Morgan shifted, hesitantly climbing into the small two-person ship and sliding behind the controls. A stoic soldier was sitting behind him with a gun at the back of his head. No funny stuff.
Only two ships left, one slightly bigger than the other and serving the purpose of distraction more than a real opponent. They rose to the air in the night, stealing out of the prison while eyes behind unlocked bars gleamed quietly. Morgan felt clammy and cold, his heart beating faster as he flew through the starry night sky.
“Remember, we’ll knock off any guards, go and get the Aries, and we’ll meet you back at the HQ, we have trackers on you kid, so don’t screw up,” the soldier breathed down the back of Morgan’s neck.
Morgan closed his eyes and watched as shadows of land underneath turned to ocean. They would be there by nightfall, they’d attack hours later.
It was eleven o clock at night. Balamb was still up and most of the lights were on. Trianon, sufficiently rested, was walking around with a silver circlet in her hand, and a dark ruby glittering in its middle. She could feel Psyche stirring inside, eager to be inside someone, to be released from the confines of her relic.
In a small lounge room she had Nida, Xu, Kerei, and Zell waiting for her. They were all slightly nervous at the thought of the mysterious Guardian Force being inside them but were willing nevertheless.
When Trianon entered she nodded her appreciation for them all showing up and gently she laid the circlet on the table. Zell watched it and slipped a ring off his finger. Two blue opals, one bigger than the other, decorated it like two moons pressed together. It was his main Guardian Force, the Brothers.
Nida took off an earring with a tear drop decorated in lapis lazuli, Leviathan, and then licked his lips, his eyes drawn to the ruby centred on the circlet. Xu, having not junctioned anything, just looked at Trianon, appraising the equally mysterious woman.
“I’ll try it first,” Zell offered, reaching for the circlet.
He nearly dropped it. As soon as it touched his hands he felt the metal flush with warmth and it expanded slightly to fit his forehead. With wide eyes he very nervously put it on. They all held their breath.
“Summon Psyche!” Zell commanded in a wavering voice.
The apparition that came out was not Psyche. It was a static blur with forms of red and silver, and would not hold shape. Trianon’s eyes widened and she threw her hands out, forcing her magic into the shapeless form until it resembled a beautiful woman with scarlet hair in multiple braids and eyes that were solid black almonds on her face.
Trianon had paled, for the magic it took to keep Psyche summoned was harsh and had to be dense. Zell immediately recalled the summon and yanked the circlet off his head, looking as white-faced as Trianon and leaning back against the couch breathing hard.
The cerulean-haired woman sank to the ground and rested her head on the table.
“You were not strong enough, you have other Guardian Forces, and you have spells drawn into you, yes?”
“I do,” Zell said breathlessly, “Thundaga, and Blizaga…Esunas…everything,”
“It’s too little…your magic is spread about in your body, I think Psyche needs it all,” Trianon said sadly, before her eyes turned to Nida.
“I don’t have any other summons,” He offered, taking the circlet and being startled as it reformed again.
When he wore it he shut his eyes, and mouthed the words to summon the guardian force. This time she came out as a translucent image of herself but they found very quickly that she could not cast her attack nor could Nida keep up the effort. Psyche dissipated into a fine mist and retracted inside the circlet.
Xu faired no better. She wasn’t even able to summon Psyche, for all the magic she had drawn out of enemies. Her shoulders slumped at the effort and she wordlessly tossed the circlet to Kerei.
Kerei looked at the circlet, now small to fit her head, and she swallowed.
“I only have a few cures on me, here.”
She stood up and threw her arms out, “Curaga!”
Healing all her companions and exhausting her supply of drawn spells, Kerei was left with no used magic inside her. She put the circlet on her forehead and then her eyes widened and she looked around the room.
“Wow…” She said in awe.
The others looked at each other in confusion. Their vision had not changed when they junctioned Psyche. Kerei, still standing, smiled and then narrowed her eyes, assuming her summoning stance.
“Summon Psyche!” She cried.
Trianon leapt to her feet in shock. Kerei’s eyes turned crimson before flooding black and power exploded from her fingertips encompassing them all. Psyche flowed out, electricity crackling around her like violet spider webs, and whirled around, her braids flying around them and floating in the air.Free!
“Psyche!” Trianon stared at the woman before her, the guardian force looking around the room in amazement.Trianon this is amazing. She has power! I am free!
“Psyche,” Trianon said, softly this time, “I am happy for you, but you must return to the circlet.”
Psyche nodded and flew towards Kerei, holding the woman’s face in her hands before kissing her forehead and vanishing inside the ruby, which glowed like fire in a coal. Kerei blinked, her face flushed with colour and then laughed in a giddy fashion.
“I’ve never had a guardian force before,” She said almost shyly, “They feel…amazing…there’s someone inside me now, with so much life and power…”
Trianon nodded shortly, “You will summon her with the target of Carrie tomorrow afternoon, the guardian force knows what to do.”
Xu, Nida, and Zell all rose slowly, as their minds were still exhausted from the effort. Trianon joined them in the cafeteria where coffee was bought to try and renew their energy. Kerei was the only one unaffected, the spunky fist-fighter looked radiant.
It was an hour later, at midnight, when Trianon heard the sound of a large ship approaching. She looked up and then stood up, making the others glance at her in curiosity.
“The Ragnarok returns,” Trianon announced.
“How do you know? I don’t hear a thing!” Nida stared at her.
“She’s right,” Kerei stood up, “Psyche can sense the other guardian forces.”
Zell frowned. He knew who had what guardian force, but the Brothers never told him when they were approaching, and how did Trianon hear the Ragnarok? Maybe she had her own Guardian Force, but there were none left! He looked at her, and for the first time really noticed the necklace she wore. A very dark sapphire hung from it, and when he stared at it long enough he thought he saw a faint light emanating from inside it…
“We’re back! Did you get my email?” Quistis was the first to run up to her friends as they clustered at the entrance to Balamb.
“I have a plan to prove Carrie’s innocence,” Trianon replied in her even tone, her eyes watching Quistis.
“Do I dare ask?” Quistis looked suspicious.
“Kerei is now the holder of Psyche,” Trianon quickly filled Quistis in on her idea.
The blonde looked very skeptical, but she had no power over the Instructor and so if Cid agreed it would go through. Irvine and Seifer both looked tired but they stood silently while the two teachers spoke with one another, and Michelle ran over to Kerei and both squealed over the guardian force that Kerei had acquired.
“I think I’ll go to sleep,” Seifer yawned, giving them a backwards wave.
“Me too,” Zell and Nida replied simultaneously.
As the three men walked off, and Michelle and Kerei went to chatter in their dorm, Quistis looked back at Irvine and told him she’d write up their report. Xu accompanied her to the Instructor’s Lounge to find out the main details which left Irvine and Trianon alone.
“Are you not sleepy?” Trianon asked curiously.
“Not really,” Irvine admitted, “I thought I’d go for a walk…ah…would you like to come with me?”
Trianon watched him shift uncomfortably under her sedate gaze. A walk might calm her nerves, she thought, and so she nodded.
“That would be pleasant.”
Irvine smiled widely which made the sides of Trianon’s mouth quirk as well. He became very boyish near her, full of anxiety that weighted on her replies. Irvine Kinneas was a nice man, but Trianon wondered if he were as good as he seemed.
They toured the now-silent Garden. Mostly in silence, the walk was peaceful and both took their time to reflect on their past days. Eventually their walking landed in them in the Training Centre where they stopped and looked at each other.
“I was wonderin’…” Irvine began hesitantly.
Trianon looked off, “There were no other jobs, and with my training, being an assassin is the best you can do.”
Irvine smiled, “How’d you know I’d ask that?”
“They all do when they get me alone,” Trianon quirked a blue brow at him, “I’m not here to be an assassin though.”
“Relieving,” Irvine commented dryly.
Trianon smiled softly and looked at him again, “An assassin is a soldier. Only quieter.”
Irvine laughed and they sat down on a moss-covered log to talk in more comfort.
“How was Balamb while we were gone?”
“Quiet. Aside from SeeD Zell…I suppose you’re looking forward to those pictures he took for you?” Trianon’s eyes caught Irvine’s as the Cowboy steadily turned red.
“Ah…Ah was jokin’!” Irvine’s accent fell heavy as he became flustered.
Trianon smiled more, “We got him back though,” she said with uncharacteristic impish smile, “Selphie and I dragged him into the hot tub with us and dunked him.”
Irvine laughed again, “He was supposed to take the pictures quietly…ah well.”
Trianon grinned, “Come, the Aries is finished, let us go see it.”
“Oh yeah! I wanted to see that ship, maybe Selphie will take me for a spin in it too!”
They left the training centre at 2am and headed for the mechanics room while in the distance ships drew closer on silent wings. Inside Trianon turned on the lights and then led Irvine over to the Aries. Sleek and black, it stood ominously in the centre of the room. Irvine ran his hand over the metal, finding it soft to the touch and slippery.
She showed him all the controls, repeating their functions as Selphie had outlined, and then stood back to look at the completed ship herself. Irvine was impressed, and glowed with the pride he felt for Selphie.
“We never knew she’d end up being into mechanics,” He said aloud, “She’s so clumsy.”
“She is,” Trianon nodded, “A little bit day-dreamy, but when she is excited she works with incredible speed.”
They sat down again, this time inside the Aries, talking about their missions. Irvine hadn’t known that Trianon had been Selphie’s bodyguard and was amused to hear it. The conversation drifted before Trianon leaned back to stretch and yawned soon after. As she leaned back Irvine noticed her necklace again, it looked so expensive, and yet the sapphire that hung there was such a perfect match for her eyes that it was no wonder it had been purchased for her.
“You’re very beautiful,” Irvine whispered, half to himself.
Trianon’s eyes opened, clear even in the darkness and shining, “Thank you,” she responded softly.
He leaned closer to her, his heart racing as his lips brushed ever so softly against hers. She let him kiss her, tasting him lightly, and then watching him afterwards. They were silent.
The two of them soon realized it was nearing three-thirty in the morning, and with a sigh they climbed out of the Aries, both shy towards one another. Trianon shut off the lights and locked up the Mechanics room with her master key and the two of them ascended up to Garden’s main floor. As they grew closer to the entrance both sensed something amiss. Trianon looked at Irvine with concern and they slowed their pace, peering out across the tiles.
Two men stood over the dead bodies of the guards put at the front of Garden that night. Irvine felt icy chills tingle up his spine and beside him he could feel Trianon’s muscles tighten.
Trianon grabbed Irvine and threw him to the ground as she rolled away and smacked into the opposite wall for all her efforts. A singe mark told them that the men had seen them and were now required to kill them.
Irvine hissed and shifted his violet eyes to Trianon who looked like a cat as she readied her body to move again. Pulling out Exeter, he climbed to his feet, and then immediately crouched again as another bullet seared the air beside him.
“They want the Aries, cover me,” Trianon hissed as she lunged into full-attack mode.
However, neither SeeD was prepared for what they were up against. Irvine jammed his finger into the Comm. Link and screamed for the alarm and all the SeeDs to wake up and get down for the emergency, then began to fire a spray of bullets at the men Trianon advanced on.
The cerulean-haired lass had no weapons out, and as she ran she had to make a dive to the ground, somersaulting back to her feet only to have to hit the ground again. The men, thick-muscled brutes, were separated by Irvine’s fire but Trianon could see that the numbers were higher than she had originally thought.
In the midst of them, with his amber eyes glowing, was Morgan. He saw Trianon and his eyes widened, then narrowed.
“Capture her!” He demanded.
“You’re not the boss—”
“CAPTURE HER!” He screamed.
Morgan dashed off, heading towards Irvine who was now plastered to the wall. The Cowboy let out a cry as he watched Trianon slam her fist into solid muscle, look very astonished as it did no damage, and then be picked up and hurled to the ground. She bounced off the tiles and let out a soft moan before trying to claw her way out. Hoping the mechanical room’s doors would hold, Irvine shot three of the ten men and engaged in the fight, leaving Morgan to sprint down the halls in peace.
Trianon screamed as she received blow after blow. She wasn’t in her proper armour, she was only in her SeeD uniform, and without her scales the knuckles smashing into her stomach were quite painful. A meaty hand came down, and groped her, making her hiss in anger, her limbs held down easily and unusable. Her eyes widened in horror as the man ripped the sapphire off her neck, the chain grating against her soft skin and making a red line slash angrily around her throat.
“No! My necklace!”
Irvine turned and saw the pure horror on the woman’s face, it was possibly the most emotion he had seen on her yet. A knife flew out of no where, impaling one man holding the Instructor down, and Irvine saw Michelle, pig tails a-flying, rushing up with Kerei.
Irvine shot two more men, and Trianon, livid by now, took the other man down in a furious rage of arms and legs. Even without a weapon her fists sunk deep blows to the man’s face and her nails inflicted savage scratches down any bared skin.
Seeing the man with her necklace turn to run, Irvine dove for him and knocked him down at the knees. The sapphire and silver chain skidded across the floor and as soon as Irvine pulled the trigger on his gun he was reaching the necklace and enclosing it in his palm.
A surge of magic swamped him and he felt dazed as a presence entered his system. He saw Trianon twitch, her body leaning over a dead man’s, and he could tell she was feeling the absence of whatever force she had in the sapphire. Irvine had never heard of a Guardian Force with a relic of a sapphire but he knew that didn’t mean there wasn’t one.
“Reinforcements!” A muscled man cried hoarsely, turning an evil grin to the four SeeDs.
“Well lucky us, more practice,” Michelle sneered, two more throwing knives falling to her palms.
The man laughed in good humour and rushed at her, fists raised. Michelle ducked one blow but was caught by the other. She fell breathless to the floor but rolled to one side and let her knife fly straight and true into his chest. It penetrated the armour vest he was wearing but was not a fatal blow.
Trianon felt sick to her stomach. She lurched off the body, ruined by her anger and leaking blood all over her and the floor. She stood up in a daze. She knew Irvine had the sapphire, but it didn’t make her feel any better. In her confusion she walked right into one of the new soldiers who laughed at her bewilderment and grabbed her throat. Trianon stared at him, her mind feeling vacant, feeling emotions that weren’t even hers.
Kerei, who had taken down a soldier of her own, now saw her friend on the ground, looking frightened. The man she had struck down was back, laughing, and had torn her brace of knives off her body. Weaponless she could only skitter back on her hands and knees as he held a gun to her squirming body. Delighting in her fear.
There was a gunshot and a terrible wail of pain as Michelle curled up around her now bleeding leg. The man laughed, and behind him Kerei’s eyes turned black.
Trianon was out of her daze the moment she felt the guardian force explode into existence. Her knee slammed into the man’s groin and she hooked her arm around his neck, snapping it with cold fury and dropping the deadweight.
Psyche, in solid form, was at Michelle’s side in a heartbeat and coiling her form around the man. She became a new reality for the soldier, showing him his worst sins. Michelle could also see them, watch the man killing people, his family…his friends…
Trianon screamed at Kerei to stop, but a guardian force as powerful as Psyche could not be stopped mid-attack.
“Stop her! Stop her!” Trianon cried out, “Someone!”
Irvine choked, he was wrapped up in his own fight, having lost Exeter in the mad scramble, but he could hear Trianon’s panic. She obviously knew more about Psyche than anyone else.
He felt his body be lifted and then the sickening sensation of flight and a cold tiled floor meeting him at the end. The man who had tossed him laughed but then scowled when Irvine got up and ran in the other direction.
“Hold them off! I’ll stop Kerei!” Irvine shouted, throwing an arm out at Kerei, “SLEEP!”
Magic floated around her, coiled around the young SeeD’s body. The spell failed, and Psyche turned her black eyes towards Irvine. He swallowed.
Leave my mistress alone!
The words came shockingly straight into his mind and Irvine gasped. Trianon, now even more fearful, tried to hold the last six men back as they drew closer, wary of this magical force.
“Sleep!” Irvine tried again, desperate to stop the images that surrounded the soldier and Michelle.
The girl was panicking as she relived the man’s sins with him. Her eyes were wide and pouring tears as she watched the ghosts of his wife and children fall all around her, sometimes into her body, making her scream.
Leave my mistress ALONE! Psyche roared.
“Irvine!” Trianon screamed again as she suffered a hit to the temple.
Irvine cried out as Psyche reformed came directly for him. Kerei was lost in her guardian force’s magic, not even aware of her surroundings, and now he knew he was alone. The sapphire was clutched in his hand, burning into his skin, and he wondered, suddenly, what would happen if he called its power forth.
Quistis, tired, sore, and suddenly very awake at the sound of the alarm, had arrived from the elevator with Siefer, Squall and Selphie.
Shiva dropped the temperature as she blew apart the enemies with her Diamond Dust attack, killing three of them on the far right side of Balamb’s torn entrance. She ran down the steps and grabbed a hold of Michelle, dragging her across the floor to safety where Selphie and she began a series of curing spells.
Seifer and Squall took out their gunblades and rushed to help the defenceless and injured Trianon when the strangest thing happened.
There was a flash of white that blinded them all as the sapphire in Irvine’s hand lit up to the colour of blue fire. A field of magic burned through their minds, the feeling one received when a guardian force was unleashing itself.
Mind matter! Psyche aimed her attack at Irvine,
A guardian force they had never seen before, hazed over, though the details of pointed pale ears and a thick mass of black hair could be seen, rushed forward with a multi-edged sword. The two powers clashed together and Irvine fell back as they swirled together, lost shape, and spiralled towards the ceiling only to disappear. The attacks had cancelled each other out.
The soldier Psyche had attacked fell down dead; heart failure was later to be found the cause. Squall and Seifer both looked back from the amazing scene to see two men making a dash for the silhouette of a ship, a third behind them lagging from a wound.
“Where’s Trianon?” Squall demanded.
“You LOST her?” Irvine shrieked, his voice sliding up a notch from exhausted hysteria.
“Irvie! You’re bleeding!” Selphie slid down beside him with wide eyes.
The Cowboy didn’t pay attention to the smell of Squall’s cologne on her, nor her tangled hair or the marks on her neck. His mind felt dead at the thought of them taking Trianon. First Selphie, now the Instructor?
“Hyne!” Seifer swore loudly.
Kerei was unconscious, Michelle was traumatized, Irvine useless, and all three of them were wounded. Squall felt a headache coming on and rubbed his temples, turning when he heard Nida running up.
Breathless and looking as angry as they all felt, he pointed down the hallway, “They took the Aries,” he gasped.
Beside Irvine, Selphie gasped and sank to her knees.
Squall had a feeling that no one would sleep well that night.
Two days later when Selphie finally murmured her first word (never mind that she burst into tears right after), when Irvine had caught hold of his anger, and when Michelle opened her eyes, things were beginning to look better.
Cid was furious, but more concerned over his SeeDs than anything else. Kerei was undergoing guilt treatment and Michelle was in the room next to her receiving counselling for the trauma she had suffered. Quistis rubbed her temples, an echo of Squall’s headache coming over her and she stared at her laptop in front of her.
“Why would they take Trianon?” She asked, at a loss.
“Morgan,” Irvine muttered, “Morgan told them to take her.”
“She was a big part of the rescue in the factory,” Squall added, “If Trianon hadn’t been a distraction I might not have saved Selphie.”
He was holding the little brunette now, stroking her back and hair, kissing the top of her head as she slept. Losing the Aries had stolen a piece of her soul and it wore her out crying over it. Irvine closed his eyes, wishing that his loved ones wouldn’t have to suffer so much. He feared for Trianon greatly now.
Her sapphire was around his neck. Unlike other Guardian Forces, this one, though a presence in his mind, never reached out to him. Diablos had spoken to him, so did Eden, but this one had not even murmured her name.
Psyche was still junctioned to Kerei. The girl had told them that the chattery GF and her had reached an agreement, and for all of Psyche’s joy at being free, she had to tame herself now. Though skeptical, no one made her force the GF out of her system. They were still going to use the GF on Carrie, though many were frightened at the implications.
“How will we find the Aries? Just wait for them to attack something?” Seifer asked, looking unimpressed with the option.
Quistis sighed and then frowned. There was something odd about the men they had been fighting last night. Some of them had even looked familiar…and the images Psyche had brought forth…
“Get Kerei,” She ordered swiftly.
Irvine raised his eyebrows but retrieved the girl who was pale and shaky. She sat down and looked at Quistis worriedly, but the blonde smiled and gave the girl a small hug.
“Sorry to call you out, I hope you’re feeling better. Can Psyche retrieve the images she brings out? Can she show me a couple?”
Kerei stared at Quistis before closing her eyes. They knew she was having some inner dialogue with the creature inside her and when her eyes opened they looked expectantly.
They were breathless as the air shifted around them and suddenly they were in a translucent room layered inside the one they stood in for real. Quistis watched a man walk in, the soldier, and begin to brutally murder his own family. They could hear the screams in their minds.
“Stop.” Quistis said, shaking her head, “This is huge,”
“What is it?” Seifer asked impatiently,
“You don’t recognize him? He was in the news a few years ago. It makes sense now. Those men were prison inmates, and do you remember the only clear spot large enough for multiple ships to land?”
“The prison!” Irvine stood up and pounded the table with a gleam in his eye, “It IS the prison! Squall! Call Laguna and get it surrounded!”
Squall nodded and stood up. It occurred to him with Selphie in his arms he couldn’t pick up the phone. He paused. Quistis sighed.
“I’ll do it,” she did have a small smile on her face though as she left.
Squall sat down and slowly turned crimson.
Morgan felt fire lace in his veins. That damned blue-haired bitch! If it weren’t for her and that idiot SeeD he wouldn’t be losing his life over his own plan! Morgan looked down at the glossy controls in front of them. He didn’t know what half of the buttons did, but the basic piloting of the ship was easy.
The steering was remarkable, and he wondered how that tiny girl could have possibly created this entire ship. The overall shape of it was sleek, rounded at the back with four wings sliding off to either side, and drawing to a point in the front. Everything was black, though the controls on the inside had faint lights making them visible after one’s eyes adjusted.
As he glided through the air, escape drifted into his mind. He knew he couldn’t though. His sister, if she even remembered him, was out there somewhere, and they said they had a tracker on him. Knowing the usual operation he had an inkling he had been made to swallow it while he slept or was unconscious.
He would fly slowly, let it take all night! They knew he was coming, and if these would be his last moments, he’d take them slowly. Esthar’s border was a four-hour flight if taken at top speed. Morgan would go the slowest he could to prolong his life. Maybe he’d find a way to escape after all. He had a sudden desire to see Carrie. After he was dead who knew what they’d do to her.
Quistis stood in a vacated lounge room with all the furniture stripped to one side. Tristan, Xu, Irvine and Squall all stood along the back wall and Kerei and Carrie were in the middle. Seifer waited outside with his hand near the alarm lest something go wrong.
Without Trianon overseeing Psyche they were all a little nervous, with the exception of Kerei who was stubbornly and defiantly sticking up for her Guardian Force. Carrie looked at her with those big green eyes, afraid but silent and willing to get through this court. For a twelve year old she was intimidated by the instructors and Squall being there, and she wished terribly that Trianon could have been at her side.
“Are you ready?” Kerei asked, looking down at the cadet.
Kerei nodded and then bent her knees silently, closing her eyes for a moment then opening them. The blood drained from Carrie’s face as she saw that blackness had flooded Kerei’s eyes.
Carrie shrieked when Psyche hit her and she ducked down to the ground, holding her knees to her chest and shutting her eyes tightly. Psyche, however, could conjure images to both the mind and environment around them. She did both now, and there was no escape for Carrie.
They watched in silence as a little girl, Carrie as an eight year old, ran to a younger Morgan. He seemed so innocent as he picked her up and twirled her around, even kissing her forehead.
They had no mother, but their father stood off to one side.
Quistis recognized the father from the news report she had seen when he had been shot and his illegal weapons operation had been discovered. He was in the shadows as Morgan and Carrie played out front, giggling and laughing into their minds. The scene shifted slightly and they watched Carrie hiding behind a wall in the darkness of night. She was watching Morgan pack up his things and tears were falling down her cheeks. She stayed there until morning. When the dawn broke Morgan and his father loaded everything into their car and Morgan turned to face Carrie.
“See ya kiddo!”
“Do well in university!” Carrie’s little voice cried.
They watched him embrace her one last time before he shut the door behind him. Darkness clouded over Carrie’s face and she turned and fled. The image broke up as Psyche retreated from Carrie’s mind.
Xu sighed and looked at the child crying on the floor.
“Well. If that was the last time she saw her brother it’s no wonder he doesn’t know she’s here. She came after he left her life. Come now cadet, pull yourself together.”
Xu strode over and knelt by Carrie, softly urging her up and stroking her hair as she led her away. This would be taxing on the young girl. The rest of them sighed in relief. Nothing had gone amiss. Irvine had been more worried than the rest, for slighting Psyche two days ago.
He wondered how many guardian forces there were out there. He had Trianon’s strange Guardian Force. He had a feeling he hadn’t even seen its potential since the attack had been cancelled. Unlike his Guardian Forces, this one consumed him. At times he thought he felt flashes of her personality, but never a name.
“Figures she’d be mysterious. No wonder Trianon has her.”
“What?” Squall asked, giving the cowboy a confused look.
Irvine slunk out fingering the sapphire that hung around his neck. It was strange, but the chain had repaired itself over night. He figured relics had to be durable though, and most likely the Guardian Forces did not appreciate living in damaged ones.
He had Diablos’ old lamp in his dorm on his shelves, and the devil never went back into it, content to stay in the recesses of Irvine’s mind. As he pulled off his trench coat and slipped out of his clothes he noticed a small envelope on his desk. Frowning he walked over and picked it up, opening the paper and looking inside.
His eyes widened when he saw stunned faces on Selphie and Trianon looking back at him. The little brunette was jumping up in her shock, her little yellow bikini with the duckie across the top sparkling with water. Trianon’s eyebrows were raised and she looked more surprised to see the camera than having her picture taken. He felt his heart constrict at the thought of her being tortured by Morgan’s men, starved maybe…
Shuddering he dropped the picture and fell into a nightmare-filled sleep.
Squall shook his head at Irvine’s retreating back and followed him out the door. On the side Quistis and Seifer were pressed together with Quistis giggling. Squall blanched and hurried in the other direction, his eyes wide and the image of their joined silhouette burning in his mind.
It seemed so wrong to see the once-feuding Instructor and student playing lip lock in the hallway. He wandered to his dorm lost in his musings of the new couple and opened his door intent on getting to some studying.
Selphie was curled up in messed up sheets, faint moonlight slashing across her pale skin and lighting up her hair and the curve of her hip. Squall smiled, feeling a wave of affection come over him. He dropped his jacket to the floor and slipped out of his shoes before padding over and crawling on to the bed.
Lowering his head and watching his bangs tangle in her hair he kissed her lightly and watched her eyes open and blink up at him. He smiled more and they shared another kiss.
“Squallie,” she yawned cutely and then wrapped her arms around him.
“Hey you,” He whispered, picking her up and pulling her into his lap, the sheet wrapped around her.
Selphie had decided that she didn’t want to be alone. With the loss of her beloved Aries she felt like she didn’t have much left. Her room, trashed by Morgan so long ago, had lost its personal touch. She slept in Squall’s bed, for the comfort and warmth, at first surprised by how gentle he was all the time, giving her kisses and cuddles without any warning.
He would lie down next to her, lay an arm over her body and pull her against her chest and fall asleep buried in her hair. Drifting from her cheerful, careless self, Selphie appreciated this soft treatment the stoic man was giving her. She had a feeling that with his help she’d be back to her happy-go-lucky persona in no time.
A flame of burning anger was flaring to life inside her. The Aries was her claim to fame. It was the only ship of its make and she had designed many of the components from scratch. She was angry at Morgan for taking it. Angry at him for hurting her, and for putting her dreams in jeopardy. Selphie was a nice girl…until threatened, and then she was a soldier.
And the Aries was hers. And she wanted it back.
“Arh!” Sweat poured down Trepe’s face as she snapped her whip again and again.
She had discarded her usual clothing in sport for a sleeveless shirt and shorts, but even still she felt the heat. Her enemies fell one after another as Quistis hammered on them steadily, lashing at whatever drew closer.
On the other side of the training centre, Selphie was up and slinging her knunchakus ferociously. The two women were largely fighting out of fury alone. Quistis for missing her chance to check on the Aries during the battle three nights ago, and Selphie for losing the ship. They had been fighting in the foliage for hours and neither noticed the cramps in their sides nor the injuries they sustained. Each just pictured Morgan’s face and struck out again and again…
“We should really do something about that,” Seifer whispered, leaning on the door to the centre and eyeing Squall.
“She’s smiling…” Squall murmured, looking vaguely disturbed as he watched Selphie.
“She does seem to enjoy it,” Seifer acknowledged, “But this isn’t healthy. They’ve been here for four hours.”
“You’d think they’d be tired.”
“We’re addicted to crazy women, Squall,” Seifer breathed.
Squall cocked an eyebrow at Seifer. Addicted? Was he addicted to Selphie? He did go insane when she wasn’t around, did think about her all day…oh man.
“Yep.” Squall replied, his eyes locked on the struggling brunette.
Seifer and Squall ducked down as the air wavered from the heat and smoke rose to the ceiling. Quistis hadn’t even seemed to notice as she continued mutilating her enemy.
“You know, we might think of giving her Carbuncle,” Seifer whispered, wide-eyed.
Squall nodded solemnly, “The fire guardian force does seem to be matching her temper well though.”
They were already flying to Esthar. Kerei, Quistis, Seifer, Selphie, Squall, Irvine, Zell and Michelle with their weapons ready and all of them grim-faced. Balamb had been marked as a safe zone now that they had nothing to be stolen from them, and all the elite SeeDs had been dispatched to get the Aries back. Technology such as this should not be on the market, Cid had told them. Irvine wished Trianon were with them, but a chance to save her was at the top of his mind when they reached the Presidential Palace.
“I’ll find her,” He had told the others.
“Selphie, Squall, Seifer and I will try and find the Aries,” Quistis informed them, as usual she was taking care of the battle plans, “Michelle, Kerei and Zell will find Morgan.”
“Yes!” Zell pumped his fist up, “A real mission at last!”
Quistis smiled slightly, “You have been missing the action lately haven’t you?”
“Hyne yes.” Zell muttered, looking put-off.
They all smiled then and broke off into clusters to discuss the finer details. Hopefully the Aries would still be in the prison. Quistis had a feeling that whomever was in charge of this, be it Morgan or not, would believe that they had enough power to crush a rescue mission. But maybe they didn’t.
“This is a unique mission,” She stated to the three in front of her.
“Why?” Selphie asked with a frown,
“I have a feeling that Guardian Forces will play a large part. Think about it, it’s the one weapon against them that they don’t have,”
“True,” Seifer nodded, “But…I don’t have a GF,”
Quistis looked at him for a moment and then her eye twitched, “You’re right. Well. You can be the healer of our team.”
“Healer?” Seifer stared at her, “I’m a man with a SWORD, not a pansy-ass healer,”
“Then Selphie’s the healer,” Quistis attempted to appease him,
“I don’t want to be a pansy!” Selphie pouted.
“Pansies are pretty flowers Selphie,” Squall told her absently,
“Pretty flower,” Selphie paused and then smiled.
Seifer rolled his eyes.
Trianon awoke to a tree. A very familiar tree. She looked around and noticed two of her friends sitting above her and watching her with concern. Psyche dropped down to the branch they had laid Trianon out on and Siren stared at her with worry.
“My head hurts,” Trianon whispered, “Actually. My body hurts.”You have returned Trianon, why?
“I didn’t have a choice in the matter this time,” Trianon sat up and watched as her vision swam, “I’ll be right back.”
Trianon lowered herself down from the tree and began to walk through the grass. The realm of the guardian forces stretched on for what seemed eternity but Trianon knew her way around from her many visits. She was one of the few beings who could come and go as she pleased, most of the time, and she took advantage of it.
The grass grew sparser and soon became rough black terrain that crunched under Trianon’s boots. She realized that she was dressed in a one-piece white suit made of shimmering scales. It felt weird to be dressed in her ceremonial armour but she couldn’t question it, she knew exactly what had happened to her. And she wasn’t happy.
Black stalagmites jutting out of the ground, steaming smoke and chemicals. This was the land of some of the darker magical creatures. Ruby dragons, Diablos, Cerberus, and as she toured deeper she found that most of them were watching her. Trianon narrowed her eyes. It was in a large cave that she found Diablos himself, sitting on a stone throne and looking bored yet still viciously evil.
“Diablos,” She acknowledged, walking up to him on silent feet.
“You are junctioned to Irvine, are you not?”
“Tell me his thoughts,”
Why don’t you look into them yourself?
“I’m too weak to pull off such a trick,” Trianon muttered.
He is in Esthar. Planning on rescuing you.
“Good luck,” She sighed.
For some reason a sense of despair washed over her, and, as she had done ever since she was a little girl, she crawled into the hulking Guardian Force’s lap and curled up against his beastly chest. Diablos closed his eyes and let her stay there, as he had also done since she was a child. This was her safe haven, though why she had picked him for her sire he had no clue. It had to be the wings, he settled.
“What time do you think we should go in?” Zell asked, looking at the maps of the prison Laguna had taken out for them.
“Midday.” Quistis said instantly.
“Are you nuts?” Michelle quavered.
“No. I want to do this now. We’re the good guys, we’re going to exploit the prison for what it really is and we’re going to do it while the sun is shining,” Quistis growled.
She had become quite testy ever since the multiple injuries.
Michelle winced and felt her leg throb at the thought of being shot again. Heavy magic had cured her completely, but the memories would never fade. She was nervous about seeing the prison mates and had made Kerei promise never to summon Psyche near her for a good long time. Psyche wasn’t a target-only GF; she affected everyone near her except Kerei who was shielded by her GF.
“My men are already advancing, you won’t have to worry about being pinned in,” Laguna told them, “your main concern is how many men are inside that prison. There are thousands. I suggest you find a way to lock the cells first, I doubt right now they’re closed. That will keep most of them back, I know for sure that the inmates are inside their cells during the day. We have surveillance inside there that no one knows about. The prison master is being very careful to kept this underground, he only failed because of Morgan’s blunder.”
“If it was a blunder,” Seifer muttered.
“Why do you say that?” Quistis asked,
“We originally thought he was taken from his apartment, and then we were confused because he came to get the Aries, and ordered the men around, but that still leaves the question of why they’d blow up his apartment.”
“To mislead us? Destroy evidence?” Selphie asked,
“Could be,” Seifer shrugged, “I doubt it. A 24-or something-year-old controlling a thousand murderers? Seems unlikely.”
“It does,” Squall agreed.
“You’re paranoid,” Zell shrugged.
“Shut it,” Seifer snapped,
“Boys,” Quistis used her Instructor Tone, “Anyhow, we can’t worry about that. Instructor Trianon and the Aries are our main targets. Whomever can get or find the main controls first will then shut them off, there are three ways of getting there and we have three groups. We have radios so as soon as someone hits the off button they need to report so we can get the rest of this day underway. Are there any questions?”
“How do we get out?” Irvine asked.
“Anyway you can.” Quistis replied quietly.
“This sounds like fun…” Irvine blinked.
The blonde shrugged, “Let’s go.”
Morgan sighed, the end of his little flight was coming soon. He had regrets but had come to terms with them in a short period of time. It helped that he had found the owner’s manual that the brunette had created and memorized every key part to it that he could. He knew the secrets of the Aries. And the manual? Destroyed.
He watched the prison appear into view and he lowered the ship passively. Even if they did kill him he had taken away the potential of the ship they would claim. The girl had been smart. She hadn’t labelled anything in the ship that was useful. If he had known that she had done that to persuade her headmaster into letting the ship remain hers he would have chuckled. But there was nothing to laugh about.
When he landed he was forced from the ship and thrown to the ground. The prison towered around them on all sides and when he looked up, so did the Boss.
“Well Morgan, how nice of you to deliver this,” The man smiled kindly, “It seems, though, that your usefulness is over.”
“Seems so,” Morgan grinned,
“You’re pleased with this?” The Boss frowned slightly, “I guess that makes it easier for you.”
“Sure does,” Morgan laughed, it was a false laugh but he carried it well, “Good luck with the Aries, check out those controls Old Man,”
The boss glared at him and stepped up to the Aries, looking inside. He opened up a storage compartment. Then another. He swore. The men paled in fear, not knowing what was wrong. He stepped out.
“Well, Mr. Morgan, how exactly did you know how to fly this thing?”
“Lucky guess?” Morgan sneered, “But who cares about that, I’m in a hurry to get to hell, let me loose, Old Man.”
The Boss swore again, “Get someone inside there, try and figure out the controls. Take this waste of life to a holding cell and bar it up. It seems you’re not as stupid as you look, Morgan.”
The amber-eyed man nodded with a charming smile, “Seems so, doesn’t it?”