The Chronicles of Hollow Bastion
Those Were The Days
Some time ago...
The Edgar Academy
The gunblade clattered against the huge sword. The gunblade belonged to a dark-haired teenager, and the sword was wielded by a spiky-haired teenager. Both wore the black cloth uniforms of the school, and they were in the battle room, a room filled with weapons of all shapes and sizes from a wooden hammer to an overlarge cooking fork. The teacher was a gaunt man with long white hair.
"Easy, Squall," counselled Sephiroth, "And Cloud, you have a massive sword to stab people, not to wave it menacingly."
The spiky-haired warrior sighed.
"But sir, I don't want to kill Squall," protested Cloud.
Sephiroth sighed theatrically, and picked his own blade up as if the huge steel was a matchstick.
"Squall, sit down with the others."
Without warning, Sephiroth leapt at Cloud. Cloud dodged, and Sephiroth let loose a powerful kick which floored Cloud.
"If this was a battle, you'd be dead," said Sephiroth, turning to the class, "Why?"
A brown hand in a blue jacket went up.
"Vivi?" asked Sephiroth.
"You had the advantage, sir."
"Exactly!" cried Sephiroth, "Get up, boy!"
Cloud got up.
"When I attacked you, what were you planning to do?" Sephiroth asked him.
"Fight back," said Cloud.
"Idiot boy!" snapped Sephiroth, "You cannot beat me, I'm am a more experienced warrior than you. Remember, class-"
The roar of a dragon interrupted Sephiroth. The teacher sighed.
"Homework due in next lesson," he yelled above the chaos as the class gathered their weapons and ran to the next class.
The magic teacher, Master Kuja had an imposing figure, with long white hair. His room was cluttered, filled with magical curios and half-finished coffee mugs, which made up nine/tenths of the stench in his class. It was rumoured that the rest of the stench was the decaying body of a student who had missed one essay too many.
"You are three minutes late, class," said Kuja icily.
"Master Sephiroth was giving a practical lesson today, sir," explained a fourteen-year-old with shoulder length blonde hair.
Kuja looked at him, and the boy screamed suddenly and jumped up onto his desk as he tried to beat out the fire on his tail.
"When I want an answer, I'll ask for one," snapped Kuja, "Now, Zidane, have you got that tail out yet?"
"Yes, sir," said Zidane, shakily.
"Then get up in front of the class at once," snapped Kuja.
Zidane walked in front of the class, and waved cheerily at the class.
"Right, Tribal, I want you to show the class how to use magic to steal objects."
Zidane just stood there.
"Come on, Tribal," said Kuja, menacingly, "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
Zidane was shaking quietly with mirth, as were his two best friends, Cloud and Squall.
"ZIDANE TRIBAL!" roared the mage.
Zidane stood there.
"I'm going to jinx you onto the second moon!" cried Kuja, reaching in his pocket.
Zidane doubled over, as Kuja searched in his pocket for the wand Zidane was holding in his hand.
","You wouldn't like me when I'm angry!"," laughed Zidane, "I don't like him when he isn't angry!"
They were in the school field at the end of the day.
"And his face!" cried Squall, "He spent the whole class looking for his wand."
"Have you still got it, Zidane?" asked Vivi.
"Yeah," said Zidane, fishing in his pocket for Kuja's wand.
"You are so immature, Zidane," said a dark-haired girl in a pitch-perfect impression of Kuja which made them all jump.
"I wish you wouldn't do that, Dagger," said Cloud, "It frightens me."
"Do you really believe we can use this to discover the truth about Vivi's origins?" queried Squall.
"Kuja's wand won't be locked down," said Zidane, "Every sprit from the lowest imp to the most powerful demon is ours to command."
It was in Squall and Cloud's room. Zidane hung from the lampshade by his tail, Dagger sat on an old couch, Squall and Cloud sat on their beds, and Vivi perched on the wardrobe. The room was clearly divided, Squall's leather jackets and ammunition, Cloud's sword oil, which gave the room its fishy aroma, Cloud's Gold Saucer photos, and Squall's grubby television.
"Power of one, power of five. Bring us magicks from the edge of time!" chanted the five friends.
A shadow appeared in the centre of the room. It was a hulking, tentacled, monster.
"WHY HAVE I BEEN SUMMONED?" asked a voice.
"Are you...a spirit?" asked Vivi, nervously.
"VIVI ORINITER. A MAGE WITH NO PAST. YOU HAVE NOT AGED SINCE YOU ARRIVED HERE SIX YEARS AGO. YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS DECIDED TO USE KUJA'S WAND TO SUMMON A SPIRIT WHO WOULD TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE."
"I've studied the spirit books comprehensively," said Dagger, "And that isn't a spirit."
"GARNET TIL ALEXANDROS. PRINCESS OF HOLLOW SPEARHEAD. YOU CALL YOURSELF DAGGER. SCENTED WITH EIDOLON GUIDES. INCREDIBLY PIQUANT."
The creature leapt at Dagger, pushing Cloud and Squall aside. Dagger screamed as the beast's jaws closed on her throat, Vivi cowered as Zidane yelled in fury and took up Squall's gunblade and fired at the throat of the creature.
"HOW DARE YOU PREVENT MY FEEDING, MONKEY-TAIL!"
"Listen you overgrown oglop, you can eat from the hall like the rest of us," snapped Zidane, "Run!"
The five heroes ran, the black shadow flying towards them.
"YOU CANNOT RUN, YOU CANNOT HIDE. I AM RUIN, LORD OF DESTRUCTION!"
"Can we fight it!?" yelled Cloud.
"All our weapons are in the stockroom!" yelled Vivi, "Dagger, can you create a shell to protect us?!"
"I'll try!" cried Dagger, "Guardian Spirits, protect me. Eidolon guides, keep us safe. Guardian shell!"
A golden light rose up, and Ruin smashed against it.
"Run!" cried Vivi, "I'll hold them off!"
"We're not leaving you!" cried Zidane.
"Vivi is right!" snapped Squall, "We've got to get help!"
The barrier shattered, and Ruin smashed through it, and roared.
"Flames of the ages, blazes of eternity! Firaga!"
A flame ball smashed into Ruin's face.
"Run!" yelled Zidane.
"But this way leads into the library!" cried Dagger.
"It'll have loads of teachers!" cried Zidane.
The School Library was wood panelled, and lit by floating candles.
"I'd like to reserve a copy of Love Among the Orphans on permanent use, about a nurse and a doctor who fall in love," said Sephiroth, "It's for my mother."
"What's her name, kupo?" asked the moogle in charge of the library
Suddenly, the wall ripped open, as Ruin's teeth ripped through the library.
"Oh no, kupo!" cried the moogle.
"The bastard has chewed up Romantic Fiction!" cried Sephiroth.
The five heroes ran through the doorway.
"Master Sephiroth!" cried Zidane.
"I should have known," sighed Sephiroth, "I'll deal with this."
Sephiroth leapt towards Ruin, smashing the powerful monster to the floor, and slicing an arm off the monster.
"Shouldn't we help?" asked Dagger, as Sephiroth kicked Ruin into the Teen Horror section.
"Who?" asked Squall.
There was a crash, as the bloated body of Ruin smashed into the Applied Magic and Science section, crushing the Astrology Section as it fell. Sephiroth swung his sword, and stabbed Ruin, once, twice, three times. Ruin staggered, and tumbled through the windows of the library.
"The costs to the library are horrendous," barked Edea, the headmistress, "Our entire Romantic Fiction is gone. The whole of your magical education will have to halted for a term. And you stole a tutor's wand. Your form tutor is very upset."
Edea's room was filled with pictures and books. It was untidy and grimy.
"Well he would be," Zidane muttered, "Master Sephiroth is the only one who reads the Romantic Fiction."
"Why don't you tell me why I shouldn't just expel you all?" snapped Edea.
"I can answer that," said Sephiroth.
"Oh!" cried Edea, "I didn't hear you enter the room."
"No one ever does," said Sephiroth, "Until it is too late."
"You said you had an answer," said Edea.
"Yes," murmured Sephiroth, "I asked them to do it. I wanted to humiliate Master Kuja."
"Well!" cried Edea, "You will be disciplined. You may all leave."
Squall, Cloud, Vivi, and Dagger left. Zidane turned to join them, and felt a powerful glove grip him by the tail and pull him back.
"Master Sephiroth," gasped Zidane.
"Mr Tribal," said Sephiroth, "Do you know why I lied for you?"
"No, sir," said Zidane.
"Because I see that the five of you have potential," said Sephiroth, "I do hope that you won't disappoint me."
Zidane looked up at the strange man they had as a teacher and mentor, saw the fire in his eyes, the mystery and power of the man who had helped them.
"I won't sir."
The Dating Game
They were in a metallic corridor, part of the Seifer Wing, a futuristic and glistening part of the city. It smelt fresh, sterilized. Glistening glass lifts could be seen in corners, and only a few of the windows had coffee rings on them.
"Right," whispered Zidane, "I go in, ask her, go out. Simple, right."
"I can't do it!" sighed Zidane, "What if she says no?"
"What if she says yes?" countered Squall, "Do it!"
Zidane held his head in his hands.
"Ifrit, give me bravery!" hissed Vivi.
"I'll do it!" cried Zidane, and he marched into the room.
"H-hhey, Dagger!" cried Zidane, "Uh, how are you?"
Dagger's room was mainly the white of the dorm, apart from her collection of interesting knifes. These did nothing for Zidane's courage.
"It backfired," said Vivi, "On the bright side, I'm feeling immensely happy.")
"Oh, Zidane," said Dagger, "I'm, uh, fine."
"I was wondering," said Zidane, "You know how Barrett is singing here on Friday?"
"Uh-huh," said Dagger, looking at her feet.
"Well..." stammered Zidane, "I was thinking, that maybe, y'know, you'd go with me?"
"I'd love to go with you!" cried Dagger, "I mean, I really like Barrett."
"Great!" exclaimed Zidane, "I'll just be going then."
"Do I look alright?" asked Zidane, when they were in Vivi's book strewn room.
"You look fine," Vivi reassured him.
"Anyone can look fine!" snapped Zidane, "I want to look nice."
"Do I need a mask?" asked Zidane, "Do I have a spot?"
"No!" cried Vivi, "You are physically perfect in every way. Now go!"
Vivi pushed Zidane out of the common room.
"I wish we could do something to help," said Vivi.
"You've got no romance in your soul," said Cloud.
"And you're suddenly Casanova?" snapped Squall.
"We could do a spell," said Vivi, "Ask the spirit world for help."
"That was caused by a lack of coherent focus," snapped Vivi, "You're allowed to summon lesser Guardian Forces."
A gateway was opening in the air. They were in Vivi's room, a neat room with a coffee-maker and a mini-library.
"Demons of the Spirit Gate!" chanted Vivi, "Demons of the hearth and grate!"
"What's he doing?" asked Squall.
"Don't break his concentration!" hissed Cloud.
"Demons of the Hollow Worlds, Demons feed on boys and girls," sang Vivi, his eyes glowing yellow (then again, they usually glowed yellow anyway.).
Suddenly , a spider landed on Vivi. Vivi turned to look at it, and the gate twisted, contorted, as a red arm reached through the gate.
The demons were ten feet tall, had huge horns, were skinny and gangly. They were bright red and had black speckles.
"This could be bad!" yelled Cloud, unsheathing his sword.
The demons rose, and leapt. And laughed.
They were in the concert hall, a room used mainly for torture. The school concerts and end of term singsongs. Barrett, however was a torture which made even a singsong with Master Garland, the music teacher, seem the equivalent of working with the Philharmonic Orchestra.
"I have big feet, I eat red meat, I look both ways when I cross the street!" crooned Barrett, singing his trademark song.
Finally, the seedy concert hall had met a man more shabby that itself.
"What do you think?" asked Zidane.
"It's...nice," said Dagger.
"I thought you liked them."
"He really is terrible, isn't he?" asked Dagger.
"Do you think you could hit him with a silence spell?" asked Zidane hopefully.
"Magic protection on the stage," Dagger said.
"Still," said Zidane, "I can't think of anyone else I'd rather hear it with."
"My mom was kind, she had a good mind, I never needed to be smacked on the behind!" yelled Barrett, "I like chicken, I always eat my fruit, I always clean the mud from my boot!"
"Throw the programme at him," giggled Dagger.
Zidane chucked it at the stage.
"WHO DID THAT!" yelled Master Kuja, who had been ill during the meeting when they decided who would have the honour of hearing Barrett singing.
Someone chucked a drink at Kuja. A hail of food and drink bombarded Kuja and Barrett.
"Let's get out of here," said Zidane, "Our work here is done!"
"This could be bad!" yelled Cloud, unsheathing his sword.
The demons rose. And leapt. And laughed. Cloud slashed out, and Squall fired a shot at a incoming demon. Squall dug his blade in the stomach of a demons.
"Vivi, close the portal!" yelled Squall.
"Demons of the darkest place! Seal yourselves inside the gate!"
"Ice of Armageddon!" screamed Vivi.
Vivi grabbed his staff and smashed a demon in the skull. Cloud gutted a demon, and Squall blew the head off another.
"There's too many of them!" wailed Vivi, shooting sparks at the demons.
"We have to fight!" cried Cloud, brandishing his blade.
The demons surrounded them.
"Flames of the spheres, inferno of eternity, protect me!" cried Vivi, and a globe of fire protected them from the demons.
Do not attempt to escape.
"I can hear voices in my head!" cried Squall.
"Me too," said Cloud, "Cowards!"
Come, brothers! Let us depart.
No, my brother. I sense a source of magical energy and pure souls.
The demons vanished.
"A source?" asked Cloud.
"The concert!" cried Vivi, "We have to stop them!"
The rose garden smelt fresh and fragrant in the night air, and it was filled with the chatter of teens and teachers fortunate enough to escape Barrett's singing.
"So..." said Dagger, "What do we do now?"
"Zidane!" laughed Dagger, "Honestly."
The two friends moved closer. Suddenly, there was a huge scream, as the demons flew over.
"Damn," muttered Zidane, "What type of demons are they?"
"I wonder why they're here?" asked Zidane.
"I was hoping you could tell me that," said a cool voice.
"Kuja!" Zidane yelled, turning to face the long-haired mage.
"Master Kuja," snapped Kuja, "It looks like someone was distracted while trying to summon Elatiox. Perhaps to help the two of you?"
"You're a teacher aren't you?" asked Zidane, coldly, "Do something."
Zidane and Dagger leapt forward.
Do not resist us.
"Resist this!" bellowed Zidane plunging a dagger into a demon. A bolt of lightning zapped a demon.
"Bahamut! Come!" chanted Dagger.
A huge dragon flew among the demons, as Zidane leapt among the demons, stabbing this way and that. Kuja hurled ice shards at the demons, as the demons fell back.
Kill them, brothers!
The demons leapt on the three fighters.
Stop this now! uttered a voice layered with power.
It was a demon. It had a black crown, and it carried a spear.
"The Queen," breathed Dagger.
I am the Queen of the Fiends.
"What do you want?" asked Zidane.
The Queen laughed, seductively.
Why, your souls of course.
"Why?" asked Dagger.
Oh, not yours, thought the Queen dismissively.
"Are you insulting my girl?" asked Zidane.
Foolish monkey. Eidolon souls are for others than us. Now, prepare to die. I haven't eaten in centuries.
"We'll resist you," countered Kuja.
No one can resist me. My time is the Inferno of the world.
It is understandable that you mock that what you fear.
The Queen rounded on the luckless demon who said those words, and the underling burst into flames.
"That was unnecessary!" yelled Dagger.
All those who stand in my way must die. Now, who should I consume first?
"Your majesty," said Zidane, bowing low, "Take my soul, and make me one of you."
"Zidane!" cried Dagger, "Feasting on her immortal soul is not a good way to end a first date!"
"Why should I have a pathetic creature like you?" asked Zidane.
When he can have me, laughed the queen.
"Please, oh great majesty," whimpered Zidane, "I am your loyal servant."
Kuja rolled his eyes, and Dagger stifled a giggle as they realised what was going on."
Yes, purred the Queen, Yes.
"Open the portal, my beautiful sovereign," whined Zidane.
The Queen laughed, and the portal opened.
"Close it now, Dagger!" cried Zidane.
"Demons of the hearth and grate, seal yourself inside the gate!" chanted Dagger.
NOOOO! thought-screamed the Queen.
"Thank god that's over," sighed Zidane, "Think how terrible it would have been if they'd been intelligent."
"I'll round up the students," said Kuja, stalking off.
Suddenly, three teenagers burst through the hedge.
"It's alright, we've got weapons-" yelled Vivi, "Oh."
"Sorry, guys," said Cloud, "We'll be going."
The three friends sheepishly walked back through the hedge.
"I'm sorry that our date ended like this," said Zidane, sheepishly.
"Oh, that's alright," said Dagger, looking at her feet, "I-I-I...I had fun."
Dagger leaned up, and kissed him on the cheek.
"Some other time."
The man carried a briefcase. He wore an elegant suit, and held a cigarette in his lips.
"So..." said the man, languorously, "You are assassins, correct?"
"Yes," said the leader, a man with long black hair and a red cape, "We are interested that certain events...do not happen."
"I know it sounds crazy," sighed the woman, a creature with a long spear and a rat tail, "We are known as the Three. We are, were, will be, whatever, the best assassins. This kind of thing happens to us all the time."
"And as we draw the circle, we can see into the future, the past, and the present!”
Kuja stood among the class, in the octogram room.
“And flick our cuffs melodramatically!” exalted Zidane.
“Zidane!” snarled Kuja, “You five, in front of the class!”
Zidane leaned over to whisper to Dagger.
“What are the two of you talking about?” demanded Kuja.
“Nothing,” they chorused.
“And is “nothing” something you would repeat to my own dear mother?” asked Kuja, in a tone as cold as the body of the student underneath Kuja's flower garden.
“No," said Squall, dryly.
“Vivi, sit at the head of the sigil!” ordered Kuja, “You remaining four, at the points of the sigil!”
Kuja stood as they obeyed.
“Now, begin the summoning chant!” cried Kuja, “Let's see what you've learnt while flicking straws and chewing gum!”
“The Web of Time, split and reveal your secrets!” chanted Vivi, “Let the future come here!”
“Future actions become past decisions,” sang Dagger, “Things to come, become things are done!”
“Clock turn forward, clock turn back,” intoned Zidane, “Time be turned, moment be spun, let the time's yoke be done!”
“Flames of future, become ashes of past,” sang Squall, “Ice of the future, water of the past!”
“Time be mine, time be rhymed!” began Cloud, “Oh my god!”
A figure in a red cloak, carrying a huge sword had appeared in the circle. His left hand was a powerful steel claw. Inside his long red cloak, there was something black and leathery. His eyes were closed, and when he opened them, they were pools of blackness.
“It's Cloud!” cried Squall, “An older Cloud!”
“I'm here,” said the voice, “Let me show what will come...”
In the front, a lonely young boy called Ansem jumped forward to see...
A sea of darkness, an ocean of death. A cave of destruction these were the heartless. They destroyed everything that resisted, and that which they didn't destroy, they corrupted and distorted.
and they were created by us. Freed from their hell-world, their dark domain by a meddler. They took over, used it to bring their own world into our universe.
“Didn't anyone try to stop them?” asked Cloud.
“Didn't anyone resist?” asked Squall.
“Didn't anyone fight back?” asked Zidane.
Of course they did. We did. Cloud, Squall, Zidane, Dagger, Vivi, Aerith, Tifa, Rinoa. Sorry, you haven't met them yet, have you? We fought, we battled. We lost. And now, they are coming for you.
“If they won, why come?” asked Cloud.
“They don't need to kill us,” said Dagger.
“Why do they want to kill us?” asked Vivi.
The vision snapped apart.
“A child,” said the older Cloud, “Your child.”
He pointed at Zidane and Dagger.
“What does the child do?” asked Zidane and Dagger.
“She is the motivation for the defeat of the Heartless,” said the older Cloud.
Suddenly the older Cloud looked around in fear.
“I've been detected,” he said, “They're coming, remember! The Three! A man with black hair-they're coming! They're coming for me! They're coming for me!”
Cloud screamed in agony as the circle closed.
The five of them were in Kuja's office.
“I needn't tell you the significance of what you saw,” said Edea, “Master Sephiroth, you and Master Kuja will protect them at all times.”
“Literally,” said Vivi, dryly.
“I suggest they go to Deep Jungle,” said Sephiroth, “Its a desolate place, and its inhabitants are incredibly primitive. I can hide with the five of them, protect them."
"No!" cried Kuja, "The Darkness we saw must be researched and stopped."
"But we must protect them first!" exclaimed Sephiroth, "The Darkness we observed is not worth their lives!"
"I know that," said Kuja, "But presumably, these assassins are more than powerful enough to deal even with you, Sephiroth. I doubt our future foes would not have predicted and planned for your powers."
"You're right," sighed Sephiroth, "I do not have the power to defeat these "Three"."
"No," said a voice, "You don't."
A man with long red hair and a huge powerful claw picked up Sephiroth and threw him out of the window.
"Sephiroth!" cried Kuja, "You've killed him!"
"Oh, shut up you long-haired fool," snapped another voice, as a woman with a rat-tail and a powerful spear appeared.
"Now, now," said the leader as he appeared, "Let's just kill the kids."
"You'll have to pass me!" cried Kuja.
"And me," said Edea, "You five, out of the window!"
The five friends jumped, as the two scholars prepared to battle.
"I can't believe that red-haired man killed Sephiroth just like that," said Dagger.
"So you said, and said, and said!" snapped Squall, "We're trapped in these gardens. A trio of deadly foes are after us. At the moment, I'm more concerned for my own life!"
"Well, you would be," Dagger shot back, "Those of us not so self-obsessed that they can't realise how much they hurt people, that people are frightened and worried, you stupid, self-absorbed pain in the arse!"
"Oh, do be quiet," sighed Sephiroth, "It takes more than a fifty foot fall to kill me."
"You're not even scratched," breathed Vivi, "How?"
"Oh, I don't know," said Sephiroth, reflectively, "I may have broke a nail, and it was only manicured yesterday."
"Can you stop the Three?" asked Cloud, "Maybe the six of us could stop them."
"I could take down each one of them," sighed Sephiroth, "But the Three are a team. I am alone."
"We could help!" cried Vivi.
"Vivi, I seem to be under the misapprehension that you are intelligent," snapped Sephiroth, "I am more powerful than any other warrior in existence, but those Three are more powerful than anything else I have ever faced."
Suddenly, the side of the Academy exploded, as Edea and Kuja fell from the building.
"Damn!" cried Sephiroth, "I'd hoped to avoid this!"
Two black wings sprouted from Sephiroth's back, and he flew towards the two teachers. There was a mocking laugh.
“I knew the fool would leave you to save his friends,” whispered the leader.
“Who are you?” asked Zidane.
“I am Vincent Valentine,” said the leader, “You are dead.”
There was a brief moment of silence, as Valentine pulled the trigger, and shot Zidane in the chest. Zidane fell, hitting the ground with a hard thud. Squall yelled in rage and charged at Valentine, but the assassin just pushed him aside.
“What have you done!?” roared Dagger, “You monster!”
“You bastard,” said Cloud.
“It's done,” he said, “Freya, Amarant join me now!”
The two other assassins appeared behind him.
“You won't get away with this!” cried Vivi.
“We already have,” laughed Amarant.
“Let us leave,” hissed Valentine, “It is done. We must go, now!”
The three warriors vanished, and Dagger ran over to Zidane.
“It's too late,” whispered Sephiroth, “The Three have won. Zidane Tribal is dead. The future is gone...