Phase XII: Interrogation
Vaughn owned an old warehouse used to store old tools and materials. Frankly, it just held a bunch of useless junk in Squall's opinion, but it was a good spot to keep Zone until he woke up.
Angelus finished chaining the unconscious man's wrists to a steel chair in the middle of the room. To add to the atmosphere, a single light bulb hung from a couple of wires right above his head. This all looked like it was straight out of a mafia movie and was the perfect setting for his interrogation.
"That's about does it." He finally said, turning to Squall who stood by the door. Angelus went to meet him, brushing the dirt and flaked rust from his hands, "When he wakes up, you're gonna have a long chat with him."
"Me?" Squall asked.
He nodded, "You probably took a class or two on interrogation at your academy, right? I wanna see how a SeeD does it."
"Fine," Squall said, "Whatever." But just as he turned to leave, Angelus stopped him with the question Squall had been waiting for.
"What was James talking about back there?" He asked carefully, "About SeeD killing sorceresses. He said you housed one in Garden."
"SeeD were created to fight sorceresses. During the last war, we picked one up. She wasn't a sorceress at first, but she had taken Edea's powers when we defeated her in Galbadia Garden."
Angelus frowned looking almost sad, "Rinoa."
Squall nodded, "The Headmaster wanted to monitor her and used me to keep her there, but just before Garden officially disbanded, Rinoa ran away with Seifer."
"So, if Seifer's involved…Rinoa is, too."
Squall pushed the steel door of the warehouse open, "I'm hoping she isn't. But as I said before, she's dangerous. If Rinoa is involved in any way, we'll have bigger problems."
Angelus looked back at Zone, "When he wakes up, I suppose we will get our answer. In the meantime, we should rest up for the night."
October 12thth, 2009. 1348 hrs
The sun was at its highest peak by the time Zell found himself perched on a wooden crate at a fishing spot that overlooked the sail boats and the sparkling sea. Unlike the other cities they had visited, the climate here was much warmer as if summer hadn't really ended.
Zell had this nagging feeling since arriving in FH a few nights ago. The similarities between here and Balamb made him think of his Ma. Due to poor cellular service and spotty Wi-fi connection, communications had been down for a while due to damaged towers in most of the Galbadian continent. The last time he'd talked to his Ma was the day before all this started, and he figured that she'd start to worry about Squall and himself.
"Man, I miss her." He sighed before sipping at the brown bottle in his hand. He had managed to score a case of 'Dollet Lager' from Vaughn's pantry as a treat to himself. Whether Vaughn would find out or not, he didn't really care. He assumed that they weren't going to be staying much longer anyways.
"That's bad for your liver." A female said from behind him.
Zell choked in surprise, coughing, and clearing his throat. He blinked through tears as the fizzy liquid found its way into his nostrils and burned.
"Didn't see ya there, Selene." Zell managed, he noticed her eye the beer case next to him.
"You're going to drink yourself to death." She playfully scolded him.
He cocked a blonde eyebrow, "What do y'know?"
"I studied medicine and health my whole life before coming here." She stated, "I know a little more than you do."
Zell scoffed, "Cocky, ain't we?"
Selene laughed, "You take a lot very seriously. I am only joking."
Zell grumbled taking another swig and looked out at the ocean again. The sounds of patrons at a nearby fish market acted as a temporary distraction from the conversation, and the view of the sea reminded him of his summer vacations as a cadet.
"You said you missed someone?" Selene asked him after a few moments.
Zell laughed, embarrassed. "Y-yeah, you heard that?"
His face went a dark shade of red, "N-no! I-I don't have a girlfriend!"
She smiled, "That's good."
Zell took the hint. Selene was looking at him with this dazzling smile on her face, and the way the sun hit her tanned skin made him feel all the more nervous. She had her hair down today, and it was wavy from the sea salt and moisture in the air. He had to admit that she was probably the prettiest girl he'd seen in a while.
"My Ma." He felt the need to explain, "She lives back home in Balamb. I haven't seen her since my last birthday. I haven't even told her what's been goin' on. To tell her me 'n Squall are okay."
"I'm sure you will get the chance." Selene assured him, "Is Squall your brother?"
Zell laughed out loud, "No, he's not! We've been livin' together since Garden shut down. But…I guess he kinda is like a brother now. My Ma took him in, too, and treats him like another son. Squall can be a bit of an asshole, but he's my best friend. Man, I'm just glad he's here because I wouldn't know what to do without him."
Maybe it was all the alcohol he consumed because he found himself rambling and hoped she didn't find him annoying. Selene still seemed interested though.
He realized then that he knew nothing about her, "How about you? How long have you been doin' this?"
Selene took in the view again and sighed, "About a year. I moved to Galbadia from Trabia to learn more about healing magic. I have a father and a little sister. Both work in medicine as well."
Zell raised his brows, "Wow, that's quite a family."
He scratched his head, "Most of us were orphans. I got lucky, and Ma adopted me. Selphie's got no family, and Squall has a fucked up relationship with his father."
"That is very unfortunate." Selene frowned. "My family is my life. I may be away from home, but I still think about them everyday."
"How do you deal with bein' away from them if it's been a year?" Zell asked her, hoping she had some kind of 'magical healing remedy' for homesickness.
"I have pictures of them in my phone. I also call them when I can. I know what you mean, though. It has been quite eventful lately, and I have not to the time to call my father."
"I guess," Zell nodded, "At least someone else gets it. I mean Riki has her brother, but how does Angelus deal with it? I'm sure his family would have an issue with his work."
She shook her head. "Angelus does not have one anymore. He lost them at a young age, and he does not talk about it very much."
"I wouldn't blame him." Zell said. The two fell into silence, taking in the horizon again. Calm periods like these were seldom lately, and their talk of family distracted them from what was really going on out there.
Zell stole a glance at the blonde women again, and the nervousness in his gut never subsided.
Selene asked suddenly. "Mind if I have one?"
Zell furrowed his brow, "Hold up! You said-"
She went to pick up a brown glass bottle from the box, "One would not hurt. Besides, I like talking to you like this. If this is what you enjoy, I might as well also."
He couldn't help but smile at the blonde and flipped the bottle cap off with a bottle opener.
Damn, she's so pretty.
Selphie sat on top of a workbench swinging her legs back in forth as it was her turn to watch over the unconscious Zone. She hummed a tune trying to pass the time.
She spent most of the morning fighting to get out of bed, and after three and a half hours of hitting the snooze button, she finally got up. She took over watch, armed with her trusty Nunchaku this time. Her eyes examined the man sitting in the chair. His head hung and chin pressed against his chest.
Zone looked relatively the same as he did when they'd met during that first mission despite the cuts and bruising on his face and arms. His white tank top had been stained with blood and dirt. His black pants were covered in dust, shredded, and fraying at the pant legs. Selphie just sighed and jumped off the bench to stand.
The SeeDs must've tortured him. She thought, stepping closer to the body. Why did you betray the resistance? What would make someone do that?
Is it worth being a traitor?
The steel door opened then, and she turned to see Angelus and Riki stroll in. Riki was next to watch Zone, which meant Selphie was done for the day. Good, she was getting bored sitting alone in the warehouse.
"How is he?" Angelus asked her, and Selphie pouted at their captive.
"Still out cold."
Angelus flashed his attention to Riki, "You keep watch. I have to talk to Selphie."
The girl nodded, not putting much thought in what they needed to discuss.
Angelus and Selphie walked out of the building and into the open street. This road was a backstreet that most refugees and civilians chose to stay away from because there was not much here to begin with. The buildings in the area were sheet metal storehouses and auto scrap yards that didn't look particularly safe- the perfect place to house a traitor.
"I didn't get to congratulate you on a job well done, Selph." Angelus smiled. "You did really well taking command."
Selphie blushed. His overly friendly behavior made her nervous. "Thanks. What're you guys gonna do with him?"
Angelus frowned, "There's some stuff Squall and I need to discuss with him."
She didn't like how vague he sounded just now. "What kinda 'stuff'?"
A smirk crossed his lips, "Nothing your pretty little head needs to worry about until after the interrogation."
"Uh…okay." She replied, skeptically. "I guess I should go then."
"Wait." Angelus chuckled, and she stopped. "I wanted to tell you something else."
Selphie lifted her head curiously, "Is everything okay?"
He smiled genuinely, placing his fingers to her cheek. Selphie froze, knowing where this was going. "I can't stop thinking about you. You're really something else, Tilmitt."
"I…am?" she blinked.
He nodded, "You're a strong fighter, and a smart girl. You're also valuable to us. I think you'll fit in just fine and make a great UA agent when this is over."
She laughed nervously, "I try." Angelus moved his face closer to hers, and Selphie felt the same feeling she did when Squall kissed her a few nights ago. Shocked.
But this time was kind of different.
"You're beautiful are you when you fight. Hell, you're even more beautiful right now."
Beautiful, She scoffed mentally; Squall's kissed me twice, and he wasn't this charming. Angelus was smart and charismatic and had a way to make her feel like she actually mattered.
His left hand tilted her face slightly, and his lips innocently found the skin of her cheek. Selphie inhaled his musky scent, as her body got warmer.
Angelus had warmth, humor, and determination.
Squall had coldness, animosity, and confusion.
But this was a mission, and Angelus was her leader. Angelus made her feel like something could happen, but then again he didn't seem to take love seriously enough. He always wanted to have a good time, and that reminded her a lot of Irvine.
Squall, if he ever would commit, might take it seriously. He took everything seriously. Her feelings for Squall wasn't anything new, and wasn't some sudden realization she had the moment he kissed her in the quad or even in Timber. They hadn't even talked about it yet, and she doubted they even would. The guilt in the pit of her stomach told her differently, that she could still hope.
She sighed, and pushed herself away. "I'm flattered you feel that way and you're a great guy, but you're my leader. I don't think this would be a good idea."
Angelus didn't react the same way Irvine did when she rejected him and just laughed it off. "Well, at least you know. Maybe when all this blows over. If not, we can be cool with each other."
She nudged him in the chest. "You goof. A girl just rejected you, and you think it's funny!"
"Believe me," He chuckled, "I may be a ladies man, but I've had my fair share of rejection. It doesn't faze me anymore."
Angelus went serious just then. "You're a good agent if you stick around long enough."
"Thanks," Selphie beamed, strolling away from him, "And tell me how it goes tonight! I wanna hear all about it!"
Selphie turned her heal and dashed down the street to go find Nida. Maybe he's be down for a game of cards.
Zell had lost count of how many beers he consumed in the last few hours. The sun was setting, and Selene had long gone after the one she had. His world seemed kind of a blur, and he couldn't keep count of how many boats were out there now. He belched and leaned against the wall behind him while sitting on the ground.
"That's disgusting." Squall said, sitting down on the crate.
Zell raised his beer to cheers the man, but he realized Squall wasn't holding a beer in his hand. "Hello ta' ya', too, bro."
"Seriously, Zell." Squall shook his head at the almost empty box of beer, "Where did you even get all that?"
Zell pushed himself up and smiled sheepishly, "Vaughn's stash." Squall rolled his eyes, "What? Sharin' is carin', man! Take one!"
Squall sighed and grabbed the one Zell shoved in his face. With the day he had thus far, he needed it. As he made his way to the warehouse earlier, he witnessed something that questionably stirred his emotions. It actually bothered him more than anything.
It was a private moment between Angelus and Selphie.
What he really couldn't understand was why he was upset. Selphie wasn't his or anything, and they hadn't talked at all since leaving Timber. For some reason he had a problem with that, and Squall knew he was also partially at fault.
He took a mouthful of beer and swallowed, staring out at the water.
"I feel like we haven't talked much, man." Zell spoke up, the slurring in his voice simmering down; he must have been sobering up. Squall was thankful for that.
"Not much to say." Squall replied.
"Well," Zell grinned, "I scored a girlfriend."
Squall burst out laughing, "A girlfriend!? Where the hell did you get a girlfriend?"
Zell looked offended, gesturing to his face, "How can a girl say 'no' to this?"
"Does she know she's your girlfriend?" Zell looked surprised, and Squall laughed again. "So that's a no."
"Hey!" Zell snapped, "Least I make the effort, bro. Unlike some people I know."
Squall drank, "Are you gonna lecture me about Rinoa again?"
Zell waved him off and gulped down some more lager. He wiped his mouth from the moisture, "Rinoa! That's old news. I'm talkin' bout Selphie."
"I do not like Selphie Tilmitt!"
Zell sputtered in disbelief, "Seriously? There's so much sexual tension there I can't even breathe when I'm around you two."
Squall waved a hand firmly, "There's nothing going on between us."
Zell snickered, "You want there to be!"
Squall was pretty sure that his composure was coming apart at the seams, and Zell knew this from the redness in his cheeks. "She doesn't even wanna talk to me. Besides, I think she may be into Angelus."
It was Zell's turn to laugh out loud, "You serious!? That guy's like Irvine! I highly doubt she would make that mistake again. I mean, look at you? You're a good lookin' guy-"
"I'm not talking about this anymore!" Squall exclaimed, standing up to leave, but Zell grabbed his arm.
"Psh! Fine then!" Zell shouted, "Least stay for 'nother." He gave Squall a sloppy SeeD salute, "SeeD's honor! I'll shut up about Selphie."
Squall sighed, and plopped down on the crate again, only to have Zell pop off the cap of another bottle.
His vision was blurred and the darkness around him didn't make it any easier to see. Fuck, his swollen eye wasn't helping either. He couldn't remember where he was or how he even got here, and his most recent memories were muddled images in his mind. He remembered the train and being tied up. The SeeDs beating the shit out of him daily since they arrived in FH, but was this FH? Was he still here…or was he dead?
A light bulb flickered to life over his head, and he tried with his last remaining strength to jerk at the chains that bound him in the chair he sat on. The rusted chains rubbed against the raw skin of his wrists digging further into his wounds only to draw blood.
When his vision finally cleared, he saw two pairs of black combat boots just a few feet in front of him. Zone slowly raised his head as the two men looked down on him expectantly.
Initial shock set in upon recognizing them. These were two guys he would've never imaged to be standing side-by-side right here in front of him. It scared the shit out of him, too.
Skyros Angelus and himself went back a few years from their time working together in the Forest Owls. At fifteen and expertly trained with a blade, Angelus joined up with their resistance faction proving to be quite the asset to the team. Not only was he an exceptional combatant, he was also an expert on hacking high security networks and computer systems, which uncovered a lot of information about the government.
Regardless, Zone hated his guts due to his close relations with Rinoa. She always seemed interested in him, spending more time with Angelus than anyone else. Zone couldn't have been happier when Angelus' ass was moved back to Deling City when he started his new job three years ago.
The second man stood at five-foot-ten with his arms crossed and a straight back; a force of habit from his military days. That man was none other than Squall Leonhart. He had a long list of accomplishments and acts of heroism, which made his presence somewhat surprising. He was an elite student from Balamb Garden, then promoted to SeeD Commander within three months after graduation. His most notable accomplishment was leading the SeeDs into a war against Galbadia and their sorceress and claiming victory. Despite all this, no man was a success without his failures and faults.
Zone also blamed him for Rinoa's wellbeing, or there lack of, during the war. In his eyes, Squall Leonhart was still a piece of shit, and if it weren't for him, Rinoa wouldn't have become a sorceress. Squall had promised him that she would be okay, and the next thing he knew Rinoa had almost died out in space, was possessed by some crazy ass sorceress bitch from the future, and was now one herself.
One had an extensive military background, and the other had an equivalent amount of experience with the Underground Association. These two were probably the deadliest duo, and now major players to this 'game'.
It was just too bad he wasn't on their side anymore.
"Zone." He immediately recognized Squall's deep voice, "Nice of you to join us."
"S-Squall…" He coughed, feeling unbearable pain in his ribs. Something was definitely broken there, "A-A-Angelus?"
"Why, hello." Angelus greeted him, standing just behind Squall. That crooked smirk on his stupid face had never changed. "Now that we're all acquainted, Squall, what are we doing here tonight?"
Squall twirled a small Swiss Army utility knife between his fingers, "I'm gonna ask you a few questions. You better tell me the truth. Makes things a lot easier for everyone."
Zone's heart raced when he saw the merciless look in the gunblader's eyes. "W-what're you doin'!? Why am I here!? What're you gonna do w-with me!?"
Squall stepped forwards, the blade shimmering from the overhead light bulb. "Cooperate, and we will guarantee you that we wont kill you. Make this harder on yourself, and we could if we want to."
"I-I don't know anythin'! Swear to god! Please, Squall…c'mon, man! Don't do this!" Zone screamed, his voice raspy.
In his blue eyes, Zone could see a twinkle of sick amusement when Squall looked back at Angelus again who just nodded in return. They were exchanging a silent dialogue that he couldn't even begin to understand. Angelus then simply walked around the chair and unchained his hands. Zone wanted to feel momentary relief, but this strange action didn't necessarily mean that they were just going to set him free now that he woke up.
His left wrist was readjusted and chained to the leg of the steel chair, but his right one was jerked and twisted only to slam into the table next to him. Squall held on tightly disregarding his injuries and ignoring Zone's cry of discomfort.
"Now, Zone." Squall spoke carefully. "What happened in Timber?"
"I-I…was fightin' against the Galbadians." He breathed out, eyeing the blade Squall held closely.
"Were you?" He sounded interested. Squall's tone was uncharacteristic of him in comparison to his usual monotone. He sounded taunting, more animated like he was playing a role- like he was someone else entirely. Squall patiently tapped the small blade against the edge of the table a few times, "Who were you fighting with?"
"The SeeDs. J-James and Nida." He let out, terrified.
Squall's eyes flashed towards Angelus who came over to quickly take hold of his right wrist. The black haired man squeezed hard, pressing his wounds for good measure leaving Zone to desperately gasp for air.
"What were they planning?"
He hesitated, and Angelus slammed his wrist down so hard it almost broke the wooden table. "Answer him!"
"A revolt!" He shouted, beads of salty sweat dripping into his eyes, "They were gatherin' men in the city to attack the Galbadians in the streets!"
"Why were the Galbadians in Timber? Why did they send in more troops and arrest all the civilians?"
Zone hesitated again because he struggled to breathe, and that's when Squall finally snapped. He shoved Zone's chair backwards forcefully, and when Zone opened his dark swollen eyes he was met with blue ones glaring right back and just inches away. That Swiss Army knife was also pressed against Zone's Adams apple.
These guys weren't fucking around.
After a few moments of regaining some kind of composure, Zone managed to explain without hesitating this time, "The violence in the city was gettin' worse…the clashes between SeeD and the Galbadians was escalatin'! They stopped all travel in and outta the city and controlled the media to make everyone else believe a riot wasn't goin' on there."
It was Angelus' turn to speak up, "They disarmed the communication towers in the area. They began to do the same in Dollet. Are these attacks related in any way?"
Squall pressed the blade further, trying to get the answer out quicker. "Were they?"
Zone nodded, tears falling onto his cheeks mixed with the sweat. "Yes! Dollet had been buildin' more towers, as far south as Timber. It was interferin' with the mission. When Caraway asked the Mayor to seize production, he refused."
"Why did he refuse?" Squall asked.
"Because he didn't know that Timber was at war! Nobody did except those within the city. It was an isolated incident…they needed the main communication tower again to keep it a secret."
"Are any other cities gonna be attacked?" Squall spoke carefully to articulate every world. This was something the two hadn't considered yet, something they hadn't officially discussed. It was a likely possibility, and Squall needed to consider every single one.
"I-I don't know. But if anyone else interferes with Galbadia's plan, they wont hesitate to attack."
"You mentioned Caraway is involved in this. And you betrayed your side," Squall continued, feeling like right now was a good time as any to get the one question they both wanted answered. "Why did you betray SeeD?"
Zone opened his good eye and stopped his rambling right there. He breathed steadily feeling the blade pointed at his throat, but it didn't go any deeper. Blood streamed out of the wounds staining the neckline of his white shirt. "Come out with it, Zone."
"I-I…" he struggled. The blade pulled back and so did Leonhart. He moved quickly, and Zone shrieked when the blade came down between his spread middle and ring fingers sinking into the old wood with a swift thud.
"Zone, do you like your hands?" Squall suddenly asked him. "Because if you don't tell us why you went to the Galbadians and betrayed SeeD, I will cut your fingers off one by one!"
"I didn't go to a soldier!" He cried out, feeling all his emotions desperately burst out at once. His voice echoed throughout the warehouse.
"Then who was it!?" Squall yelled, and Zone hesitated.
Just then Angelus tore Squall away, grabbed his shirt roughly, and lifted him up from his seat. "You mother fucking piece of shit! If you don't tell me right now, I'm gonna rip your eye ball out and feed it to you as your last meal!"
Squall's arm shoved between the two bodies, pressing Angelus away from their captive before he could do anything stupid. "Angelus, calm down! I got this!"
The galbadian caught his breath backing away and letting Zone drop back into the chair. Before he could slide off, Squall grabbed his shirt again, pointing the blade to the man's pupil this time. "Zone, who did you go to about SeeD's plan?"
His dark eyes tried to ignore the blade pointing in his face, so he could look Squall directly in the eyes. He spoke quietly as if a third person was in the room, and he only wanted Squall and Angelus to know.
Squall exchanged glances with Angelus upon hearing this. Their expressions mirrored each other as every fear, every speculation they had was just confirmed.
Squall couldn't even speak, so Angelus had to ask the last question. "Where is Rinoa right now?"
Unlike before, Zone didn't hesitate. "Deling City."
Squall backed away, folding up the blade, and began to walk out of the warehouse right past Angelus. His body shook in anger, and his fists clenched up at his sides.
"We leave for Deling City in the morning," was the last thing he said before the warehouse door slammed shut behind him.