PuPu's Saga Chapter 14
by Jeremy Chapter
Setting 14: 2059 DAY
15, Archaeological Excavation Site on the Outskirts of Nova
"Now you must cast
aside your laziness,
my master said, for he
who rests on down
or under covers cannot come
"Outta my way, punk!"
Rajin knew that voice.
He knew it through the entire duration of his fall. It was
Seifer, his best buddy.
camaraderie Rajin had discovered, or assumed rather, that
whenever Seifer called him a "punk," he meant it in an
endearing way. The only way Rajin could rationalize and endure
the actions of his leader, guide, and trusted friend towards him
was to think of them as Seifer's means of showing concern and
affection. How Seifer had just shoved him to the floor, then,
must have meant that he had cared an awful lot. It was obviously
prompted by some external threat, and in order preclude it from
menacing Rajin, Seifer had moved in front of Rajin to face it.
Pushing his friend altruistically away from harm, willingly
stepping in between Rajin and the danger, and sacrificing himself
to save his comrade from the assailant all spoke much of Seifer's
lofty principles and character. Rajin looked up from his place in
the dust, fully anticipating Seifer in his fighting stance, sword
drawn and moving to strike the awful, awful Hexadragon.
Seifer Almasy calmly
strolled by with a toothpick sticking out of the corner of his
mouth, humming a few light notes from the moogle song. Fujin,
expressionless as always, was right behind him, carrying a
Tonberry lamp to light the way. Neither saw how the look of
disappointment in Rajin's eyes. Suddenly, Rajin smiled and picked
He had figured it out
and he was very clever for having done so. It was obvious that
Fujin had meant to kick him to the floor or bash his head in with
a rock. That was why Seifer had shoved him, not because he
just felt like putting his colleague down.
reasoned, that would be too obvious, and Seifer is too clever
Rajin knew better than
to question Seifer's actions. While his motives and decisions
were suspect at times, after a deed was done, there was little
use in arguing with Seifer about whether or not to do it. If he
had decided to do it, he obviously would have assessed all the
risks and weighed them against the fruits of labor beforehand.
Thus, Rajin did not
need to wonder why Seifer had shoved him instead of telling Fujin
to put down the rock. Seifer probably had his reasons, and every
time Rajin forced himself to ask for them, Seifer would be vexed.
No doubt his reasons were too complex in a plan so convoluted
that Rajin would not be able to understand them. Rajin had long
since come to the conclusion that Seifer was a complicated man
whose mind worked at light-speed, cranking out all sorts of
ingenious ideas that Rajin had no hope to fathom himself.
Seifer's shoulders were
bouncing up and down to match the beat of the moogle song that
he'd really gotten into while humming. The song gave him good
dreams, he'd told Rajin once after the latter had asked. Fujin
was pretending as if nothing had happened.
thought Rajin, eyes narrowing on his subject, is trouble.
Some day he would show
her. Yes, he would. Someday, he would buy shin-guards, and then
she couldn't kick him there with the same effectiveness.
Rajin scrambled after
Seifer and Fujin to complete the posse. As he did this, he was
very conscious of the fact that he completed the posse, for no
posse could consist of just two members. The awareness of the
necessity and significance of his role in their gang was what
kept him happy. He never thought to wonder if that was the sole
reason they let him tag along.
The moogle song was
just about finished when Seifer came to a dead end in the tunnel.
He spit out his toothpick in a cavalier fashion and threw the
sword he was carrying into the wall beside him where the blade
remained, embedded in the hard stone. He then took off his jacket
and shirt and picked up one of the pickaxes lying around on the
passage floor. Rajin followed his example.
Earlier last night they
had made quick work of the first eighteen feet of the tunnel they
were constructing. By day they shoveled and they hauled it out
and dispersed the debris by night. Seifer had cajoled the
trusting missionary under whom they had been placed in custody
that the entire posse needed to reconcile their qualms in their
spirits with the divine will and to find their place in the
world. Not a soul in the entire religious camp, set just outside
Nova Trabia Town, believed otherwise. Thus, they were locked in
to this underground chamber and, without anyone the wiser, had
commenced digging in the direction of Nova Trabia Garden.
They only had to
surface twice each day to be handed some sustenance before
retreating back into their "hole of discovery." Seifer
would not have bothered to stop digging and reassume his attire
with the jacket had it not been necessary for them to receive
their daily bread before the digging could recommence. However,
the only thing they were discovering was that after eighteen
feet, the walls no longer gave way to their shovels and axes like
clay. Even Rajin was capable of figuring out that their stifled
progress was inauspicious to the execution of Seifer's plan.
lingered as the two men set to work, trying to work their way
through the dense rock. Instead, she just stared at Seifer's
blade that remained partially stuck in the wall. She walked over
to it absent-mindedly and ran her fingers up and down its smooth
surface. She was surprised how clean he kept the blade when
hardly a day would pass in which he didn't sully it with
someone's blood. The few times that he didnt run into any
battles still somehow warranted his scrutinizing it, rubbing it
with a cloth, and treating it so affectionately that it would be
foolish to assume it didn't mean the world to him.
Why does it mean so
much to him? Fujin asked herself.
It did not seem
ordinary in anyway, but nevertheless, there had to be a story
behind it. He never told her how he acquired this Kris-style
blade, so broad that Fujin doubted if there was even a need to
use the trigger part of the gun-blade. Seifer insisted on using
it though, and his timing was impeccable. Not once had she seen
his timing fail or his grip slip. Sure enough, every time he
struck his foe, an explosion of gunpowder would follow in half a
She moved her fingers
carefully around the edges, tracing the outline from where it was
embedded in the rock to the handle extrusive handle. It pulsated
slightly and emitted a blue aura at her initial caress, and then
darkened again. Fujin hadn't expected the sword to react to her
touch, but the thought of pulling back never occurred to her.
Where did he get
this? she wondered, trying to remember the last she saw him
carrying his Hyperion. The prison guards probably confiscated
it they first captured us.
She looked at the
Titanus* again, amused by the etchings of dragons on the side of
*The idea of Titanus, its attributes, and
the associated GF is the concoction of
Dark Horse (email@example.com)
in "The Redemption."
Seifer must have
hidden this before we were apprehended, she reasoned.
It made sense, after
all; Seifer had let them take his Hyperion almost without a
fight. It seemed so unlike him at the time to let some random
constable, almost unworthy of holding his treasured Hyperion,
deprive him of its company. How he endured that third-rate petty
case of patrol officer's clumsy handling of his weapon had
astonished both her and Rajin, but now she knew why Seifer had
just smirked and callously looked away.
The studded rubies in
the hilt that made up the dragons' eyes began to glow and the
blade began to shake on its own accord. Fujin moved away and
picked up a nearby spade, realizing that Titanus was waking. The
interesting thing about the sword was that it housed a Guardian
Force of the same name. However, she had yet to see Seifer
actually summon Titanus the GF during a fight because he always
vanquished his opponents so quickly with the blade itself.
reflected smugly, opportunity would lend itself.
Seifer turned as
Titanus rumbled to life, marveling at how the gun-blade steadily
softened until it spilled onto the floor in a puddle of metallic
jelly, from which sooty vapors poured out and quickly built up an
obscuring fog. Seifer chuckled as Rajin ducked behind Fujin. The
transformation always frightened Rajin as much as it pleased
Seifer. Fujin, Seifer noticed, was apathetic.
Seifer recognized the
familiar sound of metal boots meeting solid ground as the GF
stepped out of the mist from which he had been spawned. A fully
armored knight in a suit of ebony revealed himself. His face
remained hidden behind the dark visor.
"What is it?"
hissed the demon warrior.
Seifer looked at Fujin
curiously and straightway interpolated what she had done to
arouse the dark knight from his slumber. Then, shifting his
attention back to Titanus, he kicked a spare pickaxe off the
ground, sending it spiraling dangerously towards the GF.
Rajin gasped after
acknowledging the possibility that one of the sharp ends could
find a nesting place inside Titanus' chest. Even Fujin's eyes
widened a notch at so dangerous a movement on Seifer's part.
Both Fujin and Rajin
jumped in alarm when Titanus caught the pickaxe by the handle and
sent it flying back towards Seifer. Much to Fujin's consternation
the flying projectile reached Seifer before she could even move
in his direction to help.
Luckily for Seifer, the
pickaxe flew right by him, just over his shoulder and missing his
head by an inch, before lodging itself into the cavern wall
behind him. Rajin's jaw dropped a few inches. Fujin was stunned
If Seifer had
flinched even a bit, she realized, that would have been
the end for him.
Seifer, on the other
hand, was aloof of the exchange and dusted his naked shoulder
off. Titanus raised his right hand, encased in a bulky gauntlet,
and pointed his index finger right at his master.
"You win this
round, human," the demon growled. "What task have you
planned for me?"
Seifer pointed at the
wall behind him.
"Get digging, we
have a long way to go," he said tersely.
Titanus did not move.
Fujin was sure the he was scoffing behind his face-guard.
"Like hell I
am," he returned evenly.
Seifer did not shift
his gaze from the supercilious GF.
"Get to it,"
he commanded, "and don't make me have to repeat it
Rajin's feet were
shaking so badly that Fujin could feel herself wobbling from a
foot away. She turned and kicked him in the shin, causing him to
double over with a cry.
The dark knight either
did not notice or did not care. Clenching his ironclad fists
tightly, he walked slowly towards Seifer and stopped menacingly
just a few inches away from his face. The stare-off did not last
for more than a second because the GF proceeded to walk past him
and pull the pickaxe out of the wall- but not before he
intentionally slammed his shoulder into Seifer's in passing. It
was clear to Fujin that a great deal of tension has passed
between the two equally fierce characters.
It didn't take a genius
to figure out that Titanus was no ordinary GF. He constantly
defied Seifer and tested him. It was as if he disdained being
claimed by a mortal. By not flinching, Seifer had won the
standoff and, for the moment, won a little bit of respect from
the critical GF.
"Can I just blast
it with my special attack?" the GF asked his master.
"The last thing I
need is an earthquake to bury us in this tunnel," Seifer
replied, taking a place next to the GF and attacking the wall.
something foul and returned to hacking the wall to pieces.
Rajin picked himself up
and limped towards the cart. His job was to move the refuse away
from where they were digging and towards the exit before it
cluttered the workspace. With Titanus' help, he would have to
work harder to keep up with the excavating.
Fujin picked up the
spade that she had dropped when Titanus threw the pickaxe at
Seifer. She then headed over to him and asked,
Seifer had told her
once that her succinctness was refreshing, and it was for that
reason that she limited her speech. She personally thought that
the words that comprised the rest of the sentence were peripheral
and just obscured the intended message.
Seifer wiped some sweat
from his brow and took off his undershirt. He had a folded piece
of paper tucked inside his belt that he removed and handed to
She unfolded it and ran
her eyes over the complicated diagrams on the paper.
"Those were copied
from the Nova Trabia Garden Construction blueprints. We only
needed the plans to the ground floor."
"One of Rajin's
old buddies smuggled it into the prison at my request,"
Seifer explained, "so at least he's good for
Fujin inquired further.
"I think it's
reliable enough to go on for now," Seifer replied and
returned to his work. Soon, he was lost in his thoughts,
monotonously tearing away at the bulwark of stone that stood
between him and his goal.
His concentration was
so intense that Fujin stopped every now and then to admire his
steadfastness. She knew that he had programmed his arms to repeat
the striking motion, thus liberating his mind to ponder other
matters. She wanted so badly to know what he was thinking.
Take that! And that!
Seifer spoke inside his head. He found this opportunity as good
as any other to exercise and build up his arm strength. It was a
pity that the wall could not fight back and parry his blows.
Still, to draw a parallel between the rock and an enemy, this
unwavering opponent exhibited exceptional stamina. He would make
it a priority to be like the wall in future. To endure and always
face the opponent, to never back away from a fight, to hold his
ground- all very valuable characteristics that he would do his
best to emulate.
He had to be the best.
He would not have it any other way. He best way to accomplish
that would be to take every obstacle as a lesson. The harder it
was for him to surmount it, the greater its worth to him once
mastered. His visage darkened a shade at the remembrance of the
few defeats he had suffered in the course of the last few years.
He had never become a
SeeD. How a second-rate fighter with no confidence in himself and
didnt give a damn about his companions could become the
commander of the Balamb Garden SeeDs while he was denied the
membership of the mercenary group was a surprise to him. Cid
overrated the role that discipline played in an elite fighting
force who operated only to kill for money. Seifer was convinced
that if he were paired up with another man with his fighting
skills, even if both of them disagreed on every point during the
mission, they could still end the day with a victory. On the
trial run in Dollet he had managed to accomplish the mission even
though puberty boy and chicken-wuss had been reluctant to follow
his lead. He did not understand Cid's decision to deny him SeeD
status just because he found another way to complete the mission.
"Your motive was
right, but your method was wrong," Cid had explained to him
when he demanded to know why he failed the test.
That blind fool,
Seifer contemplated bitterly. Was there even a 'right' way to
accomplish some of the missions that SeeDs had to carry out?
Surely trying to shoot
the sorceress during the parade in Deling City wasn't very noble
of the SeeDs. Cid was a hypocrite because his SeeDs had charged
the Ultimecia head on as a contingency plan. The
"right" way that Cid had been so intent on loftily
imparting on Seifer would have been better demonstrated by his
SeeDs had they just challenged Seifer and his sorceress to a
duel. He had beaten puberty boy in their sparring before and he
was certain he could duplicate it in a real one-on-one brawl. The
fact that it was impossible for him to catch Squall apart from
his comrades bolstered his estimation of Squall's inferiority to
him. One of these days he'd have a fair shot at that boy's
Seifer considered his
father a great man, unlike that near-sighted Headmaster. He was
able to see past the antiquated rules of engagement that merely
repressed the full potential of the individual. Whereas Cid would
rather have the entire Garden operating in harmony at half of
their possible productivity, his father, General Shojora* saw the
advantage of specialization.
*Kate Lorraine (firstname.lastname@example.org)
gives the full account of Seifer's parentage
by Shojora and Laura in "The Orphan."
If each member of the
task force would do what he did best, the entire group would
benefit in various ways. It took but one man to screw up for
Cid's ideal phalanx to fall. Seifer's principle that he inherited
from his father maintained that it took but one man to infiltrate
the enemy defenses and capture the figurehead to defeat the
entire army. Hence, it was more fruitful to let each man go his
way. Presumably one of them would get lucky and bring victory
much more quickly than if they carried everything out the
Predictability was the
child of standardization. Cid's agents were easily defeated
because they moved as one. Find a weakness in one soldier and the
rest would fall prey to the same tactics. Acting on impulse as
his father had taught him to would keep his opponents guessing.
If the entire task force were less systematic and more
individualistic, they would cover more ground in less time and
confuse the pathetic fools weaned on regulation and passivity.
The waste of talent was a sad fact that Seifer did his best to
resist and denounce.
His father, while he
was still alive, had scoffed at the idea of there being a
"right" way to fight a war, a skirmish, or a single
enemy. "The end justifies the means," was the trite but
true sophism that he had impressed upon his son, and Seifer in
turn had drunken it in after questioning it only once. He
remembered it well because he hadn't been enrolled in Garden for
but a couple of years before it came to pass.
His mother Laura Almasy
had raised Seifer by herself through most of his primary
education. His peers made fun of him because he took his mother's
last name and never had the chance to go fishing with his old man
like they did. To make it worse, Laura decided to leave him at an
orphanage because she was afraid his association with her would
put him in danger. When he didn't understand what she meant, she
had to explain to him never to tell anyone that General Shojora
of the Galbadian Army was his father. Shojora had a lot of rival
officers in the army itself and if they ever found out about her,
she would make an excellent target for them. It was therefore
safer for Seifer to be raised apart from her.
The day she dropped him
off at Edea's orphanage was the last time he ever saw her. When
he began his training at Garden, he was informed by Cid that a
deal had been worked out through some middlemen to give Seifer
leave from Balamb three days a week to train in Galbadia. Cid
never figured out Seifer's relation to Shojora and the General
never discussed it unless they were alone.
After a year and a
half, Seifer had been allowed to accompany his father to Timber
to apprehend the proponents of a minor resistance movement whose
base of operations had been located. It was not dishonorable in
any way for the proper authorities to bribe one of the
revolutionaries to reveal the whereabouts of the rebels'
headquarters. No, the dishonor rested on the turncoat who would
rat on his own compatriots, and for that he had to be put to
death as well.
Shojora had asked that
his young son be given the best rifle operations instructor that
his army had to offer. He was already eleven by the time his
father felt that he was competent enough to go with them to
Timber and suppress the feeble uprising. All he had to do was
stay out of sight and scan the area for any wildcard threats that
the general's advisors did not anticipate. The station that he
ended up assuming was right outside the door of a dilapidated pub
whose walls were on the verge of crumbling.
This is a very weak
wall, he had noticed while standing outside.
He then peeked inside
the pub and surveyed the area as his father's escorts quickly
rounded up the ragtag team of insurrectionists, killing one in
the process. Seifer didn't think much of it at the time since all
the captives were scheduled to be shot the day after. Shojora
then turned his attention to the barmaid who was affronting him.
From the moment Seifer laid eyes on her he knew that there was
something fishy about her.
He realized that she
was hiding something because there was something moving below her
waist which, being behind the bar, was hidden from the sight of
his father's men. Seifer scrutinized the anomaly for a moment
before making out a little boy's head. While the whimpering boy
posed no immediate threat, he smelled trouble and inconspicuously
raised the barrel of his rifle until it was level with the
When she pulled a gun
and aimed it at his father's head, Seifer's suspicions were
confirmed and he pulled the trigger without delay. He was a good
shooter, sharp enough to never need to take aim because of how
comfortable he was with holding a gun, perceiving depth, and
measuring distances. This unique gift of spatial awareness, for
which his instructor had praised him time and time again, was the
key to saving his father's life. The woman never had a chance
before he put her out of commission.
Later that night his
father offered to give him whatever he wanted as a gift. Seifer
had been bothered by the fact that the woman had not been given a
fair chance to defend herself. He told his father that he found
no glory in taking the life of an adversary who didn't cower
under his weapon and call his name at the moment of death.
Shojora asked him then if he was not particularly proud of what
he had done, and it was then that Seifer questioned for the first
and last time the nobility in using subversion, duplicity, and
craft in a fight.
Shojora told him that
history operated like a marathon.
"It doesn't matter
if you were in the lead for nine-tenths of the race, because you
could still finish last and be remembered as the loser. On the
other hand, you could be dead last for most of the race, but win
at the very end and be championed by everyone. People only care
about the results, not the execution," he lectured to
Nevertheless, for his
gift, Seifer demanded to be taught to use a new weapon. He wanted
to be in the frontlines, not hiding on some rooftop so far away
from the battle that he couldn't experience the thrill of danger.
Shojora asked him to be more specific as there were many single
combat weapons that could achieve the end that Seifer desired.
Prior to this occasion,
Seifer had only seen a gun-blade twice. The more recent time came
about when he spied one of them gathering dust in Balamb Garden's
weapon chamber but never acquired Cid's permission to use it. The
Headmaster maintained that Seifer's temperance did not befit that
of one who was worthy of commanding the elegant gun-blade. Way
before that he had seen a man in a white coat cleave a flowerpot
into four pieces while it was thrown into the air.
Out of curiosity,
wonder, and defiance to Cid's repression, Seifer asked his father
to teach him true to his word, began personally instructing his
son how to use the gun-blade, the only weapon in his fading
recollection that was as time-honored as it was apt to be
forgotten over time. Those daily lessons were the happiest
moments of his life, but they didn't last long; after three years
and two weeks to the day, Shojora was killed in an ambush. Seifer
spent his entire time at Garden from then on and tried to come to
terms with what he considered absolute abandonment.
At the time he had been
too young to suspect that his contemporary, President Deling, had
anything to do with Shojora's death. By the time he turned
eighteen, though, Seifer had come up with a few theories of his
own. Seifer spent the entire summer with the daughter of one of
the relatively new generals who might have profited in rank by
Shojora's early retirement. Every time he was at their mansion he
tried to find old files that might have been lying around in
storage, but Caraway's daughter always kept within three feet of
him. As the summer drew to a close, he realized that his plan to
uncover the truth and develop other leads was a massive failure.
Seifer hated failure.
He hated to associate with failure and those who failed.
Suffering multiple defeats at the hands of Squall and his band of
monkeys humbled Seifer quite a bit and introduced him to some of
the toughest breaks in his life.
Fujin had noticed that
the frequency of Seifer's strokes had increased and all his jaw
muscles were taut in fury. She assumed whatever he was thinking
had managed to rile him up. Apparently he had decided to take it
out on the rocky face.
Rajin was hard-pressed
to keep up removing the debris at the rate Seifer was digging.
Titanus misinterpreted Seifer's sudden burst of effort as an
indication of a contest and redoubled his efforts as well. Rajin
saw immediately that there was no way he could keep up at this
new pace and flopped down on the ground for a quick breather.
When Fujin turned to
look at Rajin, he whispered to her, "Seifer has
Normally she would have
kicked him but this time she couldn't deny that he was right.
Seifer, stuck on the
idea of failure, was oblivious to his posse's hiatus in labor.
I failed her! he
chastised himself furiously. She was counting on me to protect
her, and I let those SeeDs get right by me!
The notion of the
sorceress brainwashing him was ludicrous. That the Garden and
even his posse would be convinced of an idea so unfounded was
news to him. He had gone to Timber by himself to confront
President Deling and demand answers about Shojora's death. He was
less surprised by Squall's appearance than he was annoyed by the
unpleasant interruption at a time when he needed privacy the
most. At the same time, he was aware of how his guise of going to
protect Caraway's daughter- somehow she was with the SeeDs- was
beginning to fall through. Ultimecia appeared in time to offer
him an escape route that he was doubtful at first of taking, but
realizing that he could not maintain custody of Deling with any
plan he might devise impromptu, buying into the sorceress'
promises and following her into her portal where she could
bombard him with her eerie but cheesy music seemed like his best
Seifer would never
forget where she took him.
Scratch that last
thought, he corrected himself. It should be where she
He found himself in a
white room with no edges. His movements weren't encumbered, but
it was hard to see clearly what he was doing. The rate at which
his eyes would relay signals to his brain was messed up because
when he waved his Hyperion in front of him, it did not seem to
move back and forth smoothly; rather its motion was broken up
into progressive frames that produced the same visual effects as
a sloppy cartoon strip or a child's flip book. He was beginning
to worry that she had made a mistake while transporting him
through the warp and that he was stranded in this white void
forever when suddenly the room began to flash and the world
materialized around him.
Seifer thought. What I meant was 'a' illusory world, not 'the'
It took him two seconds
to realize that he was standing in the garden just outside Edea's
orphanage. It would have taken him less time to recognize the
place had he not appeared right behind Squall who was facing Edea
at the time and did not notice him.
It had to have been
Squall, Seifer reassured himself. Who else is shorter than
me by those few inches so that I could just barely make out
Squall had fizzled out
of all tangibility before Seifer could tell him to turn around
and draw his weapon. The idea of a quick victory by stabbing
Squall in the back never occurred to him. As reached out to
Squall, the SeeD commander had already vanished and he ended up
face to face with Edea, equally surprised to see this new blonde
stranger as she had been by Squall's disappearing act.
Seifer gave himself a
mental slap. I must have seemed like such an ignoramus with my
hand outstretched and my mouth wide open like that!
Edea, who was wearing
in a plain gray dress, and covered her mouth with one hand and
laughed at him. He scratched his head and tried to find the right
words to explain what he was doing there. It would not have been
so tough if he actually knew what time period he was taking part
in. He grimaced, realizing how articulate he must have seemed.
The good-natured Matron
took the initiative and guessed, "Don't tell me. You must be
He nodded, not knowing
what else to say. Figuring he should at least make an attempt to
reintroduce himself, he opened his mouth to speak.
She placed a finger on
his lips and hushed him.
"Just nod if I'm
right," she told him, absent-mindedly placing the pinkie of
her free hand in the outer corner of her mouth.
Seifer blinked in
acknowledgement and Edea smiled. She seemed so young, just as he
remembered her in the brief time that he had called her orphanage
Edea kept her finger on
his mouth but moved the other hand from her face to him arm and
traced it all the way down to his hand, which he had wrapped
around her waist out of reflex. She smiled curiously at this,
and, leaving her hand on his, turned slightly to see that he held
his gun-blade out from behind her as if to shield her from any
possible danger that might present itself while she was less
vigilant. She pondered for a moment what it meant for him to have
maneuvered his arm there so that he could hold her between
himself and the Hyperion.
She finally winked at
him and, cocking her head to one side, asked him, "You're a
knight, am I correct?"
He nodded, still
remembering how she had told him not to speak. He could almost
taste her aromatic finger, still pressed gently upon his lips.
"So you're here to
protect me?" she posed next.
Seifer wasn't sure how
to reply. After all, he hadn't exactly come here to save her from
any threat that he knew of. Still, if one did appear, he would
never turn away from saving her; not only was Edea a damsel-
knights were required by law to save damsels- but she was also
his matron, which meant that he was somewhat indebted to her.
Seifer nodded at
length. The fact that Edea Kramer was still smiling led him to
believe that she did not notice his slight pause.
"Just be good at
what you do, then," she told him, removing her finger from
his lips and letting a small chuckle escape from her own.
He was about to utter
an agreement when he heard a slight bustling sound behind him.
Instinctively Seifer spun around, keeping one eye on his blade to
make sure he didnt lop off Edea's arm as he turned, and
keeping the other eye on the lookout for any movement. Without
realizing it, his free arm moved to catch Edea by the waist and
maneuver her directly behind him as he faced the new menace.
uniform vision switched to a series of frames that refreshed
themselves every microsecond. His eyes detected a shift in depth
of some object that he translated as moving moderately fast in
the direction of his upper right torso. Before his mind was able
to identify the flying object, his hands had registered the
proper technique he had to employ as a countermeasure. Thus,
before he knew it, he had flicked his wrist twice and
disassociated the projectile into four pieces.
It was a flowerpot that
some weasel-looking blonde kid had chucked at him while his back
was turned. The soil contained within the pot exploded and hit
Seifer square in the best. He looked down at his sullied shirt
and prepared to vindicate himself by harpooning the kid the
Hyperion, but Edea stayed his hand.
cautioned him, "You really don't want to do
The boy, no older than
six years of age, stared at Seifer in awe when he saw how quickly
Seifer had clipped the pot in four with what seemed like a third
eye. How else could the man in white spin around without knowing
he was there?
"Go back into the
house, Seifer," Edea told the boy who lingered a moment
longer, fascinated by the gun-blade, before running past them, up
the steps, and disappearing inside the dwelling. It wasn't until
Edea and Seifer saw the little boy hustle through the doorway
that they became aware of an additional set of wide eyes staring
at the Hyperion. Seifer noticed a second boy, this one wearing an
orange shirt, peeking out from the side of the doorframe.
Edea waved him off
before turning back to her visitor and whispered, "I think
it's time for you to leave too."
Seifer was about to
protest but the Matron cut him off, interjecting, "We can't
have more than one Seifer in this time and I have a lot to
discuss with my husband."
The world promptly
melted around him and Seifer found himself in the desert. The
clouds above were fermented turbulently, fusing into one billow,
rolling in on itself, and portending a dreadful sandstorm.
Seifer looked around,
not sure which way to go. Then he remembered what his summer
fling had told him once. While they lay together under a starry
field one night, General Caraway's daughter had remarked that the
universe looked the same from whichever angle you chose to face
That being the case, he
set the flat side of his sword down on his shoulder so that he
would only have to hold it up with his hand at an angle, and
began trudging in the direction that didn't seem to be as stormy.
He walked past several
dunes before he lost count with only the comfort of knowing that
he wasn't retracing his steps because he did not spy any
footprints in the sand. The only other activity he had
encountered that could match the timelessness of wandering around
in an artificial desert was braving Quistis Trepe's differential
equations class, and even that was being rapidly promoted on the
list of things that he would rather have been doing.
Utlimecia, he dared with every other step, but she did not
reveal herself to him.
After what seemed like
a second lifetime, Seifer noticed that the ground had changed to
a blue surface with a granite-like texture. He turned around to
make sure that the desert was still behind him but he found
nothing but more blue granite and a grayish haze that swirled
around the bounds of visibility. He walked over to where the
rocky floor seemed to end and saw that it was no optical
allusion; he was trapped on a floating island that offered no
He turned his Hyperion
downwards and jammed it into the ground and settled down beside
it. This way he could jump up and snatch the sword out by the
hilt at a second's notice. Finally finding the moment to evaluate
how hopeless a situation it was in which he had found himself, he
wondered how in the world it came to be that the great Seifer
Almasy, in fact the very same Seifer Almasy who had always prided
himself in his impeccable sense of direction, had managed to lose
a great heap of sand and his sanity along with it.
Just perfect! he
had scoffed bitterly. This was all I needed before my weekend!
The humor in his words
was there, but he was in no mood to laugh at his own sarcasm. The
sorceress had brought him here, but where had she gone?
"I am right here,
Seifer," spoke an icy but distinctly feminine voice from no
more than three feet behind where he was sitting.
Seifer hopped up
lightly and raised his blade, which he didn't even realize he had
picked up in the act of scrambling to his feet, to sorceress's
"Don't you dare
move," he warned her with a triumphant grin.
"You can't kill
me," she replied coolly, "because then you'll never get
out of here."
"It's just an
illusion," Seifer retorted with feigned confidence,
"and it will disappear when I take you down."
"Then take me
now," the sorceress dared him, "if you're so
For the first time in
his life, Seifer's hand wavered for a second. He was more
startled by this unanticipated display of indecision that he
lowered his arm in shame and cursed aloud. He was more
disappointed in himself than ever, possibly because he had not
thought it was possible to let distrust himself or his own
abilities before it happened just then. His entire body began to
tremble, unsure how to proceed. The identity that he had
fabricated and pursued his entire life seemed to have completely
shattered into shards of despair by the lightest tap of
She's right! he
admitted to himself, I don't have it in me to take her.
Frustrated by his
helplessness, a feeling foreign to him that he bitterly mistook
as the emptiness of incompetence, Seifer had taken two steps away
from the sorceress and flung his blade far over the edge of the
floating island and into oblivion. Whether he was aware of it or
not, Seifer Almasy had renounced his profession, identity, and
The sorceress looked on
with a trace of concern in her features. She glided smoothly over
to where Seifer was on his knees, repeatedly beating the solid
rock with his quickly bloodied fists, and bent over him. He
thought enough to throw her arm off his shoulder when she placed
it there, but eventually he found it pointless to resist; in this
netherworld, he was at her mercy.
"Why did you do
that?" she asked him tenderly.
doesn't matter anymore!" he shouted at her, wanting to lash
out but the aspect of her eyes stopped him.
Ultimecia pressed on.
"It failed me when
I needed it the most," Seifer answered reluctantly,
"and I don't associate with failure."
Unspoken was the
follow-up phrase, I don't want to be a failure.
Ultimecia knew that that
was the reason why he had thrown the sword away without caring if
it was redeemable or not.
She made it easy for
Putting her soft hand
onto his corresponding one, she stretched out their palms and
waved at the clouds. An instant later a bright beam of golden
light shot out from the gray fog, so bright that it forced Seifer
to shield his eyes with his free hand. The sorceress waved their
hands as one again and from the clouds there emerged his
Hyperion. It floated slowly towards Seifer before settling at in
his palm that Ultimecia continued to hold.
Their eyes met, his in
surprise and hers in satisfaction. She leaned in closer.
"Get away from me,
witch," Seifer warned her and brushed her off, purposely
ruining the moment.
sorceress rose to her feet and floated a little way off.
"Why are you
fighting me when you've already given up on yourself?"
she asked him in minor amusement.
beaten me yet," he replied firmly, "and it is going to
stay that way."
"Are you so sure
of yourself?" she asked him, taking the opportunity to flash
a devilish smile.
"No one can defeat
me except myself," Seifer repeated.
Ultimecia smiled and
licked her fingers like a feline comfortable with its spectators.
She had obviously been waiting for him to say that.
"If I summon a
creature of my choice to fight with you, man-to-man," she
proposed, "would you fight him?"
"What are the
terms of this wager?" he demanded.
"If you win,"
Ultimecia replied, "I'll let you live."
"It doesn't sound
like I have much to gain by this needless battle," he
"You'll have the
satisfaction of knowing that you're blade isn't a failure,"
she pointed out.
Seifer was silent for
awhile, pondering the implicit message, And neither are you.
"And if I
lose?" Seifer asked.
"Then you must
give yourself to me," she said evenly, "and I will show
you how to use the weapon that not even you can overcome."
The way Ultimecia had
set up the terms provided Seifer an out in case he failed to beat
his opponent; he could just blame the blade and exculpate himself
from the stigma of defeat. It was an irresistible deal in which
Seifer had everything to gain and nothing to lose, just as she
"No magic or GF
attacks?" he inquired.
Ultimecia shook her
Seifer rose to his feet
It's not like I have
a better alternative, he assured himself.
sorceress," he informed her.
She licked her lips and
clapped her hands together in an effort to call forth her
"I summon Titanus,
the Knight of the Garden," she exclaimed, and vanished into
thin air as jets of dark fumes flooded the space that she had
Seifer shifted his
balance and raised the Hyperion to his eye level. His face
remained expressionless as he heard the clatter of metallic armor
ring from the dark cloud. He inhaled sharply and pivoted just in
time to avoid a slash from a sword that shot out of the cloud.
Out from its cloak of
mist charged a knight in ebony armor to meet him. There his
opponent executed a flurry of cuts that he was hard-pressed to
dodge and finally resorted to removing himself from the immediate
danger with a fancy back flip. To his surprise, the knight had
matched his move with a frontal flip and had already begun the
motion for a quick chop to his head. Seifer barely had time to
pull the Hyperion back into position and parry the blow.
The Knight of the
Garden had accrued some additional force from his altitude and
Seifer felt as much from the vibrations his adversary imparted
when their blades met. Seifer was forced to one knee while
Titanus continued to press downwards. After a tense moment,
Seifer realized that he was the underdog in this tussle because
the dark knight had the advantage of bearing down on his blade
with his entire body and both feet under him. Seifer could feel
the granite beneath him giving way to the weight above.
Unable to throw him
off, Seifer resorted to rolling out of the way. As expected, the
Knight of the Garden's sword crashed into ground where Seifer's
knee had rested a second ago, creating a massive crater that
would have been decorated with his crushed body had he stayed not
moved. Seifer's opponent gave him no reprieve however, promptly
picking himself up and swinging the blade back in Seifer's
direction, this time aiming to cut through his midsection.
In response, Seifer
brought his gun-blade down to meet the blow, only to find that it
had been a feint to lower Seifer's sword. As practiced as Seifer
was, he could not readjust his one handed grip from that position
in time to deter the opposing blade to slide beneath his and
follow the edge down to the handle where he could unarm Seifer.
Seeing that he was either going to lose the Hyperion or his arm,
Seifer retracted his blade early and stepped into the blow,
allowing Titanus the time to close in on his hand.
It was a daring gamble
but it worked. Right before the sword cut through his fingers,
Seifer had leaned over the blades and was just close enough to
the knight to knock him in the visor with his shoulder and spin
out of the deadlock with all ten fingers intact.
Titanus had not
expected the bodily contact and was knocked off balance. Still in
step with his revolution, Seifer brought his sword to bear down
on the Knight of the Garden's arm. At the last minute, he
readjusted the path of his sword so that it connected with the
knight's headgear just as the GF moved his blade to protect his
arm. The knight saw Seifer's maneuver at the last minute and only
managed to draw his head back far enough so that the Hyperion
only caught the faceplate and ripped it off.
Seifer almost dropped
his weapon when he saw who he had been fencing. The Knight of the
Garden removed his helmet completely and smirked at his
Seifer looked the
Knight of the Garden up and down. It was unmistakable. It was his
own face that he was staring at.
Seifer shouted, charging at the unmasked warrior.
human," Titanus retorted icily, easily moving away from
Seifer's blind swipe and threw his own quick series of chops
aimed at different strategic striking points. Seifer was now on
the defensive, blocking the blow to his neck, moving down and
intercepting one across his belly, parrying the next attempt at
his right shoulder, and rolling out of the way of the final
unblockable slice to his lower left ribs.
When he came out of his
roll, he noticed that his ear was bleeding. Somehow one of the
cuts had gotten by him, and he was extremely luck that Titanus
hadn't taken off more than some skin and hair. Before Seifer
could raise the Hyperion to strike though, Titanus fell on him
with another strategic sequence of hacks, feints, reversals, and
Seifer fought to get to
his feet while blocking as many blows as he could. In the end, he
had to endure four gashes spread across his body. He limped away,
unsure of how to deal with his match-up.
"You set me up,
sorceress!" he shouted into the void. "You cheated
thundered in the sky above them, "How do you figure?"
Seifer weakly dodged a
few cheap slices and felt how sluggish his right knee had become.
"You made me fight
against myself," he accused her.
against the rules," her voice sounded back as she sent a
ripple of lightning racing across the cloudy sky.
Titanus was about to
lounge again when Seifer gathered enough energy in his
desperation to perform his Fire Cross technique that he saved for
the most dire of circumstances. Raising his left palm, he
released a jet of fire and prepared to follow it up by delivering
some devastating blows from eagerly outstretched Hyperion. It was
a critical mistake on his part to assume that the fire spell
would knock the knight back as it did to Squall during their
sparring. With the extra armor, the knight easily cut through the
flames and brought his right under Seifer's chin. At the same
time he caught Seifer's hand that was trying to bring the
Hyperion crashing down on his enemy's head.
human," the Knight of the Garden hissed at Seifer as he
began to draw his blade across Seifer's neck to spill the blood
nesting in the area of the throat.
Ultimecia recalled her
GF and materialized beside Seifer just before Titanus made the
cut. She also managed to catch him in her arms as his bleeding
legs gave way, no longer sensitive enough to support his weight
boy," she cooed, moving her fingers tenderly across his
"How did he
win?" Seifer managed to mutter before he fell to coughing up
a bit of blood.
"It wasn't that he
was faster, stronger, or braver, dear child," she told him
as she set his head in her lap, "but because you lacked
She bent down and
licked the side of his face clean where Titanus had clipped some
of his ear.
"Show me how to
wield it my new weapon properly then," he said weakly.
"In time, dear
boy," she hushed him, putting a finger on his lips.
She continued after she
had his complete attention, "There will be a day when you
will find yourself with limited time but the freedom to go
anywhere. Find a dock somewhere and set to fishing. I've already
sent Titanus away to that fated place. I believe that you'll
catch the prize you desire."
He was about to argue
more with her when she reminded him, "You already promised
yourself to protect Edea, did you not?"
"But you're not
her," Seifer replied in a half whisper. Unconsciousness was
on the verge of seizing him because of how much blood he had
Ultimecia pulled back
own facial decorations and revealed the innocent face of Edea.
Seifer's eyes widened
at the realization of the truth. He had indeed promised to keep
her safe from harm, and a knight never went back on his word.
The sorceress caressed
him gently for another moment, whispering in his ear, "And
now you are mine."
The last thing he
remembered before passing out was her leaning over and brushing
her lips over his-
Fujin called to him, interrupting his thoughts and brining him
squarely back into reality.
His expression had
froze entirely and, without realizing this for he had become so
absorbed in his own thoughts, his arms dangled limply at his
side, no longer striking the wall. Titanus rested on his own
pickaxe, gloating over his victory in what he has misconstrued as
a digging contest earlier. He had outlasted his master, and thus,
his work was done.
Seifer looked blankly
at Titanus as he melted back out of existence and resumed his
place as the guardian of the grand gun-blade. Fujin put one hand
over Seifer's head to check his temperature and the other over
his heart to check his pulse. He seemed alright- very sweaty- but
his heart rate was stabilizing it and he showed no signs of a
fever. To her surprise, Seifer pulled her in close and lowered
his forehead onto her shoulder and rested for a minute. He was
panting pretty hard.
breathing returned to normal and he looked up to find Rajin. His
eyes narrowed in annoyance when he found his target.
Rajin was sitting on
the ground with his back to the cart, sound asleep and snoring
loudly. He was dreaming about the time Seifer, Fujin, and he were
allowed to accompany Headmaster Cid to a charity dance in
Galbadia. Quistis was overloaded with classes that day and Squall
was moping around somewhere where he didn't want to be found, so
Seifer and this posse seemed the next logical choice.
The yellow wine cooler
they served there was just as strong as Cid's if not stronger,
and within three servings Rajin was had become teary-eyed and
blubbering about how grievances with life. Seifer had meanwhile
found some chick who had introduced herself as one of the
general's daughter and pleaded with Seifer to dance with her
because she was extremely bored and he was the most handsome guy
present. Soon after Seifer left with the girl in the white dress,
Rajin noticed that Fujin's eyes were reddening, but he was so
intoxicated that he just assumed that her tears were also
fashionplate (by Carina Edberg, a die-hard loyalist
to this here fic.)
Either that, he
considered, or she doesn't like wearing provocative dresses.
Even Seifer had
commented earlier that night how glamorous Fujin looked wearing
her tight, blue gown, high heels, a matching set of earrings, and
very nearly baring the whole of one of her slender, silky-smooth
Spying the slumbering
Rajin, Seifer and Fujin exchanged looks. Smirking, Seifer bent
over, picked up a nearby rock and walked over in Rajin's
direction. Fujin tried at first to hold him back, or at least
suggest the alternative use of a smaller rock, but Seifer
insisted that it would be more fun to wake up their colleague
Fujin shrugged and
watched as Seifer lifted the rock over Rajin's head and prepared
the wake-up call.