Cloud hadn’t really thought much when an order had come from above that a special selection of cadets had been picked for a mission to the south. It had been miles away from Midgar, and the furthest away from home Cloud had ever been. South of Gongaga, it was a nowhere place that the coordinates led to, and it seemed that it was just a small Wutaian terrorist group’s base. It would be easy, apparently, to take the base down and then they’d be returning back to base within the week. But still, a week in tropical climes was worth it. Particularly if it meant dropping in to see Zack’s parents on the way back with a letter from their son reassuring them that he was okay.
It didn’t take long, though, for the cadets to realize that fighting in a tropical climate wasn’t exactly fun. Cloud’s uniform was soaked through, sticking to his skin and smelled absolutely disgusting. His eyes were stinging from the sweat that had dripped down his dirty brow into them. He had no water left, and the stupid Shinra rations he had on him were packed full of salt that made his throat feel like it had dried up and died. If it weren’t for the fact that he’d been able to find a fairly juicy piece of fruit the day before he was certain he would have died of dehydration by now.
Still, Cloud was kind of honoured that he had been chosen because they thought he was tough enough to weather such conditions. Although the blisters on his feet and the way that every muscle ached told him that he probably wasn’t quite as prepared for this mission as he had thought he was. He wasn’t a SOLDIER after all, just an ordinary cadet, who could only be pushed so far before he met his limit. He was almost there.
The true mission began late the following evening when a gunfire battle had started between the terrorists and another small group of cadets slightly to the east. He wasn’t afraid, as such, but the constant tension was starting to get to him. If the battle would just come his way, he could show everyone who had failed him for the first round of SOLDIER exams exactly what he was made of.
Then the battle did come his way and the fear crashed down on him like a waterfall. He managed to make himself fire back, knowing that he might be killing someone with those stray bullets, but more worried about the ones that were whizzing past his own head. He fought against his fear, his shaking hands, his chattering teeth and the voice in his head screaming ‘run fool run’. He kept his finger on the trigger of his gun, firing almost wildly into the undergrowth, hoping to high Hell that he was getting those that were firing at him and not just wasting ammo.
He heard a strange thud sound next to him and turned. The cadet beside him was staring up at the sky blankly. Cloud felt sick when he realized that there was a small red hole in the centre of his forehead. Snipers!
He looked around for his commanding officer to see if he was going to be sent for cover. He looked up in time to see SOLDIER First Class Lieutenant Binek take enough bullets to the chest to render a Behemoth dead. The SOLDIER still struggled for a few minutes and then went still, his eyes open and glassy and so utterly devoid of life that for a moment Cloud was paralyzed. After a moment a bullet grazed his arm and he swore, getting under cover.
Who was his commanding officer now? He tried to think. There was… who? It had been a handful of cadets, a First Class, Second Class and a couple of Privates who had all been sent into battle first… Cloud reached for his PHS, radioing out to all the Shinra Personnel in the surrounding area.
There was only one reply. “This is Second Class Officer Kunsel. Stay down and where you are kid. Zack’s gonna have my hind when he hears how abysmally this has gone…” He then radioed out leaving Cloud alone with the quiet static.
Cloud did as he was told, hiding down low in the undergrowth and waiting for the Second Class to get closer to his location. Minutes later, that seemed like hours in the unnatural silence after the battle, he heard footsteps and waited until they were directly in front of him before he stirred. He snaked out a hand, wiggling forward on his stomach to crawl out of the bushes.
All too late did he realize he’d been tricked. Although they had been Shinra boots, the face he looked up into was clearly a Wutaian scout. For a moment the two of them looked at each other before the terrorist brought up his gun and hit Cloud across the face with it.
The world exploded in front of his eyes then faded into darkness.
Cloud woke hours later and he looked around himself warily. He had been captured, he remembered, and his eyes tried to adjust to his new darkened conditions. He was in a hut, he realized, just a normal jungle hut, but there was something else there. It was filled with all kinds of weaponry, some of which bore the Shinra logo.
“Glad to see you awake, Kid.”
Cloud jumped and turned to see a man in a Second Class uniform was slumped on the floor. He was bound, his hands and feet tied together forcing him to arch his back in a way that must have been painful. Cloud realized that he was bound as well, but he was attached to some weird kind of rig. His arms were at shoulder height, his feet were tied to either end of a wooden pole. He pulled on his hands and realized that, while he could move them from side to side, there was no way he could move them down to untie himself.
“For the most part, it seems like they’re going to ransom us, so they won’t kill us for a good while yet,” Kunsel said and Cloud sent him a nervous glance. Kunsel shrugged. “Shinra might pay up, but it might not. It’s the Company’s official line that they don’t negotiate with terrorists after all.”
Cloud felt fear clog his throat and he turned away, trying to find something else to talk about. “Are… Do you think they’ll beat us up much?” he asked. Kunsel shrugged again, looking rather worried.
“They won’t see much point in beating me up. I’m Mako-enhanced after all and the bruises won’t show…” he said. Cloud read between the lines of that comment and felt the fear turn to led in his stomach. Oh… So whatever they do, it’ll be done to me huh? Great… Why couldn’t Zack have come on this mission? We’d have been alright if Zack had been here… Or the General! Why did they send rookies out here when the guys were armed up to the teeth?!
“It’s Cloud, isn’t it?” Kunsel asked suddenly. Cloud nodded. The man sighed. “Listen, Cloud, whatever happens to us here, you just gotta think that when you get back to Midgar they’ll promote you to Third Class just for having put up with this shit, alright? You’ve gotta get through all this, understand?” Cloud just nodded, not really wanting to think about the torture he would have to endure until Shinra either coughed up or he was shot in the back of the head.
The door banged open and a few men walked in. There were only three of them, hardly the full rebel force, but it was enough for Cloud’s spine to tingle in fear. He must have moved a little because he was instantly the focus of their attention.
Cloud didn’t understand a word and wondered what it meant. He curled in on himself. That caused a bit of laughter.
“彼は女の子のように 見える。。。” One of them sneered. That caused another to have a thoughtful look on his face.
Cloud didn’t have a clue what that meant and would rather not find out. The looks they were giving him were the kinds of looks he’d received from certain kinds of men in the showers, looks that made his skin crawl and his heart hammer in his chest at the same time. Part of Cloud knew that he was that way inclined, but to have his preferences forced on him was not what he wanted. These men had the look to them that they were going to force the issue. Violently.
“堅いロープ引っ張り上げる,” One man barked and it sounded like an order. Cloud saw them moving towards him and struggled against the ropes. They began to tighten and pulling upwards. He realized that the ropes binding him were on a winch and he was pulled from the floor where he had been slumped to his feet and eventually off the floor completely. He cried out a little at the strain it put on his shoulders and struggled to undo the ropes that were tight on his wrists.
Cloud watched warily as a man walked towards him, a smirk in place. Kunsel was silent, just watching on and Cloud wondered if he should hate the man for doing nothing or if he understood that it would probably mean death for them both if he did. There was a moment when Cloud actually prayed that they were just going to beat him up…
Then a hand reached out and stroked his face softly and Cloud knew what was going to happen. He tried to bite the fingers that were stretched towards him and that caused a dizzying backhand to the face that made him swing in the air.
Taking advantage of his momentary loss of sight the man had pulled down his fatigues and left him exposed from the waist down, his trousers caught on the bindings around his feet. The pole between his legs prevented him from bringing his feet together and he soon realized he didn’t have the strength to keep his knees up to protect himself for very long. Besides, the men seemed to realize that Cloud couldn’t really defend himself and were chuckling to themselves.
Cloud didn’t look at Kunsel anymore, feeling too ashamed, and let his eyes turn up towards the ceiling, away from the mocking laughter of the men in the room. He felt hands on his naked hips and he was turned around, his face now pressed against the wood of the wall. He heard some more laughter as one of the men stoked the cheeks of his ass. A second later there was a sharp thwack as he spanked the skin there. Cloud yelped and tried to get away, but only succeeded in pressing himself against the wall. The hand descended again, and again, and Cloud felt the skin redden and turn hot under the man’s hand. His body trembled with fear as he knew what would happen should the man’s interests take a different turn. At the moment it just seemed to be humiliation but if it turned into more…
And then it did. A finger shoved between his lips, poked at his tongue a little and withdrew before pressing between the crease of his ass and inside him. He sobbed in helplessness, desperately trying to get away, desperately trying not to give them what they wanted at the same time. They wanted to see a Shinra Cadet writhing in agony, right? Didn’t that mean he should deny them their pleasure?
And when the burn eventually went away, another finger was added, and the pain began again. Hard and dry, fingers were pumped in and out of his ass until his whole world became the burning ring of muscle and split skin that was being mercilessly plundered.
He didn’t even notice when those fingers withdrew, the pain being so great by that point that he could barely think, let alone register exactly what it meant.
A large, blunt object slid inside him. At first Cloud thought it must have been the man’s dick, but he realized that usually, men’s cocks weren’t cold. He glanced behind him and his insides went cold when he realized he’d been impaled on the rifle of a shotgun. His expert eyes realized that the safety catch was off.
He whimpered and tried to get himself off the damn thing. The man just kept pushing it into him, deeper than things were supposed to go when fucking, deep into his bowels. Cloud could feel blood leaking down his legs and wondered if this was how he was going to die. God, what would Shinra tell his mother? He got his insides shot out by a shotgun that was inserted, at the time, into his anus.
“You…” his tormentor said in a thick accent. Cloud shivered and wondered what the man wanted so much that he would speak in Common to him. “Get off on it.”
Cloud’s eyes widened and he shook his head violently. That just caused the shotgun to be shoved further inside him. “You not understand? You get off on this. I not kill you. Understand?”
Cloud nodded his head miserably and the man began to move the hated thing inside him. Cloud tried to push back his fear and tried to imagine it as just a weirdly shaped sex toy, but he couldn’t build up the image at all. He remained flaccid and his tormentor said something menacing in Wutaian. Cloud tensed, ready to feel a bullet ripping through him and lodging itself in his brain but he didn’t, instead all he felt was the shot gun withdrawing a little and rubbing at a length inside him more insistently. Cloud realized, when a jolt of strange hazy pleasure went through him that it was his prostate the man was aiming for.
His cock began to get full and rise and Cloud tried to think of fantasies that would help him get off and end this parody of sex as fast as possible. He imagined Sephiroth, the beautiful General he’d never spoken to but had admired from afar for a while. Sephiroth had tied him up like this… And it wasn’t a shotgun… But the hilt of Masamune… Slowly trying to wring pleasure out of him… Every cry he made, it was for Sephiroth’s ears only… That was right… And in the background, Zack was watching with a warm smile because he knew that Cloud got off on being watched sometimes, and that Sephiroth was so gentle with Cloud that even though there was blood, it was what Cloud wanted…
That was right… He began to feel orgasm rip through him, almost disjointedly. And he called Sephiroth’s name as he came without even realizing it. His body hung limp from it’s bonds and he twitched as the shotgun was withdrawn. He was let down until his feet could touch the floor and then again until he could lie down on the floor.
He lay there shivering, watching as they left.
“You okay, kid?” Kunsel asked, after a moment of silence.
Cloud was crying too hard to reply.
Zack cursed when he heard that the tracer following Cloud’s squad had disappeared off the radar. He had looked angrily to Sephiroth for an explanation, but the man just blinked slowly and began to check up on other squadrons in the area. The area appeared to have been emptied as far back as Gongaga.
“They were stronger than I anticipated,” Sephiroth said, sounding a little surprised. Zack stared at Sephiroth, wondering if that’s all the man would say when he’d made a blunder that had cost at least fifty lives. Then Zack re-evaluated. He wouldn’t care how many other lives had been lost if Spike and Kunsel turned up safe and sound…
“What are you thinking, Zack?” Sephiroth asked and Zack realized he’d been staring at the radar as though it might suddenly show him Cloud’s squadron’s tag magically.
“I’m thinking that he was too young, Seph. That’s what I’m thinking,” he answered. Sephiroth’s brow creased to show that he didn’t have a clue who Zack was talking about. The man rubbed at his face and turned away from the radar, leaning against the desk and pointedly not looking at Sephiroth.
“I was mentoring a kid. Cloud Strife… I put him forward for this mission because you made it sound like it was going to be easy but with a chance at combat. He was badly injured a few weeks back and it had knocked his confidence… I thought that maybe this time it would be better for him… So I nominated him and Kunsel to go… I put him there and now he’s dead…” Zack’s voice choked up on the last word. He turned to Sephiroth, mako-blue eyes shining with emotions that he knew that Sephiroth would never understand, even if he tried to put them into words.
“I’ve been in this job far too long to even hope that he’s still alive. Hopefully they’ll give us the bodies back though… right? I mean, he has a mother back in Nibelheim… She’ll want to bury him…” Zack was trying to convince himself. Sephiroth just shrugged, indicating that he didn’t know rather than that he didn’t care. He had never met Cloud, didn’t understand how Zack could be so torn up that the blond was dead and didn’t understand the guilt that Zack was feeling at that moment. Putting people in the line of fire was something he did everyday. Technically, he had chosen all fifty of those men and slaughtered them in his own oversight.
“You might want to go home early tonight, Zack. It’ll be a long few days while we sort out which of the cadets are truly missing-in-action and which of them are perhaps still alive and just not in a position to use their PHS…” His eyes were kind but Zack knew he couldn’t be alone. He still took the chance to get away and immediately called Aeris.
“Can I come round?” he asked, aware that it was late and she probably would have been in bed. The voice on the other end of the line was fairly cheerful though.
“Sure, Zack… It sounds like you need me.”
The morning light crept into the room and Cloud stirred a little. They had left him alone for the rest of the day and he’d almost managed to convince himself that it hadn’t happened until he realized that his pants were down round his ankles and there was dried blood on the inside of his thighs.
One of the terrorists came in and Cloud immediately froze. The man looked at him and smiled a smile without humour before he bent down to show Cloud that he had brought food. Cloud stared at it. It was just a weak looking broth, made out of god knew what, but it was food and god, he was hungry… Thirsty too…
The man smirked and walked straight past Cloud to Kunsel, feeding him first. The Second Class obediently opened and closed his mouth as he was told and the terrorist moved away as soon as he was finished. Then the second bowl was brought towards Cloud. He opened his mouth, expecting to be fed, but the man grinned somewhat evilly.
“No. You not eat like soldier,” the man said, putting the bowl on the floor near Cloud’s face. “You eat like bitch,” he said, pointing at the bowl. Cloud baulked, his stomach twisting in humiliation. “You eat like bitch while I fuck. Understand?”
Cloud understood. Of course he understood and his stomach turned over. He wasn’t hungry anymore, but when he made no move to roll onto his knees the man pulled out a gun and pointed it at Cloud’s head. “You fucked,” he said. Cloud moved, sweating in fear. He began to lap at the broth, his eyes closed.
He felt the breach of something large into him, the return of the burning pain that split him open. He carried on lapping at the broth, biting his tongue so as not to let out noises of pain. It wasn’t long before the man pulled out of him. Cloud was relieved and saw the man walk around the front of him. He was stroking himself and Cloud watched as the terrorist came straight into his food. The man laughed at the look on Cloud’s face and then used his cum-covered hand to force Cloud’s face towards the bowl.
“Eat all!” he ordered, laughing. Cloud did as he was told and, as soon as the man left, threw up every last drop.
Zack woke up beside Aeris’ flower bed and groaned. Aeris was awake already, moving around the flowers tending to them. He felt a rush of love for her before he sat up and greeted her with a soft good morning. She turned around, smiling.
“Cloud’s alive,” she said. Zack stared at her, not even knowing how she’d found that out. She clasped her hands in front of her. “He’s suffering, but whole. I don’t think his mind will last much longer though… They’re putting him through a lot.”
Zack momentarily forgot how to breathe. His first question ‘how do you know’ gave way to the most important one. “Do you know where he is?”
Aeris’ smile dropped away and she shook her head. “Cloud doesn’t know where he is, so I don’t,” she explained. Zack nodded slowly. He didn’t understand how Aeris knew, but he had always known there was something different about her. If she was psychic… well… That was something that wouldn’t surprise him.
“You said… he won’t last much longer?” Zack asked. Aeris looked down into Zack’s eyes and nodded slowly.
“He was always so vulnerable Zack… It doesn’t take much to break someone like that…” she said. Zack’s stomach turned and he stood up.
“I have to get back to base and get Sephiroth to send out a search party,” he said, dropping a kiss to her cheek. Aeris nodded, her smile returning.
“Make sure to tell the General that I said hello,” she said cheerfully. Zack wasn’t sure if Sephiroth would even remember who Aeris was, but he nodded and gave her a thumbs up.
Aeris watched him go and stroked the petals of a flower, wincing as she felt another wave of panic/pain/humiliation from Cloud and forcing the connection between herself and the Planet to close. Zack would find Cloud, and then the boy wouldn’t have to suffer any more…
Cloud knew he’d been there for a week already. Kunsel had told him that. Cloud couldn’t really remember. He passed out, more often than not, from whatever they did to him. He had been healed though, this time, as the damage they’d done had been so great that he would have died without it.
It was when he heard them coming again that he curled in on himself, his wrists protesting against their bindings. The skin had been rubbed off them long ago, leaving sore, tender wounds. He blearily looked at them, trying to hold back the begging that automatically left his mouth to tell them to leave him alone… He was surprised when they ignored him and instead began to move around the room doing something else…
“They’re going to film a video,” Kunsel said as they erected a screen in front of the only source of light in the room, a luminescent light in the centre. Cloud didn’t know what that really meant anymore and was still expecting the inevitable torture even when they made Kunsel sit on a chair in front of the camera and started holding up cards for him to read from.
“General, sir! We’ve reports from MNN! They’ve received a video from the terrorists who took out our men in Gongaga!”
Sephiroth looked up from his desk and automatically turned on the television and turned it over to the Midgar News Network. It was showing the news reader, her hand to her ear, reporting on breaking news of Shinra military cadets caught in Gongaga…
Sephiroth watched impassively as the newsreader explained that, though they had a video, that it was too graphic to be broadcast and it was currently being sent directly to Shinra HQ. All she could confirm were two names and an amount asked for them.
“Cadet Cloud Strife and Second Class SOLDIER Kunsel are both seen alive in the videos,” the reporter said and Sephiroth noted that he phrase ‘alive and well’ was not used. “The amounts asked is 800,000 Gil per person, a whopping 1,600,000 Gil for the release of both.”
Sephiroth turned the TV off and stood up. At that moment Zack skidded to a stop in the corridor outside his office. His face was red and his eyes were bright.
“Is it true? Is Spike alive?” Zack asked. Sephiroth inclined his head slowly. Zack whooped, punching the air. “Have you seen the video? Is he alright? Has President Shinra agreed to pay the ransom?”
Sephiroth shook his head again but it didn’t seem to dim Zack’s spirits. He led the man out of his office and down to the tech room a floor below. Once there, the men saluted, before bringing up the video they’d been sent on a large screen. Their demeanor, somber and slightly green looking, led Sephiroth to believe this wouldn’t be easy viewing. He turned to warn Zack but seeing the puppy dog expression on the young man’s face he found he couldn’t. Maybe it would be enough for Zack to know that they were alive…
The screen began to play and Kunsel’s face appeared on the screen. Zack laughed and pointed, seeming not to notice everyone else’s complete lack of joy at this video coming in.
“Second Class SOLDIER Kunsel here. I’ve been told to tell you that I’ve not been harmed in anyway. I’ve been fed and water has been provided. Apart from a bit of rope burn on my wrists I’m pretty good, to be honest,” Kunsel said, but his eyes were haunted and Sephiroth wondered what the man had seen that made him look like he had been through hell in the last few days. “The price on my head is 800,000 Gil to be dropped off at the edge of Gongaga where the Shinra Base used to be. Latitude: -23.200961 Longitude: -5.482178.”
Sephiroth thought the cost was extravagant and knew that there had to be something more to this… They would be pulling on heart strings to get that kind of money for one man alone and there seemed to be no marks on Kunsel at all… The SOLDIER was moved off the chair and a moment later there was the sound of someone crying out in absolute terror and a disheveled creature was put in front of the camera.
Sephiroth’s mako-enhanced eyes picked out every detail. There was semen caked in dirty blond hair, and there were a myriad of bruises all over the slightly tanned and sunburned skin. A split lip and cut from what had to have been a knife across the man’s forehead. Blue eyes looked up into the camera, normal blue eyes, not mako ones. There was a moment of silence where the man just trembled, looking to the people behind the camera in absolute terror.
“Wh-what do I say…?” he asked, and his voice was hoarse and broken. The voice of someone who had screamed for a week. Sephiroth glanced at Zack to see that the man’s smile had disappeared and that he had his hand over his mouth, looking sick. He knew that Zack was seeing the same details that he was.
“I-I’m…” Cloud seemed to sway a moment and his eyes went unfocused before he seemed to get a hold of himself. “C-Cadet… Cloud Strife,” he stuttered, eyes darting around again as he pressed himself back in the seat. His bound arms came up in front of him in a defensive gesture that showed Sephiroth that the skin had almost been worn away to the bone.
“I-I haven’t… haven’t been…” Cloud seemed to be having trouble reading and Sephiroth wondered if they’d hit him around the head to stop him from screaming when they were dragging him to the camera. “…harmed… 800,000 Gil for my… return…”
Cloud stopped reading whatever was on the screen then and his eyes went to the side where obviously something was happening. He shrank back in the seat and turned his face away. “N-nno…” he choked out. A man walked onto the screen and he squeezed Cloud’s jaw, forcing his mouth open.
Sephiroth saw the man undo his fly with the other hand and then, with a feeling halfway between fascination and horror, watched as the man appeared to piss into Cloud’s mouth. The blond gagged and groaned, but Sephiroth saw his throat move as he had to have swallowed some. The man eventually moved away and Cloud vomited, half of it went down his grimy military fatigues.
He looked up and his eyes seemed to focus once again on a board. “Th… This is what I’m… used f-f-for…” he read. Sephiroth felt an uncomfortable feeling slide into his stomach. Usually he could view almost anything and not feel sickened like most people, but something about seeing this boy treated in this way… It was wrong, he realized. Wrong in a way that even Sephiroth could identify. Wrong in a way that even War wasn’t.
“Zack… Help me…” Cloud whimpered and the video ended. Sephiroth heard Zack gasp when his own name was mentioned and reacted just in time to stop Zack from putting his fist through sensitive tracking equipment. He could see the crazed look in his friend’s eyes as he restrained him and he tried to think of something to say to calm him.
“We’ve got no trace for the video and they eliminated all elements that we could use to track it. President Shinra has released an official statement saying that we don’t deal with terrorists and the Vice-President is currently appealing the decision,” an intelligence officer was saying, acting as though Sephiroth wasn’t in the middle of stopping Zack kicking the crap out of some unsuspecting machine. “Analysis of body language has pretty much suggested that Kunsel was telling the truth. He’s not personally been harmed. Strife on the other hand seems to be the target and we predict that he will have to be discharged from service when he returns to Midgar as he’ll be a hindrance to the Military.”
Sephiroth wondered if the intelligence officer even realized that Zack’s murderous rage had zeroed in on him for that statement. Sephiroth sighed and realized that he had no choice anymore. He activated the Sleep Materia in his gauntlet and felt Zack sag in his arms.
“Spike…” Zack whispered as he went under.
Sephiroth looked at the intelligence officer. “Hand over the full amount at the place specified. I will make sure that I take full responsibility from the top,” he said as he picked up Zack’s prone form. The officer nodded and the room became a hustle of action.
“I just hope we’re in time to save his mind…”