THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 

SOLDIER’s Honor

By Kathryn

mystacor@hotmail.com

 

I.

The warrior stood alone in the practice arena, swinging a Katana sword in a complex, precise kata. The sword caught the light, reflecting off the wall, the ceiling and the floor. The sword moved within inches of the fighter’s body, in and out, a series of moves so well executed as to catch the eye of another, passing by.

Sephiroth watched quietly from the doorway, observing the fighter in action. He couldn’t see who it was, but he could see that whoever it was they were phenomenal. He could hardly have done better. Although SOLDIER was considered the elite force of the Shinra military, there were always, some that were still a cut above. He tended to find these, once they reached First Class, and collect them. He had never seen this one, though.

She moved, stopped, suddenly. The SOLDER turned around, and Sephiroth was surprised to see that it was a woman. It’s her

Everyone had heard, of course, of Rahne Moonstar, the first woman to be accepted for candidacy in SOLDIER. She’d surprised everyone by managing to survive, advancing through the rigorous training process, and clawing her way up to second class.

Rahne turned around and realized that she was not alone. She snapped to attention. "Sir."

"At ease." She relaxed. ‘That was very well done ... do you practice often?"

She nodded. "I try sir. I have to keep in top form, correct?"

He nodded. "Indulge me," He drew Masamune. She readied her blade, crossed his in salute, and they began. The swords flew clanging in the large room. Rahne fought with all her skills and strength, determined to impress this man

Sephiroth fought, impressed with the woman’s skills. She was older than most of the SOLDER candidates, and her maturity showed in the way she fought. I wonder if it will remain so when she...

Hew feinted, let her slash, and toppled her to the ground. "Yield?"

She nodded, briefly. "Yield." He helped her up. "Well done." He looked her over. "May I ask a ...personal question, Moonstar?" He was very formal with her, being very careful. She was beautiful, as well as a fantastic fighter.

"Of course, Sir." Rahne was puzzled. Why would Sephiroth be interested in anything about her? She was just a lowly Second-Class SOLDIER, and would probably never do any better.

"Wherever did you learn to fight like that?" He asked, skirting the issue. What he really wanted to know was why she was still a Second Class.

"I grew up in the slums, sir. I’ve wanted to join SOLDER all my life ...I gave up ...everything to join." Her voice grew soft at the last words, and he sensed that it was a sensitive subject, decided not to pursue it.

He nodded to her. "Thank you, for indulging me." He stalked out of the room, and Rahne watched him. If only...

***

Heidigger looked at the man seated across the conference table from him. Sephiroth did not often see the need to speak to the man who was, on paper, in charge of SOLDIER, but today, he’d asked to see Heidigger. And the request he’d made was ludicrous. "You want me to promote ... Who?"

"Her name, Heidigger, is Moonstar. Rahne Moonstar. She is a Second Class, and I feel that her talents are going to waste."

Recognition flooded across Heidigger’s face. "Oh, Her. Sephiroth, you have to understand.. She’s not really a SOLDIER. She’s ... how can I put this lightly?"

Sephiroth was irritated, though his face betrayed no emotion. "Enlighten me. She has undergone Mako therapy, is a above-average fighter and is part of this organization. What else would she be?"

"Its called PR Sephiroth. She’s just ... for show. To let everyone know that anyone can aspire to join SOLDER – if a woman can do it, then anyone can." Heidigger laughed. "Don’t tell me you think she could actually be First Class material?"

"I do not think, I know." Sephiroth stood. "You will promote her. And you will put her in my squadron, under my personal command. There is an exercise we are scheduled for, next week. I want her on that exercise. Make it happen." Sephiroth stalked out of the room, leaving Heidigger stunned in his wake. Sephiroth did not often stand up for any of the people in SOLDER, but this woman deserved better.

A few days later, Rahne Moonstar received her new orders.

II.

Rahne sat on the truck, fully conscious of the stares, most of them in her direction. It was nearly a week since her promotion, and now, her first assignment, a training mission. She shifted, not quite uncomfortable, but knowing that not all of the stares were friendly. One man, Marcus Breydon, in particular, made her skin absolutely crawl.

Sephiroth interrupted her thoughts and the stares. He stood, clearing his throat, ready to give the mission briefing. "This mission, you will rely on yourselves. You will be in a building, and in that building is an assassin, who is out to get you. You will rely on yourselves, for your own survival. Beyond that, there are no other parameters. Are there any questions?"

One man raised his hand, and Sephiroth nodded. "Who is the assassin sir?"

Sephiroth stared at him. "I do not know. And neither do you."

 

It’s him. Rahne thought. Of course.

She was deposited in the building, sent in last. She entered, cautiously, thinking. There has got to be a better way to do this. I am not going to spend the next 2 days hiding from Sephiroth. And, she realized, from the rest of the squad. Most of them would kill everyone off, thinking that they were the assign. Kill or be killed.

Sword drawn, she crept carefully through the empty building. Her eyes lit on a conference room with a door that locked. She looked around, searching for booby traps. Looking around, she saw a statue in pieces. Rahne scooped up a handful of dust, blowing it at the door. The mist created showed her a hastily rigged laser. She threw a piece of the crumbled statue at the laser, and was rewarded as a knife flew across the doorway.

She knew, of course that the knife could not have been lethal. She picked it up, inspecting it. The cutting edge was covered wit the same sensor material as the edge of her own sword, a cover that reacted with sensors to register a kill, while protecting the opponent.

Satisfied that there were no more booby traps, Rahne entered the room and locked the door. She was fairly certain that the booby-trapper would show up sooner or later to check on his handiwork.

She was not disappointed. About fifteen minutes later, she heard someone scratching around outside. She drew her sword and stood in the doorway, opening the door. "Looking for something? She asked, pulling the knife out of her belt.

The soldier, a kid named Zack, looked up. "How the hell did you...?"

Rahne smiled. "It was patently obvious. A child could have seen it." She offered him the knife.

"Are you going to kill me?"

Rahne stared at him. "You think that I’m the assassin?" Zack nodded, miserably. "Well, I’m not." He looked up at her.

"Don’t look at me like that. You want to score some points?"

Zack nodded. "What do you have in mind?"

"Give me your weapon and w we’ll talk."

"What?"

"I said I wanted to talk to you. I didn’t say I trusted you. Now hand over the sword." Rahne stared at him, her green eyes intent. Zack sighed and handed her his sword.

"I’ll give it back as soon as I figure out if I can trust you. " She led him inside. "How, now, are you going to prove to me you aren’t here to kill me?"

Zack stared at her from across the room. "I can tell you who I think it is ... and I don’t think that it’s any of us."

Rahne looked at him. "Who’s your gil on?"

Zack grinned. "Our Fearless Leader. You know, they’re watching us." He pointed at the security camera. Rahne had noticed at the outset that all of the cameras in the decrepit building seemed to be running.

She sized him up. All her instincts told her that the kid could be trusted. She lifted his massive sword off the desk. "Here. You and me, kid, are going to secure this room."

Four hours later, Rahne had collected about half the squad in the room; most of them not pleased about it. "Why should we listen to you?" One of them sneered.

Rahne was perched on the one desk in the room. "Because, together we have a better chance of surviving this. It’s harder to pick off a team than a bunch of people going solo." She explained. "You want to survive the next 2 days? Then stick with me. If not," here she gestured. "There’s the door. Don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out."

"And if we don’t want to listen to you?"

Rahne stood up slowly, standing on the desk. There was a wood beam in the wall, across the room from her. She took the knife out of her belt, hefted it by the handle. She threw it, and it sank into the wood, halfway up the blade. "You want to challenge me? Draw that knife."

No one drew.

Thirty hours later, Rahne was sneaking through the halls, her turn on patrol. She stopped, hearing a noise. I’m being followed. She turned around in circle, sword drawn. "I know you’re there. Come out." She was shocked to see Marcus Breydon, staring at her from the shadows. "The lady SOLDIER," he drawled. "Aren’t you a little out of your element, Rahne?"

"No." She was on her guard. What is he trying to prove?

"I think you are." Breydon advanced on her. His sword was sheathed. "I think you’re out of it." He was suddenly standing very close to her, too close for Rahne’s liking. "What do you want?"

"How did you do it, Rahne? Who did you screw?"

"What?" She stared at him. "What the hell do you mean?"

Breydon grabbed her roughly, throwing her down. "You’re not a SOLDIER, you’re a PR doll ... and do you know what we do with dolls?" He growled, pressing her into the floor. He grabbed the front of her top and tore it down the front, her shoulder armor bounding against the floor. Her tore the halter top off also, exposing her breasts. "I know how you got where you are ... who did you screw? Baby doll, it’s my turn. Come on, Rahne ... there’s enough of you to go around, right?"

"Not on your life ... leave me alone!" She pushed at him, trying to push him away. He grabbed her hands, holding them away from him. He tore the rest of her clothes off, and undid his own belt. "You don’t really mean that, do you?" He pressed his mouth against hers, pressing against her. She tried to turn her head, to get away. Rahne kicked violently, twisting her head away from Breydon. He loomed above her. "You want this ...stop fighting me."

"Leave ...me ... alone!" She hissed. She lashed, violently. He bore down on her, pressing against her. She screamed, clawing at him.

Suddenly, Breydon’s weight was lifted off her. Rahne immediately curled into a ball, trying to hide her nude body from him. She looked up to see Sephiroth throw Breydon to the floor. "What do you think you’re doing?"

"You want some of her, Sir? You’re welcome to her ... She likes it."

Sephiroth threw Breydon to the ground. "Leave her alone, you bastard. What do you think this is?"

"Sir...I...." Breydon stammered, clearly at a loss for words. Sephiroth motioned to a pair of SOLDIERs standing in near by. "Take him away."

Sephiroth slipped his black coat off and draped it over the girl. Two troopers stood next to him and he motioned to them. "Collect her things ... I will take her to the infirmary myself. The scenario is over."

Sephiroth lifted her, carefully wrapping her in the long coat, covering her.

In the infirmary, The doctor was checking Rahne over when Rahne was struck with a thought. " I want to make a call. Someone brought her a phone, and she dialed a number she had never planned on dialing again. "Hello ...Mother? This is ...Rahne ...Hello?"

Her mother hung up on her. I guess she’s still mad. It’s been 3 years, I didn’t think...

She cut the thought off. No one cared.

III.

A week later, Rahne was cleared for duty, and was in the practice room. She swung the sword around, watching herself in the mirrors. My timing’s off.

She stopped, relaxed, and looked at herself in the mirror. She saw the familiar form watching her. Rahne turned to face him. "Did you want something, sir?"

"Nothing in particular. Perhaps you’d care to spar with me?" He drew his sword. Rahne nodded. "Always."

They began slowly, Rahne knowing that she was not in her top form, and Sephiroth wanting to give her some time to ease into the session. After a few minutes, the fighting picked up in tempo and intensity. The two combatants relaxing into their sport. Rahne blocked and parried, managing to attack when she could, but Sephiroth noticed that she lacked her usual aggressiveness. He could block her attacks with ease, taking no skill at all.

Sephiroth blocked one of her strikes, with one hand, and reached out with the other to grab her, twisting her down to the ground, landing on top of her.

Rahne found herself under the man, again. Her mind blacked out. Not again. She screamed, summoning all her strength to throw Sephiroth across the room.

Sephiroth felt himself fly across the room, landing hard on the floor. He rolled over, ready to block, and realized that Rahne was sitting on the floor, shaking. She looked like she couldn’t decide whether to scream or to cry.

"Are you all right?" He asked, offering her a hand. She hesitated for a moment before accepting his help, but her face still looked like she’d seen a ghost. "Come with me. That’s ... not an order." He added.

Rahne thought for a moment, then nodded. Sephiroth led her to his office, and motioned for her to sit down on the small couch. "I want you to cry."

She looked up at him as if he’d just told her to fly, or to jump off a plate, or some other impossible task. "SOLDIERs don’t cry." She said, stoically, but he could hear her voice waver.

"That’s bullshit and you know it. You went through something very traumatic. You need to let yourself get over it. A raw kid could have beaten you today. You need to let go of this if you hope to regain your fighting edge. I want to help you."

His words had the desired effect. Tears slowly slipped down Rahne’s face. He offered her a box of tissues as the sobs came. "He ... tried ... he was ... going to ... he said..."

"I know what he said. It is not true. You are one of the best fighters it has been my pleasure to see in this organization. You are mature, you have leadership qualities ... that is the first time I have ever run that scenario and seen someone try to take command like that. Admirable."

He sat down next to her, and let her sob on his shoulder, heaving, racking sobs that seemed to come from her very soul. When she finally regained control of herself, she looked up at him, wiping the last of the tears from her face. "Thank you ... sir." She stood to leave.

"One more thing. Let me buy you ...dinner." He looked and felt distinctly uncomfortable, and she realized that he’d probably never dreamed of asking anyone out before. She started at him for the second time in an hour. He gazed back. "As friends ... nothing more. I think you deserve it." Am I crazy, asking a woman who was just nearly raped on a date?

She gazed at him. "Is that an order?"

He looked at her. "No. Of course not."

She almost smiled. "I accept ...Sephiroth." He raised an eyebrow at her usage of his name.

"Ten minutes ... Rahne."

He took her to a quiet restaurant, where they could talk and not be pestered by Shinra or the general public. Rahne had changed into a ruffled white blouse and long skirt, and let her hair down out of its usual braid. Sephiroth looked at her, realizing she was striking. They ordered, and he looked across the table at her. "So. What is a pretty girl like you doing in SOLDIER?"

She looked at him and burst out laughing. "What?"

"I mean it. Why join SOLDIER ... I mean there don’t seem to be droves of women following your lead. What made you want to join?"

"I don’t know. I guess it was just something that I wanted to do." She shifted, and he sensed that she did not want to talk about the subject, and Sephiroth decided not to press the issue. She looked at him. "And you? Why did you join?"

"I was ...born to it actually. I was raised by the company, and it was just natural." He did not elaborate, and Rahne nodded, apparently satisfied with the answer.

He took her to her rooms after they were done. "Rahne ...do you feel better?"

She nodded. "Yes ... thank you Sephiroth. Actually..." She trailed off.

"What?"

"I’d like to do this again sometime." She looked up at him. He took her hand and kissed it, gently.

"It would be a pleasure."

A few days later, Rahne entered her office to find a note on her desk, in elegant, perfect handwriting. "Dinner tonight, 7 PM?" She smiled. She wrote back "Of course." She knew that Sephiroth was not in his office at the moment, and dropped the note on his desk.

Over the next few weeks, he took her out at least four more times, and each time, she was more relaxed with him, smiling, laughing. They were now getting close to each other. Rahne realized she hadn’t felt this good since she’d left home ...she had not let herself get close to anyone since she’d left her family behind.

As usual, Sephiroth walked her home, but when he stopped outside she opened the door. "You want to come in for a while, have a drink or something?"

He looked at her for a few moments, then nodded. "Yes." He watched her move about the small apartment, getting a bottle and two glasses out of the cupboard. "This okay?" She asked, as he sat down on the couch. He looked at the bottle and nodded. She poured the two glasses and handed him one, settling down on the couch next to him. She played wit the glass, looking at him, unsure where to begin. "I’m.... Really glad we got to know each other like this." She sipped the wine, looking at him. She slipped her shoes off, tucking her legs under her.

Sephiroth looked back at her. "I have also ... you are a fascinating person, Rahne." He looked intently into her eyes, wondering. "Rahne..." He leaned closer to her, and she looked at him. She leaned closer to him. "You know ... I ... have a confession. I asked you in ...because I ... wanted to do this." She leaned over and kissed him, gently.

Sephiroth was stunned. He’d never expected anything like this from her. He’d also never expected to enjoy it. His hand reached up to her face, and he found himself returning her kiss. He pulled away from her, looking at her. "Rahne, I..." He took her glass from her, and set both of them down on the table. He caressed her face gently, pulling her whole body close to his. "I never thought I could feel this way, about anyone." He gazed at her. He pulled her close to him, kissing her again, more deeply this time. He put his arms around her, holding her close to him. He buried his hands in her blonde hair, and his mouth traveled away from her lips, down her neck. Rahne closed her eyes, letting him nuzzle her, and she rested her head on his shoulder. "Are you all right?" He whispered his mouth very close to her ear.

"Yes ...never better." She buried her face in his neck, playing with his long silver hair. "Why do you ask?"

"You know why." He kissed her again. "What do you want?" He asked her.

Her hands started down his chest, indecisively. He pulled her next to him, stroking her hair. "Rahne, are you sure?" He asked.

Rahne nodded. "Sephiroth ... I want you." She pulled away. "I’m making an ass of myself."

Sephiroth gazed at her. ‘No. You are not. You are making yourself quite clear, and I am very glad you did. Because I have felt the same way. I am your superior officer though, and I cannot..." he trailed off.

"This is going to be complicated." She whispered, turning around to face him. He took her hand, pulled her close to him. "Say it. You have to say it," He whispered, his hands travelling down her blouse.

"Make love to me, Sephiroth."

He kissed her warmly, fully, feeling her hands slide around him. His hands undid the front of her blouse, and she shivered. He took her in his arms, scooped her up, carried her to the bedroom. "Rahne, if you are uncomfortable, I want you to tell me. I don’t want to force you to do anything." She nodded, reaching for him. "Don’t worry about that." They fell to the bed, laughing.

Rahne lay, euphoric, in Sephiroth’s arms. "Wow. That was..." She trailed off.

"I take it you have never done that before." Rahne shook her head. "You?"

He played with her hair. "Never."

She rolled over to face him. "I love you." She said suddenly.

He looked at her, shocked. Her expression changed. "What? Are you all right?"

He looked at her. "You are, the first person who has ever said that to me. I mean that."

She took his hand, as he continued. "Don’t look so shocked. I was raised by Shinra ... There isn’t much love when you’re being raised by a bunch of corporate executives and scientists."

She took his face in her hand. "You’re not alone anymore."

IV

"Damn." Sephiroth growled.

"What?" Rahne poked her head into his office. He motioned her inside and she flopped into the chair across from his desk. He looked at her. "You’re going to hear this shortly anyway."

She looked at him, knowing what he was about to say. "We’re going to war aren’t we?" She asked dully. He nodded. "It gets worse."

She looked at Sephiroth quizzically. "Rahne ...I need you out there."

Rahne’s face fell as realization dawned. "Ohhh. Sephiroth we talked about this." She looked up at him. "We knew this would happen."

He nodded. "Rahne ...he squeezed her hand quickly. "It could be a long time. I have something for you. What are you doing tonight?"

She smiled evilly at him. "Do you really need to ask that question?"

****

Three days later, Rahne was on her way to Wutai, as commander on her own contingent of SOLDIER troops. She reached up to the ring hanging from a necklace, hidden under her blouse.

"A promise ...I will always be there for you." He’d said, giving it to her. A promise that he intended to keep, and that she intended to reciprocate. She pulled it our, the garnet setting catching the light, her fingers closed around it. I miss you.

Tucking the ring insider her blouse again, she got ready to take command of her troops.

The war was, contrary to all of Shinra’s predictions, a long and bloody affair. Rahne found herself in a hot spot, as the front always seemed to be not far from her camp. She led her troops on missions to find and destroy weapons, to gather intelligence, any orders that came from HQ. Rahne had a feeling she knew who was cutting her orders, as she seemed to draw the juiciest assignments.

Rahne was reading the latest reports, reports that were encouraging. Under Sephiroth’s leadership, the Shinra army was taking Wutai slowly but surely. The com rang and he picked it up. "Moonstar."

"Hello." She recognized the voice on the other end. "Sir. What can we do for you?" She was serious; knowing that anyone could be listening in on her conversation. "Yes sir. Orders? To HQ? Yes, sir. When do you need me there?"

A few hours later, she was riding into the HQ, and was immediately escorted into the General’s office. He gestured for her to sit. "Colonel, how are things in you area?"

She looked at him. "Fine, sir ... we’ve been making slow but steady progress, but it’s rather a pain."

He nodded. "I agree. I have similar reports from most of the other commanders. You, however, have the best track record and that is why I have called you here. You are going to help me take this city once and for all. I want this over with."

She nodded. "Yes, sir of course."

He slid a piece of paper across the desk. "Meet me here. I have a few ...things ... to discuss with you. Dismissed."

Outside, Rahne looked at the paper. There was a time written on it, late that night. She smiled to herself. And she made sure she was outside the HQ area, at the specified time. She saw him, waiting for her. Sephiroth slipped his arms around her. "I have missed you." He fingered the ring around her neck. She rested against his chest, her fingers picking at the straps for his armor. "Sephiroth, what’s going on?"

"This will all be over soon, he whispered, kissing her gently. "I have a plan, which I wanted to discuss with you. Rahne I don’t trust some of these men the way I know I can trust you. That’s why I chose you."

She nodded. "I understand. What are we going to do?" She kissed him, "Can we?"

"No ... not here. I promise you, when we get back to Midgar, we will have something to celebrate ... together." He picked her chin up to look at her. "But right now, we have much to do. I want this to be swift and sudden."

Two days later, the Shinra forces, under Sephiroth’s expert leadership, invaded the town of Wutai in full force. The citizens were not ready for a full-scale invasion, and were caught off guard. Rahne led her troops through the main area of Wutai, watching as people fled from the Shinra troops, reveling in the glory of the victory. As she directed them to posts along the city, there was some exclamation. "Sephiroth is fighting Lord Godo!"

Rahne looked toward the main square and could make out the two forms fighting. Her heat leaped into her throat for a moment, as she realized what kind of a fighter Lord Godo Kisaragi was. Rahne led her remaining troops to the square, to provide backup should the General require it.

Sephiroth fought Godo with an intensity that he reserved for few. Godo fought well, given his disadvantages – Sephiroth was much faster, and had a considerable advantage with his long sword and SOLDIER training. As they circled, he shook his head at her, and she clearly understood the signal. He would win this himself.

A few minutes later, he did. Godo knelt in front of the Shinra General, Godo offering Sephiroth his weapon, as a gesture of surrender. As Sephiroth accepted it, he caught Rahne gaze and she nodded. "You did it." She mouthed.

"We did it." He mouthed back.

The surrender took nearly a week, Godo being a very stubborn man. He fought with Shinra every step of the way. Sephiroth took Rahne to all of the negotiation sessions as his bodyguard, and backup. Finally, the Wutai leader accepted the Shinra stipulations, and signed the treaty, retreating to his home with his young daughter. The Shinra leaders returned to Midgar.

V.

It had been nearly a week since the bulk of the Shinra army returned to Midgar, and It took Rahne that long to get a chance to have Sephiroth all to herself. After the war, the company built him up as a hero, their military genius, and such. Rahne could not turn on the television without seeing him being interviewed, or seeing taped footage of the war. Bloody idiots ...Think it was so glamorous.

The truth was, war was a bloody, nasty business and, although it was her chose profession, Rahne was glad that it was all over. All over except the shouting, her father would have said.

A hand on her shoulder interrupted her thoughts. Sephiroth settled next to her on the sofa, pulling her into his arms. "All done?"

"You did not tell me that you could cook." They'd decided not to go out tonight. So far no one had picked up on the fact that they were involved, even with the media blitz surrounding Sephiroth. Rahne had offered to make dinner, to keep their secret a bit longer.

"We can’t hide forever, you now." He whispered to her, as if reading her thoughts.

"I know ...but what can we do. I just got that promotion – what will people think?" Rahne was now officially Sephiroth’s executive officer, after her performance in the final battle.

"I did not know you cared."

"I don’t give a shit ... I just don’t want to put up with it."

"I know. That s why I have a plan." Sephiroth smiled as she twisted around to face him.

"All right. What is it?"

"We are going to start our relationship ...now according to the public. We can be seen together, and then when a suitable time has passed..." He paused.

"What is it?"

Sephiroth shifted, taking her hand in his. He pulled the garnet ring off her hand. "I think we can replace this with a clear stone, don’t you?" He looked at her evenly.

Rahne stared at him in open shock. "Come now, that kind of expressiveness is hardly fitting a SOLDIER."

"Did you ...are you...asking me..." She stammered, at a loss for words.

He held her. "Yes I am asking you that."

"And I am saying yes." Rahne kissed him. "I love you so much."

"And I you," he whispered back, holding her close.

When the Shinra Corporation saw, two days later, in the gossip column, that the great war hero Sephiroth was seen in the company of a young, female SOLDIER, the response was mixed. Reeve and Palmer didn’t seem to care. Scarlet promptly called her a tramp and left it at that. The President was not happy, but realized that nothing could be done about it.

Two people though were quietly furious. Heidigger and Hojo, both realizing the threat this relationship could pose. Heidigger became convinced that Rahne was using Sephiroth to further her career.

In his lab, Hojo was livid. He knew that Sephiroth was destined for a much greater purpose than to be a media darling and that this relationship with this female SOLDIER was a significant distraction. "It is time for him to learn of his true destiny," Hojo said to no one in particular.

Three days later, Sephiroth was ordered on a mission to investigate a reactor in the Nibel Mountains.

VI

"But why won’t they let you pick who you take?" Rahne asked, perched on Sephiroth’s bed, watching him gather his things. "You’re the head of SOLDIER ...isn’t that in your job description?"

"Yes ... I do not know why they are sending Zack. Don’t you trust him?"

"It’s not him I’m worried about. This is just too damn convenient!" Rahne stared at him. "Come on, Sephiroth, think about it. Suddenly the whole world knows we’re at least seeing each other, and then you’re ordered out of Midgar, solo. Put the pieces together."

He nodded, turning to her. "I have, Rahne. I am not blind. But what are we going to do?"

She sighed. "I know, I know. We’re stuck. Just. Be careful, okay?"

He sat down next to her, unraveling her braided hair. "I am more worried about you. They may try to do something about you, while I am away. I want you to be extremely careful while I am away." He caressed her face, kissing her gently. "I love you, no matter what happens. And when I get back, I am taking you out and you are going to pick out your new ring."

She looked at him, her eyes glittering. He pulled her body close to his.

For three days, Rahne was on edge. She jumped at shadows, locked her office door, and became more paranoid with each day. She felt as if everyone was looking at her.

Then the announcement came. "Sephiroth is dead." The president held a press conference, to announce the version of events that Shinra wanted to release to the press. Rahne knew in her heart that it wasn’t true. Sephiroth is not stupid ... Something else went wrong.

Rahne locked herself in her office the first time she heard it. I can’t cry ... I won’t let them have the pleasure. She ripped through her drawer and was rewarded when she found the old necklace thrown in the back. She yanked the garnet ring off her finger, strung it on the necklace and slipped it under her blouse before answering the summons to meet President Shinra.

When she was escorted up the stairs to the President 's office, Rahne was shocked to see Marcus Breydon there, along with several other high-ranking SOLDIER members.

What gives? Rahne knew that, as Sephiroth's executive, she was slated to take over SOLDIER. Did he plan it that way? I wouldn’t put it past him.

President Shinra cleared his throat. "As you have all heard, Sephiroth is dead. Due to this tragic ...incident, SOLDIER is left without leadership." He looked each of them in the eye before continuing. "Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to select someone to take his place."

Rahne’s heart sank. I should have known. They couldn’t stomach a woman in charge.

"Breydon." Marcus Breydon stepped forward. "Sir."

"Congratulations. You are the new head of SOLDIER."

Rahne’s expression remained stoic, even when Breydon glanced sideways at her, the look in his eyes unmistakable. "Thank you sir. I will do my best."

"I am sure of it. As I am sure that you will have all the ... help ... you need." He nodded. "You are dismissed."

As the filed down the stairs, Rahne could feel his eyes on the back of her neck. She pressed the elevator button and waited. When the elevator arrived, she and Breydon were the only ones there. Everyone else disappeared.

Breydon looked at her. ‘So ...when do we get to start?"

She glared at him. " Start what?"

Breydon snorted. "Come on Rahne. Everyone knew what you two were up to. I’m surprised you aren’t bawling your pretty eyes out. Did you really think they’d let you take over SOLDIER?"

Rahne glared at him. "Someone thought I was competent."

Breydon snorted. "In bed, maybe." As they left the elevator, he grabbed her arm, and she visibly recoiled at his touch. "Let’s get something very clear Miss Moonstar. You wanna sleep you way up, that’s fine. But just remember what you’ve got to do to stay there."

Rahne looked him in they eye, knowing she was about to make an irrevocable choice. "Yes. I know that I have to do."

With that statement, Rahne kneed him squarely in the groin. Breydon’s face twisted in absolute pain. "I know that I would never in a million years stoop to your level. You can think what you like. But the truth is you’re sick, Breydon. And I’m going to help you."

Rahne slammed his head into the wall, drawing blood from his nose. She followed up with a series of punches, kicks and elbows that left Marcus Breydon a bruised and bleeding mass on the floor. "You get what you deserve."

Rahne left the Shinra building for the last time, not looking back. She wandered the streets of Midgar, knowing that Shinra troops would soon be looking for her, as soon as they found Breydon. She found herself outside the number 1 reactor, and was struck by a thought.

Her security code still let her inside. Once there, she sat on the bridge over the pool of Mako. Why him? Is this what he saw ... How could it have happened?

Rahne slipped off her gloves and gauntlets. The veins throbbed in her wrists, pulsing. She drew her sword, and sliced into her wrist. Blood pooled out onto the walkway, and Rahne watched, dully, as her life poured out onto the reactor floor. She made a fist and was rewarded when the blood flowed freely. She deftly, carefully, sliced the other wrist, and managed the slide the sword back into the scabbard before she felt dizzy.

This is it. I’m done here.

Rahne tried to stand, found herself dizzy. She could feel the blood running back down her arms. Like the war. It’s war .. and I lost.

Or did I?

She tried to walk out of the reactor, but fell She was cold. So cold ... Sephiroth ... warm me .. .I need you.

She heard voices outside the chamber. They’d found her, no doubt by tracking her security code. No. I won’t let you take me back.

A shout. Rahne fell again, the deck was slippery with blood. She rolled over, and realized she was at the edge of the walk. She looked for a moment into the Mako. It looks like his eyes.

It was Rahne’s last coherent thought. As her body fell limp, Rahne Moonstar slid off the balcony into the Mako.

The End

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