Cloud landed low on the floor, his wooden practice sword held in defence against the attack that was going to come, since the incident with Jeaezelle and Zacks disappearance Cloud had redoubled his training and in doing so, gotten several of the others in the Barracks to join him, hed made friends with them easily while they worked on their techniques together. He was currently fightin against a guy called Jerickson, he was a good guy, hed come from Corel and wanted to gain the same respect of his town that Cloud wanted.
Deflecting the wooden practice sword Jerickson had, he pushed him back then sent a shoulder charge to his gut. But-as they had been taught-he fought off Clouds wooden point to his neck and started back at him.
SOLDIER training had been the toughest experience Cloud had ever had and it was getting tougher, they had daily training regimes and physicality tests to perform, more than once Cloud had pulled the shoulder muscle that had been hit by Jeaezelles bullet and had to keep going-working with other areas of his body as the muscle healed enough to use again. They had been taught very early on-Cloud to his own personal torture-to heal their own injuries whenever one had been sustained, this meant a lot of pained screaming coming during practice with failed attempts to fix the problems and hurried grabs of medical text books.
Cloud in himself was being seen as a regular member of the cadets, even though he was working twice as hard in most cases, he hadnt been spoken to after the initial test. As he and Zack had been the top two of the four hundred that survived, they had been asked what kind of life they had before entering SOLDIER. Of course with their backgrounds, they took more interest with Zack than him and that was why he was currently with SOLDIERs. It didnt annoy Cloud, but he knew that he could keep up-for the most part-with the training that Zack was going through and did his best to try and prove that.
Cloud backed away and stopped just before the edge of the training mat, he took a deep breath and leaped up at Jerickson, spinning over the boys shoulder and kicking back-he stumbled over the edge of the mat and Cloud rolled to a stop, almost in the middle.
Lieutenant Harrikson picked up Jerickson and patted him down. You did good, Jerickson, go back to the others and get some time on the bikes.
Cloud sighed. This was a problem of SOLDIER training, the two competitors were pitted against each other until one was the winner, then the next would face off against the winner to see if the winner had what it took to take one multiple opponents. Four times Cloud had faced off against two opponents and failed against the third, he had just faced his third and won and was now facing the fourth-and Harolddeen didnt like Cloud at all.
Anywhere you go, there will always be people that tick you off to such an extent that you simply want to kill them and Cloud had done something-apparently-to Harolddeen that had caused just such a hate. Swinging the wooden katana to his side as Cloud lifted his sword in defence-Harolddeen was a rough fighter and hed seen several cadets left with blood on their clothes afterwards-Cloud knew hed have to be guarded on this one.
They shot forwards, Cloud just managing to skid under a slice from Harolddeen and butting him in the back, the boy staggered around to face Cloud and he had to parry several attacks from him. Cloud jumped around, slashing with his medium sized broadsword while attacking, Cloud felt a clap on his ankle and he fell back, blocking the stab sent by Harolddeen. When Cloud eventually got to his feet, the pain in his ankle was termendous. He jumped back and spun in the air before slicing across Harolddeens back, he landed and rolled to a stop. Harolddeen had lost his sword and was cringing on his knees.
Good work, Strife. But you are injured
go get a cure spell and head for weight lifting. Lieutenant Harrikson said. He patted Cloud on the shoulder and went to help Haroldden.
Cloud slowly hobbled out of the auditorium and turned to the small white tent marked with a pill symbol marked on the roof. This was another of the main features of SOLDIER training now, whenever there was a sparring match on, a medicinal tent would be set up outside for immediate injury healing so the cadets could continue to train for the whole day.
He lifted the flap and gratefully stepped into the cool tent. He sat down in the nearby chair and raised his foot just as the person who ran the tent appeared from the back.
you again. A young woman wearing a Turks uniform said. She smiled at Cloud. Honestly Cloud, sometimes I think you get injured on purpose just to come see me.
She was about three years older than Cloud, but she was supposedly only three months younger than Zack, by her appointment at the SOLDIER cadet training she was low in the Turks ranks-possibly third up from the bottom-but she never seemed upset about it-in fact whenever Cloud saw her she was always in a good mood-which Zack said was because of his good looks, Cloud doubted it though. She had long sleek black hair, blue eyes and a very small smile, a nice smile. Her name was Kelima Gantore and Cloud liked her.
She patted his cheek before he felt the cool tingle of the cure spell washing over his whole body. You know
there are other parts to Shinra than SOLDIER
why would you want to be around boys all the time, Im sure that there are more comfortable places you could work.
She grinned at him and he blushed, had she just flirted with him?
Cloud gave a nervous laugh. I like girls good enough but I want to be a SOLDIER. And anyway, wont having a SOLDIERs build make me look better?
You dont need none of that Cloud. Kelima said. Ill see you and Zack after trainings over, right?
Cloud laughed and nodded. Sure, if you can pry him out of the big wigs hands
honestly, sometimes I think he enjoys being ogled by middle-aged, old guys.
Cloud turned and walked into a strong and sturdy wall, falling to his backside he looked up and his mouth opened. Staring down at him with a bemused smile was General Sephiroth.
He offered Cloud a hand and lifted him to his feet. I saw you today
impressive for a-I believe you said you were a normal kid, not that interested in any heavy duty training- am I correct?
Cloud gulped and nodded.
When a superior speaks to you, you reply with a yes sir
correct? Sephiroth asked. It has been a while since I have had to use that term, but I think it still applies.
. Cloud was able to get out.
He was magnificent, the man radiated energy by just standing there. The man who had led over a hundred campaigns against the Wutai and won them all. He was talking to Cloud, looking at him and said that he was impressive.
I want to talk with you privately
Sephiroth said. Send notice when you are free, potential
great deal of it to be sure.
He nodded to Kelima and exited.
that was the general
and he said you had potential!
Cloud was stunned and he felt her hug him tightly.
Four weeks knowing Zack and he had already gotten Cloud a Girlfriend here, the way that he put it was that the more girls you could wrangle, the better. Cloud didnt agree, but she was fun to be around and she liked him.
A shiver ran up Clouds back as she nibbled his ear and whispered her praise to him.
Cloud eventually got away and headed for the gym, he had to do at least fifty sets before nightfall or he would get it in the ass tomorrow. By the time he was finished, night was just starting to draw on and he rushed back to the barracks. In ten minutes hed washed, changed into his civilian clothes and headed out for the usual meeting point. He saw Zack was already there, waiting against a wall.
Cloud, how you doing? Zack asked. Aint seen ya in a week, have I
heard what you did in training from the mouth of the General himself.
Cloud nodded. It isnt that good you know, I only tried my best.
Yeah well youll haveta try harder. Zack said with a grin, Theyre putting me back in with the others soon, said they need to see if the rest measure up enough.
So youre the benchmark? Cloud laughed. God man, they keep this up and theres no way youll get in SOLDIER.
And whys that?
Your head will be too swollen to get anywhere.
Zack laughed quietly before punching Clouds arm. Well, the girls are coming, lets get moving.
You know, I thought you said your girlfriend had hair like Sephiroths? Cloud asked, looking at the girl with her arm linked to Kelima. She had short cut copper hair that framed her face appropriately.
oh that? Zack grinned. You know, maybe I should get you into this
trust me, Im too energised for one girl alone.
The girls took the arms of Cloud and Zack and they headed for the nearest bar.
Two days later.
Cloud was looking at a small-light weight metal version of his wooden sword. It was a little heavier than the wooden version but he could use it effectively. Their task was simple: defeat your opponent.
And Cloud had the unlucky fortune to face off against Zack. Supposedly the higher ups hadnt wanted this, but Zack had insisted on facing Cloud. After a month of knowing Zack, Cloud knew that he wasnt the kind of person to take advantage of any of his friends but apparently he wanted to either be tested by Cloud or to test Cloud himself.
Zack had chosen as his weapon-a larger broadsword, longer than Clouds-and surprisingly he had a member of SOLDIER behind him, Cloud was stood facing them, the man looked like a very strong and powerful warrior, a SOLDIER 1st by his uniform and he had a long, huge broadsword on his back, almost as tall as he was.
Is that how strong SOLDIERs are? Cloud wondered, looking at him.
Again, most of the officials were present in the testing and Sephiroth was actually stood at the front of the assembled stands, his hands on his hips, scrutinising the field before him.
Cadets, ready yourselves!
Cloud swung his sword into a ready position, seeing Zack pull his off his back effortlessly. They stared at each other, two weeks away and Cloud hadnt seen Zacks skills develop, but that worked both ways.
Cloud jumped to the side and clashed his sword with Zack, the guy was faster and stronger than he looked and started to move Cloud back.
Sorry mate, but youre going down this time.
Cloud smiled, ducked a knee and tipped Zack over his shoulder-the assembled gasp from the onlookers showed they hadnt expected this. Cloud turned and brought his sword down at Zack, where a resounding clang sent echoes through the auditorium, Zack had gotten his blade between them in the time it had taken Cloud to move his. With a thrust, Zack sent Cloud stumbling backwards, as Zack brought his sword around for an attack, Cloud moved with the only thing he knew now, instinct. The clang of metal sent another resounding gasp through the onlookers.
Cloud jumped back and swung his sword again into an attacking position, he rushed at Zack before jumping and spinning, slashing at his back, the block again sent shocks through the audience. Zack then went on the attack and started slamming Cloud with hard, powerful attacks, pushing him back further and further. Cloud knew that he was coming to the edge of the mat and snarled. Allowing one thrust towards him, Cloud dodged to the side and kocked Zacks sword away. Back and forth this continued, Zack wasnt letting anything in from Cloud and Cloud not giving an inch-or as much as he could. Cloud let out a scream as one slashed his left thigh, falling to one knee he rolled back against the second attack, then jumping into the air as something within him started to build, he was moving higher than he had ever done before, his anger eventually peaked and looking down at the ground, he focused all of it on Zack then sent his sword down towards him.
There was a resounding clash of steel and Cloud found a sword between him and Zack, keeping the attack he had used from striking.
that was interesting.
The SOLDIER who had been behind Zack removed his sword from between them and Cloud dropped to the floor.
I call this match a draw
the wound on Strifes leg has rendered him unable to continue fighting and if Strifes rage limit had been able to land
well then both would be injured. The man said. Sephiroth, do you agree?
Yes Angeal. Sephiroth replied. As usual, you are correct.
Cloud looked at his blade, chipped from the clash with that large sword the SOLDIER called Angeal. What did I do?
It is a rare ability, but when activated it is devastating, a Rage Limit
you gain almost double your strength and ability in an instant and from the force of the attack you dealt
well you would have been awarded the victory. Angeal said.
Zack helped Cloud to the sidelines where Kelima appeared, she cast cure on the both of them then looked at Cloud with both shock and awe.
you were at least eight feet in the air. She said. Ive heard of SOLDIERs gaining one of the Limit types when they get to the final stages but
holy gods Cloud.
Cloud didnt watch the rest of the competition, ten people were draws as well, while the number was again halved. Two hundred from eight-hundred in a month. But Clouds mind was almost blank
where had that strength come from, his pain had peaked and he had lost control. Hed done this before in Nibelheim, but hed never before had this kind of training behind him before. If Angeal hadnt got in the way then
I didnt mean to try and hurt you, I swear.
Hay, I know that. Zack said. Your face said youd lost yourself to the battle, but to have a Rage Limit without-.
He stopped. Cloud, I developed a limit not too long ago, but I was training with Angeal for a while before. He grinned at Cloud. And man, you show skill without a SOLDIER education thats something special.
Cloud had been summoned to the head of the cadets training department, a Colonel Verderosa. It had been two days since his progression into the third stage of training and he had been given weighted training clothes to wear at all times now. He was stood outside the office, his first level weights keeping him from moving much.
Who is it? A strong, stoic male voice called from behind the door.
you summoned me?
Cloud took a gulp and walked in through the door. Inside was a simple office of a military veteran with the only decoration in the room-besides the Shinra Inc Logo on the wall-was a small collection of medals behind the man. He was a thickset man with long sweeping blond hair, his blue eyes crackled with the essence of Mako and he seemed to be cut from stone the way he was sat.
Sit down boy
we have things to discuss.
Cloud nodded and took the available seat, the weight of his training clothes added to the pressure on him.
I see you have developed a Rage Limit. Colonel Verderosa said, lifting a file folder. And you say you never had any previous training as a fighter or warrior?
The man scratched his chin. He seemed to be pondering something. He then nodded. Very well
your skill level allows us to advance you a little further than most. You will accompany Mr Cossat in sword training and real weapon combat. It is once a week, every Thursday. This is not optional Strife, you will report to the assigned training grounds every Thursday and you will progress while there, understood.
Yes sir, I will gain a handle on my rage sir. Cloud said, standing at attenton.
Good, you are dismissed Strife.
Cloud stood and walked out-he was in a daze. How the hell did they come to that conclusion? And before he knew it, he was back at his barracks, staring down at his bunk.
Whats going on? He heard Zack say. You alright?
Im with you in sword training. Cloud said. This is insane
Im not supposed to be this strong yet.
But you are. Zack said, smiling. Weve got a lot of planning to do.
High up-the great pinnacle of the world in the Shinras main headquarters, a scientist was sat at a computer screen, hastily typing out a set of commands while watching a video playback of the recent SOLDIER tests.
He was particularly interested in a young man who had developed a Limit skill during the test.
Computer, identify cadet #54633176532. The dark, high-pitched voice asked.
Shinra Military Academy cadet, SOLDIER devision. Cloud Strife, born August 8th 6540, Western Continent, Town: Nibelheim.
A chuckle sounded from the darkness and he raised his hands to take the circular glasses off his face.
Computer, scan Shinra databanks for all information on this person, send them via SPWN (Shiraton Personal Wireless Network.) to research lab, heh
The computer started up again, and hundreds of numbers started filing down the screen in front of the video, forming the symbol of the Shinra Company before it started to file out copied documents of the boys life to the requested lab.
The man then turned his seat around and started to type on another computer, for a while now a limited mind had been trying to crack his own personal coding system. The fact was that nothing is immune to cracking but the man found it rather annoying that the person was a limited individual. When he had finished, he got up and walked to the window, waiting.
Several moments later, five blocks over a single light erupted from the streets of Sector 1.
That will put a dent in them. He said with a grin.
He turned and headed out of the lab, he had new plans to make, new experiments to try and complete. Yet there was something in the back of his mind that said this might lead to either a good or bad thing for him
but that was the problem with leading the life of the greatest scientist in the world.
Cloud stood on the open roof of the largest military base outside of Midgar and he couldnt believe it. After only a month a pair of SOLDIERs had taken him to learn how to develop his skills better.
Zack was chatting with the SOLDER who had backed him when Cloud developed the Rage Limit, it seemed that the two of them were supposed to be trained by the best there.
And the strange thing was, Cloud had thought that Sephiroth would have trained him, the man had said he was backing him
but this wasnt Sephiroth.
Stood with his back to Cloud, staring out at the scene before him was a man in either his late twenties or early thirties, similarly the same age as Angeal. He was called Genesis and he-like most SOLDIERs apparently-had an air of strength and determination in him that felt palpable.
Instantly the man had his sword out. The key to any type of Limit technique is anger. He said. Particularly a Rage Limit, do you have a sufficient control over anger, boy?
He was smooth in everything and had an air of arrogance about him. But his words held Clouds attention like a knife.
I dont think so-.
Of course you dont. He said, not even looking at Cloud. You need to train yourself to allow anger out when you want
of course, there will always be times when you cant help a rage taking you.
He turned and looked down at Cloud, Cloud-for the first time in a while-felt nervous about being smaller than a man.
That is what you are here to learn.
He moved faster than Cloud could see and Cloud fell back, his nose bloodied.
Get yourself up boy. The man said.
Cloud struggled to his feet, his head was ringing and his eyes stinging. And again, the man flew at him and hit him squarely in the face. Cloud landed with a pained howl and rolled back over his head, this time his nose was defiantly broken open and gushing blood down his olive tee.
Stand up! The man yelled.
If you dont stand, Ill throw you to your feet! The man snapped.
Cloud got up, touching his nose and then-something inside him yelled-and he moved to the side. Genesis had attempted to attack his face again and Cloud wasnt having it.
But it did little, as a backhanded blow sent Cloud slamming into the floor face first and something snapped.
Cloud didnt feel himself get to his feet and didnt know he had his sword in hand a second later, but he moved. Moved and started to slash on the man's ready drawn sword, the clang of metal on metal added to a pure bloodlust inside Clouds head.
Concentrate! Genesis yelled. Use reason!
Cloud wasnt listening, he wanted blood and-.
Cloud hit the floor, his head ringing. Genesis stood over him, looking down with contempt. He tossed Cloud a Materia orb and turned, Cloud cast Cure on himself and felt all his wounds healing. If this was what the special training meant, he didnt really want the honour.
Zack looked over at Cloud, tenderly touching his now fixed nose.
What was Genesis doing? He asked.
Trying to get through to him in the rage. Angeal replied. Never works first time and it adds to the contempt the student feels for the teacher. Look at your friend, his eyes are practically burning.
Zack turned and saw that indeed Cloud was very angry. Angrier than hed ever seen Cloud.
A Rage Limit...how different is that from mine?
Yours is what can be called an Ability Limit skill. Angeal said as he watched the altercation start again. Yours, while anger is there
you have reason within the anger. Your friend still has to break through that rage
when he can, hell be able to control when he uses it, like you.
Zack nodded and touched his blade. Let's try-
No, let him break through on his own.
Five hours they had been at it and Cloud still hadnt been able to make it through the rage within him.
Sighing, he sat down in the shared apartment in Junon he was staying with Zack, he was exhausted. Five hours of being bitch-slapped by a SOLDIER 1st and only a cure spell to heal the wounds. No time to rest and defiantly no food or drink to help him. No he needed to prove he was ready for this training.
Zack sat down by him and looked at Cloud. You look knackered mate. Get some rest and Ill wake you tomorrow.
Cloud nodded. Was it this bad for you?
No. Zack said, shaking his head. I
well I had a rage going like you. But as soon as I felt the energy grow in my blade, everything cleared and I focused on Angeal and sent it out at him.
Cloud nodded. Wish I had that.
Zack put a hand on his shoulder and shook his head. You will, trust me. From what I learned, if you get lost in the rage its hard to get out from that, but everyone does.
He got up, picked a flower from the vase and smiled at Cloud. Ill see you tomorrow.
do you even care about the women youre with?
Zack stopped as he opened the door. Of course I do. He said. I care about all of them, doesnt mean I cant enjoy myself though does it.
Cloud shook his head and lay back as Zack left.
Cloud was stood in a black void, before him, placed on a shining silver stand was the Masamune, the Sword of the General, the great sword that was winning the war for them. He reached out and it shattered into a million shards of glass before him. They flew around Cloud, sending cuts and burns into his whole body.
And a voice tickled the back of his mind.
Rage will destroy you. It said. Let go of the hate or you will lose everything.