Chapter 3: Dyspepsia
Lie in bed to take your clothes off show me what you’re made of
To soothe me...
As Ragnarok returned to the Airstation, Squall looked down to measure the distance; to find out if he could die if he jumped off.
Damn... He thought, clenching his teeth, I hate it. It makes me sick to my stomach! I just... Killed my friend’s mother, for Hyne’s sake! Maybe it wasn’t his biological mother, but still! Shit! Damn to Diablos! I just... I...
No!-he held on to this thought, desperate in his attempt- I can’t feel guilt. I can’t feel anything. If I feel... Then I must... I might... No. I can think, but I can’t- I won’t- feel. I’m so afraid...
Afraid of not waking up... Afraid of living in this madness, killing people I know, killing my friends’ mothers cause that’s my job...
But if I ever let go of my duty, then I’m afraid of finding out that there’s nothing else for me to live for... What- no, just STOP thinking.
“Squall, is it cold or something?” Selphie asked, her voice shaking.
Squall stared at her, his head down, his blue eyes almost in tears, glistening in the cockpit’s lights.
“What?” Squall asked.
Swallowing hard, her eyes wide, Selphie repeated the question “I was wondering if it was... Cold.”
“Look at yourself.”
Looking down, Squall saw that he had pulled his knees to his chin, and his arms were embracing himself. He slowly let go of his clothes, loosened the grip he had on his own arms.
“We’re approaching Balamb Garden.” Irvine reported, his voice sligtly shaking with fear.
“Whatever.” Squall replied. He sensed Selphie move, uneasily.
“Speak.” Squall suddenly said, turning to Selphie, making her almost jump up.
“Talk.” Squall said, “It’s painfully obvious that you’re thinking something.”
Selphie bit her lower lip and shot a questioning look at Irvine. Sighing, he nodded at her.
“Squall... We just would like to know... I mean, why did you kill Zell’s mother?”
“I didn’t... I didn’t know it was her!” Squall told them, “I didn’t! Look, you have to- Nah, why should you believe me?” he continued, his pain replaced by anger, “Go ahead. I’m a violent, insane killer. It’s easier that way!” he faced away from her.
Squall... Selphie thought, what’s happening to you? Why did you... How? Booyaka! I’m running in circles. I’m really running in circles.
Irvine landed Ragnarok down, at the Airstation. As the part of a standart procedure, a bell girl came along to ask them if they had any luggagge. Irritated, Squall told her they weren’t packing a mini-fridge full of six-pack Mersmerize Beer, making her blush and go away. As Squall started to go on, Headmaster Cid approaced them.
“What, another mission!?” Squall asked, his voice almost in total rage.
“We’ve been paid in advance, Squall, and you three have to do it. Everything is quiet ready, in fact.”
“Whatever.” Squall replied, his face bitter.
“That’s a good way to put it, whatever!” Cid smiled, “Another assassination. You’re going to Deling City, to Caraway’s Mansion.”
“What, us as in, this group!?” Irvine asked.
“Yes.” Cid replied, “General Caraway is meeting up with some Estharians, government people, in short. The person you will be assassinating will be close to President Loire.”
Someone close to Laguna... Squall thought,I’ve got a bad feeling about this mission. Not just a bad feeling, a terrible feeling. Something doesn’t sound right.
Someone close to Laguna... Squall thought,I’ve got a bad feeling about this mission. Not just a bad feeling, a terrible feeling. Something doesn’t sound right.
“Do you get it?”
“I do, sir.” Squall said, with a sick expression on his face.
“You are to go to Caraway’s Mansion, and get up to the roof. When your target appears, Irvine, you will take the open shot, easily. I’m not saying do it with absolute secrecy, but please wait for them to walk away from the mansion for some time, and hit the target when it’s about to walk out of the range.”
“Gotcha.” Said Irvine.
“If anything goes wrong,” Cid said “Squall, you are in charge of the mission then. You will assassinate the target yourself, if you get detected and can’t shoot, or miss. Your target is the man with the red hat, an Estharian sign of peace, wearing a red hat, that is. Squall, you’re in full charge of the mission if anything goes wrong, understood?”
Go ahead, Squall thought, load it all on me, that’s why I live for; to be buried under the soil under the weight of it all.
“Good. The assassination time is, exactly 20:00”
“How ironic... The same time Edea got assassinated!” Selphie said.
“And, in addition” Cid said “It’s similar too, same rifle on the roof, waiting for you. One shot, get it done.”
“Okay, I just love those ‘one shot’s.” Said Irvine, trying to act careless while swallowing hard.
“Let’s get the show on the road.” Cid said, smiling.
For a moment, Squall wanted to enlarge his smile with the tip of his gunblade, but swallowed it up. Dismissing them, Cid walked away, leaving Squall there, in the darkness. Squall decided to go up to his room and took his pills, without any feeling at all. He touched the edges of the cold sink, but didn’t feel any object underneath his palms.
Looking around, hearing echoes of Rinoa’s crystalline laughters, he found out that something was missing in him. Setting the clock on 19:00, he closed his eyes to get some sleep. But he was tossing and turning in the bed, without any peace or sleep at all. The clock had striked 18:45 when he decided to get up and have a shower to shake the sleepiness.
Spending 15 minutes in the shower, feeling the water cover up his cancered wounds as a band-aid, Squall got out, and got dressed. Getting his gunblade, he decided to meet up with his team to get the mission done.
Irvine and Selphie had been shifting their weights uneasily as Squall approached them, and cocked his head sideways in a let’s-do-it gesture. In absolute silence, Squall took them to the Airstation. They took Ragnarok and flew over the sea to Deling City. Squall landed the ship outside the city, near The Tomb Of The Unknown King, and they got on a car that was stored inside it, driving into Deling City.
Things had been quiet, and the man in the garage didn’t ask any questions when three armed teenagers left a shiny, luxury car in his garage for safekeeping.
Asking about the time, Squall noticed that they had half an hour to reach Caraway’s Mansion and finish the mission. They ran all the way to the bus stops and hopped on a bus that would got to Caraway’s Mansion. On the bus, Selphie asked:
“What time is it?”
Checking his wrist watch, Irvine replied as “19:37 now.”
“Okay.” Selphie said, then, oddly on her side, fell silent.
Squall thought, Why am I so... Disturbed tonight? Maybe that’s because my trust on Cid has been shaken up a lot? I mean, I killed Zell’s-
No! I can’t think about that. To think is to feel it. And I can still-
No! I can’t feel it. I will not let myself feel it! To feel will mean accepting that I’m falling apart again. I have to be strong... If Rinoa was here, if she was only here to tell me to be strong, and I was a lion after all... But she’s... Gone.
“Squall, we’re here!” said Irvine, waking him up.
“Whatever.” Squall muttered, as he followed the others out of the bus to Caraway’s Mansion. They snuck in from the walls and laid low on the grass, avoiding any contact with the guards. When they reached the side of the mansion, they saw a rope ladder, left there for them. They climbed it up onto the balcony-like opening there. It was hard to miss, right above the door. They were easily detectable, but it was easy to get disolved into the crowd in the city.
Irvine took the sniper rifle. Selphie sat next to him. Squall sat apart from the others.
Shaking her uneasiness, “Oooh, I’m nervous.” Selphie said,”What time is it?”
“It’s 19:45.” Irvine replied, and added “It’s gonna be great!” with some supressed nervousness. “As SeeD, I’ll kill that poor guy without blinking.”
“You better don’t ‘blink’” Squall said “Or, they- or worse, I- will be seeing your head as a necklace ornament.”
“Yeah, right!” Irvine replied.
Then, silence fell. Squall looked up to the sky, but then, decided to retreat into himself.
Squall thought, okay, we still have about ten minutes before we do the assassination. And I think I’ll spend this time, seeking some secret company, or get advice. Diablos?
I have a question, which you should know since you’re the GF that takes care of such stuff, is there a heaven?
Master, Diablos snickered, what got into your clothes?
Watch what you say!
I apologize, Master. I would say there’s a place after death, but it’s not as ‘heavenly’ as you would think it is.
Then is there a hell?
Master, Diablos stopped for a moment to supress his laughter, haven’t you heard of this one thing a philosopher said: ”There’s no true information.
Even if there is we can’t know it. Even if we know it we can’t explain to anyone else.”
I didn’t call you to make stupid philosophical remarks!
The point is, Master, there’s no heaven. Even if there is, you might never know. And by the time you learn it would be the time you can’t even move your finger.
By the time I’m dead.
Alright you can go. Eden?
You called me, Master?
Yeah. I wanna know if there’s a heaven.
Within the data net?
Were there any other GF’s in the data net?
Probably yes, Master.
Then why did we find only you? Where are the others?
They had faced deletion.
And nothing. Their existance, Master, ceased. They became just scattered information.
That’s it? No dramatic ends?
Drama doesn’t even enter into it, Master. Master, if I knew what was troubling you, I could’ve been more helping.
No, I can handle it myself. Dismissed.
“We have two minutes!” Irvine exclaimed, he swallowed hard and then got his sniper rifle. They heard the doors of the mansion slam, and a group of people walking out. General Caraway was muttering some shiny monologues to Esthar represantatives, like Laguna. He then checked his wrist watch and saw the time. General Caraway took the guests over into the city.
Squall bent down on Irvine’s ear. “Can you see the target?” he asked.
“Yeah.” Irvine replied with a sigh “The guy with the red hat. I got a clear shot, I can take him down.”
“Well, hurry!” said Selphie “It’s almost 20:00”.
Irvine looked through the scope, the crosshair aimed right onto his target’s neck. He aimed well, and he had ten more steps to go before he went out of his range. The red-hatted man turned to Laguna, who was by his side, and he was at the line.
The thought flashed in Irvine’s head as he pulled the trigger.
The bullet missed Kiros with great distance, hitting a Galbadian Soldier right in the middle of his face, sending him backwards.
“GODDAMMIT!” Irvine cursed.
“No!” said Squall, “I’ll take care of the mission! Selphie, get him out of here!” and he ran off to the edge of the roof, and jumped down.
“Squall, wait!!!” Irvine shouted behind him.
“Booyaka!” Selphie exclaimed, “What happened!?”
“Do you know who we were about to assassinate, and who Squall will kill soon?”
“If I did, I wouldn’t ask you what happened, would I?”
“Kiros... What, Sir Laguna’s friend Kiros?”
“Great Hyne, SQUALL!!!”
But Squall didn’t hear her. He was running on the grass, to reach to that Esthar representative and kill him. He bumped into a couple, walking hand-in-hand near the river, knocking them both into different ways. He had to run fast, because Esthar represantatives would be escaping.
If only Rinoa was here, we could double-team the- No. Just concentrate. The mission objective; Assassinate the man with the red hat.
Squall ran all the way across to the place where the parade had taken place. Estharians were running away, into their helicopter. Squall looked around.
If I go out now, they’ll recognize me and SeeD will be done for. But if I let them escape, I will pay for it. Think, goddammit, think!
Then, a car came into his view, a convertable car. The driver had just started the engine, ready to drive off. Squall ran to the car and grabbed the driver by the collar. He threw him outside, and jumped in. He stomped on the gas pedal with all he could, and the car stormed off to Estharian group.
“Watch out!” General Caraway said, noticing Squall, and he grabbed hold of Laguna, ducking sideways. The man with the red hat ducked down the other way and ran as if an avalanche was behind him. Squall let go of the car, and jumped out of it. The car crashed into the helicopter, and the blast threw both Squall, and his target off their feet.
Squall sat up and continued the chase. He was running to the crowded places, like Deling Hotel and the Shopping Mall, but Squall didn’t care. He had a gunblade, and a mission. He was after the man with the red hat, and he was going to kill him, no matter what the cost.
His target stood by a fire exit’s staircase. Smiling violently, Squall followed him to there. The man in the red hat tapped himself on the chest and said, “Float!” and he pushed the ground hard enough to make him rise to the rooftop.
Duplicating his move, Squall said “Float!” and pushed the ground hard enough to make him jet all his way between the other side of the street and the rooftop. In the middle of his journey, Squall touched himself and said “Dispel!”, and landed on the rooftop, right on the neck of his enemy. As his feet contacted with the roof, tiles broke down and scattered all over the place. Running towards his enemy who was by the chimney, Squall roared while swinging his gunblade in a horizontal move that broke the chimney down. Using this moment of confusion, Squall pushed his gunblade forward like a spear.
Ducking sideways, his target drew out double short swords to defend himself. Squall could’ve smirked at his effort which was worthless, but that would make him look like Seifer.
“Who are you!?” Squall’s target asked, he had a familiar voice.
“Who am I? It doesn’t matter. The fact is that you’ll die here and now.” Squall attacked. But he was caught off-guard by the fast swings of the double short swords. He barely blocked his opponent’s moves and took a step back, and his target stopped too.
“Who are you!?” the target repeated the question.
“Why are you so interested?” Squall asked “So you can blame me?”
Squall attacked again, his slashes threw one of his short swords aside, and the other had been blocked by Squall’s rising arm. The blade entered his flesh and ripped the sleeve off the trenchcoat, but Squall didn’t even feel the impact. All he felt was the moment of blinding glory.
Which his opponent dispelled by giving him a kick in the stomach.
Silently and delicately, his opponent slided across the tiles to the other side of the chimney, leaving Squall with his back turned at it. Squall attacked, letting everything he had bottled up until that day out.
His target’s eyes showed fear, loud and clear. Squall’s menaced slashes and screams, his fast moves and changing the direction of the moves with wrist and elbow movements made him an excellent swordsman, the one that could hardly be defeated.
A swift kick and a controlled slash took the weapons out of Squall’s enemy’s hand. Rushing forward in glory, Squall swung LionHeart in a horizontal move, as his opponent ducked down to avoid. Letting out a laughter, Squall continued the move, only slightly changed the direction of the slash, made it a vertical move from downwards to upwards.
His target moved his body backwards, and Squall smiled.
He had made the mistake Squall was hoping to make him make.
Unbelivably, swinging the gunblade on his forefinger, Squall made the tip point at the ground. Screaming madly, he landed the sword in his target’s chest, almost a lightning came out of the bunblade. With the impact, the roof shook and a few tiles flew loose.
Looking down on his target’s face as the madness, the battle fever ceased, realisation hit Squall hard enough to break him apart.
“Hyne in heaven, no!” Squall managed to say, kneeling down beside him, taking his gunblade out. A warm liquid flowed into Squall’s hands as he looked upon the face of the person he had known- and just killed.
“Squall...” Kiros choked and coughed, “Why?”
Squall got up, his face representing madness, lucid chaos. His hands were shaking, his stomach gave a uncomfortable wave into his body, his face had gone totally pale. To pull himself together, he ran his right hand through his hair, and noticed that it was wet.
Looking at his palm, he saw Kiros’ blood on it.
Almost screaming, Squall retreated. He took step after step backwards to the chimney. At last, when his back finally hit it, he felt his stomach twitch and let go. Kneeling down, he threw up every piece of pill and whatever he had for lunch – which was nothing- on the roof. When his puking ceased a little bit, he felt a terrible cold in him. Pulling his knees to his chin and embracing himself, Squall shivered like mad underneath the peaceful moonlight.
“*Kccch* Squall! Squall, do you hear me!? Where the hell are you!?” came Irvine’s voice from Squall’s com-link.
“Run!” Squall could get out, risking another throwing up session.
“Get outta here! I’ll get to you!” he said, barely blocking out the tears in his eyes. Throwing away the com-link, he stared at the sky in mixed feelings.
Doubt. Anger. Shock. Surprise. Confusion. Guilt. Pain.
And he was swimming in a sea of questions, all of them were starting with “why”.
Why didn’t I say “Let someone else do it”? Why did I come here? Why didn’t I take the mission as failed when he missed? Why Kiros? Why did Cid give his confirmation to such plan? Why did he send us, the same team that assassinated Zell’s mother? Why isn’t Rinoa here? Why?
I hate it all. Why me?
Looking around, while feeling the tickling, biting, cold inside him, his mind was fixated on this one, significant question;
WHY ME? HYNE, WHY ME!?
Squall sat on that rooftop, with his back on the chimney.
Till the autumn wind took his trencoat waving with itself...
...Leaving a broken man behind.