PuPu's Saga Chapter 8
by Jeremy Chapter
Setting 08: 1820 DAY 15, Trabia
"All times I have
greatly, have sufferd
greatly; both with those
that loved me, and
-Tennyson, Alfred, Lord
"Its your turn, Doomtrain."
The locomotive Guardian Force
stirred to life after the GF Diablos reminded him whose go it
was. Beside him sat the three-headed dog GF Cereberus, each head
having demanded to play a different hand. Cereberus A stared
curiously at all the rotors chugging sleepily back to life and
the smoke puffing out of the engine. Even Cereberus B had to
pause and watch the windshield wipers come to life, clearing the
ash that had built up and blocked Doomtrains burning eyes.
Meanwhile, Cereberus C snuck a quick peek at Cereberus Bs
rumbled. "My go? What did Ifrit put down?"
him," Diablos hissed, his wings rustling from his annoyance
at Ifrits early leave that had delayed the game. Cereberus
A wanted to wait for him, but Cereberus B and C outvoted him.
"I didnt call you out
to play a game of Bluff," Squall reminded sternly.
All the GFs turned to the cliff
edge and whined cacophonously to their master, sitting with his
relaxed feet hanging over the edge. They could not see anything
but the darkened outline of their master because he was resting
right in front of them, facing the setting sun.
"I wonder why the richest man
in the world has to mope," Diablos muttered under his
"What do you mean?"
Cereberus A asked, lifting his head. "I didn't know he was
"That's because your body
didn't come with three brains," Diablos sneered.
Cereberus A didn't get the insult,
Cereberus C chose to ignore it, while Cereberus B sighed, rolled
his eyes, and explained it to his first head, "The need for
Gil was so pathetic throughout all the missions from the
liberation of Timber through the killing of Ultimecia that he
racked up enough to retire early, live to old age in luxury, and
even support a family."
Cereberus C whispered over
Cereberus B's head to tell Cereberus A that he was drooling.
"You left out the part about
our Master's intentional manipulation of the frequency of
pay," Diablos commented with an artificial yawn.
Cereberus C was now as lost as
Cereberus A and they both looked towards the middle head for an
answer other than extortion.
"Master figured out that pay
came with the number of steps he took, not by this new time clock
system. Cid saw how much money was flowing into Master's account
and realized that he was deliberately going out of the way
"Did Cid scold him?"
Cereberus C questioned.
Cereberus B shook his head,
replying, "He just assumed that Master was spending that
time chasing after Rinoa
"I was under the impression
that there was a flat rate per mission with the hazard pay
determined by a linear relationship between level of danger and
bonus rewarded," Doomtrain rumbled, cutting into the
"If that were the case, he
never would have gotten his first pay check since Timber still
isn't officially liberated," Diablos scoffed, showing his
vicious-looking teeth through a triumphant grin.
"I forgot about that,"
Cereberus A murmured.
"Don't worry about it,"
Cereberus B comforted. "We weren't around at the time so you
couldn't have known."
Squall found it hard to
concentrate on his problems with all the chatter going on behind
him. Finally he looked down and stared at his sandals, wondering
where Ifrit had gone for the past five minutes.
Whatever it is, It had better
be important, Squall reflected bitterly.
The GFs convinced Squall to let
them have until Ifrits return to play. That way they
wouldnt have to catch him up on matters.
"Where is he anyway?"
Squall asked, clearly irritated by having to wait.
"GFs have lunch breaks, too,
Master," Diablos informed Squall.
Squall pointed at the sun setting
in front of their eyes.
"Its a bit late for
lunch," Squall hissed.
"Some GFs go by Greenwich
time," Diablos clarified, warranting a look from Squall so
hostile that he decided it would be safe to shut up for awhile.
"It seems like hes
taking the rest of the day off," Squall grumbled.
"Didnt you clock out at
noon to take the rest of the day off, Master?" Cereberus B
Point taken. You can shut your
Cereberus B was, in Squalls
opinion, the smartest of the three heads.
What did Ifrit do today to
deserve a lunch break? At least I put up some signs around the
basketball courts before I clocked out, Squall thought
Cereberus B was now whining about
an itch that no one was willing to scratch for him even if
Cereberus A consented to being scratched. Cereberus C could care
less. Diablos had considered having Leviathan play in
Ifrits place but he realized that Leviathan would ruin the
cards with water. It had taken him seven centuries to find a deck
of fireproof cards so Ifrit could play, and he would have to damn
himself if he wanted to find one that was both fireproof and
waterproof. Diablos shuddered at the thought of Cid noticing the
deck missing from his bottom drawer.
Hell, he thought, brushing
the idea off casually, if that ever happened, we could just
blame it on Squall.
Cereberus C noticed that Diablos
wasnt paying attention to what Doomtrain was putting down. He
must be thinking up something sinister. Sheesh, look at that
Squall reached over his right
shoulder to scratch an inch. It turned out to be one of those
infernal, internal itches so he just crossed his arms and huffed.
How am I supposed to ponder the
matters of state with all this going on? My back is burning, my
ears are burning, and now I'm even smelling something burning! he
It suddenly occurred to him that
what he was smelling was the part of the suffocating odor that
unquestionably emanated from the all too familiar GF, Ifrit. He
was about to turn his head and carp at the monster, but caught
himself. He was Squall, and Squall turned for no one.
"Where have you been?"
he asked aloud, resuming his empty stare at his sandals. These
are some really nice sandals.
All the GFs looked up and wondered
which of them the Master was addressing, but instantly caught on
that their playmate had returned. In the middle of welcoming the
fiery GF back, they realized that while his return was synonymous
with resuming the card game without skipping anyone, Squall had
decided to end the party with Ifrit's arrival. Thus, just by
listening to the drop in intensity of the greetings, Squall could
tell that the initial unanimous excitement had shriveled into
"Had to ask Squaresoft,
Incorporated about a ruling," Ifrit responded with his usual
He shot a knowing look at Diablos
and added with emphasis on the third word, "And you don't
get to put more than 4 of the same monster in the deck for
Bluff just because they are Triple Triad cards."
Diablos cursed and threw down the
19 Elnoyle cards he'd been holding, his ploy having been exposed.
He suddenly blushed at the sharp look that each of the players
was giving him, demanding that he pay them back all the Gil of
which he had cheated them.
"What took you so long?"
Squall asked, not distracted by the mess Diablos was in.
"There was a flight delay due
to hazardous weather," Ifrit replied calmly.
That's no excuse to abandon our
discussion about Rinoa! Squall decided. His eyes narrowed,
but he didn't pursue the topic. Ifrit sensed that Squall was
letting him off easy, so he considered slipping quietly into the
mass of GFs that was beating the Gil out of Diablos. That would
have been the smarter thing to do, but seeing how Squall had been
a problem-child since he first took him up, Ifrit stayed where he
was to endure the grilling that would somehow make Squall feel
more secure about himself.
I was never good with human
relationships, Squall considered, slipping back into his own
world of deep thought. To Diablos with it if I haven't gotten
use to getting left behind all the time. My mother left me,
Laguna left me, Sis left me, now...
Ifrit was shuffling his feet, at
which Squall frowned but continued to ponder.
Is it really just because I'm
that kind of person? What do they expect? Someone who won't drive
Squall's mind froze for a second,
whether because he just became aware that Ifrit's nail-biting was
more annoying that his feet-shuffling, or because he just
characterized himself as a love repellent. He scratched his head
desperately, looking for an alternative.
This can't be right! Am I that
undesirable? Does no one want me? Am I just a piece of property
that gets passed around from one passerby to the next unfortunate
soul, to someone who blames his luck for getting stuck with me?
Ifrit yawned ostentatiously, but
Squall was just barely able to hold himself back from lashing out
at him right then.
I must carry no value if no one
values my companionship. Shareware gets passed around. I'm a
demo, then, a fake. No one wants to end up with me.
He blinked with a start, and when
his eyelids lifted, they revealed two eyes wide with fear.
I'm a disease, he concluded
Ifrit felt that something was
wrong but did not venture to ask.
So that's the deal? Squall
asked himself, summing it up. I get picked up, used,
exploited, and then dropped because I'm not good enough? It was
their turn, and now that they're done, they want to get rid of
Ifrit was getting really worried
now, seeing Squall's fingers curling into a tight fist, the
muscles along his arm all bulging from the tension.
I guess they figure they can
just toss me back into the gutter like some stray dog. It's of no
cost to anyone since I was an orphan anyway. Of course I have no
value, then. I was just someone else's leftovers to begin with.
Ifrit did not like the look on
Squall's face, wrestling in pain, anger, doubt, and hate. He
tried to quiet the fight between the other GFs, but they didn't
notice. Ifrit prepped himself to interrupt Squall's thoughts,
knowing well the brutal consequences of the offense.
Squall recalled his earlier
comparison about his being a disease. I'm more like a poison
than an infectious disease. Everyone tries to find a cure from
me, and the just leave when they see that it won't work. They
think I'm a poison so they want to change me. Do I really want to
change for some people that can't see me as something better than
that to begin with?
Ifrit coughed purposely and tried
to tap his Master on the shoulder.
Squall spun around, eyes flashing
so horribly that Ifrit decided wisely to back off.
So Rinoa is just like the rest
of them, he thought, resuming right where he left off in his
brooding. She'll leave me if she hasn't already left.
"If there isn't anything
else, I'll be leaving," Ifrit said finally after working up
enough courage. He had no idea that it was the worst thing to say
at that instant.
"You're not going
anywhere!" Squall shouted, jumping up and taking Ifrit by
the horns before giving it an aggressive shake. The squabbling
GFs behind the two stopped in surprise. Ifrit was usually
Squall's scapegoat, and every time he got told, it was a
highly-prized and gratifying experience, envied by every GF not
junctioned to Squall.
Squall let go of Ifrit's horns and
began pacing. He pulled out a rolled baby Malboro tentacle from
the case in his jean shorts' pocket.
This is driving me crazy,
he thought, shaking his head. I have to calm down. I have to
have a cigarette. Have to have one.
Ifrit brushed his hand over the
end of the roll and lit it as Squall held it out.
Nobody spoke for awhile. It seemed
safer to let him work out his frustration along with the fumes he
Doomtrain finally broke the
"If status defects are what
you are looking for, I can speed up the process for you," he
"That's not too healthy,
Master," Ifrit agreed.
"I suppose you want to tell
me that dating a sorceress is healthy," Squall barked at
"I was just coming to
that," Ifrit said hastily. This was what all the GFs had
been waiting for, a perfect opportunity to bring into open
discussion what Squall had been wanting to say for the past few
"Want me to kill her?"
Diablos offered, running his tongue over his fangs.
and Diablos, drawn by
Leigh Bader, potent promoter of Jeremy Chapter's Pupu's Saga),
gee, it must feel good to get this much support... :P -Mazrim
Squall pretended that he hadn't
heard that. He reached in his pocket and jingled the keys it
carried to the spanking new, blue A09-series Garden motorbike,
the next generation of jet-propulsion A08 motorbikes on which the
Galbadian soldiers had ridden while attacking Balamb.
"We conferred while you were
hanging up your "No GFs on the court" signs and came up
with some interesting views about your girlfriend,"
Cereberus B said, taking Ifrit's place in the conversation after
a noticeable pause. Why is he staring at that new bike of his?
"And we did it outside the
courts so we wouldn't undermine what you were doing,"
Cereberus C added quickly. That bike must have cost him at
least three quarters of the Gil he had saved since he was
inducted into SeeD.
"Even though it was a bit
prejudiced against GFs," Diablos contributed with a fake
cough. You better watch your keys, buddy, or that cute bike is
Cereberus B scowled at him before
nodding at Ifrit to continue. Tear your scum-bag eyes away
from the Master's bike, Diablos.
"Well, you know how you can't
draw or use any magic unless you have those specific abilities
switched on?" Ifrit asked. Tear your scum-bag eyes away
from the Master's bike, Diablos.
Squall nodded tentatively. Tear
your scum-bag eyes away from my bike, Diablos, or I will tear
your eyes from you.
"Well, without junctioning
any GFs, no one can cast any spells or use magic of any
sort," Cereberus B finished for Ifrit.
"Are you trying to debar
Rinoa from being a sorceress?" Squall ventured.
Cereberus B shrugged and answered,
"You are no different from her in magic use is all we're
"Without us, you couldn't do
anything, basically," Diablos laid out bluntly.
Squall shot him the look
that instantly quieted him. He rubbed the back of his head
absent-mindedly and tried to come up with a hole in their theory.
It didnt take long to find one.
"But even when she
doesnt have any GFs junctioned to her, she doesnt
lose all the spells she drew. All the magic stays locked up
inside her," Squall brought to their attention.
Ifrit had seen that petty
counter-argument coming and was ready to rebut it.
"The spells you draw stay
locked up inside you too, Master," the GF pointed out.
"Hell, you can even switch magic spells that have been drawn
or those that have been junctioned from person to person. So if
Rinoa is a sorceress, and you two switch junctioned spells, does
that make you a warlock?"
Squall raised one eyebrow slightly
and said, "You know you are walking a really fine line on
the definition of a sorceress, all based on technicalities in
"Hey, if you want to split
hairs on definitions, ask the former President Deling what he
thinks constitutes sex," Diablos joked.
No one thought it was funny,
because even had he been alive, the former President Deling was a
"What about her limit
break?" Squall questioned, still skeptical.
"You mean that pathetic one
where she loses all control of herself and casts spells like
crazy?" Diablos popped in. "What's that move called?
Angel Wing or something?"
Diablos scoffed and then added,
"You should check out Lucifer's wingspan!"
Squall told Diablos that no one
really cared for his company and gave him permission to leave. As
the other GFs broke out into a standing ovation, Diablos quickly
hid himself behind Doomtrain and out of Squall's view.
"What kind of name is 'limit
break'?" Cereberus C asked.
Cereberus A agreed.
"Hey," Cereberus B cut
in, "it's better than 'Trance' or something dumb like
"What would you rather call
it, then," Squall asked Ifrit.
Ifrit thought about it for awhile
before answering, "This is off the topic, but I'd call it
'Desperation Maneuver' or 'Geronimo'."
All the GFs except Doomtrain
murmured with approval.
"Personally I think that
sounds too much like Gerogero," Doomtrain huffed.
Cereberus B turned back to Ifrit
to correct his last statement. "It's not that far off the
topic. If you consider Rinoa's Angel Wing as mere sorcery, you
have to wonder whether or not she could pull off that limit break
without being junctioned to any of us."
Squall thought about it. He's
right. I've never seen Rinoa do that without any GFs. Hey, wait a
"What about her casting
spells during her limit break that she doesnt even have?
Magic doesnt just come out of nowhere," Squall said.
Ifrit looked at Cereberus B for
help. The latter GF nodded, saying, "Ill take this
With Squall listening, he
explained, "You know how Selphie has her Slot limit
"Yeah, its completely
random," Squall acknowledged.
"Yes," Cereberus B
agreed, "but some of those spells Selphie doesnt have
stored either. In fact, half of those spells you cant draw
from enemies anywhere. Does that make Selphie a sorceress
Squall considered it before
grudgingly capitulating. Okay, you have a point.
"Does any of this help?"
Doomtrain asked, relieved that Squall had forgotten about the
Malboro tentacle, allowing it to burn itself out.
Squall hesitated. Does the
possibility of her not being a sorceress cheer me up? Why should
it? It was interesting to hear their theory, but that wasn't what
was troubling me.
Ifrit knew Squall well enough to
figure out that this was the "No, it doesn't help" type
of silence. He shifted uncomfortably to another spot of fresh
grass, the patch over which he had been standing having been long
since reduced to mere cinders.
"What we're trying to say is
that she's just a normal girl, Master. There's nothing
threatening about her," Ifrit finally spoke. "Don't
beat yourself up over it.
Rinoa? A normal girl? Squall
frowned at the suggestion. So there's nothing special about
Ifrit saw how Squall wasn't
cracking, realizing that either that had made the wrong
assumption about what was bothering him in the first place, or
that this new piece of intelligence had just offered him
something else to worry about.
Ifrit tried to salvage the
situation with, "At least you won't have to concern yourself
with people talking about any hypocrisy in the Garden code with
the commander of SeeD hanging around a sorceress for any reason
other than sending her to Diablos."
I didn't know people were
talking about it, Squall noted mentally. It took him a bit
longer to fully digest the issue that Ifrit had just throw down. Holy
Shiva, he's right! It's my duty to kill her.
"But as I said," Ifrit
continued after catching Squall's sharp intake of air, "that
is something that you don't have to worry about. We already have
enough arguments to keep the Esthar investigators from legally
taking Rinoa. And she will definitely have her father, the
That slipped my mind too.
Had it not been for years of training in Balamb Garden, Squall
would not have been able to suppress his instinctive urge to slap
himself in the head.
A second later he found himself
frowning at another point that Ifrit had brought up. The
General's daughter, that sounds ominous.
"I just realized that I
hardly know anything about her," Squall announced, shaking
"I wonder why that is,"
Cereberus A scoffed, daring to give Squall an accusing look.
"Don't pretend like you know
why that is," Cereberus B chastised his first head.
Why is that? Squall was
beginning to wonder.
"You've never given her a
chance," Diablos muttered.
Apparently it was still audible,
and Squall scowled, trying to discern the fiendish GF who had
cowered behind his colleagues.
Cereberus B coughed purposely to
break the silence and tried to cool Squall down with, "What
he meant was you two were never given the chance. Every single
time it mattered, one or both of you were comatose or running for
Squall nodded. So long as I'm
Diablos snickered at a joke he had
made up in his head. Adel got closer to Rinoa than our Master
Squall began to wonder why he
should bother trying if every time he did, some disaster would
interrupt them. He was also feeling irked for not having the
opportunity to get to know Rinoa; it had nothing to do with
whether he chose to go through with it or not, just so he had a
choice, that freedom. He realized that maybe it was more her
fault than his.
She didn't give me the chance,
he thought, not the other way around. She was always
knocked out, glued to someone else's body, floating in space, or
hanging on for dear life. The moment we do get close at the
party, she blew me off. It was her fault,
Having established that he was not
at fault and there was nothing special about Rinoa except for the
unfortunate fact that she was the General's daughter, Squall
could find no reason why he should like her at all. Her saving
him on the return trip from Time Compression in the flower field
was the least the could do to compensate for the numerous times
he had saved her. He was actually doing her the favor if
he just called it even.
Had he been smoking that fast? His
cigarette was finished, and he tossed it lazily off the cliff and
watched as it haphazardly spiraled down, flitting whichever way
it wanted without every really deciding, until it disappeared
Just like that floating golden
Ifrit watched nervously along with
Cereberus B as Squall withdrew further into his ruminations,
reaching in his pocket for another joint. They did not like the
look on his face, guessing where his thoughts were leading him.
This was not what they had in mind.