AN: Nothing changed, just fixing grammar and whatnot. No worries.
The older man sighed and lowered his massive sword. "Fine, but I want you back here in half an hour, no excuses. And don't even think about visiting that Turk, I really don't need more paperwork."
The black haired teenager flung himself at his mentor in a flying tackle-hug before racing out the door. He paused just long enough to call over his shoulder, "Reno's not a full Turk yet you know, he's an… apprentice?"
SOLDIER Third Class Zack Fair ran through the hallways of the Shinra building, doing his best not to run into anyone but still get to the closest mess hall as fast as possible. The SOLDIER food was better, but he was looking forward to having time to terrorize a Shinra employee, and half an hour would just allow him time to eat.
He burst into the cadet cafeteria, and was a bit disgruntled to find the place filled with midgets. There hadn't been any cadets here for about two weeks, and now suddenly – . Oh, two weeks. The exams were two weeks ago, so new cadets should be filtering in. Well, that explains the little people.
Completely ignoring the wide-eyed stares he was getting, he grabbed a tray and went through the line, having the lunch people but at least one of everything on it. Turning to survey the room, he noticed that most cadets were already in groups, despite it being what he assumed was the first day. His eyes narrowed upon noticing a rather lonely looking cadet: his next victim. There in the corner was a smaller than small blond with ridiculously spiky hair, just sitting there staring down at his hands, one of those depressed looking people. Zack never really understood them, but they were super fun to annoy! A huge grin spread across his face and he trotted over to the cadet's table. "Hey there Spiky!"
The cadet looked up quickly, and when he saw the glowing eyes of a SOLDIER looking back at him he moved to stand, stumbling over the stool he was sitting on. Zack put out an arm to steady him as he set his tray down, also managing to stop the stool from falling over with one of his feet. "Sorry Sir," the kid whispered after saluting, his face getting redder by the second.
This was obviously not what the kid was hoping his first meeting with a SOLDIER would be like. Zack realized how stressed the kid was, and tried to relieve the tension. "Nah, that's alright. Wouldn't want you falling over your first day now would we?" The cadet just looked at the ground. Zack sighed. This was much less fun than he had thought it would be. "Come on, sit down. I didn't mean it." The cadet sat down and Zack started rambling as he shoveled food into his mouth, "Is this your first day? I remember when I was a cadet, but that wasn't long ago, just last year. After getting my Mako shots I started growing an inch a month, until I got to 6' 1". Apparently Mako makes you grow to the height you would be, it just makes it go faster or something, I'm not really sure. I sure am happy to stop growing so quickly though, 'cause I never had time to get used to my height and I kept breaking things. Clumsiness combined with super-strength makes a bad combination."
Zack paused in his one sided conversation to drink some water, and the cadet took the chance to get a word in, even if it was a hesitant one. "Sir? Why did you call me spiky?"
He broke into a huge grin, happy that the cadet had found the courage to say something. "Your hair, Spiky. Hey! It looks just like a chocobo! Maybe I should switch to calling you chocobo head. Nah, I like Spiky better. Hey, aren't you going to eat something?"
Spiky blinked, probably confused at the change of subject. When what Zack said had registered, the cadet looked down, blushing slightly. "Well, sir, I would eat, but I don't have any money, sir."
Zack almost just kept talking, as he had expected that he had already ate, and was just waiting for someone but then he realized Spiky hadn't eaten, and his face twisted into a horrible grimace thing, usually reserved for when he was much hungrier than normal, which was saying something. "You don't have any money?" he squawked, "B-but cadets don't have to pay for food!"
Spiky turned redder and mumbled, "I'm not officially a cadet until this afternoon, that's when registration opens."
Zack let out an undignified squawk and promptly leapt over the table and grabbed the cadet by the arm. Dragging him out of his chair and into the line, Zack waited not so patiently to get another tray. Heaping two scoops of all the obviously artificial things they fed the cadets onto it and completely ignoring the grumpy lunch person standing at the register he pulled Spiky back to the table and shoved the meal at him. "Eat," he commanded, scowling over his shoulder in the general vicinity of a high-up. What one of them would be doing in the cadet mess-hall he would never know.
Spiky shoved one of those wimpy plastic spoons into the glop and started eating. The poor kid looked ravenous, and Zack knew how that felt. He pitied him. Then he looked at his watch and pitied himself. "Aw crap. Sorry Spiky, got to run, Angeal's gonna kill me!
The door opened slowly, and the young redhead surveyed the room inside with a wicked glimmer in his eye. He glanced behind him cautiously before creeping towards a computer, a wry smirk already flickering over his face. He pressed the button to boot it up and slipped down into the cushioned swivel chair. The monitor flashed to the main screen and he quickly started his work.
After a few minutes, a click sounded behind him and he froze, scared for his life.
The long haired trespasser slowly spun around, a huge, fake grin plastered on. "Yo, boss-man! Long time no see!" He came to a rest facing the Wutaian, his eyes flicking from the face, to the gun, to the door and back.
The man sighed and holstered his weapon, running a hand through his shoulder-length hair. "It's been seventeen hours, Reno. Can't you stay out of trouble for a day, just one day?"
Reno made a face. "But boss, where's the fun in that, yo?"
Tseng just shook his head, leaning over the red head to grab the mousse. "There is something called sleep. Most people need it. It does not involve attempting to change the background on your superior's computer to rather disturbing images of-. What is that anyway?" he asked when he came upon the picture Reno was trying to transfer onto his computer. The Turk's eyes widened as he continued to stare at the picture. "Is that a cat?" He asked, his eyelid twitching slightly. Tseng held cats in high regards, and it seemed they liked him back. Never had a cat injured him, and even the semi-feline Dark Nation had never been aggressive towards him. On the screen was a vaguely red and furry creature with some sort of light on the end of its tail. It lay on a pile of dead monsters and was dripping blood onto the white tiled floor. It appeared to be in a lab. His mouth turned down slightly, the only sign he was disgusted. "Forget I ever asked. You know, hacking can be put to a much better use on a mission than finding old pictures of the science department." He stated, turning to glare at the apprentice.
Reno glared back, a disobedient teenager in all its glory. "Maybe if I ever got missions. How am I supposed to make it to full if I never get to do anything, yo? You just gonna leave me here 'til I get moldy?'
One of Tseng's eyebrows curved up slightly. He wanted a mission did he? "I'll give you a mission. No doubt you heard about the performance enhancing drugs we found the other day? We suspect the source is one of the cadets. Your mission is to infiltrate their groups and discover who they are coming from. Mission begins," here he looked down at his watch before continuing, "today at 0700 hours. You have until then to prepare. Alert everyone you might contact during your dime as a cadet that you are not to be referred to as part of the Investigation Sector of the General Affairs Department while within earshot of any cadets or in uniform. You will be able to find uniforms on floor 32, which is where you'll be staying. From now on you are SOLDIER cadet Reno, 1st year member of squad C. If you wish, you may make up a last name of your choice. Good luck."
At that he turned and walked out, leaving SOLDIER cadet Reno blubbering like a fish. Strangely, the boy wasn't outraged yet, as the only though in his head was, "Performance enhancing drugs? When did we find those?"
Dreams of the Morrow, Chapter One: Cadets. Updated March 9, 2011. Edited January 26, 2014.