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Diamond Dust Chunk 4

Chapter 27: Goodbyes

Everyone gathered at the door to see the party off. The Guardians were there, the SeeDs were there, the left-behind students were there.

It had been decided that the party to draw out the demons would be composed of Squall, Rinoa, Quistis (of course), and Sacred (Minotaur would stay to defend the Garden). The others were not going, although they had threatened everything, including slitting their own wrists, to go, but Quistis had taken them aside and explained, very frankly to them, what was going to happen to them if they failed, which ceased most complaints. Then she approached Selphie and Irvine and took them away into a corner and explained some facts to them;

'You're getting married next year, you're going to have a family, you're both going to die of very old age together, and not out here in a plan that might not even work.' Said Quistis.

'But you are!' Selphie had argued. 'We want to help!'

'You can. Stay here, keep the other's safe in case we fail.' Quistis replied matter-of-factly.

'But why can't you do that?' Selphie almost whined.

'That's different.' She replied.

'How?' Demanded Irvine.

'I'm tougher than you, besides, the others won't get that far, or we'll get there, then no-one will be there, and we'll come back embarrassed, or me and Rinoa will have to drag Squall away from the fighting, otherwise he'd probably do some sort of 'Brave Last Stand' thing.' Selphie giggled at that, knowing it was probably true. 'We'll be fine. And one more thing.' She said, leaning closer to Selphie, and whispering in her ear.

'You're pregnant.' Selphie's mouth dropped open.

'How did you...?' She spluttered.

Quistis smiled, and walked away towards the rest of the group, while Irvine looked at Selphie, wondering what had made her go so quiet.


Everyone was saying their goodbyes, they didn't mean to, disguising them as 'good-luck' wishes and speeches about what they were going to do when all the creatures were dead, but she could hear the message through all the bullshit; We'll miss you. She did not want that for her. She was about to get everyone's attention when she spotted a familiar shape lurking near the entrance. She walked over to it. 'Diablos...' She started.

'You promised.' He whispered. She went closer to him and wrapped her arms around him.

'I'll come back. I promise. Nothing will happen.' She whispered in his ear.

'Thats not true and you know it.' She drew back, and looked into his eyes. 'You're the bait for them. I know, Bahamut told me.'

'Then you know I have to do it.' She started to walk off, but Diablos grabbed her arm and stopped her.

'Please.' He pleaded with her.

'Diablos...' She started.

'No, you don't have to go, we could go to the Upper Layer, we'd be safe there!' He was desperate now, and she could see it.

'And what?' She replied, still whispering. 'Leave this world to rot? Leave my friends to die? I can't do that and you know it.'


'I just can't, I'm sorry.' She smiled at him. 'Wish me luck.' She kissed him.

He kissed her back, pressing his lips on hers as if the whole world depended on it. After a few seconds she drew away. She did not look into his eyes, for fear that it would force her to stay. She whispered to him, almost silently;

'I love you. Goodbye.'

She turned and ran away towards the door, holding back tears that threatened to overwhelm her, as Diablos fell to his knees, staring after her, and watched the entrance close on the only person he had ever cared about. Quistis heard his voice in her mind for the last time, as the door cycled shut behind her.

I love you.


Chapter 28: Possession

Rinoa had watched Quistis for most of the trip, and was getting worried.

She hasn't said a word all morning, except to give directions.

She had seen the woman say goodbye to Diablos, although she would never admit it. Fate was a cruel bastard. At least she and Squall had been given a few years together. Quistis had been given a few days, and... Now why did I say that? Thought the young sorceress. After the battle... But something in her head stopped her. There is not going to be an 'after the battle for her.' Rinoa stopped dead. That was not her voice talking.

What the...!

It is simple, the voice replied, she is not going to be coming back from this fight.

Who are you!?

I'm your sorceress powers. I'm you. I'm your shadow. I'm everything you deny. See. Images of pain, suffering, fire flashed through her head. All this could be ours, we could rule the world, just accept me, accept your powers, you were born to rule.


Yes! But first, we must remove the Blue Mage, she will be a problem.

'NO!' I'm not like you, I won't do it!' She shouted. Everyone looked around at her. The voice continued;

Do it! She will fight you! She must die!

No no no!


'Rinoa...' Began Squall. Quistis cut him off.

'Quiet.' Squall started to walk towards Rinoa, but Quistis cut him off again. 'Don't. She has to do this by herself.' She saw the look he gave her. 'Trust me, it's a sorceress thing.' He looked sceptical, then nodded, and stood back.


I won't kill my friend! I'm better than that! I'm better than you!

Girl, in case you hadn't noticed, we're getting closer and closer to a source of pure evil.


So you don't have much of a choice in this. Kill her.


Yes! Look into your heart, you know it to be true! Look at your 'friend' the Blue Mage. She knows what you are, she'll kill you the first chance she gets!

Quistis is my friend, she wouldn't do that!

You lie! Cid knew, he sent her away to protect you, are you going to let him down?


Kill her!

I can't...


And then she lost consciousness, and darkness enveloped her.


Everyone was looking at Rinoa, Squall was panicked now, he had never seen her like this, except when she was possessed, on the Esthar Moonbase. He started to speak; 'Rinoa? Are you Ok?' Rinoa drew her Shooting Star, and looked round at Quistis.

'Quistis...' She started. Her voice had an odd ring to it.

'Yes?' Quistis replied. Rinoa looked up at her, and the sight chilled Squall to the bone. Where Rinoa's eyes had been there was now only two pools of black, with hard, red pinpricks of light where the pupils had been.

'DIE!' Rinoa screamed. Rinoa threw herself at Quistis, knocking her off-balance, and they both fell to the ground. Squall started forward, Gunblade raised, but unsure of what to do. He wouldn't kill either of them, and they all knew it. Rinoa regained her balance and rolled away, climbing up to her knees and firing her Blaster Edge at Quistis, who managed to deflect it with her arm-guard, scoring a nasty cut across her cheek. Quistis went to slice at Rinoa's head, then remembered who she was fighting, and at the last second reversed the blade, striking the young sorceress on the forehead with the butt.

She collapsed on the ground, unconscious. Squall was at her side instantly. 'You knew this was going to happen?' He whispered at the Guardians. Quistis went up to him and put her hand on his shoulder. He winced, but did not draw away.

'Yes.' She said quietly. He looked up at her.

'Then why did you let her come?' He asked.

'Because she wouldn't let you go alone.' Quistis replied. 'Now, we have a job to do.'

Squall looked back down at the still form of Rinoa. 'Yeah, we do, don't we.' He whispered.

'Then lets go. Sacred?'

'Yeah?' Replied the Guardian.

'Watch over her, take her back to Garden.'

Sacred picked up the prone sorceress, and turned to Squall. Then, to their surprise, he ripped off a perfect SeeD salute to the two. Squall blinked, then saluted back, and the Earth Guardian turned away, and started the long walk back to Balamb. Then Quistis looked across at Squall. 'Are you sure you want to come?' She asked.

'Yeah, someone has to watch your back.' he replied.

'Rinoa will never forgive me if you get killed you know.' She said.

'I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.'




'You're welcome, now come on. We end this. Today.'

They walked on for, in Quistis' head, about 8 miles, until they heard a noise up ahead that definitely wasn't human. Instantly they slowed down and started to crawl towards the source of the noise. 'Well?' Asked Squall.

'Give me a minute.' Quistis replied, closing her eyes. 'Over there!' She said after about thirty seconds, pointing over the nearest hilltop. Squall looked over, and instantly dropped back down again. he turned to Quistis and hissed; 'How many did you say there should be?'

'About three or four, why?' She replied, puzzled.
'I think...' Began Squall, 'that you should look over the damn hilltop.' She did, and what she saw made her blood run cold. There had to be at least a hundred of the creatures milling down below in the fields. Oh Shit. She thought to herself. Someone really screwed up this time. Guardian or not, she did not have a death wish, and charging into that writhing mass of claws and teeth would be suicide. She looked back across at Squall, and noticed him talking on a radio. 'Who's that?' She said quietly.

'Laguna.' He whispered back. 'He says he'll get rid of most of them, but we'll have to mop up the rest.' To say Quistis looked incredulous at this was an understatement.

'Mop them up? With what?' She demanded incredulously.

'You'll see. Five minutes, Then I promise you'll see what advances the Estharians have made since the Ragnarok.'

'Fine!' Quistis snapped back. 'But if whoever it is isn't here in ten minutes, we're going to have to go in alone.' Squall merely smiled. Now there's a rare sight. Quistis thought to herself.

Six minutes later, Squall's mysterious backup still hadn’t showed up. Quistis was steeling herself for a head-on assault, and Squall was getting twitchy, jumping every time a noise was heard that was louder than the usual, fearing they had been discovered. Finally, after eleven minutes, Quistis turned to Squall and started to speak. 'OK, your friends aren't showing. So, you try and get behind them and surprise them, and I'll...' She never finished her sentence. At that moment, a dark shadow eclipsed the sun. Quistis looked up, and gasped. A very large metal... thing... had just flew over their heads. 'Squall...' She began.

Then the world exploded.


Chapter 29: Imprisonment

Quistis had to shout to be heard over the noise. 'What... the... HELL... is... that!?' Squall pointed upwards with his finger, and she followed it, and now that her eyes had adjusted to the glare (and her ears to the noise) and saw a ship hovering almost directly above the creature's position, bombarding them with a variety of bombs and what looked like flashy lighting effects, but were in reality high-power lasers. Whoever had designed it deserved a medal, the colours and patterns on the tiered ship made it look more like a ceremonial vessel. Assuming that ceremonial vessels carried more weaponry than your average third-world country. 'Laguna called it the Terrible Beauty. Strictly Earth-atmosphere only, no space trips in this one. He said Esthar's been developing this thing since they lost the Ragnarok in deep space. He was going to give it to us and the Guardians as a gift for helping them!' Squall shouted to Quistis.

'Squall, I can hear you just fine without you shouting, I'm a Guardian remember.' She smiled at him, and Squall stopped shouting. Thank Hyne for small mercies, he thought, I'm really gonna have a sore throat after this. Unfortunately he did not share the same hearing skills she did.

'So what's it doing here!?' She had to shout back.

'He thought we might be able to use it. Guess he was right.' Then, as soon as it had begun, the shelling stopped. They waited, in silence. After a while they looked up, fearing the worst. The Terrible Beauty however, was still there. Quistis turned to Squall. 'Get whoever the hell is piloting that thing on the radio and ask them why they've stopped!

'OK!' Just wait 'till my ears stop ringing. He thought to himself. Quistis watched while Squall got the pilot on the radio and started shouting at him. He turned to Quistis. 'They're out of bombs. They didn't think they'd need that many when they came here.'

'Shit! OK, come on, lets see whats left.' She replied. She stuck her head above the grass, expecting to be discovered at any moment. Instead she saw...

'Nothing.' She whispered.

'What?' Asked Squall, puzzled.

'There's nothing here, they're all dead.'

'Wait a minute, let me see.' He joined her at the top of the hill. Not strictly 'nothing' if you included the corpses. 'Wow. Laguna finished the job for us.' They walked down past the bodies. Defying the usual creature practise of rising from the dead, none of them did thi, possibly because many would have to raise themselves up on their elbows to do so. They looked around speechless, then turned to each other. 'Well,' Squall said, 'guess we look ridiculous now, all hyped up and nothing to kill.' He turned around to head back.

Just in time to be punched in the gut by the creature that had been hiding behind him in the bodies.

'Squall!' Quistis screamed. The last remaining creature turned to face her. It has to be the leader, it just has to be. Me against it and... wait a minute, I know you! She looked at it for another few minutes, and it returned the favour. She was the first to speak. 'Don't you ever die?' She sighed, sounding a lot more disinterested than she felt. To her surprise, it spoke back. Then, to her ever-growing sirprise, the conversation was remarkably civil.

'But of course not, you didn't think I'd give up the chance to exterminate the human race did you?'

'From past experience, I'd expect nothing less.' She replied. She hesitated. 'You could give up now you know.'

'Why would I want to do that?'

'You're it, you're all that's left.'

'So are you, and the hero-boy over there isn't getting up anytime soon.' He said, indicating the coughing Squall.

'You'll lose.' She said.

'We'd hate that.'

'You can't even kill me.' She said, the reply shocked her.

'But we did.' It said smugly. Quistis stopped, and her brain whirped int over-drive. But he hasn't, hes only managed to ound me, the only person who's killed me is...

'Seifer! It was you wasn't it? You hired SeeD to send me on that mission!' She said. The creature clapped slowly.

'Give the girl a prize. Yes, we hired you to hunt down Seifer's little army in Trabia, and then we hired an army to be in Trabia when you got there, and told them to expect an attack. Then we told Cid about you being a Blue Mage. We told him that your kind were created to hunt down and kill sorceresses, and the old man virtually gave you to us.' Quistis fingers were digging into her palms at this point. When she spoke, the very air froze and shattered on the ground.

'You're going to die now.' She whispered.

'There'll be more of us. You won't last forever, one day one of us will get you.' She realised it wasn’t talking about the Guardians, he was talking about her. 'Then we'll be back, this wasn't even half of what we could do if we wanted to...' It carried on like this for some time. Funny. She thought to herself. I didn't think demons liked the sound of their own voice so much...

She sighed, enough was enough. 'Excuse me?'


'Are we going to fight or what?'

'Actually I'd hoped we could settle our differences, have some coffee, talk about the weather...' As if on cue, it started to rain. 'Good, my kind of weather...' It said off-hand, then noticed the look on her face. 'The hell with it, lets fight.' They attacked.

To Squall, lying on the ground barely conscious, it seemed to go by in flashes, they moved so fast, he saw Quistis' Ice-Blade sparkling in the sunlight as it swung around her, the thing's claws slashing at her, and both of them trying to keep their defences up whilst attempting to get a decent hit on the other. They were almost perfectly matched, he saw, her sword was longer and faster, and she was using it with a degree of skill that made it almost a part of her. His weapon, however, was literally a part of him, and he had two of them. This was going to be decided on luck, the first to make a mistake would die.

They fought for what seemed hours. Quistis was fighting for her life, and the lives of her friends, and the world, and the creature was fighting back with pure blind hatred for all things living. She struck at it's chest first, hoping for a quick victory, it moved it's claws to intercept and her sword slid harmlessly down it's arm, carving away some flesh, it went to slap her head, and she instantly stopped her counter-attack to catch it's arm and swing the creature around into the floor, knowing she couldn't afford to be hit by claws that sharp, Guardian for no. She sliced down with the blade, but it swung it's legs around, and she barely managed to jump out of the way in time. She flew back several metres and concentrated, letting off several razor-sharp icicles aimed for the head. The thing just stood there and raised it's hand. The icicles flew towards it's head, but melted when they got within a couple of inches. It smiled at her, this was to be a battle of skill, not magic. Tiring now, she jabbed at it's brain, assuming it kept it's brain in it's head.. She swung her blade in low, hoping to slice it's legs off, but it managed to block it with it's forearms, and her weapons bounced off, she pirouetted and used the rebound to swing at it's head. She never made it the entire way around.

Using it's other claw it delivered a haymaker to her spine, propelling her into the mud several feet away, her sword landing point upright beyond her reach. She tried to stand up, but all she could feel was the pain. She couldn't feel her legs. She looked up and saw the creature moving up to her. No! Not like this! Not when we were so close! It's not fair! Then , in the centre of her brain which read 'sense of duty' a message told her to reach into her jacket. She did, and felt what Bahamut had given her, before she left. The creature was gloating, and, oblivious to all else, it walked towards her. 'Your spine is shattered, Miss Trepe'

Just a little closer. She thought to it desperately.

'You can't run...'

Closer damnit!

'You can't fight.' It stepped on her sword and ground it's heels, snapping it in two.

I need you closer!

'Your friends are gone...'

She took her hand out of her jacket, holding it tight in her fist.

'No Ice Guardian to resurrect you...'

She concentrated, ignoring all else.

'No SeeDs to help you out of trouble this time...'

It started glowing. She looked up at the creature. 'Just... one last thing...' She gasped.

'What?' It said, suddenly puzzled.

'You're not going to kill me.' She said, smiling for effect.

It knelt over her. 'Oh really?' It said indulgently.

'I'm going away, on a trip, to a very small place.' It's smile (or what passed for one) faltered.

'What place?' It asked.

'It's very near to here.' She fingered the thing in he hand. Yes. It was time. 'I'm going there for a while.'

It couldn't put a finger on it, but what she said sounded familiar... 'What place?' It asked, no longer smiling. She gestured to it to lean closer, it did so.

'It's a prison.' The creature jerked back instantly, smile replaced by abject horror, and anger. Lots of anger. Quistis smiled at it.

'And you're damn well coming with me!' She screamed.

In that moment, she swung her hand around at the thing, and as it leaped forward, claws extended to finish her, she smashed the Opal gem she had been holding into it's side, and light engulfed them both.


Squall watched the creature lean over Quistis, expecting him to deliver the final blow. Instead he saw it suddenly draw back and scream in what appeared to be... Terror? Why? He thought to himself. Then the next few events happened very quickly. He saw the thing drew back it's claws to kill her, he saw Quistis throw her outstretched palm at the thing, then he saw the world explode in light. He screamed and jammed his eyes shut and clapped his hands over his ears to block the light and noise. He only dared drop them what must have been 5 minutes after it stopped. His ears were ringing. He slowly opened his eyes. All he could see was white. He tried to stand, and instantly stumbled and dropped back down again. His attention, however, was not fixed on the shadow of the rapidly-approaching Ragnarok, now the little things dancing in front of his eyes had disappeared, but on the spot where, instead of where Quistis and the creature had been, now contained only a rapidly-cooling gemstone.


Bahamut heard the noise, rather than saw the flash. He had only one thought

It is done. I am sorry.

The massive Guardian flew away, not wanting to be around when the others discovered his crime. Especially not around Diablos.


The flash was visible all the way over the horizon, and the Garden had the best seats, close enough to see it clearly, but not close enough to have their eyes burned out of their sockets. 'Guys.' Breathed Irvine. Then, to Nida; 'Get the Ragnarok over there! Now!' The young SeeD nodded and ran towards the nearest radio. During the ensuing chaos, Irvine noted Diablos walking out of the hall, the look on his face making people jump aside. Irvine had never seen someone look so angry yet so crushed at the same time. He hesitated, then shouted at the distant form of Nida; 'Tell them to come and pick me up first!'


Chapter 30: Snapshots

No-one spoke as the airship flew back to Balamb. They had picked Rinoa and Sacred on the way back, they had told them that they had been attacked early on, and had been left behind. When they had found Squall, it was among a collection of corpses and craters, clutching something in his hand so hard they had to prise it out of his grip. When asked for an explanation, he had told them. No-one spoke after that.

Squall and Rinoa were in the main gathering place. They held on to each other tightly. After a while, she whispered something in his ear. 'Sorry, I didn't catch that.' He said.

'Do you remember the last time we were in a situation like this?' She said, louder. He did. It was so similar as to be approaching 'deja-vu' levels of familiarity. Only that time Quistis had been dead (they had thought), by Seifer's blade that time, and not here, in Squall's damned hand, alive and trapped forever in some kind of prison.


'She's OK you know.' He raised his head and looked her in the eye.


'She’s OK. She beat it, it's in their with her, but that doesn't mean she can't kill it.' It took a few seconds to absorb this, and the best reply he could manage was;

'Are you sure?'

'Yes. I can hear her...' She said, and put her head against his chest.

He started to look down at the concussed sorceress. 'Rinoa, what do you mean you can hear her?' He saw her, asleep, and decided to leave it for later.

'She saved us you know.' Squall whirled around, and saw Irvine watching them from the door. He nodded at him slowly. The gunman continued; 'Bahamut told me. She knew what was going to happen, she couldn't kill him in the real world, not really. She lost on purpose.' Squall closed his eyes, he did not want to hear confirmation of that.

'Yeah. I saw her, she could fight better than that.' He said, then thought for a minute. 'Here.' He threw Irvine the Opal. He almost recoiled from it. 'An early wedding present. I think she's like that... that we didn't forget her.' Irvine smiled back at him.

'I thought being forgot was your personal phobia?' He said.

'Well.' Squall whispered to himself. 'I don't think anyone should be forgotten.'

'Yeah. Don't worry, I won't forget.' Irvine replied.

'Me neither.' Squall said. Rinoa stirred in his lap.

'Me... neither...' She mumbled. Squall smiled at her, it never failed to amaze him how someone unconscious could keep up with a conversation so well. 'Hey Irvine?'

'Yeah?' the Cowboy asked.

'Look after her for a while, will you?'

'Sure.' He did a quick double take. 'Do you mean Rinoa or...'

'Both of them.' He said, and moved Rinoa to another seat, and walked out, to watch the final approach to Balamb. Then he turned back. 'Irvine, did we radio Garden and tell them?' He asked. Irvine looked panicked.

'Er, oops?' He said sheepishly.


Selphie was waiting for the landing party eagerly. She had heard the last transmission from the Ragnarok saying that the team had come back safe. This she took to mean all the team, so she was slightly surprised when Quistis visibly failed to turn up alongside the other guys. She saw Irvine move down the landing strip towards her and she ran up to him and encased him in her arms. 'Irvy!' She started. 'Did we win! Is the world saved?!' Then she looked up and saw his face, and continued on much quieter. 'Where's Quistis?'

'Come over here, will you.' He whispered in her ear, and wandered off towards a corner. Selphie was getting worried now. Eventually they ended up back at their shared apartment. As soon as the door shut he reached down, lifted her up in a tight embrace and kissed her. Selphie was shocked at this display of emotion from Irvine, who was usually so calm. After they disengaged, heads resting on each other's shoulders, Irvine whispered in her ear. 'Selphie?'

'Yeah?' She whispered back.

'They first child we have, if it's a girl, we're going to call her Quistis.'

Her head jerked back and she looked at him, first in surprise, then in disbelief. 'No.' She said, eyes pleading 'NO!' She shouted. He just looked back at her. She looked back, and managed to say through fast-approaching tears; 'How?' She buried her head in his chest, and he started to tell her, and brought the gemstone out of his pocket.


Squall addressed the rest of the cafeteria. It had now been 2 weeks since the short yet brutal war.

He said that, simply, Quistis had died to save them, which was nearly the truth, but then, the best lies usually were. The Trepes had been devastated, many of them started openly crying. The other faculty members just bowed their heads in silent respect. Squall had told Cid and Edea te real truth earlier, showing them the gemstone, although Edea would not hold it. Those who knew the truth were more upset than the other ones. The words; 'fate-worse-than-death' were thought by all but said by none. Irvine and Selphie swore they would find a way to open a gate out of the prison, and took the gemstone for safekeeping. Bahamut's role was not widely advertised, for fear of sparking a witch-hunt for the dragon among the Garden. The memorial service for the dead would be arranged for later that month, volunteers to help would be welcome.


The Guardians met, in the lower levels of Garden, where the machines that powered the old Centra Shelter resided. It had now been 6 months since the short yet brutal war.

'What should we do?' Asked Carbuncle.

'Leave him to it, he will recover in time.' Spoke Alaxander's Avatar (he had been taking lessons from Eden) slowly.

'I think we should find that leathery bastard and hang him from the wall by his wings!' Said Eden angrily. Carbuncle looked shocked.

'Who, Diablos?! What did he do?' He asked.

'Not him! I meant that rotten excuse we have for a leader; Bahamut!'

'Oh, sorry.' Secretly, no-one disagreed with Eden's appraisal of Bahamut's character.

'We should get a new leader...' Said Siren softly. 'Someone more... human...'

'I know what you mean.' Carbuncle said. Then he smiled. 'You don't think..?'

'Exactly.' Siren replied.

'Would he agree?' Eden asked.

'He'd have to, or else he'd look foolish, and I don't think she changed him that much.' They all smiled at that thought. He always would be proud, in love or not.

'OK then. Carbuncle, go and ask him.' Said Eden.

'Hey! Who made you the boss!' Quipped the furry green Guardian.

'Well, since no-one else is yet, I guess, um... I did.' Eden said in a way as to not accept any arguments.

'OK OK! Geez girl, lighten up.' They all flew away. Siren stayed behind for a few minutes, observing all the complicated mechanisms that allowed humanity to fly, when they only needed, well, themselves. She left. As she left, she swore she could hear a noise, faint, but there. It sounded like a roar of pain. She smiled to herself again. She did not doubt that, when their disgraced leader (Ex-leader! She reminded herself) re-emerged, it would be with some extra scars.


Much, much later, Rinoa got up early that night, as on many other nights. It had now been 2 years since the short yet brutal war.

She waited. Eventually she heard a soft knock on the doorframe. She went over to answer it, and saw a fully-dressed Selphie standing there, holding the Opal in her right hand, smiling at the sorceress. 'Shall we?' She said quietly.

'Of course, come on in. How's little Quisty?' Selphie beamed.

'Fine of course.' She said, full of motherly pride.

Selphie shut the door behind her, and walked over to where Rinoa was powering up her computer, specifically her word-processing software.

'Who so far?' Rinoa asked.

'You, Squall, Cid. I had to do Seifer's point-of-view parts though.' She shivered. That must have been hard Rinoa thought. Writing down the thoughts of a murderer and official Traitor To Humanity could not have been pleasant. Selphie looked apologetic. Rinoa understood. This was the only way they had of knowing what had happened. All of what had happened. Unfortunately, that meant many people had to write it down. Like some kind of ghostly chain-letter. So, they had reasoned, if they were going to know the whole truth, they might as well make it readable, and Irvine suggested making into it's current form, of a story. Who knows? They cowboy had said when they had told him. Probably become some sort of legend, it's got everything; love, trust, betrayal, death. Kids’ll lick it up.

Selphie drew up a chair and sat next to her. Then she reached into her pocket and withdrew the Opal, putting it next on the table-top next to the screen. Rinoa closed her eyes and began to concentrate. Squall had wrote the opening chapter, she knew that much. No-one really knew yet who else had been involved in writing the story. Opening a new document, Rinoa shut her eyes. Selphie stood back from her, knowing what happened, but being slightly afraid even so. When asked how they were going to know what Quistis herself had been going through, Rinoa had come up with... this... idea. Being a sorceress had benefits.

After a couple of seconds, Rinoa felt a presence around her. It was calm now, but only around her. She opened her eyes again, and smiled. 'Shall we?' She said to the air. Words came unbidden to her mind. She began to type words on the screen, words that, under other circumstances, she could not possibly have known. And she focussed her mind, directing a single thought back at the force around her, a force that was coming from the gemstone in front of her.

This is your story.



It had been 17 years since the short yet brutal war.

The Guardians walked together, none of them saying anything. No-one needed to. Too many lives had been wasted as a result of that far-off conflict. Few cared to remember the death and pain, except those who had risked their lives to end it. Fewer still knew the truth.

Siren was first to approach the memorial. She had moved after the conflict, taking a teaching position in the newly established Esthar Garden, saying she didn't want to remain so near a place that had been in contact with them. She knelt down and closed her eyes, after a few seonds she felt a hand resting on her shoulder, and looked up to see Alexander looking down at her. She gave him a brave little smile, it had taken a lot of convincing to get him down here, he didn't really like socialising with humans much. Selphie's gift of a Rubicks Cube had alleviated this somewhat.

It was almost a custom now, so long after everything had happened, they still remembered, those who wanted to come, came every year. Others; relatives, friends, came other times, for more private ceremonies like this one. Siren looked back down, placing a single orchid under the inscription on the ground under the statues;

Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome, provided that this, our battle cry, reach some receptive ear; that other hands reach out to wield our weapons and other men intone our funeral dirge with the staccato chant of the machine-guns and new battle cries of war and victory.
We will never forget their sacrifice.


She said they'd be here, where are they?

Man it's hot here! Has the sun got some sort of huge magnifying-glass focussed on this island or something?


Squall, Irvine, Diablos and Quistis Kinneas-Tilmitt watched the two Guardians from the edge of the site. They stood in lee of one of the craters made by the Terrible Beauty what seemed like a lifetime ago. Squall was the first to speak.

'So, why couldn't Selphie make it?' He asked.

Irvine had changed in the last few years. His eyes, at last, had stopped wandering with fatherhood, and he had turned into a strictly one-woman man, no matter how much he teased Selphie otherwise. Truth be, the cowboy thought, I wouldn't know how to date anymore. He remembered a time when he would have been horrified at this. 'She said her ankles would explode if she tried walking all the way.' He replied. Squall and Diablos chuckled silently at this. Selphie had complained all the way through her first pregnancy, and it didn't look like the second would be any different.

'Shame.' Said Diablos quietly. 'I'dve loved to see her try and get up these hills... Ouch! What was that for?' He looked at Quistis.

'Don't say things like that about my mom, or next time I'll break your ankle!' The teenager said, only half-jokingly. The young Quistis had inherited (unfortunately, from Diablos' point of view) all of Selphie's attitude, and Irvine's marksmanship-skills. She barely reached the Guardians shoulders, but he knew that wouldn't stop her. 'Come on, lets head back, it's too hot here.' She said, sweating in the heat.

'Well, next time don't wear that stupid coat.' Said Irvine mockingly. Quistis looked back at him with rapidly-thinning tolerance.

'This isn't a coat, this is my battle-gear, in case you forgot.' She said scathingly.

'Yes, and I remember when you went to kick that Grat once, and your foot got caught in it and you fell on your ass.' Quistis went red.

'That was an accident.' She said quickly. 'I just under-estimated how... flowing... it was.'

Irvine sighed, and looked at Diablos. 'I may never forgive you for giving her that thing.' He said tiredly. The Guardian just smiled back.

'You have to admit, it makes her look pretty dangerous. Especially when she's wearing the suit as well...'

'Don't remind me about that suit...' Irvine growled. Diablos grinned wider. He looked almost completely human how, only the wings and skin-colour giving him away.

'She says it allows her to move around easier in battle.' He said.

'Yeah, and show off her... figure... to every male in the Garden.' Diablos sniggered.

'You didn't think she’d stay six years old forever did you?'

'I was hoping for that actually. You haven't helped much, I swear she gets her colour-coordination sense from your influence.

'Black will never go out of fashion.' Diablos quoted himself.

'Thats what I'm afraid of.'


What the hell happened here! I know it was a big ship with big guns, but these craters are bigger than most houses! OK girl, stop that, find them! Today is definitely the day, so they'll be here somewhere! So help me woman, if I made this trip for nothing, I'll never talk to you again!


Squall looked across at the good-natured bickering of Diablos and Irvine. He was secretly thankful for the Guardian, he had been like second father to the girl when her biological parents were teaching. Although his minimalistic fashion sense seemed to have rubbed off on her as well, not that the male population of the campus was complaining. Squall looked across at the two. 'Guys?' he started.



'Siren and Alexander are coming back, I think we're gonna head back now.'

'Fine by me.' Said Quistis grumpily. 'Why the hell is it always so hot here?'

'I told you, it's the...' Quistis cut him off though.

'Residual psychic signature of the creatures, yes you told me, but that still doesn't make much sense.' She said. 'I'm heading back to Garden, I'll see you there!' The brunette started to run off towards the jeep. Squall looked around at Irvine.

'Have you told her yet?' He asked. Irvine immediately assumed a 'who, me?' expression on his face.

'Told her what?' He asked innocently. he wasn't fooling anyone.

'About what happened here. About the battle. About the person she just happens to be named after.' Squall said testily.

'Erm, well, she knows the history, and the courage used, and she understands the sacrifices made for the good of...' Irvine stammered out randomly, clearly making it up.

'All you had to say was no.' Squall said shortly.

'No, then.' Irvine said quietly. Diablos looked at the cowboy.

'Why not?' He asked.

'Because she wouldn't understand.'

'Thats a lie and you know it.' Diablos said quietly.

'OK OK! I didn't want to have to explain again. You know how stubborn she is, she'd want to help free Quistis. You remember when she wanted to explore the Underwater Research Facility?' They did. It had been harrowing to say the least, if it wasn't for Leviathan's efforts they might never have found her.

'She deserves to know.' Squall said. Irvine looked across at Diablos, who nodded back.

'All right! When we get back.' He said, defeated.

'Good enough for me.' They began to walk off. Diablos however, stayed behind, the others did not ask why, they knew he had demons he needed to put to rest as well.


Where where WHERE!! Where are they?! I can't keep this up forever! They have to be here somewhere. Damn you people, why'd you have to put this monument out in the back-end of nowhere?!

Wait! What the hell is that thing?! Not human, certainly, not with wings like that! Is that..? it has to be!


Diablos knelt down beside the monument, and beside one stone-carved figure in particular.

'I know you can't hear me, that you're trapped in that rock back at Garden.' Some days it was all he could think about. His only love going slowly mad inside a gemstone.prison no bigger than his fist. He bowed his head.

'I could have saved you.' He whispered quietly to himself.

'I should have stopped you from going. I should have stopped Bahamut. I should have told the other Guardians what he was planning! I should have done SOMETHING!' He took a few deep breaths, aware that he was losing his composure.

'I'm sorry.'

Diablos did not react as the voice of a young woman spoke from directly behind him. He had felt her approach from the moment she stepped on the ground near him. 'For what?' He whispered tiredly.

'For what happened. I know what you're going through, and...' Diablos jumped to his feet and whirled around to face the stranger. He came face to face with a short-ish girl in a hooded black cloak, and he couldn't make out her features.

'What, you know what it's like to lose the one you love, when you only just begin to appreciate them, then lose them to some kind of hell? What do you know of pain, human? Nothing! That's what!' He snarled. To his surprise, the girl's voice spoke out from the depths of her hood, harder than before;

'I. do know pain!' She said slowly. Diablos looked her up and down. What he could see of the mysterious figure suggested a person who was used to defending herself against strange beasts, and he withdrew his first impression of a groupie merely trying to meet one of the legendary Guardians.

'Maybe you do.' He admitted quietly. Then he realised he was addressing a total stranger. 'Just who the hell are you?'

'A friend of Quistis.' The girl said.

'You're too late, she just left with her father.' He replied.

'Her father?' The girl replied, sounding puzzled. 'She told me she never knew her parents.' The stranger did a double take. 'Hold up! She should still be trapped in the gem! Are we talking about the same Quistis here?' Diablos looked up slowly at this.

'We are talking about Quistis Kinneas-Tilmitt here?' He said. When the girl replied, he could have sworn his heart stopped beating for a minute.

'No, I'm talking about Quistis Trepe.' Diablos got to his feet again. He towered over the small girl.

'And you are?' he asked menacingly. If she was joking, by Hyne he'd make her regret it.

'That doesn't matter... yet. Quisty however, does.' It was then he knew she wasn't a hoaxer. No-one called Quistis her childhood name unless they had known her very well.

'What do you mean?' He asked slowly, not daring to believe. To his surprise, the young girl looked almost embarrassed.

'I can't actually believe I'm going to say this, its such a cliche...' She began. 'Quistis needs your help, and she says to tell you that, what the hell was it...?' Diablos waited patiently. 'Oh yeah! She said that she still wants to keep her promise.' This time his heart didn't just stop, it jumped out of his chest and started leaping around in the air.

'How?' He breathed. The movement of the shadows inside the hood suggested that the strange girl was smiling.

'Come with me, and all will be revealed.' She said in a mock-dramatic tone. Whoever she was, she was obviously enjoying this now. At that moment, Diablos would have followed the strange girl into hell itself. Then his rational, planning mind made it's presence felt.

'Of course. But the others will want to know where I've gone. I teach at the Garden, so...' The girl interrupted him here.

'Yes, she told me you probably would by now. She said you were the kind of person who repays their debts.'

'Then you know I have to go and actually teach these people, if I just leave then they'll want to know why, and anyway, I can't disappear for any long amount of time without people searching for me.' The stranger smiled at him again, and lowered her hood. For the first time, Diablos got a look at the face of the person bringing him a message from (nearly) beyond the grave. And he stopped.

The girl had long silvery-blonde hair streaked with black that would have been quite long if she hadn't put it up into a wild assortment of braids and pony-tails at the back of her head. Her eyes darted this way and that, to a casual observer she would look distracted, but in reality she checking for threats. Most of the Garden faculty had the same stare. Diablos looked at the hands that had drawn back the hood, and saw that instead of fingers, she had three sharp claws were her fingers should have been. It was her eyes that grabbed his gaze and held it though.

Where pupils, cornea and the whites of her eyes should be, there was just a pair of red spirals, beginning at the edges of her eyes, circling in ever-smaller loops into infinity, super-imposed onto a pitch-black background. She didn't smile when she wasn't speaking. She almost looked... tired, and not with lack of sleep, but the look which people get when they have seen far too much suffering.

It was a person that had been to hell and back more than once.

'Trust me...' She began, closing her eyes, and making him wonder whether he had been hallucinating. She held her arms out to her sides, and . The girl opened her palms sideways, as if pushing something away from her from her left and right, and Diablos felt something inside him go 'snap'. He looked down at himself, and blinked. Either he was not focussing properly, or his skin was getting fuzzy. He looked back up, and noticed that the girl's outline was also losing it's shape. He looked at his surroundings, and saw that they were both encased in a black dome. He went to move towards the girl, to grab her, to ask what was happening, when he felt himself go dizzy. As reality faded away and he felt himself lose consciousness, he heard the end of the girl's sentence;

'Time will not be an issue.'


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