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Title: How Legends Are Made: Pray for the Wicked; Pray for the Pure
Rating: PG
Warnings: None
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: ~1900
Completed or In Progress: Complete/Part 3 of the series
Summary: ShinRa releases the first campaign video of the new SOLDIER program.



“Today’s top news is the ShinRa Corporation’s announcement of its new SOLDIER program. An early press release states that the mission of SOLDIER will be to aid the current Department of Public Safety with a small but elite group of highly trained soldiers….”

A dozen pairs of bare feet thunder across and down the paths separating each modest house. There’s one viewing screen in the town and that’s at the main meeting house. Everyone jostles for position; shoving and nudging until finally the mass of adolescent arms and legs settles into chaotic pile.

“Shut up, I can’t hear!” He gets drowned out by a dozen shushing voices.

“The SOLDIERs program as it’s called will be headed by…”

“Mark I am going to shove something down your throat if you don’t be quiet!” One youth hisses out of annoyance and two more dog pile their friend, attempting to clamp a hand or hands over his mouth.

“Whatever this guy is boring anyway!”

It’s sweltering hot in the central room and the fact that nearly everyone from town has crowded into the space isn’t helping in the midday heat. No one wants to miss this though. However the adults watch the screen with more skepticism than the younger crowd vying for prime viewing position up front. Some of them switch faint smiles into frowns.

“The President of ShinRa Electric said in an exclusive interview that Mako enhanced soldiers further proves that Mako energy is not only safe, but has far more uses for the public good.” Behind the news caster on the screen rolls the tape of interview with President ShinRa gesticulating wildly back towards the line of helmeted, uniformed troops behind him. A shock of white hair stands out from rest but the camera doesn’t get a clear view of the man.

“THAT’S HIM THAT’S THE GUY!!!”

“MARK, SHUT UP!” Those voices ring out in unison again and this time Mark squawks when he’s tackled to the ground, but his indignation is short lived when a hand finally clamps around his mouth.

“ShinRa Electrical released this video to further explain the SOLDIER program to the public.” The transmission cuts from the reporter to the promised feed and quiet murmurs break out among adults and children alike. The camera sweeps out over the city Midgar, proudly panning over each of the reactors. The ShinRa logo never seems to not be in the picture.

For years, ShinRa Electrical Power Company has made increasing the prosperity and quality of life for all people on our planet its goal.

Happy faces and youthful families walk the streets not only of the city, but also other towns only to fade to shots of broken, smoking homes and a woman crying into her hands.

When terroristic activities threatened this dream, ShinRa created the Department of Public Safety to help protect each town that needed it. Brave troopers took to the field and kept our towns safe.


Times change –


- And the violence has returned.


“There he is!” No one quiets Mark down this time; they’re all focused on the feed showing a black and silver clad man leaping out of a helicopter and somehow the camera follows him down as the sunlight illuminates the incredibly length of silver hair waving like a flag next to a long sword. He lands in a circle of men marked by their Wutain clothing and armor and in seconds they’re all lying on the ground.

The camera focuses in on the young man’s face as he cuts the chains with a single blow holding more than a dozen ShinRa regulars chained to metal poles planted in the ground. The men silently cheer him on camera before the scene freezes on the rescuer who doesn’t look at the camera.

“Man, that is going to be me one day.” A dark haired youth snorts with a grin.

“You’d cut off your own leg with that thing.” He points out but he’s just focused on the silver haired form and the looks of relief in other men around him.

They are the ones who fight...

Zack Fair smiles with his hand still over Mark’s mouth.

****
...And risk everything for their homes.


Professor Hojo snorts and hits the mute button. He couldn’t care less about frilly words or test models the ShinRa PR Department put on the footage, he only wants to see Sephiroth in action. Finally he gets past the edited footage to see the rest: a panoramic shot of the battlefield and the Wutain forces lying dead, not unconscious as it first appeared when the fools apparently decided that dead bodies shouldn’t be aired in their precious announcements.

They spend too much time catering to the lowest common denominator.

“I want the complete and unedited video on my data pad in one hour.” He barks at his assistant. “How do they expect me make accurate conclusions when they mess with the video timing and the clarity of the shots! This artistic foolishness has no place in my laboratory!”

“Y-yes, Professor. I’ll contact them immediately.” Which is a relief for the poor girl who scurries out of the room. Where Hojo had watched the footage with irritation at how it’d been altered, she’d felt a little sick. Their greatest achievement really is an unfeeling killing machine.

Hojo watches her leave with a look of disgust. Clarisse has always been soft. Maybe it’s time to get rid of her. He checks his notes again. They’re nothing but estimates of Sephiroth’s physical acumen, but it’s the closest he can get until he gets the raw data he needs.

Idiots. The President should have authorized the monitoring device.

***

The bustle and push of kids in her home keeps Tifa rolling her eyes. Why the boys like these stupid war announcements is her. All of them sit in a tight group in the floor because she has the best reception in town. Well Cloud doesn’t. He sits in the back no less anxious and excited. They’ve all heard the rumors about Sephiroth and the new ShinRa soldiers. So far all they’ve seen is one short real but it isn’t over yet.

The ShinRa Department of Public Service and SOLDIER now work together to bring down the terrorists guiding the hands of the Wutai government.

SOLDIERs in their dark gray uniforms move in a precise rhythm across the screen. It isn’t a march; it’s something else, something more fluid and instinctive. They move as one body, one being and in front walks a black clad figure with hair as white as snow in the Nibel mountains flowing down his back. The motion of the silvery wave is as hypnotic as each steps he takes; the cadence to which all of the other moves.

“He’s beautiful.” Tifa murmurs, just as captivated as the boys in that moment. They can’t see his face full on, just his profile, but’s enough. The video murmurs on about SOLDIER 1st Class, Sephiroth interspersed with flashes of his battles with the Wutain warriors.

“He’s a hero.” Awe permeates Cloud’s voice and he’s fascinated, caught up in the same breathless inspiration as the rest of them. “I’m going to be like him one day.”

“Yeah right,” one of the other’s speaks, “skinny Cloud a hero like Sephiroth. That’ll ever happen.” The blonde boy blushes to the roots of his hair and no one but Tifa notices when he leaves. They always do that to Cloud.

Boys, go figure.

***

“Recruitment offices are reporting a massive increase in calls, Mr. President.” President ShinRa’s secretary hands him the preliminary reports and the man smiles as he watches a replay of video. Its final moments focus on the solitary figure of Sephiroth standing next to a ShinRa helicopter. The Silver SOLDIER as they call him never looks at the camera, but everyone assures him that it will only increase his popularity among young men.

It seems, if these numbers are anywhere near correct, that they were right.

“Start funneling them through. I want every potential candidate for SOLDIER screened and processed immediately.” While Sephiroth has turned the tide of the war in ShinRa’s favor, the casualty reports still roll in as well. They’ll need to replace his perfect leader’s weapons.

“General – his next promotion will be General. I want it aired publicly – get me Scarlet, Heidegger, and Palmer. We have work to do.”

“Yes sir.” She leaves and the President strokes his chin with a pleased smile.

“You’re going to complete my empire m’boy and one day you’ll open up the Promised Land for me.”

***

“Angeal, can you believe the fuss they’re making over him? He looks like a kid playing dress up.” Angeal outright laughs at the grumble in Genesis’ voice. Of course Genesis never could stand anyone else in the spotlight and right now Angeal is sure that nearly everyone on Gaia knows Sephiroth, the Silver SOLDIER.

“You have to admit he’s pretty good.” Where Genesis watches the vid through narrowed eyes with a quiet huff, Angeal wonders why they don’t show more of this supposed prodigy – only profiles and back shots interspersed with battle footage. No matter Genesis’ pride makes him say, Angeal sees the perfection in every move Sephiroth makes.

He might call it robotic except he the man moves like water.

“I bet we could both make First Class easily.” Angeal resists the urge to roll his eyes and manages to hide his sigh. He already knows where this is going; Angeal’s known Genesis since they were little. The look in his friend’s eyes promises trouble, but things have been dull Banora. Maybe Midgar will make a nice change of pace.

“So when do we leave?” He asks with a sigh he doesn’t bother to hide this time.

“I knew you’d see the light.”

***

“They’re making him a hero.” The Turks watch the video with a little less enthusiasm than most everyone else in ShinRa. It’s their job to access any threat and with all of them the reaction is immediate and instinctive. It’s only video footage but all of them know in the first thirty seconds of actual battle footage that none of them stand a chance in a one on one engagement with this kid

(Sixteen and he’s probably killed more monsters and people than all of the Turks combined.)

“No, they’re making him a god.” Tseng’s voice cuts thinly through their respective silences, but almost immediately his internal thoughts correct themselves. They’d already made the kid a god: inhuman, untouchable, and flawless in his lack of compassion, in his complete and pure assessment of the world. Now ShinRa is just letting the rest of the world know that they have a god on their leash.

Tseng knows it won’t last forever. Sephiroth’s been raised in a sterile world of laboratories and tests and teachers and tutors. Everything has been remote from him since the time he was born and so he was remote from everything else.

Professor Hojo thinks nothing can change that; Tseng thinks Hojo is an arrogant fool. Life is messy and it isn’t controlled. What’s to stop ShinRa’s perfectly controlled weapon from realizing that there’s no reason he should let the company hold the strings anymore? If it happens isn’t even a question as far as Tseng’s concerned. They may have trained Sephiroth to believe he doesn’t have free will; that he doesn’t need it.

But he’s a tactical genius and upon Tseng first meeting the boy he’d known then that behind those shuttered eyes and perfect manners existed a mind capable of so much more than any of them imagined. He knows because there are no human constraints on Sephiroth and he isn’t thinking about the boy’s impressive, physical abilities. One day Sephiroth will become truly self-aware in a very human way.

Tseng hopes they’ve figured out a way to kill him before that happens.


ShinRa SOLDIER – Call your recruiter today
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