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Writing Final Fantasy VIII: Orior Palam Deus - FINAL CUT [M-VSL]


Doublehex
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[I]The man, a tortured soul?
A battle, weary in his heart?
Anguish, his only companion.

His Love is his Betrayer,
His corruption,
His torture of the mind,
His rendering of souls,
An ancient memory.

His past is a horrid one
A father, cruel and malicious,
Shattered glass and needles by his bedside,
Sporting a breath that reeked of death.

It was then,
That the man became the Wolf.

The Wolf is tortured by the day?
He longs for the night?

He prowls the cities like a beast after his prey,
Seeking those who rendered the children.
He who longs for the ones that caused that horrid battle,
That battle long ago,
The same battle that remains a constant nightmare in his dreams.

He seeks their blood.

He will have his tithe.

But while the Wolf hunts,
The God waits,
King of Time and Space,
Father of an Ancient kind,
Of those who brought liberation and tyranny to the Planet,
And the Child of the being that knows neither of the great Colors.

The Wolf Hunts.

The God waits.
[/I]





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A castle, dark and foreboding of a horrible future for all of mankind under the moonlight, a fog wrapping itself around the countless towers and chains that kept the fort afloat above the earth, swallowed in by its gloom. This castle was once the symbol of a great nation and king; its bricks pure gold and crystalline, the wooden frameworks perfect in form and construction, allowing no natural force to move them even the slightest of an inch.

None had inhabited this ancient mansion for thousands of years, save one. He was a man once, but his soul had decayed long ago, making his physical appearance only a hollow shell. But this man, despite his curse, was a mastermind, the ancestor of an ancient and benevolent race that long before the Pawn of Heaven summoned the Death from Above, ruled the planet for thousands of years.

The man was infuriated when the Planet killed nearly all of their descendants just so the Planet herself could survive. But now, something will change all that.

The man wiped away at his long, golden hair, his face long and narrow but still full of strength. His armor was black and golden, the shoulders long and rigid like daggers. The emblem of a lion pouncing its prey was melded onto the chest plate, and in the lion?s jaw was a scarlet jewel. A red cape enveloped the man?s armor, adding to the image of a once powerful man.

The chamber was once a great throne room, its master a benevolent king. The throne was made of gold, the armrests massive lion paws, and the tip of the throne revealing the jaw of a wise and ageless lion. But the man had changed long ago, morphing into dust, and the throne followed in a similar suit: the great paws became threatening and demonic claws, the lion?s maw now that of a horned monstrosity. The throne room itself, once bathed in an eternal light that gave hope to all, was now filled with a senseless void that reeked death and infamy.

Then the man felt something.

He smiled. His child had found him, the one he would use to restore the world, and his race. Good. Gaia had protected their ilk for a long time, but her strength weakened by every attempt of their Enemy. Now, the process of making the Ancients a great and ruling race over the planet would begin?and none could stop it now, save the man who crafted the plan itself, the man who sat on the dark throne.

? You?ve found me, child. Good, very good. ?

The man smiled a smile full of dark intent. That knowledge sent a shiver down the sleeper?s spine as he slept.

? Fear me not child, for there is much to be done. ?

The sleeper couldn?t help but ask what it was he must do for this king of an empty castle.

? Now, now child, you must learn the value of the word patience. I will tell you of my, our plan, the plan that will make you and I kings. But now, rest. You have your schemes, and I have mine. Farewell and let us meet again. ?



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The man had awoken with a sweat, the dream of the man in black armor having frightened the veteran warrior. Throwing the thin blanket off of him, the man went over to the sink to splash his face with water, allowing the icy cold liquid to create goose bumps across his neck. The man gazed at his reflection in the dirty mirror, the thin piece of glass cracked and stained.

The man stared at his dark, blue eyes, and at the messy affair of his jet black hair that seemed unruly and full of filth. His chin was wide, and his shoulders hinted how the rest of his well trained and disciplined body appeared: full of muscles that were trained day in and day out for twelve years, constantly being pushed to the limits that God had placed upon them.

The man formed his hands into a pitiful bowl, filled it, and drank the fluid that had not managed to slip between his fingertips. Purposely falling over, the man slowed his breathing, trying to make sense of the nightmare that had stalked him during the night.

[i]?It was just a dream?wasn?t it??[/i]

Again silence hung the air, creating a sense of great fear that seemed to make everything else silent. The man?s beating heart slowed, with each beat creating the illusion of stilling time to an infinite space. Sweat flooded the man?s hair, and the longer the man laid there, the more water that dripped from them. The man swallowed hard, completing one of the many precautions to gain control of himself, now that he was back in reality.

[i]?He knows me??

?He knows what I?m planning??

?Do the others???[/i]

It wasn?t the dream itself that brought so much fear to the man; despite it seeming so real and factual, that if the man wanted to he could actually touch the horrific demonic statues that glorified the halls of that castle. The thing that horrified the man the most was the figure in the black armor; not the series of chest plates that created the daunting figure, nor the physical appearance of the individual in question, but the eyes of the man.

They were the type eyes that could look into people?s souls, their dreams and desires, eyes that could see what every man sinned and how they had glorified in it; they were eyes that nothing could be hidden from, eyes that could look into the darkest desires of every man, to see a man?s lusts, his contempt?s and warmongerings. They were eyes of a God.

[i]?Damnit, get control of yourself Ferin! It was only a dream?a result of reading too many fantasy books. Get focused! You?re almost there; you need to stay on task here!?[/i]

He stood up, staring again into the mirror; his eyes had gone bloodshot red and his face pale with fear. The man attempted to steady his breathing, to try to keep still long enough to compose himself, but it was no use. The horrible nature of that man?s eyes proved a much stronger force of emotions.

Running into his bedroom, he threw on his clothes: a red trench coat that over lapped a meaningless black t-shirt. He slipped on his black leather gloves, and strapped his blade onto his back. Leaving his small cabin, he entered the calm realm that was the sea.

The blade itself was brought off the Galbadian black market in Deling three years prior, and it was an expensive necessity, with it being developed by RA-NHIS, the weapon manufacturer that made itself famous with the creation of the gunblade twenty years ago. The blade, called a Flamberge after the dragon of ancient Galbadian myth, was constructed in the buster sword style; with its long handle that supported an equally long blade. Unlike its ancient predecessor, the Flamberge was double edged, allowing the user to strike from any angle. Never to be satisfied with any of their weapons until it would become far too expensive to mass produce, RA-NHIS added one final feature: they had the Flamberge constructed out of Marliem Alloy, giving it an almost weightless advantage.

Ferin?s mode of transportation was an old fishing vessel he had acquired through persuasion and the luck of the drink in Galbadia a month prior. He gave the ship?s owner three strong alcoholic beverages that the captain enjoyed a little bit too much, and before the man passed out from all of the alcohol in his bloodstream, he practically handed his vessel over to Ferin, who paid the intoxicated captain barely a percent of what the fishing vessel was truly worth.

That?s not to say that this fishing vessel, which reeked of rotten fish, sported a sputtering engine, and was equipped with a sonar system that was more often than not inaccurate, could even be considered worth any price.

He stared at the dark skies: the night before the sea clouds were dark but were at peace. They had remained steady; with them slowly gathering towards the center of what Ferin presumed was the center of his field of view. Then were dark but full of spirits: but now they are black, full of a storm that was waiting to emerge through their slowly weakening and detouring armor.

The distant sky flashed with a great light. A storm was coming: he has to get through it before it gets too dangerous. If he didn?t, waves would form and surely overwhelm the ant of a ship.

Ferin rushed to the captain?s deck, and grasped his hands on the steering wheel.

The distant sky flashed again.

He had to move faster.

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An airplane threw the clouds, its engines tearing away at the white gases that surrounded the vessel. The plane turned slightly, allowing the nose of the metal bird to point directly towards its destination. The island of Balamb came into view, now the size of an ant to the General and the woman onboard, but soon enough the island known for its exotic fish will be gigantic the two of them.

The General was that of Galbadia, and if one were to be formal would call him General Hemmingway, but the blonde haired man in his fifties refused to be called by such a term that signified a man that ordered others to kill in times of near peace. Now, he would insist that he be referred to as simply [i]Mister[/i] Hemmingway, although a rare few would continue to refer to him as his official title. Hemmingway leaned towards the glass window, so that he attempt to see a better view of the island, even though it became evident enough to both him and his daughter that he will get a better view when the helicopter pilot was kind enough to get closer to Balamb Island.

?It?s been a long time Cid,? Hemmingway mused out loud.

?Are we going to get another long flashback now, dad?? Hemmingway?s daughter, Alladra, asked. The woman had turned twenty just a month ago, on October, and the girl almost radiated beauty, with her long blonde hair and mesmerizing blue orbs. The young girl loved her father dearly, and meant no offense with the remark. The General knew that as well, learning long ago that his little girl was a sarcastic one.

?No, I don?t think so. Cid will probably do enough of that once we get there.?

The girl rolled her eyes. ?Oh [i]great[/i].?

Four and a half minutes later, the airplane landed at an area determined and paved earlier by Balamb Garden, and the landing site was a mere four minute drive to the legendary war academy, a privilege much appreciated by the members of the United Legislation, a global organization comprised of individuals from every country in the world dedicated to preventing any wars from arising. Although it had good intentions, it did not succeed every time, for the will of man to fight with guns and blades rather than the tongue constantly proved the stronger, but whenever the United Legislation did manage to score one for peace, it was always considered a revolutionary event.

Within moments, the black limousine that picked the two up at the landing pad drove onto the pathway that was the entrance to Balamb Garden, with an eager Cid Kramer waiting at the entrance.

?Joe!? an open armed Cid proclaimed , and before the embarrassed Alladra could roll her eyes in a pitiful sign of protest, the two old friends were caught in a bear hug with each other, neither willing to let go before the other lost breath.

?All right Cid, you better let go before my daughter get?s embarrassed again,? the old General said with a grin. The Headmaster complied with his old friend?s request, and eagerly loosened his embrace. ?It?s been a long time Cid. How long has it been, ten years??

?I couldn?t tell you even if I wanted you to Joe,? the Headmaster chuckled at the irony. ?I barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday.?

?Before you know it, you?re going to forget that Edea is your wife!?

Cid grinned. ?At least I won?t have to understand the way a woman?s mind works.?

?Nor will I have to understand the way a [i]man?s[/i] mind works, Cid,? revealed a black-gowned Edea. ?It?s good to see you again Joe.? The elder Hemmingway nodded with a grin.

?Same here Edea. Why, you look just as good as the day my wife introduced Cid to you.?

Edea turned to face Alladra. ?And is this little Allie? Oh good lord, you?ve grown. How long has it been? I can?t even remember??

?Please Edea, don?t tell me you are going to get all teary eyed on me now.?

?Oh I wouldn?t go all teary eyed per se, but just seeing you brings back far too many memories.?

?And headaches,? retorted Mr. Hemmingway.

?Like me proposing to Edea here!? Cid smirked as he wrapped his arms around his wife.

?Oh no?,? Alladra groaned. ?A bunch of old people talk about the good old days,? she said with a sarcastic grin.

?At least back then I didn?t get a bad back every other step,? Cid reasoned quite accurately.

?And back then I wouldn?t have to rub it.? Edea?s comeback brought a chuckle from everyone. After the chuckle died down the elder sorceress turned to Alladra. ?Now dear, let me show you to your room.? Edea waved her hand in the air, signaling one of the SeeD students selected to assist the visitors to collect Alladra?s belongings and follow. ?This way, and let?s have the old men talk of the old days, and we woman can talk about the important things.?

?Like arranging rooms for five hundred plus guests when you barely have enough room for six hundred students?? Alladra suggested.

?Precisely,? Edea grinned, and with that she led the young woman to her room on the fourth floor.

?I don?t remember Balamb ever being this big,? Alladra noted as they walked down the halls.

?Well, educating the warriors that saved the world does have benefits. Fame, an increase in student population, which is fine and all, but getting a huge amount of money from nations that want to get on our good side is probably the most helpful. Adding three floors, defensive and offensive systems and refining of the Centra technology are the results.?

They turned down the hall, two SeeD students carrying Alladra?s luggage following a steady pace behind. They quickly reached Alladra?s room, and she couldn?t help but ask a question that?s been on the edge of her mind.

?Is Squall going to be coming??

?I?am not sure of that Alladra, but that is a question no proper young lady should be asking. Do you understand me Alladra??

?Yes ma?am.?

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Rinoa sat on a steel stool that leaned against a counter wall in her room at Balamb, her warm hands wrapped around the mug of coffee that she had prepared for herself a few minutes before. The steam from the mix of coffee beans and hot water created an aroma that the caffeine fueled beverage was somewhat infamous for, especially in cafes. She gently sipped some more of it before she recollected the reason why she was back in Balamb, besides to get some alone time from her father.

Then in an instant, it came back to her in a rush, and she smiled at the fact that Ellone would be coming in just a few short hours. After the Second Sorceress War, the two girls had gotten close enough that any outside viewer would of have had likely assumed that the two were either twins or sisters. Unfortunately, for the past few months the two had not been able to see each other at all, mainly due to Rinoa recently becoming the daughter of the first president of Galbadia in twenty something years and Ellone equally busy with being President Laguna of Esthar?s foreign representative along with vice-president Kiros.

But now, the two were able to get the chance to see each other in what seemed in their naïve and biased opinions an eternity and then some. Of course, they would be representing their countries and relatives as members of the United Legislation, but in truth it really was just an excuse for the two ladies to get a chance to see each other.

Rinoa stared down at her watch; it was 3 minutes to two. Ellone was expected to arrive around three thirty, along with her uncle Laguna. Rising up from her stool, Rinoa sipped more of her coffee before putting on a neat and practically stainless black cotton coat over her pink t-shirt and exited the room. She was getting hungry and thus decided to head to head for the cafeteria to see what food they had available. She never expected for them to have any hot dogs ready: a hot dog at Balamb Garden is usually eaten and paid for within minutes of it being placed on a bun. Fortunately, Rinoa was in the mood for a salad, which was always in high supply, and she was a big fan of the salads.

On her way to they cafeteria, Rinoa saw many faces that were both alien and unfamiliar to her, which was not expected: after all, it had been nearly three years since the Second Sorceress War, and most of the students that Rinoa had seen walk the halls then surely must of graduated by now. It was common sense after all; Squall would tell her of how much he wanted to graduate, to become a full SeeD. No one ever wanted to remain a student forever. But the fact that her second home could actually change was a slap in the face to her ? it just seemed like something that could never happen.

A few moments later, Rinoa stepped into a bustling cafeteria, filled with students in their break periods getting a meal or conversing with their friends, visitors from the UL relaxing and preparing themselves for the long ceremony tomorrow honoring the Headmaster for his peace efforts four months ago. For every occupant that left the cafeteria, another would enter, and meld with the somewhat long line that wrapped itself around the food counter, grabbing another barely washed plastic tray.

Sighting at how at least the cafeteria had not at least changed, Rinoa entered the line. In twenty minutes she was sitting at an empty table, which in itself was a rare sight, starring down at the plastic dish full of salad, small tomatoes, chopped up cheese, and salad dressing. She ripped the plastic bag containing the dressing open, and spread it across the fruit. She was about to tear the plastic casing that held her knife and fork when a familiar hand grasped her shoulder.

?Zell?? she gasped in disbelief when the wide grinned martial artist waved back at her. ?Oh my god?! What are you doing here? I thought you opened up a karate school??

?I did,? he answered as he took a seat next to her. ?But, you know how it is; when old Cid wins an award for stopping a war, I couldn?t help but stop by, ya know??

Rinoa nodded. ?Good to see you again Zell.?

?You too Rinnie. Now, can I have some of that salad??? he asked slyly as he reached over to grab a leaf. Always being the one to be territorial with her food, she stabbed him with her plastic fork. ?Hey! That hurt.?

?[i]My[/i] food,? she giggled behind her teeth.

?Yeah yeah, whatever you say Rinoa. Well, I?ll just get it next time.? He yawned, for whatever reason Rinoa couldn?t guess; he didn?t look tired at all, his blue eyes as clear as day. ?So, uh, you heard from Squall??

?Nope; not since he went to college in Esthar.?

?Yeah, you know, it?s funny: he loved history. He always got A?s in History, and always would get debated with Instructor Kaldar about the legends and crap. So, it wasn?t [i]that[/i] big of a surprise to me when he enrolled in archeologiaea.?

?Archeology,? Rinoa corrected.

?Whatever!?

?You think he?ll come down??

?I don?t know, I mean driving for an hour from Balamb to here is one thing, but flying across the world? That?s going to be pretty expensive, and college took a lot of Gil from his wallet. From what Irvine told me, your dad even gave him a few thousand here.?

?Yeah; it was really expensive, and all the benefits from those movie and book adaptations didn?t come in until like last year.? Rinoa ate some more of her salad. ?What about Selphie and Irvine??

?Oh they?re coming all right; from what Irvine told me, practically all of Galbadia?s instructors are taking a ride here, although I?ll bet you anything that cowboy was over exaggerating again.?

?You know, I?m surprised Selphie didn?t retire from SeeD.?

?Yeah, that?s probably the weirdest thing about this whole ?heroes after the great adventure thing?: that innocent, annoying and flower gazing and teddy bear pointing and hugging Selphie is the only one out of us that stayed at SeeD! I mean, even tough old Squall retired.?

?You know that Ellone is coming, right?? Rinoa said, trying to change subjects from Squall to someone more pleasant.

?No, but I had a pretty good feeling that she was. I mean, isn?t she one of Esthar?s ambassador?s now or something?? Rinoa nodded. ?Well, good for her then. Anyways, I?ve gotta run; places to see, hot dogs to eat, an old Matron to hunt down; you know how it is, right?? Rinoa nodded in approval, and Zell dashed off in search of the items on his list.

[i]?It?s good to know not everything has changed,?[/i] Rinoa noted to herself as she finally got around to eating the rest her lunch.

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Ellone and Laguna arrived at Balamb right on schedule, a few hours after one, and they found Cid and Edea at the front steps of Balamb greeting them along with all of the other Esthar members of the UL that had arrived in the same airplane them as they did, although as expected Edea and Cid gave a far warmer greeting to the President and his niece.

?President Laguna!? the Headmaster greeted the President. ?It?s so good to see you again.?

Laguna smiled at Cid, a sign that he still considered the Headmaster his good friend from his early days as a Galbadian soldier. ?Same here Cid, now will you [i]please[/i] stop calling me President? Or am I going to have to call you Headmaster??

?All right, [i]Laguna[/i],? Cid said with a smirk.

?It?s good to see you as well, Ellone,? Edea pointed out so that the two men would not forget about the black haired woman standing behind Laguna. Ellone couldn?t help but chuckle when she saw Cid blush out of shame for not acknowledging the woman before.

?It?s good to see you too Ellone,? Cid said as he gave Ellone a light hug and kiss on the cheek.

?Same here Cid. It?s been way too long since I?ve been here. A year, hasn?t it?? Edea nodded. ?Well if you don?t mind I?m going excuse myself. I want to get all comfortable and the such for that award ceremony of yours tomorrow Cid.? With that an attendant grabbed her bags and directed her to her room.

?Well Ellie seems in quite a rush, now doesn?t she?? Cid noted after Ellone had walked halfway up the ramp towards Balamb.

Laguna crossed his arms in a lazy stance. ?Yeah well, she and Rinoa have practically become sisters you know.?

?True.?

While the three adults outside of the famed war academy were caught in idle chit chat, Ellone and Rinoa were squealing like school girls on their way to their High School prom, with the term ?ohmigod!? popping up frequently, as well as both of the ladies referring to the other as girlfriend, although they never had any inappropriate relationship in reference to it.

?It?s been too long Ellie!? Rinoa announced to Ellone as if the long haired woman was on stage and Ellone her audience. ?These four months have been going way too slow. Everyone is about as interesting as fried fish in my dad?s cabinet.?

?Oh come on Rinoa,? Ellone said as he accepted a cup of coffee, ?Not everyone can be as interesting as seafood.?

?Girl, I am [i]dead[/i] serious. I mean, one time, I could of have sworn not a single soul but me blinked in an hour long meeting.?

?All right, now I [i]know[/i] you are exaggerating.?

?I know, but still, it?s been way too long Ellone. I can stand not talking to someone with a personality and who can stand my jokes for so long, you know what I?m saying??

?Of course?except Kiros and Uncle Laguna can?t help but crack jokes every other minute. And most of them [i]will[/i] put me to sleep.? Rinoa laughed at the joke. ?I mean, even Squall is funnier than Laguna sometimes!? The smile faded away from Rinoa?s face almost instantly, and Ellone realized just how fresh old wounds still were. ?Oh Rinoa, I?m sorry -?

?I?m all right.?

Ellone wasn?t so convinced. ?You?re sure??

?Yeah, I just don?t understand exactly what he meant, by us being a relationship of convenience. I mean, I know I loved him then?I mean I still do?I think?but, well, I just don?t know what he meant. I mean, didn?t he love me too??

?I?m sure he did Rinoa. He?s probably just as confused as you are. Just give him some time.?

?Isn?t a year enough time? It?s been a whole year?it?s been awhile.?

?Squall takes things nice and slow. Remember, it took him eleven years to actually talk to people longer than saying ?whatever? okay? He?ll know the real answer sure enough, mark my words.?

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Esthar Flight No. 486 flew smoothly threw the night sky as it slowly reached it?s destination of Balamb Island. It had left with no trouble at 6:39 AM, a few minutes off schedule, and despite the fact that it had to make a detour around Galbadia so that to avoid a lightning storm that could of possibly interfered with it?s systems and likely cause the plane to crash, No.486 would land at Balamb International Airport just a half hour off schedule at approximately 10:36, and this would cause no interference with the Airport?s other flights.

Squall Leonhart sat in the sixth row, to the left of any airplane attendees that would walk up an aisle from the Captain?s seat. The ex-SeeD stared out of the window, towards the giant mass of gray clouds that surrounded the passenger plane as it tore its way through them. At eight thirty, the man who had just a few years prior saved the world from total destruction was exhausted, a state that nearly all of the movie and novel contracts failed to inform the general public was something that he went through. They also failed to let on that Squall was, quite the surprise to any common man woman or child he met, was human and imperfect, a fact that annoyed the man on more than one occasion. But movies and novels have always had the habit to make modern day heroes perfect and god like in practically everything they are and do, so it was something that could not truly be helped.

It was eight thirty at night and Squall yawned so long and wide that it would have had made even a Bear blush. Placing his heavy head on the soft chair, he grabbed a small lever and pulled on it, pushing the chair back, far enough to be in a comfortable state but not so far as to annoy the person behind him. He then quickly fell into a deep sleep.

It would seem like only a minute before he was back in Balamb.

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News of Squall Leonhart?s arrival at Balamb Garden spread faster than wildfire. Cid and Edea barely had a half hour?s worth of relaxation before they got word of it and had to redress somewhat to say hello to their old son, and Irvine and Selphie, who arrived just an hour before him and were just about to call it night, brought up a storm dressing themselves in hopes they could reach their old friend before the whole school crushed him.

Everyone was there to greet the old war hero, except Rinoa. The group was surprised to see just how much their old friend had changed in appearance: his brown hair, which before had allowed itself to drag down a few inches short of his neck, had been grown out of proportion, outliving it?s former length and moving downward past his neck. On top of that, Squall was not wearing his iconic feathered jacket that they were so used to wearing, but rather a leather jacket that was cut at where his ribs would be, with the iconic symbol of Griever printed in red on the short sleeves.

?Whoa?? Irvine rubbed at his eyes, a mixture of his exhaustion and the disbelief of Squall?s radical physical change. ?Squall! What happened to your hair??

?I let it grow, so what??

?But it?s long! I?m supposed to be the dude with the long hair!?

Squall just grinned in ignorance. ?Whatever Irvine.?

Seeing that everyone would want to focus on Squall?s new appearance rather than the fact that he was actually here, Zell decided it was best to change the subject. ?Where?ve you been Squall??

?Just college Zell. No major battles or anything like that.?

?No bar brawls?? Irvine questioned curiously, a mysterious flare in his eye.

?No??

?Damnit!? Irvine stomped the ground in protest, and handed over to Zell a few gil. The Gunblade master couldn?t help but chuckle.

Squall quickly gave a quick glance at the group that surrounded him, glad to see everyone was there?except for one. ?So err, anyways, where?s Rinoa?? Even though the two of them were no longer in a relationship, Squall still looked to the young Sorceress as a close companion, a sister even, but considering her refusal to answer his phone calls, Squall had already guessed the answer to his own question.

Selphie placed her arms on her sides. ?Squallie, do you really need to know the answer to that??

?Guess not?? Squall answered in a low voice.

?Yeah, you had a ton of guts Squall?? Zell said not thinking but Edea quickly butted in, her gray eyes infuriated.

?Enough of this talk, all of you!? Edea commanded. She refused to have her ?children? battle amongst themselves at their first reunion in two years. She refused to have her dear ones brawl openly at an event designed to celebrate an achievement of peace. ?Let?s just be happy that we are all here. Now, I think it is time we all head back to our rooms and get some sleep: I?m sure we?re all exhausted, as I?m sure Cid is.?

?Ahem, when did I say you could speak for me??

?When you recited your marriage vows in front of Father Jacob,? the elderly woman corrected slowly to her husband. Cid nodded in understanding. Edea turned to the others, a fiery flare in her eyes, although not one of hate, but one of a fiery determination; a determination of a wife, and worse yet, a mother that had seen too many families fall apart due to bickering. Her lips went stern, and in a commanding voice she demanded that her children head off to their rooms, to calm themselves so that they can be in a better attitude in the morning. Knowing how Edea gets when she?s argued with, especially late at night, the children decided it was best to comply with her ultimatum.

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Like a lion confined in a cage, Squall circled around his room given to him by Cid and Edea, his mind caught up at the way his old friends had reacted to him when Rinoa was brought up. He knew that they were all bitter at him; the two had not left each other on the most pleasant of terms, and the way Squall worded the parting, it sounded as if he was dumping her, which was surely not the case. He merely just wanted to part ways.

But why do they have so much hatred towards him? Aren?t they family? Are they brothers and sisters to each other? Didn?t they risk their lives for each other everyday for four months? Didn?t they feel the need of total reliability on each other that if just one of them died they wouldn?t know where to go next?

Where did that feeling go?

Squall never realized truly realized until now how bitter everyone, Rinoa in particular, was over the separation. That is, until now. Even when she didn?t return any of his calls or e-mails, in his heart Squall was certain that she had gotten over the separation.

And now the truth had finally decided to show itself and reveal it?s monstrous of a head, and spread word throughout Squall?s aching heart like a dagger that dug deeper and deeper into the lifeblood of every man: his friends loathed him for the action he took those years ago, although not nearly as much as that of his rival Seifer, but that brought little ease of pain and mind to him. His friends still hated him for that act of separation between him and Rinoa.

Squall allowed his weary body to fall onto his bed, the soft mattress bringing some relief to his aching back that irritated him greatly, despite the fact that he performed no sort of manual labor that should have brought the affliction to it. He turned over onto his side and stared out onto the clear night sky that almost seemed to sport an infinite amount of stars. When he was a child, he would always love to stare out at those infinite numbers of miracles of time, of how no matter how long time will pass, there will always be stars looking over the elderly Planet, and the stars would always fascinate man. That fact always comforted the juvenile Squall in some way whenever immature and foolish problems would emerge themselves.

Staring into the glow of the stars, Squall began to wonder if he could fix everything that he screwed up on.

Was there hope yet?



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The Estharian weapon depot KARAM-64 was located deep in the heart of what was the Salt Flats, an area made infamous through urban legends and a many folk tale for being the birth place of Esthar, which had defended itself for hundreds of years with the use of knowledge and power intertwined with dark, calculative and deceiving politics that could easily be related to a boy bullying those younger and weaker than him through fear of getting into juvenile and foolish conflicts.

If urban myths can have any reliability at all, the Salt Flats were a thousand years ago used as a project by Esthar to create an ultimate weapon; a way to use decaying death as an actual fuel for a weapon of mass destruction. The table turned on them, however, when the secret project went through some type of accident, and murdered thousands in the local vicinity. Not being the ones to be totally heartless, the leaders of the project abandoned both it and the wasteland that was fueling the project, and with that decision came the consequence that the true story of Esthar was lost forever.

Alas, hardly a soul in Esthar was interested in learning any sort of connection between the frozen hell and the ancient days of their nation; any place that reeked of death would not be well accepted in being a birth place of the nation that is supposedly the place that has the greatest life style the Planet can offer.

And so, after little debate, the Salt Flats were destroyed. Obviously superior technology available to only Esthar was used in the task, but the actual method was kept on closed ears. Few knew exactly how it was done. Then again, even fewer cared. The Salt Flats were a constant embarrassment to Esthar?s name since the beginning, and it was a welcomed relief among man of the country?s populous when it was finally eradicated.

If one heard that someone was to search for this facility, KARAM-64, one could also presume many things; one of them being the person in question was either a maniac or a fool. Nonetheless, most people that would go out and search for the weapon depot would find nothing: just a flat, pale and lifeless plain that seemed to stretch for miles, with the occasional mountain and boulder that rose from the Planet?s flesh. To the unprepared, it would be a hopeless mission.

To the prepared however, and those willing to walk a few dozen miles off the beaten path, KARAM-64 is a surprisingly easy military facility to find. All one needs is to simply fiercely and violently kidnap and interrogate an employee of the famed Lunar Gate Research facility who was foolish enough to leave his place of employment late at night and alone, giving no witnesses to any sort of crime.

Using the night as cover, the elusive Ferin ?the Wolf? sprinted from one large protruding rock to the next, never staying still in any place for too long, taking heed the warning from his ?informant? that there were underground sensors that sensed unmoving objects. From one boulder to the next, the Wolf sprinted onward, never allowing the occasional hill or careless fall to slow him down for too long.
If Ferin was to have his watch on him at the time, the large and small hand would have reached eleven the moment he set his deep blue eyes on the weapon facility, engraved away in a mountain that was miles off of the paved route given to the regular traveler.

The weapon depot was a small, unthreatening and deceiving facility, with its physical appearance resembling nothing more than an over expanded concrete bunker. A poorly placed and constructed fence of rolling barb wire was the depot?s only sort of protection beyond the sensors that dotted the surrounding area, but even they posed no immediate threat to any invaders such as Ferin. They merely gave an alarm, and those at the depot, numbering only about ten or fifteen soldiers and one captain, would ask for aid from another neighboring facility, wait for an unknown period of time for a response, and depending on that response would go out and investigate the sensors? signals. Of course, by the time they would get there the things that very well could of have had triggered off the sensors would of have been long gone.

Or in Ferin?s case, right at their doorstep.

Drawing his Flamberge, Ferin slowly revealed himself from the boulder that was his cover for the brief seconds that he examined the weapon depot?s pitiful defenses. Licking his lips, narrowing his eyes, gripping the red handle of his weapon, Ferin charged through the barb wire, swatting the foolish fence with his blade as if it was a fly. The half drunk guard in front of the entrance could barely aim his rifle at Ferin before he met his fist, knocking out the foolish soldier for a few hours at the least.

Using his shoulder as a battering ram, Ferin practically tore apart the rusted door, and two soldiers sitting idly by were caught by surprise of his arrival. One went flying with a swipe of Ferin?s blade, the wave of energy that erupted from the action knocking him out. The other was pinned against the wall with a well tuned kick in the stomach, and was knocked out when Ferin slammed the soldier?s head into the wall.

Treading slowly now, Ferin paved his way through the remaining soldiers that remained, using every means necessarily to not murder a single one of them. The only exception to this rule was the captain, who had dashed for the radio in a poorly made attempt to gain reinforcements and capture Ferin. Not allowing that to happen, Ferin regrettably threw the massive blade into the captain?s back, killing him in a gory and inglorious blow. When he drew his blade from the dead carcass, Ferin felt his stomach turn: he had killed an innocent man. The Captain was merely performing his duties. He knew not of where this captain had hailed from: for all he knew, Ferin had just made a wife a widow, and some son or daughter fatherless.

That last statement nearly made the warrior burst into tears. Forcing them back, Ferin sheathed his blade, and made his way through the dazed bodies towards the room containing the item he had fought and killed for.

It was Hyperion.

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It is said that men?s dreams come and go on ships. What exactly the ship sails on does not matter to them; the skies or seas didn?t affect men?s mind and opinion on the vessels. As long as they sailed on something, as long as they bring news from far away places, as long as they give the idea of leaving an old life and brining a new one, ships will always remain the memorizing and almost mythical vessels that carry men?s dreams.

Of course, there were exceptions to the rule: some had seen this dream, and were tired of it. Seifer Almasy, with his dirty blonde hair, stout chin and vertical scar that seems to almost stretch across his face, Seifer shows the appearance of a man who has seen the truth behind the dreams that ships export and import whenever they dock at Fisherman?s Haven: dreams are death. Dreams are destruction; dreams are oblivion. Worst of all, dreams are a tunnel that one sprints through, hoping dearly in their hearts to find the end of. And when they reach it, they find nothing. No happiness, or joy, no sense of completion or self discovery; no indication of becoming a better man at all. The only thing he found at the end of that long and grueling tunnel was depression.

At eight thirty two on the fourth of March, Seifer was at where he always was at this time: a bar. This was the only place he wanted to be, the only place he needed to be. He didn?t need to be doing work of any kind, or enlisting in some bullshit army. He could hardly care what was going in the world around him. The way he saw it, the world didn?t need him and he didn?t need the world. The only thing he gave a damn for was his vodka.

The old knight stared into the glass holding his vodka, the oval container barely five inches high. Holding it between his thumb and pointing finger, Seifer swirled the colorless liquor, starring into its transparent contents, seeing an eerie imagery to his own life. Before, he was so full of life, sarcasm and the occasional empty death threat.

Now, he was a grumbling old veteran in a depression that no one short of God could be capable of pulling him out off.

[i]?Shit?[/i] he though to himself. He swallowed the vodka down, draining the glass. He ordered some more, never one to be satisfied with just one glass of the drink.

As he drowned himself in his miseries, he transported himself years long before he met Ultimecia and his entire life spiraled down to hell and below, even before his first failure at the SeeD exams when he was sixteen. He remembered that week when he was just fifteen, when his over excitement got the worst of him, and he almost killed a friend.

[i]?To be fourteen is to be young, arrogant and a major fucking pain in the ass. I remember that day to screw up all days like it was just yesterday. Raijin got detention for trying to set up fireworks outside the girl?s dorm. And being that the big idiot that he is, he practically set the whole freaking school on fire. And there was nothing for me to do without the big lummox since Squall was no where to be found, no matter how long Fuj and I searched for scar face: it turned out he was in some long ass meeting with some instructors for special treatment or some screwed up excuse like that. So there were me and Fujin: bored out of our good for nothing lives in my dorm. It really does suck not having anything to do: during class at least we actually had crap to do. Then it makes it easier to sleep. When there isn?t even crap to do, it?s practically freaking impossible to get some z?s. So then I came up with this great idea to head for the training center, just because I was feeling trigger happy.?

? ?Why? There?s nothing fun there Seifer. Just a bunch of plants that move. They couldn?t even nibble on us.? ?

? ?So, I?m bored and it?s better to chop up sorry excuses for plants than hand around doing nothing, right?? ?

? ?I guess.? ?

? ?Come on then, lets go already!? So, I got my gunblade, Fujin got that shuriken of hers. Anyways, we made our way to the training center. The first time I was there, when I was likes eight I think, I was totally mesmerized by all the plants and flowers. I never saw so many big trees in the same place, not to mention all the birds that were there. So, I was kinda like ?holy shit!? or some totally over exaggerated look like that. But by then I had seen the center like a billion times, so it was not a big deal. We hunted a bunch of weak beasts for like an hour, since that was all that could really stand up to me and Fujin. Now, if the whole trio was with us, those poor excuses for plants would have been gone in like ten minutes. Then again, we were definitely over cocky; more times than one I almost got the three of us in more trouble than we could chew. Raijin and Fujin even admitted that one day there was definitely going to be a time when I was going to get the three of us into some trouble we would never be able to get us out of. I was too much of a dumb ass back then; caring for the then and not the after, not what could happen after; not caring of what could happen to my friends. I thought myself invincible; I thought that nothing bad would ever happen to me.?

?I was never more wrong.?

? ?Oh, hell yes! That is the way to do it, you worthless good for nothing shits! Hell yeah? And while I was showing off my stupidity, I was slashing empty air in a pitiful attempt to show how much I was a badass. And then, I did something I would always regret, for as long as I can remember anything. I twirled around, and slashed what I thought was empty air. The only problem was, I didn?t slash empty air. There was a scream?Fujin?s scream. I went pale. I slashed Fujin right across the right side of the face. Her face was covered in blood, her dark red hand covering her eye. She kept on screaming, and I just kept watching as her blood dripped onto the green arena, creating a scene of pure and complete horror. As much as I wanted to, I couldn?t fir the longest run over to here and help her. I was too horrified.?

?I found out that my friends and I aren?t invincible, that were just like everybody else.?

?I finally managed to muster enough courage to place Fujin?s head on my lap. ?PAIN! MUCH?!,? she screamed that maniacal voice of hers that she would become synonymous with. ?HELP!? ?

? ?Fuj?? ?

? ?HELP!!? ?

?I may of screwed up, but there was no way I was not going to help my friend when she needed me; so, I lifted her up, and brought her to old doctor Kadowaki. The moment Fujin was in the infirmary, I was practically thrown out by one of her assistants. I pounded on the door, wanting to be let in. Of course they wouldn?t though: trouble causing Seifer should never be allowed in a quite place like the infirmary, that?s probably what they said. So, I decided to man it out. I got comfortable, and waited outside the infirmary. I wanted to be as close to Fuj as I could. It was an hour later until Doctor Kadowaki came out and let me wait in the waiting room. So, I waited in there for a long time: it was so long I could barely remember what time it was when the Doctor came out.?

? ?How is she?? ?

? ?She?ll be fine Seifer. But why? Why do you have to be so reckless? Why do you always have to be the one to prove himself? Fujin almost died because of you, don?t you know that. What can?t you be like Squall? At least he can control himself: he doesn?t slash people across the face and make them lose an eye and pop a blood vessel.? ?

?Squall?again he was part of my life. Again he was the better: again he was the one who was better at everything I tried to be. Squall was the reason why I lived: to beat him. To constantly face him, so I could prove that I am not just Seifer. I am THE Seifer. Again, Squall was my better: he was a better person. He knew how to control himself. I did not. He can keep cool: I could warm coffee just by touching it. He knows what it means to be ready for the next corner: I live for the now.?
?Once again, Squall was my superior.?

?Then Kadowaki told me that her eye was pretty much useless, so they had to plug it out. A synthetic one would be imported from Galbadia as soon as they filled out the paper work. Of course, Fujin never wanted me to remember what I did, so when she got better she just got an eye patch. Of course, the eye patch was more of a reminder what happened than if she had just gotten that fake eye. That wasn?t the bad news though: that blood vessel that popped will affect her speech forever: she would only be able to speak in screams and short, unintelligible sentences. She would be seen as a mental retard for the rest of her life.?

?And it was all my fault. Everything was my fault. My scar, Ultimecia, Fujin?everything bad that ever happened to anyone I knew was my fault.?[/i]


Hours had passed since Seifer had drunk himself useless. He could hardly how much vodka he drank; nor could he remember how long he was in his memories. The only thing that gave him pleasure these days was the drink; an odd contrast from the proud young man he was in his youth. Like most, he could be considered that of a bully and somewhat of a moron, but at least then he was proud of who he was. Now, he was just another washed out veteran drinking his misery away.

?One more drinks, tender!? the drunk said, swinging his glass in the air lazily. The bartender said nothing as he poured Seifer another cup of vodka. The knight swallowed the fiery liquor down his throat, ignoring the fact that in a few short moments the taste would escape his lips, and he would demand another drink, adding more to his drunken state. ?Another one, if you wills please,? Seifer requested, tapping his slimy cup affectionately.

?Don?t you think you?ve had enough?? the bar tender demanded more than asked.

?I?ll tell you when I have had enough, and right now, I don?t think I?ve had enough. The two of you cants fools me now! I?m am nots even close to be drunken!?

?I think you should take a break Seifer,? the bartender said in a commanding tone. He took the glass away from the drunken mercenary.

?Aw shits,? Seifer moaned pathetically before lying his head on the bar counter, allowing his drool to stain the worn wood before he fell into a drunken slumber.

Seifer was awakened from the dream hours later with a splash of freezing cold water from the bar?s kitchen. The now somber Seifer groaned as he lifted his lazy head up, his body still weary from the slumber.

?All right bonehead, time to wake up. It?s closing time.?

?Shit,? Seifer mumbled under his breath. He managed to get his aching body up and out the door a few minutes later, after falling to the floor a few times.

Leaving the bar, the Knight made his way through Fisherman?s Haven?s many alleyways and roads, avoiding contact with the few pedestrian when needed, never in the mood to scan the growl or face of disgust on some fool?s face. He eventually made it to his house, a pitiful house given to him by Mayor Dobe more out of command from the United Legislation than anything else, and the condition of the house showed it. The house was made completely out of scrap metal, the floor was not even paved, and when Seifer first received the house it?s door barely hanged on its hinges. The shack was caught between two much larger buildings, the pitiful structure giving the appearance of being pushed into oblivion by its larger counterparts. It was truly a pitiful home for a pitiful existence.

Seifer walked through the empty doorway, the door having fallen off of its hinges long ago. The one room house was in complete darkness, since the lone light bulb that was Seifer?s only source of light when night came exploded months ago after overuse.

Seifer walked through the darkness to where he knew there was a table holding a nearly burnt away candle leaned on it?s curved side. He waved his hands lazily by his side, to try and get the ache out of them. Of course, that didn?t work. He felt the cold, rotting side of the table, and he searched for the candle, which he found easily enough. His hands searched for the pile of matches that he used to light the candle on a nightly basis, but they weren?t where they were supposed to be. He didn?t even find any ashes of where they probably would have been. It was like that one area where they were was cleaned spotless.

?What the hell??? Suddenly, the room was lit. A man in a red trench coat was in front of Seifer, on the opposite side of the table. Seifer jumped back in shock, not exactly expecting a well trained man wearing a trench coat holding who knows what behind it to enter his house. The fact that the man was grinning devilishly did not help much either. ?Who the hell are you??

The man licked his lips and threw back his black hair. ?I am Ferin?Ferin Alengar. Do you remember, Seifer Almasy??

?Fuck no! Why the hell would I? Did I kill a friend of yours or something? If so, you?re probably wanting a little payback, right? Right? Well tough luck shit face! I could care less what you do to me.?

Ferin chuckled, and his grin lessened from a wide one to a small and calculative one. ?Interesting. You were so proud Almasy, so very proud. Well, would like to know how I got this?? Seifer?s eyes trailed down, realizing Ferin?s hands were holding something. It was a blade, silvery in color and appearance, a straight sword. It had no sword handle, unless you counted the handle that resembled that of a pistol. Seifer?s eyes went wide. It was Hyperion.

Seifer cursed under his breath. ?Where the hell did you get that??

?I took a detour around Esthar.?

?What the hell do you fucking want??

?Simple. I want answers.?

?To [i]what[/i]??

?The truth; I want the truth from you. Were you really possessed by Ultimecia??

?I?what? I told the judge that!?

?Did you? Were you being truthful??

?Yeah, why wouldn?t I??

?It is not exactly hard to lie. Of course, you don?t have a sword pointed at your throat.?

?What sword??

?[i]This[/i] sword.? Before Seifer could say anything in protest, Ferin was on top of the table, knees bent and at eye level, with his Flamberge in his hand, mere meters away from Seifer?s pale throat. ?Willing to talk?? Seifer mumbled a yes, and stepped backwards slowly as Ferin made his way off the table. ?Good. Now, were you or were you not possessed by Ultimecia.??

?I..I??

?Will the sword away from your throat help at all??

?S-sure man?whatever you say.? Ferin nodded, and sheathed his sword over his shoulder. ?Now, talk. And don?t lie.?

?I?I?wanted...wanted my dream??

?You allowed her to control you then??

?Fuck no, you kidding me? I hated teacher bossing me around at Balamb! Why would I let some old bitch take control of me literally??

?So, she did it forcefully??

?Yeah??

Ferin paused, rubbing his knuckles sensitively. ?Seifer, do you enjoy living the life of a drunk?? Seifer didn?t respond. He just turned his back. ?You never wanted this did you? You thought you get freedom, when you got only shit to live under. Would that be a true statement??

??Sure.?

?Do you want redemption?

Seifer?s head turned slowly to face Ferin. ?What did you say??

?You killed our brothers at Balamb. I am offering you redemption.?

?Our brothers? What the hell do you mean, our brothers? I don?t even have a mom or dad!?

?The Crash of the Gardens, you drunk idiot. When you and Trabia?s Generals led Trabia Garden to attack Balamb Garden at Centra.? Seifer dipped his head down out of sadness. ?Do you want it??

?What the hell can I do right? Everything is my fault?the war?Fujin?this scar?everything bad that happens is because of me. What can I do to fix that??

Ferin turned to the table, taking Hyperion off of its surface. He then offered it to Seifer, handle first. ?Take it. Follow me.?

?Follow you??

?We?ll fix everything we ruined in our pitiful lives. They say that sometimes you must let God resolve the sins of man. I am not going to wait for it, and neither will you. If you are truly innocent, you will follow.?

?And if I am guilty??

?You will die a slow and pitiful death here; in this pile of shit you call a home. You, the Knight of a sorceress, will die here. Do you really want that??

Seifer grinned. He then grabbed Hyperion from Ferin?s hand. ?I?m no Knight?but I?ll follow. I?ve got nothing better to do anyways. Dobe is a really big fucking pain in the ass, you know what I?m saying? He doesn?t like me?then again no in does. No place being in a place you?re not liked.?

Ferin nodded. ?Follow me then.? He walked for the exit, and Seifer followed him to where his boat was. And then, they sailed off into the South, towards where the sun rose over the orange sea. It was there, Ferin would later tell Seifer, that their journey would begin.
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[center][IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v143/Doublehex/3.jpg[/IMG][/center]

As Ferin stood on the deck of his meager ship, he couldn?t help but notice how the storm had not died down as of late, which was even more perplexing considering he first noticed the storm two days ago. It wasn?t exactly phenomenal for a storm to last a few days, but three days were pushing it, and this storm wasn?t even close to ending its messy affair. To Ferin, it was obvious that this was a very special storm: it didn?t have the virginity of something from the Planet. It had the touch of Man upon it.

Esthar apparently does not want anyone to retrieve its prize.

?Damnit Ferin!,? Seifer yelled off from a few feet away, his rain coat drenched and his steps slowed down by all of the water his clothes had taken in. ?We need to turn back or something! Got to get some shelter, you know??

Ferin was unmoved by the suggestion. ?No.?

?[i]No[/i]? Are you out of you?re mind jackass? We?ll drown if we don?t get to a safe place!?

?We will survive.?

?Damnit!? Seifer raised his arms into the air in protest, and walked off. ?Why the hell did I even come with you!?

?Maybe because you were as drunk as horse.?

Seifer grumbled some swears before he headed into the more warm quarters of the boat. Coming to the conclusion that he would not get to where their prize laid any faster by staring at the storm, Ferin followed Seifer in. The ship was on autopilot; it would get their when Time decided to.

?Just where the hell are we going anyways?? Seifer said, shaking his head like a wet dog. He threw his rain coat off of him, throwing it onto the soggy floor. Ferin followed likewise, not willing to explain anything in such a degenerative piece of attire.

?We are going after a ship.?

Seifer?s excessive shivering stilled somewhat, as if Ferin?s answer warmed him. He turned to Ferin, his eyes full of interest. ?A ship, eh??

?One of three ships designed to transport the Sorcerers Adel from Esthar to that jail that orbited the Lunar Planet. It boasts the highest technological aspects Esthar had ever created, and will surely be invaluable to us.?

?You?re talking about the Ragnarok, aren?t you?? Ferin nodded. ?What the hell do you want that for? Do you really want the biggest freaking country in the world to go after you?re scrawny ass??

?We need it.?

?Come on man! There are tons of other airships! Just buy one!?

?Don?t be an idiot Seifer. The Ragnarok-II is the best airship around. If we can get, we might as well.?

?Damnit, I?m dead! I?m dead!? He stormed out into his room, not wanting to hear any more excuses on why they should go after the Ragnarok-II. Ferin just poured himself some coffee.

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A few hours later, Seifer was awoken suddenly when the roar of thunder announced itself to the meager ship. The tilting of the ship thanks to a tidal wave threw the ex-Knight off of his bed. It was one thing to be awoken by sirens: he could handle the roar of battle wakening him up from his sleep. It was another thing altogether to wake him up by throwing him from his bed.

Seifer was not a happy camper.

With the fury that would make even a Ruby Dragon green with envy, Seifer rushed out of his room to find Ferin lying comfortably on the toppled table, sipping some more coffee. ?Whet the god damned hell is going on? Are you trying to get us sunk to the bottom of the good for nothing ocean, Ferin??

?It was merely a tidal wave, Seifer. Control yourself.?

?[i]Just[/i] a tidal wave? It threw me off my bed!?

?Oh, shut your face, will you? We?re there.?

Seifer?s rage vanished almost immediately, the man intrigued in what exactly Ferin mean by ?where?. ?What do you mean??

?Our destination; our point of interest; where we want to be, stuff like that.?

?I didn?t mean it like that you dumb ass! Where is there?or here, or whatever!!?

?We are south, off of the tip of the Centra Empire?s Ulevntiem province.? Ferin was referring to the third world country of Centra, which named itself after both the famed continent and the ancient race of legend and supposed history. Although it played a slight but important role in the Second Sorceress War, in letting the party of Squall Leonhart explore its ruins in pursuit of the Guardian Force Odin, it was practically ignored by the historians that recorded the War. It was not even invited to be a part of the United Legislation. ?Esthar hid the Ragnarok-II in a part cove, part high tech mini fortress a few miles ahead of us. My guess is that cove is where the storm is originating.?

?Oh joy. Time to head right into the eye of the storm. I take it life boats won?t save us from fifty foot waves, huh??

?Actually, there are no life boats here.?

?Well, that?s just great!?

?Oh, shut your trap. We?ll be safe in a few minutes. The storm acts like a somewhat natural shield around the island. Once we?re behind that shield, we shouldn?t have any problems.?

Almost as if on cue, a tidal wave slammed into the ship, sending the two flying. A knife missed Seifer?s head by a few inches. Seifer growled irritably. ?If we can even survive for a few minutes.?

Ignoring Seifer?s biter sarcasm, Ferin rushed to his feet and the bridge. But before he could get there, the ship was slammed in from behind by another tidal wave. The push certainly gave it some distance, but it also tipped the ship to the point where some water was pouring in, although it certainly wasn?t enough to sink the vessel.

?My life sucks,? Seifer concluded. For whatever reason, he decided to follow Ferin to the deck, thinking it was better than staying below deck. He grabbed his rain coat and Hyperion, and opened the door. He was greeted by gales and skin ripping winds that more anything but welcoming.

Seifer was certain that they were doomed, but then another tidal wave hit the ship, sending Seifer down the stairs. In return for Seifer?s headache, the ship was brought to proper balance. Seifer decided to lie on the wet ground, not exactly looking forward to facing the storm. The wind seemed to rip apart the old ship?s weak metal frame, render asunder the engine that kept the vessel afloat. The constant thunder echoed across the ship, the almost rhyming beat of the rocking of the ship; Seifer was certain the vessel would go down sooner or later, with him on it.

Suddenly, the storm stopped. The symptoms of the doomed ship passed away. More than a little curious of the whole awkwardness of the whole situation, Seifer got his feet, not forgetting to grab Hyperion, and walked for the deck.

He opened the door to find Ferin leaning against the rail, his Flamberge in hand. He didn?t comment on what must have been Seifer?s late arrival. He simply said, ?Let?s go,? and that was the end of it.
When they found themselves off of the deck of the ship and onto the inner platform of the island, Seifer realized that he was in as much a man made fortress as a thing of nature. Metal was fused with the navy blue rock, and even the ramp that led into the fortress was as much stainless steel as it was rock and natural irons. Stalactites hung from the roof as if the poor support was to release them at any moment, some of them hanging right beside lazily swinging lights.

A metal arch led the two warriors into the main heart of the small fortress, where spinning gears and rock made a tunnel of flashing lights crystallized ores. As amazed by the spectacle as anyone else would be, the two didn?t say a word to comment about it, nor did they slow their pace to further examine it. There were more important things to worry about than a mere technological masterpiece.

The end of the tunnel revealed the main chamber, the primary attraction being the Ragnarok-II, being suspended in the air by hundreds of metal wires and metal platforms. Seifer wanted to point out that the Ragnarok-II was totally identical from the model Squall and his friends piloted, or at least that is what he could recall from his drunken memory, but Ferin was already rushing for the ladders to the platform. Deciding it was not necessarily the best time to talk about the subject, Seifer started to follow when an explosion knocked him to his feet.

?Damnit!? Ferin swore from above. ?They found us. Seifer, get in here!?

?No need to tell me twice!? Seifer said, agreeing with the man, and he rushed for the platform. The sounds of boots echoed across from the end of the tunnel. A few reconnaissance troops arrived as Seifer was ascending the ladder, and they were quick to open fire. Thankfully, their aim was off somewhat, and the bullets did nothing more than make Seifer duck his head.

Ferin, not willing to let the Esthar troops start firing on him, proceeded to open the door. He pushed on a small rectangular button off of the door, and a door swung open. ?Seifer!? he called out before heading inside, ?Hurry up!?

Seifer had other things in mind. He noticed a metal crate a few feet off from where he was, on the platform, and he rolled to it to get some much needed cover. He practically ripped it open between rounds, and found an Estharian machine gun lying inside, with some rounds neatly packaged next to it. He grabbed the gun, loaded it, and opened fire. Those who weren?t killed in the opening shots were slowed down.

Finding no further use for the weapon, Seifer dropped it and rushed inside the Ragnarok. He followed the hallway, guessing half the time on which pathway to follow, when the found the cockpit room, and Ferin along with it. Suddenly, as if the ship was waiting for the gunblade wielder to arrive, the dark room lighted itself.

?[i]Greetings[/i]?, came a wise, and somewhat tranquil voice from the ship?s hull itself. ?[i]I am Odin, the AI of the Ragnarok-II[/i].? Ferin tracked the voice to a small circular device that was implanted to the roof of the room, with a yellowish image growing whenever ?Odin? spoke. ?[i]Excuse me, but I do not sense the crew on board[/i].?

?We are the crew!? Ferin answered. ?We?ve gained possession of it from pirates.?

?[i]Pirates? Oh dear, that will not do at all: the most advanced intergalactic ship in the galaxy cannot be claimed by such troublesome people as pirates. Very well, I shall be as quick about this as possible[/i].? The AI proceeded to assign the two positions on the ship, assigning it with what their personalities and strengths and weaknesses would allow, as well as register the two as part of the crew. ?[i]All done. Ferin, you are the Captain of the Ragnarok-II. In short, you are in charge of main piloting and, when the occasion desires it, the wielder of the Ragnarok-II?s grappler arms[/i].'

?That?s great and all, but what about me??

?[i]Seifer, you are the head of weaponry. In laments terms, you are in charge of missiles, gun turrets, mines and the laser cannon[/i].?

Seifer cracked his knuckles. He had a feeling that this was going to be a good day.

?[i]Ferin, please get into the captain?s seat, which is the central one, and proceed to initializing the activation phase[/i].?

?Activation phase?? Seifer questioned, not at all knowledgeable about the ship. ?What the hell does that mean??

?[i]Yes, Seifer Almasy. You see, since the Ragnarok-II is such an advanced ship, I require a major activation phase every two years, if I am not in use during that time you see[/i].?

Not needing any more explanation on the matter, Seifer leaped into the captain?s seat, pushing a glowing button to his left. No physical reaction on the ship?s part came as a result, but Odin seemed quite please.

?[i]Very good. All secondary and minor systems are off line. However, the engine has not been activated. How odd?. Regardless, it can be activated manually. Seifer, please follow me[/i].? Suddenly, a small cube-like robotic, with two miniature arms, popped off from the ceiling, and was suspended in the air by a piece of metal. It darted off into the hallway, and Seifer, thinking that it was the AI, followed it.

Odin led Seifer towards the back of the ship, where a large golden machine laid lazily. Four tubes with a holding device attached to each end of them were fused with the machine. They were all numbered one to four in a clockwise order.

Seifer had a really bad feeling about this.

?[i]I was told that is all the rage with other ships in the Esthar fleets[/i],? Odin stated, thinking that it would make Seifer feel better about the situation.

It didn?t.



Ferin fired off a few more rounds from his pistol, forcing some soldiers to use support beams and crates as cover. The soldiers gave him a few bursts of fire as a thank you favor.

?Odin!? he cried out between shots. ?Can?t you help me out here??

?[i]Affirmative, Ferin. Firing gun turrets in t-minus two seconds[/i].? True to his words, the fix or so turrets that lined the defending side of the Ragnarok-II took aim, and fired combined bursts of shrapnel and laser fire, sending more than a few soldiers flying from their position.

?That helped,? Ferin muttered to himself before ducking his head back inside the ship to avoid some bullets. ?Or maybe it just pissed them off more.?



?All right,? Seifer said as he stretched his muscles, ?What you want me to do??

?[i]It is quite simple, actually. Pull the levers of the designated engine generators in this fashion: one, four, three, one, two, three, three, four, four, one, one, two, two, four, and lastly, three then four[/i].?

For a moment, Seifer didn?t say anything. He just stood with, there a clueless look. ?What the fuck did you just say?



Minutes passed, with no progress going to either side. Ferin and the Ragnarok-II?s turrets would fire off their rounds, while the soldiers fire off theirs, both sides ducking or rolling for cover when the other fired. Ferin knew that sooner or later, he, then the Ragnarok-II, would run out of bullets, and that was when things would get messy.

?Come on Seifer, get it moving!? he growled under his breath, irritated how long it was taken the Gunblade wielder to activate the engine. After all, if he could help a mad sorceress to nearly bring the end to the world, an engine should be a peace of cake.

Suddenly, as if on cue, the roaring of an engine echoed across the holding chamber. Saying a private praise for Seifer, Ferin closed the door and rushed for the cockpit. Seifer was already in his seat when Ferin got there. He got into his seat as quickly as he could. He pulled on a lever by his side that sent the Ragnarok-II hovering above the platform. ?Seifer, blast those platforms!? Already considering the plan before Ferin made his appearance, the platforms were quickly raining fiery death on the soldiers unfortunate enough to be waiting below. The cables were soon ripped off by the velocity of the advanced vessel, and the ship?s laser cannon made the hangar gate nothing but scrape metal. The Ragnarok-II was quickly outside, in the vicious storm, when a series of Estharian ships fired on it. A small cruiser hovered thousands of miles above, raining destruction. The island keep was soon nothing but rubble.

Two ships roared in behind the Ragnarok-II, firing. ?[i]Ferin[/i],? Odin suggested, ?[i]Now would be a good time to enter grappler combat mode[/i].?

?Understood Odin. Erm, how would I do that??

?[i]Why, just ask[/i],? the AI remarked, as if the answer was as clear as day. Suddenly, the cockpit room dimmed into a dark red, with multiple screens flashing on all around the two. Even though everything but straight ahead was metal, Ferin could see what was going on to his left, right and above.

Ferin felt a clamp on his arms, and noticed that a metal gauntlet of sorts had snapped onto his wrist. ?[i]That is your link to the ship?s Grappler Arms[/i].? A light poured in from the darker end of the cockpit into Ferin?s right eye, but he felt no pain from it. In his right eye, he saw a blank screen. Sensing Ferin?s confusion, Odin explained the purpose behind the light. ?[i]Whenever the Ragnarok-II locks onto a target, the specs will appear there[/i].? Ferin nodded in approval.

?Okay then, let?s get this show on the road!? he announced, and he felt a great weight lifted from the front end of the ship. Knowing that it was the Grappler Arms, Ferin got himself to work. A ship roared in from above, bullets firing while a grappler arm shaped more like a spear than an actual arm, was prepared to slice into the Ragnarok-II. Not willing to let that happened, Ferin grabbed both the blade and the cockpit itself. The pilot could do nothing but scream as the Ragnarok-II tore the ship in half, creating a giant fire ball in the night sky.

Ferin licked his lips, sweat slipping down his face. He closed his eyes. He breathed harder, slower, then faster. He felt as if his heart was going to be ripped out of his body in a beautiful display of gore and tears. So much energy, spirit and power, all of them were at his disposal, at his hands, in this ship. It was all his: and yet, the he felt that the ship made him its property as well. Somehow, someway, he knew that the Ragnarok was a beast in itself, a flying colossus of metal and technology fused into a beautiful display.

He felt that he was as part of the Ragnarok as the Ragnarok was of him.

Bullet fire from the side shook Ferin out of his subconscious. He flew forward, moving in every direction minus towards the sea to avoid the hail of bullets.

Ferin tightened his grip. He clenched his fists. He swung.
The arm slammed into one of the pursuing ships, sending it into a wild spin before it crashed into the sea, exploding beneath the harassing waves of the storm. The other arm grabbed the remaining attacker, and ripped it open as a cannibal would a corpse. Gears and oil splattered across the Raganrok-II?s hull. Ferin then threw the useless hunk of metal towards the sea. Another eruption of water and sea coral occurred below the sky battle.

The cruiser sent another barrage against the Ragnarok-II, with missiles trailing behind them. Ferin did his best to weave between them, and Seifer, despite Ferin?s erratic maneuver, managed to shoot some of the missiles down, but there was simply too many to dodge. Three missiles and dozens of explosives thundered across the Ragnarok?s bottom hull.

?[i]Captain[/i]!? Odin thundered, its voice full of concern for the vessel. ?[i]We cannot take another hit like that without significant damage to the engine and other vital components[/i].?

Ferin swore under his breath. He needed a plan and fast, but there were too many things to occupy his mind. The ships, the cruiser, the storm, the waves, it was all too much! Then, a thought came to his head. ?Odin, can we make it through the waves??

?[i]I believe so Captain, if the engines are at maximum speed that is[/i].?

?All right then, we?ve got something! Seifer, hold on!?

?Aw shit??

The Ragnarok-II dove down beneath the black storm, lightning flashing on its sides. Dozens of ships followed, unaware of what Ferin had in store for them. He weaved to the right, avoiding a wave of bullets. He saw a massive tidal wave forming, large enough to easily engulf any of the pursuing ships. He barrel rolled through the wave, the engines at maximum throttle. The ship cleanly sliced through the wave. Dozens of ships attempted the same maneuver, but they were inadequate for the task and were engulfed beneath the lumbering wave. Several additional ships were taken down by the wave of exploding metal from the deep sea eruptions.

Four more times this would happen, and each time the result would be the same: Estharian ships would follow the Ragnarok-II through a tidal wave, only to be crushed beneath it. In mere minutes, nearly half of the cruiser?s fleet was beneath the sea. Seeing it as a lost cause, the cruiser left. They would get the Ragnarok-II another time. They would reclaim their lost prize.

[center]* * * * *[/center]

An hour later, the crew of the Ragnarok-II was out of harm?s way. They had either snuck or fight their way through the few patrols from the stubborn cruiser. The dimmed room lighted itself up, the metal gauntlets releasing their grip of Ferin?s hands. He leaned back, rubbing his red eyes.

Seifer wiped some salvia from his chin. ?Now I get why scar face liked this thing so much. It?s a power house!?

?[i]Agreed; the Ragnarok-II is the most powerful and advanced small-crew ship in the known galaxy[/i].?

?Yeah yeah, whatever,? Seifer said, waving his hands in a sign of ignoring the AI. ?So, what we gonna do now??

Ferin told him, a mischievous grin spreading across his face. Seifer went pale at the revelation.

It was going to begin.
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[color=#CD6619]Tsk, tsk Doublehex. It seems you haven't read the rules correctly within the OB Anthology or the Otakuboards. If you did, however, read the rules, you would have known that double posting was prohibited and therefore, triple posting would have been even worse.

With sadness, I say, this thread is closed. But if you wish, you can recreate your thread, like I said last time.

THREAD CLOSED.[/color]
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[color=#4B0082]To be fair, it would be impossible to post all of that as a single post. With the character limit at 60,000, and the total count of the three posts adding up to 76,462, a double post would be necessary and allowed. (Double posting under those circumstances is the only time it's allowed here.)

So, what I'm going to do is merge the first two chapters into a single post and then this thread will be able to continue along happily. Just remember to make sure you've hit the character limit before you double post in the future, or else this'll just get closed again.

Thread Opened[/color]
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