The God's Other Half
by Darkness Beckons
The man walked up the road from Balamb. He was heading towasrds were Garden was. Garden. His home. He wondered what had happened to make the monsters so scared but he had picked up a little. Wait a second, that's Garden but it looks... diferent. Closer and higher up.
His clothes were bloodsoaked as well as his sword which was currently using as a crutch. He was tempted to throw it away, but people always said only death should part a warrior from his weapon. One of his wounds was still open. He could feel it bleeding. Amazing that, he had finished his fight two days ago and was still bleeding. Mind you he hadn't eaten or had medical suplies since then. He'd had to spend all his remaining money getting back here.
He had long black hair. In fact long was an excellent word to describe him. Long hair, long face, long body, long arms, long legs. Even his sword, which was an unusual white colour, was long.
There was someone now. A SeeD. With long blond hair and a whip by her side. He knew her, what was her name. She was an instructer here. Qui...Quis...Quistis. That was it. She would be able to help. He clenched his other hand tighter so the thing he was holding wouldn't fall out. He couldn't let that happen. Excellent, she had seen him and was running towards him. He sagged slightly when she reached him and she helped him stay standing.
"What the hell happened to you? In Hyne's name you look like shit. Come on let's get you into Garden. Squall, over here, we have an injury"
Squall, now there was another name he knew. Weakly he tried to get them to realise he was SeeD. "Hand," however was all he managed to get out.
Nevertheless, Quistis, meticulous as always, checked his free hand just as Squall came over.
"Squall he's a SeeD rank 28. I think I know who he is but.." she paused for a second just to make sure he was who she thought. She was almost sure. Oh well. "He's been missing for 6 months. It was just as Squall started supporting him that he passed out.
* * *
Chapter 2: Awakening
Darkness was all around him. It enveloped him within it's cloak he had used so effectively. Glancing around Aidin saw nothing but darkness stretching away into the distance. A quick glance told him he was in his favourite clothes. A dark, loose fitting pants with a slightly looser but just as dark top. A jet black cloak to aid him in hiding from unwelcome eyes completed the suit. Another glance confirmed that his sword was in it's sheath on his back.
Then he suddenly felt a sense of movement and found himself sorrounded by mountains. They looked very familiar. The sound of battle drew his attention and what he saw confirmed his suspicions. He saw himself battling a Blue Dragon. On the ground nearby a T-Rexaur lay dead. This was near the final battle of his mission. About a month before it ended. A month and 2 days ago.
He watched as the Blue Dragon lunged at him. He watched as he rolled to avoid it before jumping up and slashing at it. He watched as it twisted around. He watched as it screamed. Saw himself look at it. Saw his own reaction when he saw the fear in it's eyes. It was a mixture of fear and confusion. He himself only felt the fear because he knew what was coming next. He watched his face contort in pain as the sensation entered him. He knew what the sensation was. It felt been stretched and crushed at the same time, like exploding and imploding at the same time. He still didn't know what had caused.
Then he saw the expression on his face and woke up. It had been an expression he'd never seen before. It was a mixture of fear and pain. It was not something he would forget easily. It was still dark and it took him a moment to realise why. He hadn't opened his eyes. So he did. The sight that greeted him was not what he had expected. Mind you he had half expected to be dead so it was a fabulous improvement on that.
He was facing three people. He recognised the first two straight away as Squall as Quistis but it took him a moment to recognise the third. When he did he sighed.
"Hello Dr.Kadowaki. Going to give me antother lecture on been more careful on missions or else one time I won't get so lucky."
"That was exactly what I planned to do actually but it seems these people here have to ask you some questions first. The first one I believe is why you're not dead anymore?"the doctor answered. She was slightly amused but she was also slightly worried. In all the many times he had been in here for one reason or another he had never awoken in a cold sweat. She wondered what could have scared him so bad.
"Actually I was planning to ask you why I was dead. I told you I was going out into the mountains with no reception and a month later you declare me dead. I mean honestly Quistis I thought you'd have stood up for me. I mean to say, I know I promised to write but it is a little hard to send them when your in a totally uninhabited area." He did a very good job af looking apoligetic but the gleam in his eyes suggested he was having great fun. Quistis couldn't help but smile. It was good to know he hadn't changed.
"You know the rules, if you don't report for a month your considered dead." Squall said."Make your report now."
"Lighten up a bit Squall. I was your roomate for four years and you still refuse to do anything against regulation. Oh well in that case. SeeD no. 004, Aidin Guardian, reporting back from a mission in Estharian Mountains. A variety of monsters had formed a pack containing: T-Rexaurs, Blue Dragons, Red Dragons and Marloboros, Pack had been raiding farms nearby so the president sent for SeeD. My partners SeeD no.s 003 and 005 were killed in a raid on their pack juring one of the raids. Requests for backup unanswered and I went ahead as planned. Eventually I killed the leader and the remains of the pack disbanded. During one of the previous fights about a month before the defeat of their leader an unidentified occurence occured in which the Blue Dragon I was fighting became paralysed with fear. I remained where I was until it ended and finished the mission. That's all Squall." He paused for a second before deciding to correct himself. "Sorry. Commander." He ripped off a half salute where he brought his index finger and his middle finger up to his temple and fired just to annoy him a bit.
Then he clutched at his head and jumped away from the door screaming the same phrase over and over again. "Neo Bahamut trying to escape. Trying to make the call."
They heard a thump outside and Squall went to check what it was. He saw the others outside the infirmary crowded around Selphie who had collapsed in a similiar position to Aidin inside. She was screaming too. The same phrase over and over. "Bahamut, trying to get out."
"Zell what happened?" he questioned the martial artist.
"I donno man. I heard Aidin was here so I wanted to introduce the rest of them to him but when we got here she collapsed like that." He answered.
"Get her away from here quickly. Aidins like that inside too. What the hell didn't he tell us?"
He watched for a second as they carried her away. Then he turned around and went back in.
The second he was inside he asked him "OK what didn'e you tell us? One of my friends just collapsed out there and I don't like it when things like that happen. Who is Neo Bahamut and what call was he trying to make."
"I'll tell you,but I thought I was your friend too. Neo Bahamut was the one who got the monsters together. He was there leader and he is a GF. It took me five days to beat him but when I did he told me about another Bahamut out there but that he would only come if he and Bahamut were brought close together and were released to make the call Then we'd have to fight all three of them. I would prefer if that happened when I was fit enough to fight by the way."
"Don't worry about that. I won't let that happen. But are you trying to tell me that there is another Bahamut out there. One that we didn't know about as well as you're one."
"Yep. As far as I can tell he is in space waiting for the call. Now would you please leave. Both of you. I'm knackered out of my mind so I'm propably going to fall asleep soon enough."
Squall left straight away but Quistis lingered by the door long enough to say "He is your friend. He has a hard time showing it. Zell's your friend too and so am I. YOu needn't worry about that."
"Thanks Quistis. That means a lot." Then he fell asleep and she left to go find the rest of them. She didn't like that one of them had collapsed. Especially since it was propably Selphie who had. She had to go check it out.
Chapter 3: Love and Hate
Squall walked quickly up the dorms' corrider towards Selphie's room. He wanted to be sure she was alright. He really didn't understand why he had gotten so frustrated with Aidin after she collapsed. He supposed it reminded him of when Rinoa had collapsed in Galbadia Garden and what had happened after that. He was scared of it happening again even though he knew it wouldn't. He sighed, Aidin was right he did take everything too seriously. And he had been worried about when he saw him having a nightmare. In all the years they'd been roomates he'd never once seen him scared but he had looked terrified right as he had woken. He'd have to look into this call too. He didn't think he was lying but he had to have more info on it before they tried it.
He reached Selphies room and he put it all out of his mind. He had more important things to worry about. He went in and the sight that greeted him was kind of scary. Selphie was lying lying on the bed, apparantly asleep and still whimpering quietly. Irvine had his head in his hands next to her, Zell was pacing around the room. Rinoa seemed calm enough next to her holding her hand. They all turned to face the door as he entered.
"Hey man, d'ya know what happened to her Squall? She's been like this ever since she collapsed." questioned Zell.
"Exactly what she said. Bahamut was trying to excape from her mind."he answered.
"Why was he trying to escape though? Why'd he put Selphie in pain? He's never done anything like that to anyone before now." Irvine whispered, so quiet as to be barely audible. It was obvious he was shaken up over this.
"His...brother I suppose you would call him, was near and he wanted to escape to make a call to their other brother." Squall told them. He held up a hand to silence them, "That's all I know. I'll find out more in the morning, until then get some rest. Irvine before you ask you can stay here. Goodnight." and with that he left.
On his way down the hall he met Quistis. "She'll be OK" he told her before she could ask. "I told the others to get some rest but they'll probably be there for a while more. You can go see her if you want."
"Squall, try not to be hard on Aidin. It's not his fault Selphie had Bahamut." She told him gently.
"Yea I know. It's just...seeing her collapse brought back memories of when Rinoa collapsed. I guess I just lost it a bit. Sorry. Goodnight."
He expected to be up a while thinking about what happened back there, but the moment Squall's head touched the pillow he was asleep. In his dream he was in a dusty palace of granite and limestone, the white contrasting sharply with the black. He went inside and he saw a long red carpet leading to throne. Seated upon it he saw a woman of most incredible beuty. Long golen brown hair splashed over her shoulder and her lightly tanned features with a figure hugging golden dress made her incredibly alluring. She was smiling at him but it was her eyes that held his attention. Her eyes were saphires in every sense of the word. They were hard and beutiful as a saphire and they held no happiness, no warmth, only a hatred towards all living things.
"Ah yes. I've been expecting you my knight. What took you so long." She said when he entered.
"I am not your knight. I already have a sorcerress and she is all I need."
"You will become my knight." Her voice was quiet and seductive, but there was a cold bitterness in it she couldn't disguise."You shouldn't fight it"
"I will never become your knight. I amn't fighting anything."
"Yes you are. I can feel your longing."
"If I have any longings, sorcerress, believe me they are not for you. I will not stay here to debate this."
"Fine go, but she doesn't love you. I thought you should know that." As soon as he was gone she laughed. Cracking him would be fun. She began weaving a spell that couldn't be found anywhere in the world.
* * *
Squall sat at the desk evaluating the latest field exam. They were doing better than ever. 7 new SeeDs and smaller casualties. Still a lot though. 10 out of the 60 trying out had been killed destroying a nest of Marlboros. At the sound of the door opening he glanced up and smiled slightly when he saw Rinoa coming towards him.
"Hey Squall. What're you doing?"
"Nothing to do with you, that's for sure. I still haven't forgotten last time."
"Now Squall I've already forgiven you for that. I thought you had forgiven me too." She pouted slightly and he grinned at her.
He chuckled lightly than told her. "I'm checking the report an the last field exam we had."
"How's it lookin'?"
"10 out of sixty dead and 7 passes."
Suddenly Rinoa felt a strange sensation rush over her. Before she could do anything about it, she felt anger towards Squall overtake her. "How can you be so cold? Those people were young they had bright futures ahead of them, and you let it be taken away without so much as a second thought."
He reached out and touched her hand."Rinoa..."
She slapped it away from her. "Don't touch me. You're heatless person. I...I hate you Squall Leonheart.
As she ran from the room he slumped back against the chair. Then he felt darkness overtake him and he closed his eyes. When he opened them tears were flowing openly down his cheeks. He was back in the palace, no longer dusty but clean and splendid. He looked up at the throne and saw her sitting there,.
"I told you she didn't love you. She never will. You cannot be her knight if she does not love you. Join me, I do love you. Join with Hyne, greatest sorcerress of them all."
"Never. She may not love me but I love her. I can't be her knight but I can still protect her. You are incapable of love. I love Rinoa Heartily and that is all that matters." He hot up and walked away, tears still coming from his eyes.
* * *
Irvine was going up o give his report to Squall of the exam. He had been one of the supervising SeeDs and they all had to give their reports to him first. When the door opened to the third floor he was surprised to see Rinoarunning out with tears in her eyes. He decided to see what Squall had done and how he could fix it.
"Whoa, little lady, slow down a bit, what's Squall after doing now?"
"He was just reading the report for the exam and he said 10 out of 60 had died. And he didn't care. He's so cold he doesn't care about anything. I hate him," she was sobbing a bit now out of anger.
"You're wrong on all counts there. He does care he just keeps it bottled up. You know Squall. And he loves you, more than anything else in the world. And you love him too."
"No, he's cruel and I hate him." But she could sense that strange feeling growing smaller and she was thinking more cleary and she wasn't as sure of herself anymore.
"Really, than remember this. You went up to the sorcerress to try to put that Odine bangle on her. Then she set those Iquions on you and you couldn't fight them. You were an excellent fighter but you couldn't fight them. And then Squall came and you could and you helped us. You told him you couldn't fight alone. He promised to protect you and and you felt safe. I saw it in your eyes. Then remember how you felt when he was impaled by that icicle. Who made us go back for them at the desert prison? Why? It was for Squall. He became your knight. Do you think he'd do that for anyone else. And you agreed. Would you do that for anyone else? Believe me, he loves you and you love him too."
She was sobbing again but these were gentler, sadder sobs."What have I done? I told him I hated him. How can I change that?"
"Well that is something easy, missy. Go back in there and tell him how you really feel."
"Yea. That is easy. Thanks Irvine, thanks a lot."
"Anytime Rinoa" He tipped his hat at her and she turned about and went back inside. When she got in Squall was coming towards the door. It was easy to see he had been crying. And that was the final proof for her. She had never seen him cry before and he was crying over her. He loved her. She threw her arms around his neck and started crying into his coat.
"I'm sorry Squal, I'm so,so sorry. I love you with all my heart. Please forgive me."
"It's OK."He said as he rocked her gently against his chest. "I forgive you because I love you with all my heart. But you know, this means I get to call you a meanie now."
She couldn't stop it. She laughed. It was very unusual to hear Squall making a joke. As she looked she saw his face coming nearer. She mimiced the movement and they kissed. It was a long time before they let each other go.
Chapter 4: Downward Spiral
Seifer walked down the hallway with a bored expression on his face. He was really starting to hate not been on the disciplinary committee. He couldn't annoy people constantly and it was starting to get him down. The only one he could still annoy was Chicken-Wuss and that wasn't even a challenge. Now if he could annoy Squall it'd be something but that man was a rock. Nothing got through to him. Except for Rinoa. It was a wonder she had managed it. She had to become unconcious before he had realised how he felt for her. He'd have to get the whole story bout that some day. Maybe from that cowboy wannabe Irvine, or maybe Selphie.
And now Aidin was back. That guy was just annoying. The way he'd just laugh off anything Seifer did to him was annoying. The way he didn't get angry at him was annoying. The way he refused to accept any challenge to a duel on the basis that he had no reason to was annoying. And the way that he was so lazy in class and at missions for the most part and still got by was annoying. And the way that he could annoy Squall sometimes if he tried hard enough was really annoying. Everything about the man was annoying. Oh well, maybe he'd accept a duel now. He'd finnaly get to prove to everyone he was a better fighter than him.
Seifer sighed. Some things were not worth thinking about. Maybe he should go to the training center to blow off some steam. His hand was resting on his Hypernion, added to the look on his face people were avoiding him. Well at least he could still scare people. Ex-Sorcerress Knight Seifer Almansy himself. The big man. The one liable to go off his head and attack you. Sometimes people disgust me.Sometimes I discust me. But he accepted it and used it to make people leave him alone. He was spending more and more time alone these days. Most people he couldn't stand because they annoyed him by talking about him behind his back. Selphie annoyed by been so happy. No-one had a right to be so happy. Chickenwuss annoyed him by been so overconfident and constantly punching the air. Cowboy Irvine annoyed by his flirting with every girl in sight and still doting over Selphie.
Squall and Rinoa on the other hand, he didn't want to face because it brought back memories he didn't want to remember. Things he had done in the name of his Sorcerresses. All the innocent people killed so they could take over the world. The thing that pained him most was what he had done to Rinoa. Giving her over like that to Adel. To merge them together without even a second thought. Fighting against them after that still with no regrets. He couldn't face them after that.
The only two people he still hung around with sometimes were Raijin and Fujin. The two who had stuck with him through all the battles. Had fought with him against Squall and the others. But he was even avoiding them these days. Anyone he associated with that war was too much to handle lately. He considered leaving SeeD but he knew there was no point in doing it. Everyone knew who he was now. He'd never find anyone who would employ him. He'd die out there.
Then he blinked and looked around. He was at the training center and he hadn't even realised it. That was dangerous, ever for someone as skilled with a gunblade as he was. The T-Rexaurs around here would make a meal out of people who weren't wary. Then out of the corner of his eye he saw a golden glimmer just for second. He'd almost missed it because of all the exotic plants around. He decided to follow it. After all he'd never seen a monster like that around here before. It should be an interesting fight. After all, it isn't very often they added a new monster to the center. He didn't realise what he was getting himself into yet,or how true that statement was.
He stalked it as it moved through the center, always just ahead of him, never close enough to see clearly. Just disapearing round a corner. Then he reached the back of the center where the secret place was. Then he got a clear look at what he had been following. Or rather who. His mouth dropped open slightly as he saw her. Her beauty stunned him, a pale golden gown covering tanned skin with golden brown hair tumbling down over her shoulders. His mouth closed and he swallowed as she started talking to him.
"Ah yes, the true sorceress knight. My descendant chose well in you." Hyne spoke, slightly mockingly, when she saw him. She smiled at him, but he was too far away to see that it didn't extend to her eyes, which remained cold as stone."She chose very well indeed. So strong and so passionate. Willing to fight for a cause... a dream perhaps."
"You're...you're descendant? What do you mean? Who is she?"
"Why Ultimicea of course. Sorcerress of the future.”
"Ultimicea.. but you can't know that. How can you know that?"he demanded."Most people outside SeeD don't even know much exept that Squall and his gang beat her."
"Ah yes, that is correct. But how couldn't I know of her when I had been telling her what to do all this time?" Her eyes did hold an amused light now at the disbelief on the young man's face. I'm as good as ever. Or perhaps it's just easier to manipulate people of this age than the other. After all the man was already off balance. A few more shoves and he should be ready for it.
Seifer swallowed slightly."What..."He took a deep breath to calm himself before going on. "You're trying to tell me, let me see if i've got this right now, you're saying YOU'RE Hyne? You're joking right. The first sorceress ever. That's what you're saying."
"Of course, who else did you expect. You knew her reasons." Sudden her gaze flickered behind him. He turned and whipped his blade out. There were 3 T-Rexaur standing right behind him. He hadn't heard them aproach. He had heard it said they could move like ghosts but had never really believed it. Wait a second he tought he saw a strange light in their eyes 'Almost...fear.' But that was impossible. They felt anger, and knew when they had lost a battle and were about to die but... fear. Then again what was happening to him waws impossible too. "Ah yes, ancient creatures those. Dangerous to some but this time I think..."
Suddenly Seifer lost his balance as the ground started moving and he heard a roar come from the throats of the monsters.
* * *
Aidin lay awake on the bed trying to puzzle out what had happened to him just there. For a second a shuddering had seized him and now he felt what could only be described as an itch in his mind. He had never felt this before and it was starting to annoy him a lot. Just then Dr. Kadowaki walked in and to stop, or at least postpone, the lecture she usually gave him when he ended up in here he asked the first question that came to mind.
"What did Quistis mean out there when she said another one?"
"You remember that do you. Well lately the dragons and T-Rexaurs have been attacking people more than usual. Sometimes they even attack villages. There have been several Red Dragons spotted on Balamb island for the first time in 200 years."
"Dragons, why is it always the bloody dragons?" he sighed.
Suddenly the ground started shaking but while Aidin fell off the bed he felt something inside him shift and when he landed he didn't fall but almost seem to float above the ground. As he raced out the door he knew it must be his imagination but just for a second there he had thought he had felt wings on his back. He couldn't see his reflection at that moment and so couldn't see his eyes beining to turn gold.
* * *
Squall stood facing the window as the Garden Faculty discussed the subject at hand. It seemed Cid wanted to retire and they needed to find a new headmaster. Naturally, they thought it had to be one of them but the final decision was his. He had already made his choice and it wasn't one of them.
One of them spoke over the rest then. "We have yet to hear what the Commamder feels on this matter."
"My choice has been made. The new headmaster shall be Nida the current Pilot."
The one who had talked first seemed to have been to elected leader as it was he who spoke again. "But who's going to pilot Garden."
He was glad they couldn't see the faint smile on his face. They were going to just love this. "Fujin" That was all he said but at it pndemonium broke out. Then he shuddered slightly and an itch started in the back of his mind. He let their protestations wash over him as he considered this. For a while he lost himself in it. And then the ground started shaking.
* * *
Authors Note: I don't own ff8.
Now I just want to explain something to all you who read this, you dedicated fans of my 2 pages of writing, appreciative sniff, and all you who make fun of it, another sniff, this is my first fic so don't be too hard on me.
The past, the present and the future
Aidin glided along corridors that shook, past people fallen to the floor. He glided along but it wasn't him who worked his muscles. He had his sword out but he hadn't placed it in his hands. He knew exactly where he was going to the meter but had no notion of where that place was. His face was contorted with fear and anger but all he felt was confusion. He leapt effortlessly over a chair knocked down by the vibrations but hadn't noticed it. He caught sight of himself in a pane of glass and realised his eyes glowed like burnished gold. There was a hint of red scales to his skin and the ghost of red wings on his back. He was a passenger in a body that now belonged to Neo-Bahamut.
Just as it reached the training center the rocking stopped. One moment the building rocked from the top to the bottom and the next it stood completely still. An eerie silence hung about it. There was no buzz of converstion, no sound of training, no roars coming from the center in front of him. Everything stood still for a moment and then pandemonium broke out. Neo-Bahamut heard none of it as it headed toward it's destination.
The trianing center was in turmoil. Grats, usually disguised so effectively among the leaves ran around confused fighting each other and even T-Rexaurs when they ran into them. Through it all raced Neo-Bahamut ignoring it except when something got in it's way. It saw her just ahead, standing calmly with a shell cast around her.
"Who are you? You seem... familiar somehow." She didn't sound afraid or angry just curious. "A guardian you are but I don't recall you. Why are you in control of that young man's body?"
Neo-Bahamut frowned at her slightly. "You truly don't recall me do you? You released me along with my brothers but you don't know who I am. I am Neo-Bahamut, guardian Dragon of the air. As for this young man, this young man is a sorceress hunter. One of a dying breed," it sighed slightly at that.
"Sorceress hunter, so that's how you knew I was here. The last I should think."
"Wrong, there are two more that I know of, one of them in this Garden. This young man's sword, tell me Hyne do you recognize it?" It paused while recognition dawned her face. "So you remember this anyway. You seem amazed that his line has survived this long. You never did realize human strenght. His father was in the Estharian military. He had risen quickly through the ranks before Adel came. He warned them about her but they refused to listen. Idiots. He went after her himself with his sword. This sword," it gestured with the sword. "A foolish move on his part but there you go. At the time she had only 3 bodyguards and he dispatched of them easily. He even managed to hurt her before she hit him with an ultima. Then she attacked useing thundagas and firagas. He fled. He reached the city limits and was rushed to hospital but he died. At age 24 just like his father and grandfather right back to your time. The last thing he did was give his wife his sword and tell her to take it and her 1 year old child away from Esthar. This boy was told from a very early age what would happen to him, what had happened to his father. He was trained in the sword from age 8 in Balamb Garden and became Seed at the age of 16. Since then he has been on 10 missions the last one been me. He found it hard to make friends because he was suspicion of everyone. After all it's hard to trust when you're not sure if the person may be the one who causes your death, but anyone he did make friends with knew he was loyal to the death. If a friend was in danger they could count on him to help whether they liked it or not. He is very sarcastic but he is widely regarded as one of the top Seeds. He knew that eventually he was going to die young, even for Seed so he tried to keep friends distant and has only had a couple of proper relationships. He is a hard man, Hyne, harder than you, harder than me. The level of control I'm excerting is very near to what will kill him and I still strugle to maintain it. Tell me Hyne do you remember the prophecies you made. 1 to me, 1 to Bahamut and 1 to Bahamut-Zero."
"Prophecies, what are you talking about? You will tell me, now," she demanded.
"Very well then
' When the past returns
and hope does burn,
When darkness beckons
and sanity lessons,
When the seeds of war
take flight once more,
So stands forth the cursed man,
the lion and the leopard.
Emarald sparkle, the walking weapon
the beuty and the raven,
ocean and stone,
an eye for an eye
and a life for a life.
All is decided
in a glance of blue storms.'
Tell me do you remember anything before the madness took you."
"No, but I think the other Sorceress hunter has arrived"
Neo-Bahamut turned around but at that moment he lost control and Aidin, once more in control, stumbled slightly in time to see Squall stop Seifer from killing him.
* * *
Squall grabbed a desk to get up while the floor still shook. He forced himself to keep going onward while the faculty fell around him. The itch in his mind had become a driving force now, forcing him on. He lunged forward and grabbed the handle of the door. It sung open drgging him with it. It slammed against the wall and he grabbed the door to the emergancy stairs. He took hold of the handrail and forced himself to stay upright as he stumbled down the stairs.
As he reached the bottom of the stairs the shaking stopped but he kept on. He opened the door as a scene of insanity erupted in front of him. Cadets who had fell to the floor screamed at the top of their lungs and the SeeDs themselves were running around drawing their weapons and brandishing them at each other. The itch compelled him but he had other duties. He stated where he was but cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted at the top of his voice "STOP!! SEEDS WILL CEASE AND DESIST AND HELP OUT THE CADETS, NOW!" He paused for a second to see this have the desired effect before running on.
He raced through the hall into the training center where a similar scene as the one outside but, as he was unable to do anything, he just rushed on pausing only to kill a grat or get out of a stampeding T-Rexaurs way. he came upon Aidin, only it wasn't him. The skin was tinted red and he could almost see wings on his shoulderblades. In fact for a moment there he had thought that there had been a scaly tail coming out of his back. It stopped him dead
"... an eye for an eye
and a life for a life .
All is decided
in a glance of blue storms"
This was all he heard as at that moment he became of the two other people in the center. His eyes widened slighly at the sight of the woman and the itch intesified it was a real effort not to attack her but he had seen Seifer running at Aidin with his gunblade raised.
Squall rushed forward to block it, his lionheart blade glowing slightly. The blades met with a clang just as Aidin turned around, inches from his head. Squall didn't want to kill Seifer but he had to stop this before the itch overcame him. He couldn't leave a live opponent with Seifer's abilities behind him. Fortunately that particular dilema was solved for him as Aidin kicked Seifer, knocking him out cold.
Sweat running down his face Aidin managed a credible smile, "Well hello Squall, and what brings you here."
"Her. She's... well she's Hyne." Squall realised there was sweat running down his own face now. "I think we should probably attack her now."
"Yea that's probably a good idea"
So they faced her as one. And she laughed as they charged her before drawing her hands together and the lightnings came. But Squall and Aidin were well trained and the hair was the only part of them that rose into the air. They slashed at her but her shell deflected them easily. They didn't cause her a scratch. She laughed again and raised her arms. The lightning stopped but light gathered around her and Seifer, blinding her attackers. When they could see again they were gone.
Aidin said the only word that could sum up the situation. "Shit"
"Definitly shit," Squall shook his head surprised to find the itch gone. He wondered what it meant.
"Thats what we are. You and me. That's why you came here."
"Oh. Right. You'll have to explain that later." But as they left Squall thought that what Aidin said had the sound of prophecy. Or possibly what Neo-Bahamut said maybe, he wasn't really sure. And Aidin ws thinking of what Neo-Bahamut said as he took over again. "It begins now. When will it end?"
Aidin lay on the hospital bed, idly flicking through a book. It was two days since Hyne had come and taken Seifer away and when Squall hadn't come back to ask him about sorceress hunters he figured he'd check out what had happened while he was gone. Why, for instance, was Squall commander? So he had checked it out. What he had found out at the end shocked him most. He flicked back to where he'd written it down. ' An hour after everyone else came out, Sorceress Heartily and Commander Leonhart came out. Holding hands. At the celebration party afterwards they were sen kissing. And he realised why Squall hadn't come ask him. Sorceress Heartily. Sorceress hunter Leonheart. Love. That would make things very... interesting for them, to say the least. But from what Neo-Bahamut had said he thought they were safe. A bond made in love could only be destroyed by death. And a bond made a Sorceress safe. She would grow old and die with a man she loved.
Many people considered him lazy. They were wrong. Well actually they were half right but half wrong. He was a bit of a slob. It was an organized mess as Zell would put it. Anyone who got close to him knew he noticed all the little details, heard the lie on the lips, read the anger in the eye as Cid had told him. Among other things. He always looked asleep in class but that was just because he was tired. He always heard what was said. True he usually couldn't repeat the instructor straight afterwards, but that was because he had a short term memory like a sieve. It filtered out all the crap for his long term memory. Squall knew, though and they were alike in many ways. Or had been anyway, he wasn't too sure anymore.
Quistis knew too. Quistis, however, was a topic he didn't like. It brought him to what would happen at age 24. That's what he told himself. But that wasn't it. He loved Quistis. That was it. And she loved Squall. Had loved Squall. He thought she had anyway. But now... no, he refused to think about it. He wouldn't put her through his death even if she did love him. But she didn't and that was all there was too it. He had to stop thinking about it. Only he knew that he couldn't. His mother and father had been strong and he was too weak to take even a shot at love. Neo-Bahamut had called him hard. He had hardened himself against his weakness. Think of something else. But the line of thought kept repeating itself. What about now? He wished he could stop thinking about it.
He got his wish as just at that time the automatic door slid open and a familiar face appeared wearing an familiar expression. Zell was worried, but this time Aidin thought he knew what it was. After a while since Zell seemed to be having trouble finding what to say, Aidin did it for him."Ok I'm going out on a limb here but I'm guessing the reason you're here is because, one, Squall sent you or, two, Squall's been acting weird. Am I right?"
"Dam nit, I hate it you do that man. But yea, Squall's been acting weird since Seifer disappeared. I take you've been reading what happened," Zell answered gesturing at the book on the second Sorceress war. "I guess you probably know something about why? Come on man you gotta tell me. We're all kinda worried for the guy and Rinoa keeps looking white and sad. That is not like her. I'm telling ya, she's not the only one who's worried. All bloody Garden keeps looking over their shoulder waiting for what made Squall anxious come and beat the living shit out of everyone."
"Well, I can tell you a few things anyway. Some of it is for Squall to tell. Rinoa Heartily is a sorceress, correct," he didn't wait for Zell's nod before going on. "Well one reason he's looking so nervous is because of something between them. Tell to come see me next time you see alright. We have some things to discuss. He discovered it because there's another sorceress on the scene now. A sorceress named Hyne."
Zell leaped up from his chair as if stung, knocking it over. "Hyne. Yo...you mean like the god Hyne?"
"That's exactly who I mean," Aidin&answered nodding nodding. "She took Seifer when she appeared in the training center that day with the earthquakes. That was her too. She is no God it seems merely a sorceress. I am using merely only in compared with a god you understand. From the little I saw she appears very powerful. I can certainly see where the legend started. Squall learned that she was alive and that would be enough to set anyone on edge. As for the other you'll have to ask Squall yourself."
Zell picked up the chair and sat down again. "So, my friend, how was your mission? blonde beauties and exciting motorcycle chases."
"Unfortunately in the wilderness where there are no people, there are in fact no people. And motorcycles are hard enough to come by here. There, they were next to impossible. After I crashed the first one I sorta gave up on the whole idea."
They bantered back and forth for a while and then Zell got up to leave. "Well,suppose I better go face Squall. Man you really had to make this tough didn't you."
"Ah well, it'd be no challenge if it was too easy." As Zell got up to leave he picked up his book and started to read. It was an favorite and he always read it after a mission. It summed up everything nicely. It was called "The Stand"
* * *
Zell stood outside the hospital wing for a second. It was time to confront Squall about what was going on. That didn't mean he had to rush to it. He started strolling along, half hoping for a distraction from what he was about to do. He reached the elevator and was about to head up to the third floor which was now divided into three parts: the Headmasters office, the Bridge and the Commanders office. He knew about the decision to put Nida as headmaster. He was hardworking and he knew what had to be done. As he had put it, "It'll be like flying the thing only more paperwork." Nida knew it wouldn't be like that but it made him feel better.
Zell scrubbed a hand through his hair as it opened and then stepped in. It stopped again at the second floor and Quistis got in. "Where are you going Zell?"
"I'm gonna go ask Squall what's going on."
"Mind if I come with you? I'm a little curious myself." Zell looked at her doubtfully. "Ok, ok. I'm really curious. Better."
Zell nodded. "Much." Quistis merely tched in reply.
They reached the third floor and headed into Squall's office. He was alone, which in itself was unusual. When he wasn't in meetings Rinoa usually had him to herself. He was also very white. Zell and Quistis went straight up to him.
"Squall, what's wrong?" Quistis asked.
Squall looked up at her. His eyes were slightly bloodshot. He laughed very slightly. It was a laugh as full of bitterness as is possible without crying."You know, you're only the second person to ask me that. Rinoa asked and I didn't tell her. Why would I tell you?"
Zell noticed what appeared to be a bottle of whiskey on the floor. Squall rarely drank and when he did it nothing stronger than a pint. Zell decided the only way they were going to get through to Squall was to threaten him. "Squall if you don't tell us we'll just get Aidin to tell us and then we'll tell Rinoa. Trust me, it'll be better just to tell us."
Squall looked at him for so long Zell started to get nervous. Then he stood up suddenly and Zell jumped slightly. Squall was looking the other way and didn't notice. "Maybe... if I do tell you, you have to promise not to tell Rinoa. I'll tell her in a little while." Squall frowned slighly, as if reconsidering.
Before he could Zell and Quistis both said "We promise not to tell Rinoa."
Squall closed his eyes. "Very well. I found it out in the training center when Seifer disappeared. Hy.. A sorceress was there and an, well an itch in my mind is the only way to describe it, drew me to her. I had felt something like it when battling Adel and Ultimicea but nothing like this. It forced me to attack her. I... I" Squall paused as if to collect himself. "I'm a sorceress hunter."
Dead silence fell at the statement. Then Zell spoke up. "Squall what do you mean a sorceress hunter."
"I would have thought it farly selfexplanatory. Sorceress hunter. I was born to hunt sorceresses. So was Aidin."
"So that's what he meant. Squall Aidin wants to talk to you. He says you have things to discuss. He knows about you and Rinoa by the way."
Squall nodded. "Does he now? He always was observant."
Quistis who had been quiet through this said. "Squall don't do anything rash. Please."
Squall nodded. "Ok nothing rash." The expression on his face was completely unreadable.
* * *
As Squall stalked through the garden toward the infirmary his face was a thundercloud. And for some reason the students seemed to take comfort from this. Apparently an angry Squall was better than a worried Squall. Although he did notice that whenever his gaze fell on someone their pace quickened noticeably. An angry Squall may be good but that didn't mean you wanted it directed at you.
Squall entered the infirmary to be confronted by an surprised Dr.Kadowaki. "Squall, I hope you are not going to go in there looking like that. You look like you're going to kill someone."
Squall was surprised. He looked at a mirror and was even more surprised. he'd known he was angry but that look. He remembered feeling like this when Seifer joined Rinoa and Adel. This was anger caused by love and there was no anger quite like that. Sill he calmed himself. Somewhat. He didn't want to scare Aidin too badly but a scared person answers questions. He entered the room.
Aidin was sitting up on the bed reading a book. He didn't look up as Squall entered. But Squall did think he grinned ever so slightly but it was gone so quickly he wasn't sure it was just his imagination. Aidin turned the page. "I was wondering how long it would take Zell's curiosity to make him go see you. How ya feeling Squall?" Then he looked up. There was no fear in his gaze, only the wariness one might have when faced by a dangerous monster.
Squall was slightly taken aback. "How did you know it was me?"
"Well, as far as I know, you the only remaining gun blade user left"
Squall smiled slightly. It wasn't a very pleasant smile. Observant. Always remember that about him. Observant and a fast reader. "Tell me Aidin, Zell mentioned you wanted to see me. What for exactly?"
"Why, about sorceress hunters of course. Squall I read about the second sorceress war. I know about you and the sorceress. Love is a very dangerous thing. Love breeds hate, anger and fear. Right now Squall I expect you're feeling afraid, and angry at been afraid. Remember the first thing they tell us here. Accept fear, and destroy it. Conquer it from within. You're afraid Squall that you're going to end up killing Rinoa Heartily. Am I right?" Squall nodded in response. He was shocked. He'd forgotten those basic things. "Well, I can at least ease those fears. She won't die by your hand. Sorceress hunters hunt sorceresses driven insane by their powers but one with a knight, as I assume you are to her, will not. She will never go insane because when you grow old she will grow old with you. She will die on the same day you do."
Squall sat down heavily in a chair. Then he started crying, tears of relief and joy. Thank you whoever's out there. Thank you.
* * *
Rinoa sat in the library attempting to read a book. She couldn't though because when she tried Squall's emotions kept butting in. It was something she had noticed about the bond. If Squall felt an emotion strongly enough she felt it too. What Squall felt now was worry and it bothered her. he wouldn't tell her what was wrong. That bothered her more. Then suddenly she sat up straight and smiled for the first time in three days. What Squall felt now was relief. Relief and love and though she didn't know how she knew, she knew it was directed at her. She laughed out loud.
Squall held the intercom up to his mouth, "Would the following SeeDs report to my office: Aidin Guardian, Irvine Kinneas, Quistis Trepe, Rinoa Heartily, Selphie Tilmitt and Zell Dincht." He turned the intercom off and waited for them to arrive It was a month since Seifer had been taken away and he had decided today would be the day they went after the other Bahamut. Aidin had told him he thought he could contain Neo-Bahamut. For some reason the guardian refused to leave his body. It couldn't be extracted by any means. It seemed to be sealed in him. It was odd. But he wasn't showing any signs of memory loss so perhaps this was to looked into.
His musings were cut short as the SeeDs marched in and saluted. He returned it and put them at ease. He noticed Aidin looked a bit strained. It was hard holding Neo-Bahamut in. Squall had insisted someone junction Bahamut so Selphie had agreed. She kept looking over at Aidin. She had probably realised Aidin had Neo-Bahamut junctioned. Strangely, Quistis galced over at him too a couple of times. It was never more than a glance but Aidin would glance back at her and sigh slightly. She must be hoping he doesn't lose control. He had told her that at the first sign of trouble she should knock him out. She was the only one he had told about it.
"Today is the day we're going after the other Bahamut. I don't know how strong it is but it will be stronger than Bahamut. It is vital we get him as he will be an asset against Hyne. We are going to need all the strenght we can get."
Suddenly Rinoa stepped forward."Err.. Squall have you contacted Laguna. We could use Esthars help against Hyne."
Squall's eyes hardened, "No, I have not. I feel we should be able to accomplish it with the help of the other Gardens."
Zell backed Rinoa up. "But Squall, she's probably building up her own army. Man, you know there are always some idiots attracted to power." It was obvious to Squall he was referring to Seifer.
Squall made a decision. He worked with people he didn't like all the time. The fact that this person was his father should make no difference. "I'll contact him after this."
The others visibly relaxed except Aidin who looked confused. Sweat was beading on his forehead. Squall decided it was time to leave. "Right, get your stuff together and lets roll."
The others saluted and walked out.
* * *
They met in the empty plain near the Fire Caverns. Everyone had their guardians junctioned and their favorite weapons with them. They came together and Squall nodded to Aidin, indicating he should release Neo-Bahamut. Aidin held on for a second to say, "Selphie, it'll be easier if you relax." She nodded, and the tension that had been in Aidin's face disapated. Suddenly he and Selphie clutched their heads for a second. When they looked up the others gasped. Aidin and Selphie had been taken over by their guardians. They raised their hands and they a sphere of light started to grow, Selphie's blue, Aidin's red. They shot out and up and joined in the air. The others looked up, watching until they lost sight of the glow. Then suddenly they caught sight of another glow.
"Run away." They looked up to see Aidin and Selphie floating above them. "Run away. He answers our call." They ran.
Squall dived and rolled up just in time to turn and see a near incandescent beam of light hit the ground. It exploded outwards forcing him to look away. When he looked back he was shocked. The entire area around the blast site was sunk and devoid of life. He had never seen anything like it. Aidin and Selphie still floated there. Or rather, Bahamut and Neo-Bahamut floated there. He and the others ran up to them.
"Let her go!" That was Irvine shouting.
"We cannot. This is part of the test." They answered in unison and in a flat, emmotionless tone of voice.
"What test?" Zell questioned. He was starting to look angry now. "We weren't told about no test."
"The test to defeat us and our brother."
"Will they be hurt?" Squall asked.
"We are a part of the test."
"Will they be hurt!?"
Suddenly a commanding voice erupted behind them. "They will not be dead."
They turned to behold the final Bahamut in his glory. He floated above the ground on six wings and the sunlight glinted off metalic scales which covered his body. He stood taller than Bahamut had when they had faught him, fully one and a half times the size. It was both awe inspiring and fightening. The metal gleamed like platinum but gave off a feeling of power. His eyes glowed the same colour as his beam.
"We are going to have to beat them, aren't we?" It wasn't a question.
"And me. You must prove yourselves worthy of my powers. I believe you shall do so. You are the first to have captured both my brothers. That in itself is an achievement to be proud of." Squall opened his mouth again but then the new Bahamut cut him off with a roar. "Who are you who dare challenge me, Bahamut Zero, guardian dragon of the planets."
They drew their weapons, realizing the time to fight had come. They answered, "We are SeeD." and the battle was joined.
Squall rushed straight at the guardian with Lionheart raised, only to be forced to jump out of the way before the clawed arm made contact with him. Those claws looked metallic and deadly.He rolled up and took stock. Quistis, Irvine and Zell were going after the two other guardians, though they didn't look happy about it. So it was left to him and Rinoa to deal with Bahamut-Zero. She was readying a spell so he attacked again, only to be forced to retreat yet again. So this time he started in towards the guardian then as the clawed hand stretched out he dived forward and rolled up underneath the dragon. He slashed out to both sides and felt the vibrations in his arms as his blade made contact. Then he ran out and dived away to the side and at that moment Rinoa struck. She called out and Eden ansered. Eden attacked Bahamut-Zero in the air. And made barely a scratch. Bahamut-Zero roared his laughter.
"Oh yes, excellent. You should prove quite a challenge. Come on, don't give it up now, we're only getting started."
Squall didn't like the sound of that. Eden had barely hurt him at all. This was going to be a long fight and he wasn't sure of the outcome. He hoped the others would join them soon.
* * *
Aidin rested in the back of his mind, accepting the fact that Neo-Bahamut had control over his body. This was a test for the others. He had done his part in bringing the guardians together. They would do it. He had faith in them. Neo-Bahamut swooped along the battlefield weilding his sword. Their was no class, no skill to his techniques but what he did have was speed. It was phemomenal. Against a skilled swordsman he wouldn't have been much good but since the only one with a weapon able to block it even partly was Zell he proved devestating. Irvine and Quistis simply had to jump to the side. And so gradually he was forcing them apart, going from one to the other and drawing them apart. Suddenly he bore down on Quistis forcing her away toward a forest. He turned and gave chase leaving the others behind. He moved between the trees nimbly, avoiding low branches while barely slowing and was quickly gaining on Quistis. Suddenly she tripped over a root and went tumbling to the ground.
Neo-Bahamut stood poised over her with sword raised, preparing the final blow. Suddenly Aidin surged up in his mind attacking him.
'No, Neo-Bahamut, you cannot kill her.'
'Incorrect. I must kill her, she has failed'
'You think I care. You will not kill her.'
'Really, how will you stop me.'
'I believe this body is mine. I will reclaim it.'
'I must kill her.'
'I don't care. You will not kill her.'
'I must. I am sorry.'
'You will NOT. I cannot let you. I am in love. Kill her and you kill me. I cannot let you. This body is mine. GET OUT OF MY MIND.
To his surprise and joy Neo-Bahamut relinquished his hold. And then he realised, it wasn't just a test for the others. The posessed had to fight too. He looked down at Quistis again with his own eyes. He offered her his hand. "Come on, we've got to get back to the others. They're going to need our help."
She accepted the proffered hand and stood up, dusting herself off. "Um... what just happened there?"
"Why aren't you killing me, for instance?"
"I retook my body. We have to find the others. Squall's going to need all the help he can get to beat Bahamut-Zero."
"Tell me, what happens after this fight. If we win, I mean to say, what will happen if you and the other two guardians are in the same?"
"Nothing as far as I know. I think Neo-Bahamut is a bit pissed off by been ousted from control. As far as I can tell, he seems to be sulking."
Quistis chuckled at that. "A guardian which is so old we've forgotten what happened then is sulking?"
"As far as I can tell. He's not talking to me." There was a smile on his face until they came to the battlefield. Then the smile vanished as his sword appeared in his hands. "Remember Quistis, be calm. They can't beat us." Then he added, so quietly Quistis wasn't sure she was supposed to hear and with a wry twist of his lips, "No-one ever does." He ran out onto the battlefield with Quistis close behind him.
* * *
Irvine dodged another attack from Neo-Bahamut. He could see what he was doing but there was nothing he could do to stop it. He was too fast. But at least Selphie hadn't attacked yet. He wasn't sure what he would do when she did. That she would wasn't in doubt. Suddenly he saw Quistis turn and start running toward a forest and realised what she was doing. She was giving himself and Zell time to deal with Selphie.
He turned to face her and wondered what he was going to do. The desicion was made for him as she attacked. She ran in and while Aidin had speed what she had was agility. She rushed past him and twisted herself around to trip him up. She flipped up and jumped onto Zell's shoulders causing his knees to buckle. She jumped behind him and kicked him in the head causing him to fall to the ground.
By this time Irvine was up and he tackled her to the ground. They started rolling along the ground, one trying to get the advantage over the other. In the end Selphie ended up on top with her Strange Vision starting to press down towards his throath. He was attempting to push her off and normally this would be no problem but now with her possesed it was proving impossible. She was winning and he was going to die. On well if he was going to die.. "Selphie, please fight it. Please. I won't blame you if you can't and just in case I better tell. I love you. I am in love with you Selphie Tilmitt." Sudenly her face contorted and changed and looking down at him again was Selphie.
"You... love me." It came out as barely a whisper.
"Of course my little cowgirl, how could I not?"
She grinned at him. "Ok then. Come on let's go kick some gigantic metal ass." He answered her laughter as they got up. She could always cheer him up.
The sight that greeted them put a stop to their laughter. The man, Aidin? he thought that was his name, went flying through the air past them. Squall seemed to be constantly diving and rolling. Quistis and Rinoa were staying back and casting spells but they seemed to have little, if any, effect. Aidin got up and stumbled over to them.
"Oh good, you're up. I hear..." He paused and was doubled up coughing for a second. He came up wiping traces of blood from his mouth. "Bastard thing. Where was I? Oh yeah, I hear you're the best shot in Garden. You damn well better be. As far as I can tell the guardian has one weak place, where his tail meets his back. That is one tiny area. Think you can hit it?"
"I'm sure I can."
"Good. It seems to be able to sense when we try to summon our guardians. Myself and this young lady are going to need a little while to summon the bahamuts."
"This better not do anything to her, or I swear I'll kill you."
Aidin looked at him with a strange expression on his face. "Yes, I'm sure you would. But trust me here, nothing will happen."
Irvine grunted in reply but brought up his gun anyway. He took aim while Selphie and Aidin prepared to summon. He shot. He really was the best shot in Garden. It hit the small part he had been aiming for and Bahamut-Zero turned his full anger at Irvine who just managed to dodge a viscious swing with the tail. A second later Bahamut-Zero turned toward the two summoners. He was a second too late. The sky darkened and out of it descended Bahamut. He didn't look quiet so glorious compared to Bahamut-Zero but his attack was still impressive. As he faded away, Neo-Bahamut came into play. The ground around Bahamut-Zero was lifted into the air and a red and slightly bigger version of Bahamut with golden glowing eyes came down to meet it. He drew in energy and a red-yellow beam of energy shot through Bahamut-Zero.
He was up again as soon as he crashed into the earth, however his stance was now neutral and unthreatening. He spoke. "Humans, you have proved yourselves worthy. I grant unto you my powers." As Squall came forward he stopped. "No, not you. You already have a power in you." He pointed to Quistis. "Her I will have as my carrier." Quistis looked slightly shocked but came forward and accepted. And so, with the aaddition of one member they set off back to Garden, bruised, battered and bloodied.
Hyne pushed her powers out further, down into the depths of the planet pushed passed the resistance it put up against her. It was six months since she had acquired her knight. He had began building up her army. There were always those who sought power and she was adept at manipulating them. Her knight, however, was a confusing man. Normally she wouldn't pay attention to them but this one fascinated her. He didn't dream of power, he dreamed of love. He had become her knight out of desperation but didn't abuse it with the others. He just wanted to be loved and a sorceress' knight was the closest thing to it he had ever felt. He was interesting.
Suddenly her power hit something, a stronger resistance than before. She broke through that and found what she was looking for. But something was wrong. There were three magical presences where there should be two. No legend, myth or story mentioned this. She shrugged off the feelings of doubt unfamiliar as they were to her.
She concentrated her power and struck into it. A small pulse issued from it. It's original weapon had been destroyed but there were others. All she had to do was be patient. Unfortunately, patience wasn't one of her greater virtues.
"Why is it taking so long to build up the army?!"
Seifer looked up. "You wanted it done in secrecy, that's what I'm doing. It takes time."
"It shouldn't take this much time. Less secrecy. We have enough to build up more openly and you will do it, now."
"You're wish is my command,mistress."
She looked at him carefully to see if he was been sarcastic but saw only devotion in his face. She sat back, satisfied that even in the unlikely event she should fail, this puny planet would still be destroyed. She laughed.
* * *
Aidin was angry. More than that, he was furious. He knew he shouldn't let it out, couldn't let it out, where anyone would see. A, hah, a gift from Dr. Odine. He had discovered a new chemical from the earth. That bastard. Now whenever he found himself getting angry he had to control it, suppress it until he was far away from people. Because when he let his anger out, he lost control. His body took over but it retained all the moves he knew. In fact once, when he was really angry he seemed to recall doing some moves he didn't know. It was a dangerous mix. Anything that got in his way was dead. There was no two ways about it. It was the reason he took all the remote missions. But now someone had made him angry. 'If I had let myself go back there...' And that was it really. If he let himself go anywhere near people. He never dueled. Ever. If he did he would get angry and then he'd have to stop before the other person died.
It had been such a nice dinner too. Potato and steak. He liked potato and steak. And then someone started mocking Quistis. Short tops, mini-skirts, that whip. And then the word that had tipped the balance. He had been expecting it, had known it had to come but still. Slut. Anyone who mocked Quistis made his blood boil. It was the only thing that could get under his skin these days. And damn it, it had gotten so far under, it had come the other side. He hadn't even finished his food. He'd just stood up and walked out. He went back to his dorm and tried to punch out the anger, but this didn't work this time. So in the end he picked up his sword and went to the training center. And that was where he was now, standing outside the center, knowing he had to go in but unable to do so. What if someone was in there? But he knew he had to do it or he'd go berserk somewhere more public. That would be a disaster.
So he entered in, drew his sword. And let go. His scream of pure, animal rage echoed through the center, challenging anything to come take him on. After a moment, his challenge was answered as five grats broke cover from the trees and ran at him. He raced at them, far faster than normal. He sliced though their hides one after another. Soon a pile of corpses lay in a pool of their own blood. He wasn't even scratched. He cried out again and this time a more worthy opponent came out to meet him. A T-Rexaur stepped out from the undergrowth glaring down at him. He didn't give it a chance. He rushed it and sliced at it's legs. It came down with a crash and a swipe at him. He dived under it and rolled up next to it's neck and shoved his sword into it's throat, killing it instantly.
He moved onwards, his anger unsated. It cried out for blood of men but this he would not give it. But as he stalked the monsters in the training center, his anger refused to leave him. He killed and he killed: grats, granaldoes, T-Rexaurs, anything that got in his way was dead. And he still hadn't a single scratch. As he came near again to the entry he saw the man who had been making fun of Quistis. His rage gave everything a reddish tint as he rushed the man, roaring his anger.
He turned just in time to catch Aidin's blade on his own. But Aidin kicked him in the stomach and then punched him on the nose, breaking it. He kicked the man away from him. And then suddenly he got control again as his anger drained was tired, he always was after he let his anger out. He sheathed his sword and walked over to the other man. He crawled away from him in fear. Aidin shrugged and left the center. His anger was under control but it wasn't quite gone. Anyway he wasn't really sorry he broken the guy's nose. Unfortunately he'd probably have to explain what had happened to someone important later. 'Load of bloody bullshit.'
He wandered back to the dorms to get some sleep. If only he hadn't let out his rage on his last mission maybe the others would be alive. He had been too tired to help them when the monsters came again. And on this melancholy note, he collapsed into bed, asleep before he hit the pillow.
* * *
Aidin woke with a shock. He took a moment to clear his head. He was still in Garden. Definitely. No doubt about it. See there was his sword at the bottom of the bed, there was his SeeD uniform, there was the SeeD symbol, there were the lights... and then it hit him. There weren't the lights. There was illumination but it wasn't the lights. 'This is a dream, this is a dream, this is a dream, this is a dream...'
"This is no dream, Guardian."
"The summoning has been sent, Guardian."
"Summoning... what the? Who the hell are you?"
"I am everyone, Guardian. She has sent the summoning, Guardian. I was unable to stop her. With all my wards and knowledge, Guardian, she reached the darkness inside. She has discovered the other power as well, Guardian, and she will not stop until she finds out what it is. This cannot be allowed, Guardian. Should she discover this, all is lost, Guardian."
"Stop calling me by my last name."
"This is a description, Guardian, not a name. Few others hold the title, truly hold it. You are one who has been
around longest. You have seen much more than the others, Guardian, though you do not realize it now, you're instincts will help you."
Aidin looked up and realized he was outside the Garden . He stared up at the symbol of SeeD. Yin and yang. White and black. Good and evil, evil and good. One released something, the other asorbed things, sucked them dry. Creation, destruction. He didn't like this train of thought. It wasn't like him at all.
"My instincts will kill me."
"All things die. It is in the nature of life to end. You can feel it now, Guardian. The wrongness. It will grow stronger. You must stop her, Guardian. If you do not, you will not live to see what comes next. You must not fail, Guardian"
"Why would I fail?
"You will see, Guardian. The other Guardians shall help you and when the time comes you will help them, Guardian. Do not die, no matter how much you want to. I cannot afford to lose any of you, Guardian."
"Why would I want to die?"
"You will see, Guardian. If you will not do it for your sake or my sake, do it for hers. You know who ,Guardian. I will visit one other, Guardian, for now. I may visit you again, in the future in this way. Be sure in the knowledge you will hear from me, Guardian."
"Who are the other Guardians?"
"I cannot tell you, Guardian."
"Squall is one, isn't he."
"...That is the name he holds now, yes."
"I'm only a year or two older than him."
"In other lives, in other times, you have protected me longest, Guardian."
"Who are you, damn it?"
"I am the life bearer in this galaxy, Guardian. You know me. Remember my words, Guardian...."
Aidin shot up in bed, looking around wildly. He fell backwards, no longer tired merely thoughtful. "It was a dream, just a dream."
"It was no dream. The dark message is sent, Guardian. Remember..."
'Ah crap. This cannot be good.' He shot up straight again as he realized what it was. He'd heard it sometimes happened in his family and a few others that they would claim to be able to speak with the planet. His family had believed because they knew of the legends but no-one else would accept it. He said the only word that came to mind.
* * *
Squall sat in his office and listened to the complaint been made against Aidin. He sighed. The man in front of him had a broken nose but apart from that seemed OK. Sometimes people took things too far.
"Let me see if I've got this straight. You weren't dueling, you didn't provoke him and you were charged by him. You ended up with a broken nose. That about it?"
"Yes, sir. An unprovoked attack."
Squall sighed again. He had once seen Aidin release his frustration in the training center. It was not something he was likely to forget. "I think I may know what happened. Read this." He tossed over a report on Aidin to the man. Curious he picked it up. His expression as he finished it was one of shock.
"You leave a man like that walk free?"
"He is one of the best fighters-"
He shook his head. "Odine. He made this man dangerous. He can't even release his anger. I would hate to have to live like that. He's afraid of himself. I wish to withdraw my complaint."
Squall nodded and sighed as the man left the room. He seemed to do that a lot lately. As the man left he fell into thought. Any attempt to find Hyne was failing. It was frustrating. Frustrating and worrying that she could be doing something with this much secrecy. Damn it he needed time off. He pushed the button to contact his secretary.
"Maria, do I have any important meetings on today?"
"Not yet, sir."
"Good, well cancel all my appointments, I'm taking a day off."
Maria wisely decided not to argue. "Yes, sir."
Squall got up out of his chair and walked out of his office. He took the elevator and decided what he needed right now was a sleep. He was tired from all the political bullshit that went on in the day to day running of Garden. He preferred it when all he had to do was follow orders. It was so much simpler. He walked toward the dorms and as he reached the side hallway Aidin came out. He looked whiter than usual.
"What's wrong with you?"
Aidin looked at him, startled. "Huh? Oh nothing, nothing."
"Yes there is. I can tell when you're lying."
"Sometimes, Squall, I think you know me too well. Ok I'll tell you. But not here. Outside."
Squall nodded agreement, his weariness fading away. Here was a mystery to be solved. They walked outside and sat on the steps. Aidin held his head in his hands. Eventually Squall decided to break the silence.
"Why are you so white. If I didn't know you better, I'd say you were scared."
"I'm not scared. I'm... uneasy. I have, well it's like a disease...
Squall interrupted him."I know about it, Aidin."
"How? Oh yeah, you're commander now."
"By the way, how did you know that."
"It's on your badge. CO. Commander."
"You know you're only the second person to notice that."
"Mmm, people don't notice things a lot. Anyway, you know we live on this planet, right. And you know that once before that there were the Cetrans who lived on the Cetran continent."
Squall nodded. This was fairly elementary stuff.
"Well, according to my family records they weren't the Centrans, they were the Cetra. And they could talk with the planet." Squall looked at him sharply to see if he was been sarcastic. His face still bore a frown. "And there was another race who could talk with them too. Not much was known about them except they were less numerous than the Cetra and lived incredibly long lives. They had many children, but unlike the Cetra their powers were not genetic. Occasionally, though, a person would be able to talk to the planet. After my rage... well I get very tired. And I had the weirdest dream." He proceeded to tell Squall what happened.
Afterwards, Squall sat back thoughtful. Laguna had told him something similar to this. Right before he revealed who he was. So... Aidin could talk with the planet. The dream was certainly odd anyway. That he was able to remember it so clearly was wrong. He was probably telling the truth. Aidin didn't lie a lot and he could usually tell when he did. Maybe he could make use...
No! He wouldn't become that sort of leader.
"Theirs no information on what Hyne's planning."
"Hmm? Oh right. No nothing except what I just told you."
"Well you've certainly given to think about. But now I think I need to go talk to someone about something."
Aidin gave him a wry look. "Would this someone be Rinoa."
"What a good guess that is. See ya."
He wandered off to find her.
Hyne sat in her palace of contrast. Light and Dark, sane and insane. That was her. Her sane self still inside, though deep enough to be rarely heard now, and never heeded. And yet lately, she had felt something stir inside. Something she had no name for. But she had thought that at the time her sane self had stirred too, had moved closer to the top for the first time in an age. She was worried as some words had been uttered by her other self. "You weaken your hold."
It had been worrying not only hearing her, but hearing her clearly and coherently. Usually she was in tears at her actions, especially the curse. It had been a work of art. The fact that they were still alive was only a minor annoyance. The fact that the other her was keeping things from her was. She had never known there were two families of Sorcerress Hunters. Some memories were hidden from her. What else there was there might be dangerous if left unknown.
She got up and saw her personal bodyguard rise with her. Seifer had handpicked them as the best fighters of the most loyal soldiers. They would be willing to die for her if neccesary. They had gunners, sword masters, martial artists, spearmen, almost every weapon in their ranks. They were going to be her elite force in the first move. They had one specific task. Seifer stood up. She nodded to him. 'And so it begins.'
'You again. Leave me be.'
'You will lose.'
'I never lose.'
She left Seifer to issue the orders. He knew the plan. He knew what had to be done.
* * *
Squall stood there in perfect calm and equilibriam. He watched the Red Dragon for any sign of life before going up and cutting it's head off. It was always better to be sure.
It was only a month since Aidin's revalation and for now everything was calm. But with a warriors instinct Squall knew it to be the calm before the storm. There had been some sign of Hyne making a move, although not enough to give any idea of what it was. It was frustrating. Though it seemed it was only now she had started building her army Squall knew that she would never wait this long. And with Seifer on her side she'd be able to keep it secret from everyone. It was infuriating. The dragons were acting up as well.
He walked back to Garden, contemplating how to best prepare for the oncoming war. He was certain that nothing short of war would stop Hyne. He had begun training for it as soon as he had realised what her intentions must be. He had sent out warnings to the other Gardens and Galbadia to be prepared. And finally to Esthar, though it had taken Rinoa some time to convince him it was the right thing to do. He really got angry when he thought of the presidant of Esthar.
And he had dared to try and make up with him. The nerve of the man. He abandoned him, Elle and his mother and then expected things to be Ok. That bastard. He felt like killing something but at the moment no monsters were around. He growled.
When he got back to his office he growled again as he saw the mound of paperwork waiting for him. He sat down heavily at the desk and began working. It had to be done, that didn't mean he had to enjoy it. Just as he was getting into the second document an alarm siren went off. He almost grinned at the escape. Almost. That signal meant an attack on Garden. Every SeeD had to Go to where it was. He grabbed Lionheart and raced out.
As soon as he exited the elevator, along with several other SeeDs he was attacked by someone in a uniform he didn't recognize. He immediately knew these had to be Hyne's fighters. He blocked a slash from one and sliced open his wind pipe and then twisted out of the way of a martial artist before shoving his blade into his heart. And so the battle begun.
* * *
Aidin walked through the corridors feeling... well he didn't what it was exactly but the closest thing he could think of was at peace. Happy. Sort of. He was going to tell the truth for the first time, while sober, in years. It had been so long that he couldn't really remember it clearly. His life, in his own eyes, was at last beginning to come together. He was going to tell Quistis how he felt. He was going to make himself do it before he thought about it too much and chickened out.
The only slightly annoying thing was that he had to wear his sword. He didn't like that. But Squall thought that Hyne was going to attack and he agreed with him. There was no way she would have waited this long to move. No way in hell.
Suddenly the alarm sirens were wailing. He ducked down instinctively and looked around to see where they were attacking. 'Ah shit! Not today. Not now.' He saw them beginning to pour through the gateway. Well, it seemed Squall was right. He drew his sword and was about to start charging when he heard a voice say. "Your fault." It seemed to come from everywhere at once. He looked around but no-one was near him.
"When Selphie collapsed it was your fault."
"What? No!" There was no-one around him. It was in his head.
"When Squall started drinking himself into oblivion it was your fault. Everyone almost died. Your fault. Selphie almost killed Irvine. Your fault. It's all your fault. All you fault."
'What the fuck is going on!?' The battle was getting nearer and now he could hear another conversation.
"He needs us, ya know."
"He's got no friends there."
"He'll be like a puppy again without us ya know."
"But what about, ya know, you and him..."
"He thought this might happen. When he talked to me he told me what to do, ya know. GET HER"
Aidin looked up in time to see Raijin walking away from Fujin who was sorrounded. 'Shit. She's gonna die.'
"And it's all your fault. And look what's happening now."
He looked up, against his will in time to see Raijin come up behind Quistis and knock her out and grab her up. He started running away.
"No." It came out as a whisper and he realised he was crying. "No"
"And it's all your fault..."
His mind couldn't take it anymore. It cracked in upon itself. His body was left to fend for itself in the battle. His mind had it's own battle to fight. His body picked the sword which he had dropped and charged into the fight. The first thing it did was free Fujin. It rushed toward her attackers and started cutting them to pieces. They had been kicking her to death and she was unconcious. As soon as they were dead it moved on not noticing the medics who came to get Fujin. It started cutting it's way through to where Quistis was been carried. He was punched and cut but these didn't phase. Then a bullet went through his shoulder. He didn't even slow down. After that the soldiers started avoiding him. But however much he tried he couldn't get any closer to Quistis. He burst out of the building in time to see a helicopter fly away. His mind was still away. He started slicing anything near him. He felt no pain because his mind wasn't there to feel it. He started to kill his way back into the main battle only to find no-one left to kill they were retreating. Then his mind came back from it's battle. He collapsed.
"NO! NO! Damn it not now! You fucking bastard Raijin! I'll kill you. You're dead." Then he passed out.
* * *
Aidin woke up groggily from his slumber. He was covered in badages. It took him a moment to remember what had happened. It came back to him in pieces. Alarms. Soldiers. Raijin and Fujin. The voice. And finally, Quistis. He screamed. It went on until he was completely out of breath and collapsed panting and seeing spots. Once his vision cleared he realised Dr. Kadowaki was standing at the bottom of the bed, next to his sword.
"If I knew you were this bad at taking pain I would have given more painkillers." She said watching him. He sat up out of bed straight away grabbing at the SeeD uniform nearby. "Now hold on a second..."
"Not now doctor, not now. You are a strong woman, and strong willed, but now is not the time to try and stop me." That had been a scream of rage. He could feel the anger burning inside him and for once he just didn't care.
He grabbed his sword and marched out. He knew exactly where he was going. He entered Squall's office without knocking. The commander was alone, though judging by the chairs sorrounding his desk this had not been the case too long ago. He looked up in surprise at been interupted.
"Aidin, I didn't expect you up for a while yet." Then he got a good look at his face.
"Who are you sending after her?"
"Who do you bloody well think?
"If you mean Quistis, then no-one."
"Because there's a good chance she's already dead."
"I don't believe that and neither do you. She could have been killed in battle otherwise."
"Alright, fine. It's because I believe that Hyne wants us to chase after her. She wants us to go to her."
"And why don't we? Squall you must know what this will do to the other SeeDs, seeing one of the saviors of the planet taken prisoner."
"You once told me there are no heroes, only the lucky and the dead."
"Do you think they see it like that?"
"They may not but-"
He was cut off as Aidin drew his sword. He brought it over his head and straight through the desk. It was long enough to cut it in two. Scattered papers settled on the floor as the two pieces collapsed.
"That's not good enough!"
"Maybe, but I will not send any SeeD after her."
Aidin's eyes narrowed at that. "Fine." He reached down and picked up a piece of paper and a pen and wrote two words on it. "There." He gave it to Squall and walked out while he was still looking at it. It said
He went to his room and packed away his things. He changed out of his... the uniform and into his ordinary clothes. Then he picked up his bag and walked out of his room, out of the dorms, out of the main hall, out of the Garden.
He reached out with his mind now, trying to capture again the feeling he'd had when he'd talked to the planet. He reached out and asked: 'Where is she?'
He was shown mountains, a valley, a palace, a hall, a stairway, a door, a dungeon, a naked body lying in the dirt barely recognisable as Quistis. He came to himself out of shock. That was Quistis... At least he knew where he was going. He recognized those mountains.
When he reached Balamb, he went to tell his mother he had left SeeD. When he went to her house, however, it was empty. He asked around and learned she hadn't been seen in two days. He was worried but he didn't have time to look for her. He went to the docks to get a boat. He went into a boat rental shop
"How much does it cost to rent a boat?" He asked the manager.
"Depends. Where ya headed?"
He looked out in the direction he was headed and saw the date. He'd turned 21 yesterday. 'Crap,please not yet. Not until I've got her safe.'
"Hey, man where are ya headed?"
"Esthar." He turned back to face the man. "I'm headed to Esthar."
Squall drummed his fingers on his new desk as he wondered once again what to do. Rinoa hadn't been much help, she was still adamant that he should have gone after Quistis in the first place, even though she knew it was probably a trap. 'What to do, what to do?' He was not a man who normally had to deal with indecision. He didn't know what to do. He thought that Aidin knew where Quistis was been held, although how Aidin knew he was still unsure of. But if they were ever going to fight Hyne then they had to know where she was. He was surrounded by a dangerous lack of information, as if a shadow was all around him and each step he took could take him over a cliff. It was not a comforting thought. He stared off into space trying to find an answer. His focus was out in the world, wondering where the hell Hyne could be.
He sat up suddenly. He was not going to remain undecided. He hit the intercom. "Would Zell Dincht and Irvine Kinneas report to my office now." Part of him was still doubtful but he silenced it quickly. He didn't have time for doubt.
He remained locked in thought until the door opened. He was sure he was doing the right thing. As soon as they entered he pushed all other thoughts aside. He had to do this.
" You two, I assume you know that Aidin Guardian left Garden yesterday. Well I want you two to find out where he's going and follow him."
"Why?" asked Irvine.
"Because I think he'll lead you to Hyne. Just follow him. Don't get too close unless he's in serious danger. I want him followed not killed. But if you seem to be in danger, I want you to pull out. Understand"
Zell nodded but Irvine scowled. "Why us? I don't like the guy."
"Because, unlikely as it may seem, you two are the best trackers at my disposal. You don't have to like him, just to find him. Ok. Then get ready and get going."
They left in silence, although Irvine was still glowering. He was doing the right thing. And they were the best trackers in Balamb Garden. He hoped he wasn't making a mistake.
* * *
Quistis sat up against the wall of her cell, her knees drawn up to try and cover her chest. She could no longer open one eye at all and the other only halfway. She was rocking back and forth and her thoughts were scattered, unfocused. She couldn't seem to form a coherent one. She was humming quietly now. An old tune, the words all but forgotten to her but the tune always there. It was one her mother had sang to her to get her to sleep. It was all she had of her.
She frowned slightly, but not much because frowning hurt. She could remember the first line. "All I want is a room somewhere..."
She stopped as soon as the door opened and tried to back into the corner even further. She put her head into her hands, as if that could stop what was about to happen. The man who entered, dressed in rough fitting clothes grabbed her arm and starting dragging her along. She tried to pull free but after the second attempt he hit her casually, a blow so hard it made her see spots, she stopped. She refused to think about what was going to happen. That would have been almost as bad as the torture.
She was dragged into a room and thrown roughly to the floor in front of a throne. She got unsteadily to her feet and looked around to see she and the throne were sorrounded by bodyguards. The woman on the throne was dressed in a shimmering golden dress and had long golden-brown hair. There was only one person she could be.
"Do you want the torture to stop?" Hyne asked. "All you have to do is kneel to me and swear allegience. Then you can put on your clothes and rest for as long as you need. All that you need to stop it is to swear to serve me."
Quistis stood silently. She would not give in. Not now, not ever. She knew, deep in the pit of her soul, that she would eventually break. But she could at least try for as long as she could. Hyne apparently took her silence for what it was. "Take her away," she snarled.
* * *
As the door shut behing Quistis, Seifer stood up from where he had been crouching by the wall. He walked to the throne and stood beside Hyne. She still couldn't figure out why she allowed that. There were a lot of things she couldn't seem to figure out right now.
"Mistress, why do want to break her instead of just killing her?" At least she wasn't the only one who couldn't understand things.
"Because when I break her and display her to the world as mine it will sap their moral much more than her just been dead. In my service she can much more effective. And even in the unlikely event she escaped, what could she reveal about us? She knows nothing."
Seifer nodded, thoughtfully. "Yes, I can see now. Squall will be furious. I love it." And why did that make her feel good. Why couldn't she understand.
* * *
Aidin watched the sea from the boat. Normally it was a sight that calmed him, but right now he wasn't sure if anything would stop him been angry. He felt as if he was burning inside, the anger a flame which consumed him. But he couldn't let it because if he did then he'd never last to reach Quistis.
For some reason he was uneasy. He couldn't shake the feeling he was been watched, and he thought that he forgotten something, something which was important but for the life of him he couldn't think what. Something that might kill him. And he knew, deep inside buried under the anger, that it definitely would. He reached down and picked up a sandwich. He didn't stop the boat while he ate it. He had to find her. Nothing else mattered as long as he found her. He didn't notice the hovering shape on the horizon but even if he did, so what. There were such things as birds.
* * *
Zell sat at the controls of the Ragnorak, munching a hotdog. He had been taking lessons from Selphie when they had the time. He couldn't do half the things she could but he was still pretty good. It hadn't taken them much time to find out that Aidin had gone by sea and where he was headed, although where was headed was a bit surprising. Zell still wasn't sure what made Squall think Aidin would lead them to Hyne, but when they set out he had been expecting to end up in Galbadia, not Esthar. Still, he'd got his orders and the only way they had a chance of keeping up with him had been by using the Ragnarak. It had taken a while to find him, there were any number of places that he could have been headed.
They had only caught up with him half an hour ago. He was making a slight angle north from Balamb. He would be going into the mountains just north of Esthar itself, if he kept going this way. At least he seemed to know where he was going. But all this waiting around was making Zell angry. He hated been cooped up. And more than that he didn't like been cooped up with Mr. Big Cowboy Irvine. But he had his orders. He decided to go blow off some steam. He set the controls to autopilot and to remain this distance from the ship and went to his room to attack the punch bag there.
* * *
Squall sat on at the table with Rinoa on his lap. They were alone in their apartment, the only place he would ever be so intimate. He was staring out into space, trying to plan for the future. It wasn't so difficult before.
"Earth to Squall, hello, anyone home?" She said it smiling but she seemed slighly worried. She wasn't the only one.
"Rinoa, did I do the right thing? Please, I...I need to know." He was really worried if he was asking her about that. He was usually so sure and confident.
"Of course, but you know I think you should have sent someone after her before this. Come on Squall, let it go."
"Why do you think he went after her?" He had been careful not to tell anyone about the resignation, he still had the paper and was unsure about what to do about it. Just like so many other things right now.
She shook her head. 'Still so stupid about some things.' "Why do you think Squall?"
His forehead creased in a frown. "I don't know. I wouldn't be asking you if I knew."
She laughed quietly at the look on his face. "Sometimes I forget what you were like before I met you Squall." Suddenly she was very serious." Tell me Squall, why did you come after me when I was sent into space?"
He frowned more at that but then realisation dawned on his face. "Oh. I see. Well that would explain why I needed a new desk."
Rinoa laughed out loud. "Yes, I thought that was great. He must have been really mad to slice through your desk." Squall smiled at that, slighly. It was funny but still, it was his desk. For now he just wanted to hold her and not think about what was coming. For as long as he could, he just wanted to forget what he was and be who he was.
* * *
Who can say what it is to be human. Humans have tried, and failed, for years. An alien lifeform, far ahead of ours would have trouble. But what some people believe is that it is to feel, and to have a need to feel. But the feelings are not always good and there are some people who no longer feel, have cut themselves off from their emotions. And these people are called insane. But what is insane when it comes to it.
Aidin was having trouble getting to grips with what he was feeling now because what he felt was unusual for him. He felt excited. The person he was after might be dead, this might be a pointless hunt. But that's what it was, a hunt, and it had his adrenelin rushing and his blood pumping and he felt alive. It was the joy of the hunt, the freedom it gave him. And he was the best. He knew it, it was what he had been trained for, what he was best at always. He was silent as he moved and invisible when he wasn't. No-one could top him. It was what he used to beat his enemies if he was on his own. Nothing could hear him and, once he was close enough, nothing could stop him.
Anyone who had doubted him had found out diffently. Except when he let the anger out, then he was loud enough to wake the dead. He didn't have to think to move silently, not really, it was second nature to him now. He enjoyed sneaking up on people. But it had gotten him into trouble more than once. And now he had to rely on it to stop from been killed himself.
He stopped, suddenly listening. Then he melted backwards into the undergrowth. "Are you sure he went this way?" That voice seemed familiar.
"Of course. Damn it! Stupid bloody bees." Even at a near whisper he knew that voice. Zell. So Squall had decided to send someone after him.
"Stupid ugly uniform. Hey hold up. And be quiet"
Zell and, unless he missed his guess, Irvine. They were, as far as he knew, very good trackers. but they were making too much noise. He had to shut them up before they drew attention to themselves. He started creeping toward them.
"Anyway how d'you know they're his, Zell?"
"The edge is jagged. He says it gives good grip."
Irvine grunted in reply. Then suddenly went stiff as a hand grabbed him from behind. "Shut up and stop stuggling if you want to stay alive. If you will turn you're heads to the right you will see exhibit A, the sentry in the trees." He was released and turned to find the man they were following standing there. He then turned to check out the sentry. He almost missed him, if he hadn't known where to look he wouldn't have seen him before he warned the others.
"Where are we?" Zell asked Aidin.
"A valley I passed through before. Also if you will look even further to your right you might just be able to see the group of guards in this area. We are very near Hyne now. There are guards everywhere. Do you think you could have this place clear when I get back?"
Irvine glared. "You seem confident for a man walking into a palace with a sorcerress and her followed."
"He's right Aidin. I hate to admit it but he's right."
Then Aidin met their gazes for the first time. "I'm coming back." That was all he said but when he turned and walked away, they didn't try to stop him. You don't try stop a man who looks on the edge of killing you. They set about clearing up.
* * *
Quistis sat in a corner of her cell, trying not to think, trying not to feel. She could no longer sleep and they had stopped feeding her long ago. They had stopped beating her too, though that was only a small consolation. She could feel herself breaking now. Losing herself in the thought of food she could have if she just gave in. She was just trying to hold out as long as she could. She might die before she broke. It was all she hoping for now. She had given up on rescue long ago.
In the days when she still believed she would be rescued she used to dream of her rescuer. And though he varied the one who appeared most often was Aidin. And that was odd. If she had thought about it she would have expected Squall to be their most often. She sat quietly trying to die, not noticing the tears trickling down her cheeks.
* * *
Aidin searched through the halls of the palace, keeping to the sides. Something kept trying to get at him, but his anger burned it away before he could really think about it. For some reason the sensation was... familiar. But he had to keep his mind on the search. There were enough people there that he was not noticed, he had come in with a group of what appeared to be new recruits, had slipped away as soon as they were inside and had promptly got lost. He had been wandering around for an hour now, searching aimlessly, but remembering where he had been wasn't too hard, at the worst he'd be able to find his way out. But he didn't think about that except as to what he would do when he had Quistis. If he died trying to get her out, the only thing he would care about was the fact that he had failed. But he refused to even consider failure. It was not an option to his mind.
Suddenly he stopped, staring in through a doorwaym to a staircase leading down. He knew where he was now. A quick glance showed no-one around. He slipped through the door silently, then ghosted down the stairs into a corridor. He saw a man coming out of a cell. A cell he knew. Snarling wordlessly he drew his sword and hacked his head off. Then he entered the cell.
He almost collapsed as soon as he entered. Quistis was sitting in a corner, curled up in a ball, sobbing quietly. He rushed straight over to her and went to his knees as he gently picked her up. She looked up, through only half an eye.
"Aidin?" She mumbled the question. "No. NO! Stop 't. Go 'way. Your not hi'. This is a illusion. Leave m' alone Hyne."
Her state, so childish, shocked him out of his anger and into concern, but before he could do anything, something else crashed home. What he was. Sorcerress Hunter. His eyes tightened as the strain of sitting there, of not simply running off against Hyne. He started muttering half finished thoughts aloud.
"Can't...Must stop...Quistis...Help...Get ou...Sorcerress...No!" He reached inside his mind, for something he knew was there. 'Neo-Bahamut! Help me.'
'What do you wish of me?'
'Get Quistis out. Please!'
'Very well. Relinquish control to me. Show me your trust, if you wish me to help.'
'I will. I trust you. Get me back out. Go!'
And as he felt Neo-Bahamut surge up he let himself go with a last thought. 'Like the wind. Run like the wind.'
And Neo-Bahamut ran. As soon as they were out of the dungeons Quistis looked up, confused. And then gasped.
"Neo-Bahamut. Why are you here 'stead of Aidin?"
"Because he let me child."
"Not a child. Why would he do that?"
Neo-Bahamut growled something unintelligible but which was definitely uncomplimentary. "Are you truly so blind child. Look.See what's there, you fool."
She tried but her exhaustion caught up with her and she fell asleep, snuggling closer to him. Which was probobly just as well. They had reached the hallway outside. And if it had been empty before, it was packed now. Before the people there had more chance than to see he was there, Neo-Bahamut charged up energy in his fist. Releasing it quickly. The resulting explosiong scaterred the people and he ran on, using all his speed. The beam hadn't been as strong as he would have liked. So he ran, charging another beam.
It was just as well. It seemed news of him had spread quickly, for as he reached the hallway leading out, it was packed with people ready to kill on sight. But they hadn't been prepared for him as he was now. He leaped into the air spreading his wings, floating on the currents of air. And released his blast. It was for stronger than the first and the resulting explosion threw almost everyone to the floor. Most satisfactory.
Before they had time to react he was out the door, racing toward the forest. He dived into the undergrowth, careful not to let Quistis get any more bruised. Then he placed her carefully on the groud and drew his energy in again for a different reason. He let the glow enter her, guiding it as best he could. As soon as he was complete he frowned. Only a few of the bruises had dissapeared. But at least she seemed more peaceful. He retreated into the mind of his bearer again.
'Thank you Neo-Bahamut. Thank you!' From this distance Aidin could barely feel the pull of the Sorcerress. It was time to go home.