their reflection as Kunsel approached the sprinting Second. "What's up? I thought you were with the gener- "

Zack blew right past him, not slowing down as he crashed through the door to the stairwell.

I can't wait! I'll make them so afraid of me that they'll tremble in terror at the very sight of me!

Zack whimpered, leaping flights of stairs and heading down as fast as possible. Just a bit more…

I'll make them so scared of me that they'll obey my every command, just to stop the pain.

"Cloud…" he burst through the doors to the cadet floor, racing down the corridor still at a dead sprint. Cadets leapt out of his way, plastering themselves against the walls in an attempt to not be trampled to death. Zack paid them no heed, continuing towards where he knew Cloud's room was.

The cadet didn't have any lessons right then, and he'd told Zack earlier that he'd be in his room after classes.

They'll obey me without question, or risk everything they hold dear.

Zack almost cried in relief at the sight of Cloud's room, skidding to a halt just before slamming face first into the metal door. He knocked, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he waited in anxious silence. He was in the room almost before it was fully open, Cloud trapped in his arms.

"Zack?" Cloud asked, squirming around as the Second kicked the door shut. "What's wrong?"

"I saw him… he was at the board meeting…" Zack whimpered into the spiky yellow hair. Cloud stilled. "He gave me a message…"

"What is it?" Cloud's voice had gone deathly quiet, his face a mask of cold fear. "What do we have to do?"

"I don't want you to have to do this… you're only a cadet… I'm not even a First yet… why us?"

"Because he chose us… we may not like it, but we… we have no choice. He'll hurt us and those we love if we don't…" Cloud's voice trembled.

"I know, but…"

"He threatened to hurt my mother… your parents… Angeal…all our friends and family… we have to keep them safe as best we can."

'… You're right." Zack sighed, wiping his watery eyes. "We have no choice…"

"So what do we have to do?" Cloud asked, pulling a tissue out of his pocket and dabbing at his friend's eyes.

"He wants us to be ready by 2100." The Second murmured. "We'll be heading out, I suppose…"

"Yeah. We were given an assignment, and we will accomplish it. Without fail."

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Angeal frowned, his hand pausing over the Buster Sword at Sephiroth's words.

"What do you mean; he panicked when he saw Hojo? He's dealt with the lunatic before, what's so different now?"

"I don't know. Zackary was terrified when he saw him… he was trembling and I know that I heard him whimpering."

"… He has been quieter recently, especially around the time when he has to go down to the labs…" Angeal murmured, putting his polishing cloth away and swinging the Buster Sword onto his back.

"Is Hojo doing something during his mako shots?"

"Maybe…"

Silence reigned, the ticking of the clock the only noise in the room.

"We'll talk this over with Genesis… maybe he can help?"

"But you're both under Hollander when it comes to anything in the labs… we'd be better off finding someone who also goes to Hojo…"

"What about that friend of Zack's? Kunsel I think his name is?"

"See if you can find him. I'm going to look for Genesis. We'll ask him anyway."

Angeal nodded. "Okay, Seph. I'll see you later."

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Sephiroth knocked gently on the door, calmly waiting for an answer before slipping into the room. Commander Genesis Rhapsodos sat behind his desk, playing with a pen as he read over a report from his latest mission.

"Genesis."

The red-head glanced up, his hand stilling and pushing the report aside.

"Seph. What's up?"

"I wanted to ask you something."

Genesis tilted his head, aquamarine eyes staring into emerald. "Sure, what is it?"

"Do you know what's been happening with Zackary?"

"The puppy? What do you mean?" Sephiroth eyes narrowed, suspicion growing in him. Genesis was on guard.

"Do you know why he has been acting strange? Why he's been so quiet lately?"

"Infinite in mystery is the gift of the goddess. We really should be taking this as something to celebrate, not question. After all, it's not like he shuts up very often." The general's suspicion grew. Now the commander was only half answering the question.

"Genesis…"

"Sephiroth."

"What do you know?"

Genesis hesitated, as if at a loss as to what to do. "I… don't know anything, Seph. Honest."

No, you are not being honest…

"Well, if you find out anything, please tell either me or Angeal. We're both getting worried."

"Of course. You know I'd never hide anything from you guys!" Genesis sighed, sounding relieved.

If only that were true…

"Well, I'll see you later then. Are you still available for our spar today?"

"Unfortunately no… something turned up and I have to deal with it." He smirked. "What? Can't wait for me to wipe the floor with you? Just wait; you'll get thrashed again soon. Even if the morrow is barren of promises, nothing shall forestall my return."

Sephiroth sighed, shaking his head as he slipped through the door.

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"Zack, you have to be more careful." Genesis scolded quietly, trudging up the stairs with Zack and Cloud. "Seph and 'Geal are getting suspicious. You have to hide your fear around Hojo."

Zack looked at the ground. "I know, but he's just… he terrifies me, you know?"

"Yeah… we know…" Cloud murmured, pausing momentarily to pull a pair of contact lenses out of his eyes, revealing glowing mako blue. "The guy's a lunatic…"

"Don't let him hear you say that." Genesis warned. "You'll end up back there faster than you can say 'chocobo'."

The cadet shuddered. "Yeah, I know…"

Cloud was covered from neck to toe in black; black ribbed cowl neck shirt with a long, detachable sleeve on his left arm. Black army-issue pants clung to his legs and elbow-length leather gloves reached up his arms. Black combat boots with soft soles encased his feet, making no sound as he walked. A half-skirt was belted to his waist, flowing across his left leg from the top of his pants to his ankles. Attached to the shirt was a silver broach made to look like a wolf's head, a topaz ring in its mouth and its eyes made of sapphire.

Genesis was missing his red leather duster, instead sporting a black waist-length vest, wrist-length leather gloves and long-sleeved black cowl neck as well as pants and boots matching those that Cloud wore. On his vest was a broach depicting a golden bird; its wings and long tail feathers were embedded with ruby and aquamarine in its eyes. Rapier was nowhere in sight.

Zack was dressed the same as his companions, only he had no jacket, no half-skirt. Instead hehad a black leather choker wrapped around his neck and wrist-length gloves leather gloves with a circle shape cut out of the back and above each knuckle. His broach was crafted to look like a nine-tailed fox, contrary to his puppy nickname. Its tail tips were embedded with onyx and its eyes a stunning tanzanite stone.

"So, Gen, do you know what we're needed to do?" Zack asked, leading the way up onto the helicopter pad.

"No. I'm assuming the usual but I don't know for certain." Genesis shrugged, flicking auburn hair over his shoulder.

"Going by past experience, it's best not to assume anything."

"I agree with Cloud there, Gen…"

"Yeah…"

The sound of a helicopter interrupted their conversation, all three of them stiffening as the black chopper hovered overhead, dropping down a ladder for them. They all clambered up, taking their normal places in the back of the giant metal machine. They were met by a man dressed all in black, his eyes concealed behind a pair of dark sunglasses.

"Fenrir, Kitsune, Phoenix. Your mission is as follows."

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