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Chapter Three: Mata Léao

Prologue: The Early Mistakes Of The Late Life

I opened my eyes to a nightmare.

I was inside I dream. Well aware of this fact, I knew some kind of a sick and twisted parade was bound to take place before my eyes. The soul and mind behind my eyes were all melting away into a single pot- the pot of pain and agony within this never-ending chase for the truth, this tiredness, and this retaliation.

First, I saw Leia and Rinoa, waltzing together. They were waltzing while the rain lit up the blood-coloured walls of the dancing ball. It made me sick.

I almost crawled- no, limped- to the dancefloor, pressing my hand against the wound on my stomach. LionHeart was still in my hand, and the knife... At this point, to Diablos with the knife, all I could care for.

Suddenly, the music turned to a scream. The scream found a companion- yet another scream. In the background, a bomb exploded and a struggle was heard. As the explosion kept rocking the dancefloor in a never-ending earthquake, the second set of screams...

This was my nightmare. This was what was roaming my mind, like a splinter that was there to destroy. It was the evident truth: the early mistakes of the late life.

Rinoa looked at me. She still was so beautiful. And just like her identical twin, Leia looked at me too. I saw the pain and the blame in their eyes...

And then, I spotted the killer-

He was smiling.

Grabbing LionHeart, my true instrument of justice, I started to run towards the killer. The killer ran to me: I could see he was wearing leather pants and a mid-riff furry jacket... A white t-shirt and black boots, red belts... He had a scar, identical as mine, and a gunblade, same as LionHeart.

I was the killer.

I swung LionHeart, and he swung it back. Our gunblades met. As I leaned on the blade to use my weight and reach out for the knife in this pressure, I saw the madness in my own eyes- chasing ghosts endlessly in some nonsensative retaliation had made me what I was... A ghost myself.

I reached out to the knife, without distrupting my balance too much. I took out the knife, and he smiled at me.

“Are you going to spill my blood, Leonhart?”
“Yes!” I replied, and I swung the knife...

And he was gone.

I looked around. I was alone in the darkness, the knife still in my hand, LionHeart still winking at me.

“Squall...” came a familiar voice. I looked up from my slit wrists to Rinoa.

“Rinoa...” I said, almost in tears. She was back to me. And at her side, was Leia. They were back to me. They were here.

“Squall, can’t you see?” Leia asked me, “What you’ve become? You’re... Living in pain, and enjoying it! Let it go!”
“I can’t, dammit!” I replied, “I can’t! It’s the only thing I know anymore- pain!!!”
“Squall...” Rinoa said, bending down to land a kiss on my forehead, “It’s only you... You alone can set you free. You alone can get your ‘revenge’ and end it... And when you end it, I want you to be happy, and not think about the sad things again.”

Her lips were gentle with their touch on my scarred forehead.

Part One: Rebirth Of The Lion

I opened up my eyes to the darkened sky and the snow, falling gently down on my face, touching me like Rinoa’s soft lips...

I felt life in me for one time. I felt my heart beating in excitement, my lungs inhaling air and feeling it, even my wounds felt like they were healing... My mind had been back to it’s place, now I could think straight.

I managed to sit straight up. I felt the cold wind, and it made me shiver. My body was still breakable, but I had just recovered from a cold. What can I say, I was one lucky sinner.

Rinoa... And the dream were so... Real. I could still feel the kiss on my forehead. I could still see the madness in my eyes. No love inside this cruel world, no answers to the questions I wished I had answers to.

And yet, I was still alive, still standing.

Determined to take the empty revenge within this cycle of abuse, still alive and well. The sun wouldn’t shine again, I knew. It wouldn’t shine until I had cleared all of this up.

Remembering I was still in Timber, I knew I had to catch a train and go to Balamb to go into New Balamb Garden, and see if they had anything to do with the case.

But I wanted to linger around too. Because I was alive again... I felt so alive again. Rinoa and Leia, Quistis and Selphie, Irvine and Zell were dead. I would always grieve for every single one of them every day, as I prayed to Hyne again.

Feeling the guilt eating me once again, I set my thoughts aside for a minute. I wasn’t guilty. This was all going round and round around me. It always had. Why would they had to die? I don’t know. Maybe for Seifer to get his revenge from me. Maybe I could save them, maybe I couldn’t.

But the truth was, it was past. I remembered myself thinking: You can’t change the past. It’s done. Over with.

And yet, what had Ellone said? “You’re my only hope.”

Was I?

Could I let Sis down? Now that I had come so far? No. I was feeling determined for my next set of actions- to get what I wanted and needed.

I took the knife and slid it into my shoe. It would be safer there as a concealed weapon. I got up to leave for the Timber Station.

The light retreated and the darkness prevailed once again.

I could feel the burden, heavier on my shoulders than ever. But I was reborn, and in my rebirth, I wouldn’t die again. Like a child born to many burdens in his or her soul, I was inside this blood sea of burdens.

Whatever it is that’s hearing me out there, grant me this wish!

Grant me salvation...



Part Two: Final Journey On The Dark Road

I walked in to the train station to purchase a ticket, hoping the clerk wouldn’t recognize me.

As luck had it, I managed to get a ticket and started to wait for the last train of the night, as the cold wind whipped my clothes and made my trenchcoat fly around. As I waited for the train, I started to think, making sense this time.

At sometime, somewhere, I had done something wrong. Maybe it was just dating with some sorceress, whom, I had taken an oath to destroy the kind of, maybe just not committing suicide. Whatever it was, it had pushed me on this darkened road.

And I was drifter. A stormcrow, bad news.

I had to make up a plan- I had seen enough and now managed to rescue enough thinking space from my dead brain to know I had to have one. The usual plan was there, of course; Storm in, kill everyone in the path, get answers, then slip away into the dark. But it wasn’t that easy to do.

The train came along, whipping my trenchcoat with a new wind, and my hair were whipped by it as well. I saw the lights of the train as if they were the flashlights of Hyne, held on my face to blind me even more in this dark room of senseless violence and deceit.

The doors slid open this time, allowing me to go inside the train. It was darkened inside, the lamps were out. I knew what I would see, but I had to go in there to go on.

I stepped in from the doors of the train.

In for the ride. For the final journey on the dark road.

The feeling hit me like a bullet through my skull- something was not right about this whole thing. But the train doors had already slammed shut behind me, leaving me inside this cage of a lonely darkness.

As I stared into the empty compartment, images of my past flooded me. I knew I would only see the ghosts in my mind in here, there was too much darkness in it. Like my soul, like my mind. Like father, like sun.

I saw a vision moving toward the door, it was a young, slim girl in a yellow dress. She was jumping up and down in front of the door, “Open, open, open!” she cried. Then she turned to the others.

There was another girl- no a woman in a pink dress, and with blond hair. A guy with blond, spiky hair and a tattoo on the left cheek. A guy wearing a cowboy hat and a brown trenchcoat also appeared. I looked around to see a raven-haired girl... She was wearing a necklace... Without a ring.

“Open up!” Selphie said. I felt the tears in my eyes, as the pain in my heart prevailed once again, as I stood under the dome of my broken, bloodstained memories. I looked at them. They all seemed so real. I could blink them away, but I was afraid of losing them. After years of denial, I had come to say I needed them to be there for me.

Regrets of the past dug their poisoned claws on my back, ripping out my flesh and taking my soul with it.

“Squall...” Rinoa said, with her soft voice.
“Hey, commander!” Selphie said, with a cheerful smile.
“Yo, Squall!” Zell called out to me.
“Hello, Squall.” Quistis said.
“Man, what’s up?” Irvine asked.
“Squall...” It was Leia. She was here as well. Here with me. I was crying out of happiness. Here we were, on the road again. On the road to perdition and retaliation.

“You guys... You aren’t...”
“Real?” Rinoa asked, “Maybe.” She giggled, it filled me in like a poison of warmness and happiness, “But the truth is, Squall, you can only see the ghosts in your mind here.”
“I knew you weren’t real.” I said, with a bit of disappointment.
“You should, thee-hee!” Selphie said, “We’re waiting for our revenge...”
“I did take your-“
“Squall, me?” Leia asked.
“And I will-“
“ME!? ME!? ME!?” they all started to ask. Selfish in their desire, right in their wish, killing me in this overloading act of wishing, longing for something that can’t be theirs easily... They started to scream, I was trying to get away, trying to find something to hold on to. I was punching something, begging for them to stop.

“ENOUGH!!!” I snapped, “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT FROM ME!?” their laughters changed into a morbid banshee scream, to horrible and full of death to endure,


Someone was shaking me. I opened up my eyes. And saw that, it wasn’t dark at all in the compartment. When I felt a rush of pain on my right hand, I looked down. It was covered in blood, the glass shards of the little poster they had on the train. Some of the shards were still in my flesh. I took them out with a shaking hand.

The officer near me treated the wound and bandaged it. It was still ready for use, lucky me. I needed all the muscular power I could get to avoid getting dead in the way to my revenge. The train stopped. I knew I had to get off.

The cold winds of twilight winter, and the snow greeted me in a cold, dead welcome. Balamb Town was still what it used to be before. It was waiting for me.

There truly was a difference between knowing the path and walking it. I saw the path full of death and blood, tragedy and pain, hate and love in front of me, decorated with my own blood, mixed with the blood of my friends to make a succulent sauce for the feast of Diablos.

I started to make my way into the town, trying to hope that they didn’t know me as a killer. The town was empty. Not wanting the ghosts of my past to come over me again, I almost ran to the town exit, stopping a brief moment at the Dinchts’ doorstep to murmur a short prayer underneath my breath.

I stood at the exit of the town, staring at the huge structure in front of me.

New Balamb Garden.

The place where the core of my answers laid. The place that had made me what I was. The place that had taken everything away from me. Feeling thin as death again, as a dead man, and burdened as myself, I looked at it.

At night, the lights and the shape belonged to that other garden.

Noir Balamb Garden.

Part Three: A Catch In All Plans

I started to make my way into New Balamb Garden.

I was well trained in the matters of infiltration. I knew I had to push in harder than I already had to get in. I put a sleep spell on the man who was standing in the check-in-and-out reception. He would recognize me for sure, for the numerous times I had played Triple Triad with him.

I went inside the place I had once known as home. Memories of the past started to take over me, as I braced myself and tried to calm down. Returning this place was like re-visiting my own grave. I knew my grave was Balamb Garden... When I got out of Rinoa’s death and got back here, I was sure my grave was Balamb Garden.

But it wasn’t my grave anymore.

It wasn’t my home either.

It was only a faded, destroyed, damaged memory inside my damaged mind.

I started to roam the corridors with the quietness of a ghost, the deadliness of death, and the woundedness of only a man like me could understand of. I walked across the corridors, but no Garden Faculty was around. They had a plan. I knew it. I knew I was headed straight to self-destruction, just like I knew they had something in the line for me.

I didn’t have a clue these days. I just slashed them as they came. But here and now, in the depths of this cold, cavernous grave of mine, I couldn’t count on senseless acts. My senses had to crawl back to their places in order for me to survive.

I ducked behind the Directory, when I heard footsteps. Smiling bitterly to this memory, I looked around. I saw a pair of SeeD uniform boots coming toward me. The steps appraoched to me!

“What the he-“ was the only thing he could mutter, because LionHeart had already slashed his throat open. The bullet was out of the barrel. It was now or never, life or death.

I walked on to the elevator, slowly running. I got to the door, and it slid open for me. I stepped in, uneasy as hell, although the elevator was warm enough to heat me up inside.

I pressed on “Archives”.

The elevator slowly went down, taking me to the bowels of New Balamb Garden, taking me underneath the soil more than I was trying to get to. I knew my answers were there. Going down, I was like Sherlock Holmes or just some guy who was left in a viscious circle of plans, traps and betrayal. Every dagger on my back was itching to reach to the archives and make this nightmare end.

The elevator stopped, reminding me that, I still had lots to do for my deadly russian roulette not blowing my brains out.

The doors slid open, leading me to the core of The Archives. I had to learn if they had something to do with the murders that took place... The murders that took my life so far away from me.

I progressed to the small computer unit. They had no paperwork, that was the property of Esthar, not us. I looked at the screen, and then, tried to think of something to search. Then, I typed in Leia Sedorven to find it out.

[Leia Sedorven].... “1” Match(s) Found:

Mission #896: ”Leia Sedorven”
Mission Type: Assassination
SeeD Type: Black SeeD

Clientelle: Aya Boko

Aya Boko... This name made some sense to me. She was what Chad had said he was working for, Evan and Rico included to that list as well. I searched for the other missions “Aya Boko” had been the clientelle of.

And suddenly, it all made sense.

The names, the last names, the locations, where they had been, what they had done... They were all related, like I had found before. Even the names were alike. And they were all murdered- no, “assassinated” by SeeD forces. So the serial killing chain I had searching for was a lie to it’s goddamned core.

And someone wanted me to find this.

Now it was starting to make sense to me even more, as my mind grew clearer with the stitches on my memory:

There was a catch in all plans.

And now that I looked back to it, I was seeing the Dollet Communication Tower of catches.

I had to get incarcarated when SeeD and G.L.E. had came into my house, and found me with Leia's dead body, to begin with. Then, in Rico's hotel, in Shut-Eye Motel, inside the bowels of Rico Selune's Diabloistic rituals, in the place where Canite beat me, in Surinel Manor I had to die. But I had survived.

And now, I still didn’t have a picture of the victims. I was longing for one. I was praying to the dead god inside my heart for this not to be true, but I still wanted to see the pictures. No pictures were in our database.

That was what kept SeeD as soulless murderers as the whole world said. No faces, no stories, no names, no lives. Just targets. Just targets in a shooting range, no different.

Soulless murderers. Thieves of lives. My ghosts.

All boiled down to SeeD.

“But with what purpose?” I asked to the darkness around and inside of me, “But why should SeeD be busy with assassinations, when someone could track it down?”

To think, no one else had worked on these cases. They had all came to me, delivered to Selphie by mail.

“But why?” I asked to myself again.

“That’s easy, Squall Leonhart.” Came a voice.


Part Four: The Bitter Truths

Stepping in was this femme fatale, holding a gunblade to my face. She was wearing a black uniform of SeeD. It looked modified by a tailor or something. She had long, brown hair and blue eyes that flashed in the fading lamplight.

“Who the hell?” I asked, raising LionHeart with a defensive stand.
“Sabrine Mematile.” She replied, “Headmistress Of Balamb Garden.”

Sabrine Mematile... Our new headmistress who had taken me in with no exam, no questions. She had let go of me without questions. Her hands were always on my shoulders- she had helped me get that amounts of prozac. But why here and now, she was coming at me like the skeletal figure of a dead memory?

“What did you do?” I asked her.
“The bitter truths is what you want? Is that what you want, Squall Leonhart?”

The bitter truths. My laughter turned into a painful headache that was bleeding my eyes out. The truths would be more than bitter. They would be just like razorblades into my skin.

Was this cold day inside my own hell a different day from my other, troubled days? No. Not even close.

“Sabrine Mematile,” she said, “I am here for my revenge. But, to think, my brothers failed me!”
“Your brothers!?” I asked, this conversation was getting more interesting.
“My brothers. Whom you met in Rico’s hotel.”

The thought was a red fire burning through a crack in my skull.

The Mematile Brothers.

“Yes.” She said, noticing my shock, “My twin brothers knew you would be there instantly when you heard from JJE. They had to kill you there! And thus, you survived.”
“You!” I said, “You were the mysterious voice on the phone! You told me I wouldn’t make it out of that building alive!”
“You wouldn’t. But thus, I was wrong. I should’ve known a man after revenge won’t come down easy. I know it from myself.”
“Yes. Haven’t you heard? I’m here for my revenge.”

The tips of our gunblades were touching, like Rinoa’s lips and mine had... Two or three lives ago.

“Revenge?” I managed to ask.
“Yes. The revenge of my murdered children!!!” her rage was growing, I could see it in her eyes. But the knife was pressing against my leg, and I could almost feel it itching in a hungry jig.

This truly was my obsession forevermore.

“Who?” I asked.
“Elise and Jack Bret!” she spat, “Elise Bret and Jack Bret! My children whom BOTH were sacrificed to you and your stupid, unjustified revenge!!!
“They were your... Children!?”

Now it all made sense, once again!

I was sick of the cycle of abuse. This was all a cycle- of retaliation, revenge, sick games, the deadly roulette, and even strange relations.

Jack and Elise Bret were her children. Sabrine Mematile had been deceived and sold her soul in the sellout a long time ago. A long life ago. And I, unknowingly, had killed her children. Who had tried to kill me.

We were even.

“No debts are left unpaid here, Mematile.” I said, “Jack and Elise Bret deceived and betrayed me. They had to die, one way or the other.”
“Oh, they did, did they!?” she asked.
“Yes.” I replied, “Justified violence.”
“I want justice!” she said, the cutting edges of our gunblades were grinding against each other, “Justice!”
“Remember what they said in Court Marshall?” I asked, shooting her a wicked smile that forebade madness unleashed.
“...And justice for all.” She said. She was lost in her rage. She couldn’tve noticed the knife taking it’s place in my right palm.
“...And justice for all.” I replied, as I lunged forward. A kick landed on my chest, sending me back. I didn’t fall down, but my balance was distrupted, I could barely stand. I managed to regain my balance as I looked into her eyes like a wild Mersmerize which was caged in.

“Come!” she said, “And taste the bitter truths!”

I raised LionHeart. With the madness flashing in my eyes, I lunged forwards, while using both LionHeart and the knife.

She noticed my advantage, the knife, at once.

“Ha!” she said, “The knife of a Black SeeD assassin!”
“It serves me as well!!!”
“Idiot!” she exclaimed as she made another move aiming to rip my head off my shoulders, “That thing is full of some sort of drug!”
“Drug!?” I asked, as my gunblade came from the opposite direction to stop her move.
“Drug, yes!” she replied, as the gunblade came at me in a vertical slash from upwards to downwards, “It was what had kept you from coming here right away!!”
“HOW!?” I asked, as the knife approached from an upper angle to her neck, but she stopped it,
“A drug. It stops your thinking process or avoids it, and even acts as a hallucinogen... It stops the electric current in your brain when you produce thoughts about why SeeD was in this!” she replied.

She didn’t have much time left.

I managed to hit her gunblade hard enough to make her drop her defense. The knife almost came faster than eye or mind could follow. It entered her heart that was full of pain and the poison of revenge.

She bent her body backwards, bleeding her life out.

“I... A mistaken fate?” she asked.
“No.” I replied, “You were just like me- a victim. But it was just not the right move to stimatize and victimize me more than you had been.”

LionHeart entered her chest and slid in easily, granting her a fast death, the only “gift” I could give to her.

And when Sabrine Mematile left me, I was once again, alone in the darkness.

*Author’s Note: ”Memati” means “death” in Arabic.

Part Five: Beneath The Surface

I walked out of New Balamb Garden in total numbness.

And strange enough, disappointment.

I had dreamt of revenge. Now that I knew SeeD had committed those murders and Aya Boko was in this job to her neck, I thought this would make me feel relieved.

Instead, it had left an empty shell behind.

Like everything else in my mind or soul, this broken shell of me was too weak to allow a proper feeling to stay in. Twisted and mad inside it’s own crude fashion, it didn’t help me one bit.

I felt numb as I walked around in the snow. It was cold. Unimaginably cold. But it was colder inside. The snow was gently falling down, then it increased speed in an opera to my emptyness inside.

Then came sadness, crawling in me.

I walked back to Balamb Town while crying. It was all too much than I could take. What was I standing up for? The same thought was in different suits, but in front of me all the time. The same maniacal dreams of mobsters which shattered my life down.

After enduring more damage and destruction than any other man could ever endure in their lives...

...I had came to a dead end again.

I entered the town, almost limping in my own sadness. Some called it a pity party. Did I have a good reason to feel sorry for myself? I did. I was in constant misery and hate crawling at the bottom line of the empty bottle made out of my dreams.

I was walking to the train station as a telephone nearby started to ring.

I didn’t feel anything as I laid LionHeart down near the booth and picked it up, leaning against the booth, my hair damp in melting snow, my eyes red of all the crying.

“Hello?” I asked.
What the hell happened at Deling Station!? Squall, I’m going heywire here! Meet me in Timber Maniacs in five hours, come up with a plan.”
“Sure thing.” I replied as I left the phone hanging in the air, and walked to the train station.

I got my ticket to Timber, and got on the train. I waited for fifteen minutes staring at the frozen glass and making my fingerprints emerge in it’s cold surface by touching it.

When the train started to move, I tried to get my brain to work.

More that I thought about it, the more this familiar ringing of betrayal, this familiar stabbing feeling of another dagger on my back came to me.

JJE had sold me out, just like NTH. He may have even been with C.O.N.C.E.A.L.. I had headed for traps and got Selphie dead. And now, he was calling me to finish me off.

I knew that if I died, I would be going to Diablos’ hell, to sit on my well-earned seat right next to his and enjoy the sad theatre.

So JJE was a traitor. I didn’t care. They stepped up and they went down, none made sense or even hailed my senses. I didn’t care.

A woman, a beautiful woman sat right in front of me. She was not like Rinoa or Leia at all... But she surely had a charming thing to her. I knew then, that my heart was standing in my chest, but it was frozen.

A heart of ice.

I didn’t feel anything. I just continued to stare outside the window and start to think again, when a soft hand brushed against my cheek. I almost jumped up. Then, the air filled my lungs with her perfume. I couldn’t be decieved so easily. She could’ve been a C.O.N.C.E.A.L. recruit, or S.E.C.R.E.C.Y., or even SeeD!

“Are you okay, sir?” she asked, and I was sure, she was none of them. She was just an angel. An angel that didn’t exist.
“No. I’m not.” I replied, surprised at my own reaction.
“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked.
“Do you want to hear about it?” I asked. I had five hours in front of me, and I could surely waste the time with doing something more productive than running in circles in the mazes inside my mind.
“Sure.” She said.
“What if I told you, that I am already dead?”
“I would say you’re cynical.”
“Yeah.” I replied, “The woman I loved was murdered seven years ago.” I wasn’t foolish, if she noticed anything, she would call the security, and they would die easier than any Chicobo Rico had killed.
“I’m... sorry.” She said,
“Don’t be.” I replied, “Then, all of my friends, except one, were murdered right in front of my eyes, and I was shown as the murderer, though I wasn’t. I hunt out for the truth. I found the truth, that it was all nothing but a retaliation on me, from my rival. I killed him, and got my revenge.”
“Okay.” She said, “Go on.”
“Then, I started a new life with my only friend that was left alive. Then, I fell in love again. The woman I loved was murdered again. And I started to seek out revenge again... My only friend was murdered in front of my eyes... And I’m now trying to find out- who and why.”

I looked at her when no response came. Then, I had to swallow hardly and look around, shaking inside this paranoid feeling.

She wasn’t there.

Was she a ghost from the past? Someone I knew once but now forgot? The Guardian Force... I didn’t have any. They had left me faster than my guardian angels had.

The train stopped, and I got off. I walked around in the snow, slowly making my way to the Timber Maniacs. There, was a familiar figure. Too familiar.

Beneath the surface, rested the incredible truth.

The figure was wearing C.O.N.C.E.A.L. uniform. I wasn’t surprised. JJE had to betray me, or else, why should I have pushed in to get to him, and trust on his information?

Beneath the surface, rested a con artist.

It was Ward.

Part Six: Judge, Jury, Executioner

“You!?” was the only thing that could come out of my throat.
“Me.” He replied. He could speak... I knew he had his throat injured in their excavation site adventure... and that he lost his voice.

Was he speaking from his mind? Was he dead? Was I dead?

All questions with no answers, just like my life.

“You can speak?”
“I didn’t lose my voice as many think I did.” He replied, “I had to fake it. I knew a time would come where I would have to use my voice. And I was right. The time has come. Now, follow me.”
“Hold on.” I said, “I’m not gonna lunge into a trap again. I wanna know why you informed me of everything.”
“You think this was just a minor work of a psychopath? No. You found out the SeeD connection. And now, you should get to see what you want to see- pictures.”
“You have the files with you, now!?” I asked.
“No. I have them in a safe place. No, it’s not C.O.N.C.E.A.L. HQ. I have them nearby, just on the outskirts.”

I followed him underneath the snow and the cold. The dark sky and the increasing snow turning into a snow that was painful promised me a dark night... The last dark night I would see.

The last night I could see.

I followed Ward all the way out of Timber. On the way, we only stopped to buy some food. I got black coffee from the old coffee machine, it was about a week old. Donuts, and sweets, and a huge chocolate bar. Not really healthy, but it was the first proper food I would eat in the last week.

I started forcing them all down like they were the ultimate revenge I was longing for. The ultimate peace.

Was peace ever there for me? As I followed this large, Death Claw of a man, I was once more crawling in a bottle of depression.

My steps were guided by the darkness. The darkness, which had betrayed me. I had trusted it all my life, and it had yet saw fit betraying me. I didn’t know how much of an illusion all this I had lived through was. To look back to it was to accept that it had all happened to me, and I hadn’t noticed them coming at me. Creeping from shadow to shadow to add another dagger to my back, they were the monsters of my soul.

The desires I had fed myself with were long gone.

My will to live, my life was forever broken.

How much more could I take of all this?

And we came to Ward’s “safe place”. It was Ragnarok, with C.O.N.C.E.A.L. logos, re-painted to shades of blue and gray, shining like one beautiful and cruel monster in the snow. This seemed familiar.

We walked inside, the metal corridors of the spaceship promising me a graveous path ahead. Ward handed over some papers to me, and lit up the lamps. He then walked away to get something, as I searched for what I wanted to see.

Leia Sedorven... Sabrina Quilly... Amira Sriely... Rinoa Heartilly...


And just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, life had dropped even more on my shoulders.

The pictures were the deuce for me. They were killing me, the faces were devouring my soul from the inside to the outside. I knew them.

It wasn’t Leia or Sabrina or Amira...

It was Rinoa.

With every passing picture, she died, before my eyes, again and again and again and again...

I let go of the files. LionHeart fell on the ground of Ragnarok with a loud clatter.

“Do you know what JJE means?” Ward asked, suddenly. I ducked down, and his massive harpoon came flying past me. I looked at it- it was stuck at the wall.

“What!?” I hissed like a serpent as I got LionHeart back into my hands.
“Judge, Jury, Executioner!” he replied, as he started to run towards me. If he caught me, I would be crushed between him and the wall. I jumped up, and managed to fly over him, but I fell down, as he hit the wall and Ragnarok shook.

I got back to my feet as he was trying to take his harpoon out. I got the knife and it entered straight into his foreleg. He screamed in pain, and swung his massive fist. I ducked down to avoid it, and the knife then entered to somewhere between his armpit and his hip. He screamed again, and tried to hit me with his other fist.

I managed to escape that too, and threw the knife. Somehow, it obeyed to my broken will and got stuck in the knee of his uninjured leg. He fell down on his back, and the knife shot straight back at me. I managed to catch it while it was flying in the air.

I walked to him, slowly, enjoying the fear in his eyes grow. He was one of them. He wasn’t smiling, but surely he would, in a few seconds, as my grim smile flashed with madness in our battlefield.

“Who ordered these assassinations?” I asked.
“They’ll kill me if I tell!” he said.
“I’ll kill you if you don’t.” I replied.
“Aya Boko!” he said, “Okay!? She’s with the C.O.N.C.E.A.L., to the fullest!”
“Who is this Aya Boko!? She’s there, everytime I turn to find an answer, she waits for me!? WHO IS SHE!?”
“Aya Boko is... It’s not real...” he said, his eyes becoming blank all of a sudden, “It’s a password... An angram...” he laughed the laughter of a madman, “Who is she? Who is Aya Boko?” he stared at his hands, “Who am I? Am I dead? Am I real!? WHO AM I!!?!?!?”

I had already walked out of Ragnarok as his screams started to echo all over the walls...

Like the silent screams of Leia.

Part Seven: The Midnight Of The Damned

I had found myself in this old diner, drinking cups of black coffee and eating donuts in a gluttonning act.

I had this one piece of paper and a pen in front of me. I was dwelling on what Ward had said before he had gone completely insane, just like me. I still had some restraints and logic, but it was just standing as it was a weak support beam to my bridge.

I had gotten together the clues, and I was trying to solve this mess.

Mematile Brothers and the Headmistress Of N.B.G.- brothers and sisters.

Leia, Rinoa, Amira, Sabrina...- Similar names and same faces.

SeeD, C.O.N.C.E.A.L., S.E.C.R.E.C.Y., G.L.E. after me- framing.

Selphie’s death...- The last hope gone.

The knife...- A drug syringe. It made me hallucinate and can’t lead my
thoughts to logic when I thought about SeeD...

Revenge...- The only thing that keeps me alive.

The web of Crime, all exported to Esthar, judging by what I found in
Ragnarok, C.O.N.C.E.A.L. makes the knives- this is something big.

Aya Boko...

The trail of my thoughts ended there. But they left me this one thing: This was another retaliation. This was all circling me.

And I was desperately trying to produce something out of “Aya Boko”, because the only logical thing Ward could tell me was...

“It’s an angram.”

An angram... So something could’ve been made by changing the positions of the letters. And that “something” was much likely to be the key.

The paper was full of things I could produce out of Aya Boko.

Okayab baykooa akoybao...

I couldn’t progress it anymore, cause the radio had switched to something that would interest me.

On today’s top story, Squall Leonhart was found dead, recovered by G.L.E. After the tragic death of New Balamb Garden Headmistress Sabrine Mematile, Squall Leonhart was reported dead by G.L.E., although no body has been uncovered.”

Yeah, right.

This meant that, whoever that was behind this made them think the cops had nailed me down, and they had to stop snooping around. The body would be delivered to them, barely recognizable. The modified teeth set would match my own teeth. Case closed.

I still had to figure out what this Aya Boko was.

Giving my mind back to it, I continued to scribble the words...

Kybaaoo yabokao...

This was going nowhere. I laid down the pen. And suddenly, it made sense to me...

The letters I had scribbled away from each other got together in the most bizarre and horrible fashion I could ever imagine. The hidden meanings revealed to me to the fullest.

With a shaking hand, I took the pen and scribbled the actual word.




The memories started to flash before my eyes. The power of the light traveled through the nerves in my eyes to find my mind, and to destroy it as a whole. I saw scenes that were seperate, but they all made sense to me now. After crawling on the ground for so long, I now knew who it was.

She had given me the cases of murders, kept me busy.

She had encouraged me to go on with Leia.

Leia’s assassin was wearing black, and had a strange body figure for a man.

Kiros had died, and the assassin was wearing black.

She was wearing all black when she had met me.

She had acted all strange when she met me, before she died. It wasn’t her.

Her hair wet with sweat when she met me near the pub.

She said she had ran, and couldn’t get to her car.

She didn’t have a car.

All these things led to one person:

Selphie Tilmitt.

I don’t know how I managed to get out of that diner, into the snow. I tried to hide from the truth, but it was seeking me out. It knew where to get me. It knew me.

I tried to slip away into the darkness again, but light was everywhere. It was there to kill me with the truth, beat me down. In the midnight of the damned, I knew I was one. Walking in the snow, afraid to lose even more of my mind, I ran to nowhere, until my legs gave in.

I fell on my knees. My breath wasn’t coming back to me, it was suffocating me in this truth. I knew the biggest blow came from the person closest to me. I knew she hadn’t did all this to help me, but to push me once more inside this cycle of abuse, against hell’s army all by myself...

...The only one that had been left for me, the only one I was hanging on to had betrayed me, deeper than my blinded eyes could see.

How could I have turned that small voice inside my head telling me that...

...I was truly one of the damned?

Part Eight: Pawn On The Chessboard

I walked around in the snow for an hour or a century, it made no difference.

After calming down a little, I managed to find myself a phone. I inserted the only coin Gil I had in it, and dialled the number:

226 66 666 992 552.

I remembered telling Selphie that it was too long to remember. She said, it spelled “Booyaka” in the phone’s language. I had taken her word for it.

Now I was sure. It was Selphie.

The phone rang for, ironically, seven times for the sake of my shattered life. Then, Selphie’s voice came in.


I froze.

I tried to find something to say to her, I had to. Cause this Gil of mine wouldn’t last forever. I wanted to settle this once again and for all.

“Hello, Selphie.” I said, “It’s me, Squall Leonhart.”
Squall? You, but you weren’t supposed to-“ she barely recognized her mistake and shut her mouth, but I went on:
“Be alive? I’m not. Haven’t you heard the news? I’m dead. So are you.”
You know.” she said, her voice changing.
“I do.” I replied, “A ‘retaliation’. Time and place, Selphie, time and place.”
For what?” she asked.
“For our meeting.”
Okay... As soon as you can, Esthar City’s entrance. Where you had gotten down into your little showdown with Seifer. The real showdown is going down soon, Squall.”
“Count on it.” I said, and then left the phone hanging, as Selphie said something, but I didn’t want to hear it.

I took my time again. I had to prepare myself, mentally, for what I was going to with my own feet. Because I knew this was the end, and I wouldn’t be cured after this.

I would either die or live on as a broken man.

Selphie had made it all go on like this. Looking back to it, I saw that her actions were only to make me a pawn on the chessboard. I had been investigating these murders left on my desk by Selphie Tilmitt- preparing me for my research in my revenge. And that I would remember them and see the connection between them.

I had a few spare questions, and they were prepared for later on. Later on as when I had met the only ghost that remained to haunt me, and eventually kill me. The only smiling skull left from my past was Selphie.

I now built up the rage even more as I remembered how we had held on to each other- how Selphie had cried in my arms, how I had cried in hers. We both were losers in this chess game...

I got on the train and left for Esthar. It was a long trip, and I decided to get some sleep.

In my dream, I dreamt all my friends saying, “We count on you” all the time. They knew. I knew what ghosts wanted. They wanted revenge. And I was their tool. The perfect murder weapon to a perfect crime.

Next stop, Esthar. Next stop, Esthar.” Came the annoying announcement, dragging me out of my dreams.

I stretched out a little to let go of the numbness on my muscles. I looked outside to clear my head. Outside, the land was screaming in hollow winds and storms. The weather looked as if it was trying to get it all out before this ended. The snow was slowly turning into rain.

Rain like my teardrops.

No. I had no more tears. They had dried out in this endless parade of pain. I was headed to a therapy for pain. A therapy that would end it all.

The announcement sounded as “We will be arriving to Esthar shortly. Please check the cabins for your personal belongings before you leave.”

I waited for the train to stop, and then, got off it. I walked casually to the lift-like platform that would take me to Esthar. I saw someone there. The nostalgic scene came back to me like the need to soothe myself with another bullet.

They said, “The man takes another bullet, he’s fooled again.”.

Selphie was there.

She was wearing a C.O.N.C.E.A.L. uniform this time. She looked proud. An unusual glare flashed in her emerald green eyes. The devilish smirk of Seifer, clearly visible on her face.

She had a strange sword. It looked like a dimond-shaped sword, four-edged. I didn’t care. I approached to her, and looked at her.

“Lookin’ good!” she said, imitating her voice before the SeeD graduation ball.
“Sure thing.” I replied, “Why?” I asked.
“Why? You murdered Irvine and the rest of my best friends! I want my retaliation on you! I wanna have my revenge!”
“I thought you investigated it all! You told me-“
“How can I get an e-mail on Ragnarok, when I have no connection? Would I attack you there, when you were sick as hell, if I truly had investigated it!?”

So she had lied. So she had been waiting for her time to come. It came to me as a powerful blow. I shook, but didn’t fall down.

The lift shook and moved.

Selphie swung her weapon at me from left to right in a horizontal slash. I put up LionHeart to avoid her move. I could hear sirens in the background, their manic-depressive chorus was an addition to the dark sky and the words whispered to me by the rain. The lift had stopped at one point, somewhere where I could see the dark sky.

Suddenly, something happened- Selphie’s weapon’s strange cutting edge was divided into a few sections, a chain was holding them together. This was a bare naked metaphor to Quistis- a chain-whip. It was deadly as hell. I raised LionHeart to avoid my face being turned into minced meat, and the chain wrapped itself around my gunblade. As I tried to take it off, Selphie pulled the whip back.

And with a sound that broke my heart and took my soul with it...

...LionHeart broke.

The pieces flew away from me, as they fell down into the dark.

Part Nine: The Final Move

The whip landed on my rising left arm. It didn’t break my arm, but it managed to make my blood flow on my hands and stain them both.

I stared at my bloodstained hands as the whip landed on my other arm and opened up another bleeding gash in my soul. I felt like I had failed again.

I thought about them...

They were all dead. There was nothing I could do now.

She was right in front of me, but there were no signs of the light I had seen earlier. She was a predator, so much like me; an avenging angel at large.

“Things might’ve been different between us.” I said.
“Yeah, right!” she replied, mocking me with her voice, whipping me down, “I would’ve been Mrs. Leonhart, and then would have to fight with the mere memory of Ms. Rinoa Heartilly!”

The power of the words made me fall down on my knees.

“Life knocks you down, doesn’t it?” she asked, still playing games with my mind, “Like they say; ‘How reality’s plane can wear you down, and make you an insane man who only frowns!”

I ran by bloodstained hands through my whitening hair with a sigh. I had gotten the revenge of Rinoa, and my murdered friends.

But what about me?

Who could I have cut the price tag of my broken life?

The answer brought me to this pit, where it would all end. The afterpiece was on, the final scene was here. The final scene, labelled as Mata Léao, “to kill the lion”.

I pushed my illusions aside. Nothing I could do now. I couldn’t save them now. But I could save myself by giving up. It would save the time.

“So, how does this end?” I asked.
“Through you.” She replied, “Badly.”

It would end through me. I knew it. I should’ve known it all my life, that I couldn’t find peace from my past. It was like a ghostly shadow, following me.

“It doesn’t have to.” I said, “It didn’t have to be this way.”
“It did.” She replied, “It so totally did. Because, everything that had happened before effects this here moment as well!”

She raised her weapon.

“Farewell, Squall.” She said.

In my moment of death, I felt a cold, metallic object, pressing against my leg. With a shaking, blootstained hand, I reached out to see what it was. I touched the little knife.

Looking at the chessboard, I saw that it was my turn to make a move.

So I made my move-

Epilogue: Deliverance

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