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Griever - A Final Fantasy VIII Fanfic
by ssj_trunks

Solitude, It’s what my life is. I’ve never been a socialite, or an extravert. Caring about someone can be a curse as much as it can be a blessing. There’s something about responsibility that makes me want to keep it to myself. Given half a chance, I’d go it all alone. No one else needs to be involved, not when it involves me.

Once my SeeD training is finished, I’m going to find out what’s missing in my life that I feel should be here. Is it a person? I don’t know. Is it an object? I don’t know.

My memories of my past are vague now; I guess it was a long time ago that it all happened. I felt whole then, but not anymore. What it was that completed me I'm going to find. Now, I’m only one year away from completing my SeeD training. One year until I can search. One year until I’ll be re-united with whatever it was that was missing.

Class starts soon, I began to think. I pushed myself off the walls of my dormitory and made my way out into the greater Garden. The circular construction of the Garden was annoying, I’d found. There was no quick way from the dorm to the elevator up to the classroom. I had to walk past half the Garden before I got anywhere near where I wanted to go.

After pushing past all the people on their way to various sections of the Garden, I tried to enter the elevator. Too many people, not enough space. I resolved to wait for the next one. As I did so, more people moved towards the elevator, stacking up so that my ride would be packed as well.

The ding of the elevator touching back on the ground floor awoke me from my daydream. I moved into the back of the elevator, which smelled like hot-dogs. I couldn’t see how people could eat them for breakfast. I rested into a corner of the elevator as I waited for it’s slow ascension to begin… then end.

I waited for the mass of students to leave the elevator before I made any movement. I was in no rush to get to Instructor Martin Fay, even if we were going to begin specialized weapons training this morning.

I walked into class and moved directly to the back, trying to avoid everyone’s eyes as I did so. I collapsed into my desk and waited patiently as Instructor Fay began to speak to the class. The Instructor was a tall man, no less than seven feet. He was also well built, being the most experienced weapons specialist in all of Balamb Garden. He wore his hair short: shaved all over. He had a small brown moustache the length of his lips that gave a hint of hilarity to his huge structure. He was a good-natured man, never breaking Garden's code and always in the dark gray SeeD uniform. His body was built like an Ox, but he had the heart of a puppy.

“Good Morning everyone, as you all know, today you will begin to learn specialized techniques for weapons training. If everyone would like to follow me, we’ll get started immediately.” The class erupted into excited chatter as they all got up to follow the Instructor. I wasn’t so enthusiastic.

The air was cold out in the quad, even though the sun was shining. There was an excited air about, which wasn’t coming from me. Instructor Fay had set out an assortment of weapons on the ground. “Now, I know we’ve been teaching you all about each of the weapons and some of the basic skills, techniques and applications. However, starting from today, you’re going to choose a weapon and begin to master the techniques of that specific weapon,” explained Instructor Fay.

“What if we don’t want a weapon?” It was Zell, the stupid loudmouth who was always punching the air. He thinks he’s a martial arts expert, or something.

“Don’t worry Zell, I’ve already thought about you. Here,” Instructor Fay threw a pair of gloves at Zell. They were black leather, studded with silver spikes. A pathetic weapon, but I still didn’t want to get hit by them. “Yeah! These are cool!” I watched as he put on the gloves and started punching the air again.

“Okay, now for you people who want a weapon, I want you to choose from one of these. Firstly,” he pointed at a rifle, “you could learn to become a marksman. Sharp shooting is an invaluable skill required by Garden for assassinations, so if you think you can handle it, and you have a good eye and steady hand, step forward.” Nobody did, which I almost found amusing.

“Okay,” continued the Instructor. “Next is the classic whip, spiked of course, to be quite an effective weapon. That’s if you have the judgment of range and the sleight of hand to flick it about. Who wants one?” A couple of girls stepped forward.

“Okay, anyone for a Machine gun? Bang bang bang, kill kill kill. Guy weapon definitely. Doesn’t require finesse.” About half the class stepped up to grab one. I personally found it a boring weapon. Once that was over, there weren’t many of us left. Just me and a group of girls.

“Okay, you girls want some nunchuks? Yeah I thought that was what you were waiting for,” commented the Instructor as the girls went up to claim their prize.

“Okay, that means you want the Gunblade, Squall. Now, I must warn you, it is highly effective but difficult to wield. If you think you have the strength, agility, speed and accuracy that would suit it, go ahead.” I stepped forward to claim the Gunblade. No kidding, it was heavy, but I liked it. A meter of sharp metal with a trigger for a handle, it looked mean. I could feel the power that the sheer presence of the weapon brought about. It was rare to see one these days. I could only think of one other student who could actually use one. A guy who fails the SeeD tests because of his arrogance. Seifer.

Instructor Fay was surprisingly a master of all the weapons. I’d never heard of someone as skilled as he was. He got the whips cracking in drills, the machine gunners firing at popup targets, the nunchuk girls swinging with power, all the while handling each weapon with great expertise. Eventually, he stopped me from swinging the blade to teach me the finer art of the Gunblade.

“Okay Squall, you’ll remember from basic training how to use the trigger, right?” It was a question but I didn’t answer. “Good. You’ll also remember basic swinging technique to get the most power in the shortest amount of time.” This time it wasn’t a question. “Unfortunately, there’s not much more to it. What you need to do is practice dueling with me for a while, then work through a couple of drills. I’ll write them out and give them too you tomorrow. The thing I want to teach you today is the Renzokuken.”

My eyes widened as he began to explain the fabled Gunblade technique. “As you can see, I’ve set up a dummy for you to practice on. I’m also going to make you place this plastic over the blade so it won’t chop the dummy up the first time you hit it.” I took the plastic cover and slid it over the blade. “Okay. There’s not much too teach you, as it’s more a creative technique than anything. You’ll need to adjust it for different adversaries depending on size. Basically it’s just continuous slicing, then using a finishing move. Watch closely.”

Instructor Fay jumped forward a long distance to the dummy and brought the sword up across the chest of the dummy from left to right. He then spun in the air, and brought the blade directly across the center of the chest. He then reversed the motion, and swung the blade from right to left across the chest. He then brought the blade up over his head and brought it down, smacking the dummy on the top of the skull. “Okay, you may have noticed I didn’t do a finishing move. I’ll teach you one once you have mastered the art of the attack. Oh, and don’t use the trigger. You’ll just blow up the dummy.”

I nodded and brought my sword up into position. I felt that I couldn’t do it, as it required too much energy, enthusiasm and conviction to really pull it off. I walked up to the dummy and tried to start a Renzokuken. It didn’t really work, but I knew that I could achieve it. I began to think thoughts of power, of how I could become stronger than anyone by wielding the Gunblade with skill. The Renzokuken was the key to the power that I could feel beginning to surge within me.

It was then that I broke, well, I thought I broke. I’d heard about Limit breaking, where one’s emotions gain control of one’s body for a time. I felt a force starting to take over my body, and could feel power flowing through my soul. I started slashing wildly at the dummy, which in a way resembled a Renzokuken, but not quite was artistic as Instructor Fay. By the time I had knocked the dummy almost eight times, I had calmed down. I wouldn’t be able to do that again just yet.

“Squall!” called Instructor Fay. “How you did that I’ll never know. Nobody does a Renzokuken on their first attempt!”

“I… I don’t know.”

Instructor Fay seemed excited. “That was amazing Squall. Not even Seifer can do a Renzokuken and he’s been trying for over a year. Something possessed you, but I don’t know what.”

“I honestly don’t know,” I replied.

“Wait, did you junction a high-level GF? If you did, the power of the GF may have taken over. I don’t know why it would, but no one really understands GFs yet. Maybe it was a sign.”

“Instructor, I didn’t junction any GFs.” I hoped that would make him calm down but it made him even worse. “But how can that be? How can you have executed a Renzo? Pack up the Gunblade, I have to take you to Cid.” I nodded and moved over to where I picked up the Gunblade. I placed the Gunblade in the empty case, and closed it. What struck me was the pattern on the outside of the case. A lion’s head, exactly the same as my ring. I had never seen the pattern anywhere before. I couldn’t even remember where I got the ring, but for some reason, I knew that it had something to do with my little show.

Instructor Fay and myself stood waiting at the bottom of the elevator for it to arrive. I kept staring at the doors, though I knew that Instructor Fay kept looking at me. I couldn’t help thinking about the link between the blade and my ring. I knew the key to the problem lied in when I acquired the ring, and for what reason I had acquired it. Somehow, the blade was linked to the ring, which could have triggered the Renzokuken. The lion’s head I had called Griever, though I don’t remember why. Why Griever had turned up on the Gunblade, I wasn’t sure, but for now, I was content in just acknowledging the link.

The elevator doors opened onto the majestic third level with smooth silence. If they weren’t crystal clear then the guards probably wouldn’t have noticed that we had arrived. “Instructor Fay. State your business,” commanded the male guard.

“I need to talk to Headmaster Cid. I need priority, too,” Instructor Fay explained. “Cid will be surprised to hear this.”

“I’m sorry instructor, but the Headmaster is in an important meeting, you will have to wait,” replied the female guard. “General Caraway is highest priority.” Ironically, the door into Cid’s office opened and out stepped General Caraway, and a beautiful young girl. I could barely keep my head straight as I saluted General Caraway. The girl had long black hair, with a tinge of brown underneath. Her face was unlike any I’d seen before. Her beautiful brown eyes had me mesmerized; it took all I had to keep looking straight. Her slender figure was shrouded in a clean, cream gown, which flowed as she moved past me. I could feel her eyes on me, and I felt more nervous than I ever had.

That could have been to do with General Caraway, who was in his military uniform, decorated with many medals of his lifetime achievements. The dark blue-almost black uniform was renowned throughout as the dress uniform of choice for all servicemen. Both moved straight to the elevator, accompanied by two SeeD guards. They were gone just before my legs collapsed from nervousness. “Come on, Squall. Let’s go see Cid.”

Cid’s office was regal from wall to wall. There were royal blues and reds dressed with paintings that added royalty to the Headmaster of Balamb Garden. He was always guarded by two SeeDs, armed with machine guns. There were many instances where they were required, unfortunately. Too many people tried to assassinate Cid that sometimes I wondered why he still kept the job. Cid stood in the center of the office, dressed in a red and white top, with gray pants. His glasses sat low on his nose as he asked, “Instructor Fay, what can I do for you?” as the two of us entered. We both gave a salute to the Headmaster, and then Instructor Fay began to explain the situation. “Cid, you’ll never believe it, but Squall here just executed a Renzokuken on his first attempt!” Cid’s eyes widened, which brought more emphasis to the worry lines now plaguing his old body. “Really?” he asked. “And just how did you manage that, son?”

“I…I’m not really sure, sir.” I replied, somewhat hesitantly.

“Cid, I’ve never seen anyone actually initiate within the first year. His attempt, while not exactly a refined art, was still effective. At first, I thought he might have had a GF equipped, but he says he doesn’t.”

“Is that true, Squall?” He asked, interrogatingly.

“Yes. I have no GFs.” I replied, calmly.

“Instructor, could you return to your class? I need to have a little talk.”

“Yes sir,” replied Instructor Fay. He saluted, turned around and exited, closing the door. After he had left, I turned to face Cid again.

“Please, Squall, tell me what happened. How you felt, what you felt, anything different from the normal.”

“Okay… Well, I watched the Instructor do a Renzokuken, and I knew straight away that I didn’t have the energy to actually start slicing and everything. Then I just thought of how powerful I would be if I could do it, and then I kind of lost control. Just by wanting to be better. It sounds weird.” I wasn’t sure if he believed my story.

“I feel there’s something more, something you aren’t telling me,” commented Cid, implying that I continued. I didn’t really want to tell him about Griever, but I couldn’t lie to the Headmaster.

“I’m not quite sure, but I think my ring is related. The same design is on the Gunblade case. I guess it kind of felt weird during the whole time I was holding the Gunblade,” I told Cid. I could tell he was interested so I took off the ring and gave it to him. He held up the ring to see it in a better light, turning it over and over, around and around, trying to see if there was something special. “I can’t see anything special about it Squall, to tell the truth. However, I can sense a magic about it but it’s very faint. I doubt that it would be enough to induce a limit break. I want you to experiment more with it, see if you can do a Renzokuken with and without the ring.” I nodded and accepted the ring back. “Come back to me in a week with your findings, okay Squall?” I nodded again, saluted, turned and walked out the door. I could feel that something was happening inside me, filling my body with power. I looked at the ring, but there was no evidence of anything happening.


One week later, I found myself waiting outside of Cid's office once again. Over the previous week I had been experimenting with the Renzokuken and a finishing move that Instructor Fay taught me: the Rough Divide.

The Rough Divide is probably best described as a massive sword 'uppercut' technique, which through the power of the Renzokuken 'mode' brings fragments of the ground upwards.

On the first day after I had left Cid's office, I asked Instructor Fay to practice with me, as a sparring partner. Of course, that involved the plastic cover on the blade and enough control not to pull the Gunblade's trigger. We both succeeded in that, thankfully. Interestingly, throughout the fight, I began to feel a power starting to surge through me when it seemed that Instructor Fay had the upper hand.

I felt my blood beginning to boil and my body temperature start to rise. I realized what was happening in time to tell the Instructor to back off for a while. Once he ceased attacking me, a cooling sensation rushed through me, tingling my spine and calming my muscles. That was my first interaction with 'true' Limit Break power, not power that was created from my desires. Throughout that day of training, I was wearing the ring.

On the second day, I decided to test out my Renzokuken power on the dummy once again. I began to think thoughts of power, visualizing my dreams of becoming strong enough to be a SeeD as well as search for the other half of my soul. As soon as I thought of searching for the other part of me, I could feel power starting to flow through my veins, slowly bringing more energy into my bones.

The power coursed through my muscles, stimulating my nerves. It eventually spread to my brain, and I could feel my strength, speed, vitality and health grow. I was growing nearer to the Renzokuken but the power stopped short. There was plenty of energy flowing, but it wasn't enough. I desperately searched my insides for something more, but I came to realize that it wasn't just my insides that I needed to truly create a Renzokuken on command. There was something there on that day that had caused me to gain extra power, but I had no idea what it was.

Instructor Fay became a big help in exploring my limits, and on that same day, we trained again near the dummy. I knew that I would feel another rush if he was winning, and this time I had something to take out my anger on. I concentrated on blocking and attacking his swipes, sometimes giving him the upper hand.

It didn't take long for me to 'lose' enough of the fight to engage in a Renzokuken. I turned to face the dummy, feeling the power now flowing freely throughout my entire body – and outside.

I jumped ran towards the dummy, my Gunblade held high in the air. I slammed the blade down hard on the dummy's head. It glanced of the padding, so I brought the sword around to my left. Describing a full circle with the Gunblade, I brought the blade across the torso of the dummy from right to left. I quickly reversed the blade to slash the dummy from shoulder to hip, then, swinging low, I brought the blade up. The dummy exploded, when I realized what had happened. My finger had slipped on the trigger, creating an explosion along the edge of my blade. Not only did it blow up the dummy, but it also melted the entire plastic blade cover.

I glanced over at Instructor Fay, who had a surprised look on his face. He'd already seen me do a Renzokuken, so I knew that he was surprised that I had actually pulled the trigger. I looked back at the remnants of the dummy. I didn't need to be told I had done the wrong thing. Both Instructor Fay and I agreed it was probably best if I didn't play around anymore.

The third day was a lot different, since it was the first time I tried to do the Renzokuken without wearing the ring. I honestly expected it not to work; that the ring was the source of the power I had recently been experiencing. Unfortunately, since I was expecting nothing to happen, I felt okay fighting against Instructor Fay, which almost got him seriously hurt. As the fight wore on, I pushed my power, feeling my veins flood with desire to win.

It wasn't long before I was psyched enough to perform a Renzokuken, and I very almost did. If it wasn't for Instructor Fay's quick thinking I probably would have. The Instructor had noticed my eyes glow red with anger for a brief second before I actually started slashing at him. He quickly disarmed my with a flick of his sword that left me astounded. "Squall, it seems as though your ring doesn't have anything to do with it, my boy." I looked at him, and then retrieved my sword. I needed to contemplate over the power of the ring more than ever.

On day four, I didn't get a chance to train with Instructor Fay, but I experimented with the Renzokuken all the same. I took the ring off, and then began to focus my thoughts on gaining more power. Previous experience had shown that I could get very close to the limit by tantalizing my desires for strength and solidarity. Today, I felt none of the power, without wearing the ring.

As soon as I placed the ring back on my finger, concentrating once again, I could feel my anger rise almost enough to begin a Renzokuken. I still needed an extra boost to push me over the edge; still needed that extra power present on that first day.

I examined the pattern on the ring once again, trying to find something else inside the lion's head, to no avail. I brought it up closer to my face, getting up close to the ring. It was then that I felt a power against my face, resembling that of what a GF would radiate. This intrigued me, thinking that somehow I had acquired a new GF without even knowing.

Over the last three days, I really worked on my technique during the Renzokuken. This included creating graceful maneuvers with the sword throughout the wild slashing, which was no mean feat. When one enters a limit break, the consciousness must fight with the energy coursing through the body. Intentionally moving the sword is tough, the pure energy being wielded prefers just to pass the blade through the opponent.

Instructor Fay was available to help me control the power, as well as teach me the Rough Divide finishing move.

"Okay Squall, now that you can attack properly, I want to teach you a finishing move." I nodded and he continued. "Utilizing a finishing move is highly effective, as it channels any remaining limit break energy into the attack. When all the energy is released, you can probably safely assume that it will produce spectacular results. Watch closely." I watched on with interest at Instructor Fay, who dashed forward to a new dummy and started slashing. Then, he stopped, allowing the most surprising thing I had ever seen to happen to him.

A blue flame engulfed the Instructor as he brought his sword down beside him. He moved forward to the dummy, dragging the Gunblade through the ground. He then brought the blade up from underneath the dummy, sending most of the ground around the dummy flying upwards with it. Needless to say, the dummy was obliterated too.

I found myself staring wide-eyed at him, as he turned around to face me. "Don't worry, I've destroyed at least a hundred practicing."

Now, having perfected my technique, I stood outside Headmaster Cid's office, waiting for Instructor Fay to exit. It didn't take long for him to come out, holding an armful of paper. "Squall, enter," instructed one of the guards. I watched Instructor Fay get into the elevator and go down, wondering where he was going. But I didn't have time to wonder.

"So Squall, what have you got for me?" asked Cid. He was dressed in his traditional white shirt and red vest, his glasses slightly low on his nose. He looked at him, and then decided I had better speak. I quickly saluted, then began to explain. "The ring has an effect on my ability to perform a Renzokuken."

"Oh, that's interesting. How much?" Cid inquired.

"The first time I performed a Renzokuken, I began to think about gaining strength and power. Then, anger started filling my body. However, I can't Renzokuken by doing that anymore. There was something on that day that pushed me over the edge that I can't get a hold of. If I'm not wearing the ring, though, I don't get angry at all."

"So you're saying that the ring has the power to induce a limit break?" asked Cid. I could see his eyes light up at the possibility.

"No. As I said, sir, something on that day gave me the final boost of power to actually limit break."

"Oh. But you can do a Renzokuken without the ring, just by limit breaking during a fight, right?"


"That's good progress you're making. Hopefully we'll finally have a Gunblade specialist by this time next year. Oh, and I'm sending Instructor Fay out on a SeeD mission. His skills are definitely needed for this one. He's actually gone off to fulfill the original purpose of Seed."

"What's that?" I asked.

"I created SeeD, so that at the right time..." The door into Cid's office opened, and in stepped a member of the Garden Faculty. He wore a full body robe of brown and white vertical strips, accompanied by a large beak-like headwear that completely obscured the face. He interrupted Cid's speech, "Sir, there's some business you need to attend to downstairs. Now."

"Sir, who will be our new instructor?" I asked as he exited the room.

"Oh, Instructor Trepe. I'm sure you've heard of her." Of course I had. The youngest SeeD, and now the youngest Instructor. I didn't agree with Cid's decision: A rookie instructor wasn't going to be able to help me get stronger.

A year passed at Balamb Garden, and I can quite safely say futilely. Instructor Trepe was only specialized in using the whip, and only a small fraction of the class was studying them. That led to little practical time for me to practice my Renzokuken. To add to my woes, my class had gained a new student. The dreaded Seifer Almasy. Once again, he had failed the SeeD test.

Sefier had joined Garden at an early age, and progressed quickly. However, he became arrogant and refused to take orders seriously. This caused him to fail the final SeeD field tests, dragging him back into cadetship.

The bright side of Seifer was that I finally had someone to train against. However, he always took the training too seriously. This led to injuries for the both of us. My skill with the blade was easily better, but his fighting sense gave him every opportunity to exploit magic and cheap tricks. In my own opinion, he was lucky that I could hold back the Renzokuken.

It took a long time for any news of the vanished Instructor Fay to arrive, but eventually, some did. The chime came out over the Garden PA system. "Could all students and Instructors please report to the quad for an urgent assembly."

In all my years at Garden, I had never been subject to an urgent assembly, so I immediately assumed that there was something terrible about to happen. I had already assumed that it would have something to do with Instructor Fay.

Headmaster Cid stepped up to the microphone on the Quad's stage and began to speak; a grim look on his aging face. "Student's today I have received news of our beloved Instructor Fay. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you about his mission, but he has failed. Martin Fay was renowned for his weapons skills, but unfortunately they could not serve him well enough.

"During his mission, Martin met up with James Learson; a SeeD from Galbadia Garden. It's through James that we have heard of the Instructor's demise, and also an urgent warning. I'll allow him to explain." Cid stepped down from the podium to give way to what looked like an extravagant businessman. His hair was parted on the right, slicked down heavily. He wore a black tuxedo over a white shirt, and just looked out of place as a SeeD.

"Good Afternoon everyone. I'm James Learson, a SeeD from Galbadia. I had known Martin for a long time, which is one of the reasons why I accepted the mission to help him. However, even my magic skills couldn't save him from his death, but I intend to save you.

"There is a hostile in your Garden. That's the simplest way to put it. In fact, it's the sorceress you may have heard of. She claims to be a peace worker, but I know it not to be true. She's dangerous, bloodthirsty and is seeking revenge for what Martin and I have done. I'll hand over to Cid to make the orders." James glanced over at Cid, nodded and stepped down from the stage. He made his way over to a bench and sat, as Cid began to give orders.

"Now, I don't want anyone to panic. The sorceress is dangerous, yes, but James has exaggerated the danger we are really in. However, I don't want any fatalities or injuries – your safety is in my best interest.

"The problem we face is that most of our SeeDs are out in the world – that's their job. That's why I'm going to need all the Instructors, the disciplinary committee and Squall Leonhart (you know why) to join me over with James. The rest of you need to make an orderly exit out of Garden. Please, I don't want any rushing, pushing, shoving or screaming. Now go."

The assembly saluted the Headmaster, and then moved off to exit Garden. I made my way over to the bench where James was sitting. Most of the Instructors were already there, including Instructor Trepe, who came over to talk to me. Her long blonde hair, in her usual style, waved as we felt a large gust of wind blow over the quad. She pulled her SeeD uniform tighter, and then asked, "Is this the first crisis you've been in?" I nodded, then looked over my shoulder, sensing that Seifer, Rajin and Fujin were coming up behind me. Together they were the disciplinary committee, and unfortunately did a good job at instilling fear into the Garden students. Rajin was a big, colored guy, whose physical strength was incredible. Fujin was a weird girl, speaking only in one-word sentences – very loudly. Her white hair and black eye-patch only heightened her reputation as weird.

Almost immediately after Seifer had arrived, Cid spoke up. "Okay, I've asked you guys to help out here, since you are the strongest people here. Unfortunately there are only ten of us, including me. I think that you should split into three groups, and I'll try to manage the evacuation.

"Instructors Peters, Jamison and Stevens, I want you to go as a team. Disciplinary committee, go as yourselves."

"Don't worry headmaster, we're more than enough for the sorceress," boasted Seifer. I could see Cid's horror at Seifer's comment. Luckily, James spoke up.

"Don't underestimate her, good man. She is not to be messed with. I'm sure you will be able to defeat her, but don't get cocky. Cockiness can lead to rash moves, which can lead to mistakes, which leads to death." Seifer, turned away and began to move off to find the sorceress. "Let's go," he said to Fujin and Rajin. They turned and followed him like mindless robots. The other Instructors moved off, which left me with Instructor Trepe and James.

"Okay, you are the last three. Just remember, don't get carried away. Oh, and Squall, be careful with the Renzokuken," instructed Cid. I looked over at James, who was surprised by the mention of the Renzokuken.

"Cid, I didn't know you had anyone who could do a Renzokuken except for Martin." He exclaimed, excited.

"Yes, young Squall here has immense potential. From the first time he picked up a Gunblade, he could execute. He's quite amazing," explained Cid. Instructor Trepe winked at me. James took my hand and shook it admiringly. "That's amazing. It takes most people at least a year to even execute the technique. You are one great fighter, I can tell."

"I try my best."

Neither of us could determine where the sorceress would most likely be, so we opted to check out the largest area. The dorms – It was big, plenty of places to hid, and there might even be some Cadets there. Luckily, the Instructor and I had our weapons since our training class was interrupted. I didn't want to have to go and get them at a time like this.

From the Quad, we made our way around the circular paths to get to the Dorms, passing the cafeteria along the way. We heard some arguing inside, so we decided to check out what was happening.

My instincts told me that Seifer had something to do with it, and I was right. The disciplinary committee had met up with the Instructors, and now they were arguing over who was going to check out the storerooms. I wasn't sure why, it seemed completely childish – but that was Seifer. He wanted to do everything his way. Nobody wanted to get in his way, not even most of the Instructors. I admired their courage this time, but we decided to not get involved since there were already two teams in the one area. We quickly made our way around to the Balamb Garden dorms.

Outside the entrance, James stopped. "Is everyone junctioned to a GF?" he asked. I shook my head, and so did Instructor Trepe. "We weren't using GFs when the assembly was called..." she said.

"Okay, where are your GFs?" asked James.

"Mine is in my room. I don't know if I can get there though," replied Instructor Trepe. I knew where mine were, but they were too far away. "Mine are in the second-floor classroom."

"Oh, damn," replied James. "Okay, luckily I always junction three. However, my power may decrease if I give them to you. Can I be sure I won't be wasting them?" He asked Instructor Trepe.

"Don't worry, we're both strong. We'll easily make up for your loss of power." She replied. I nodded. "Okay, get ready then, I'll transfer them directly, including my junctioned magic." He began to concentrate deeply, then started chanting the junctioning spell. His body began to sparkle, then the sparkling light split in two directions – into the Instructor and me. "Okay Squall, you have Hercules. I though you'd make good use of a strength junction. Instructor, you have Cerberus. I'm sure you both know well enough their abilities, so let's go." He ran off into the dorms, with the Instructor and myself in tow.

We ran up and down the corridors, searching for a sign of the sorceress. Along the way, we woke a few sleeping Cadets and explained to them the situation. They made their way out of the dorms, as we continued down the never-ending hallway.

James, who was ahead, came to a stop. I looked around at why he stopped, and saw a trail of blood leading into the closest room. I had never seen so much just splattered around, and I almost vomited on the spot. I could also tell that the sight didn't please the Instructor, as she hid behind me. I looked over at James, who seemed to be studying the blood. "It's not human," he said. "Well, not all of it. You can see over there a distinction between to areas. I'd say a fight has just happened, let's follow the trail."

We stepped into the room the trail led into, to see one of the most disturbing sights I had ever seen. A large green monster was at the other end of the room, mauling a Cadet who seemed to be dead, thankfully. "An Iguion," screamed James. "Get ready." The monster turned to face us, it's eyes locking on me. James was beside me chanting, while the Instructor began cracking her whip.

James thrust his hands at the monster, which was then encapsulated in a bright yellow shield. "OH SHIT! DIVE!" yelled James. I didn't wait to find out why, and threw myself over to the left, as an extremely large chunk of ice appeared where I was standing. "It has reflect, guys. It's up to you – I'm not going to cast Ultima in here." I looked over at him, my eyes wide. Ultima was always hailed as the greatest spell ever devised, and showed the strength of a truly powerful mage. However, it was extremely dangerous and often caused a lot of collateral damage.

I jumped to my feet and charged at the Iguion. I tried to bring my sword down on top of it, but it spun around and whacked me with it's large tail. "Squall, be more careful!" yelled James. "Here, this might help." He began casting once again, as Instructor Trepe cracked her whip at the Iguion. It flinched, allowing the Instructor to hit it with the whip on her second crack.

James thrust his hands forward again, and I could feel my body get lighter. "Haste!" he yelled, and I could feel the speed in my bones. I dashed forward at the Iguion, who didn't see me coming. I brought the Gunblade down on it's back, pulling the trigger. Blood splattered everywhere, and my attack left a huge hole in the Iguion.

Unfortunately, the monster was trained to attack, so it came at me with its huge claws. I quickly sidestepped from his attack path, being faster than anything I'd ever seen before. I slashed the Gunblade at its attacking outstretched leg, carving the limb at the shoulder joint.

The Iguion misbalanced and toppled over. Not able to support itself on three legs, I brought the blade down on the back of its neck, slicing its head from its neck. "Good job, Squall," commented the Instructor.

"It was all James," I replied. "He was the one that cast Haste."

"No worries Squall. You're just lucky that my blizzard magic didn't hit you. Which is interesting, considering that the Iguion doesn't regularly possess reflect. The sorceress must be close and know that I'm here. Let's go." He turned and exited the small dorm room. "Wait." I called to him. He turned back to the doorway and re-entered. "We better wait for the Instructor," I explained.

Instructor Trepe was checking the Cadet body, probably looking for identification. She searched through the pockets, trying to keep her hands as clean as possible. Finally, she found his wallet. "Oh no, it's Brad Faulconer," she said. Brad was probably the best machine gunner in all of Garden, which explained why there was so much Iguion blood around. The monster was more than a match for him, but we were able to use numbers to our advantage. "Okay, are we ready now?" asked James.

"Okay, let's go," replied the Instructor. The three of us ran out of the room and continued on down the corridor.

All three of us continued on down the long dorm corridor, taking care not to make too much noise. Once again, James stopped, but this time for less obvious reasons. "Shhhh, I can sense her magic. She is very close," he told us.

"How?" I asked, whispering.

"It's an internal magic sense I have," was his whispered reply. "Get ready," he said, and we turned the corner into the dorm common room.

Inside, was the sorceress, and another Iguion. The sorceress was dressed in a simple black dress, with a feathered collar. Her skin was very white, probably the by-product of intense study.

"James Learson. I should have known you would come after me. You aren't as welcome here at Garden as you'd like to think, though. Regardless, I might as well eliminate you. Iguion!" she yelled, pointing at James. Immediately, the Iguion became surrounded by a bright yellow flame; I recognized it as the draw technique. James' body began to sparkle once again, and light came from his body and into the Iguion. "No! Carbuncle!" He yelled, as he dropped to the floor.

"How do you like that, Mr. Learson? You're nothing without your GF. Feel this," screamed the Sorceress. Her voice was scratchy, as if she didn't really want to kill him. She formed a large spike of ice in her hand and launched it at James. The ice shard penetrated through his stomach, and he immediately coughed up blood. "Ah, you bitch!" He yelled as he went to ground. "Don't even think about using cure, my young swordsman," the sorceress said, directed at me. "Iguion, draw their GFs." Once again, the Iguion surrounded itself in a bright yellow flame. This time, Instructor Trepe began to sparkle, and all I could do was stand there.

From behind me, James stood up. His body was covered in his own blood, but he managed to cast a spell on the Iguion before the draw was complete. A man in a cloak appeared, brandishing a scythe. He sliced down the Iguion, who immediately keeled over dead. "Fool. You couldn't possibly cast magic without a GF. Your body will pay the price," yelled the sorceress.

"I don't mind," replied James. "You already screwed it up enough. Now that GF will return to it's home, Galbadia Garden." I looked over at the sorceress, who was getting angrier. She pointed her hand at James, releasing a blast of flame from her palm. The blast was too much for James, who was thrown against the wall behind him. I could tell he was dead already. "Squall, summon Hercule!" bellowed the Instructor. I began concentrating on the GF junctioned inside me, feeling its power become external. "NO!" commanded the sorceress, who placed her hands palm up into the air. A blot of lightning came down, shocking me, though I felt nothing. "SQUALL!" screamed the Instructor.

"The GF's gone. She killed it," I said depressingly. The sorceress began laughing, then taunted us "What can you do now, impudent SeeDs?"

"I'm going to kill you," I replied. I felt the power of the Renzokuken well up inside of me. I could feel that she sensed my internal power, with horror. "No. That's impossible. How did he get you, Griever?" asked the sorceress to no one. I leaped forward, the sorceress in my sights. "NO! You are full of surprises Mr. SeeD, but this battle doesn't end today." The sorceress became swirled in a blue light, which eventually completely obstructed my view of her. I jumped into the light, and began slashing, my blade not connecting with anything.

Once my view was clear, the sorceress had disappeared, not entirely to my surprise. I threw my Gunblade down, and began kicking the dead Iguion. "Squall, we tried," said the Instructor, trying to comfort me. "At least we're both still alive."

"Yeah, I suppose. What happens to a GF when it's host dies?" I asked her.

"You should know, but it doesn't matter. While you were in the Renzokuken, I noticed the body of the Iguion sparkling, similar to when James and I were drawn."

"So the sorceress stole it?" I asked.

"Yes. What was its name?" She then asked me.

"Carbuncle. That's what James said. I'd never heard of it," I replied.

"I have. It casts reflect on the user, which is invaluable to a mage. Anyway, we should go and find the Headmaster." I nodded and we turned and exited the dorm common room, making our way out to the rest of the Garden.

"So, two of the strongest SeeDs of this age are gone," said Cid. I nodded. "I should have been more careful. I thought they were strong enough, but I guess not."

"So Instructor Fay was sent to take out Sorceress Edea?" I asked.

"No, that's not completely correct." He paused, considering something. "I suppose I could tell you, since you're the hero now. The Instructor was sent..." There was a knock at the door of Cid's office. One of the Garden Faculty stepped inside, announcing that Cid had business on the Basement level. "Squall, read up on your Esthar history and you might understand," advised Cid as he left his Office. I turned to face Instructor Trepe, who had a quizzical look on her face. "Squall, there's something I need to ask you. What was the sorceress talking about when she was about to leave? You know about some 'Griever'?" She asked.

"I'm not sure," I replied. What did she mean? Why had Griever, my ring, my lion's head picture, suddenly become so famous? Why did the sorceress fear it so much that she would run away? Once again, my old ring was under my suspicion. I could tell there was something more behind its unclear history, but what? I looked back at the Instructor, who was smiling at me. It quickly disappeared, though. I turned to walk out the door, when she said, "I'm going to find out what it is you know." I looked back at her for a brief second, and then continued towards the elevator. I knew I had just given it away that I did know something, but hopefully she wouldn't question me too much.

The SeeD field exam was tomorrow. Until after that, she wouldn't have much time to question me about it. It was time for a rest – Seifer insists on having dawn training sessions. I'll need my energy if I don't want to be injured for the Field Exam.

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