Emerald Storms

Chapter 28

Quistis swayed as the cut on her forehead oozed blood into her eye and blocked half her vision. Michelle was fighting with a single dagger, darting in, slashing, and darting out, though by now she had sustained several injuries.

“These costumes do not protect us at all!” She hissed as a claw snaked out and nearly sliced her leg right off her body.

“We have to hold out until someone comes,” Quistis panted, snapping her whip across the extended arm that had gone for Michelle and drawing a thin line of blood on the dragon.

It took approximately three strikes for them to get through the scales on the dragon before they could even hope to injure it. Both of them were tired and running low on magic. Their initial attacks had hit nicely but the dragon had begun to cast his own spells, which included a shield against magic that had yet to weaken enough for them to get through.

Michelle screamed as the dragon blew a jet stream of violet fire at them. She ducked at the last moment but when she stood up one of her hair ties was on fire. Quistis shrieked and danced over to pluck the offending ribbon off her friend’s head before it began to burn her hair.

Michelle looked sorrowfully as her plum-coloured hair fell down to her waist on one side. She narrowed her eyes and exhaled slowly.

“Realistically, how long do you think we can keep this up?” She asked Quistis.

“I give us ten minutes?” Quistis suggested, “After that, well, we know it’s on a chain so we’ll retreat and regroup.”

“Got it,” Michelle said breathlessly.

The dragon had other ideas though. It had been far too long without any play, any fresh meat, and any competition. Letting out an ear-splitting roar that sent vibrations rumbling through the floorboards, he pivoted sharply and let his spiked tail whip the two humans.

Quistis felt like her entire torso had ruptured inside her. She saw out of the corner of her eye as Michelle rolled down the hall and came to rest twenty feet away. They both staggered to their feet, trying to regain their breath, when something quite amazing happened. And it came in a blur and silver blur.


Selphie Tilmitt, AKA heroine of the day came flying with her nunchakus a-whirl. She struck the dragon straight across the nose, as he was turning back towards his prey, and with her Strange Vision’s pointed ends, she sent three deep gouges in his flesh and dragged them all the way down its snout.

Tossed off almost immediately, Selphie landed cat-quick on her feet and watched a sparkle of blue flicker around the dragon. A magic shield had ended.

“Don’t use elementals!” Quistis shouted from behind her, “It’s immune!”

“Damnit!” Selphie yelped as she had to bounce back to avoid another attack, “We only have elemental Guardian Forces.”

“We need Siren, Doomtrain, Cactuar or Tonberry, who has those?” Quistis asked in a controlled voice though inside she was feeling very small.

“Irvy has Doomtrain, I don’t know about the others,” Selphie’s wide eyes stared at the dragon.

“Cast a lot of Flare then,” Quistis breathed.

“Right-o.” Selphie held her nunchakus out and shut her eyes for a moment as an amber light enveloped her.

“FLARE!” Three voices coalesced together.

The dragon winced as waves of pain washed over him. When the spell ended he slumped down. The three women stared breathlessly. The head lifted. The eyes were red.

“It’s gone berserk.” Quistis whispered in horror.

Seifer spun on heel and sent another trivial enemy flying to the leafy ground, oozing green blood and never to rise again. He had spent 8 hours of his day in the training room, leaving only to eat. The man was bored, and he was also worried. The mission was supposed to have ended, and the only word sent back was that Nida and Selphie had been brought in, while the whereabouts of Squall, Kerei and Zell were all unknown.

Quistis was still in the mansion though, and Cid wouldn’t let him go to her. Cid had told him he was needed here, but for what? There was nothing to do in Balamb Garden except torment the cadets and Seifer had already taken his fill of that. In the back of his mind Siren stirred to calm her master, and he smiled at her light touching.

The golden haired Guardian Force kept him sane, but also made him think of Quistis. Quistis sitting behind some desk out there, the reflection of the computer screen in her glasses as her eyes, glazed over, read on and on. Quistis filing papers in some short skirt and white blouse, hm…see-through white blouse…really short skirt…some lethally high-heels…

Seifer purred unconsciously and headed to the locker room for a shower.

Quistis bending over to do some filing. Yeah. And then, and then she stands up when there’s a knock on the door. It’s me. She smiles and invites me in with a flick of her finger. Damn, this rocks, and I go in and then…

And then she’s in a mansion with Gerald Clark and she should have been back days ago.

Seifer punched the wall and winced as his knuckles scraped the tiles. The shower’s water was scalding but he let it burn him for awhile as he washed his hair and let a bar of soap glide over his taut skin. He was preoccupied, not noticing that his body had flushed pink from the heat. It was only when his elbow accidentally hit the cold that he noticed the temperature, and then it had him skipping out of the shower in a mad dance to grab a towel and wrap it around his freezing body.


Squall sat alone in the front of the limousine. He was deep in thought, staring at the road in front of him as they drove towards the coast. Somehow he needed to make a distraction so that one of the SeeDs could contact Balamb, but there was literally nothing out there to provide such a diversion.

The green fields flew past, the forest in the distance stood stoically, a few gulls flew overhead but none of those would be adequate for what he needed. With their training, Squall was positive that Zell and Kerei knew they had to contact Balamb, but they were sitting with Gerald and couldn’t move. Squall’s communicator was in the glove compartment but he knew if he got it his arm would be in direct view of Gerald through the screen separating them and the man would wonder what was up.

With his left hand on the wheel and invisible to the people in the back, Squall couldn’t do anything. That was, until he saw the T-Rexasaur. He couldn’t grab his communicator, but Squall knew he could cast magic without being seen.

“Berserk.” He whispered under his breath, watching the T-Rexasaur suddenly twitch in the distance.

Then, of course, it came charging to the limousine.

“What the hell?” Gerald Clark yelled as the limo took a sharp swerve and the driver began to yell at them to get out.

They spilled on to the field where a massive beast could be seen coming at full-throttle towards them. Its large, clawed feet pounded the grass and sent tufts of earth up with every step and its eyes burned scarlet.

“Hyne!” Zell stared at the large creature, wondering what had happened…until he saw Squall’s smirk in his direction.

“Kerei, take it down! Just…do something!” Zell hissed at the raven-haired fighter beside him.

“Surround the master!” Kerei shouted, pushing body guards in a ring around the man so he couldn’t see what they were doing, “Zell, protect the driver!”

Zell mentally thanked her for being so clever and dragged Squall behind the limo, toggling the buttons to call Balamb as he did so. The two of them spat out a hasty message while Kerei charged at the beast.

Kerei had always been proud of her achievements. She had won medals for her athletic ability in gymnastics, fighting, wrestling, and dragon spike. Now she let all her skills shine as she ran up the leg of the T-Rexasaur, staying out of range of its tiny arms and too close for it to bite her. Swinging on top of the beast’s head she pulled out her combat revolver and aimed in the centre of the creature’s skull.

One shot was all it took.

The message was sent.

The dinosaur was toppling with the girl clinging on top of it.

Zell walked calmly back to the guards.

Squall got in the car.

Kerei jumped just as the T-Rexasaur landed heavily on the earth and landed with perfect grace beside it.

Gerald Clark praised himself for finding such good guards as he climbed into the limousine.

Irvine had a sack slung over his back of many pretty things he had found. Including a book of solid evidence for Quistis to look through. He was whistling to himself, even though his suit was ruined, there was a trail of tar behind him, and his left arm was useless after it had been smashed with a mace. The broken limb didn’t bother him though, he had cured it best he could and then froze it solid so he couldn’t even feel it aside from the weight.

Jewels, books, weapons and ornaments had fallen into the sack that he had robbed from a storage closet. The cowboy felt proud of his accomplishment and he couldn’t wait to tell Trianon that he had found the evidence. Problem was, he didn’t know how Trianon was doing, and that thought made him hurry.

It was quite possibly the worst moment of Irvine’s life when he reached the staircase and found the Guardian Force missing. Different morbid scenarios hit him like waves of pain as soon as his mind registered that she wasn’t there.

Maybe someone had thought she was dead and stole the sapphire from her neck, thus taking her with him or her. Maybe when Guardian Forces die they disappear. Maybe she was in dire need of help and had crawled somewhere in search of aid. In that case he doubted she could have the strength to avoid the traps. Somewhere in this giant mansion Trianon could be dying, lost, lonely, searching for someone—anyone!

Irvine began to run.

He ran around corners, not heeding the traps but setting off very few thanks to the float spells. He slid down stairs, rushing deeper and deeper down through the house, heading for the basement. It was the only place he could think of that she’d go. If she had gone upwards he would have seen her on the floor he was on.

It was in his desperation that he decided she was the only woman he wanted to be with. It was in this moment he also decided he had fallen in love with her and had to make her his own. In fact, in that moment he decided a lot of things but first and foremost he had to find her.

Violet eyes noticed that less and less bodies were turning up. It seemed as if no one had tried to come down here previous to him, which meant more traps were left intact. Irvine had reached ground floor when he noticed something else. A van. There was a van outside the window and he knew it had to be Selphie and Nida.

Putting down the sack Irvine reached for Exeter and let loose a round into the glass. It shattered and bars suddenly whizzed down from the frame. Irvine narrowed his eyes. He cast Blizzaga and froze the bars, breaking them with a solid kick and climbed on to the frame. Hoping his float spell wouldn’t fail, Irvine jumped down and sprinted across the garden with relative ease.

He climbed inside the van and did the only thing he could think of. He phoned Balamb. And requested backup. In the background he could hear the thrilled yell of Seifer Almasy.

Nida and Trianon gave each other weary smiles as together they found the control panel. Nida knew exactly what to do, even though he was slower at it than Selphie. It took them ten minutes but in the end they succeeded and both felt some stress lift off of their shoulders. The traps were all gone, in fact, anything mechanical had reversed its actions and shut down.

Little did they know that at the end of the hallway connecting with their room were three female SeeDs gawking as a massive metal collar hit the ground with a resounding clang.

The three screams that echoed back to them, however, gave Nida and Trianon a subtle hint.

“Can you run?” Nida asked, brown eyes wide.

“No, go on ahead, I will catch up,” Trianon ordered, lowering herself to her hands and knees.

Nida nodded and took off, hoping Trianon could crawl at a fast rate.

As he rushed around a corner Nida encountered a tail swinging playfully while a large black dragon advanced on what the SeeD assumed were his friends. As fast as he could he unleashed a volley of arrows but to his dismay most of them bounced right back off, and only three lodged themselves between scales. Still, the effect did make the dragon aware of a newcomer, and it lashed its tail furiously for being caught from behind.

On the other side the trio of girls sighed and thanked their lucky stars for a diversion, whatever it was. Now that the dragon was free it was even more important to drive it backwards.

“Who’s there?” Quistis yelled, hoping the attacker-from-behind would hear her.

“Nida! Trianon is coming! She’s hurt pretty bad!” Nida called back.

“We have to get this hulking beast back under the lower roof! It can’t attack as easily from there!” Quistis shouted.

“Roger that!

They managed to drive the dragon five feet towards Nida before Trianon peeked around the corner. Holding the wall for support she crept along at a snail’s pace, wishing her legs were stronger and that she wasn’t losing so much blood. The potions had done wonders but the internal wounds wouldn’t be healed by a simple curing item.

When her eyes picked up the outline of the dragon she felt her heart stop momentarily. The dragon was older than her! She remembered their kind when they walked around the earth as a common sight. She could sense frustration and eagerness from it, as well as a deep loneliness from being kept in solitude all these years. She guessed the dragon had been hibernating when Clark captured it, and her hatred for the man increased tenfold.

“Don’t hurt it!” She called to Nida, he stopped and gawked at her.

“Are you crazy?” He squeaked.

“No, there are other ways to defeat an enemy, and a dragon this old will not be taken down easily by these means.”

Trianon slid over to him and leant heavily on his shoulder and swallowed hard, “Put it to sleep, the beast has sustained enough injury that a simple sleep spell should work.”

“Sleep.” Nida repeated, “And then what?”

“Then we have someone move it. I will volunteer, when I am well,” Trianon announced in a tired voice.

“If you’re sure.”

Nida peered out from around the stomping dragon whose snout had smoke curling up from it as it prepared another fire attack.

“Quistis! Trianon says to put it to sleep!”

“Is she crazy?!” Quistis shrieked.

“Just do it!”

Four arms rose with sleep spells hovering on still tongues. They collectively paused a moment, all unsure of the outcome, and then at once a chorus of voices and a sparkle of magic streamed into existence.

Trianon smiled as the dragon curled up peacefully, hit by a quadruple dose of sleeping spells. An exhausted Selphie, Michelle and Quistis walked over looking warily at the dragon.

“Well, traps are gone, dragon is asleep, maybe we can go home now?” Nida asked hopefully.

“We still need proof of Clark,” Quistis groaned.

“I don’t think so,” Michelle muttered, “Let’s just grab him for this, we can search this place after we rest up.”

“I second that!” Nida announced.

“Consider it thirded!” Selphie grinned.

“It is decided,” Trianon said solemnly, “We are in no shape to tour this building any longer. We shall return when it is devoid of the dead.”

Even Quistis couldn’t argue with that logic. She had seen enough dead and the stench was unreal. They had been awake for two days straight and were heading on to their third with every passing minute. All the days’ events caught up with the SeeDs and they slowly walked out of the basement, looking around with miserable expressions at the mansion. Trianon wondered dimly where Irvine was, but her mind felt too cloudy to hold on to that thought and she gently fell asleep on Nida’s shoulder. The quiet SeeD picked her up, finding her to be lighter than he expected, and held the woman as if she were a fragile treasure. Irvine would have his head if he didn’t.

“I can’t wait to hit my bed,” Selphie groaned, “I hope the others are okay. I’m really worried, we haven’t had any news from Squall.”

“Or Kerei,” Michelle added in a disheartened voice.

She had taken down her remaining pigtail and it was odd to see her with her hair down and splashing over her back. The ribbon she had used was left behind without a care. Quistis yawned and together they trooped into the van.

“Everyone ready to go home?” Nida asked.

“Hey, there’s a message on our Comm. Link,” Selphie announced, pressing the red button.

“…Heeeey this is Seifer, hope everything went well, I expect a report from ya Trepe, now then, I found the cowboy and I’m taking him back to Garden. We heard from the punk that Gerald’s going to FH, there’s a team going right now to cut him off. See ya back in Balamb.”

Grins fell over every face in the van and Nida felt much better about leaving the mansion. The ride home was quiet as they dozed off on one another’s shoulders, Quistis and Selphie leaning against each other and Michelle curled up with Trianon’s cheek resting on Michelle’s hip.

The van road on in silence, the roads underneath were smooth and didn’t jar the passengers in the least. It was a long trip and as the hours floated by each SeeD dreamt peacefully while Nida relaxed at the driver’s wheel.

Irvine sighed and dragged his feet into Garden. He was tired and worried sick. Cid was flitting around with a concerned expression but Irvine growled out a report and whisked away, ducking into the elevator before Kadowaki and Xu could descend on him.

Trudging down the hallway he passed Trianon’s quarters and paused. She had given him the access code and he had a sudden desire to be inside, to be there, and wait for her, and to surround himself with her presence. As the door slid open he stepped on to the soft carpet and walked over to her couch. Dark blue seemed to be her favourite colour and it showed up all over the room. He felt dirty, covered in all sorts of undesirable things, and wondered if it would be so wise to stay on her couch. Standing up, and deciding to take a soft dare, he walked into her white marble bathroom.

The shower smelled of her, an intoxicating brew of citrusy scents that she used in her hair. Turning the water on hot he soaked in the shower for as long as he could, sampling some of the gels and soaps she had until the scents were strong she could have been in there with him. The thought sent fire down his body.

Stepping out and resting his forehead on the warmed stone before finding one of her plush dark towels to wrap around his body, Irvine glanced at his watch and was surprised to see he had been in there for nearly an hour. Looking into the foggy mirror he began to comb out his hair, dreaming of having his pale skinned beauty beside him.

The van coasted to a stop and the passengers tumbled out in sleepy clouds. Trianon was taken first to the infirmary where Kadowaki used GF mega-potions to bring her to full health with only some minor scars as tribute to her accident. She still felt drowsy but her constant worry of the cowboy’s whereabouts kept her alert. In the infirmary Kadowaki let her shower and wash all the blood from her hair and clothes, which were ruined, before handing her a soft blue medical gown to be returned in the morning.

“I will report in the morning,” She promised Xu as they followed Quistis and Selphie back to the quarters.

She felt eager to get back to her dorm and then locate Irvine. She hadn’t thanked him, hadn’t left him any messages of where she went, and the guilt ate her alive. Keying in her access code the tall woman strode into her room and frowned as the spicy scent of Irvine’s cologne hit her. Was he here? Running to her room she was disappointed to find it empty. Deciding he must have stopped by earlier, she changed into a dark blue night shirt and threw on her dressing gown of white. Her hair hung in damp tangles and she cursed lightly when she remembered her brush was in her bathroom.

As she advanced on the door she noticed the light was on and steam was escaping from underneath the crack in the door. Her heart began to beat faster as she opened the door and stared at the violet orbs watching her reflection in the mirror.

“Trianon,” Irvine whispered.


He whirled around just as she threw herself into his arms, their lips finding each other in a bruising kiss that sent chills down her body. Her robe fell down her arms and soon joined his towel in a pool on the floor as he lifted her into his arms and strode quickly to her bedroom.

Trianon gasped as his lips sought secret places on her body, delighting her while she entangled her limbs in his. As their eyes met together she turned off the light.

Quistis let her eyes glaze over and unfocus as Trianon detailed their mission in a concise and clear voice. The blonde instructor had observed quietly that Trianon was now clothed in her black one-piece suit again, that her hair was immaculately tied up above her head, and for some reason she had been blushing all day.

A subtle hand crept along her back and drew a line up to her neck, stroking her lightly. From the corner of her sapphire eyes, Quistis saw Seifer watching Trianon sedately while sitting as close to her as possible. Ever so gently she shifted her weight and leaned on to his shoulder whereupon the seeking arm curled around her waist comfortably.

“…Thank you Trianon, investigations will begin immediately,” Xu announced, standing up and taking position at the head of the meeting room table, “SeeD Kinneas was able to grab several artifacts that we wish to identify, Instructor Shea and Trianon will be in charge of that with the rest of the Instructors. Now then, let’s see what we have here.”

Xu placed a collection of items on the table and the SeeDs and instructors scooted forward excitedly. Before anyone could open their mouths, Quistis had leapt up, almost tipping Seifer from his chair.

“The book!” She shrieked, running forward and grabbing it, flipping through the pages madly, “This is it! This is the proof, he kept the receipts of all his illegal activities pasted in the pages. I knew he’d do something like that.”

“I’ll let you keep that Quistis, I suggest making use of the Laws and Diplomacy Instructor,” Xu replied, “Now then, pass these around.”

One by one they held the artifacts. One of the conclusions was that stolen property of a museum long ago had been taken by Clark, who probably oversaw the operation. When the jewellery was passed around it was Trianon who made the startling discovery when she picked up what seemed like an ordinary golden armlet.

“This is magical,” She announced as soon as her fingers grazed it, “There is a Guardian Force in this relic.”

“Can you summon it?” Cid asked.

“I can ask it to reveal itself,” Trianon replied softly, “But if it doesn’t want to I cannot force it out, you would have to junction it and use its attack.”

“Do you recognize the relic?” Irvine asked the woman, his steady eyes sending another blush across her cheeks.

“No, this is a new relic,”

“New?” They all asked in unison.

Trianon wouldn’t say anymore though.

“I’ll take it and summon it!” Selphie volunteered immediately, waving her hand in the air wildly, “Please, please, please, please?”

“Maybe later,” Cid responded absently, “Well, see what you can do Trianon.”

Trianon nodded, wondering if they really knew what they were asking. A soft sigh escaped her lips and she picked up the armlet, holding it in her hand and shutting her eyes.

Minutes later there was a rush of chairs scraping backwards as she hit the floor, stone cold and pale as chalk.

Squall could hear each and every individual tick of his watch. When was Balamb coming? They were nearing FH and if Balamb wasn’t there they would be in deep trouble. Seifer had mentioned something about sending a squad of SeeDs instead, either would do really, as long as they were there.

Gerald Clark was still sitting unsuspicious in the back of the limo with Zell and Kerei sitting to one side of him. All three of them were postured stiffly in the seats. If this didn’t work they’d have to fight all-out against the remaining four bodyguards, and Squall didn’t really have a weapon, just a pistol. His gunblade was locked safely to the underside of the car.

The ferry to FH was waiting for them on a small dock. Squall felt his anxiety build as he drove the limousine on and waited for the sleek white ship to leave. No one else seemed to sense his irritation and nervousness, but Squall felt like a radar, even jumping when the motor beneath them started and the ferry took off.

The ship’s crew were walking around, taking chains off and sealing doors, prepping the ship for its leave. Squall felt sick as he watched doors close off the view to them, and knowing he was stuck with the enemy only made him feel worse.

The limo was silent.

Squall began to sweat.

Zell began to fidget in the back until Kerei elbowed him.

Clark gazed outside into the ocean with a bored expression.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

“This is the Captain speaking.”

Squall jumped again.

“Welcome aboard the S.S Leviathan, our departure was on time and the trip to the port down of FH will be approximately three hours due to rough waves.”

Squall frowned. Three hours? No ship took three hours to get to FH! Just how bad were these waves? But then again, in three hours…you could travel…

…Right to Balamb Garden on the coast.

Squall smiled.

Trianon blinked and sat up from the blue-green grass and yawned. With the relic clutched in her palm she had a signal to look for and if her senses were correct it was somewhere behind her.

Turning slowly she set out over the plains of the magic realm, seeing a few friends and passing through the depths of the dark areas where ash crunched underneath, littered with pieces of charcoal. The air was turning balmy and Trianon looked around the new area she had reached. Frond-tipped plants shot up from the land and blossomed like sea anemones in a series of vibrant colours. Her feet soon touched sand and the woman frowned, having never ventured into this area before.

A long stretch of sapphire water appeared, lapping at the sand and inside it Trianon could see faerie fish dancing away happily with vibrant tails bedecked in what looked like gemstones. As she knelt down to get a better view her hand felt something sticky underneath.


Trianon looked down to see that she had walked on a giant pearled web that trailed out over the water. Her hand and knee were glued tight to the web which alarmed the guardian force as a massive golden spider rose from the water, scaled and spindly-legged. Her eyes widened to saucers as 8 obsidian eyes opened and glared at her.

Why have you woke me chiiiiild?

Trianon’s eyebrows rose gracefully, “Child? I am no child in comparison to you.”

The spider scoffed at her anyhow and skittered so close that Trianon could see her reflection in its 8 eyes.

“We found your relic amid a treasure vault. I was sent to see what you were.” Trianon announced calmly,

The spider guardian force did not look impressed but it did back away and snip Trianon’s hand free.

“What is your element spider?”

My name is Serachnid. Was the cold reply.

“Serachnid then.” Trianon sighed.

The spider narrowed its eyes and then Trianon watched the webs shine with electric currents. Her hair crackled and began to float around her as the static increased. Fish were electrified if they swam underneath the web and bobbed up on the surface whereupon Serachnid immediately gobbled them up and grinned wolfishly.

“Well. Then.” Trianon stared and backed away, “I’ll leave you…Serachnid.”

Farewell elf.

Trianon nodded shortly and pivoted sharply. Her back was stiff and felt immediate distrust of the guardian force, though, if taken by a master she decided he or she would certainly do its job. Still…a creepy partner to have junctioned.

When she ‘awoke’ her comrades were circled around her and Irvine was cradling her head in his lap. The cowboy was looking deathly worried and the rest of them seemed to be in some sort of shock.

Sitting up slowly she dropped the bangle back on the table, “It’s a lightning elemental, immune to water spells and simultaneously casts a stop spell to keep opponents locked in its web—the creature is named Serachnid, a spider like being.”

“…Interesting.” Xu managed after awhile.

“Are you all right?” Irvine asked, holding her tightly against him.

“Yes,” Trianon said in a tired voice, very conscious of the way he was holding her in front of everyone else.

Seeming to realize why she was blushing, Irvine let go but helped her up as she regained her balance in the land of the mortals. Taking her seat again the rest followed suit though she felt their unease. As the rest of the relics and articles were looked at there was an air of tension. Trianon wondered if they were nervous about her using her powers in front of them, or if it was concern for her well-being.


Squall had been trying hard to keep the smug smile off his face as Gerald remained utterly clueless while the ship rocked back and forth. They had been on the ship for two and a half hours and the mastermind had fallen asleep in the back.

“This trip shouldn’t take so long,” One of the bodyguards commented sourly.

“Rocky waves, man!” Zell grinned, “Sit back and enjoy the ride, we’ll probably have to work our asses off when we get to the port town.”

“True,” The man resigned his anger and sighed as he leaned back into the seats.

Kerei yawned and blinked her eyes, feeling drowsy as well. The ship was rocking them like a cradle and from the days’ activities she felt exhausted. Running a gloved hand through her bangs and pulling them back through her hair she looked at Zell and managed a soft smile. He grinned back at her, obviously happy to be going where recruits could take over.

“Attention passengers, we have docked.”

Gerald awoke with a start and then frowned. It was very quiet in the vessel. Too quiet. He ordered his men out of the car and had them surround him while Squall quietly exited and picked up his gunblade.

“What’s going on?” Gerald hissed, “This does not sound like a port town.”

“I knew this trip had lasted too long!” The bodyguard from before groaned, picking up his gun and balancing it on his shoulder, “Next crewman who comes out gets a face of metal after he confesses.”

Kerei and Zell narrowed their eyes and then squared their shoulders as the ship docked. For a solid three minutes there was nothing.

“What’s going on?” Kerei frowned, jumping as the intercom snapped back on.

“Attention…Gerald Clark! You have been docked in the hold of Balamb Garden, please enjoy our facilities as our SeeDs bring you inside, feel free to drop your weapons as you are completely surrounded,” the cheery voice belonged to Selphie, that much was obvious.

“It was a trap!” Gerald roared, grabbing a gun from one of the guards and spraying the ship with bullets.

Zell and Kerei both decided to split. Each tackled another guard to the floor and wrestled them into submission before dragging the prisoners behind the limo where Gerald couldn’t hit them.

“We’ve gotta get to Balamb,” Zell hissed, “This way, around the outside.”

They dragged the unconscious guards around the perimeter of the ship where crew men, SeeDs, took them away. Zell slung an arm around Kerei and they sighed, following the SeeDs into the entrance of Balamb.

Squall was not having it so easily. Gerald had put two and two together awfully quickly and was now blowing the limo to bits with the Commander behind it. Bullets skidded across the metal floor and sparks showered over top as the limo creaked from the damage.

The remaining bodyguards were creating a wall of fire, injuring as many people as they could to try and lengthen their survival rate. Nowhere near a door to run through, Squall was trapped behind the car while Gerald tried fiercely to get at him. The surrounding SeeDs were creeping closer and closer, hiding behind shell spells and shields while frantic guards volleyed waves and waves of gunshots at them.

“Give it up Gerald!” Squall shouted, crouching against the deflated tire, “There is no escape!”

“There is ALWAYS an escape!” Gerald screamed, his face beet-red and eyes bulging.

Squall sighed and shook his head, “Escape when you’re surrounded? Down to what, four guards? Nearly inside what will be your prison? I don’t think so.”

A scream echoed inside the ships interior, announcing to Squall that another guard had fallen. He would have to wait just a little bit…

What was that smell? Gas?

Squall felt a tremor inside him as he saw a tickle of the noxious fluid dribbling out of the car.


It would be hard to put off, indeed he might get shot in the process, but the car was one bullet away from exploding if Gerald hit the wrong spot. Time to run.

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