Selphie screamed as the fire that came from her fingertips soared skywards and sent her hair dancing towards the ceiling. Clothes were torn off bodies with the intense heat and wind that the fire demon sent into the ranks of the prison mates. Skin burnt, then bubbled, then crisped and turned to ash.
Dropping to her knees Selphie kept her arms outstretched, her nunchakus held so tightly her knuckles nearly bled with the strain. Ifrit roared over the men, melting them on contact, rushing through them and crushing them with his mighty power. He was here to save his mistress.
As he reached up to hail more fire down he watched Shiva dance through the air with a grim smile as she launched her icicle missiles down with Quistis standing behind her looking as drained as his Selphie did. These poor children worked so hard.
Shiva saw Ifrit at the same time and merely nodded her head at him. Their concentration was too heavy now for her to do anything other. The guardian forces swirled together, spiralling around the room throwing down fire and ice. Burning and freezing.
Seifer hissed in amazement as he watched Quezalcoatl send explosions of lightning down upon their playing field. Squall, lit up like a god, was balanced on an upper catwalk with his eyes closed and his gunblade pointed down towards the crowd.
Those who were still alive enough to fight surged towards the Ex-knight, trying to get at the woman who possessed the fire demon behind him. In rage he slashed at them. Disarming, mutilating, stabbing and thrusting as fast as he could to save the girl Squall was falling in love with. It was amazing how far Seifer had come in life.
The noise was incredible. So much screaming, a roar of flames, the crunch of ice as it condensed and crushed hearts inside icy cocoons, and the snap of electricity that sent tingles up their arms and jolted enemies out of their skin, it was so much, almost too much, but in the end…not enough.
Selphie toppled over, burn marks running up her arms and neck.
Quistis fainted into a haze and Squall came crashing to his knees in exhaustion.
Shiva stopped in mid-attack and froze, turning to see her mistress. Screaming in anger as she began to fade back into her mistress’ body, the ice goddess managed to spear one last man.
Ifrit sunk his claws into two advancing prisoners that threatened Seifer. The SeeD looked up warily as the hulking mass of a demon loomed over him and dropped the bodies before fading down into Selphie’s body.
Dazed and in pain, everyone stopped for but a moment.
And then the men climbed to their feet.
Seifer stared, angry tears falling down his cheeks. Three quarters of the men had been mauled by fire, enclosed in ice, or electrocuted to the nth degree. But some still stood, and they were coming for him and Selphie. Across the room, a defenceless Quistis lay abandoned.
Irvine was knocked to his feet as a surge of magic so powerful and interlaced washed over him. The guardian forces in his mind all cried out for their release now and he had a sudden feeling that he’d have to obey them.
Dashing down the hallway with his hair streaming behind him, Irvine Kinneas came upon a massacre. Quistis, fallen like an angel discarded from Heaven, was sprawled on the floor. He slid down to her side and sheltered her, opening fire on the prisoners that instantly rushed towards him.
There were so many!
The Cowboy could see Squall up above, still conscious but only able to breathe, and covered in burn marks. The familiar sound of Seifer’s screams rang over the crowd and pinpointed him on the other side of the room. Irvine felt his heart beat faster. How many men were left? Could they escape this with only two men left standing on their side?
“Trianon!” Irvine cried in frustration, “I can’t leave you here!”
Irvine looked up to see Squall half-standing now, “Use a Guardian force! Use magic! They have no defence!”
The commander’s voice was scraped raw and Squall almost collapsed again. Irvine frantically shot faster, watching bullets fly out one after another. Cast something. Use something. Kinneas, do something! The foreign Guardian Force surged against his mind.
Irvine felt his heart constrict. There was a flash of magic the blinded them all, and then…nothing. Panic had settled in quite nicely and the cowboy was ready to admit defeat. Why hadn’t it worked? Was Trianon’s guardian force useless?
Then he saw it.
An apparition of white haze that fell into the middle of the swarming men and sent up a scream.
Irvine, to the day he would die, would never forget that moment.
A woman with jet black hair snapped into existence. The moment her hand hit the hilt of her sword and closed around it, the moment her hand rose to the air and brought down her magic, the very moment her ever-shifting eyes hit Irvine’s…her hair flushed blue. Her eyes swirled with pain and anger but desire darkened them with the overwhelming need to kill.
Irvine closed his eyes and dropped beside Quistis. His heart shattered inside his body as the Guardian Force now known as Trianon whirled in a circle.
A blade of silver-white sung brilliantly as the assassin manipulated her magic into it. Men fell with the lightest of scratches, consumed by her poisons. Limbs fell, eyes were rendered useless, and hearts turned to pulp. Magic screamed from every slash she took as she danced in between her foes, a ghost to them, nearly untouchable as she twirled and ran. A smile hovered on her face as she mercilessly killed them, her magic blade and lithe body running them through so quickly no one stood a chance.
This was her true calling, this special magic she kept inside herself until the day of summoning. This power she had locked away in order to have her freedom now exchanged in a time of great need.
She was not done.
Trianon threw her hands out and closed her eyes. From the depths of her heart she cried out her need, cried out her desire. Creation. Creation of Life. The bringing of the makers of magic.
“Shiva! Ifrit! Quezalcoatl! Come to me! Take my power!” Trianon shouted.
Irvine was nearly knocked down as Shiva erupted out of Quistis with urgency he had never seen in her.
Weaker than they usually were, the three summoning spirits took down the men Trianon could not and joined their attacks to make sure everything that was down, stayed down. The Cowboy watched as Trianon became fainter and fainter. She was walking towards him, tears in her eyes and a hand outstretched. He lurched towards her, stumbling over the bodies and then grabbing her close only to be denied and watch her phase right through his arms and enclose herself inside the sapphire hanging at his neck.
Irvine, set me free when this is done.
“How could you not tell me?” He whispered in anguish.
You would never have treated me like a person. To you, a guardian force is a tool.
Irvine knew she was right but it didn’t stop the pain inside him. He felt a sudden warmth seep inside his body and recognized it as a magical ‘hug’ of sorts.
I will be with you for the rest of this day. I am weaker now, from summoning my kin, but I can still help you.
“I need to shut down the controls,” Irvine muttered, eyes full of tears as he trudged towards the panel, stepping over bodies, picking his way through ash and ice. He found Seifer there, gaping at him.
“Was that…?” Seifer stared at him and then noticed the raw pain, “I’m sorry Kinneas.”
“Yeah,” Irvine whispered hoarsely, “Me too.”
“My head hurts,” Kerei whispered, feeling dizzy, “Did anyone else feel that…that magical bomb?”
Zell nodded, “Someone just cast something big and sparkly, come on, let’s hope they got to the control room.”
“I wish I had a guardian force,” Michelle said, discouraged.
“You’ll get one in time,” Kerei consoled her friend as they crept down the corridor.
Suddenly Zell and Kerei both lurched to a stop and held their heads. Michelle stared in confusion and then grabbed Kerei’s shoulders, “What’s wrong?”
“They want to get out, they’ve never done this before,” Zell breathed, straining to keep his magic inside, “Come on, let’s hurry up and find Morgan. Maybe we can magically blast him to death and soothe the GFs’ hunger.”
The two girls nodded and then began to advance down the darkened hallways. The prison seemed like a labyrinth but glimpses of light told them were drawing close to the main field. The sight of closed cell doors was a small comfort to them. At least one person had made it to the control panels and had locked the remaining men up tight. Or so they hoped.
The light grew brighter and at one point Michelle found an open doorway (not mechanical) and they were able to see the field. Kerei narrowed her eyes. No ship. No men. The glass had bars over it, drawing another frustrated sigh from her, for there’d be no easy way out.
“See if you can find a door,” Zell told them, narrowing his cobalt eyes and searching the perimeter of the field.
They stood in silence while Michelle watched the cell doors for movement. It had been eerily quiet for them lately but no one knew if that was due to the control panel being reached or some inner plan to kill them.
Kerei looked around and then frowned. The field in the prison had been left to grow fairly long but in one section an oval plain was pressed down. The girl laughed gleefully.
“Those idiots, they’ve got the Aries in that corner, see? The weight is pushing down the grass and earth.” Kerei grinned.
Zell’s eyes widened and he ruffled the girl’s raven hair.
“Look, the door, over there, let’s go.”
The three exchanged smiles and tore off. Morgan would have to wait.
“Are you all right?”
“I’m okay, where’s Seifer?”
“Over there, he’s fine.”
“Irvine, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay Selphie.”
Squall held Selphie tightly while she rubbed Irvine’s back and looked worriedly at Squall. Quistis was bandaging up some minor wounds on her head and frowning in concentration while Seifer did the dull task of disarming knocked out guards. Irvine cast round after round of curing spells on his companions, trying not to think about what just happened.
“So…Trianon is a guardian force.” She mused, “How could she stay out like that? Can they summon themselves I wonder…and her attack…is it possible that Trianon’s function as a GF is to be a powerhouse for other guardian forces? Is that how she called out our guardian forces? And if so, what of that ‘Cry Genesis’ she called out when you summoned her…”
“I don’t know,” Irvine replied bitterly, then felt guilty as a wave of sadness flowed into his mind from his new guardian force.
“I didn’t think GFs could summon themselves and each other,” Selphie whispered, “Maybe everything we know about them…isn’t really that much after all.”
“When will Trianon be fully active?” Quistis asked Irvine.
“I don’t know…” Irvine sighed and directed the question inwards.
Whenever you need me.
“Anytime.” He said softly.
“Useful,” Squall said just as softly, “Irvine, worry about this later.”
Irvine stared coldly at the commander but he then realized Squall was right. Dropping his head and sighing, he nodded and stood up, “Are we good to go?”
“Yeah,” Seifer stretched and winced, “I’m tired of this already.”
After picking themselves up the weary SeeDs jammed three of the four doors and then escaped out the fourth. The prison was so quiet it was unnerving but they pressed on with cat’s feet and weapons drawn.
Selphie felt like her insides had been scrambled. The sheer magnitude of Ifrit’s attack had taken most of her strength away and by the tired eyes of Quistis and Squall she knew they were feeling much the same.
“Going somewhere SeeD trash?”
Squall winced and muttered under his breath, “That was so lame…” as he turned around.
Four men were smiling deviously at them, armed with guns and chains. Irvine growled in anger. He was straight out of bullets and wouldn’t be able to help. Backing away he prepared to cast a few cures as Squall and Seifer rushed the enemy.
They hit the first row hard but met equal resistance. Snapping into their training they backed off as Selphie and Quistis both unleashed their attacks, switching places with the men off and on. Arms were aching by the time they had defeated their opponents and Irvine had used up four more cure spells.
“Hey…do you guys really think we’ll make it out?” He asked blearily.
“We have to,” Quistis said through clenched teeth, “Come on, let’s go. Zell and the others might need us,”
“Damn, I forgot about chicken wuss.” Seifer blinked.
Selphie beamed, “Me too! This gives us a chance! Well…as long as they’re not as tired as us.”
Zell narrowed his eyes as harsh sunlight glinted down upon them. Behind him, Kerei and Michelle were glued to his shoulders, looking warily around the field of grass. The door they had chosen was on the opposite side of the field than the Aries so they’d have to run the distance as fast as they could.
Taking the lead, Zell planted his foot in the grass and then promptly yelped and jumped back as the grass exploded in a shower of turf. Michelle and Kerei both screamed and darted back inside the prison while Zell scrambled after them. Seconds later another explosion rang out and they watched one of the cannons on top of the prison fall smouldering to the ground. Swallowing hard Zell sat with his back against the wall.
“I guess Laguna hasn’t taken out their security yet.” He breathed.
Michelle and Kerei shared a mournful look and then sat down on either side of Zell.
“Do we wait?”
“We run,” Zell announced.
“What?” Kerei stared at Zell as if he were crazy,
“We run,” Zell repeated simply, “Laguna will knock off our targets as we go, take different routes and hope for the best.”
He stood up and looked down at them, “It’ll be fun.”
“Aww, come on, it’ll be fun! Ever play dodge ball?”
“You don’t DIE in dodge ball!” Michelle shrieked.
“Well, not physically,” Zell shrugged, “I’ll take the lead.”
Taking a deep breath the young blonde tensed his muscles and then abruptly burst into a fast sprint. Kerei held her hand over her mouth and flinched as the ground began to burst into patches of flame and soil as the SeeD was fired upon.
“Here I go,” Michelle whispered.
“Michelle,” Kerei whispered, frightened for her friend.
“We’ll be okay,” Michelle smiled softly, “let’s go.”
The girl flew out, her pigtails streaming to either side and squeaking every time she heard an explosion. Kerei ducked out with her heart hammering, watching Zell turn back flips and hand springs to avoid some of the heavy artillery.
Showers of sparks littered the sky as Laguna’s men took down their mechanical opponents and as she watched them tumble down Michelle let out an ungraceful squawk as she hit something hard and fell to the ground with the breath knocked out of her.
Behind her Kerei burst out laughing, and sprinted over to the girl, “Michelle,” she gasped, “You just ran into the Aries.”
“I thig my node is broken!” Michelle wailed, clutching her face as blood streamed down.
Kerei giggled, almost near hysteria from the combination of fear and laughter. She cast curaga on her friend and watched as the swelling went down and the blood slowed. Grabbing a piece of bandage from her belt pack, Kerei dabbed at the blood while Zell ran his hands over the Aries.
“Damnit, this is why Selphie should be here, I can’t find the opening,”
“We can guard it until she gets here,” Kerei suggested.
And that was when the ship gave a lurch. Zell cried out and jumped back as the air wavered and air jets steamed to life. Kerei gasped and grabbed on to what she figured must be a wingtip, frantic and not about to let their prize get away.
“Someone must be inside it!” She yelled to Zell.
Zell spread his arms over the side of the ship and in a panic tried to find the door. His hand connected with a ridge in the ship’s side and as he ran his nails along it he found a small handle. The door popped open. Zell lunged into the air. Zell disappeared. Michelle screamed, and Kerei shrieked as the ship gave another lurch and shook her loose.
“This way!” Quistis panted as she forced her legs to run faster.
“Who made this place? He was a fucking idiot!” Seifer hissed.
“He made it hard to escape from, exactly what you’d want a prison to be,” Squall breathed heavily.
The five of them had been running for quite a long time, pausing only to look at maps until Seifer had ripped one from the wall in his frustration. Now they were nearing the field that their companions were fighting over the Aries in but had yet to find the right door.
“Try over there!”
“No, there’s another one closer.”
“Fine split up, Seifer and Irvine with me, Selphie and Squall that way,” Quistis ordered.
They said quick goodbyes and darted to either side of their mutual position. It was Selphie and Squall who made it on to the field first, and good thing as well, for the young engineer located the Aries instantly and put on an extra boost of speed to get their quickly.
“Where’s Zell?” Selphie asked.
“In the ship!” Kerei replied with wide-eyes.
“Look!” Michelle pointed up into the air.
A dark rectangle floated, signalling that the door was open. Seconds later they saw two different arms grappling to stay inside the ship, one which was Zell’s. Zell lost the battle and they all gasped as he was pushed out of the ship and left hanging in midair.
“Zell!” Selphie cried in horror, “Get back inside!”
“I’m trying!” Zell yelled, desperately grasping for a handhold, “Morgan’s in here!”
“Morgan!” They all shouted at the same time.
“What’s going on?” A breathless Seifer and Quistis arrived.
“Morgan’s in the ship,” Selphie hissed.
“Where’s Irvine?” Squall frowned.
“Coming, we ran into trouble, defeated a few guards, the Cowboy’s taking their ammo,” Seifer summarized.
Just as he finished Irvine showed up looked mightily concerned, “We got trouble,” He announced.
“More trouble?” Quistis squeaked, “Morgan’s up there, we have to do something!”
“Screw Morgan, what about Zell?!” Kerei chirped.
“Selphie, how do you ground that thing?” Squall asked the brunette as she stared skywards.
“There’s a blue docking button, but Zell is no where near it. We have to push the Aries down, or get someone up there to help him.”
“How do we get someone way the hell up there?” Seifer growled.
“Trianon can!” Quistis whirled around to face Irvine, “She can, can’t she?”
"Trianon?" Kerei asked, looking around in confusion.
"Trianon is a guardian force, she's junctioned to Irvine, we'll explain later." Selphie replied in a rush.
“I…I don’t know,” Irvine stuttered.
“ASK HER!” The SeeDs shouted.
Flinching, Irvine froze still for a second and then jerked a nod at them, “She thinks she can.”
“Well summon her cowboy!” Kerei screamed.
“I AM!” Irvine hissed, then cried anew, “SUMMON TRIANON!”
The white flash was much dimmer this time, mainly because the guardian force was considerably weaker. She sprang out of the sapphire in a haze of blue coils that wrapped around her body and flushed her raven hair to the vibrant cerulean they were all accustomed to.
The assassin literally jumped off Seifer’s shoulder (eliciting a blue streak from the shocked man) and grabbed the invisible wingtip. From her experience in watching Selphie construct the Aries, Trianon had a fair idea of where everything was in proportion to the gaping black door.
Like a cat she stalked over the top of the Aries and as her spectators stared up at her she swung inside the cockpit, right on top of Zell and disappeared. Irvine bit his lip when he lost sight of her but he was then relieved when a white-sheathed arm snaked around Zell and hoisted him inside.
There was silence for a moment, only for a few seconds, while they stared at the glassy air and hoped for their friends to be safe, before Irvine heard a soft click behind them. Whirling around he opened fire on a squadron of men advancing on them.
“Company!” he shouted.
Trianon swung inside the main chamber and slammed her body into Morgan, feet first. The man was weak from his torture and couldn’t stop her as she pounded him into the opposite wall. Springing away she pulled Zell to safety and rammed her fist into Morgan’s stomach.
“Zell, hit the blue button,” She ordered in a cold voice.
“Yes ma’am,” Zell looked around and located a small round button with a blue light shining inside it. Hearing the satisfying click and feeling the ship lower itself, Zell breathed in relief as stable ground met up with the Aries.
“Yellow button,” Trianon commanded as she wrapped an arm around Morgan’s neck.
Zell toggled it and didn’t notice any change, but when he stepped out of the Aries he saw that it was visible now. He also saw a swarm of men heading for them.
“We’ve got trouble,” He ran to the aid of his companions, exchanging places with Selphie as she leaped into her ship at the same time Trianon pushed Morgan and her out.
“Hey baby it’s been awhile!” Selphie grinned as she sat down in the plush chair and let her fingers fly over the controls.
The Aries rose to the air majestically and then turned ominously on the prisoners. Morgan tumbled to the ground, writhing away from Trianon and began to scramble away as Selphie opened fire. The SeeDs immediately jumped back and ran for cover as their companion obliterated the prisoners.
Fuelled by his desire to escape, Morgan grabbed two handfuls of dirt and grass and ripped them from the ground as he found his footing. Throwing the two clumps at an incoming guard, the raven-haired man made a breakaway for the door.
He forgot something though.
It was the last thing Morgan was to see. He turned and watched the figure of a woman silhouetted as she leapt in front of the sun with a blade over her head come flying towards him. As he threw up his hands he watched her twist her body, bringing the sword in an arc that sliced directly over his eyes. His scream would be frozen in many people’s minds later on, but not Trianon’s, who had heard this same cry over and over throughout her existence.
She landed on one knee and one foot, her blade dripping with blood held across her body and her face tilted towards the fallen figure of Morgan. Standing gracefully she rolled him on to his back and posed beside him, a silent guard over her prey.
Above her the Aries swooped down and the door slid open, ushering the SeeD’s inside. Scrambling for the door they crowded into the backspace and then crammed further to make room for the guardian force and Morgan.
Having used up so much power, Trianon was turning translucent. The Aries rested slightly above the ground while she pushed Morgan inside. Crawling in after him and coloured pure white from her exhaustion, Trianon numbly made her way to her Master and curled up with her cheek on his chest, dragging her sword behind her.
Quistis grimaced at the sight of sightless Morgan but forced herself to bandage his eyes so they wouldn’t get blood everywhere. She watched the sleeping GF resting on the cowboy and saw pain and relief battling each other in the man’s eyes. He had wrapped an arm around her waist and was stroking her face absently as he thought.
“I can’t believe we made it out,” Zell whispered, breathing hard.
“Makes you feel invincible, when you think of how many men we fought,” Seifer said quietly, “I didn’t think I’d make it out. I thought this would be my redemption, my release for being so evil.”
Quistis poked him, “It was, and you survived it so think of yourself at a new beginning.”
Seifer nodded, “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Oh Hyne. That bastard got blood on my control panel. Oh my, Hyne I am going to KILL him,” Selphie’s voice hissed from behind her pilot’s chair.
Squall blinked and then nudged Kerei, “Quick, cover the carpet, if she sees that stain she will flip,” he whispered.
Seifer nodded vehemently, “You don’t want to see her mad, she’s like a devil woman.”
The Aries gave a nasty curve and spun upside down, sending the SeeDs in the back tumbling, “I heard that Seifer!”