Phase IV: Danger
The chaos in their building was not so different than the club with residence packing their shit and hauling it down the narrow halls in quite the commotion. Squall struggled past the mess of people and went up to the elevator jabbing at the up button, but nothing was happening. The floor display above the steel doors suggested that the evaluator was stuck on a particular floor.
"It must be broken," He grumbled to the group. He should have expected the elevators to be down in this chaos.
"What are we going to do now?!" Stacy wailed, linking arms with Selphie. Squall couldn't honestly wait to get out of this mess because her friend's constant complaints were seriously getting on his last nerve.
"We gotta to take the stairs to the 8th floor." Zell groaned, "C'mon, might as well start now."
Stacy collapsed against the railing as she panted trying to get air into her lungs. "I can't take much more of this!"
"We have to keep moving!" Selphie encouraged her, dragging the girl up the stairs by the arm behind her. "We have two more floors to get go, and we're there!"
"We better have two more floors…" Stacy wheezed and forced her feet to stomp up three more steps.
Another explosion rattled the building loud enough to indicate that whatever caused the blast wasn't too far away. Squall grabbed onto the railing tightly while pressing his body closer to the opposite wall for support. He peered down at the others who climbed the steps behind him to check their wellbeing. Other than startled they all seemed fine, so he continued on.
This doesn't look good at all. People are gonna die, I have to do something! I need to get to my apartment and grab Lionheart. At least then I'll have a chance.
"Let's keep going! We don't have much time!" Squall ordered. The others followed him up the next two flights silently. He kicked open the door to the 8th floor only to find his neighbors dragging as much stuff as they could towards the elevators. Their groans and loud complaints upon finding the broken elevator could be heard from down the hall. With people trying to move all at once, the narrow halls were getting cramped full of bodies and large objects, which literally made Squall shove people out of the way to get to his door.
"Here we are…" Zell huffed, desperately fiddling with a set of keys to find the right one to unlock the door before he pushed it open.
The living room was the first thing Selphie could see, and it was surprisingly clean for a guys place. A leather black couch was pushed against the wall with a large flat screen TV mounted to the opposite one, and between that was a glass coffee table. A small standard kitchenette was attached to the room that had a small breakfast bar. Down the hall were two bedrooms and a bathroom at the end.
The two girls plopped down onto couch as Zell turned on the TV, flicking through the channels until he got to the news.
"Our next story," the news anchor said, "Dollet has been attacked by a group of terrorists posing as Galbadian soldiers. The mayor had this to say," The image turned to the mayor of Dollet speaking to the press with flashes from the cameras and microphones of various networks forced into his face. "We do not know the reason for this tragic incident, and I am sad to say I cannot say anything to make matters better for all the citizens of Dollet Dukedom. We do know that these terrorists are in fact Galbadian themselves…"
"What?" Selphie cried, "That clears everything up for us!"
Squall shushed her, continuing to listen to the mayor speak.
The mayor looked defeated and helpless, "All we could do now is evacuate the city as soon as possible. All citizens, please exit the city and save your selves. There is no hope…"
"Fuck!" Zell cried, slamming his fist against the coffee table almost breaking it in the process. He honestly couldn't fucking believe this. "There isn't anythin' we can do! We're hopeless!"
"Not quite," Squall retorted. All three of them shot curious glances at his standing figure in the nearby kitchen.
"What are we going to do, Squall?" Stacy asked him, exasperated, "Kill every last one?"
"No, we can make our way out of the city by protecting ourselves." Squall looked over to his roommate who had a knowing smirk present on his lips and a glint in his eye.
"So, we're gonna get all SeeD on these terrorist asses?" Zell asked.
"Let's get ready to fight." Squall smirked. The two men had grown anxious the past two years for a real fight. They silently agreed to retreat to their rooms to get changed out from their club wear and into something more battle ready.
Stacy's brown eyes pleaded with Selphie, "You're gonna fight, aren't you?"
The girl chirped in reply, "Of course. It's going to be like old times, I just know it!"
"Selphie…" Stacy's voice was laced with concern.
Selphie felt like she needed to justify herself, "Stacy, people are going to die, and I need to protect them."
"I know that…but you might get yourself killed."
"Yeah, I might, but it's better to die knowin' you did somethin' rather than dying not doing anythin' at all, right?" Selphie stood up and took out her weapon. The legendary Nunchaku simmered to life as it was released from its magical sheath. The Strange Vision solidified in her hand, and suddenly she felt more useful.
"Maybe that's why I stopped fighting after Trabia was destroyed. I lost that motivation that you clearly still possess." The redhead smiled slightly.
"The hell did that come from?" Zell walked into the room casually wearing his new attire. Zell had on a black and blue hoodie with a tribal design on the back of it. His jeans were dark in color with a silver chain hanging off his hip. On his hands were his prized possessions; his combat gloves the Ehrgeiz.
Just when she was about to speak, a loud rumble made the floor shake forcing Selphie to collapse to her knees. That one felt like a bad earthquake!
"Is everyone alright?" Squall rushing into the room just moments after Zell had come in.
His attire consisted of a heavy black leather vest with a white tank top underneath it that showed off his strong arms. The fingerless leather black driving gloves he had on also harmonized with his vest and so did the baggy denim black shorts as well. Shabby combat boots replaced his dress shoes topping off the entire outfit. They had no laces; however, zippers took their place. Lionheart was loyally at his side glowing a dim blue.
Zell scurried towards the window by the couch, sticking his head out of it to investigate the street below. The entire parking lot full of cars was caught aflame. It was as if a chain reaction occurred when they blew up one after another sending off one gigantic upset to the buildings in the area. "We better go now if we wanna live!" Zell shouted in distress before he sprang off the couch darting for the door.
What they thought would give them some safety was just another haven of destruction. The attacks were scattered everywhere across the city in such a short amount of time breaking out into explosions and gunshots.
What the hell is going on!? Squall thought shifting his eyes towards the window and then made for the door behind everyone else.
In the elevator area, the frustration had grown thick in the air with people yelling and cursing due to the technical difficulties. Taking the stairs would just kill time, and possibly kill them as well. As Squall observed this, he struggled to piece together a plan to get them all to safety. The look on Stacy's face told him that she was about to break down any second from built up anxiety. Once again, he felt like the pressure was all on him.
A very husky voice bellowed out for everyone's attention overcoming the sounds of complaints and crying babies. The man was taller than Squall, being about 6'1'' or so and no older than 20 years old. He had short spiky black hair supported with a considerable amount of gel. His eyes were two different colors, the left blue and the right one a very dark brown. His frame looked strong with a broad chest and shoulders hidden under a black leather trench coat and a navy blue shirt.
"Everyone calm down!" he shouted. "If everyone would just relax and stop freaking out, I could get you all to safety!"
Some of the people in the hallway exchanged glances apprehensively. "As you all know, that in case of emergency you are entitled to use the escape route. It is located down this hallway and to the left." His finger pointed in that very direction.
"But only the landlord has the special key, and it's impossible to get through without it!" A teenage girl, that appeared to be about 16 or so, protested.
The black haired man dropped his eyes on her for a moment, smirking crookedly, "Then we'll bust it down ourselves!" A light flashed just then, and a sword appeared out of thin air. Squall and Selphie both knew of this technology, as they used it to sheath and conceal their own weapons. In recent years, that Estharian technology became all the rage here on the western continent. It was a magically laced sheath charm that allowed one to summon their weapon on demand without having to carry it around in plain sight.
"He has a sheath charm, too?" Selphie noted. Aesthetically, the man's blade was quite striking made of red and silver high carbon steel. Its shape was even more peculiar, having a narrow base attached to the handle growing thicker as it met its point. From the blades point, it branched off into a smaller curved blade that made the weapon look somewhat like a large sickle. The whole blade was roughly the same size as Squall's, but looked more 'broken into' with worn weapon tape secured around the handle.
Squall skeptically scrutinized the man's appearance. He looks like a powerful person…maybe an outlaw of some sort. He sure doesn't look like a SeeD or of anything in that occupational range. Who is he?
The leather-clad male strolled causally towards the door with everyone watching his every move.
He extended a hand and heat circulated between his extended fingers into a fiery light. It grew larger and more ferocious, steadily growing into a controllable size. At full power, the fireball shot from his hand into the door blowing it right off its hinges.
The alarms overhead sounded and the sprinklers located on the ceiling sprayed open onto everyone standing in the hallway. He sidestepped, waiting a few moments for the stampede of feet from the residents to run past him before he chose to leave after them.
"Let's go!" Zell exclaimed, grabbing a hold of Stacy's arm to escape as well.
Selphie began to follow, but noticed that Squall had not moved from where he stood. She persisted, "Squall, what's the hold up? Come on!"
"You better move out, unless you wanna die." The black haired man said to them. His eyes then trailed towards Selphie flashing an affectionate smile her way, but stopped when he saw Squall standing there with his blade at his side.
"Squall?" Selphie spoke up again. Squall's eyes never left the man, sizing him up, deciding whether or not they should trust him.
The lion shook his head drawing himself from his daze and glanced at her, "Huh?"
"Squall, we have to go! Hurry up!" Her hand found his, dragging him out the door.
The black haired man's Smartphone vibrated in his pocket a few times before he could answer it. He slid his finger across the screen putting it to his ear. "Riki, did you do it?"
"…Yep, Angelus! … fire department is… ready and in position! Everythin' is geared up… below." A young female voice chirped at the other end, but the clarity of the call crackled from lack of signal here. He noticed that signal was strangely few and far between in these parts nowadays.
"Perfect," Angelus responded, "That concludes your report. Now, is Selene in position?"
"Yes, sir! She just called… and said that she managed to get… hold of our 'escape vehicle.' Selene is waitin' for us just blocks… from here; we can leave whenever you're ready." Riki finished quickly before hanging up.
"Excellent," Angelus smirked. "Plan's in motion."
He made his way out onto the rooftop locating the old rickety fire escape attached to the side of the building that lead into an alleyway below. He turned and called to the civilians, "Listen up! Everyone get into line! We'll get down from he-" He was caught off by another blast that rattled the building again, but harder this time. His eyes shot open hearing a screeching sound from his left. It was a direct hit, and their escape route went crashing to the ground leaving the people to frantically scream louder and rush about.
Angelus angrily threw himself to the ledge of the building scanning the streets and the other rooftops, but stopped when he saw something move in the distance. It was hard to see, but he saw the glint of a weapon being carried on the back of another man dressed in a black uniform. He was scurrying off the ledge carrying a rocket launcher of some kind. The street below had large craters in the ash fault, and people were lying on the ground with limbs bent at odd angles presumably dead.
He turned to see some civilians standing on the ledge of other buildings, and his eyes widened in horror as some actually dared to jump off. The people on the ground were their end result.
Quickly he tried to get his mind back on track with the plan when he looked over and saw the fellow with the gunblade. Him and the brown haired girl were getting people into a single file on the other side. A fire fighter climbed up a ladder pulling people from the roof to get them to safety, but there were still too many others, and this was already taking way too much time.
Angelus jumped right into action. "Hey! Over here!" He began grabbing at their clothing forcing them into line-ups. He could see the blonde guy from before and the red head doing the same.
Another explosion erupted from somewhere inside the building and fire blew out from the doorway. Time was definitely running out, and they needed to get these people to safety fast.
"Hurry! Get out of here now!" Squall demanded, grabbing handfuls of shirts and arms, leading them to the new escape route. "All the woman and children first!"
"You heard the guy!" Angelus barked at the civilians.
It's that guy again… Selphie thought watching him mimic Squall's actions.
"Move! Move! Move!" Angelus grabbed a woman's arm, thrusting her forwards.
This is going nowhere! Squall realized, only one ladder, and so many people to save! If only I could junction something! Damn, why did Garden take that ability away when I left?
Maybe he didn't need a GF or support magic. Squall made for the ledge and called down to one of the firefighters over the sound of the roaring flames, "Hey! Get another ladder! This is going way too slow!" If he couldn't use any summons or junction magic, he might as well to get the fire department to do something useful.
Angelus yelled next to him, "Do what the man says! We have too many people up here and not enough time! Hurry!"
The firefighter nodded grabbing onto a small child that Selphie passed off to him. When he got to the bottom, he called for a few more guys who began assembling another ladder.
More ambulance trucks started to rush into the chaotic streets with their sirens blaring throughout the neighborhood. Their doors burst open with medics to aid all the people who were foolish enough to jump off the sides of the building. Stretchers came out with two medics carrying them at a time getting to work.
Soon enough, the ladder was all set to go as it cranked its way up to the rooftop. People began to dash towards it. Adding the second ladder proved to speed up the process, while Selphie and Zell quickly assembled the line up into a single file.
When the last person had climbed off, relief came over the five of them. The worst was now over, and they could escape with most of the hassle left behind them.
"Good work!" The black haired man congratulated Squall with a friendly pat on the back, but he disregarded him with a shrug. The man gave Squall a perplexed look for his standoffish behavior. Squall didn't really care about his efforts, and didn't want to be his friend, either.
"Okay…" Angelus was slightly offended, but more so surprised. He seemed to dismiss it a moment later when it was his turn to climb down the ladder.
I need to keep my eye on him. Squall mentally noted.
By the time he got to the ground level himself, Squall could see medical staff caring for his neighbors and other civilians. Some reunited with worried family and friends embracing in tearful hugs. He awkwardly felt out of place here. It wasn't like he had anyone who would be embracing or congratulating him on his heroics. The only person he had that even remotely cared about his safety was his roommate Zell, who had just saved the lives of these people as well. A memory he tried desperately to keep locked away quickly replayed in his mind.
Don't push me away! I'm trying to mend things now! For this to work we need to-
Fuck you, I don't need you! I never have. I've been fine all these years on my own!
Maybe somewhere someone did care for him, but he was too stubborn and proud to let it come to that. He was right then, and he was fine now. He just needed to rely on himself to get out of this city.
Before anger made his blood boil, Squall sighed and kept his mind on what he had to do.
He came out of his trance to the sounds of something popping. His gaze snapped up when something whizzed by his face. The sounds of screams echoed through the streets from civilians and medical staff being shot. Smart people were seeking shelter from behind cars, in alleyways or anything that proved to be a good shield. A reflex kicked in forcing his body to jump right into the action with his gunblade drawn and ready.
Squall's attention focused on where the shots opened up, finding three or four men relentlessly opening fire, and three others slashing at random people with lightweight katanas. Squall had leapt right into a deadlock with a swordsman closest to him.
"Fuck…" Angelus muttered, tightly gripping the handle to his own weapon and entering the fight, too.
Katana's are weak, Squall analyzed. The only real advantage was their weight, which didn't hinder the speed of the user at all.
Their other two opponents were very aware of what was going on, not hesitating to back up their comrade.
Squall attempted to take all three on himself, having to take one down at a time. They were persistently getting knocked down, and getting right back up.
A horizontal strike was dealt towards the first soldier, and then he spun around connecting with the second one's blade, while at the same time having to keep an eye out for the third. The third soldier took this as his advantage, assuming that Squall was too preoccupied. The third soldier did not anticipate that Squall's eyes were locked on him like a target while he attacked the first guy.
Their blades collided when a new figure jumped into the battle; Squall turned his head around to see the guy from his building standing there with his blade drawn, too.
"Three against one? Now that isn't fair!" he taunted, effortlessly blocking an oncoming attack.
"Whatever…" Squall replied dealing more damage to the one guy he was fighting. Lionheart swung hard against the blade of his current opponent, sending him flying backwards. He recovered quickly with more vigor this time, relentlessly whipping his blade around in a series of attacks. Squall parried the man's blows, trying to find an opening in his stance that he could utilize.
Angelus managed to lacerate one in the stomach, blood sputtering out of the man's mouth as his body went limp. He smirked at what looked like a winning battle for his side. With one additional hit, his foe was down to the ground lifeless.
"One down, two to go." He counted, averting his eyes to the next guy.