Diamond Dust Chunk 2
Chapter 11: Infiltration
Seifer had been watching the creature all night, since it had picked out a spot to watch the Garden from, the thing hadn't moved for 3 hours, it just sat there, looking at the Garden, as if watching some rare species of bird from hiding, for fear of scaring it off. Finally it spoke it him, speaking in the same not-all-there voice it used when asking a question. 'The Guardians live there?'
'Yes,' Seifer replied, hesistantly.
'It shall have to be destroyed.' Seifer looked surprised at this, although he had been expecting something along those lines. He shrugged aimlessly.
'Can't be done, you'd need several armies to even damage it. Hell, we even used another Garden against it, and we only ripped out some soil...' It cut him off.
'Fool, I have weapons at my disposal capable of far more than even your strongest guns could hope to acheive.' After seeing what the creature had done to the monsters that had tried to attack it on the way here, Seifer believed it. He was woried now, all the creature ever did was wander around and ask about the Guardians, like he had some kind of obsession with it. Well, he sure doesn't want their autographs. He thought to himself with an inward smile. Merely being in the creatures presence made him need all the cheer he could get.
'Who lives there besides the Guardians?'
'SeeDs, I told you about them, they...' It cut him off again.
'Ah yes, the military students. Mere children, they will not be hard to deal with.' This bleak statement chilled Seifer to the core. Not for the first time, he wondered he was doing the right thing. Of course you are Seifer, don't be silly! He thought sarcastically. You're helping out what certainly appears to be something stright from the Island Closet To Hell, or Hell itself, that is talking about destorying Garden, what wrong could you possibly be doing!
It seemed to notice Seifer's reluctance in thinking about destroying Garden, it stepped closer to him, Seifer was tall, but this thing loomed over him with an air of menace so thick you could scoop it up in jars and sell. 'I hop, for your sake human, you are not contemplating disobeying me?' Seifer responded the only way he could and stay alive.
'No, no of course not! What would I have to gain from dsioberying you?' The creatre seemed to think on this, and finally reached a desicion.
'Good.' Seifer almost sighed in relief, but then the creature leaned even closer over him.
'Then know this, insect. Only two of my servants have ever dared to cross me. Rest assured both of them are now going through suffering beyond your imagination. Do not attempt to outwit me. Ever.'
'I won't, I promise.' Replied Seifer from the ground.
'Good. Now, I think we shall have to see how well your Garden is guarded. If an outright attack will be defeated, we shall have to use another way. Do you know how to enter the building without being seen?'
Seifer looked into the thing's eyes, and knew he would not get away with lying. Praying to Hyne for forgiveness, he began to tell the creature of the alternative entrances to the school.
Chapter 12: Sandwich
Everyone had been looking forward to the Ball for weeks, someone who knew the deatils about what the Guardians were putting on for the rest of Garden had leaked them onto the school message-board, and students were going wild about meeting them. Most of them hadn't seen any of the near-legendary Guardians except for Siren and Carbuncle, and then only when they had lessons with her, or Carbuncle was helping Selphie with her next scheme. They were looking forward to meeting these famous beings in the flesh, or armour, or whatever. The entire Garden was humming with anticipation for tonight.
Rinoa and Squall were sitting at the back of Sirens class, watching the female Guardian teach. Immediately after being frred, she had been horrified at the lack of knowledge that humanity possessed about her kind, and had taken up this matter with Cid the first time she met him. 3 weeks later, she was teaching a History of Guardians and Guardian Forces course to those who were interested, which was of course, anyone who was male and single. Siren kept forgetting to dial back the sultry guardian-of-music act she had going, and most of the class was besotted with her. Irvine, needless to say, would have joined up on the spot if he hadn't been engaged to Selphie, a fact only those two, Quistis and Siren herself knew about. Rinoa and Squall listened as Siren talked about what Guardians actually were, they had been listening in on the class since the beginning, and were both keen listeners to her explantion.
'The first thing you have to understand is, that we never lived 'in your heads', as some certain people thought.' This with a wink at Rinoa and Squall. 'We live, if you call it that, in a realm totally unlike that which you humans would think of as a world. If you think of existence as a huge sandwich, the filling in the middle being your world, and the two pieces of bread being heaven and hell respectively. Indeed, the words Heaven and Hell were only made up as words to describe a world of infinite beauty, and a world of infinte horror. We exist in the space between this world and Heaven. We can come down to this world at will, and frequently do, but we were never able to penetrate the barrrier leading upwards to heaven, and... yes Harold, you have a question?' A teenager at the front of the class put down his hand.
'But ma'am, if you live in the world between us and heaven then who lives between us and hell?'
'A good question, and one I will not answer. We know what does, and close proximity to that world has not been good for the beings that livenext to it.'
So something does live there... Thought Rinoa and Squall together.
'Indeed, if whatever does live there did get out, it would almost certainly be hostile. But enough of that, todays lesson was supposed to be about the history of the Junctioning System. Squall. Rinoa?'
'Yes?' they both asked from the back of the room. All the students immediately turned around in surprise and excitement, eager to get a look at the two famous Sorceress Heros.
'Is there something I can do for you, or can it wait until after the lesson?'
'We're just listening Siren, don't mind us.' Said Squall. Siren smiled, and went back to addressing the class.
'All right then children, did anyone read that book I set for homework last week? No? Then you'll have to read it all for homework this week, and I'll be setting questions on it the week after.'
'Awwwww miss!' Said most of the class.
'Tough, you should have read it when you should have. Now, the Juctioning System. Firstly, we don't have to come when called, or go when dismissed, it was merely convenient for the humans to think we controlled us, what you think you control, you usually don't fear or attack. The story of the Junctioning System is surrounded in myth and legend. The most complete story goes back over fifty thousand years...'
'According to it, in that time the Guardians lived seperate lives from humans, and never bothered with humanity's petty wars and squabbles, then, a Guardian looked down on humanity,a dn, pitying them, decided he wouldhelp them. He looked for the wiset human he could find, and appeared to her, saying that he would protect her from harm, and that he would appear to help her when she was in need of his powers, all the girl had to do was concentrate. Eventually, the Guardian fell in love with the human, and hthe had a child, a half-human half-Guardian child. But the child was stolen by evil humans wanting to control the Guadians and have their powers to rule the world. This is where the stories get fuzzy, according to what we remember, a small group of righteous human rose up against these evil people, rescued the girl, then, using the power of the remaining Guardians, defeated the evil king behind all this, and these humans passed on the Junctioning System to their children, and so on, and so on, right up to today.'
Squall and Rinoa sat at the back, listening with rapt attention. Cid, they both agreed, could not have made a better choice. The students were starting to grow up with Guardians in their everyday lives now, and next years recruits would think of them as completely normal. Siren herself was an astonishing teahcer, the children loved the sound of her voice, and she was taking to it like a fish to water.
'That will be all for today, don't forget to read that book this time, or I'll set you two books to read the next time.' Siren watched them leave, and then addressed the two SeeDs hanging at the back of the room.
'Hi guys, what can I do for you.' She asked, then became puzzled as she saw the looks on their faces.
'Well...' Started Rinoa, only to be cut off by Squall's more forward manner. 'It's about tonight.'
'What about tonight?'
'Who's going to be turning up to the Ball. We know you are of course, Leviathan and Carbuncle are providing the lighting, but we still don't know who's going to be there on the night.'
Siren thought to herself. Ifrit will definately be there, he never misses a chance to annoy Selphie. Eden is still hovering out there, she might send an Avatar. Creating a human being she could speak through from thin air and energy was one of the giant Guardians more unnerving tricks. I think Quetzacotl said he was goning to go, he likes partys, always the showoff. I think thats about it. She said all this to the two waiting humans. Then Rinoa asked the question Siren was dreading.
'Isn't Shiva going to be there? I've never known her miss an important event like this.' Ever since freedom, Shiva had been acting as the Guardians official ambassador to the world, trying to keep Galbadian and Dollet calm that these beings with the powers of Hyne were wandering free around the world.
'I don't think so. To be entirely honest, we still can't find her.'
'Still?' This from Squall. 'I thought you could find each other instantly with that mind-network-thingy of yours.'
'Well yes, but she might have voluntarily disconnected herself from it, there's no way to find her then.' And you can do it unvoluntarily, she didn't say. Some Guardians did not like humans very much, and would only have caused pain and suffering to them if allowed to roam free on Earth. Those violent beings usually stayed up at the Layer (or the Space Between The Higher Bread, as Carbuncle had taken to calling it), under strict guard by Alexander. No-one had told the humans about them yet, it would only hve alarmed them unnecessarily.
'Ok then.' Rinoa said, leading Squall off. 'See you tonight then, it's gonna be great!' They left, leaving Siren alone in the classroom.
Probably off to get changed. Siren thought to herself, the amount of importance humans put on looks is amazing. When you're friends with a huge dragon, a bird made of lightning, a fire-demon, and a hyped up furry green rabbit thing, you can't afford to go by looks alone, she thought with a smile. Then a strange feeling stopped her cold.
There it is again, what the..? It felt like ice-needles being hammered into her head. That thought made her think of soemthing else entirely.
Shiva. Where the hell are you?
Chapter 13: Incursion
It had been going well so far, Quistis thought. The Guardians display had gone off without a hitch, and they were now wandering around the room socialising with the students. There had been a few hiccups in the proceedings, the appearance of Diablos being one, the Guardian stating that he was 'bored with Alexander' and wanted some fresh air. Zell had turned up with a girl he had introduced as Rosie, the librarian he had been dating for a while now. Eden's avatar had also caused some surprise, the students being unnerved by the fact that the tall silvery human they had been talking to was in fact a thousand-ton Guardian. It was this being that Quistis was now sitting next to. She trusted Eden like she trusted few others, and was considering just telling her what was happening. She had been gradually steering the conversation towards Shiva's sudden diappearance, hoping to be able to break it to her gently, those two had been firm friends. She was still doing this when Selphie and Irvine ran over to their table, Selphie looking as of she had just been proclaimed Ruler Of All Parties. 'Quisty! Irvine just announced we were engaged in the middle of the dance-floor! He got them to play Eyes On Me and it was sooo romantic and... O hi Eden.' She exclaimed, seeing the Guardian/human for the first time. 'I like your body.'
'Thank you Selphie, it took me ages to get it right.' The Guardian said with a smile. She had been trying for over 500 years. Then the others came up to where they were standing, Zell holding Rosie's hand, and Rinoa holding Squalls. 'Hey Quisty, I thought we migh.. are you alright? You look a little pale...' remarked Squall.
'Yes, I've just got a cold, it'll be gone in a few days.' It still made her heart flutter when people asked her that. One day someone was going to put two and two together and figure it out. But for now, Quistis allowed herself to forget about her condition and enjoy the night. 'Well, we're all going over to the Quad for some, ern, drinks, do you want to come?' Asked Selphie, although it was obvious drinks was the last thing she would be asking for.
'No thanks, I'm still waiting for my class to receive their diplomas, some of them are still pretty nervous.' Quistis replied. Selphie looked disappointed.
'Oh, OK then, but come and find us when you're done.' They, and Zell and Rosie the librarian girl, walked off, leaving the others to contemplate the last year. 'Do you remember...' started Squall, '...when all we had to deal with was the occassional monster swarm in dollet?'
'Or a rampaging Weapon....' continued Quistis.
'Or an evil government hell-bent on taking over the world.' Finished Rinoa. All 4 of them let out a sigh for the good old days, when the world didn't rely on them for all it's military solutions.
'Well...' Started Rinoa, she never got a chance to finish. A small green bundle of fur and energy flew at them from the center of the room, and would have hit Rinoa in the head if Eden hadn't grabbed it at the last second. 'Carbuncle! Watch where you're going!'
'I'msorryitsjustihavetofindselphieshewasgoingtodothis...' Said the excitable Guardian, all at once, only Quistis and Eden understood it, and Eden did not know that Quistis had.
'Woah, slow down little buddy.' Exclaimed the female Guardian. 'You want to say that again so the rest of us can understand it?'
'OK, OK. I have to find Selphie, we were going to do this big finale for the ball where some meteorites flew over the big ceiling window and I don't have the spell to do it and... oops.' The Guardian stopped knowing it had said something it should not have, and it had, if the expressions on Eden and Quistis' faces were anything to go by. Quistis beat Eden to it. 'So let me get this straight. You were going to use an illegal spell, that has the ability to wipe out humanity, for a firework show!'
'Yeah! Diablos lent Selphie one, very nice of him, he said he would...' Quistis was no longer listening, That explains it. Diablos would destroy the fabric of reality if it would piss someone off somewhere... She vowed to go and find the brooding Guardian, just as soon as she finished with the small furry one. Then she noticed somehting else about Carbuncles more-quirky-than-usual behaivour; 'Carbuncle, have you been drinking coffee again?'
'Only a little, it was a very tiring morning, and Selphie said it would keep me awake, and, and...'
'I think you need to go and lie down somewhere for the night little guy,' Said Eden, smiling. 'Caffine and Magic do not mix in large quantities.' Quistis could see that for herself, the Guardian was literally quivering with exhaustion. He drifted off, maybe to find Selphie, but probably just to find a cosy blanket to sleep in. With that taken care of, Quistis went off to find Diablos. She found him, 10 mintes later, standing in a corner glaring evilly at passer-b, as if daring thm to say hello. He saw her coming and started first. 'Why instructor, how nice to see you this evening, and may I say how lovely you look as we...'
'Can it will you? Carbuncle told me you gave Selphie a meteor spell?'
'So what if I did? The little tyke was begging for a firework display worthy of the Graduation Ball, so I gave her one.'
'That was dangerous and stupid! Even for you, and that's really saying something!'
'Fine, then go and disappoint the poor girl, after all the hard work she put into this.' Hyne, but he was good at arguing with people, it must be a human trait he picked up somewhere.
'Fine, but don't ever let me catch you giving illegal spells to anyone else in this Garden, or we'll hae Eden throw you back up into the Layer.'
'Big threats Trepe, but can you make it stick?' He was taunting her, and she knew it, but she carried on anyway.
'You know damn well I can have you thrown off Earth, so listen to me when I'm talking to you. You're hanging on by a thread mister, and the next thing you do to upset the balance of this world, you're out of here. I guarantee it.' To her surprise, Diablos relented.
'Very well instructor, I will be more, erm, responsible from now on, but you should know tha...' He never got a chnace to finish
'What was that?' Quistis exclaimed, looking around.
'What was what?'
'That just then, it's like a hole in space. But I can't tell what it is.' It was growing stronger, and she did not like it. One of the Teacher more interesting lessons, she thought to herself, using all these Guardian Senses.
'It's coming from...' She extended her hand, and movied it around, finally stopped it at... 'This way!' Diablos looked puzzled as well, and felt out with his senses, to whatever it was Quistis had thought she could feel. But that's ridiculous, thought the Guardian, there's no way she could... Then he felt it. He looked at her, puzzled.
'You know that it's been proved that no human can do what you just did?'
'Not now, lets go, thats the Quad over there. I'll try and contact Selphie on her mobile. Please please please don't have switched the damn thing off, Quistis thought to herself.
On their part, Selphie and the other also knew that there was something dark in the Garden, but using more ordinary senses than Quistis and Diablos had. The thing had jumped right out of the access crawlway and started to tear up the Quad.
Squall was trying to penetrate the things defences and failing miserably, Rinoa was desperately casting healing spells on the faltering Squall, Irvine was looking for an opening where he could shoot the thing without hitting Squall, and Selphie was trying to hit the creaure with offensive magic, but failing to even generate a splutter, when she should have been alble to fry the thing in one blast. Must be an anti magic field she thought nothing else could be doing it. Hesitantly, she drew her nunchucks out of her backpack, knowing that if Squall couldn't beat the thing, she had little hope. She was relieved then, when she heard the voice of some friendly faces from the doorway to the main hall. 'idn't anyone ever tell you not to play with your food?'
At the doorway stood Diablos, Eden's Avatar, a still-high-on-caffine-rush Cabuncle, and Quistis. Diablos ran directly at the thing, throwing a right-hook thatwould have knocked most human's heads off, it merely drew the thing's attention away from Squall however, giving Rinoa space to drag him away from the fight.
Diablos was throwing punches at the creature form all angles, using his wing's sahrp edges to great effect, Eden's Avatar darted between the creatures legs, hitting it with her sword whereever she saw flesh, which happened, conveniently, to be, well, everywhere. Carbuncle was doing his best to protect the other Guardians from the worst of the creatures attacks, but seemed to be having a hard job concentrating. 'Damn it Carbuncle!' Screamed Selphie, 'Use Protect against Physical atacks, not Shell!' All this did however, was to draw Diablo's attention away from the creature for a split second, giving it the opprotunity to throw to punch at him that threw the Guardian across the room and into the wall of the Quad. Eden did not fare much better, after getting in a few good blows, the creature merely scooped her up in it's left arm, then proceeded to beat her to a bloody pulp with his other.
Outside the Garden, Eden was upset at the destruction of her human. Damn, back to the drawing board.
The creature advanced on Squall. Rinoa, attempting to shield him, desperately tryed to hit it with her Shooting Star, earning a hard slap and a broken arm for her troubles. Irvne, now unhindered, was shooting at the creature with everthing he had left. Unfortunately for him, that didn't really seem to matter, it merely raised it's hand, and Irvines gun exploded in his hands, effectivle taking him out of the battle. Selphie ran up behind it and tried to strangle it with her nunchucks. The creature merely bent over and flipped Selphie over his head, smashing her into the ground. Quistis was soon the only person left standing, and the creaure advanced on her, clearly intent on doing the same thing it had done to Eden's late Avatar, now lying on the floor, quite dead. All Quistis could do, however, was to look into it's eyes. She recognised them, they were from her vision-memories. But she was rooted to the spot, lost in the creatures red eyes, unable to move as it advance upon her. Ignoring the Teachers warnings, she did what he had told her never to do in public.
She gritted her teeth, and, almost painfully, tore her eyes away from the creature's. She concentrated hard, trying to remember what the Teacher had taught her, trying to recall what he had said to her, about beginning to use her new powers. The concept is easy, however it requires great mental prowess to get right, or great mental strain. This entire thought process took no longer than a third of a second, and at the end of it, she had the information she needed.
Anger is the key! She needed to be angry. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on everything that had ever gone wrong in her life. Losing my parents. Losing Squall to Rinoa. The Missile Base in Galbadia.
She could feel it now, white hot energy coursing throug her, centering on arm. She kept her eyes closed. Time Compression. The mission in Trabia. Dying. Seifer. Watching my friends be killing right in front of my eyes and not being able... to do.. a damned... THING!
Quistis screamed, and pointed at the creature. She could have swore she saw surprise in it's face before a wave of icicles hit him like a truck, encasing him in a solid sheet of ice and trapping him inside. Then it shattered, and all that was left of the creature was a slowly melting pool of trace chemicals in a pool of icy water.
Quistis herself was as surprised as the other two at what had happened. Did I do that? Is that possible, that was so far beyond anything else... even the 'old' Shiva's attack wasn't that powerful. Then exhaustion hit her, and she collapsed onto the floor.
Shiva! Carbuncle thought to himself. But that can't be1 we still can't find her! What if.. I have to talk with Bahamut, he'll know what to do, he always knows. With that, the little green Guardian fading out of sight, making the short journey to the Layer, to see the ruler of his people.
Rinoa also witnessed Qusitis' attack. Hyne, she thought to herself, I didn't know she could do things like that! Hell, I can't do things like that, and I'm a sorceress! She vowed to take it up with Quistis, and Edea, preferably at the same time, today, later, now. Just as soon as she got her arm fixed.
Seifer was relieved, the thing was dead, that much he was sure of, he had heard the battle, even from where he ha been waiting underneaththe Garden, and the sound of what had to be a strong ice attack, and the creature had not used those. Packing up, he was about to leave when he heard a voice behind him;'
'You were correct human. Their defenses are too strong. We must be more careful next time. We shall go now.'
What the creature did not tell Seifer about was his short-lived encounter with Quistis. So, she is the one, It mused, she could be a great asset to us. The creature decided he would do everything in his power to 'corrupt' the human guardian, before he attempted to kill her again. He would begin by learning about her past. He knew exactly what to look for.
Chapter 14: Surprise
Two weeks later, the entire Garden was still talking about the attack on the Quad. Those who had been there were swampee with requests to tell everyone else about it. All SeeDs had had to make reports on the incident. Those who had been conscious when the creature had been finally defeated however, were talking about something entirely different.
'Man you should have saw it,' remarked one student to another, 'she just raised her hand and BOOM! Instant demon-glacier!'
Rinoa was fully recovered, as was Squall. Selphie still had concussion. Irvine was fine, having ran off to get help after the destruction of his gun. Quistis however, was another matter. She had not woken up after defeating the demon, and the others had had to carry her to infirmary, where she now lay on the bed, which all the gang were gathered around, Dr Kadowski having made some rather startling discoveries.
'She's dead.' Said Dr Kadowski.
'WHAT!' Shouted the others. Selphie was the first to speak.
'But she was fine this morning!' The young girl nearly pleaded. 'She was breathing and everything!' She looked across at Quistis' still form. 'She still is for Hyne's sake, look at her!'
'I know what it looks like, but I'm still telling you she's dead.' Said the doctor testily, not used to having her professional manner disregarded. She decided to try another approach. 'Look, I know it looks like shes breathing fine, but she isn't breathing. Nothing is coming out of her mouth, just because her chest is moving doesn't mean that air is going in. Here,' she said, grabbing Rinoa's hand, 'Hold your hand over her mouth. Feel anything?'
'No...' Said Ronoa hesitantly.
'Exactly. She's been like this since yesterday, and possibly since you brought her here. I held my hand over her mouth like this all day this morning, and nothing went in or out. There are also several other factors.'
All of them were looking confused and scared now. Selphie opened her mouth, but Squall, ever the practical one, beat her to it. 'What other signs?'
'Well, for a start, no pulse, no heart rate, her eyes aren't responding to changes in the light, her brain appears to have stopped sending signals, her skin is turning blue and, well, here, touch her.'
Rinoa did, and gasped. 'She's freezing cold!'
'Yes. If she would stop moving her chest, there would be absolutely nothing here to suggest life.' Despite her calm manner, the doctor was also confused, there were no cases like this anywhere else, ever.
For several minutes, nothing happened, all of them staring at Quistis and wondering what the hell was going on. Then they heard the foor of the infirmary open, and a person they did not recognise walk in. Squall approached the newcomer, and stopped dead. Those eyes, he thought, what is wrong with him? 'I'm sorry, but do I know...' The stranger merely walked right through him, as if he was made of smoke, sending a massive chill through Squall. The newcomer approached the doctor, who backed away. 'Where is Trepe?' He asked.
The doctor was on more familiar territory now. 'Excuse me young... man... Whoever you are, if you have an inquiry then you will wait until I can...' The man interuppted her.
'I do not care for your manner woman, where... is... Miss... Trepe?'
'Through there, but I don't know why you need to...' He cut her off again.
'Why I need to see her is none of your business, you will not disturb us.' Aware of a sudden metal scraping sound, he turned, to be confronted by a solid mass of weaponry. Irvine was the first to speak. 'If you want her, then you have to go through us.'
Remembering his encounter with the now dead farmer when he had first arrived on Earth, he started to smile, there was no humour in it however. This human seemed to share many of the unfortunate man's traits. He decided to try an experiment. 'Give me your gun.'
Unaware of what had befallen the farmer, Irvine started to reply. 'You can have it,' he said, cocking his shotgun, 'when you pry it from my...' The man did not let him finish.
'If your next words are; 'cold lifeless fingers', then I would not advise it.' Irvine paused, shocked at this man's ability to predict what he was going to say. Squall was slightly more wary, having a man walk right through you as if you weren't there had warned him about what this man could do. 'What do you want with Quistis?'
'Merely to talk.' The others did not look convinced, and did not lower their weapons. Rinoa was the next to speak up. 'Why do you want to talk to her?' This finally managed to irriate him enough to respond with something more than disinterest..
'I have no time for this!' He nearly shouted, and closed his eyes.
Suddenly, all the members of the group found themselves holding thin air, their weapons were leaning up against the far wall of the infirmary. Irvine was the first to recover. 'Hey!' He exclaimed, and started towards the man. He immediately fell flat on his face, his bootlaces having been tied together. The other all took notice of this, and looked down at their feet, They all had the same handicap, although Selphie had her left foot tied to Dr Kadowski's desk with her nunchucks.
'I am sorry.' The man said. 'But we must leave now.' He started over to Quistis' bed.
'Hey!' Said Irvine from the floor. 'You just wait a damned minute!' He could do nothing however, as the stranger picked up Quistis' prone form and slung her over his shoulder.
Selphie was first to get untied, she grabbed her nunchucks from around her feet and ran at the man, ready to brain him over the head when she reached him. When she got to him, she swung at him with all her strength. However, her nunchucks swept through empty air.
Where the man and Quistis had been, there was only air.
They had vanished.
Chapter 15: Layer
She couldn't see.
She panicked, thinking she might have gone blind. She tried to open her eyes. All this achieved was to nearly dazzle her, wherever she was, it was bright here. She could hear something, somethings, on the edge of hearing. There, yet... not there. She concentrated on them, and could make out a faint conversation:
'You should not have brought her here.' A voice she could only describe as deep, one she recognised. Bahamut, the closest thing the Guardians had to a ruler.
'Then where should I have taken her? Given time, they would have found her, defenceless. That can not be allowed to happen.' The Teacher, still speaking in that same damn emotionless voice of his. A face leaned over her, she couldn't see it, but she recognised the voice; 'So, it's true then, Shiva left, and Trepe is going to fill in?' Diablos.
'Apparently so.' The Teacher again.
'This has never happened before, are you sure she can take it?'
'Celes was. we must trust her judgement.'
'Heyheyhe...' A new voice. On caffeine. Carbuncle.
'O Hyne not him.' Diablos again. Those two never did get along.
'Oy! I resent that. Just because you don't want to have any fun doesn't mean you can stop the rest of us from...'
'Enough! You two can argue later, we have a serious problem here!'
'Yeah well, he started it...'
'Shut up you furry green rodent.'
'Better a rodent than a demon...'
This continued for several minute, until Carbuncle noticed Quistis lying on what passed for the floor.
'Full marks for observation.'
'Wow, so it's true then... Well, I think Celes chose well. I mean, I saw her fight that creature, one hit, bang! Gone, just like that.'
'It is not that simple.'
'Quiet you vacuous bubble of dark matter and let me finish!'
'She is adapting too fast, her powers are beginning to radiate away from her, the sorceress is suspicious, soon others will know, and then everything comes crashing down around us! That must be avoided at all costs! You both remember the agreement?'
'If I could make an observation...'
Carbuncle looked startled. 'Hey! Aren't you that creepy guy who appears then disappears without saying a damn wor...'
'Yes, now if I may?'
'I have met her friends. They are, without exception, young, loyal and ignorant of most of the world around them. They will protect her. I advise telling them everything.'
'That is dangerous, one of them is a sorceress, what if they decide she could be a threat to them?'
'They would not do that. They grew up together. These six are of a kind that rarely appears on this universe.'
'I don't think...'
'My friend, you are too hyped up on coffee to think straight right now, let us make the decisions, OK?'
'Fine, I'll just sit here and die then...'
'Then I advise you do so quietly. So...' She felt it was time to let them know she could hear them. She tried to speak, but all she could manage was;
'Uh-oh! She's awake!'
'What! That should not be possible, humans can not remain conscious here or...' The Teacher looked at him with a very patronising look on his face. 'Oh yes, I forgot she is a Guardian... and don't look at me like that, or I'll rip your face off.'
'Just try to. But I apologise.'
'So, Trepe, how much of that did you hear?' Asked Diablos from somewhere above her. She felt up to holding a conversation now.
'Most of it. Where are we? I still can't see straight.' She tried to focus on Bahamut, she hadn't seen him in months, he did not visit Earth all that often anymore.
'We are in the Upper Layer. I trust you remember what Siren taught you of your world?'
'Good, then I'll make this quick. You are dead.' He said this as if commenting on the weather. Quistis looked down at the floor and said nothing.
'Shiva, that is, Celes has entrusted you with her powers so that you might continue to exist. Not live, just exist. She was weak, she wished to save herself, so she basically ran away from the universe. She did not want to fight them. You on the other hand, already have.'
Oh well, she thought to herself, If you can't beat them... 'That thing in the Quad, right?'
Bahamut started to speak, but the Teacher beat him to it. 'Yes. They come from the Lower Layer, but then you had probably figured this out already.'
'Let me tell you what you are no doubt wondering. You cannot see because you are not yet fully transformed into a Guardian. Them from the Lower Layer seek to destory your world.'
'Why? Why would they want to?' Diablos was the one who replied.
'Because if they have to live in a world of chaos, of infinite terror and pain, then they want everyone else to as well.'
'Who... who else knows?'
'Cid. Did you ever wonder why he sent you out to Trabia?'
'Hey!' Shouted Carbuncle. 'You can't tell her that!' The Teacher answered him.
'She must know, now please be quiet.'
'He sent you because you are a Blue Mage.'
'So what if I am? What does that have to do with anything?' Quistis asked, genuinely puzzled.
'D you not remember your people? Your parents? Do you not remember what the Blue Mages mission was? Their reason for existence?'
'The Teacher tells me your memory-recall faculties are working perfectly. Use them.'
'Ok.' Quistis closed her eyes. Concentrating on her breathing, she tried to recall anything, anything at all, about Blue Mages.
What she came up with frightened the life out of her.
'Yes. There is no way around it.'
'We were created... to kill sorceresses?' Surprisingly, it was Diablos who tried to comfort her.
'I'm sorry Trepe. Your people were meant as the balance to the power of the sorceresses.Your reason for existence was to watch for them, and to destroy them. Hyne did not realise her mistake in passing on her abilities until it was too late, she was dying, her powers had already been transferred to her successor, so she made your people as her last act, to be a counterbalance to their power. Adel killed all your relatives when she came to power, she was afraid of your kind. You are the last now.
She wanted to scream Liar! at him, but knew he was telling the truth. She had to tell Matron, she had to explain.
Cid wanted you out of the way because as a, indeed the, Blue Mage, Edea and Rinoa were technically at risk from you. Cid decided that saving two people he loved was more important than preserving a dead race, even at the expense of your life. Cold I know, but he...' Bahamut was getting impatient.
'We have no time for this! Trepe, your history lessons can wait until you are back on Earth. I fear the creature you fought was merely a scout, more will come, and soon, and they will first come for you.'
'Because you are a Blue Mage, created to combat evil. That the evil is no longer the sorceresses does not matter, your purpose has... adapted. You are also now a Guardian. They will come for you because you are the single biggest threat to them right now. Your two sorceress friends will not be able to help you, their powers have always leaned towards the dark, and dark powers will not fight dark powers. Watch her, she herself does not know this, but she will try and stop you.'
'But, but Rinoa wouldn't... would she?' She pleaded.
'Enough! I have told you everything I can, the rest is up to you to discover. You must go back now. Close your eyes, this is going to hurt.'
'Wha....' She never finished. Bahamut hit her on the head. Diablos, Carbuncle and the Teacher looked down at her. Carbuncle was the first to speak. 'Was that absolutely necessary?'
'Yes, Guardian or no, she cannot survive the trip back yet.' Diablos picked her up and walk away from the others, followed by the Teacher and Carbuncle. 'One more thing...' They all looked around at the huge dragon.
'She is still not ready to face them. Teacher?'
'Train her well. Carbuncle?'
'Keep her safe.' The Guardian hesitated, then continued; 'Diablos?'
'Watch over her... Always...' All 3 nodded.
Then they vanished, and made the trip back to Garden.
Bahamut looked around sadly. Then he flew away, knowing the fate of the woman the others had just sworn to guide and protect.
'I am sorry Miss Trepe, but it must be done, the future must be preserved.'
Chapter 16: Truth
'We have to find them!' Said Squall to Cid.
'Then where should we start looking?' He had no answer to this.
'But she's been missing, kidnapped, for 3 days now! We have to do something!' Pleaded Selphie. Cid was less than enthusiastic.
'Look, I'm sorry, but we can't afford the people right now to look for her! We're overstretched as it is with helping to liberate Timber!' Ifrit was the one to reply.
'We can help look for her, Eden thinks she knows where she could be.'
'Look,' said Cid, 'I'm sorry about Quistis, but we have bigger problems to worry about...' Rinoa, surprisingly, was the one who spoke up.
'But why!? Why do you not seem to care about Quisty? She's one of your children for Hyne's sake and you just want to abandon her, just like you did in Trabia, and you know what happened there!' The others all stared at Cid, thinking the same thing. He was about to reply, when...
'That will not be necessary.' All heads turned to look at the newcomers. When they saw who it was, they all breathed a sigh of relief, except Cid, who looked crestfallen.
'QUISTY!' They all shouted at once as Quistis walked in, followed by Carbuncle and leaning on Diablos and... him. Squall was first to react. 'You again!'
'Yes me Lionheart, and I would advise putting your weaponry away, if I wanted you dead, there would be nothing you could do about it.' Selphie ran up to Quistis and supported her on her shoulder, delirious that she was OK. 'Where have you been?!' And then she noticed the Teacher. 'And who is this man?'
Quistis was still weak from the trip back, so Carbuncle filled in. 'This creepy looking dude is called the Teacher, and he's gonna teach Quistis to be a Guardian! Isn't that great!... wait. what did I say?'
The others were all looking at him, shocked at this last casual statement. Cid recovered first, he looked almost resigned now. Surprised, but resigned. 'Since when?' Quistis finally managed to speak up.
'Since Trabia.' She paused, then continued. 'I know now Cid, I know who I am, I know what I am, and I know why you wanted me dead.' Silence. Then Rinoa replied, with a cold edge to her voice none of them had ever heard there before; 'You wanted... her... dead?' Foolishly, Cid tried to justify this.
'It was only to protect you and Edea!' Then to Quistis; 'You would have killed them! I can't lose them, not after everything!' He was near tears now.
Diablos, enraged, walked up to Cid, grabbed him around the throat and spun him round against the wall. None of the others stopped him. Squall spoke to Quistis quietly. 'Why would you have killed them?' The reply took some time.
'I'm a Blue Mage right?' Nods of agreement from everyone. 'Well, it means more than being able to use Blue Magic. We are... were... created to kill sorceresses. By Hyne Herself.' Everyone gasped. She continued on, explaining.
'When Hyne was dying, she had long ago decided to pass on her powers, and have her successor pass on those powers when she dies, but something went wrong. Bahamut explained it to me, helped by one of my new Guardian abilities, ('So it's true then.' Cid whispered quietly) the powers did not adapt well to the new host, they were... corrupted... slightly.' Rinoa said nothing, and it was Diablos who continued;
'Miss Heartilly, it does not take a great effort to be corrupted by your powers. It takes great mental strength... not... to be corrupted by them. It's not you, it's just your nature as a sorceress. Quistis' people were created so that if a sorceress did turn bad, like Adel, then they would be charged with hunting her down and killing her.' Rinoa was panicked now.
'So... I'm doomed?' In a rare moment of seriousness, Carbuncle replied. 'Rinoa, you didn't choose what you wanted to be, that path was forced upon you by circumstance. When the powers pass on, they look for the nearest available host. Selphie was... unsuitable... ('Hey!' Shouted the teenager) for them, Quistis could not have anyway, the conflict between her Blue Magic and Sorceress Powers would have torn her soul apart.' Aside to Quistis, 'You dodged a bullet there Trepe.' Quiet so far, Zell spoke up and asked the question she had been dreading;
'So then, if you were created by Hyne to kill sorceresses, where are the rest of your kind?'
'...They're all dead. Adel had them all killed covertly when she came to power, we can fight and kill sorceresses like no-one else, but against an army? We didn't stand a chance.' No-one spoke for a moment, contemplating Adel's genocide in silent horror, and newly thanking Laguna for trapping her in the first place.
You all seem to be forgetting something.' Everyone looked around at the Teacher. 'Miss Trepe is also a Guardian now, and if you remember that creature you fought in the Quad,' They all shuddered, they did, 'then you will realise that they are not ordinary monsters.' He explained on for a few minutes about, himself, the creatures home, and the threat Quistis was to them. Then Siren spoke up from the back of the room;
'But if Trepe is Shiva, then why does she still look human?' The Teacher beat Quistis to it.
'Because she does not want to be. She wishes to remain human.' After a few minutes silence, the Teacher replied for her; 'However if she was to turn back, she would be dead. Really dead, since she died to Trabia, her powers have been keeping her alive, to a degree, but she can never again be human.' The others stared at her. Cid was the first to speak; 'Quistis, I'm sorry about this but...' Quistis looked up at him, pure anger in her eyes.
'You sent me to die to preserve your own life! You don't have the right to apologise to me!' She screamed, advancing on Cid. Then she calmed down. 'You could have told me. I could have went away. You didn't have to kill me.'
'Don't, Cid, please. I can't forgive you, not yet, I need some time first.'
Selphie seemed to be thinking hard about this. Then, she made her decision, and ran up to Quistis and hugged her, ignoring the freezing temperature of her body. 'Well, if you're gonna save the world again, then we gotta help you!' The other all piped in with encouragement of their own.
'Yeah!' 'We're a team!' 'Friends forever, ya know!' 'Hey, don't quote Raijin at me!' 'Stop arguing you two, this is serious.' Quistis was nearly crying with joy. 'Guys...'
'Don't say anything.' This came from Squall. 'We're a family, always have been, always will be, whatever you have to do, we're behind you, all the way.' Cid stared at this scene with wonderment. What did I do to deserve these kids? Then he thought about that. Nothing. Damn, I'm so sorry Quistis.
Quistis, now free of secrets, decided to scare Rinoa, she reached out with her mind and touched the young sorceress's; Rinoa?
Rinoa looked shocked, had she just..? And Quistis was smiling.
Come on girl, don't look so down, I'm not going to get killed again!
No buts! We're going to find these things, and we're going to beat them. Both of us.
Rinoa finally broke down and hugged Quistis. 'Just never leave us like in Trabia again alright?' She said between sobs.
Quistis thought about this, and replied;
The Teacher, Carbuncle, Diablos and Siren looked upon this scene. They would never, they decided, understand these humans. After a while Quistis managed to disengage herself from the mass of hugs and walked over to the Teacher, and asked; 'So, when do you start to train me?' The Teacher smiled, and replied;
Chapter 17: Backup
Seifer could not see who the Creature was talking too, and going on recent experience, probably did not want to. He could hear it talking to... something... through that hole, but he dared not approach it and see who.
'She is still weak, we could attempt to turn her. The risks are great but she has the potential to be more powerful than either of us.' And a reply, coming from what sounded like the depths of hell itself.
'You will attempt nothing without the groups approval! I trust you remember that we are in this together?' The creature seemed almost... friendly... What allies could this thing possibly have? Seifer thought to himself.
'I know, but she could be a great asset to us. I have uncovered her past, and she has suffered great pain. That may be turned against her.'
'What of it?' Seifer could have sworn it seemed curious.
'She is a Blue Mage.' What? Seifer thought... wait a minute!
'What! Adel assured me they had all been destroyed!' The voice said angrily.
'She has evidently missed one. There is also the fact that Celes Chere has abandoned her role as Ice Guardian, and has left her powers to this person.'
'Then both are dead?'
'Yes, by this human standing next to me in fact.' This made Seifer's blood turn to ice. Well, more icy than it had been before. Quistis?! How?! Then the next voice panicked him even more.
'A Guardian and a Blue Mage? At the same time!? Bring this human near, we would to speak to him.'
'Mr Almasy!' The creature shouted, 'get over here!'
No! I don't want to see! I don't want to know! The creature became angered at Seifer refusal to move.
'NOW, Almasy!' Seifer had no choice but to walk towards the gate, but he shut his eyes before he got there, possibly saving his sanity in the process. He heard the voice speak to him; 'Yes, I see now, this human has served well so far. When we have triumphed, please don't kill him. Although his act of murdering the woman allowed her to inherit the powers of Celes, she is still weak, and shall be easily dealt with.' Seifer was feverishly praying to Hyne; Quistis I'm sorry, forgive me.
'That may be harder then anticipated. The Teacher is guiding her, she has already defeated me in battle once, on her own. Her powers are increasing at an alarming rate. Soon she will be a threat, she will be able to detect us.'
'That goes both ways.' A pause, then; 'I will be sending some of my servants to assist you. By the time they arrive on your world, try and kill the woman. After three months, we will begin the invasion, whether she is dead or not. Kill the Teacher as well if you can, he has meddled with our plans for far too long!'
'I hear you. I will see you when this world is ours.' The creature replied, smiling. The hole closed, and it turned to Seifer.
'Now human, we shall await the arrival of my fellows's pets. Meanwhile, you will tell me everything you know of this 'Trepe' woman...
Chapter 18: Lessons
Most of the Garden had reacted well to the knowledge that Quistis was a Guardian. Some students had been afraid at first, some outright terrified, runnng from her in the training centre, skipping round her in corridors. An embarrassing incident in the Training Centre, when a SeeD had mistook her for a monster, had not helped that, although they had managed to thaw him out later that week. Others had been confused by this sudden turn of events. Some refused to believe until they saw it with their own eyes. Some were in downright awe that one of the Sorceress Heroes they had known as their instructor was now some kind of demi-goddess. The Trepes were having a field day. Certainly the other Guardians had been shocked yet thrilled. Siren especially had told the campus loudly that she thought that Celes could not have made a better choice. Quistis on her part stopped trying to hide her condition, her physical transformation was continuing rapidly now, her skin was now an almost translucent shade of light blue, and she had changed her clothes from her usual peach outfit (saying that 'It doesn't really suit me anymore.') to a rather more revealing outfit of a figure-hugging combination of blue tank-top-and-hotpants that reached only half-way down her thighs. This had caused problems with older studnt (mainly male ones), until Quistis had explained carefully to Squall that if she dressed in any more clothing than absolutely necessary she would melt. Her eyes were now pools of dark blue that could freak the hell out of people or capture them and not let go, sometimes both at once. Although the scar across her chest had not vanished, being a much darker shade of blue, almost black.
The fact that she was, basically, dead caused slightly more uproar. Most refused to believe it or just plain didn't believe it. It took Quistis, the Teacher, and most of the Guardians together to convince people that either she was dead, but was still the Quistis they knew, or that she was not a zombie. They used the method sorceresses passed on powers as a comparison, only in Quistis' case, for the powers to pass on, both the Guardian and the recipient had to die, or, in the case of Guardians, as Carbuncle put it; 'Sod off somewhere. What? I'm not telling you where! Go away and stop annoying me! What do you mean you never asked?!'
The Teacher had been revealed to the Garden shortly after, although only as a person who was helping Quistis 'adjust', and the students, and most of the faculty, were wary of him, especially after several challenges by SeeDs in the training centre had left them battered and bruised and more respectful then they had been of the strange-looking man. He taught Quistis how to make use of her powers slowly, and far away from objects (and people) susceptible to cold. Or large explosions. She would not, according to the Teacher, have much time to learn how to use them.
Squall and Rinoa were the first to arrive at the cafeteria, Rinoa was not on the 'active' list for missions, and Squall had finished all his paperwork. They sat there for about 20 minutes, just talking, until Quistis walked in. Even 2 weeks after the announcement, she still caused heads to turn, whether from confusion or simply because people wanted to see. Rinoa pulled up a chair, and smiled at the new Guardian. 'Hey Quisty! Hows the training going?' She asked.
'Terrible, I still have to work on my aim.' Quistis replied tiredly. The Teacher had been running her ragged the past week. Irvine and Selphie entered the room, and sat down at the table. 'Heeeey!' Shouted Selphie, 'Hows it going?' she went to hug Quistis, but stopped at the last minute.
Damnit! Thought Quistis. Just one of the drawbacks the Teacher neglected to tell me of. Since becoming a Guardian, her body temperature had fallen far too low for anyone to really touch her. She was just too cold. According to the Teacher it was a defensive mechanism. She had not touched another person in several weeks. I hope there are not any more unpleasant 'advantages' to being a Guardian. She thought to herself. Irvine broke the uncomfortable silence.
'Hey guys! The Garden Festival is this month remember?' Then he mock-whispered to the others, as if Selphie couldn't hear him. 'Watch out for Selphie, she’s trying to get people to help, don't tell her I said that.' Selphie elbowed him in the ribs.
'Meanie! Also, as I recall, you volunteered!'
'WHAT!' everyone said, that seemed like the last thing Irvine would do, he hated hard work.
'Yeah well, I got some help from a certain hyper Guardian. Where is the little guy anyway?' He looked at Quistis. She sighed.
'Hols on, I'll check.' She said. she closed her eyes, and reached out with her mind, and connected herself to the psychic network the Guardians all shared, searching for Carbuncle.
At that moment, Carbuncle happened to be in the Quad, setting up the stage for the Festival, when he heard Shiva's (Quistis'! He mentally scolded himself) voice in his mind, communicating through the network.
Carbuncle, Selphie's gearing up for a full-blown rant on the Festival, we need your help to subdue her. He replied to her in kind;
Sure, be right there! He smiled, Quistis was taking to being a Guardian like a fish to water. She was growing used to her powers at a rate that surprised all of them. He flew off towards the Cafeteria, remembering what the great dragon had said to him on their last meeting;
Keep her safe...
I will, I promise...
Selphie pointed excitedly towards the entrance; 'Look! Here he comes now. Quisty, can you teach me how to do that telepathy thingy? Please please please!' Quistis smiled.
'Sorry Selphie, but you've got to be a Guardian to do it.' She replied.
'Awww,' She looked heartbroken. 'But I want to be able to talk to other Guardians over long distances.' She pouted. Irvine replied to this.
'Why don't you try to be a Guardian then?' Selphie looked at Irvine as if he was an idiot.
'Don't be stupid Irvy, you've got to be dead to be a... oops! Sorry Quisty!' She looked embarrassed.
She smiled at the bubbly young SeeD; 'Don't worry about it, I'm used to the idea of it now... Tell you what, When we're both on our deathbeds (again, she thought to herself), then I'll give my powers to you, and you can be a Guardian for a bit, OK?'
'Really! Thanks Quisty!' That made Selphie’s day. Then she turned to Carbuncle; 'Hey, tell everyone about the arrangements for the festival!' Carbuncle looked thrilled, nothing gave him greater pleasure to tell secrets, and now he had permission.
'Remember when we got the Guardians to do the Fireworks at the Graduation Ball but only Leviathan and me did it? well, We're gonna try and get all of them to do it something different this time! Leviathan is gonna do a water slide for the lower-year students, Ifrit is gonna do the lighting, Pandemona is gonna do some kind of big whirlwind thingy, Diablos said he was gonna do a room with different gravity fields so people can walk on the walls and ceilings...' This last bit surprised everyone.
'Diablos? Being nice?!' Stammered Rinoa, shocked.
'Yeah, surprised me too! Said he was doing it as a favour to someone.' He looked pointedly round at Quistis, but she ignored him. The small Guardian continued; 'And Quistis said she could do some sort of ice decorations for the place!' The other looked round at Quistis. She blushed slightly, the blueness of her skin turning her cheeks purple.
'Well, I thought this would be a fairly harmless way of seeing whether I've learned anything. I've been practising.' Selphie looked ecstatic.
'Wow!' She looked across at Carbuncle, 'You never told me that!'
'Well I thought Quistis had!' He said in his defence. Squall seemed to have been thinking about this for some time, and finally started to speak;
'You two realise we can't fit all of this in our Garden? It's just not big enough.' Selphie, however, seemed to have thought of this.
'Yeah well, I asked Cid and he said we were gonna be in Trabia at that time, so he asked the T-Garden whether they would host it, what with they being ship-wrecked and all.'
Trabia had never got their Garden fully operational after the attack, thought Quistis, shame, it looked so much nicer than the others. Selphie did not seem to mind however, if they could hold the festival (festivals, she thought, the other Headmasters would probably want to hold theirs at the same time, having the Guardians help would improve them no end. I just hope I don't disappoint anyone.) Irvine, quiet so far, spoke up;
'Erm... Sephy? Who's gonna pay for all this?' She looked like she had been dying to be asked that.
'That's the best part! Trabia is near Esthar yeah? Well, Laguna phoned and said he would maybe come along, so they're putting forward the money for it! Erm... guys? Guys!'
The other said nothing, considering this development. Squall had not gotten along well with Laguna since he had told Squall that he was his son, what with him basically abaddoning him and all, and there was the added complication that Laguna still thought that Quistis was dead. No-one, they realised, had told him about her unique resurrection. Rinoa was the one to point this out; 'Erm, guys? Whats he gonna say when the airlock opens to his non-talkative son and a dead woman?' Selphie seemed to have that all worked out. Or so she thought.
'Well, I figured we should surprise him.' She said.
'Selphie, I don't think that would be such a good...' Squall had other ideas however.
'Sounds good.' All were speechless. Rinoa was first to recover her voice.
'Squall, are you..?' She began.
'Sure?' he replied quickly, 'Yes, I think I have to come to terms with him.' Irvine took up the slack in the conversation.
'So, what changed your mind?' The reply surprised everyone except Quistis, who had been expecting something like this.
'Someone taught me how fleeting life can be.' He looked across at her. 'And that we shouldn't waste a second of it.' Thank you, he mouthed silently to her.
No problem, she mouthed silently back, and they both smiled. Selphie saw this, and wanted to know what was going on; 'Hey, what? Come on, what is it?!'
'Nothing.' Replied Quistis, getting up and adjusting her hair. 'Lets go to Trabia, I know it'll be a great Festival, and we can see Laguna again.'
'Yeah!' Replied Irvine, 'We can see Ellone, Ward and Kiros as well!'
Quistis moved off, looking happy for the sake of solidarity, but feeling butterflies in her stomach at the mere mention of the Cold Continent.
Trabia. Bad memories. Something is going to happen there.
I can feel it.