Echoes of the Past

Chapter 20: Bad Omens



Rikku stared at her opponent, judging how fast she could move, how well she could block, and how soon she could beat her and get some lunch.

Quistis stared back at Rikku, turned to the left so as to present a smaller target, Sword held diagonally down towards the girl. She took one step forward and stabbed at the girl. Instead of attempting to block the blade with her hands, Rikku quickly swung her wings forwards, trapping the sword between the sharp points. Quistis released the handle and jumped over the girl, landing behind her. One problem with using wings to catch weaponry was that your vision was obscured.

Rikku swept her wings back behind her and grabbed the sword as it fell, intending to swing at Quistis while she was thinking what to do next. When her line-of-sight was clear and Quistis wasn’t there she frowned, then ducked down and left as fast as she could, Quistis fist missing her spine and scoring a glancing blow on her head instead. She rolled away from her, coming up facing the blue Guardian, who was smiling at her. She snarled and snapped her hand forward, throwing a gravity bolt directly at the woman’s face. Quistis eyes went wide, and she brought her armguard up at deflect it into the sky, where it flew off into the cosmos. Rikku sighed. She should never have modified that damn armguard for her. In reply to her sudden projectile assault, Quistis crouch as if to jump, but instead of jumping she closed her eyes, a blue glow surrounding her. Rikku knew what to expect, and held her hands in front of her, creating what basically amounted to an invisible prism in the air. Quistis eyes opened and a beam of Blue light shot towards Rikku. Before it reached her, the gravity-created prism deflected it, and watchers struggled to get out of the way as the energy ray flew through their ranks. Rikku took the momentary distraction to run at Quistis and aimed a kick at her chest. The Blue Mage didn’t see her coming and took one square in the gut, her eyes opening wide and her hands flying towards her stomach. Rikku grinned, and was about to back off when Quistis hands changed direction and grabbed her foot. She twisted, and Rikku felt herself spin round and in the air and land on her stomach. She looked back up to see Quistis standing over her, brushing herself off. Rikku flexed her wings and used the claws to spring up, swiping at Quistis’ head with her three hand-claws. Quistis blocked them and threw a punch to Rikku’s chest, which she also blocked, and then suddenly Quistis’ sword flew towards her hand, and Rikku didn’t have enough time to get her hands up into a blocking position before the tip was pointed at her throat.

The entire sequence, from the first lunge by Quistis to the last, had taken about thirty seconds.

“Cheat!” Rikku said after she got up. “We said no Guardian powers!”

Quistis smiled. “You broke that rule when you fired that bolt at my face. And anyway, telekinesis is not a Guardian power, it’s a Blue Mage one.” She winked, and Rikku’s temper defused as fast as it had appeared.

She stuck her tongue out at the Guardian. “Meanie.”

Quistis just laughed softly and turned to the crowd, who cheered appreciatively. It had reminded her of garden, when the students had found out about her un-humanity. First there was disbelief, then terror, then acceptance, and then awe. And two months had been plenty of time to run through the cycle. Quistis sighed. She didn’t want to think about the Garden. The crowd parted before hr to allow Quistis and Rikku passage back to the building they were staying in. Quistis had opted to stay in the room where she had first been billeted when she had returned from Zanarkand. She said she had wanted to stay near everyone, though secretly she didn’t know what she would do with any extra space. Rikku had stayed as well, though in rooms slightly bigger. Skaffen-Amtiskaw usually stayed with Quistis, not really needing any room-space bigger than a matchbox. All in all it worked well.




Alexia stood in the centre of the crowd, chanting her love to Yevon. She resisted shuddering.

When Zion had told them that they would be going undercover in Bevelle, she had ran to Cid and asked him…

“What the hell do you think you’re doing!?” she screamed at him.

“What I need to do,” Cid replied calmly.

Alexia grabbed her head as if trying to hold her brain in. “Us? Al Bhed? In Bevelle? Do you actually want a massacre when we’re found out?”

“There won’t be a massacre, because you’re not going to be found out.”

She had agreed of course, and had told the rest of the squad. Ivan, that cold uncaring prick, had taken the news philosophically. Team-1 had been angry with Cid about being sent somewhere on so short notice. Team-2 had argued about who was going to have to wear the heavy Yevon robes. She had really hated Team-2 at that minute. How they could be so calm in such dangerous circumstances were amazing.

Contrary to popular image as heartless killing machines, soldiers are actually likely to be more scared of danger and undercover operations than your average civilian. This is because, unlike the aforesaid civilians, they know exactly what to expect if captured, and the many ways they could be found, and were more aware of getting caught. An episode during the Time of Sin, when several Al Bhed spies and sympathisers had been caught, tortured, in one case raped, and executed in the temple of Macalania was forefront on her mind.  In her head, Alexia was running through several different escape options, ranging from walking out, to shooting through crowds whilst running from guards. None of them looked especially appealing.

She looked through the crowd and saw Kirsten standing near her, screaming allegiance to a dead god. She turned and walked towards her, tapping her on the shoulder and smiling. The look of relief on Kirsten’s face was evident, and the two moved off to the edge of the crowd. When they were in the shadows, they turned and looked at each other. They didn’t dare speak Al Bhed here, so they kept their voices down.

“Well?” Alexia asked quietly, eyes searching for danger. In reply Kirsten handed her a tube sealed at both ends. Alexia quickly took this and shoved it down the front of her robes. “How did you get this?” she asked.

Kirsten smiled. “It’s amazing what people will tell you after…”

“Wait! I’d rather not know!” Alexia said, holding up her hand to stop the woman. Kirsten smiled at her. Suddenly the shouting intensified, and the two women looked up at what the crowd was staring at.

On the balcony above them, a door had opened and five people walked out. Alexia nudged Kirsten in the ribs. “Isn’t that…?”

“Yup,” Kirsten replied. She looked up, and saw the face of the Grand Maester of the Neo-Yevon Coalition, Amon. He didn’t look like much. Average build, average height, average weight, probably, if those robes were taken off, but the crowd were shouting as if he was Yevon incarnate. Kirsten shivered. This level of devotion could only mean brainwashing or total loyalty, neither appealing to the two Al Bhed women stood in the sea of Yevon life. She turned her attention to the other figures of on balcony. One was a Guado who she took to be Tobin, the representative from his still-Yevon-worshipping town. She turned her attention to the woman. She was pretty, and had assets to rival Lulu, but the look on her face was cold, and she was staring out at the crowd with a mixture of amusement and derision. Kirsten looked at the last person, a man who was standing next to the woman, and…

“Alexia!” she hissed, tugging on her arm.

“What?” Alexia asked.

“Look at the woman.”

“Whoa, that’s a nice body. Why… Don’t look at me like that! I was just commenting on the obvious!” she said, seeing the look on Kirsten’s face. “What is it?” she asked, now slightly peeved.

“Look at the man standing next to her.” Kirsten said, still looking at the man.

“Yeah, it’s… Oh no…” The man standing next to the woman was the same man who she had seen in Zanarkand, only that time he had been dead on the floor, with a sword-wound through his forehead. “That’s not possible,” she said.

Kirsten shook her head. “Look at him! He’s even got… wait, something’s happening.”

Something was. Grand Maester Amon had held his hand up, gesturing the crowd her silence. She crowd noticed, but still took a while to quiet down. Alexia and Kirsten stared at him, wondering what was going on. Amon lowered his hand when the crowd was silent, and began to speak.

“Citizens of the true path of Spira!” he shouted, then had to wait for the roar of appreciation to die down. “We are the last followers of the true path on this land! For four years have we been trodden under the heels of the Spiran ‘government’, and suppressed by the puppet state installed by the Cursed Yuna!” Again he stopped when the crowd screamed, but this time in hatred. “Four years! The road has been long, but now, now, we are ready to talk back this world, and turn it to the true faith of Yevon!”

Kirsten shuddered. Mob rule had been installed in Bevelle, and it was terrible to behold. She looked across the crowd, and saw on platforms sphere reporters, cameramen rolling, their recorders lapping up the speech. She turned to Alexia. “They’re broadcasting!” she hissed. Alexia turned and saw them, then shrugged. To draw attention to themselves here would only bring violent death. She reached below he robe and touched the button that would transmit to the other three SAS commandos in the vicinity once, twice. The signal for; keep your damned head down.




Cid, Rikku, Yuna, and the other guardians stared at the screen broadcasting the speech by Maester Amon to all corners of Spira. Quistis stood in the corner, occasionally looking at the screen but otherwise talking to herself softly. It vaguely disturbed the others that they could hear replies in a slightly different voice, but they tried to ignore it.

Cid watched the Yevon leader on the screen. “This can’t be good,” he said.

“Full marks for observation vydran,” Rikku said emotionlessly. She was still mad at having lost to Quistis so easily that morning.

“What do you think he is going to say?” Lulu asked.

“If this propaganda carries on, nothing good. He’s building up to something,” Quistis said, remembering Vinzer Deling’s broadcast, just before the start of the second Sorceress War, now long forgotten in the mists of time.

Yuna looked at her. “What do you mean?” she asked the older woman. It was still slightly hard for her to treat Quistis like just another person. She felt guilty for when Quistis had been an Aeon.
Quistis walked next to her and pointed at the screen. “He’s preparing the crowd. If a politician wants to do something he isn’t so sure about, they’ll get the crowd on their side first. If the crowd then objects to the act, no loss, if they agree with it, fanaticism ensues.”




“No longer will the people of the Holy City hide in the shadows, called murderers and tyrants by those hypocrites who rule our world through lies and deception!” Amon screamed. “Now, we will take back our world, and with it we will bring the old rule back! A system where the innocent were protected, and the guilty punished!” He pounded the side of the platform with his fist, and Alexia could have sworn it shook.

She turned to Kirsten. “I think we should leave,” she whispered. Kirsten nodded, then suddenly her eyes went wide and she pulled on her arm. Hard. Alexia looked around, obviously not seeing what Kirsten was. She looked directly at the woman next to the man who had been killed at Zanarkand. She stared at her, and suddenly she saw what was wrong. The woman was holding a gun. It was the same type of gun that had been issued to the SAS members who had infiltrated Bevelle. She looked back up at Amon, feeling the first signs of fear creeping up on her.




“We will tolerate this deception of Spira no longer!” Amon screamed. “The heathen Al Bhed have subverted Spirans and pretended to be our friends, but we know better. Oh yes, we know better!”

“I don’t like that,” Cid told the room in general.

“Ditto,” said Wakka, watching the screen.

“We know that the Al Bhed are in league with those traitors who killed our Saviour Yevon! The same race of sub-humans who are now trying to infiltrate our cities and destroy us from within!”

“Where’s Alexia in there?” Rikku asked quietly. Cid did not reply.




Alexia stared up at the platform in near panic as a hooded figure was manhandled by guards onto the platform. Amon reached for the figures neck and held him up to the crowd could see. “This… heathen… Al Bhed scum was caught trying to spy on our city!” he screamed, and Alexia’s blood turned to ice. Amon’s voice carried on, oblivious to the thoughts in her head. “He was trapped trying to torture an old defenceless woman for information when luckily some members of our Yevon Guard happened to call by and find him!”

“Where’s Ivan?” Kirsten asked. Alexia caught the hint of hysteria in her voice, and grabbed her arm.

This is the type of creature out enemy is! One who skulks in shadows, not daring to face us, because we have the truth on our side, we have right on our side, and we will triumph!” Amon screamed at the mob, which roared back their hatred at the masked figure. At that moment, Amon smiled and yanked the hood off the man’s head, revealing the man beneath.





“Isn’t that…?” Cid began, only to be cut off by Rikku’s scream of terror.





“This is not happening. This is not happening…” Kirsten whispered to herself over and over.

Amon looked around at the crowd, and then drew a knife from behind his cloak. “This is what we do to traitors and animals that defy the True Path of Spira!” he shouted, and slit Mykl’s throat.

The man just stood there for a few seconds, not realising what had happened to him, then he felt something hot pour down his throat, and his senses, dulled after hours of torture and beatings, kicked back in, and Mykl’s eyes went wide, and he tried to breath in, the horrible sucking noise that resulted almost making Kirsten throw up.


Luckily, Alexia’s scream was lost in a roar of approval from the mob that sickened Alexia to her very core. She looked up Amon grabbed Mykl by the head and slammed him down onto the parapet; his hands caked in the man’s blood. She backed away, and was about to turn when a hand landed on her shoulder. She turned slowly, reaching into her cloak for her handgun, half expecting to have to shoot her way out of Bevelle. Instead she heard a familiar voice.

“Inside now!” Ivan’s voice hissed in the two women’s ears. They were dragged back into the shadows and turned around to face him.

Ivan looked at Alexia, who seemed shaken but otherwise OK, and then at Kirsten, who seemed to be going into shock. “Are you OK?” he asked quietly.

Kirsten looked at him, eyes staring but not seeing. “He… they…” she said haltingly.

Ivan sighed, and then slapped her.

Kirsten looked surprised, and then rubbed her face. “Ouch,” she said.

Ivan did not bother with pleasantries. “We’re getting out tonight. Be at the dock at midnight local time. Don’t be late or we’ll leave without you.” He turned and walked off, leaving Alexia and Kirsten in the shadows.

Kirsten leaned against the wall for support. Alexia just stood, but with her hands in her pockets, to prevent the other woman seeing how scared she was.

“Kirsten. We have to go now,” she whispered quietly.

Kirsten nodded. “Yeah,” she said simply. No argument, no questions, just ‘yeah’. Slowly she stood back up, unsupported, and looked straight at Alexia. “They’re going to pay for this,” she said, no emotion in her voice.

Alexia nodded. “Yes, they will. But not now,” she replied, and grabbed Kirsten’s arm, leading her off towards somewhere where they could wait out the day.




Tyler looked down at the mess Amon had made on the floor, an expression of horror on his face. It wasn’t the body that shocked him, but the blood that had covered his new shoes. He had told the man to just shoot the Al Bhed and throw the body down to the crowd. But no, the man had to make his grand gestures and make everyone watch the man die, live across the world. Imbecile.

He turned to the Guado Maester, Tobin. “Did you see the others?” he asked nonchalantly.

“Two near the back, one more dragging them off. We’ll find them,” he said, just as casually as Tyler had done.

“See that at least one of them gets back to Luca, maybe two. I want the Al Bhed to know they aren’t as good as they’d like to think,” he told the Guado.

Though Tobin outranked him, what with being a Maester (Tyler was considered a mere servant) the Guado knew who Tyler really reported to, and it wasn’t Grand Maester Amon. “It will be done,” he told Tyler.

Tyler nodded. “Good.” He turned to Elisium, who was looking at the body of the Al Bhed with a mixture of fascination and slight horror. “It disturbs you?” he asked her.

She turned to him and shook her head. “You’ll never that get out of the fabric,” she said ironically.

“Yes, Yevon knows we’ve tried.”



Chapter 21: Situation Arising



Quistis stared at the screen as the SAS man died by the hand of the Yevon Maester. All she knew about Yevon she had learned from Rikku, and at the time she had thought Theocratic Dictatorship instantly. And here it was in action, exactly how corrupting an influence religion could be. If God was on your side, then the people you were fighting against, were fighting against God, and that justified everything.

Go Yevon! Shiva shouted in her mind.

You bitch. One of Rikku’s friends was just killed on national television and you say Go Yevon?


I hate you. Me. Whoever.

Tough. You’re stuck with me.

Quistis ignored Shiva’s glee in her mind and turned back to the others. Most of them looked sick, Rikku looked plain terrified. Quistis could honestly say she didn’t know what the girl was going through. She’d killed, and probably killed more people than everyone in this room put together, in the name of money and SeeD, yet she had never seen one of her friends murdered in cold blood right in front of her. She walked up to Rikku. “Are you alright?” she asked softly.

Rikku turned around and looked at her. “Is that some kind of joke?” she whispered softly.

At that moment, Cid walked back into the room putting his phone back into his pocket. “I told Ivan to evacuate the team from Bevelle. A boat will pick them up from Bevelle harbour at midnight and bring them here,” he told the group, to the general relief of all.

Quistis was still worried though. In all her years as a SeeD, she had learned to distrust rescue missions. Either they went perfectly, or they went incredibly wrong. She had taken part in three missions where the evacuation team had failed to show up on time, and every time they had had to blast their way out. She looked at Rikku, who was shaking slightly and holding onto the wall.

Look at her. Pathetic creature. A little death and she folds. You should have left her to die at Macalania.

Shut up.

The one thing that Quistis really, really hated about Shiva was that somewhere, deep inside her, she agreed.

At least now she might not be so annoying…

I said shut up.

…Maybe you should just put her out of her misery…

Shut up!

Why not? We could kill her, then her friends, then start on the rest of Spira! It’ll be fun!

Shut up! Please!

Come on girl, you know you want to, you can’t keep me out forever, and then when you let your guard down, I’ll…

I said…





Everyone whirled at the sound of Quistis’ voice to see her holding her head in her hands, a look of intense concentration on her face. Cid took one step forward, then decided better and looked at Rikku.

Rikku walked over to Quistis and put her hand on her shoulder. Since she didn’t have any pain receptors in her claws, she didn’t see them freeze solid. “Quistis?” she asked softly. “Calm down, it’s OK, I’m here,” she said.

Quistis looked up at Rikku, breathing heavily, a look of intense pain on her face. “She won’t stop,” she whispered.

“I understand, but…”

Quistis suddenly grabbed Rikku by the neck and held her up to her face. “You don’t understand! None of you do!” she snarled at her. As soon as it cam her temper evaporated, and she sat there, on the floor. She brought her knees up to her chest and just sat there, weeping. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“Don’t give up!” Yuna said from the corner.

Quistis looked up at her. “You don’t know what it’s like, I can’t hold out forever, one day I’ll fall asleep and she’ll take over, and then you’ll all…” she whispered softly. “She’ll never stop hounding me…”

“Then cure yourself of her,” Wakka said. The others looked at him as if he just had suggested they all have group sex.

“Um… Wakka…” Lulu began, but Wakka cut her off.

“If you’re ill, then there’s gotta be a cure right?” he asked the room.

Quistis looked at him. “There’s no cure for what I have,” she told him slowly, looking directly at him.

“Like the man said: Bull.”

Quistis stared at him, then slowly got to her feet with Rikku’s help. “Thank you,” she said slowly.

Wakka smiled. “No problem ya?”

Quistis took a deep breath and held her palm out in front of her, watching it shake in front of her. As the others watched, the shaking gradually subsided until her hand was perfectly still, perfectly. It didn’t even wobble in the air. Cid whistled, and vowed to learn how to do that. Quistis let out her breath, lowered her hand, and turned back to the others. “So, what are we going to do about Ivan and the others?” she asked, as if the last five minutes had not happened.

Cid looked at her, then shrugged. “They get out, we find out what they found out in Bevelle. We get that murdering bastard Amon, all are happy,” he said simply.

“Do you have any backup plans?” she asked. Cid looked at her blankly, and she could just tell his next question was going to be; ‘what are they?’ She sighed. “A plan you use in case the first plan fails,” she said. She didn’t say that often SeeD had several different ones, in case on of those failed.

“Erm, no.”

Quistis sighed. Again. “Then we better think of some,” she said.




Tyler stood on the raised catwalk, looking down on the lab as the technicians worked on the two objects below him. Occasionally one of the workers would look up at him, but they were always quickly told to get back to work by the supervising officer. Tyler looked at the smooth objects and smiled. Millennia under the sea and still perfectly formed, they knew how to use technology back then.

Turning on his heel, he walked away to the medical research facility, passing through several different airlocks and armed guards as he went. They didn’t even ask him for ID. He pushed opened the last door, and walked into the room holding the machinist from the destroyed salvage boat. Since they didn’t know whether he was contagious or not, they kept him behind a clear plastic shield that separated him from the worker, any doctors who worked with him wore sealed suits with air pumped in from another room. He stared at the man.

Where once the machinist had looked healthy, now he was merely a skeleton. He looked like what Tyler had, as a child, always imagined the unsent would look like (he knew better now of course), gaunt, skin going grey, eyeholes dark pits, coughing and wheezing. He heard footsteps behind him, and turned to face the doctor from the boat.

“Well?” Tyler asked the man.

“Body-structure is breaking down at the molecular level, he’s bleeding internally, immune system failing. He’ll be dead before the week is out,” the doctor replied. He hesitated for a few seconds before continuing. “Is it what I thought it was?” he asked.

Tyler nodded. “It is.”

“But I thought those things were a myth!”

Tyler shook his head. “No myth. They exist, and they’re ours.” He smiled. Then he heard a shout, and turned to see a technician from the other lab run into the medical room. “What?” he snapped evilly.

The technician looked nervous. Here, shooting the messenger was the norm rather than the exception. Better someone else tell him. “You want to come and see this,” he said feverently.

Tyler scowled and pushed past the technician, walking back towards the lab that held the objects… oh what the hell, might as well call them what they were; bombs.

He walked into the lab to see everyone clustered around one bomb, looking into the centre where the top had been unscrewed. Two men in airtight suits were carrying something onto a nearby table, but he ignored those and went towards where the technician was gesturing.  He walked up to the second bomb to see where the top had been unscrewed to reveal where the material was placed. He looked into the top and saw… nothing.

No green slightly glowing metal, just emptiness. He rounded on the man chosen to be head of the team for the second bomb. “Where is the plutonium?” he asked quietly.

“It, erm, wasn’t there,” he said sheepishly.

Tyler approached the man. “Are you tell me we blew up the only salvage ship we had to eliminate witnesses who dug up nothing!?” he shouted at him.

“The first bomb is fine!” the man said quickly. “Just there is no material to be found in the second one!”

Tyler put his head in his hands. All that hardship, for one working bomb. He knew he should have sent the divers back down for more bombs, but he had been under a tight deadline. He turned back to the technician. “The first one?”

“Works. Nothing wrong with it. In superb condition.” He said quickly, eager to prove his worth.

Tyler glared. “Will it be ready for when we make the announcement next week?” he asked.

The man nodded frantically. “It is ready now, but if you want it cleaned up…” he said.

“Clean it.” Tyler walked out of the room, and the man let out a sigh of relief.

He turned to one of his staff. “I thought he was going to kill me,” he said.

“He still might. What happened with the second bomb anyway?” the woman asked.

“Just what I said happened. When we opened it up, there was no plutonium inside. Therefore: it’s not my fault. The people who built it must have removed it before they crashed.”

The woman nodded and turned back to the bomb. She was good with explosives, and was loyal, and that was why she had been picked for this team. Building a bomb from scratch was easy, but with this bomb, if it went off there would be nothing left but a several-mile-wide crater and some faintly glowing gas. She went up to workbench that contained the material removed from the first bomb and held it up to the light. She smiled at it rotated in the sunlight leaking through the windows. Perfect. For all the talk about machina being evil, they had their uses. That man Tyler had said that they would announce the presence of these things to the world next week. She chuckled to herself. She didn’t really think of herself as important, but it was nice to know something she had helped make would change the world. As she worked on cleaning and putting the bomb components back together, she wondered where they would drop it, and then decided that it didn’t really matter, did it?




Tyler was panicked. He paced in his room, looking at the walls and thinking to himself, wondering what had gone wrong. Elisium sat on a chair near him, just watching him. Tyler occasionally glanced at her, but said nothing.

There were supposed to be at least twenty there! Out of all the ones to pick, we chose the one that don’t work!

Well, that was slightly wrong. They had one thermonuclear device, and that was one more than anyone else had.

Elisium finally broke her silence. “Why don’t you just go and get another one?” she asked him,

“Because we blew up your ship and killed your crewmates,” he replied simply.

Elisium frowned. “And that was the only salvage ship you had? That was dumb.”

Tyler didn’t reply, but was thinking to himself that it had been foolish to kill the only people who had had the skills he needed.

Suddenly the temperature of the room seemed to plummet, and Tyler shivered. He turned to face the creature he knew had suddenly just appeared behind him. “Yes?” he asked the apparition. He had gotten used to these visits by now.

“You failed,” it replied from the depths of its robe. It had appeared in some variation of a black robe for a while now, the only signs that it wasn’t human its voice, which was just plain freaky, and the pair of glowing red dots it had for eyeballs.

“There has been a short setback,” Tyler allowed.

“Two devices are required. One is not enough to destroy our enemies,” it said.

“Look, exactly how tough is this woman? Surely even she can’t survive a blast from these things?” he said.

“Other factors have arisen.”

“Like?” Tyler asked curiously.

“Her Blue powers are awakening.”

Tyler stopped. “What? Now?”


“We can’t have that can we…” he mused.

“She is currently dangerously unstable though, one push might send her over the edge.”

“I’ve seen her alter ego in action. She could be a great ally…”

“Arrange something.”

“I will. What about the bombs?” he asked next, back to the topic at hand.

“There is no plutonium in them now. That does not mean there has never been plutonium in them.” The creature said.

Tyler just stared at it. “That’s impossible,” he said blankly.

“Nothing is impossible. Things will be arranged.” It said, and then suddenly it was gone, as if it had never been there. Tyler blinked, then went over to the table and picked up the glass of water and the pills Elisium had put out for him. Conversations with those things always made his head hurt.

“What now?” Elisium asked.

“We’re going to get some plutonium for the bombs,” Tyler said.

“But from where?” she asked.

“Not from where, from when,” he said, and sat down on the bed, about to fall asleep. He felt a movement beside him, and turned to see Elisium sit down on the floor next to him.

“Headache again?” she asked. He nodded. “I have just the cure for that,” she said, smiling. “What was the other thing it talked about?” she asked.

“Oh, we’re going to drive Quistis Trepe insane so she’ll join us,” Tyler replied off-hand. Then he couldn’t say much for a while.




Cid looked at her. He and Quistis had spent the last hour devising backup plans for the extraction of the SAS team from Bevelle. One of his suggestions had been an aerial bombardment of the city, which she had instantly shot down (no pun intended).

“If you do that you invite accusations of atrocities,” she had said.

“Atrocities? Us? They butchered one of my men!”

“He was spying on them. Never underestimate the public hatred of spies.”

Cid had had to agree with that. During Sin’s reign it had been widely suspected that Bevelle had used spies and agents to get information on revolutionary groups and Al Bhed cells. Several arrests made on evidence that could not possibly have been attained legally made it even more likely it was true. Cid remembered living in fear of Yevon while he was a child, and he understood what others might think. “What else?”

“Does this world have helicopters?” she asked.

“Have what?”

“Never mind then…”

Then Cid had suggested sending in a single person to make sure they were still alive and get them to somewhere safe. To his surprise, Quistis had jumped on it.

“A group of people going around would cause suspicion, but one person might be able to get in and out… At the very least I could distract the people looking for them…” she had mused to herself, Cid listening.

Of course, then there had been the decision of who would go in. No-one had lived long enough in Bevelle to know there way around, and so they had chosen the only person even slightly familiar with operations like these…




Quistis paced the room she was in, the drone Skaffen-Amtiskaw watching her from a distance. The others sat nearby, watching her. They (except Rikku) were still slightly uncomfortable in her presence, Spira not really being full of people with mental disorders. It was Skaffen-Amtiskaw who broke the silence.

“Are you thinking of doing what I think you’re thinking of doing?” he asked her.

Quistis looked up and stared at him for a few seconds “Yes, I am,” she said.

“It’s suicide,” the drone said simply.

Quistis shook her head. “No, it isn’t.”

“You’d have to get into Bevelle first…”

“I have wings,”

“Then find the teams…”

“They have radios,” Cid spoke up.

“Then get them out of Bevelle…”

“The Highbridge is still open,” Lulu said.

“Without anyone realising they were even there…”

“They’re SpecOps commandos, they know how to hide…”

“All right all right!” the drone said, exasperated. “But how are you going to hide that,” it said, extending a blue-ish field in the shape of a finger, which pointed at Quistis. “Even people in Bevelle must have heard of the blue woman made of ice by now! You’re not exactly the easiest person to disguise!”

“Cloaks,” Quistis said.

Skaffen-Amtiskaw saw he was going nowhere, made what sounded like a ‘hmph!’ noise, and suddenly shit out of the window. He flew around the building to let off steam, and a couple of sonic booms sounded as he broke the sound barrier, scaring some small children outside, who thought Bevelle was attacking.

Yuna turned to Quistis. “Miss Trepe…”


“Quistis. Why are you doing this?” she asked, more out of curiosity than to interrogate her.

Quistis thought about it, then decided to answer honestly, and shrugged. “All my life, I wanted to be the best. I became a SeeD soldier at fifteen, an instructor at seventeen, saved the world at eighteen. I thought I could do anything. But people look at you differently when you’re a legend. They don’t treat you as a person anymore, just as some kind of hero. We weren’t heroes, just people who were thrown together by fate and destiny to do one thing. Then fate chose me again, and I got killed, became the Ice Guardian, found the best person in the world to love, then I lost him and got stuck in that thing in the temple for thousand of years.”

She turned to look at the other full on, and she had their complete attention. She realised that Skaffen-Amtiskaw had wandered back in, and was probably also listening. “Now I’m out of that prison, and the exact same thing is happening again. I’m stuck here, all the people I grew up with are dead, and I’m technically insane. I’m doomed to live forever, and I can’t escape until whatever I need to do is done. If this is it, then I’ll gladly do it, just to get off this world, and then maybe, just maybe, whatever forces or gods are keeping me alive, can let me rest, and I can see my family again.” She turned and walked out. “Now, where’s your armoury?” she asked as she disappeared.

Cid sighed, and turned to see Rikku, who was pale. “Rikku? Are you OK?” he asked gently.

“I’m going out…” she said softly, and got up from her corner and went out of the doorway, not saying anything else as she headed for anywhere that wasn’t here.

Lulu and Wakka watched the two women leave, and then just held hands, saying nothing. Khimari just looked around, and then went after Rikku.

Skaffen-Amtiskaw, who was the only one who knew what Shiva had said to make Quistis break down like that, floated off, thinking to himself about how to help them both.




Rikku walked through the corridors, not really looking where she was going. She couldn’t stop thinking about Quistis impromptu speech. She didn’t believe in things like fate and destiny, but the things she had said scared her. In all the years she had known her, Quistis had never expressed to Rikku a wish to die. She thought about it some more, then about how lonely and separated she had felt when she had been away from her friends for four years. She could only imagine how Quisty was feeling, after two hundred thousand years apart from her childhood friends. At least Rikku’s family was still alive. She shivered, and looked up to see that she had passed Quistis’ room.

She hesitated. Then her curiosity got the better of her, and she tried the lock. When it wouldn’t open, she held her claw over the lock and closed her eyes, using her abilities with gravity to spin and lift the locks that kept the door closed. It clicked, and Rikku smiled and walked in.

She was surprised. She hadn’t really known what to expect, but this wasn’t it. Then she remembered that Quistis had been a teacher, and that neatness was almost a religion among them. Everything was tidy and clean. She noticed a lack of clothing, what she had variants of blue, but that was kinda to be expected. The only thing that didn’t fit, in fact, was that leather bag lying on the bed. The same bag she had found in the Ragnarok.

Rikku made her decision instantly, and opened the bag. She found the strange window thing, and went though more-or-less exactly the same chain of events that Quistis had went through when she had opened it. After she had figured it out she reached into the bag again and slid in the disk marked +4 YEARS. She was still surprised though, when a picture appeared on the screen and began to move.

Sphere movie? It certainly looked like one. She watched the screen, and realised that it was a wedding. A woman dressed in a yellow dress had the camera focussed on her, and was arguing with another woman, in what was definitely a bridal gown.

“Oh come on! You promised!” the woman in yellow said.

“Selphie, I don’t decide where the boutique falls.” said the other woman.

“You could use your powers! Rinny! Please!” The person (Selphie she assumed) begged. Instantly, the blue woman’s face darkened. “Sorry Rin. Pleeeease?”

“Selphie, I can’t. I’ll try and throw it toward you, but that’s all, understand?” she said, mock serious. Selphie’s face lit up.

“Yay! Thanks!” She suddenly turned to face the camera. “Hey! Quit filming everything Irvine!” she said.

Rikku heard another voice from off-screen, which she assumed to be the cameraman, Irvine. “Why not? Rinoa and Squall ’re getting married! I gotta film this!” he said. He sounded excited.

“Then film Squall and Zell getting ready! This is private!” Selphie said. The camera nodded, and the screen went blank. Rikku looked disappointed, and was about to leave when it came back on again. This time, it showed an actual wedding. Rikku saw that nothing much had really changed in wedding ceremonies in two hundred millennia. She looked and saw a guy with blonde spiky hair, looking at something off camera, and looking nervous.

“You asked her yet Zell??” the cameraman (still sounded like Irvine) asked.

“No, I don’t think… what if she says no?” Zell said.

“Zell, how long has it been since Rosie?” Irvine asked gently.

“Two years.” Zell said.

“Would she want you to get on with your life?”


“Then ask her!” Irvine said dramatically.

Zell looked even more nervous than before, then looked at the person behind the camera. “I’m gonna go for it!” he said, and walked away from the camera. Rikku leaned closer to see whom he was approaching, but all she could see in the screen was a sheet of blonde hair covering the person behind it.

Suddenly the camera flashed on and off and swung around, music kicked in, and Rikku saw the woman from earlier walk down some sort of path in the middle of the room. Zell quickly ran back towards the camera, grimacing.

The woman walked down the aisle, and the camera turned to see a man with black hair and dressed in black outfit already waiting there for her. He looked like a penguin. Rikku watched with interest. So this was how they got married back then… she watched as the two met up at the end of the aisle and turned to face an oldish man in glasses and a sweater, who was smiling. Then Rikku saw no more, because at that moment Quistis walked back into the room and threw an icicle at the off-switch with perfect precision, and the screen went black. She dropped the bag she was carrying and stared at Rikku.

“Hi,” Rikku said sheepishly.

“Hi there,” Quistis replied. “Well?”

“Well what?” Rikku asked innocently.

“What were you doing looking through my memories?” she asked, but then she smiled, and Rikku relaxed.

“Sorry, I just…”

“Did I get to you with that little rant?” Quistis asked quietly.

“You did,” Rikku agreed softly.

“Sorry. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to worry, but I’ve existed too long now for this.” She said. “When all this is over, that’s it. I quit. I’ll find a way to do it, I’m immortal, but not invincible.”

“You’re not talking about…” Rikku said quickly.

“That’s exactly what I’m talking about,” Quistis said.

Rikku shivered. In Spira, suicide had always been taboo. Those who did it were said to have their souls absorbed into Sin and spend all eternity suffering with it. Yet here Quistis was, talking openly about ending her own life.

“Don’t worry yourself about it. It’s my choice.”

“Yeah, but…” Rikku began, and then looked at Quistis eyes, saw the look in them, and decided to drop it. She changed the subject. “What about Alexia and the others?” she asked.

In reply, Quistis bent over and opened the bag she had dropped when she walked in. Rikku gasped when she saw the contents. “I thought you didn’t need weaponry?” she asked, looking at the guns inside.

“Never hurts,” Quistis said casually.

Rikku lifted an incredibly complicated piece of machinery out of the bag and examined it. “What are these things? I thought I’d seen everything the Al Bhed had ever built.

“You have, these were salvaged from wrecks,” Quistis replied, and pointed at the bottom. Rikku looked, and saw a standard black cloak. So that was how she was going to hide herself. She didn’t think it stupid, a black cloak had hidden her for four years.

Rikku looked up from rummaging in the bag. “When do you leave?” she asked.

“Now” Quistis replied, and Rikku heard the distinctive roar of airship spinning it’s huge ring as it prepared to lift off.



Chapter 22: Running Battle



Alexia ran through the streets of Bevelle.

Well, she would have liked to. In fact she had to walk calmly to avoid drawing attention to herself, and the strain was driving her nuts. After Ivan had given them their orders, she and Kirsten had split up and went separate ways, heading towards the docks where the rescue ship would be. She walked purposefully, giving the impression of a woman late for something, and though she was looked at she didn’t give anyone a second glance, and no-one troubled her. Her eyes scanned the street, seeing children and armed monks standing in the street, the guards mostly being laughed at and run around by the kids. It looked like any normal street in any city on Spira, with one important difference. Here, the guns were always loaded. She found what she was looking for and ducked into a side ally, looking left and right quickly as she did so. She made sure no-one was looking and withdrew her phone from her thigh pad, holding the display up to her face and shielding it with her hand. She quickly dialled the number for the team’s support personnel and prayed feverently to whoever would happen to be listening for an answer. After three rings, she heard the phone click, and a female voice say “Yes?”

“Alexia,” she said.

“Alexia! Where are you? Is this safe?” Caryl asked quickly.

“Safe enough girl What’s the status of the boat?” she asked him.

“Dock-3. The captain of the ship will have bad eyesight and ignore you, but still try not to be seen,” Kirsten said. The phone clicked, and Alexia put the phone back in it’s hidden holster. Caryl had not come with them into the city, but had stayed near the outskirts on a boat circling the cities closest-approach limits, broadcasting information and maps to the team inside. The woman was a godsend.

Alexia walked out of the ally back into the sunlight, mentally cursing herself for ever agreeing to go on this crazy-assed mission. Now one of them was dead and the rest were running scared. Well, walking scared anyway.




Quistis looked down on Bevelle from the open doors of the cargo bay of the hovering Ragnarok, Rikku and Cid standing behind her. She put her hand over her ears and tapped her headset. “Where are they?” she asked, listening for Skaffen-Amtiskaw’s reply, which was monitoring Caryl’s tech-boat through the bridge monitors.

“Do you want exact locations?” the drone asked through a crackle of static.

Quistis shook her head. “Approximate will do,” she replied.

“Two in the north, one in the east, three more in the south-west, but nowhere near each other, and one left near the centre.”

Rikku listened through the spare speakers and shook her head. “That’s seven. There should be eight since Mykl was killed and Caryl is on the tech-support boat,” she said.

“The other might be dead as well,” the drone said apologetically.

“How are we tracking them?” Cid asked.

“Heartbeats,” the drone replied.

Cid looked incredulous. “How the hell are ours any different from anyone else in Bevelle’s?” he asked.

“Sorry, let me say that again, heartbeat sensors,” the drone clarified.

“Oh…” Cid said. Made sense. When the heart stopped, so did the signal. He turned to Quistis. “You got everything?” he asked.

Quistis nodded. For an era barely half as advanced as her time had been, the Al Bhed could come up with some pretty handy gadgets. She had her own heartbeat sensor so Caryl could monitor her position, and some other… necessities.

Cid looked at her. “Are you going to tell me what you need the explosives for?” he asked. Quistis shook her head. “Then good luck,” he said.

Quistis smiled and approached the ramp that led out into open air, discarding her headset and making sure her wings were free to move. Taking a deep breath, she jumped.

Rikku ran up to the door and watched Quistis fall through the air, her claws digging into the metal of the deck to steady her against the wind. She watched as suddenly Quistis wings snapped into position, and she glided smoothly down into Bevelle’s borders. The airship’s engines roared and she lost sight of the woman as the Ragnarok speeded away from Bevelle. It would go back to Luca, and there they would have to wait. Cid had been told the boats had already been dispatched to Bevelle under guise of a ship carrying medical supplies from Yevon sympathisers in Luca. Rikku sighed and was about to walk back to the bridge when Cid grabbed her shoulder.

“Who’s piloting the ship?” he asked her quickly.

Rikku opened her mouth to reply, then froze. Who was driving the ship? She looked into her father’s eyes then without another word both ran back to the cockpit. Rikku pushed the door open and asked the drone; “Hey Skaffen, who’s piloting…”

Rikku opened the door fully, and for a moment thought that some multicoloured octopus had taken over the bridge. Coloured tendrils of light bathed the bridge, leading to the control surfaces, brushing over buttons and generally guiding the ship. All of them led back to the small ball of metal that was the drone Skaffen-Amtiskaw.

“I got it covered,” he said, an edge of amusement in his voice.




Alexia dodged around crates and buildings, making her way towards the number three dock in Bevelle harbour. Since the only way to approach Bevelle by land was the narrow Highbridge, most merchandise was brought in by ship, and Bevelle’s harbour was big.

Alexia jumped to the left as a man carrying what appeared to be several boxes of sphere nearly walked right into her. She got out of the way and hugged the wall, not wanting to draw any unwanted attention her way. Guards lined the corridors, chatting amiably with people passing through, but simultaneously scanning the area for threats.

I’m paranoid, but am I paranoid enough? Alexia thought to herself of the guard’s expressions.

She looked around the docks, searching for the number three port, but also for any friendly faces. After about ten minutes of fruitless searching, she finally saw one. Approaching the man from the back, she tapped him on the shoulder.

For a second, he didn’t seem to react, and Alexia was about to tap him again when he turned around slowly, with an I-wasn’t-shocked-by-that-really demeanour. He turned to face her and Alexia smiled.

“Alexia?” Zion asked.

“Yup. Anyone else here yet?” she asked.

“The rest of Team-2 are on their way. Kirsten was here but wandered off before I could reach her. Ivan got stuck somewhere,” he intoned.

Secretly, Alexia smiled. It could have been much worse. “And you?” she asked the huge white-haired man.

Zion shrugged. “No-one asked me for identification. I glared at them a lot,” he said. Alexia chuckled. Zion could outstare a Tonberry. And Tonberry’s didn’t blink. She heard a shout, and turned to see someone waving to them. She wanted to shout to the person to stay quiet, but they were already running toward Alexia and Zion. Alexia got ready to draw their weapons, then put them away when they saw who it was.

“Guys!” Yuskreven said in relief. She stopped near them and put her hands on her knees to get her breath back.

“Yo,” Alexia said, unperturbed by the appearance of their youngest trooper.

“Where are the others?” Yuskreven asked hopefully, looking around for any more Al Bhed. Alexia shook her head and Zion repeated what he had just said. “Bummer,” she said. “So now we wait huh?” They both nodded. “I think I’m going to walk around,” she said.

Alexia shrugged. “Knock yourself out kiddo.” She was only three years older than the bouncy young woman, but still thought of herself as an old hand.

“Don’t get lost,” Zion said.

Yuskreven nodded and walked away, looking around her at the scenery. It had been her first time in Bevelle, and she wanted to see the sights. If she happened to do this when she was undercover and liable for immediate execution, so what?

Alexia sighed and looked at Zion. “They never learn,” she said. Zion nodded. The only way for soldiers to become good soldier was training and experience, and one did not always make up for a lack of the other. Soldiering was the ultimate Darwinian environment. Either you were smart, or you were dead.

“They will in time,” Zion replied, ever the optimist.

Alexia was about to reply when she heard a clicking sound. Without reacting, she looked across at the guards, who as luck would have it were not looking her way. Casually, she moved into the dearest collection, out of the way of the boxes, and brought her radio from her pocket. After a few seconds, Zion appeared around the corner. If anyone had noticed, they would have seen a man and a woman talking, then both moving to a place of seclusion, and what was unusual about that? “Go ahead,” she spoke into the mouthpiece.

“Guys! Trouble!” Caryl’s panicked voice said through the quiet speaker.




Caryl stood on the deck of the boat, sipping on a soft drink. She looked out at the ocean and sighed. She had wanted to go into Bevelle with the other nine SAS commandos, and had begged Ivan to let her go, but the older man had told her that they needed him here.

“We need someone to monitor and record everything,” he said.

“The techs can do that!” she replied angrily, gesturing to the two civilians waiting by the boat.

“You’re better, and I want one of our people there,” he said emotionlessly.

Caryl saw she was not going to win this battle and sighed. She turned on her heel and walked towards the boat and the other two people, and gestured them onto the boat.

So here she was, watching the sea and, occasionally, talking to the teams on the radio when one of them radioed in. They weren’t at risk here. The boat was an old fishing trawler, and if anyone asked them what they were doing, she would point at the nets. If anyone tried to board, they would shoot seven kinds of cred out of them with the weaponry stored below decks.

She turned and walked back into the bowels of the ship, hearing the reassuring beeps and clicks of the machinery around her. She moved up to the two techs and stood between them one hand on their chairs. “Anything?” she asked.

The first tech shook is head. “Nothing.” Not a peep since Alexia radioed in asking for the location of the boat, which Caryl had given her, glad for something to do. She sighed and sat down on the chair next to the frequency scanner, watching as the green line swept through the circular screen, searching for radio transmissions in bands not used by Al Bhed. The various section of the screen had paper stuck on giving the names of the various frequencies and who used them; ‘Al Bhed’, ‘Sphere Movie Channel 2’, ‘Sky News,’ and ‘Bevelle Military’. There was nothing there. She sighed and picked up a pencil, flicking it in her hands.

The senior comm. tech turned to his partner. “Job isn’t what you expected?” he said dryly.

The other technician stared at him, then at Caryl. “Not what she was expecting either by the sounds of it,” she replied. They both smiled. It was boring, but it was there job, and intercepted radio conversations had been known to save lives. For all their hatred of technology, Yevonites sure used a lot of it, and even better they didn’t know jack about securing their transmissions. It made for an easy task. Usually.


Caryl looked up at the screen, thinking she was hearing things, or maybe the techs were messing with her head. She leaned back and closed her eyes, trying to sleep, when it came again.

Beep. Crackle.

Caryl almost flew into an upright position, hands groping for the headphones, eyes staring at the screen. She watched as the green line swept back through the various transmission bands, Al Bhed? No. Sky? No. Movie 1? No.

The green line swept through the range of bands marked Yevon, and as it passed through the one marked with a piece of paper as ‘Inner City Guards’ the green line suddenly bent and turning into a jagged edge that vibrated.


“Yes!” Caryl shouted, as she frantically turned the dial to stop the line moving on and focussed it on the one frequency ratio. Pulling out the headphone jack, voices flooded the room, and all three listened as two voices conversed across an unsecured radio line. Caryl listened as one of them barked out orders, and her blood ran cold. She turned to the senior technician. “Get me Alexia Now!” she barked. The man was already moving towards the stack of electronics, and threw the mouthpiece through the air towards her. Caryl caught it one handed, the other taking notes on the conversation she had just heard, and pressed the “Transmit” button on the piece.

“Go ahead,” Alexia voice whispered though the speaker after about three seconds.

“Guys! Trouble!” Caryl nearly shouted down the line.




Alexia looked at Zion, who nodded. Slowly, they poked their heads out from behind the crates. They looked around, and saw the guards talking on their radios. One looked at the other, who nodded. They started to walk, and Alexia saw that they were walking straight towards the oblivious Yuskreven.




“Excuse me?”

Yuskreven turned when she heard the voice behind her. Her heat nearly stopped when she saw that two men dressed in Yevon Guard uniforms and carrying handguns were addressing her. “Yes?” she asked, trying to keep panic from edging into her voice.

“We notice you are looking around. Are you lost?” one asked.

She smiled at them as warmly as she could. “No, I’m just looking around,” she said. “This is my first time in this part of Bevelle.”

One of the guards nodded as if this was important. “Very good, if you require assistance, then please do not hesitate to ask us,” he said. Then he looked at something over Yuskreven’s shoulder and smiled, waving to someone.

Yuskreven turned to look, expecting to see more guards, her heart slowing down to something approaching normal.




Alexia and Zion watched the conversation, their hearts in their mouths. Both were relieved then, when one guard smiled and waved to something behind him. Alexia looked, and saw that he was waving to empty air. She eyes widened and she turned back to shout to the woman when Yuskreven turned to look as well and the second guard, in one smooth motion, drew his gun and shot her calmly in the head.


Zion clapped his hand over Alexia’s mouth before she finished screaming even one word, but instantly the guards turned from where Yuskreven’s body was jetting blood into the air as she collapsed and pointed their guns in the general direction of them, eyes scanning the docks, and the guns not far behind. Zion pulled her back behind the crates and reached into his cloak, drawing his own gun. Alexia took a few deep breaths and did the same. “Bastards,” she whispered. Zion nodded and poked his head around the corner. He quickly drew it back as gunfire scattered the crates with holes.




“Oh crap!”

Caryl turned to where the technician was suddenly punching buttons on his screen. “What?” she asked.

“We lost one!” the junior technician replied.

“One what?”

“What the ramm do you think?” the senior technician snarled at her, and then continued to jab at his keyboard.

Oh no…

Caryl jumped up from her seat and ran outside to where the large antennae sat disguised as a flagpole. She sat down next to it, out of sight of other boats, and opened a partition in the side of the wooden hull and drew out the mouthpiece for a long-range radio. She held down the 'T' and spoke rapidly into the mouthpiece.




“Mr Cid, sir?” Skaffen said from his position hovering above space between the pilot’s and co-pilots seats.

“What?” Cid asked.

“The Boat reports one casualty, last thirty seconds!” the drone replayed.

Oh cred… Cid thought. “Do they know where?” he asked the drone.

Skaffen Amtiskaw went silent for a second, and Cid knew it was somehow communicating with the boat directly. First; Aeon-woman, now; machina from beyond time. What next, talking salmon?

“Caryl says there were three commandos together, two went away and left the other one, then the lone one just died sir, that’s the best we can get,” the drone said calmly.

“Where?” Cid asked.

The drone went silent for a moment, then; “the docks,”

Cid made his decision instantly. “Get me Trepe on that thing!” he said.

“Can’t. She doesn’t have a radio,” the drone said emotionlessly.




Alexia and Zion sheltered behind the crates as the two Yevon guards shot at them. She would hazard a guess that they had already called in support, which would mean that they would be overwhelmed soon. Ergo, they had to leave now. She looked at Zion. “Diversions?” she asked.

Zion sighed and held out his hand. Alexia passed him her gun and drew her twin knives. Zion waited for about two seconds, then…

“BASTARDS!” Zion screamed, and jumped up from being the crates emptying both guns at the Yevon guards. He caught one in the forehead, and the man fell down in a spray of blood. The other was slightly wiser, and threw himself behind the nearest metal object the second he had seen the SAS trooper rising. Alexia was off her mark so fast Zion barely saw her as she ran under his fire and towards the nearest ally. He waited until she was clear, the unloaded the last few bullets at the hiding guards and put his guns away, running to catch up. Well, one out of two isn’t bad. He was about to look up when he heard Alexia’s voice.

“Not that way not that way!” she screamed, and suddenly veered to the left, barely avoiding the gunfire from the armed monks that had just came out of the ally she had been intending to escape down. Zion skidded to a halt and ran after her, down the pathway leading parallel to the docks and, they realised seconds later, happened to be jammed shut with crates.


 He gritted his teeth and dived behind the nearest wall, hiding in lee of an overhanging building. He looked to his left and saw Alexia, who looked at him and raised one eyebrow. Long day. He waved dismissively. Yeah. And it was about o get worse. Boxed in, shut down and no place to go. They reached down to their belts and reloaded their weapons with what little ammo they had.

Alexia heard footsteps running down the ally and was about to shoot over the crate she was hiding behind (Gotta love those crates, she thought to herself) when she heard two gunshots, disgustingly loud in the enclosed space, and two thumps as two bodies dropped to the floor. She immediately thought the worst, and was about to motion to Zion to start firing when she heard a voice call out from the other end of the ally.

“Are you going to stay their forever?” Ivan’s voice called out.

Alexia’s knees nearly failed her, like the man had switched off the tap marked ‘Adrenaline’ in her system. She smiled and stood up, turning to see Ivan and Kirsten looting the bodies of the two guards for weaponry. He looked up and saw them, and also smiled. Alexia walked up to him and saw that the guards had been shot from close range, which meant that the other two SAS had been close when the firing had started.

“They…” Alexia began.

“Killed Yuskreven, I know,” Ivan said. He finished searching the bodies of the guards and stood up, handing Alexia and Zion some clips for their pistols. “But there isn’t a tyshat thing we can do about it right now. Now we run.”

Kirsten looked up at Alexia. “You OK?” she asked.

Alexia nodded, knowing that she was running on adrenaline, and even though she was paying with credit at the minute, soon her body would demand payment, with interest. “M’fine,” she said dazedly. Ivan looked at her strangely.

“Do you still have your radio?” she asked Alexia. She nodded. “Give it to me,” he said. Alexia did. He reached pressed down the T button and started to speak down the line.




“I assume there will be no boat now?” Ivan’s voice sounded through the cabin.

Caryl sighed in relief and breathed out. She had watched as two dots had run down an ally, then watched with hope as two more had come from behind them, then the four had came together. “Sir!” she had, grabbing for the radio. “Are you OK?” she asked before thinking.

“Two of my friends and colleagues are dead, so I’ll assume you said that before you thought about it Miss Caryl.” He said icily down the line.

“Patching you through to Cid now sir,” she said quickly, kicking herself.




“Sir, what the hell are you people doing up there?” Ivan’s voice sounded through the cockpit of the Ragnarok, still circling Bevelle above the clouds. It was above the range of any Yevon artillery, and could also instantly turn over and barrel through the atmosphere at top speed towards the surface if necessary.

Cid grabbed the radio from one of Skaffen’s field-tendrils. “Ivan?”

“I would ask nicely but I’m under a slight bit amount of pressure at the moment, so GET YOUR ASSES DOWN HERE AND GET US OUT NOW!” Ivan’s voice screamed through the small, enclosed space.

“Ivan, we can’t…” Cid began.

“The hell you can’t sir! Two of my men are dead and you’re circling this place like a buzzard! I’ll damn well… what? What is it?” Ivan said testily. His voice was then replaced with a much calmer, female one.

“Sir? This is Alexia. What Commander Ivan means to say is; can you get your big red shiny airship and pick the rest of us up?” she said smoothly.

“Alexia, I can’t…” He began. Then he felt something cold on his shoulder, and turned to see Rikku holding it, red and black eyes looking directly into his.

“Vydran…” she said softly.

“Don’t try that on me!” Cid reproached the girl.

“We sent them down there, so we’re wrong if we don’t get them out,” she said reasonably.

“The girl has a point,” Skaffen-Amtiskaw chipped in.

“Quiet you overbearing cannonball!” Cid said, then turned back to Rikku.

“Glad you listened to my opinions…” the drone muttered.

Cid stared into his daughter face. Even though he knew she was barely human anymore, she would always hold this power over him to make him do this kind of thing. That it would be a dramatic rescue against huge odds and probably among lots of guns and explosions appealed to him as well. He turned to the drone. “Tell them to go to the top of the temple. We’re coming to get their sorry asses!” he shouted at him.

“Quite…” the drone muttered.

“And that Trepe is on her way!” he added as an afterthought.

Cid turned to Rikku. “Tell Quistis where they are.” He said. Rikku nodded and closed her eyes. A chill swept over Cid, and he swore he could hear silent whispers in the back of his head as Rikku communicated telepathically with Trepe through that weird network they had set up.




Alexia turned to Cid. “They’re on their way down. We have to get to the temple. Also Quistis is down here and heading our way,” she said. The last news seemed to cheer him up slightly for some reason, and then he became angry again.

“Then lets hope the Magical Mystery Woman gets here soon!” he shouted. He switched on his direct radio link to the rest to the other two members in Bevelle, abandoning all pretence of subterfuge or subtlety. “Shattered Window. The Temple.” he shouted simply.

Shattered Window. [Location]: get to [location] and shoot anyone who gets in your way! thought Alexia, remembering the training sessions. Good old Ivan, a code for every eventuality. Even one for ‘Everything is fine, Yevonites have started dancing naked in the streets.’ Although she couldn’t remember what the code for that one was… must do so…

Ivan, Alexia, Kirsten, and Zion ran through the streets, weapons drawn and loaded. People either screamed or ran as they dashed through the streets of Bevelle. Then, disaster struck.

“Who put this wall here?” Ivan asked as the huge structure barred their escape.

“Wasn’t me,” Zion said, looking innocent.

“Great! Now this happens…” Ivan started, and then stopped as a bullet passed over his head, carving a path through his hair. The team dived through the nearest doorway and swung their weapons through the room, taking in the cowering citizens and the door leading through to the other side of the wall. “There!” Ivan shouted, and ran through. When they got out they saw that the house they had just entered had two doors, one on either side of the wall.

“So why the hell put the wall there?” Kirsten asked.

“Maybe to stop criminals like us from running away very easily?” Zion asked as he took a very large piece of scrap metal and wedged it against the door. Ivan sighed in exasperation and took of down the streets. They had gotten about ten block when…

“Sir!” two voices shouted at the same time. Kirsten looked around to see the other two remaining SAS troopers run towards them through a rapidly parting crowd.

“Guys!” Ivan said. He turned to Alexia. “Tell Caryl we got the other three soldiers and are heading for the temple, still no sign of Trepe,” he said.

Alexia sheathed her weapon and drew the radio, Zion watching guard over her.




“Miss? Ivan reports the last two SAS men found. One man’s sensor had fallen off, that was why we couldn’t track him,” the junior tech told her.

She sighed in relief and sank down on her chair. Now all they had to do was get the hell out of Bevelle. She went outside and told Cid through the long-wave radio, and was told that Quistis had told Rikku she was heading for the temple as well, now that all squad members were accounted for.




Ivan poked his hand and one eye around the corner and fired, catching the monk in the leg. The man howled and went down to be replaced by another. Tysh, how many were there? He looked across at the others and saw them thinking the same thing. He put his fingers in his mouth and whistled. All six looked around from their hidey-holes and saw him reach down to his belt and mine throwing a grenade. They all nodded and brought out a real grenade. Ivan counted to three, and then shouted “NOW!”  On cue, all six grenades flew through the air.

Kirsten ducked and put her hands over her ears. After three seconds she heard the explosions, and Ivan’s shouted command “Run!” She jumped up and ran, eyes darting this way and that, trying to avoid looking at the torn and shredded bodies while at the same time scanning for enemies still armed. She ran past the destruction and shot through the door into the temple. She saw the others waiting and stopped, looking at Ivan who nodded. Rest break, five minutes. She saw him look over at Alexia, who nodded.

“Ragnarok, five minutes,” she said.

Ivan looked around at his troops. Two dead. Cred. And this was supposed to have been simple, but some bastard had told them they were here, how else could they have known what to look for? When he got back, he was going to put everyone who knew of the SAS’s presence in Bevelle in a big room and interrogate them. One. By. One. He looked up from his thought to see the others readying their weapons, and nodded. “Alright, lets go.”




“Sir, Caryl reports Ivan reports they’re at the temple and waiting.” Skaffen said.

“Five minutes!” Cid shouted, as the Ragnarok screamed through the air towards the temple. Cid remembered the first time he had done this, in the old airship, as they flew to rescue Yuna from the insane Seymour. Things hadn’t exactly gone smoothly that time either. At least now they had a competent pilot, even if he didn’t have any arms.




Zion ran up the stairs towards the temple roof, hearing the others in right behind him.

Why they gotta build these damn buildings to damn tall!? He thought to himself. On his part, I van was thinking the same thing. Alexia was still trying to remember that damn codeword. The others were just running for their lives. Zion looked up and saw a thin beam of light, and his lungs rejoiced.

No more stairs! He thought gleefully, and shoulder-barged the door open, to fly straight out into the sights of Tyler and several dozen armed guards.





“Ivan! Tell me what’s going on there!” Caryl shouted down the radio line.

“Can’t talk.” Ivan replied shortly, and clicked off.

Caryl looked at the techs. “Can we reach Alexia?” she asked.

“Nope. They switched them all the way off, so they’re either broke or had the batteries taken off,” the tech replied.

Caryl frowned, that was not good. She went outside to tell Cid to hurry the hell up.




“It’s been a while Mr Ivan,” Tyler said, a smile on his face as the guards disarmed the troopers.

“I assume it is, since I don’t recognise who the hell you are,” the enraged commander replied.

“Well, the last time we met I was dead on the floor, so I suppose I can’t expect you to,” Tyler said.

Ivan stared at him harder. He did look kind of familiar… Then his brain clicked. “You!” he shouted in surprise.

“Yes, me,” Tyler said, and snapped his finger, instantly the guards threw everything taken from the Al Bhed commandos over the side. Then they all moved back in front of Tyler and just stood there, as if waiting for something. “Unfortunately I can’t talk right now, so my guards will entertain you,” he said, and snapped his fingers. On cue, all three dozen guards raised their guns and pointed them at the seven SAS troopers. Alexia looked straight down the barrel of several guns, and thought; what the hell, and closed her eyes as something went boom and the air exploded.



Chapter 23: They Approach



Alexia opened her eyes again after the noise subsided and the world was still around. She took a deep breath, counted to three, and then opened them as fast as humanely possible. She gasped.

Around her, the guards seemed to be frozen in poses ranging from surprise to indifference. One hadn’t even had time to look away from the Al Bhed commandos before being turned to elaborate ice-sculptures, and standing in the middle of them was…


Alexia looked around to see who had spoken, and saw Kirsten looking around, dazed and confused. She couldn’t really blame her. First they had been facing their impending demise, now they were standing amongst something that would not have looked out of place in a winter festival. She scanned the area, and saw a thick sheet of ice also covered the entrance to the top of the temple. She let out a deep breath, and suddenly her strength left her. She sat down heavily on the floor, weapon clutched loosely in her hands. She looked up at the sky and laughed. Then she looked harder, and saw what appeared to be a dot.

“Ragnarok,” Quistis said. She walked up to Ivan and smiled at him. “That magical enough for you?” she said.

Ivan looked around and shrugged. “S’fair enough,” he said in a non-committal voice. He seemed to be the only one who was not suffering battle-fatigue, but he knew it would kick in soon enough, and with a vengeance. “Where did you come from?” he asked, now they had time to spare.

“Rikku told me where you were going, I flew up the side of the temple,” she said, gesturing over her shoulder to her wings, now furling themselves on her back.

“I want some of those,” Kirsten mumbled to herself from behind Alexia.

A roar sounded suddenly from behind them, and the Ragnarok hove into view from behind the temple, rampway extended, Cid and Rikku hanging onto either side. Alexia smiled and waved. Cid shouted something that went unheard and looked back into the ship, shouting at someone else. Immediately the huge red airship swung closer, nearly taking off some of the stonework of the temple.




“It’s OK. They’re safe.” The radio sounded.

Caryl started breathing again and sat back in her chair, the headphone falling from her ears as she relaxed. The two other technicians on the boat grinned and high-five’d each other. For her it was enough that they were OK. Slowly she got up and walked out into the air, looking out over the side and just looking towards Bevelle. Suddenly she gagged and threw up over the side. She felt one of the technicians pat her on the back. She hated boats.

“You did good,” the senior tech said.

“Thanks!” Caryl gasped between retches. She really, really hated boats. She looked up at the sky and said a silent prayer for the souls of the two lost troopers. No way would Cid allow recovery of their bodies, not from Bevelle. It occurred to her in that second that maybe it was better to watch and guide than to be there and fight. She sunk to her knees and smiled out at the sky. She was about to go back inside when…


Caryl looked up, and saw that the sky had suddenly become overcast. She automatically searched the sky, and saw a bolt of lightning flash down from the heavens. She frowned. It had been clear just a second ago. To back her up, she heard the junior tech shout an awed obscenity from the boat’s inside.

“Whoa! Pressure just dropped like a stone!” she exclaimed, and swung her wheeled-chair around to another deck of equipment, turning dials and tapping screens.

The senior tech came up behind her. “Must be an equipment malfunction,” he said dismissively.

“It’s not!” Caryl shouted through the wind that had suddenly sprung up. “Just look outside!”

The senior tech did, and his eyes opened wide when he saw a massive cloud begin to gather in Bevelle, centred on the temple.




Ivan frowned. What the… he turned to Quistis and raised an eyebrow.

“Not me,” she said simply. “I can’t control weather, only ice.”

Ivan turned to the Ragnarok, which was hovering on the periphery of the temple as the remaining seven Al Bhed troopers boarded. He saw Kirsten take a running leap and land hard on the deck of the ship, letting her legs absorb the impact. He shivered, and felt his hair blow in the wind. What wind!? This wasn’t here a minute ago! He reached down for his radio and put it to his mouth. “Caryl! What the hell is going on?” he shouted.




On her part, it was taking all of her concentration to stop throwing up what remained of her stomach contents as the ship swayed violently in what was now unmistakeably a storm.

“There’s no cold front, no indicators of currents, the pressure just dropped!” the senior tech was saying, completely ignoring the way the ship was moving. It would be nice to have a distraction like that.

Caryl took some deep breaths and moved over to the junior tech, who was still monitoring the radio bands. “It what?” she asked without vomiting all over her.

The tech looked at her. “What he means is, one bloody great storm just appeared from nowhere.”

Caryl grimaced and slid don onto the floor, trying not to think how far it was to land. About thirty fathoms, hereabouts.




Quistis watched the last SAS member board the Ragnarok as Zion made the leap onto the ship’s rampway. She brought her wings to up shield her face from the rain that poured all over her. Soaking wet, they were about as useful for flying as wet flannels. “All on!?” she shouted to Cid. The man gave a thumbs up and gestured frantically for her to get on, windmilling with his hands and shouting something to her, Quistis shrugged and tapped her ear. Cid looked clueless, but Rikku sighed (she could see that even through the gale) and plucked his radio from his belt and threw it to her. It flew through the air and Quistis ran to catch it, barely grabbing it before it hit the surface. She held it up to her head and heard Cid’s message.

“Are you coming or aren’t you!?” the man screamed through the radio.

Quistis nodded and gave the man a thumbs up. She took one step forward, intending to take a running jump from the floor, but when she moved she suddenly felt something pull backwards on her, and turned to see her wings, which were still soaking up water, were now almost exactly like the flannels they were as much use as. She pushed down the ‘T’ button and spoke into the mouthpiece. “I can’t jump that!” she shouted down the radio. It was getting hard to hear herself think, and she almost slipped on the floor when she took one step forward. “Closer!” she screamed to the man, using her other arm to gesture the aircraft nearer.

Great, why does anything that is supposed to be easy always go wrong? Cid thought from the deck. Even though he was sheltered from the storm by the Ragnarok’s bulk, but he could see Quistis standing on the temple deck, soaked in water. He turned to Rikku. “Go tell that damned machina thing to get us closer!” he shouted.

“I heard that,” the drone said though the ship‘s speaker.

Then do it!” Cid screamed.




Caryl lurched to the left, barely avoiding crushing some delicate something-or-others, when the senior tech turned to her.

“This is useless! I’m going!” he shouted through the noise and the rain, and turned to the ship’s controls, preparing to move out of the area. Caryl did not try to stop him. Their mission was complete now, and even if she had tried to go after the man and stop him, she doubted she would have gotten five metres before collapsing in a soggy mess.

The junior tech turned to her. “At least things can’t get any wor…”

“DON’T SAY IT!” Caryl screamed at the woman.

The poor girl looked slightly shell-shocked at her outburst, then realised what she had been about to say and turned back to her monitor with a sigh. She immediately turned back with confusion on her face. “Erm, Caryl!?” she shouted.

Caryl just looked at her, being the proverbial drowned rat of the crew.

“You might want to see this!” the tech said, gesturing at the radio scanner.




Quistis was looking at the Ragnarok as the huge ship pivoted in the downpour and wind, trying to get to a more accessible area. Who ever the pilot was he was good, but there was just no way they were going to get close enough so she could jump. She waved at Cid in desperation, throwing her arms around in an attempt to communicate the sentence; Leave! By hand gestures alone. She looked closer at the ramp, and saw Rikku, and mentally kicked herself for her stupidity. Rikku! She shouted telepathically to the young girl/Guardian.

Yeah? Rikku replied, grateful for a friendly voice.


But…! the girl argued.

I said go! You’ll never pick me up here!

We’re not leaving you! Rikku said, waving he arms to emphasise the point.

Quistis pointed at the figure beside her. Tell Cid! NOW!

Rikku sighed, then turned towards Cid and said something to the man. Quistis watched as his head snapped around to stare at her, then shake slowly. She slapped her forehead, feeling the water fall in deluges around her. Pretty soon even walking would be a chore. She should never had grown these…

Stick to what you have… Shiva spoke up.

“No! Not you! Not now!” Quistis shouted to herself, not bothering to think it.

A right mess you’ve gotten us into here! Stuck on a platform in the rain surrounded by rain and freedom hovering oh-so-close! But. You. Can’t.

“I don’t have to listen to you!” she shouted.

You have no choice. You got us in this mess, and you can’t get us out!

Rikku watched as Quistis shouted something to herself, and frowned. Was she talking to her? Or was she… No. That isn’t it, she realised.

Quistis argue with herself. “You think of something then!” she said. Suddenly the Ragnarok gave a sharp lurch to the left, and Quistis ducked as the massive engine swung her way, passing over the frozen statues of the guards.

Nice going, now you’ll have to deal with them again, Shiva said.

Quistis wanted to scream, but instead contended herself with refreezing the guards. At least, she wanted to.

Instead of the ice around them reforming and turning them back into Yevonite-Popsicles, nothing happened. Quistis frowned and closed her eyes, willing it to happen. She opened them again to the sight of various men and woman shivering, as they were released from their icy prisons. She sighed and approached the nearest one.

What now? Shiva asked mockingly in her head.

This, Quistis replied, and punched the first man right in the face, breaking his nose. Without pausing she picked by the man’s weapon by the barrel and threw it at the next-most-conscious one. It struck him square on the forehead and he stumbled backwards. For a moment his arms pinwheeled in the air. Quistis staring at him in puzzlement, then he toppled backwards and fell off the ledge.

You’re learning, Shiva commented gleefully.

“Shut up!” Quistis said as she tried to make her blade materialise. When it didn’t appear she just spun around and delivered a roundhouse kick into the centre of the woman’s chest. Her eyes went wide as her heart was crushed by her ribcage and she just dropped to her knees. Quistis heard a scream behind her and turned to see a man charge at her with his rifle in an attempt to bayonet her. She stood her ground until the last minute, then he the man drew it back slightly she merely let her feet drift apart, sliding to the ground in a graceful splits-manoeuvre as the man’s blade sliced over her head. She grabbed it and twisted it out of his grip, bringing her feet back together and rising back up, stabbing the man through the abdomen as she did so. She looked around, fists clenched for more attackers, then saw that there were none, and she had killed them all.




Caryl held desperate onto the walls of the cabin. She had her mouth firmly closed, and was not looking around too much. It was not welcome then, when the senior tech tapped her on the shoulder and motioned him to come to the radio frequency scanner. She looked at it, and saw…

“What’s that?” she managed to ask.

“We have no idea,” the tech said. He was pointing at one area of the screen that was just one solid line of green. The laws of physics and the build of the scanner meant that it could only listen to one frequency at a time, but when she looked at it she saw one thick line of green encasing one segment of the display. “It appeared about a minute ago. I checked or software errors, but this isn’t one. It’s real, and it’s getting bigger.”

“Let me listen,” Caryl said.

The junior technician unplugged the headphones from the radio link with the Al Bhed commandos and inserted the jack into the one for the scanner. She placed the headphones on her head and instantly her face went pale. She ripped them off and grabbed hold of the tabletop with both hands. The senior tech reached for his partners shoulder, but she brushed it off and continued to take deep breaths. The rocking and heaving of the ship was ignored now. Caryl looked at the two techs, then at the headphones that had been thrown onto the floor. She quickly retrieved them before they got soaked and put them onto her ear. She went pale, but did not remove them, listening in horror and fascination.

From somewhere in the radio frequency range came the sound of a thousand people being tortured.




It took Quistis about five minutes to realise what she had done, then she suddenly remembered, and gasped as she looked around at the bodies. She heard Shiva cackling in her head and turned to face the Ragnarok.

Rikku stared down at the scene through the rain and wind, her blonde and black-streaked hair billowing around her, not really comprehending what she had seen. She had just seen over seven Yevon guards decimated by one lone unarmed woman. She almost missed Skaffen’s call.

“Miss Rikku! Cid! Hello?” the drone called through the ships’ speaker, now spluttering in the rain.

“I’m here,” she replied softly.

“It’s just that I think we should be leaving soon, what with the lightning and rain and everything!” the drone said, not sounding worried at all, just loud.

“Wait,” Rikku said simply, then turned back to watch as… Her eyes went wide. “Quistis!” she screamed, forgetting to use telepathy.

Quistis frowned as Rikku shouted something to her. If she wanted to why didn’t she just use…? The last five minutes had an air of unreality to it. The storm and the lightning and bodies turning the whole thing into some abstract nightmare. She didn’t really think when she felt a tap on the shoulder, and wasn’t thinking when she turned around.

Tyler smiled, and then punched her in the face.




Caryl ripped the earphones off her head after about ten seconds of the sound. She held her hands out to either side of her and tried to calm herself down. The ramm with it…

“What was that!?” she shouted at the technician.

He pointed at the scanner. “Whatever it is, it’s getting bigger,” he said, and pointed at the screen. The green line that represented the symphony from hell was getting thicker, and encroaching onto other frequency bands. In about ten minutes, everyone still watching the sphere channels would get a shock.

“M’goin out,” she said, forgetting the fact that the boat was tilting at almost twenty degrees now. She opened the door and managed to get it shut again, ignoring the rain and the wind. She frowned. For all the wind and stormy weather, the ship was tilting a lot less than it should. Oh well, at least one thing is going all right… she thought. She laughed at the irreverence and ran her fingers through her air. She frowned again when she felt resistance. It wasn’t that long since she had had it done. She brought her hand down and stared at it. She kept staring at it for a few seconds, and then licked her hand. She cringed slightly at the sweet taste, then felt her scalp. Nope, no injuries. Then she looked up at the sky, and let the dark red liquid in her hand splash onto the deck of the boat, as blood rained down from the sky.




Quistis reeled back as Tyler’s punch hit home, throwing her back against the railing. She grimaced as the metal railing hit her spine, then instinctively spun aside, barely dodging his follow up. She slipped on the floor and slid for a few seconds until she put her hand out to stop her. She shakily got to her feet, wings now feeling like she was carting around two buckets of water. Damn porous wings! She looked back at the man who had hit her, and instantly recognised him for who he had.

“But I killed you,” she said softly.

It didn’t seem to stop him from hearing though. “They raised me up,” he said, approaching her slowly, a grin on his face. “I was reborn as their minion on Spira, to prepare the way for their assent.”

Quistis looked at his face, and saw that unlike when they had met in Zanarkand, him shaking as he nervously pointed a gun at her forehead, he now believed everything he said. “You’re crazy,” she said.

SO!?” he suddenly screamed, then his face returned to normal, as I he was completely normal. He was anything but.

Quistis looked at him, and realised that he was bleeding. Then she saw that instead of running down from a wound, the blood was appearing on his forehead. She looked up, and instead of rain saw blood pouring from the skies. She looked at her hands, and saw that she was drenched in it.

Tyler stopped his approach, and turned to look t the Ragnarok. Rikku looked out at him and raised her hand. Instantly Tyler’s arm flicked in a sideways motion, and Rikku felt something hot fly past her face. She turned to see a neat hole burned in the bulkhead behind her, and turned back to see Tyler shaking his finger at her.

Bad girl. No.

She looked across at Cid. “We have to help her!” she screamed through the noise. Cid just looked at the two figures on the rooftop, and then ran away into the ship. Rikku stared after him for a few seconds, and then turned back to the grim panorama before her.

Quistis threw a straight punch at Tyler, not bothering to put any technique behind it at all. Unsurprisingly, he dodged it with no real effort, and placed his elbow into her stomach.

“Been asleep too long Trepe?” he asked her with a smile.

Quistis just snarled at him in reply, and then tried to summon her sword from the physic ether it occupied in her soul. It still would not appear, and something else. She raised her arm and tried to shoot some icicles in Tyler’s general direction. She could do it without thinking, like she could breathe or walk, but none came.

Tyler smiled and made no attempt to wipe away the blood that covered them both. “Your powers will not help you here!” he said, punching her in the chest on the final world. Quistis raised her hand and feebly tried to block his blow, and managed to deflect it to her shoulder. She winced as something gave in her skeleton, and used the wet surface to slide back away from Tyler.

Tyler on his part did not seem intent on pursuing his quarry. Instead he merely stared out to sea and smiled slightly. He turned only his head to look at Quistis, and she saw small red dots in his eyes as he stared at her, an insane grin on his face. “He comes now.”




“Caryl!” the junior tech screamed as the SAS woman ran back into the cabin from outside. She stared at her hands and tried to wipe them off on her clothes, only to score red streaks down their sides.

The senior tech looked at her and his eyes opened wide. “What happened? Were you hit by something?” he asked.

Caryl shook her head. “It’s raining,” she said simply. She felt a hand on her shoulder and she snapped back to reality. She turned to face the junior technician. “What?”

“I have the source of the noise!” she said. Instantly Caryl was sitting down next to her, staring at the scanner-cum-radar. “It appeared a few seconds ago. It’s big and it’s making that… noise…” the tech said.

“And?” Caryl asked. The tech pointed, and stared at the screen. A line came the large object indicating its speed.

“It’s heading for the temple, and it’s going to come straight through us.”




Quistis bit her lower lip, then screamed and dashed at Tyler. Tyler looked away from whatever it was looking at and saw her fist fly towards his face. He simply raised his arm and caught it. Quistis blinked, she was so surprised. Tyler then took hold of her upper arm and in one smooth motion twisted. Quistis’ arm snapped like a twig. She stood there, not really comprehending that this human was doing this to her, and then she snapped.

About time… Shiva thought, as she took over Quistis actions.

She suddenly spun in his grip. Her arm pivoted, and Shiva vaguely felt the bones poke through the skin. Tyler lost his grip, everything being reduced to slippery-ness in the unholy rain. Tyler jus stared at her, and then took one step forward. Shiva ducked and spun her leg around to try and upend him. Instead all that happened was that Tyler hopped back then hopped back forward and jabbed her in the ribs. Shiva gasped as the breath left her and she stumbled back. It was amazing how the man could maintain such perfect balance. He might as well have been standing on sandpaper instead of blood and marble. She screamed and ran at him. He gracefully swung aside and caught her as he did, tripping her and sending her sprawling. She fell against the railings and hung there.

Tyler looked at her, an expression of intense superiority on his face. “Pathetic.”

Shiva slowly got to her feet and stared at the man. In the Garden at Zanarkand, he had been a pushover. Now he was comprehensively beating her into the ground. He was getting extra power from somewhere.

Tyler regarded his fallen prey with glee. He had done it. He had defeated the great Quistis Trepe, SeeD, without losing his breath. He looked out to sea, where one lone fishing trawler swayed and tumbled in the waves. He looked past the boat, and at the spectre of his master’s approach.




Caryl just looked at the shape on the screen as it continued its approach towards Bevelle. A small part of her consciousness, possibly the part left with survival instincts, was telling her to order them to leave, but she knew there was no way they would leave this place without the permission of whatever was creating this whirling maelstrom of blood and screams. She could hear them now, and she didn’t need the earphones on.

In a daze, she walked out of the small cabin, and turned to look at the direction the noise was coming from. She frowned, then looked up, trying to see past the wall, then realised what she was seeing just as the massive white squall engulfed the boat.

For a second Caryl could see into the wave front, and all she saw was the red glow of two massive eyes before she lost consciousness.




Tyler looked at the wave from which his master hid his presence from the world. Unlike Sin, which existed in water and used it as it’s home, his master merely used it as a transportation vessel. Tyler tore his gave from the terrible mass of liquid and turned back to face Quistis/Shiva. Her gaze shot back to him and she smiled. Tyler frowned slightly, and he turned, just as Rikku glided down from the open bay of the Ragnarok and sliced his windpipe open.

Rikku’s claws hit the hard surface of the roof and she slid past the figure of Tyler and towards Shiva. She settled to a halt and the blue Guardian stared at her, and then gave one small nod of thanks. She looked past Rikku and her eyes went wide. Rikku instantly knew what was coming and threw herself to the left, barely dodging the steel rod Tyler had wrenched from the railing. She pivoted on her hand and stopped facing him.  In front of her stood Tyler, one hand clutching his windpipe. Suddenly a red glow enveloped his throat, and when it was gone his jugular was whole again. She saw him smiling at her and she gestured towards him cockily with one claw.

He vanished.

Rikku stared at the space where he had been, and then lowered her claws. Where in the…?

Tyler appeared right in front of her, as if a frame had been suddenly inserted in a movie, instantly. Rikku squeaked and jumped back, but not fast enough as Tyler grabbed the front of her soaking t-shirt and held her up to his face.

“Not yet little girl,” he said, and at that moment Rikku could have sworn that she could hear other voices within his. Then Tyler gave one heave, and Rikku’s view spun. She felt as if she stayed in that weird spinning state forever, until something hit her on the head, and her viewpoint stopped spinning and began blurring. She looked down and saw a cold metal floor. Tyler had threw her right back into the Ragnarok, which was turning away from the battle, away from Quistis. “What…?” she tried to ask.

“Shhh,” a soothing voice said, and Rikku realised that Cid was holding her head. She wanted to ask him why they were leaving, but Cid seemed anticipate the question.

“We’re not leaving her,” he said softly.

Rikku wanted to thank him, but the throbbing in her head became more intense, and she collapsed into unconsciousness.




Quistis opened her eyes again, Shiva having been driven from her mind. She looked up at Tyler, who was slowly walking towards her. She saw him raise the metal rod in front of him. She expected him to bury it in her, but instead he paused, smiled slightly, and then lowered it. He bent down next to her and grabbed her by the neck, her cloak and other clothes being bloody tatters by now. He held him up to his face and saw the glint of true madness in his eyes. He drew her closer then spoke, his teeth gritted, whispering to her as if there were eavesdroppers nearby.

“What do you think you have accomplished, hmm? You have done nothing. This time they will come, and we will triumph.

Quistis distantly heard the sound of screams in the distance. Tyler must have heard them as well, because he suddenly grinned and started to walk, dragging her to the edge of the roof. It was amazing the combination of wind and blood did not topple him, but instead he grabbed her hair and forced her head upwards. He held it their and with his other hand pushed her skin back, so she had no choice but to look at the thing that had come from the ocean, bringing the rain and noise and blood and wind.

She couldn’t see it clearly, but the more she stared the more she made out individual features.

In everyone there exists one overriding force, one thing that can get around your excuses and your shouts of ‘you don’t scare me!’ One thing that can merely glance at you and freeze your soul to the core. Everyone fears something, and those who fear nothing are always either too stupid to see what it is in front of them or too far gone to realise that ancient fears never die, they just become so repressed that they can’t be seen on the surface. When repressed fears surface, the harder you held it down, the faster it springs up to greet you.

In the three seconds Quistis looked at the massive creature, she saw all the fears of the world, all the little things that do not appear to frighten anyone but deep down terrify one certain, special person. For three seconds she looked into eyes made from pure nightmares, and she despaired.

Then, mercifully, Tyler pulled her away from the vast monster, and for one second she wanted to thank him for not making her look anymore. Then he brought his pipe up so that it hovered just under her chest, at the exact point that Seifer had opened her up, all those years ago. He smiled, and this time it was not in madness, but in triumph.

“Do you see? You can defeat the servant, but not the master. The door has been opened, and this time your pitiful efforts will not close it.”

There is a long-standing convention in certain movies that dictate every fight scene: The hero or heroine will face off with the villain or its underling. He or she will start off promising, and then begin to gradually lose. By halfway through the fight the protagonist will be on the ground, guts virtually hanging out, drawing their last breath. In this moment, the evildoer will stand over him or her and gloat. They will tell the hero all manner of things, from how weak they are, to how brilliant they are themselves. In any case, the hero will suddenly get up and fight back. The bad guy will reel back with a look of horror on his face, and then the hero proceed to be beaten to a bloody pulp by the hero without showing any signs of fatigue whatsoever.

This does not hold in the real world.

Quistis’ eyes opened wide as Tyler jammed the pipe into the old wound and slowly, ever so slowly, pulled it down, gutting her like a fish. She coughed and felt blood on the inside of her mouth. She felt a deep laugh as the creature watching behind her drew closer. Tyler gave one last hard shove and then threw her aside, spinning her through the air as blue blood sprayed out of her like some kind of grotesque Catherine-wheel firework. She hit the ground hard and slid to the very edge of the roof, only staying put because one of the vertical supports for the railing stopped her. She gasped in air, vision fading fast. She watched as Tyler looked at her from a distance, and then threw his head back and screamed his victory cry to the sky.

She felt the thing behind her reach for him and black tendrils encircle Tyler, entering his nose and mouth and any other orifice it could find. Tyler smiled, and Quistis saw, as he turned black. His skin slowly faded of colour, and then all colour seemed to be sucked from it, leaving him like some kind of midnight demon, with matt-black skin and glowing red eyes. She saw him fall to his knees, and arch his back as two thin lines ripped through his back, and his skin fall apart to reveal curved black wings. He fell to his knees and Quistis heard his quiet voice talking to his master, “Thank you oh thank you master thank you…” over and over again. He stood, and Quistis looked at him as he approached her. He smiled and extended his hand. Small orange and red lights formed on his arm, and then they coalesced and were transformed into a sword that seemed to drip flame, almost an exact opposite of her own pure, clean ice blade.

He approached her, fiery sword in hand, and she could do nothing but watch as he walked towards her, intent on finishing off his victim.

Then she heard something else. Tyler frowned and looked at the huge spectre of the monster, who was…

Backing off…?

She saw Tyler stare as the massive creature slowly faded from view. She saw Tyler shrug. She saw Tyler cock his ear, and she knew he had just picked up the noise he was hearing. She saw him look around.

She saw his eyes widen in horror when he looked to the left of her.

She saw him extend his new wings, and make a mad dash for the edge of the roof.

The noise got louder, and she realised what the noise was, and what was happening. Cid must have pivoted the Ragnarok around and down.

She saw Tyler reach the edge.

Saw him swing both legs over the railing.

Then saw, heard, and felt as the Ragnarok’s main engines kicked in, reducing the roof of the temple of slag.

The world went white, but she didn’t dare shut her eyes against the glare lest they never open again. Her ears bled from the roar, and all she could do was stare and wonder whether Tyler had been obliterated in the blast.

She didn’t think so.

She looked up at the sky, and saw that the Ragnarok was directly over her. Her head spun, and the next thing she felt was strong hands pick her up and carry her onto the ships’ small lift. She felt the vibrations as the lift rose, taking her back onto the ship she knew so well.

As she left the shattered and bloody rooftop of Bevelle Temple she held her hand out sideways, so she could see it, and she smiled slightly.

It had stopped raining.



Chapter 24: Trouble Brewing



Cid paced the hall of the building in Luca, wondering whether it had all been his fault.

You sent them there.

We needed information about these mythical monsters.

Well you got it, they aren’t, and it only cost you two good people. Nice going!

He had heard the report from an exhausted Alexia right before she had collapsed practically in his arms. Mykl and Yuskreven were dead, Caryl was missing in action, Rikku had serious head injuries, and no-one knew what Quistis was like. He walked out of the door and paced down the corridors. The entire building was silent. It was as if no-one wanted to talk about it.

On his part, Cid didn’t want to either. Before he had picked up Quistis he had had to turn the Ragnarok around in the air, and for one second he had seen something out of the door, and he didn’t know or want to know what it had been. All he had gotten was a glimpse of some black monstrous thing, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and despair, and that had given him the shivers for days afterwards.

He came to the door that lead to a hastily assembled situation-room and didn’t even bother stopping to let the door cycle open fully. Yuna looked up and waved to him, Lulu and Wakka just nodded. The drone Skaffen-Amtiskaw bobbed up and down in the air slightly as what Cid had taken to mean a greeting. Khimari had gone back to Gagazet, his services required on the mountain. He had said he thought Yuna ‘in good’ hands, and was the only Guardian from the ‘old crew’ who had other things to worry about.

Cid looked around. “Where’s Rikku?” he asked.

“She is with Quistis,” the drone said offhand.

Cid nodded and walked to the centre of the room. The small group of Al Bhed, librarians and other… dignitaries, were sat around a central table, which had numerous displays, screens and a small sphere-oscilloscope, like the one the airship had, resting on it. Cid did not bother with pleasantries this time and began to talk.

“Two people are dead, one more is missing, our main source of information is comatose and she might not wake up,” he began without preamble.

“Tell me what you know,” he finished.

The man from the Tower of Knowledge turned to look at the screens and brought up a small window on one of the screens. “This is a picture of the inside of Macalania temple where Shiv… sorry, Trepe… was incarcerated. Notice the pictures on the walls? They match what she told us about her past, and appear to be a smaller and more human mutation of the thing you saw in Bevelle.”

“Is that it?” Cid asked testily.

The librarian looked annoyed. “You only gave us the two days since you got back from Bevelle, give us more time and we will have more information,” he said. After all, you’re paying me by the hour.

“Just as long as you get some,” Cid replied. We don’t pay you all that to sit around. He turned to the Al Bhed man. “Talgarth?” he asked.

The Al Bhed man looked unconcerned. “All we found was some old children’s stories about a woman who defeated a demon race,” he said.

Cid sighed, then turned to the third person, a representative from those Guado who had not allied with the NYC.

The woman did not stand up, but just looked at them all in turn. “What did you expect from me? The Farplane is not a spying service,” she declared haughtily, and sat down again, having said everything she wanted to.

“Then what good are you?” the Al Bhed delegate snapped.

The Guado just looked down her nose at the man, and did not reply, although her thoughts were clear enough. Cid quickly looked at the last man.

The informant.

The Yevon priest just looked at them all nervously and tugged his collar. He knew he was probably the least popular person here, but he knew they needed him. Besides, he needed the money he was being paid to spy on his theocracy. “Erm, what do you want to know?” he asked the room in general.

“Everything,” Cid said coldly. Then, more specifically; “That man, who was he?”

He coughed. “Who, Tyler? Well, he’s an idealist and pretty dreamy from what I heard. He wants to restore Yevon to like it was before the Eternal Calm, only without the Sin-killing-everyone part. He’s intelligent, and he doesn’t like to kill…”

“Wait, are we talking about the same guy here?” a new voice said. Heads turned to watch Ivan and Kirsten walk into the room. “The guy on the roof seemed quite happy to blow us all up.”

The Yevon informer looked Ivan up and down, and his gaze locked on the weapon on the man’s belt. The loaded one. “Well, I was getting to that,” he said nervously. “According to my sources in Bevelle, a few months ago he was taken out of normal Bevelle/Monk routine and was given some secret mission. No-one knows what, but he was supposed to be answerable only to Maester Amon. Then he, erm disappeared…” he finished lamely.

Ivan stared at the man. “Dates,” he said.

“I was getting to that also,” the man said, starting to repeat himself. “He reappeared about two months later. A girl I know who knew him says he came back different…”

“A new haircut?” the Al Bhed whispered to the librarian under his breath. They both smiled.

The man continued on oblivious. “He used to be quite easy-going and nervous, but after he came back he was more ruthless. He got promoted on order of that Guado Maester…”

“Maester Tobin,” the Guado at the table said smugly.

“Yeah, him. Anyway, after that, he keeps disappearing from time to time. No-one, and I mean no-one, knows where to. He doesn’t answer at anyone but the council, and he has poor over everyone at the capital. The power-behind-the-throne-guy maybe. He scares them all. Including me,” he said honestly. “The last time he was seen in public was when that guy got his throat opened.”

“His name was Mykl,” Ivan said, voice like acid.

“Yeah. Anyway, that’s it.” Can you pay me and let me go now? his gaze told the others.

Cid stared at him long and hard, and then nodded. The informer almost sighed in relief, then stood up and left the table, almost running from the chamber. No-one bothered to watch him leave.

Cid turned back to the Al Bhed and started to speak, but was interrupted by the Guado.

“If you no longer need me, I will be going,” she said, and rose expectantly.

“Not right now we don’t,” Cid said.

The Guado nodded and left, seeing the threat behind the words. Only Cid’s good faith kept him from revealing the existence of her little rebellion to the other NCY-aligned Guado.

Cid looked around the table. Talgarth cleared his throat and spoke up. “So, what we have here is, a race of demon-creatures that may or may not (but probably do) exist, a woman who apparently fought, them who may not last the night, and a man who appears to be able to make Yevon jump when he says so. Am I right?” Cid nodded. He rose. “Then we will go back to our homes and investigate.” He rose to leave, the other Al Bhed in his delegation also leaving. Cid watched him leave without saying a word. Just before he reached the door, Skaffen drifted in front of it. Talgarth turned back to Cid. “What the ramm is that?” he asked, jerking his thumb at the machine.

“He’s called Skaffen-Amtiskaw. Don’t piss him off,” he said tiredly. He didn’t have time to explain.

Talgarth just looked at it. “What does it do?” he asked, and then jumped back in surprise when ‘it’ spoke.

“Are any of you going back to Zanarkand?” Skaffen asked.

They just stared at it, then one man at the back, who couldn’t see who was stalking, spoke up. “Yeah, why?”

“I wish to accompany you,” the drone said.

Talgarth looked at it for a second, then turned to look at Cid again.

Cid shrugged. “Don’t look at me, it does what it likes.”

Talgarth looked at the drone critically, then nodded. “I will conduct you to Zanarkand, but after that you’re on your own,” he said.

Skaffen nodded. “Excellent. They began to walk out, and Cid overhead the drone saying to Talgarth “I think there is something there to interest you…”

Ivan watched all this from the back of the room, Kirsten behind. “Do you trust any of them?” she asked rhetorically.

“Only if I’m paying them more than the other guy is. Apart from that, only Talgarth. I knew him before the Eternal Calm. Good bloke,” he replied. A buzzing sounded from his pocket and she withdrew his phone. He extended the aerial and just listened.

Cid turned back to the group of librarians. “Can you find out any more about the creatures?” he asked them.

The head librarian nodded. “Give us time,” he said. Then they also walked out. Cid sighed. He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see Ivan holding the phone in one hand.

“Yes?” Cid asked.

“Something’s up.”




Rikku sat on the bed next to Quistis, close to dropping off to sleep any second.

The doctors were clueless. They only knew how to treat humans, and Quistis was so far from it that all they could do was observe. Even simple things like bandages or IV leads were useless. As soon as they were applied/inserted they simply froze, and then they shattered with her slightest movement. They had no way of monitoring her condition, no way of telling whether she was in pain. All she could do was watch.

And it was driving her insane.

She heard the door slide open and turned to see Yuna walk in to the room. She waved feebly.

“How is she?” Yuna asked quietly.

“I have no idea!” Rikku said angrily. She had only had a mild concussion from being thrown (thrown!) into the Ragnarok, and the bandages had been removed the next day. Quistis had not been so lucky. She had a seriously broken arm and a huge wound down her front that exactly mirrored her old scar.

Both courtesy of Tyler. She was going to find that man.

Yuna seemed to read her thoughts and sat down beside her, ducking under Rikku’s wings. She put her arm around the younger girl. “You two got pretty close in the last four years,” she said, a statement, not a question.

Rikku nodded. “Yeah,” she said quietly. “She always had the answers, even when I was…changing…” she shuddered slightly. It hadn’t happened overnight, but it had been fast enough that it had terrified her. “I hated her at first, for doing this to me, for turning me into this,” she said, indicting her on body. “But then she kept helping me, even when I screamed at her for it. She…” She stopped, unable to go on.

Yuna put her head against the young girl. “I know what you mean,” she said, remembering Tidus and his encouragement, and boundless optimism, and his constant belief that there is a better way. She still missed him at nights, but life goes on. He had taught her that.

Rikku’s body suddenly spasmed, and a single sob escaped from her lips. It was always the same. Auron, Quistis, her brother. Everyone she knew that had ever died, she had been unable to help. And now it was happening again. The two women just sat there for a few moments, in silent tribute to lost comrades, and for the health of those comrades not gone yet.

Suddenly Wakka and Kirsten ran in, breathless. Yuna and Rikku turned to look at them. Kirsten waved at them, and then leant against the wall to try and get her breath back. “Guys! Sphere… watch… Sky News…” she managed to gasp out, before running to the nearest seat and sitting down on it. Wakka soon followed suit, not saying anything.

As one, both Rikku and Yuna left Quistis bedside and walked through the door into the small waiting room. Rikku looked around and saw the sphere monitor. Without even thinking she gestured to it and it flicked itself on. Gravity is wonderful when you know how to manipulate it. Yuna glanced at her, but Rikku didn’t see as she flipped through the channels until she found Sky news.

“How did you…?” Yuna asked, but was shushed by Kirsten as the sphere-reporter appeared on screen and started to talk.

“…Transmission from Bevelle and disturbing pictures from the temple showing…”

Rikku tuned out the rest however, when the view flashed and went dark. Someone, probably the reporter, ordered them to turn the contrast up, and suddenly Rikku, Yuna and Kirsten had a clear view of the Ragnarok hovering above the temple of Bevelle, firing it’s engines and reducing the top several storied to rubble. The voice of the reporter was super-imposed on top.

“…What appears to be an Al Bhed airship mercilessly destroying one of the oldest known structures in Spira…”

Rikku looked shocked. “How in the ramm did they get those images?” she asked. Then she realised that they had made one hell of a mess that day. “Never mind…”

Yuna and Wakka just stared. “Then why did it take so long for them to release this?” Wakka asked incredulously. Kirsten shushed him quiet as the reporter carried on.

“…Sources say that the Al Bhed were trying to eliminate several defectors, who had turned to Yevon and knew information that could have allowed Yevon to develop machina….” Suddenly the screen flashed back to the reporter, who was holding her earpiece. “Wait, we have word that new footage as just been turned over to us. You should be...” The view suddenly switched back to the Ragnarok turning the temple to slag. “If you look closely, you can see... oh my…” the reporter said softly. Clearly visible n the imagery was about a dozen people being caught n the lethal fiery exhaust of the ship’s massive engines. One of them, a woman, was using her body as a shield to protect her baby, both of which were incinerated anyway.

That’s why,” Cid said, walking into the infirmary. “That’s why they didn’t release it at once. They needed time to insert the obligatory civilians-massacred-by-cruel-Al-Bhed, probably with Bruducrub or something...”

The sphere reporter carried on. “This kind of action has long been rumoured to have been carried out by Al Bhed against their enemies for some time, yet there has never been any proof…”

“Because we never HAVE!” Kirsten shouted at the screen.

“But now with this movie sphere evidence there is positive proof that the Al Bhed for not what they have claimed to be, and are certainly not the oppressed people they also claimed to be under Yevon. If anything, it seems the exact opposite…” She continued on for several minutes, and it then it was obvious.

“Coughbribedcough,” Rikku said.

Ivan nodded. “Expect that…”

“The Temple of Yevon have just told one of our protected reporters in Bevelle that they shall release a statement later. This is…”

“And there you go…” Ivan finished, not missing a beat.

Rikku flicked her hand angrily, and the TV screen nearly jumped into the air as a too-strong gravity field pulled the switch to ‘off’.

In that second it occurred to all of them that in all the footage just shown there had been no sign of rains of blood, storms, or huge black demons with red eyes.

“But why?” Yuna whispered.

“Bastards!” Cid shouted, for a second back to his old damn-the-consequences personality. “They want to blame us for this! Well let them! We’ll show them we…”

“…Can’t do anything,” Lulu replied from behind Kirsten.

“I refuse to ask how you got from the door to behind me without being spotted,” the SAS commando said calmly, her heart racing.

“Whadd’ya mean can’t?” Cid nearly shouted.

“If you say anything about the incident it gives the claims legitimacy,” she said calmly.

Cid looked at her like she hadn’t been paying attention. “And people will think pictures of our airship burning up little babies isn’t legitimacy?” he asked incredulously. The argument might have continued for some time, if at that moment Quistis hadn’t screamed from the room over.

Rikku was there instantly. Cid watched as she suddenly vanished, and as Yuna swung the door open into the next room he saw Rikku already there, staring at the blue-skinned woman. Her eyes were wide open and staring at the ceiling. Rikku grabbed her hand, not having pain sensors in her claws, and gripped it firmly. Suddenly Quistis gripped back, and her other arm swung up to grab Rikku’s shoulder. Rikku winced as cold shot through her skin, but did not let go. The others only watched as something out of their field of understanding played out in front of them.



Chapter 25: Surfacing Past



Quistis awoke, and found herself bathed in white.

She jumped up instantly, eyes scanning around for anything. She squinted against the glare, and the light suddenly dimmed, allowing her to see where she was. She half expected to find herself in the Garden Infirmary again, after the strange force she had encountered last time…

She swung her legs around and off the thing she was sat on, and found she was sitting on a block of what appeared to be white marble. She rubbed her eyes and tried to focus on what was in front of her. She stood up and immediately reached her hand out for support. To her surprise her hand found a solid-feeling wall, and she leant against it while her head recovered from whatever had hit it.

She frowned, and thought about what she had just missed. Then it hit her, and it was so obvious that it had taken her a few seconds to realise it. She was human. She held her hand up to the light (there was an ample supply) again and stared at it. Then she looked down and stared at the rest of her body. She was human. Right down to her old peach-coloured uniform and Save The Queen strapped to her waist.

“Welcome back,”

Quistis’ head snapped around. Not a good idea. Her vision swam, and for a few seconds she could have swore she blacked out. When she came to, or at least what passed for coming to in this place, she looked around for where the voice had come from. Again she found nothing, and this time she did not bother with the usual pleasantries.

“What do you want from me?” she whispered to the walls of the room.

In answer, a whirr sounded, and a door set in the wall of the room slid open. Quistis turned to face it, and could see vague shapes beyond. She took one hesitant step forward, then stopped. “No,” she said to the air. “Not until I get some answers.” Pragmatic to the last, she wasn’t going anywhere until she knew something more about the strange visions/dreams/out-of-body-experiences she was having.

“As you wish.”

Quistis spun around, and this time there was a figure stood behind her. It was herself. She blinked slightly, and stared slightly closer, thinking she was looking in a mirror. But it couldn’t be, this Quistis was… different. She was human for a start.

She looked much the same as Quistis had always looked, before all this had happened to her. Her hair was the old golden-blonde colour it had been before her transformation, and the eyes and skin were all human, and hers. The only difference was the clothes. The Quistis-reflection was wearing an ocean-blue robe that covered her completely, hiding everything except her face and it matched her eyes perfectly. Quistis had to admit to herself, she looked great.

The Quistis reflection smiled at her and Quistis walked closer. Slowly she reached out her finger and touched the apparition, expecting to bump into the cold surface of a mirror any second. Instead her hand brushed real skin, warm to the touch, unlike her own corporeal cold shell. “Who are you?” she asked, the cursed herself for it.

The blue-robed Quistis merely smiled. “I’m you.”

At that moment Quistis lost what little patience she had left with everything that had been going on. “You’re me?” she asked, pointing at her. The other Quistis nodded. “then who the hell am I?” she asked angrily.

“You are fragmented,” the other Quistis said softly.

Quistis walked towards the spirit-Quistis. “Lady, I have saved the universe, been thrown through time and space, killed twice, and now my last memory is having my chest ripped apart. Again. Understand that I am in no mood for this. Now: Who. Are. You?”

The second Quistis vanished, and Quistis was left staring at empty air. She took a deep breath and counted to ten, then exhaled, and resisted the urge to scream at the universe in general and the woman in particular.

She heard a whirr, and she turned to see that another door had opened in the featureless room that she was standing in. She saw what looked like grass on the other side.

“OK, I’ll bite,” she said, and walked through it.

A rushing sensation suddenly surrounded her, and her feet touched down on a grassy slope. She looked up. It was raining. Great. The area she was standing in was basically one hill surrounded by other hills, in the dark, in the rain. She sighed in exasperation and made her way over the terrain. As she walked she heard sounds of battle, getting louder. She picked up the pace and went over the next hill to see…

A battle raged below. A small fort stood in the centre of the plain, a force of what appeared to be Esthar soldiers assaulting the battlements. A small group of Galbadian soldiers defended the ramparts with their weapons, but Quistis could see at a glance that there were far too many for any amount of walls to matter. Quistis just stood at the top of the hill and stared at the scenario below her. Suddenly someone exploded, and the Esthar soldiers cheered. The ones at the front of the line suddenly ran into the gatehouse, and she could see that the fort had fallen. She heard screams carried across the wind, and she knew that Esthar were slaughtering the inhabitants.

“What am I seeing?” she whispered to the night.


Quistis was not surprised at the voice, and turned to see the blue-clothed apparition of herself standing a way away from her, staring at the fort, a look of sadness on her face.

“Of who?” she asked, no longer angry with the woman for her riddles.

The spirit looked across at her. “Us.” And then she vanished.

Quistis head suddenly spun, and the vision of the massacre vanished, to be replaced by…

The orphanage?

Quistis stared at the place she had been raised in wonderment. It looked newer and was completely intact, but it was definitely the old orphanage. As if to confirm this, she heard voices, and looked across to see a woman in black talking with two others, a man and a woman, the woman holding a bundle of clothes in her arms. She looked across to see the apparition appear beside her. The double merely pointed at the three figures huddling together in the rain, and started walking over. Quistis followed suit, and caught began to catch more and more of conversation as she came closer.

“You should not have come here,” the woman in black said. Quistis nearly reached out to touch her, but was stopped by a glance from the spirit.


“Mistress Edea,” the woman said desperately. She had black hair, and the bluest eyes she had ever seen, including her own.

“We only wish for shelter and board, nothing more,” the man said. He also had electric blue eyes, but his hair was blonde, much the same as Quistis’ own.

Edea looked sceptical, but Quistis saw she was hesitating. “If they find out…” she began.

“Please,” the woman said. “If not for us then at least out daughter. She has done nothing, yet they hunt us all down,” she said, a touch of anger in her voice.

Edea looked down at the baby wrapped in clothes that the woman was carrying, and she sighed. Then she looked back up at the pair. “The baby, but not you,” she said. Quistis gasped. Edea wouldn’t turn away desperate people, would she? Edea’s head turned to face towards the door, and a small girl walked out, coat already getting soaking wet.

“Selphie, get back inside!” Edea said.

Instead of going back the small girl just stared at the two figure, neither of which had coats, but neither of which were wet in any way. “Who’re they?” she asked sleepily Quistis almost laughed at the image of a five-year-old Selphie. Even at that age she was curious.

“They’re just some people,” Edea said. “Not go back inside in the warm.” The mini-Selphie nodded and walked back in, leaving the door open.

The man turned back to Edea. “You would not leave one of your own children to die, do not leave ours,” he said simply.

This seemed to make Edea’s mind up. “There is a small ship down below at the beach, it will take you where you need to go when the seas are calmer, I will take care of your child till you return,” she said, almost resignedly.

The man sighed. “Thank you lady, and if you ever…” then his head exploded.

A fountain of blood sprayed across the two women as the man’s face simply evaporated. Edea just stared in shock as blood spattered across his face. The man’s partner screamed and nearly dropped the bundle of cloth containing the baby. Then another voice sounded and everyone present, real and, imaginary or projected, spun to look around at the trees.

A solitary Esthar trooper squatted in the bush, his weapon smoking as the remains of the man toppled to the floor. The insect mask that they all wore obscured his face, but Quistis swore that for a second she could see beyond it to the look of satisfaction.

The woman with the baby turned towards Quistis and did not so much as take one step away. “Look after her,” she asked pleadingly. Then she gasped and fell forward as a beam of light punctured her heart. She fell forward into Edea’s arms, and it was all she could do to take the child from the dying woman’s arms as she fell to the floor and lay there gasping her last. Quistis stared at the soldier as more came into view, and she saw this was no lone trooper, but a whole squad, and they all had been hunting the pair. The apparition Quistis looked at her sadly but did not say a word as a new figure emerged from the treeline.

Adel stepped out slowly from the cover of trees, walking towards Edea and the baby she held. Edea shook slightly as the huge woman approached. Adel came alongside the woman, still bleeding out into the grass. She extended one hand and a small fireball encompassed the woman, leaving a blackened corpse where she had been laying.

Adel walked right up to Edea and held out her hand. “Give me the child,” she said. Her tone made it clear this was an order, not a request.

Even though the sorceress-ruler towered over the orphanage-owner, Edea stood her ground. “No,” she said, the faintest hint of fear in her voice.

Adel’s eyes glowed crimson and this time a fireball sprung from it as she asked again. Still Edea refused.

“I will not hand over an innocent to be slaughtered!” she said loudly. Quistis could only watch as the soldiers around them aimed their weapons, and small dots of red light appeared on Edea’s forehead.

Adel smiled. “You would sacrifice yourself to save the last remnant of a dead race?” she asked mockingly. Edea just stared at her and said nothing. “Your resolve is admirable, but would you sacrifice the lives of your charges also?” she asked. Edea went pale as soldier moved around from Adel and approached the door to the orphanage.

NO!” she shouted.

Adel smiled. “All you have to do is give me the girl,” she said gently. Then her eyes hardened and she snarled. “Give us the damned brat,” she said angrily.

Quistis looked around at the blue spirit. “What are you showing me?” she whispered. The other woman just gestured for her to keep watching, and Quistis did.

Suddenly, in a supreme moment of fate, destiny, or Deus Ex Machina, gunfire ripped through the trees again. Quistis half-expected them to have started firing on the children, but then the Galbadian soldiers she had seen from the castle burst from the greenery, weapons firing wildly at the Esthar soldier. Dazed and confused by this suddenly assault, they retreated. Adel stood her ground, death and fire shooting from her arms.

Get the child!” she screamed. One Estharian soldier moved to comply, but was chopped in half by rapid gunfire before taking a step. The Estharians retreated, leaving several dead, one dead woman and one dead man, and Edea, holding their child. The Galbadian soldiers did not pause to make sure that Edea was OK, but ran off after Adel and her escort. However, one soldier stayed behind and went up to her.

“Are you OK?” he asked, and Quistis couldn’t help but think the voice was familiar. Edea nodded, hands still clutched around the baby in her arms. The young soldier glanced back at the soldiers, and then back to Edea. “What about that?” he asked her, pointing at the child.

Edea looked at it and sighed. Even through all the screams and gunfire, it was still fast asleep. “I will care for it, like I promised,” she said. The soldier nodded, and ran off after his squad. Edea looked up one last time and shouted to him; “Who are you?”

The soldier glanced back once before running off into the trees.

“The name’s Loire!” he shouted, and disappeared into the rainy night.

Quistis just stood there, beginning to comprehend what she had been shown. She looked at the apparition, who was staring at Edea as she carried the baby into the orphanage. “Was that…?” she asked.

The spirit nodded. “That was Laguna, those were your parents, and that was you,” she said.

Quistis said nothing, but just stared at the bodies of the two adults. The scenery started to swim, and both Quistis, real and… other… found themselves back in the white room.

“Why did you show me that?” she asked.

The blue Quistis sat down on the pedestal from which Quistis had awoken earlier and looked at her. “The Blue Mages were wiped out as a species during Adel’s reign in Esthar. She systematically hunted them down and killed them, seeing them as a threat to her power, as Blue Mages were created by Hyne himself to be a limit on their power, acting as either executioners or advisors as circumstance demanded, telling them what they could and could not do within the rules of the universe. Adel, obviously, resented this, and exterminated them. Your parents were the last she hunted down, and they were killed, as you saw, on the doorstep of Matron’s orphanage, as their last act handing you, the final Blue Mage, into their care. Laguna was young then, before he ever met Julia Heartilly, and he has, had, no idea who he was saving. All he knew was that Adel had went to Centra, and the Galbadian military saw a chance to end the war. Even after the Ultimecia Incident, Edea never told him what had happened, and he was never intelligent enough to ask.”

Quistis put her back against the wall, and slowly slid down to the floor. “How do you know all this?” she asked.

“We always did. We were denied all knowledge of our origins by everyone, and therefore were never allowed to explore them.”

Quistis looked by at her. What was this woman who had broke into her mind, disguised as her, and had shown her all this. Was she the Ghost of Atrocities Past? To be followed by the Ghost of Atrocities Present, and the Ghost of Atrocities Yet To Be?

“Who are you?” she asked.

“I am you.” The blue-robed Quistis said simply. “I am as a part of you as that monstrosity Shiva is, and as she is the Guardian aspect of your mind, all that you deny and detest, I am your origins, and everything you wanted to be.”

Quistis covered her face with her hands. “What do you want from me?” she asked again.

“I want us whole again! I want us the way we were. Your mind is dangerously fragmented Quistis, and Shiva and I are the result. We are you, yet we are at this moment kept apart from you, and forced to develop personalities of our own. You can’t continue like this. Shiva is angry, and she is only getting stronger, and is cracking the mirror even more. If you wish to retain your own life you will have to resolve yourself with her.”

“She isn’t me!” Quistis shouted.

The Blue Quistis jumped down from her pedestal. “She is! If you deny it you risk being trapped in your own head, and Shiva as the dominant personality!”

I don’t think like that!” Quistis screamed at her.

“Everyone does on some level Quistis.” The aspect of her said softly. “If you can’t accept that, then you doom yourself. I can’t interact with the world like Shiva can, I can only watch. You have to accept her as part of yourself and move on. Remember what Wakka said? There is a cure, but you have to find it for yourself.” With that, the spirit began to fade, leaving Quistis alone in her mind. “You have plenty of time before you heal. I suggest you find it looking for an answer,” she said, and disappeared, leaving Quistis in the confines of her own subconscious, to heal herself.