The Chronicles of Hollow Bastion Part II
“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!” cried Cloud, “Oh my god!”
A figure in a red cloak, carrying a huge sword had appeared in the circle. 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 figure, “Let me show what will come...”
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.
“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 our only hope..."
"The Three are coming..." said the older Cloud.
“It's too late,” said Sephiroth, “The Three have won. Zidane Tribal is dead. The future is gone...
"He can't be dead!" screamed Dagger, "He can't be dead!"
"This can't be,” muttered Cloud.
Squall stood, shocked. Vivi's hands rose to his face, tears staining his brown gloves.
"What do we do now?" asked Vivi, his voice small and weak.
"I, I don't know," stammered Dagger. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.
"It's alright," whispered Sephiroth.
"It's not alright, you heartless bastard!" wailed Dagger, "I love him, he's my boyfriend and my world. It will never be alright!"
There was a sudden tearing, a rend in time and space, which twisted realties and shook the party off their feet.
"What the hell!?" cried Squall.
Almost as soon as it started, the shaking was over.
"It seems to have passed," said Sephiroth, "That danger is over."
He couldn't be more wrong.
“How long before they break through!?” yelled Zidane above the roar of the cannons.
Zidane, and an army of moogles and Genomes, were in strategic positions in the Great Hall. It had long ago been ruined, the blasts of magic and laser fire destroying most of the ancient building.
“A few minutes at most, kupo!” cried one of the battle moogles.
“Every moogle cover that door!” cried Zidane.
“Ready, kupo!” cried the moogles, as they raised their weapons.
The door broke open, as the Magi-tek warriors burst through the door.
“Bugger, kupo!” screamed the moogles as the lasers raked through them.
“Return fire!” bellowed Zidane.
“We're running out of ammo, kupo!”
“Blast!” cried Zidane, “Where are those reinforcements?”
There was a sound like the scream of eternity, as time and space shattered. The ground shook, toppling Magi-teks and throwing moogles to the ground.
“Holy crap, kupo!” screamed a moogle.
“What the hell?!” cried Zidane.
This time, the temporal shock did not end. It was only beginning.
“Zidane's death shocked us all,” said Edea, “The Three are deadly, evil and ruthless and they must be hunted down and stopped.”
Edea's office had been repainted, with a huge glass window and a drinks dispenser. Sephiroth and Kuja sat uncomfortably on hard wooden chairs. Edea swivelled lightly on her chair.
“But what is even more curious, is why,” stated Kuja, “Why and how. Why come to this point in time? Why not just kill him as a young child, or slay him as a newborn infant? And how did they come from the future? Do these, 'Heartless' really wield so much power as to send agents through time? We need to know what is going on and soon.”
“The Heartless, as Cloud told you, seem to have limitless powers,” said Sephiroth.
“How did Cloud travel through time?” asked Edea, “If the Heartless can control time to a sufficient extent to send agents through it, how did Cloud warn us? And why would the Heartless not come themselves?”
“That isn't important,” snapped Sephiroth, “What is important is the murder of Zidane, the fact that the Heartless will rule forever. For eternity.”
“We could travel back and save Zidane,” suggested Kuja, “We may be able to stop Valentine.”
“How?” asked Edea.
“The Dark Library on Hollow Libris contains books of magicks more powerful than anything we possess,” remarked Kuja, “Time magic. We could travel through time.”
“We?” asked Edea.
“We need Dagger,” said Kuja, “She and Zidane's destinies are linked, their histories are intertwined. If she dies, then history will doubtless fall to the Heartless.”
"The two of you will head to Hollow Libris," said Edea, "The two of you will protect Dagger. This may be our only hope for saving the entire universe."
The buildings shook as the time rupture shook at the heart of their structures, rocked the very foundations of Hollow Bastion's history. Valentine's bullet had not just ripped Zidane's heart from his chest, it had ripped history's heart out. Crucial events in history were knocked off course, the future reworked and renewed.
Commander Zidane drew his gun, and fired at the Magi-tek, whilst trying to stay on his feet as the weaker yet ongoing tremor continued to rumble and weaken history.
"I don't suppose you'd be willing to consider a truce?" asked Zidane, hopefully.
"No way, kupo!" cried the moogle inside.
The building barely existed anymore. It was just a circle of broken rock in the middle of the frozen lake of Hollow Bastion.
"Everyone else is dead," said Zidane, "The tremor killed practically everything."
"No fast moves, kupo," snapped the moogle.
"Am I the only one to notice that I have the gun, and that you are the one lying on the floor?" asked Zidane, sarcastically.
"Okay, kupo," said the moogle, easing itself from the machine.
"You're ginger!" shouted Zidane.
"Do you practise to be this intelligent, kupo?" asked the moogle.
"You're not...Stilzkin?” asked Zidane.
“You're not...Zidane?” asked Stilzkin.
“You!” they both exclaimed.
“Why did you start the tremor?” asked Zidane.
“We didn't,” snapped Stilzkin, “It must have been you, kupo.”
“Only your Magi-tek could do it,” said Zidane.
“What do we do now?” asked Stilzkin.
“Die,” snapped Valentine, “I'm here to kill you, Zidane Tribal.”
Valentine appeared behind Zidane, gun pointed at the Genome's head.
“You wanna put the big shiny gun away?” asked Zidane, “I become uneasy when threatened.”
Zidane's tail flicked out, and threw the gun to the ground.
“I have to kill both Zidanes created by the time rupture,” said Valentine, “ And I can still use my claw.”
The golden, snakelike claw snapped out, and gripped Zidane by the throat.
“Eat dust, kupo!” cried Stilzkin, shooting Valentine, once, twice in the stomach.
Zidane fell to the floor, as Valentine's claw loosened its grip.
“Ow,” he said, gingerly feeling his neck, “Thank you, Stilzkin.”
He shook himself off.
“What did he mean both Zidanes?” wondered Zidane, pulling out his survival pack, and biting into a kupo nut.
“KUPO! KUPO! KUPOK! KUPOK! KUPOK! KUPOK! KUPOK! KUPOK!!”
Zidane sighed, and handed the nut to his drooling moogle pal.
“So what do we do now, kupo?” he asked, spraying nuts and food over Zidane.
“We discover what that man meant by killing both Zidanes,” said Zidane.
“Sounds like he's gone loopy to me, kupo,” said Stilzkin.
Suddenly, the snake claw flickered into life, and smashed the tiny moogle against the wall. Zidane darted away, as Valentine leapt up, and picked his gun from the floor.
“Goodbye, Mr Tribal,” said Valentine, “I'll be sure to send your ashes to your beloved Dagger...”
Zidane flipped through air, kicked Valentine down, picked up the stunned moogle, and ran from the ruined room, jumped and toppled through the broken window, falling down into the abyss of the ruined world that had once been Hollow Libris.
The gummi ship docked in Hollow Libris, and Dagger stepped out, followed by Kuja and Sephiroth. The library was desolate, musty, filled with cobwebbed books and the odd half-written dissertation.
“This place is decayed and old,” said Dagger, glumly.
A maniacal laugh sounded through the ancient library.
“Kefka is the lord of death, Kefka kills you in your bed. Kefka is the lord of death...”
“Who are you?!” cried Sephiroth.
Kefka. Kefka. Kefka. Kefka. Kefka.
A clown leapt down from the ceiling.
“I am Kefka!” he roared.
“Where is the librarian?!” demanded Kuja.
“He's dead,” said Kefka.
“Why?” demanded Kuja.
“Because I'm Kefka,” he explained, “It's what I do, and what I am.”
“We demand to be allowed entry to the library!” ordered Sephiroth.
“Oh, do shut up,” sighed Kefka, lifting Sephiroth up and tossing him into a bookcase.
"What the hell?" asked Kuja.
“Don't you understand? I am Kefka!” roared the maniac clown.
Kefka kicked Kuja in the face, and he went down.
“Leave them alone!” screamed Dagger.
“Why?” asked Kefka, “You people really are very slow, aren't you? I'm Kefka! I am death! I am your final enemy!”
Kefka lashed out at Dagger. Dagger staggered, and fell.
“NO!” bellowed Sephiroth, leaping at Kefka, who threw him aside with a magical blast.
Kuja stepped forward.
“Let's see how you handle...this!” he cried, unleashing a torrent of flares.
Kefka laughed, lifting his burning arms, smelling his scorched flesh, and smashing Kuja into a bookcase, again and again and again. Kuja slumped over, and fell.
“No one can stop Kefka!” screamed the maniac.
Suddenly, the tremor began again, a tear opening in the air, sucking in books and chairs. Kefka was swept off his feet, as the energies of time whistled and sucked at him.
"What's happening!?" yelled Sephiroth, as he was drawn towards the tear.
"We're being sucked into a hole in the fabric of time!" yelled Kuja.
Dagger, Kuja, Sephiroth, and Kefka were thrust into the other universe...
...and off the edge of a cliff.
“This is becoming habit for me!” cried Kuja.
Sephiroth unleashed his wings, and caught Kuja and Dagger. Kefka screamed.
“LET ME GO!” yelled Dagger, “I DON'T WANT TO LIVE!”
“That's not how it goes,” said Sephiroth, catching the moogle and the young boy falling towards them, and heading to the ground.
Kefka was falling, toppling.
“No!” he yelled, “I cannot die! I am pure evil! I don't even rhyme properly!”
He hit the floor. The impact crushed his body.
“The pain...” he murmured, “I can't feel pain. I am Kefka, not the weak fool I was. I am Kefka, I am untouchable.”
He was dimly aware of the bright lights that could have been eyes, framed by bodies of darkness.
Then they leapt and devoured him, and he wasn't aware of anything. He was merely Heartless.
Sephiroth deposited them all down on the ground, and Dagger got a look at the boy's face.
“Zidane!” she cried, running up to him and kissing and embracing him.
“Hey, hey!” cried Zidane, “I know I'm hot, but I like to take things a bit slower!”
“Wha...”stammered Dagger, “It's me, Dagger! I thought you were dead!”
“Dagger! That weird bloke mentioned you!” cried Zidane.
Dagger turned on Kuja.
“What have you done!?” she screamed, “This is worse than him being dead, he has no memory of me!”
Dagger started crying again. Zidane tried to comfort her.
“It's alright,” he said, “What's the problem?”
“Where the heck are we, kupo!!!” cried Stilzkin.
“Good grief,” sighed Kuja, “That moogle is swearing like a trooper!”
“I am a trooper, kupo!”
“What's going on in this reality?” asked Kuja.
“We, the Magi-tek moogles, are at war with the Genomes,” said Stilzkin, “Over the years, some moogles allied with them. Most of us were killed by the tremors.”
“Tremor?” asked Sephiroth, “We had a tremor, soon after...well.”
“Well, what?” demanded Zidane.
“You were shot,” stated Sephiroth.
“Is it serious, doctor?” asked Zidane, sarcastically.
Dagger laughed for the first time in weeks.
“Okay, seriously though,” said Zidane, “What did that weird long-haired bloke mean about him needing to kill every Zidane?”
“Hmmm,” muttered Sephiroth.
“What?” asked Zidane.
“I've read about an alternative universe,” said Sephiroth, “Must admit I thought it a load of bull at the time, however I grow more interested in the theory.”
“Was it Love Across Reality?” asked Kuja, archly, “I've actually read a serious book, in Hollow Libris.”
“You've been here before?” queried Sephiroth.
“The other Hollow Libris,” said Kuja, “Ours.”
“We've got a serious problem with time,” stated Sephiroth, “Presumably, thousands of parallel alternatives have split off, creating chaos.”
“But one bullet will solve it,” snarled Valentine, “It will stabilise one reality, make Zidane's death permanent.”
Sephiroth slashed out with his blade, and the gun fell to the floor in pieces. Valentine dodged out of the way, and drew his own blade. The two swords clashed and clanged off each other. Valentine's claw thrust out and Sephiroth ducked, kicking in Valentine's stomach. Valentine slashed out at Sephiroth's hand, drawing blood.
“Blood?” asked Sephiroth, looking at his hand.
“They'll be more blood soon!” roared Valentine, charging.
“Kuja, get the others out of here!” cried Sephiroth, parrying Valentine's strike.
The one teacher, two teenagers, and a very confused moogle ran.
Valentine's claw was weaving and snatching, hitting and beating. Sephiroth kicked out, and cut off the claw.
“If Sephiroth can't beat Valentine, what do we do!?” cried Zidane, as they ran, “He was the only one who could stop Ruin-how do I know that?”
“This reality is collapsing!” cried Kuja, “You are filling the hole in time, stabilising our reality.”
“I can remember!” cried Zidane, “I remember my life in Hollow Bastion!”
“That means...” stammered Dagger, “That means....that means that you're back!”
Gaping holes in reality were appearing, as the four heroes ran.
“You three, in!” cried Kuja, gesturing towards a time hole, “This world is dying!”
“But what about Master Sephiroth?!” asked Zidane.
“I'll go back,” cried Kuja.
“You can't!” screamed Dagger, “You'll be killed!”
“I've got to help Sephiroth!” yelled Kuja, “Together, we can stop Valentine! If we don't return, pilot the gummi ship back to Hollow Bastion.”
“In, kupo!” cried Stilzkin, “I'm too young to die, kupo!”
The three of them entered the hole, and Kuja headed back towards the battle.
Valentine kicked Sephiroth back against the wall, as the claw reappeared.
“You fool, Sephiroth,” whispered Valentine.
Suddenly, Valentine was swept off his feet by a blast of Flare.
“Let's see how you deal with two of us!” cried Kuja.
Sephiroth flipped over to join Kuja.
“But there isn't just one of me!” laughed Valentine, as the other members of the Three appeared.
“This looks like the end,” said Sephiroth, “Why return?”
“Because you're my oldest and best friend,” said Kuja.
“You're mine,” said Sephiroth, “Let's do it, old friend.”
The friends leapt at the assassins. Sephiroth's blade removed Freya's hand, a blast of magic knocked Amarant down, as the two friends attacked. Valentine laughed, knocking Sephiroth to the ground.
Time bent, distorted.
Zidane Tribal, chicken farmer, blinked out of existence…
Zidane Tribal, hot dog salesman vanished into oblivion…
Every Zidane screamed and died as they burned out of existence…
And then there was one.
“This universe is falling!” cried Freya, “We must leave, now!”
Freya faded, Amarant faded. Sephiroth leapt up, and stabbed Valentine in the heart, as he faded. Kuja leapt into a hole in time, as the entire universe ended.
“It's just like our Zidane is back,” said Edea, “Does he remember his time in the other universe?”
“He and Dagger never mention it,” said Kuja, “I think it's better that way.”
“What about Sephiroth?” asked Edea.
“He killed Valentine as Valentine teleported,” said Kuja, “Sephiroth is dead.”
“Me, dead?” asked Sephiroth, his voice coming from behind me.
“I thought you were dead!” cried Kuja.
“It takes more than the infinite crushing energies of a universe collapsing to kill me.”
The three friends laughed.
Ansem sat alone. He was always alone. He sat at his desk waiting for the break to end. He considered the darkness he had seen. He would discover its power, become its slave. He would wield the power of the darkness. And never be alone again.
The people of the world of Hollow Bastion are bound by ancient pacts to observe other worlds. While there, they are insubstantial, spectres which cannot be seen by the natives. They cannot interfere, only watch.
Her hair was long, black. She had smooth, white skin, and a childlike smile, and had had Squall's eye from the minute they had met. Squall was unsure how to react when he was stationed with her on an observation mission to Deep Forest. It was a primitive, low technology world, so called because its inhabitants had no knowledge of the world outside, and called it merely "Wood". It would have been the perfect opportunity to get know her better. There was just one problem.
"So," said Squall's oldest friend, Cloud, "What do we have to observe?"
They were in a observation port, constructed from bamboo, and had an all-pervading odour of damp moss.
"A group of plague sufferers," said Rinoa, the girl, "We have to wait to see if the plague wipes them out, or if they survive. Remember, we can't interfere, or change anything now we're beyond the barriers."
"And the point of this is?" asked Squall.
"Oh, no point," said Rinoa, bitterly, "If it was important, they wouldn't have sent a group of kids.”
“Well, at least its an easy A,” said Squall..
"I'm going the observatory," said Rinoa, "See you at lunch."
She left the room as quickly as she had entered it.
"Do you have to do that every time she enters the room?!" snarled Squall, "On the way here, you were happy we would have free time. But no, every time she comes in, you suddenly care about the work?"
"She wouldn't like you anyway," snapped Cloud, "I've invited her to the ball when we get back."
Squall turned angrily.
"I've liked her since we first met, you, you bastard," hissed Squall, "And you ask her out!"
"You never did anything about it!" yelled Cloud, "Why shouldn't I?"
Squall swung his fist round into Cloud's face, knocking his friend onto the hard wood floor.
"Stop!" yelled Rinoa, "We're meant to be observing. A group of men have started injecting the apes with chemicals. "
Squall noticed that her eyebrows arched when she was angry, but there were more pressing matters to consider.
"What?!" cried Squall, running to the observation tower.
Squall and Rinoa headed to the observation tower.
The men wore suits, elegantly pressed suits, and carried guns.
"Who are they?" asked Rinoa.
"They look like a military organisation," said Squall, "Look at the insignia on that gummi ship. T...U...R...K. Turk! Who are the Turks?"
"No idea," asked Rinoa, "By the way, why were you and Cloud fighting?"
"It doesn't matter," said Squall.
"I think it does," said Rinoa, "The two of you have been the best of friends for as long I as I can remember. Is it because of me?"
Squall looked deep into Rinoa's big brown eyes.
"Why would that be?" asked Squall.
"I decided to go to the ball with Cloud," said Rinoa.
"It is true, then," snapped Squall, "Could the two of us stop them?"
"We'd need Cloud's help," said Rinoa.
"We don't need Cloud!" yelled Squall, "Some friend he turned out to be. Get to the communications tower, and ask for help. This training exercise is over."
"But..." protested Rinoa.
"GO!" ordered Squall.
Rinoa hurried to the tower. Squall drew his gunblade, and leapt downwards.
Turk Report 12 on Project: Demonbirth
Security Clearance Required
The project is still in its early stages. The primitives we have captured have all successfully been impregnated. Although none have given birth, there are, as yet, no ill effects. Commander Reno ordered me to compose this report, in order to bring you news of this operation which you have expressed so much interest. Sergeant Elena has ordered several more impregnations of the lesser creatures, believing that ape-demons will be more easily controlled. Of course, I, as aide-de-camp to Reno, have been working directly with both of them. We believe the first test subject will give birth within five weeks.
A moustache twirled, and an evil laugh filled the headquarters.
“Secretary!” cried the figure in the darkness, “Compose a reply. I want a full occupation of Deep Jungle. Now!”
Squall leapt among the men, and was instantly surrounded by guns. Their leader was a man with long brown hair in a ponytail. He wore a blue suit like all the rest, and held a cigarette in his hands.
“Who are you?” asked the man.
“So, the Hollow Emperor cannot even send a fully trained knight after us,” laughed the man, “A mere boy.”
“Who are you?” asked Squall.
“Reno,” said the man, laconically, “Commander Reno of the Talented yet Underpaid Really Kind men. At least that's what I think Turk should stand for.”
“What does it really stand for?” asked Squall.
“It doesn't,” said Reno, “It merely stands for the victory over Hollow Bastion.”
“If you kill me, then the Hollow Empire will send men after you,” snapped Squall.
“Foolish boy,” laughed Reno, “Kill him.”
“Slow!” cried an ethereal voice, “Squall, run!”
Squall flipped, dodging the slowed bullets, as Cloud leapt down to join him.
“You saved me,” said Squall, “Why?”
“It doesn't matter,” said Cloud, helping Squall up onto the port.
“How are we going to stop these Turks?” asked Rinoa.
“We don't,” snapped Squall, “They are too many. We retreat.”
“The coward's way,” said Cloud.
“The only way,” snapped Rinoa, “Cloud, it's over. I don't want to talk to either of you.”
Rinoa headed off towards the ship. Cloud and Squall glared at each other for a minute, and then the two headed towards the ship.
“Captain Rude, send a report to the Director,” said Reno, “We need backup.”
“Yes sir,” said Rude, a black man in a blue suit.
“And Elena?” asked Reno, “Put me through to General Tseng.”
Turk Report 13 on Project: Demonbirth
Two trainee knights from the Edgar Academy arrived here. A platoon of knights will soon be here. We require reinforcements. Project: Hollow Turk will have to be put forward. It is time for Hollow Bastion to fall to the Turks.
Next: The Day of the Turk