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Chapter 2: Accomplishing Failure

A knock on his door got Squall together.

“Squall, it’s me, Selphie! We’re going on a mission.”

Squall didn’t reply, he just got up to another day. He didn’t want tomorrows. He wanted today to last as long as it can, and today to be the day Rinoa was with him.

No. She’s gone. Accept the pain. Face the pain. Kill the pain. Move on.

Squall took a shower and got dressed up in his usual outfit. He then walked out of his room to find a bitter morning, glooming up his already dark thoughts.

Squall started to walk across the main hall when Selphie, in her SeeD uniform came running at him.

“Squall! Good morning, how are ya?”
“Fine.” Squall replied, bitterly.
“Good!” Selphie said, “Cause we’re on a mission!”

Selphie, Squall thought, missions... They are what took Rinoa from me. So should I like them? No. But I will not fail.

With a sudden determination, Squall clenched his fists.

So if missions and a SeeD life is the only thing for me to hold on to, then I’ll do it. I’ll play with a full deck and accomplish my mission!

“Let’s go.” Squall said, his determination was reflecting on his voice, it made Selphie jump up.

Huh!?, she thought, What the? He sounds so determined all of a sudden! What’s going on?

Selphie ran after Squall and they picked up a fast walking tempo to see Cid. Cid was waiting on Squall and Selphie at the directory, with Irvine by his side.

“Ah, Squall. Glad you could join us.” Cid said, with a warm smile.
“Sir.” Squall said, saluting him.
“At ease.” Cid said, with a laughter shining in his eyes.

“Irvine, you have the key role in this mission.” Cid said, “It’s an assassination.”
“My line.” Irvine said, swallowing hard.
“I know.” Cid replied, “We have been paid in advance by General Caraway, for you to assassinate this person-“ he took out a photograph from the folder in his hand, and handed three copies to the three SeeDs out there.

It was a woman. Squall noticed that she looked familiar, but couldn’t make out her face. All he could think about was her age, which was supposed to be around 45-50.

“Reason?” Irvine asked.
“Caraway has found evidence that she’s supporting the resistance factions. She’s spotted in Timber, where the resistance factions will meet up to discuss plans, gains and losses they came across, to do a recap on the sitation.”
“Hmm.” Selphie said, “Maybe this has something to do with the election?”
“Election!?” Squall asked, “What election?”
“Y’know, the election of Galbadian President. We were hired coz Vinzer Deling was the president, and probably coz they wanted to blackmail him into handing Timber over to it’s citizens.”
“Logical enough.” Irvine supported her, “But why now? Who’s elected?”
“Informants of mine,” Cid interrupted, “Told me it was someone... Oh yes, Rue Adel.”
“Adel!?” Squall asked, in shock, “Adel!?”
“That’s not the point!” Cid added, with a little bit impatience.
“Whatever.” Squall accepted and went back into his own world.
“Anyways, you are to assassinate this woman, do all that it takes. Caraway will be busting in from the doors of the old TV station with his army at 17:00. You will be finding her, cause she will be one of the escapees, and then, assassinate her. Be there when it’s 17:00 and keep on close watch.”
“Roger that.” Irvine smiled, but sweat drops had appeared on his forehead.
“It’s about 7:30 now.” Cid said, checking his wristwatch, “Take Ragnarok from the Airstation, and go there at... 16:30, and report to me when you get there. Search for an appropriate place to watch the whole event.”
“Whatever.” Squall repeated, as he started to walk away.

“Where to, Captain Squall?” Selphie asked, smiling.
“None of your business.” Squall replied.
Selphie’s smile faded away, “Captain, now that’s called being mean!”
“Call it whatever you want!” Squall snapped, “I don’t care. Leave me alone.”

Oh no, Selphie thought, I made him mad. Booyaka! But it’s his fault! I just asked this one simple little question and he snapped at me! It wasn’t my fault!

“I know what you’re thinking.” Irvine said, coming closer to Selphie, “You’re thinking it’s not your fault.”
“Booyaka! You psyhcic or something?”
“No. Cause earlier yesterday, Quistis made me think about the same thing.”

Selphie and Irvine both stared at Squall, walking away to the Library. And they had their minds on the same thought, a united thought in them both; Will he ever be alright?

Squall entered from the doors of the Library, to find some peace. It was as quiet as it was supposed to be. Squall found an empty desk and sat down, Zell’s girlfriend -her name was Amy- brought him a stack of papers and a pen. It was standart, A4 paper and a regular pen.

But Squall decided to take it as a message.

Hyne, he thought, is this a message you’ve sent to me? Telling me I should write to her and tell her how pitiful I have become? To expose my weakness to her? To tell her I can’t live without her?

Squall took the pen in his hand and took a single, clean, almost shining paper. He wrote

Dear Rinoa,

And then, his pen froze.

What am I going to write to her? Is there really something I can say? All I can think about is how frustrated or depressed I am. I can’t think of anything to say. Can I really pour something out?

His pen lingered around the paper a little bit more, but didn’t write anything. The paper was still sickeningly clean, apart from the Dear Rinoa Squall had scribbled on the top of the page.

No. I can’t write anything. There’s nothing to say.

Resting his head against his arms which he had crossed on the table to make a pillow, Squall thought about it even more.

The letter was written calmly. No teardrops, no nothing. It was sane. Calm. But why is something bothering me? Dancing... Hmm...

“So I’m dancing on the ashes of the bridges I burn.” Was her last sentence. I know she was writing poetry, but what did she mean by that? Did it even have a meaning? I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore. There isn’t much for me to take in as a thought, but somehow I’m feeling uneasy.

What has she done to me? Or is this pain, work of my own? But was I supposed to abandon my responsibilities? Our ancestors, or just the ‘old’ people we know have always lived the lives we have lived- the way of a soldier. The life that will probably end at the tip of a bullet or a blade. Was she secretly afraid of my safety?

But she said she’s leaving cause of a decision she has made, she didn’t mention me in that. But I know why I’m searching for myself in that letter, cause I want to know if it was her own decision, and nothing with me.

Would that make me feel better? I don’t think so. Can I really find a true reason or a remedy for myself? I don’t think so. If there was a remedy, it would probably be better than those anti-depressants.

Squall put down the pen and looked up to the paper. It was still clean. That one Dear Rinoa was standing there like the only citizen of the letter. Squall stared at the empty paper, stared around him.

This is just not right. What am I doing here? What time is it?

He looked around to see a girl with eye-glasses check her wrist watch.

“Hey, you.” Squall said, feeling totally awkward.

The girl in the SeeD uniform looked up to him. She had black, shoulder-length hair and emerald green eyes.

“You mean me, sir?” she asked.
“Yeah. Umm, what’s your name?”
“Darina, sir.”
“What time is it?” Squall asked.
“It’s 8:30, sir.”

Huh!? I’ve been here for an hour!?

“Thanks.” Squall said, and he turned around to leave.
“Umm, Commander?” Darina asked.
“Yes?” Squall asked back, as he was surprised at his own action.
“You seem... Troubled. You wanna step by at the Cafeteria and have drink, talk about it, maybe?” she asked, with an uncertain voice.

Squall found himself actually thinking about it.

What am I thinking? I have a mission... But it’s like... Nine hours from now. Why won’t I give her a chance? Give myself a chance to escape this depression?

“Sure.” Squall said, and Darina joined him as they walked over to the Cafeteria, all sorts of small talk topics being thrown out between them. Squall was surpirsed how easily he could talk to her. Though he knew Rinoa would always be there, as a ghost or his real love, just like Laguna being Julia’s true love.

As Squall took a glass of whiskey, (which got Darina scared a little bit, considering it was only 8:35 in the morning) and Darina got herself a warm cup of coffee, they sat down on a table.

Squall started to pour out everything he had inside him, the doubts, the fear, the depression, even the pain and the will to get revenge. When he finished, Darina checked her wristwatch to tell him, that it was 14:00.

“Great Hyne, we’ve been here for 6 hours!?” Squall exclaimed, without thinking.
“You didn’t know?” Darina asked, smiling.
“Squall, all these things you’ve said... It proves that you’ve been toyed with.”

Toyed with!? By who? Rinoa? Nah, she was too much of an angel to toy with me, at least I hope so.

“Toyed with?”
“Yes. Nobody with such great love can leave someone just like that.”

Is she trying to get to me?

“Maybe.” Squall said, “Not unless she was really alone.”
“She was a sorceress!” Darina snapped, “What were we supposed to do, welcome her with open arms?”

At that moment, everything Squall might’ve thought and felt about Darina had been neutralised. Creating a simple excuse, he left the table and walked out of the Cafeteria.

By the fountain, he stopped to think.

Damn to Diablos. I can’t stomach this anymore. Why does everyone treat her like something that wants to kill them all? I mean, she’s only a sorceress, not Adel, not Ultimecia, not Edea’s earlier eras, nothing! And then...

I now understand how she must’ve felt when she was left all alone here. Though she’s in the middle of a crowd, there’s no one to talk to is around.

“What time is it?” he asked a cadet that was passing by.
“It’s 14:15, sir.”

Squall decided to go back to his room and fill himself up with anti-depressants again, to make it through the rest of the day. He went back to his dormitories and took the pills. Checking the clock on the wall, Squall saw it was only 14:20.

Squall laid down on his bed, thinking. He was hoping to sleep, but it didn’t come over him. Thinking about the drowzy state the pills put him to usually, Squall found that peculiar, but couldn’t waste thought on it so much, because his thoughts had shifted away to the topic he loved the most; Rinoa.

Squall almost jumped up in fear when the clock striked 16:15. He then remembered that he had a mission to do. Getting his gunblade, he started to run to the Airstation of Balamb Garden.

Giving brief salutes to all the cadets and SeeDs he had seen during his run, he finally arrived at the Airstation, slightly out of breath.

“Squall, I thought you were gonna be late!” Irvine said.
“Booyaka! We only have 45 minutes to get the job done! We’re short on time!”
“What do you mean, 45 minutes for-“ Irvine had started when Squall interrupted,
“Landing Ragnarok, entering Timber, finding a place to take a peek inside the old TV station, to find our target. 45 is hardly enough, but we must succeed.”
“Sure thing, Captain! Ahoy there!” Selphie said, smiling.
“Selph! Shush!” Irvine snapped.
“What?” Selphie asked.
“I’ll explain later.” Irvine replied.

Squall, in silence, took Irvine and Selphie in Ragnarok. Selphie went on the pilot seat and took off, as Irvine went over to the weapon controls.

Squall sat next to Selphie, but didn’t do anything.

Squall emptied and freed his mind of Rinoa, and worries about her. He filled his mission into his mind, only the mission. The target’s face, location, their objective. Everything about the mission was now in his head, shutting the thoughts and feelings of Rinoa.

“I think I’m seeing Timber!” Selphie announced.
“Land Ragnarok to Timber plains.” Squall commanded.
“Well, sorry sir but I don’t take orders from you... Nobody said you were the commander, Squall. Booyaka your luck, but that’s the truth!” Selphie said.
Just do it!”Squall snapped.

Scared, Selphie landed Rangarok, silently, outside Timber. Squall led his “fellow teammates” out of the space ship to the main gate of Timber.

“So, Captain,” Irvine said, cautiously, “Where do we keep close watch on the TV station?”
“We’ll find ourselves a fire exit and climb up to the rooftops. If we can, we’ll be right on the roof of the TV Station.” Squall replied.

Selphie looked at him, and thought, Huh! Who does this guy think he is, Hyne? No, even if I have to do dentistry work on Diablos, I’ll stay reluctant!

But why does Squall, our good old Squall, act so... Umm, what’s the right word? Booyaka! Yep, “predetorian”? He just shouted at me for telling him he wasn’t in command. Maybe coz he’s in a real upsie-downsie stage of his life?

“Squall, I think there’s a fire exit over here.” Irvine reported.

Squall stared at the metal staircase. It did look kinda shabby, but the team’s commander just couldn’t care.

“It’ll do. Follow me. Irvine, have you got the binoculars?”
“I have ‘em right here!” Irvine said, waving the binoculars around, Squall held his wrist to stop him.
Don’t wave a military standart pair of binoculars out on everyone’s face! Just follow me, silently.” Squall started to climb up the stairs. Selphie and Irvine strided after him, to the rooftops.

As she followed her leader, she looked at Squall.

Wow, Squall is almost a “hunter”. He’s concentrated on his mission, like nothing else can bother him... He-hee, he wouldn’t even mind if a meteor crashed on earth and created an ice age... Or would he? Hmm...

But the thinking process made Selphie slip, and her body got over the fence. She managed to let out a scream as Squall’s fingers grasped her SeeD jacket tight. Squall pulled her back up to the staircase.

“Focus!” he said, almost shouted.

Selphie nodded, with eyes wide open. As Irvine attempted to comfort her, Squall went on. The rest of the team followed him.

As they reached to the rooftops, Squall noticed that the sun wasn’t totally gone, but it was nearing the night time light level. He knew they had to be quick. Taking Irvine and Selphie, he managed to make a little bridge between the TV Station and a house nearby. Using the shabby ladder, they crawled over to the TV Station’s roof, and found a sunroof-like window.

Irvine crouched and took the binoculars, to glance inside.

“Damn!” he said, “They look so little! I can’t make up the faces!”
“Are you sure that thing is on?” Selphie asked, as Squall clenched his teeth, in order not to let some intensly interesting curses escape.
“Of course!” Irvine replied, slightly irritated, “There’s only one button for on and one for off. What am I, a moron?”
“Gimme that!” Squall reached out and took the binoculars from Irvine, and then turned it over, “Idiot, you were holding it wrong! Now shut up and let me search the room for our target.”

He glanced inside. The TV Station was overloaded with people that night. Staring at the monitors, slight projectors, and likweise equipment, Squall understood why they had chosen this place to come together. He looked down on the crowd, who were listening in to someone who was giving a speech. He knew it would be all sorts of freedom-like stuff being thrown out, as long as it sounded poetic.

“I see her!” Squall said, “Right next to the girl with the red cap, the woman with the black shawl!”
“Where, where!?” Selphie asked.
“THERE!!!” Squall snapped, pointing at their target. Squall then asked, “What time is it?”
“It’s, wait.” Irvine took out his pocket watch and observed it. “It’s 16:57, we’ve got three minutes.”

Squall decided to pull back into his own world when a loud crashing sound was heard, and screams echoed out from the TV station.

“What!?” Squall asked. Looking down, he saw the soldiers busting in from the doors of the TV station. Cursing silently, he looked down, and saw the woman with the black shawl run out from the doors. Irvine turned backwards and waited for her to get out of the building, his sniper rifle in hand. As the woman got out, he aimed at her neck. He pulled the trigger, but Selphie screaming “WAIT!” and pushing him, made the bullet miss her with great distance.

“Damn!” Squall cursed, “Okay, the mission is still on. Selphie, you stay there at the bridge between the staircase and the TV station, back me up with magic, Irvine, you stay here at the rooftop and back me up with bullets, I’ll go hunt her down!”. Looking down, he met Rinoa’s eyes for a second, and shivered. He buried it deep down and he jumped off the rooftop.

Landing on his feet, Squall ran to the staircase, and swinged his body over the first floor down to the “zero point” of the stairs, where he met the woman. She managed to get away from his grasp, but she had definately spotted the gunblade. Running in the crowd, Squall found her to be particularly difficult to follow. But he was a successful soldier and a commander, and his rank wasn’t just given to him for nothing.

She ducked down in a back alley right across the station, and started to move up the stairs. As Squall got to the staircase, a fireball exploded right in front of him, sending him back, his trenchcoat slightly ripped.

“Selphie!” he shouted at the com-link on his trenchcoat’s collar, “You’re supposed to keep her down, not me!”
“Sorry!” Selphie said. Squall was climbing the stairs, right behind her. She looked down for a moment, and Squall met her eyes- but couldn’t remember her. All he could figure out was that he knew her from somewhere.

The staircase pursuit continued. Climbing up like hopeless rabbits, Squall and his target was reaching to the rooftop. In the last ladder, Squall managed to get on the same ladder as his target’s. Two bullets managed to disconnect the last stage of the staircase from the roof. The woman managed to pull herself up, but Squall fell with the ladder, down to the staircase.

Not stopping to tell Irvine he was going to wring his neck because of that later on, Squall tried to concentrate. Miraculously, his mind was clear. He tapped himself on the chest and said, “Float!” and he pushed the ground.

Flying upwards, Squall got past the opening- the connecting point of the ladder and the rooftop. In mid-air, he saw his target jumping to the next roof. He pushed the roof in that direction, and then touched himself on the chest again, and said “Dispel!”. As the floating magic disappeared, Squall gained up a pace too fast to control. He made a flip, but managed to land on his feet. He screamed a battle cry as his target turned around to face him, but Squall was already lunging at her. The gunblade entered her skin and slid in, Squall pushed the gunblade even further, took the tip out of her back.

Then, he finally saw her face completely. As the woman chocked in blood and slid onto the ground, Squall, with a total panic, stepped back.

“Jenna Dincht!?” he asked, “Zell’s mother!?”
“Squall, what- Great Hyne in heaven!!!” Irvine gasped, coming by his side.

“I... Didn’t know...” Squall said, as wind came along and whipped his trenchcoat. He stared at the horizon, but there was no more light. Evening was gently falling.

Judging by the smoke coming out of the TV station, Squall thought that the soldiers had done their mission more than well.

Not letting himself feel anything, knowing if he felt he would die, he turned his steps to the exit of the town, leaving a life behind.

Leaving his sanity behind.

Chapter 3

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