"That which does not kill us makes us stronger"-Friedrich Nietzsche
Sakura Gains wasn't the first alias name that came to mind, but it was one that I felt fit whenever I said it aloud to Master.
In my own opinion, I thought it was pretty clever: take the name meaning cherry blossom in Wutaian and combine it with an abbreviated version of my surname, and boom! Instant alternate identity.
Commander Jennings, my C.O., was the only kind instructor I received whilst in the infantry. My presence as one of the few females in the military stirred a sort of uneasiness within the ranks, therefore leaving me with glares full of contempt and irritation. My instructors ensured I suffered as much as possible, and punished me whenever I made the slightest mistake.
I made several, so you can imagine just how horribly drained I always was.
I also acquired some friends through no intentions of my own: Sarrel Oakens, Jason Chambers, and Tyler Walkers.
In order to prove myself to everyone else, I'd taken it upon myself to investigate a monster outbreak in Junon during Christmas break.
The wind carried the scent of saltwater, something I had only smelled a couple other times. The streets were oddly vacant, but the many buildings placed right up against each other had clear glass windows emanating light from inside.
Junon, by the way, was huge. About as big as Midgar with at least eight levels. Needless to say, I got lost a few times and almost got hit by a silver truck that was eager to turn.
But I was ignorant of the situation until my phone rang when I was strolling down the streets of Junon.
Tyler had called me with panic in his voice, ordering me to leave Junon immediately. But the followers of a mass-murderer on the prowl had already found me. I fought them with everything I had, and managed to cut down their numbers by half when a SOLDIER 3rd Class came to my rescue.
I'd (stupidly) decided to take on Harvey, their leader. He was at least a whole head taller than me, buff and armed with a sword bigger than my whole body.
Sometimes I really question my sanity.
"Okay, be calm...just take some deep breaths..." I told myself in an effort to remain focused.
Harvey's eyes narrowed. "You know, not a lot of people fight left-handed except the General himself."
I frowned. "How would you know? I know at least three SOLDIERs that are left-handed, thank you very much. Maybe you should brush up on your research."
Harvey charged forward at a speed that was surprising for a mere normal human with no military background. I stepped aside, using a back kick to make him stumble forward.
He spun around, slashing ferociously at me as I blocked. Seeing his legs unguarded, I took the opportunity to use a sidekick to his right shin. He stepped back, grunting in pain.
Noting his sword was lowering I used a butterfly kick to knock it out of his hands and kick him across the face. He lost his balance and fell to his knees, but then grabbed his sword again and got back up.
"I...won't go down...so easy." He panted.
I shifted into a defensive stance. "Oh, that's good. Neither do I."
I was starting to tire, and Harvey knew it. He managed to kick and punch me a few times, carving some really deep scratches into my upper arms and my sides from his sword he had retrieved. Each time I narrowly avoided getting a body part cut off I couldn't help but let out a relieved sigh.
My stamina might have improved due to punishments, but fighting for such an extended period of time was something Master failed to teach me completely. And I was only thirteen. I wasn't exactly a powerhouse.
He threw a thrust at me, followed by a powerful lunge that forced me to counter. I could feel my arms trembling underneath the heavy pressure I was trying to keep at bay and my feet slid back a bit. I noticed, beneath the sparks from our clashing blades, a crack beginning to form in my sword.
"Crap, this isn't looking too good." I grimly thought as I brought up my leg to send a front kick to his stomach. It didn't really seem to affect him but it did draw away his attention long enough for me to jump back.
Harvey smirked. "Looks like you're runnin outta juice little girl."
Panting, I tried to pump myself up. "Yeah, well, I'm not dead yet. Which is surprising, considering that I'm not even enhanced."
"No, but soon you will be!" The deranged man exclaimed before charging at me.
Now exhausted, I was too slow to dodge an incoming slash, resulting in an extensive cut on my left arm. I cried out as the searing pain intensified. Blood trickled down my arm in rivlets.
"That hurt." I glared.
My opponent smirked, blowing me back with a sidekick to my stomach. "Good."
It knocked the wind out of me, leaving me to try to fill my lungs back up while gasping for breath. I was writhing in pain because he harshly hit my broken ribs. Harvey slammed his right foot down to hit the ground, as I had managed to roll out in time.
I struggled to reach my sword, which had dropped because of my cut, but Harvey kicked it away from me.
I glared at him and the deadly blade inches from my face.
"Who's high and mighty now, little girl?" He taunted.
"Bravo, you beat a thirteen-year-old girl. I'm sure your unconscious men will be very proud of your accomplishment." I spat, my response being a kick to the head.
That caused me to black out, and when I came to I realized I was in a chopper with Angeal Hewley and his pupil, Zack Fair. I didn't take a liking to him much. He was annoying and instantly put on a charming facade to try and woo me.
General Sephiroth and Commander Genesis had been present as well, though I'd been oblivious in my deep slumber. They'd taken Harvey and his rebels away to prison for life.
And thanks to my little stunt, Angeal wanted to see what I could do. He said something about my potential, but I was too shocked by what else he told me to pay attention.
If I demonstrated my skills and manage impress him, he'd recommend me for SOLDIER to the Director. Needless to say, I eagerly accepted.
First I was pitted against Zack, who for lack of a better word, sucked. It was obvious he was a newly promoted 2nd, because even though his fighting skills were better than mine and he had a few strategies up his sleeves, all it took was a little taunting and sticking out my foot to get him on the floor.
Angeal complimented me on my performance and then sent out my next opponent: Genesis Rhapsodos.
I, for one, was terrified. I'd heard of his legendary temper and tendency to burn things whenever he got even the slightest bit irritated, so for a while there I was just running away from him trying to stay alive.
When I realized that he wasn't totally hell-bent on killing me, I gained enough confidence to start sparring with him.
He was so rude, I just couldn't keep myself from teasing him and getting him annoyed. I should've known better, considering he started putting some actual effort into our fight, but my big mouth - as usual - beat me to it.
Then I insulted LOVELESS.
I'd really had enough of him at that point, but as soon as that raging fire ignited in his eyes I'd started screaming and running away from powerful blasts of Firaga. When he'd gotten me pinned on the floor he demanded that I take it back, but for some reason I just blew a raspberry at his face.
Angeal had to tear his friend off of me and act as peacemaker between us.
I said that he was a "annoying spoiled prince that had enough anger issues to warrant a psychiatrist for life", and he called me a "brat that had a big mouth needing shutting".
We were still bickering when Angeal shoved us out the door. He and Sephiroth managed to persuade the Director into allowing me to become a member of SOLDIER after a few hours of convincing.
Next was my mako enhancements and injections. When I found out I was going to have an appointment with Hojo, I quickly request that they get someone else to handle such delicate procedures.
When I was asked why, I answered truthfully that he was a stereotypical mad scientist who would probably jump at the chance to rewrite my genetic coding or something, and that he was hands-down the creepiest man I'd ever come across.
Sha-bam, new scientist to overlook my procedures.
The entire process of enhancements and mako treatments, by the way, is not a fun process.
The mako injections, surgeries and showers took away my beautiful rich coffee brown eyes, replacing them with a glowing sapphire. My insides burned and ached when I moved even an inch. My veins and blood became liquid fire. I stayed in bed for what felt like months. Later I found out it actually did take months.
My mind was a wreck. Memories flashed by, no matter if they were welcome or convenient or not. Many were of my family and my time in the labs. But sometimes it would go to my time in Nibelheim or my friends I made in the infantry and SOLDIER.
A few months more, and I was back on my feet. My mentor was 1st Class Riley Jones, though some time later he said he couldn't teach me anymore, so they assigned me to none other than Angeal Hewley himself. I became Zack's partner by force, to my dislike. The higher-ups said I could be a great influence on him. Then my promotion to 2nd Class came, and from then on everything changed.
Zack and I became closer, unfortunately, due to his persistence. We were practically friends after a couple of years.
I was digging a hole so deep I wasn't sure I could even crawl out of it. I was supposed to remain closed-off to everyone, not make any friends, and go solo until I became a 1st to nab whatever info I could get my hands on about my heritage.
Little did I know that obtaining the information and keeping my identity a secret would be the least of my worries, and that I would never be the same again.