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Title: Go Back To Sleep : Pray for the Wicked, Pray for the Pure.
Rating: PG
Warnings: Mentions of death, but nothing too graphic.
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy is property of Square. This work is a fan work meant to be a commentary on the original. No copyright infringement is intended or implied.
Word Count: ~1500
Completed or In Progress: Complete/Part 2 of the series
Summary: Sephiroth arrives in Wutai and the current commanders aren’t entirely pleased. When he runs his first engagement, they are even less pleased. Also any feedback on Seph is appreciated. I'm going to be really focusing in (I hope) on what being born and bred as this perfect SOLDIER did to him beyond that.

Project S: 001, Sephiroth: Age 7
This report includes behavioral video and analysis.

A boy sits at a table with a notebook in front of him. He’s young; feet not even close to reaching the floor despite the length of his hair that might suggest otherwise. His face is so serene in his concentration and he uses a pen meant for an adult’s hand with ease. At first glance it seems that the notebook, half-filled already, is his.

“I believe we are working on tactical strategy and assessment on the field. After reviewing the battle plans and outcomes on the simulator, what did you conclude Sephiroth?” The boy looks up, places his pen down in what might be respect.

“The initial planning lacked sufficient adjustment for inclement weather that should have been obvious to the commanders. The result was thirty-two percent increase in expected casualties.” He pulls a tiny key pad from the drawer and with a few clicks, the boy pulls up the simulation. It runs through once, playing out just as he said with the statistics running alongside of the projection in the center of the table. “A few adjustments and – “ Sephiroth changes the battle plan with a few deft keystrokes. “- the engagement results in a forty-seven percent preservation of units over initial expectations of the original battle plan, the objective is achieved, and the enemy suffers heavy losses.”

“Excellent. Now can you tell me why the preservation of life is so important?” Sephiroth looks away from the holographic projection and back to his teacher. The boy’s head tilts a minor fraction, unblinking when he speaks.

“Heavy equipment is by far more valuable and harder to replace than regular troops. However each unit represents a significant amount of time, training, and money to get them battle ready. Allowing your veteran units to perish puts you at a tactical disadvantage both in the overall experience of your troops and numbers until new ones can be trained.” A thought occurs to him and, assuming the lesson is over, Sephiroth picks up his pen and begins writing again.

“A tactical disadvantage? Is that the only reason?” This time Sephiroth blinks as he looks up, thinking the question through.

“You have ancillary effects such as troop morale, civilian morale, possible disruption if officers are involved as well as other potential complications. However ultimately it is resulting disadvantage that will directly affect the war effort. While the other factors cannot be discounted, they are not the most important.”

“I see.” The video feed ends.

A hum of voices fills the walls of the command tent. Near the entrance Sephiroth sits - the tiny folding chair can barely contain his height yet it stubbornly refuses to collapse under him - all but forgotten by those surrounding a large wooden table in the center. The Masamune rests against his shoulder in its sheath with one arm wrapped around it. Head bowed and eyes closed he looks asleep in the vague peeks his white hair allows anyone. They don’t care, these men in the room. President ShinRa ordered them to allow Sephiroth in on all tactical meeting from the moment of his arrival. They let him into the tent, but that’s all.

He’s a child in their eyes, untested youth who is more laboratory rat than warrior. A pet. A project. They’ll indulge the President because he pays them and supplies them, but the true planning will be left in the hands of those qualified.

All six of them bend over the map on the table, voices raising and lowering in heated debate over what went wrong in the last operation. What should have been a grand victory for ShinRa and a disruption of Wutai’s most important supply line turned into a slaughter for the company. Barely a handful of men survived the encounter and most of them still occupy medical in critical condition.

“I’m telling you we got the timing wrong! There’s no way a bunch of back water traditionalists got the drop on the most technologically advanced army on the face of the planet!” Captain Jones slams his hand down on the table. “Obviously our intel was flawed.”

“The flaw was your plan.” Sephiroth’s voice – deep, quiet – breaks through the ever growing voices with astounding ease. “You planned your strategy on two faulty premises. You ignored the most important factor in the terrain: the cover it afforded the Wutain forces.” He informs them calmly, coolly. The Silver SOLDIER – a moniker given to him by one of the regulars when he first stepped foot from the helicopter – never looks or even opens his eyes as he delivers nothing more than a critical assessment. Sephiroth doesn’t pass judgment; his tone contains neither anger nor condescension. Somehow that only makes it worse for the men in the room now gapping at him.

“They are ninja and samurai. The ShinRa regulars cannot hope to win close encounters with warriors trained to do that very thing since birth. Their regulars all carry and have proficient skill with materia use; ours do not. You cannot hope to win by trying to fight on their terms. Only SOLDIER stands a chance of winning one on one engagements with them.” Sephiroth rises and slides the Masmune onto his back to the click and lock of the hooks on the harness. A precise turn sends the bottom of his long, black leather coat flaring around him. Sephiroth open his eyes and he takes three steps to the table.

“Place your sharp shooters here and here along these ridges.” His gloved finger picks a location five miles south of the last. “They don’t have enough cover to effectively sneak in close. One contingent of regulars will go here, on either side of this natural pass. Since ShinRa has not been hiding its positioning up until now, they won’t think twice about it. I will be over this hill with a group of SOLDIERS. Once the Wutain army engages and makes for the contingent blocking the path, we will come over the hill and hit their flank, disrupting their line and formation.” He stops and assesses his own plan in the silence created by incredulity.

“Place a small group of secondary troops behind both groups of sharp shooters just in case. We will perform the operation at dawn tomorrow when the next shipment of supplies will be delivered. We have less than eight to get the men ready and in position; I suggest we move.”

He looks up and green, slitted eyes catch every man. Sephiroth doesn’t dare them; his posture is not openly challenging. It doesn’t have to be. For the first time they look at him, hard eyes and unflappable calm, and begin to understand that this being before them is far more than a science project. Each man gives consent in grudging, quiet tones. Each man watches on as he turns, this child in silver and black, and leaves them to attend to business as if he is the superior officer dismissing them.

The military commanders all sit in one building, watching the vids recorded at that battle. Mouths set in stony lines, they watch as the kid’s plan works just as he said it would. The battle report lists one casualty and three wounded for the company; Wutai lost over a hundred men. Every single SOLDIER walked away from the battle with barely a scratch. This was the first time they were not interspersed in with the regular units and the power of them together can no longer be questioned.

“Where is that little shit? I don’t see him.” All eyes narrow on the screen, but none of them can pick out that flowing silver hair once the SOLDIERS crest the hill and impact the Wutai line. “What in the hell does he think he’s doing?”

“Look.” Another commander calls out. “There he is – after the battle is done.” Sure enough Sephiroth stands off to the right, quietly speaking with a second class SOLDIER. He looks untouched. “What bullshit is the President trying to pull here?”

“Back up the recording.” The third voice belongs to Captain Jones. Something during the feed caught his eye and Sephiroth standing there without explanation sealed it. “Back to the beginning and replay at half speed.” The rest of the men look at him, curious as to why he requests such a thing, but the computer is already restarting the vid as instructed.

The holographic panel springs to life again and no one spoke. At half speed, Sephiroth appears on the screen. At half speed, the Wutai troops seem to barely crawl, SOLDIERS move slightly stilted, but Sephiroth, he appears to move normally. At half speed they see the faces of Wutain warriors he engages radiate shock when death they can’t even see comes for them. The look on Sephiroth’s face never changes from collected focus. Smooth motions – liquid and graceful – carry him from enemy to enemy. Never does he smile or frown. When it’s done, the kid calmly wipes his sword clean on a fallen enemy and they return to the point where he’d first caught their eye.

On the second viewing, they notice something else as well. Every SOLDIER looks at him and reflected in their faces is awe, pure awe.
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