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Final Fantasy VIII

Predestined
By Batgirl [ 08-12-01 ]


Chapter 1: Wild Goose Chase

“Okay,” said Rinoa, standing by the entrance to the second floor balcony on the flying Garden Base. She looked up at Squall. He wasn’t happy, not that he ever was, but he was exceptionally not happy at the moment. Of course, Rinoa understood why. She wasn’t happy about it either, but it couldn’t be helped.

“I tried asking Cid to reconsider...” Squall said, apologetically. When the battle with Ultimecia had ended, Squall had handed over his duties as Garden Commander almost immediately to Cid, who would not accept them. Instead, Cid had reassumed the role of headmaster. He has control over the instruction of new SeeDs, and of where the flying Garden traveled. Squall, however, had to keep his role as Garden Commander and whenever it was time for battle, Squall was in charge.

What Squall had wanted Cid to reconsider was his choice of ambassador. Usually, Cid would go to other cities to discuss peace and mutual agreements on trading and such, leaving Squall in charge temporarily. It was quite convenient. However, Cid had taken ill this past week, and wouldn’t be able to travel to Esthar to discuss trade agreements with President Loire fortheir technology.

He chose Rinoa to go instead. He supposedly chose her because of her military lineage, and because she knew all the correct diplomatic procedures. Despite what anyone said, Cid was certain Rinoa was the best choice for the job, and in this situation, Squall had no power to override it.

“I did too...” Rinoa said.

“So then...” Squall stood there. After a minute of silence and contemplation, Rinoa just flew into his arms. Squall put his hands around her waist and kissed her gently on the lips.

Finally, when they parted, Rinoa picked up her bags. “...I’ll be back soon...”

Squall nodded.

“Goodbye,” she waved as she began to walk out, Angelo at her side. Squall waved back. Once Rinoa turned away from him, he stomped off to the training center. He wouldn’t have been able to watch her leave any longer without following. Besides he needed to let off steam...Badly.

“Yo Squall!” a voice from behind him called.

Squall turned and glared, his fists still clenched.

“Whoa,” Zell said, jumping back a bit. “Heh heh,” he scratched the back of his neck, “Guess Rinoa’s gone then, eh?”

Squall turned and kept walking. Zell could be such an idiot sometimes.

“Where are you going?” Zell said, following a few steps behind.

“Training center.”

“Want me to join?”

“...Whatever...”

Good old Squall, thought Zell as he followed him in.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Rinoa stood on the FH platform. It was crowded with people. After Ultimecia had been defeated, and the Galbadian tyranny had ended, the Horizon Line Trains had begun operating again. The countries were trying to create a sense of unity and support for one another, and reopening the Horizon Bridge was the first step.

She walked on to the train to Esthar, ignoring all the people who were bumping into her. Esthar had decided to re-open its doors to the public, and many people wanted to go and see the technology there. As she walked down the hall to her room she could almost hear Selphie singing, “...Train Train take us away...” As she closed her door the thought brought a smile to her face.

She had hoped Squall would have been able to see her off from the platform, but once she was dropped off, the Garden was on the move again. As she looked out her window she could see its silhouette on the horizon. Rinoa still didn’t understand why Cid had to pick her. Quistis was just as educated in the formal procedures as she was. Apparently, though, Cid had done it for another reason too...

She remembered going to see him when she had found out he had chosen her. Edea had tried to shoo her away, but she kept insisting until she was allowed in. “Why?” Rinoa had asked, sitting next to him. “I’ve already said ‘why’,” Cid said in reply. “That isn’t it. At least not all of it,” Rinoa said arms crossed. Cid gave a small smile and nodded, “You know people too well, Rinoa.” He sighed for a moment, he had been hoping she would just do what he said and not ask “Why?” But Rinoa wasn’t that type of person, it was one of her more obnoxious, and most charming, qualities. “Very well, but you have to swear it won’t leave this room.” Rinoa didn’t understand why he was being so serious, but none-the-less she nodded. “I give you my word,” she said, doing her best to match his grave tone.

“Alright. Now since Squall is Garden Commander, we would want him to be as strong as possible, right?”

Rinoa nodded.

“Now there’s no question as to his fighting ability. As a fighter, there is none more powerful. However, he does have his weaknesses, but we all do, right?”

“...Yes...?” Wasn’t this obvious? Why was he telling her this?

“The only problem is that Squall’s weakness is exceptionally bad. Because of this weakness, he could put the Garden in unnecessary danger. I know that as headmaster, I need to make sure he’s using the best judgment for the students. Therefore, I’m obligated to do what’s best for the students and for him. You understand?”

“Yes,” Rinoa said flatly. Why wouldn’t he get to the point?

“Well, see Rinoa, that weakness is, well...his love for you.”

“What?” she asked, taken aback. She wasn’t exactly thrilled to be called a ‘weakness’. Didn’t her feelings matter?

“Now, don’t take it the wrong way,” said Cid, noticing the expression on her face, “It isn’t that I think that his love for you is bad, as a matter of fact, it’s the opposite. However, he feels like he won’t be able to go on living if you weren’t constantly at his side.”

And why not?, thought Rinoa, That’s the way I feel about him.

“All I want to do is have you go on this trip so that he can see that if you leave for a few days, the world would not come to an end. Besides, I’m sure you’d like him to realize that you can take care of yourself. Am I right?”

“...I...suppose...” said Rinoa. She had always wanted him to be a little more aware of her fighting abilities...Still, she hated having to leave the Garden...

“I’m glad you understand. Now...Edea’s giving me the nastiest look for not resting, so I think I must ask you to leave,” he smiled at Edea.

Rinoa nodded and stood up.

“-and remember,” he said as she was out the door, “this stays between us. If Squall found out, it would ruin the point.”

Rinoa had left angry. And she was still angry. She understood that Cid felt like a father figure to Squall, and that he was trying to do what was “best for him”, but what about her? Why do parents always do that? Her father had always tried to do what was best for her. When her mother died he had tried to take her place, as if he could even understand what she and her mother had had. He had begun to give her rules there had never been before. All for her “safety”. She couldn’t go out alone, she wasn’t permitted to fight, she could not choose the boys she dated, and he would continue to create new rules every time he felt there was a “threat”. That was what had driven her away, and that was what had first driven her to Seifer’s arms. Her father would have hated him. Of course, later, other things came into play... She sighed as she returned to the present moment. This was going to be a long ride.

-----------------------------------------------------------

“Dude!” said Zell, “You totally nailed that T-Rexaur in only one hit! You sure you aren’t tired of using all them Limit Breaks?”

“...Whatever...” said Squall, dripping with sweat. It was true his muscles were sore, but he didn’t care about the physical pain, at least the thrill of the fight was helping to take his mind away...

“Yo! That’s it!,” Zell sounded angry, “What happened? Did Rinoa take your voice away or something?!”

Squall looked at him blankly, More like my soul... he thought. “Tch! Squall, you need to chill, dude, it’s not like she’s dead, she’ll be-”

Squall grabbed Zell by the shirt and whipped him around. “Shut up!” he yelled. He let go of Zell letting him fall to the ground. He then grabbed his coat and marched out of the training center.

“Damn...”said Zell, dazed.

“Hey Squall!” It was Selphie, walking with Irvine to the cafeteria. “Wanna come-?”

He waved his hand and blew her off. He continued to his dorm room.

“What’s his problem?” asked Irvine as they continued walking.

“He’s upset about Rinoa,” said Selphie.

“Aww, come on! It’s only a few days! Besides, this place is filled with beautiful women!”

Selphie looked at him. “Of course, you being the most beautiful,” he continued. She smiled ecstatically. “Except maybe for her,” he said lifting his hat to one of the trainees with a sly smile. Selphie punched him in the gut. “Okay, okay, I’m kidding!” he said, still laughing a little.

“Still, I don’t see why Squall’s blowin’ it all outta proportion.”

“Well,” said Selphie, “I can understand him being mad at Cid. He was being a little unreasonable about the whole thing.”

“I guess,” said Irvine with a shrug as they entered the cafeteria.

-----------------------------------------------------------

“It’s not like she’s dead.” The words kept repeating through Squall’s head as he lay in his room. Didn’t they understand? For all they knew, she could be dead. He jumped up and began pacing his room. Thoughts were running through his head of all the terrible things that could happen. He sat down again and held his head in his hands. He had to trust that everything would be okay. He had to trust it. He had to trust Rinoa... “That Bastard!” he said out load, punching his wall and cracking the plaster. Why did he have to send Rinoa away?

-----------------------------------------------------------

“Zell, are you alright?” It was Quistis, who had been making the rounds to keep in shape. Zell was still sitting on the floor.

“Yeah I’m fine,” Zell said as she helped him up.

Quistis crossed her arms, “Any reason you were sitting on the training center floor?”

“Yeah...” said Zell. Quistis raised one eyebrow. “Dude, I’m worried about Squall. All I said was one little thing about Rinoa, then BAM! Next thing I’m on the floor. Dude, I knew he was upset, but-Damn!”

“We’d better go talk to him. However, if he’s in the mood you said he’s in, perhaps we ought to let him cool off a bit.”

“No kidding,” Zell said, brushing himself off.

“Come on,” Quistis said, “I’ll buy you a hot dog.”

“Oh yeah!” said Zell, running up next to her.

Just as Quistis and Zell were leaving the training center, monsters began to pour in from the front gate.

“Damn it!” said Zell. SeeD sprung into action. Students everywhere began to fight the monsters. They were severely outnumbered.

“I’m going to go find Squall!” Quistis told Zell as she ran toward the dorms, fighting her way through the beasts.

Selphie and Irvine ran up. “What’s going on?” asked Irvine as he shot monsters off one by one.

“Dude, I got no clue!” said Zell, “One second its all normal-like; the next, these monsters are everywhere!”

“Where’s Squall? And Quistis?” Selphie asked.

“Quistis went to go get Squall and-” They all stopped, dumbstruck. A woman had entered the room. She had pure white skin with hair just as white that fell down to her waist. Long robes of red whipped around in the wind that was caused by the flapping of her immense, white, wings. She scanned the room with glowing red eyes as she flew over the fighting.

“I-I-I’m getting Squall!” said Zell, running the same way Quistis did. He ran toward the dorms, destroying anything that stood in his way. He finally found Quistis and Squall, fighting off the monsters that had made it to the dorms.

“Guys, we got problems!” shouted Zell over the din of the fighting.

“Zell, what are you-?” Quistis began.

“-What kind of problems?” Squall asked. The winged woman began to fly toward them.

Zell pointed. “BIG problems!”

Quistis cast Aura on Squall and he began to use Lionheart on the flying woman over and over.

Not even a scratch. She continued past, not even paying attention to their existence.

Squall then tried using magic, attacking with Ultima, tripled. Again no effect.

The winged creature entered an empty room and began to tear it apart.

Squall tried using GFs; Eden, Bahamut, Gilgamesh. Nothing.

The creature, having thoroughly trashed the room, blew out the wall to the outside and left. The monsters all fled with her. Squall leaned heavily on his gunblade. If his muscles were sore before, now they screamed out in agony. However, now was not the time to worry about physical pain.

“Squall, Quistis, Zell!” called Selphie running up. “The monster’s left!”

Leave it to Selphie to state the obvious. “We know,” replied Quistis.

“Is there any damage?” Squall asked.

“A few injuries,” said Selphie, “but nothing Dr.Kadowaki can’t handle.”

“...and, property-wise?”

“Nothing,” said Selphie, “She just passed right over everything.”

“Then there’s only one question left...” Squall looked at the room, the bed was overturned, paper was ripped from the walls, closets and trunks were emptied and destroyed. Rinoa’s tattered belongings lay everywhere. “...What did she want with Rinoa?”

-----------------------------------------------------------

Rinoa jumped off the train at the Esthar station. Not a moment too soon, she thought. If she had to sit around on that train for another second she was going to go insane. She scanned the crowd for familiar faces. It wasn’t hard to spot Ward, head and shoulders above everyone else. Ward, Kiros, and Ellone waved. Rinoa waved back as she walked over.

Ellone ran up and hugged her. “How is Squall?” she asked.

Rinoa wasn’t surprised it was the first question out of her mouth. “He’s doing fine,” Rinoa said, not bothering to mention how upset he had been when she left.

“And how are you, Rinoa?” asked Kiros as Ward grabbed her bags.

“Very tired of trains,” Rinoa said with a smile. Trains brought back too many memories of when she was with the Timber Owls...when everything began...

That was the problem, they got her to think too much. Especially about Squall.

Kiros laughed as he held the car door open for Rinoa and Ellone. Rinoa spent most of the drive telling Ellone about how all the “orphanage gang” was doing, and sharing Squall anecdotes. However, this brought Rinoa little comfort, since it only made her want to see Squall even more.
When they arrived at the Presidential Palace in Esthar, it was rather late, however Laguna still came out to meet them.

“Hello, Rinoa,” Laguna started, “I’m so glad you came, I mean um...I’m sorry Cid’s sick and all, 'cause being sick isn’t any fun, but its just so nice to see you again.”

Kiros rolled his eyes, as did Ward.

“I think its quite a bit late, Laguna,” said Kiros, “and we’d all like to get some sleep.”

“Oh! Yeah! Well, of course, sure,” said Laguna, scratching the back of his head. “Uh...would you mind sharing a room with Ellone, Rinoa? I don’t have an extra room made up yet...”

“...because he forgot you were coming until an hour ago,” Kiros finished.

“Hey now, that’s not cool!” Laguna started, “You don’t want to make her feel unwanted or anything! I know that-”

Rinoa smiled, “-Laguna, I don’t mind at all.”

“Mind what?” he replied.

They all began to crack up. Finally, Rinoa grabbed her things and followed Ellone. She looks so much like her mother, Laguna thought as Rinoa left.

Rinoa plopped down onto the bed across from Ellone.

“Tired, huh?” asked Ellone, sitting on her own bed.

“Its been a long day,” said Rinoa, kicking off her boots.

That night Rinoa fell asleep instantly. At first her dreams were of being in Squall’s arms back at Garden, but then she flew above the garden and was watching as it was being attacked. Squall was fighting valiantly but he was in pain; she wanted to help, but she was too far away to do anything. Suddenly, burning red eyes were staring at her. Rinoa awoke with a gasp, and sat up. Ellone had done the same thing.

“Squall needs me,” Rinoa said, jumping out of bed, and pulling on her boots.

“Rinoa wait!” said Ellone in a whisper. She knew what Rinoa had dreamed, and she had dreamed the same thing. However, unlike Rinoa, she felt a greater sense of danger, more that it was a warning to be careful.

“What?” she asked grabbing her Shooting Star Projectile.

“Just because you had a dream where Garden was attacked doesn’t mean-”

“How did you know what I dreamed?” asked Rinoa.

How could I have screwed up already? she thought. “You just told me.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.”

Rinoa raised an eyebrow at her. “Don’t lie to me Ellone.” She sounded like a mother scolding a child.

“Please don’t go Rinoa, I mean it.”

Rinoa looked back at her, her eyes clear and level. “I have to go back to him Ellone. I just have to.”

Ellone nodded, she could see it in Rinoa’s eyes she was telling the truth. “Thank you.” Rinoa quietly snuck out. Angelo following silently behind her.

She walked through the darkened streets of Esthar. She hoped the gil she had with her was enough to get her to Dollet, where the Garden would stop next.

“Hey, look! If it ain’t our buddy Rinoa, ya know?” said a voice in the shadows.

“CONFRONTATION!” came another.

“Hey guys, relax.” Seifer walked into the light. “How are you Rinoa?”

Raijin and Fujin also entered the light. The three of them were blocking her path.

“I don’t have time for this Seifer. Angelo Rush!” Angelo jumped at Seifer, which budged him a little but not much.

He raised one eyebrow. “You think your dog's going to move me?”

Rinoa took out her Shooting Star.

“Hey now, I’m not out for a fight,” said Seifer holding up his bare hands.

“Besides, I don’t hit ladies, ya know?” Raijin said.

“WIMP” replied Fujin, kicking him in the shins.

Seifer rolled his eyes. “I just wanted to know what you’re doing in Esthar, by yourself, at 3 in the morning?”

“Why should I tell you?” said Rinoa, lowering her weapon but ready to raise it at any time.

“No reason you should,” said Seifer shrugging, “but there’s no real reason you shouldn’t either.”

“If I tell you, will you get out of my way?” she asked.

“Sure,” he said, “whatever the princess desires.”

Rinoa accidentally smiled a little, no one had called her princess for a long time now. “I’m trying to catch up with the flying Garden in Dollet. Now-”

“-Any reason why?” Seifer asked before she could ask him to move.

Rinoa rolled her eyes. “I have a feeling a large battle is about to happen, or already happened on Balamb Garden and I need to be there. May I leave now?”

Seifer stepped aside and motioned for her to go ahead. However, as she left they began to follow her.

“Large battle, eh?” said Seifer, walking beside her, “Sounds pretty dangerous. Sounds like you need some escorts.”

“No Seifer.”

“SHOT DOWN” said Fujin.

“Hey, give Seifer a break, Fujin, ya know?”

“Both of you, quiet,” said Seifer forcefully. “Why don’t you want our help?” he asked Rinoa.

“Oh I don’t know,” she said sarcastically, “You did try to kill me several times...”

Seifer made a motion for Fujin and Raijin to hold back. They obeyed.

“Rinoa, I’m sorry,” he said.

“What?” Rinoa asked. She stopped and looked up at him. He was looking at her with the same eyes he had had before he became the “Sorceress' Knight.”

“I said I’m sorry dammit!” he looked away. “Doesn’t anybody believe in redemption anymore?”

Rinoa looked at him for a long while. He seemed so distant, and almost helpless. Not at all like when she had met him. He used to be full of confidence, self-assured, he never would have apologized for anything back then. Had his experience as the “Knight” changed him that much?

“I forgive you,” she said, finally.

“Thank you,” he said. “Then,” he raised his voice as Fujin and Raijin came closer, “may we escort you to Dollet?”

“Fine,” said Rinoa, giving in. At least she didn’t think they’d do any harm.

“Yo, Seifer, Why are we babysittin' a stupid princess anyway, ya know?” asked Raijin.

“IDIOT!” said Fujin, punching him in the ribs.

“Fujin, ya know, why you always pickin on me, ya know?”

“ENJOYMENT!” said Fujin with a smile.

The three of them laughed, Rinoa couldn’t help but laugh a little too. Maybe the companionship of some people would do her good.

-----------------------------------------------------------

The Garden stopped outside of Esthar at 8:00 AM that morning, which was 12 hours after the attack on Garden. The Garden Base was now able to go on almost any terrain, thanks to some modifications from Esthar. Rinoa should have been talking about payment for those modifications.

Squall, Zell, and Quistis arrived at the presidential palace at 8:15 AM.The guard eyed them suspiciously. “Business?”

“Squall Leonheart, Zell Dincht, and Quistis Trepe. We’re representatives of the Balamb Garden Base and it is imperative that we speak with our comrade, Rinoa Heartily,” Squall rattled off, with a look that made anyone think twice about questioning him.

“Come in,” said the guard.

As they sat in the lobby, Ellone came with Kiros. “Squall!” Ellone cried, “You’re here! You’re alright!” Ellone had been pretty shaken by the dream also.

“Where’s Rinoa?” Squall asked.

Ellone’s face went blank. “Kiros, could you go wake Laguna? I want to see him before I go.” Kiros nodded and left.

“Ellone! Where’s Rinoa?!”

“Last night...We both dreamed that the Garden was under attack...”

“We were attacked last night. That’s why we’re here.”

“...Well...we weren’t sure if it was a premonition or what, but-”

“Sis,” Squall looked at her with pleading eyes, “Where is Rinoa?”

Ellone looked away. “She went looking for you.”

“Dammit,” said Squall, fists clenching.

“I asked her to stay but-”

“It’s ok, Sis, its not your fault. But we need to find her, fast.”

“...I don’t understand.”

Squall had gone silent, so Quistis answered in his stead, “We’re dead positive whatever attacked the Garden is after Rinoa.”

Ellone put her hand to her mouth with a bit of a gasp. How could she have not figured it out.

“It sure is quiet in here,” Laguna said as he walked in. “Squall! Quistis!

Zell! What are all of you doing here?”

“There’s a situation, Uncle Laguna,” said Ellone.

“What’s wrong?”

“Rinoa’s run off, and there is some strange creature after her. It might be a Sorceress...”

“Oh! This is Awful! How’d she sneak out? Didn’t any of the security catch her? Rotten security...isn’t worth the salary I-”

“-Don’t worry, Laguna,” said Quistis, “nobody’s blaming you.”

“Still I-”

“-Laguna, I’m going with them. I may be able to help them,” said Ellone.

Laguna stared at her for quite some time, and then answered hesitantly, “...Alright, Ellone, but be careful. Please.”

“I will, Uncle Laguna,” Ellone wrapped her arms around him.

They began to leave; they couldn’t let the trail get too cold.

“Tell me the instant you find her!” Laguna called after them.

They searched the Esthar Area, from Dr.Odine’s Laboratory to Lunatic Pandora and then back to the great salt lake. By the end of the first day, there was no sign of Rinoa.

-----------------------------------------------------------

After having spent all day walking across the Horizon Bridge, Rinoa thought she would have been more tired. Her, Seifer, Fujin, and Raijin had set up camp in one of the forests nearby Obel Lake. They hadn’t had enough for a hotel room in Timber, unless they didn’t want to eat tomorrow, but Rinoa had never been all that picky about where she slept. If she could sleep. She tossed and turned and...just wasn’t tired. She decided to go over by some heavier tree cover, away from the fire, where it was dark. She sat down on a fallen tree and looked up at the star filled sky. She kept thinking she saw a shooting star in the corner of her eye, repeatedly, but every time she looked, there was nothing. She missed Squall so much. All she could think about was the comfort and safety of his arms.

“You’re thinking about him, aren’t you?” Seifer was standing behind her.

She nodded. “Can I ask you something?” he sat down next to her, also looking at the sky.

“What?” she asked, not turning her eyes toward him.

“Did you ever think about me like that?”

Rinoa looked at him puzzled. Being the Sorceress' Knight had changed him.

“...I...did once,” she replied hesitantly.

“Would you ever think about me like that again?”

“...I love Squall, Seifer.”

“Then there’s nothing between us,” he said.

“That’s not true, Seifer. There is something, and, when I met you, I thought it was love. But, now I know what love is, and...well...whatever it is between us, it isn’t love.”

“Another point for Squall then,” he said bitterly.

Rinoa didn’t like being considered a “point”, but Seifer seemed upset as it was, and she didn’t say anything about it. “I don’t see why you have to be rivals,” she said, carefully choosing her words, knowing she was treading on dangerous ground. “Can’t you just be comrades?”

“No!” said Seifer, standing up. “I won’t play second fiddle to him!”

“But then you’re still competing!” said Rinoa, also standing up. “If you were his comrade you would be his equal, not his lesser or better.”

“...I can’t do that,” Seifer replied plainly.

“Why?”

“Because, all my life I’ve know I was missing something. I tried to prove to myself that I wasn’t by being ‘The Best'. But then your lover boy has to come and show me up and rub his completeness in my face! I can’t feel whole again until I prove to him that I’m the best...” he seemed to let his mind drift off on that.

“...I...don’t understand,” Rinoa said after a long pause.

“How could you? You’re complete!” he said. There was another long pause.

“I think I finally understand why your lover boy is so quiet,” Seifer said, walking back to the fire. “If you don’t say anything, you’ll never say anything you regret.” Rinoa would have replied, but she didn’t know what to say.

“Goodnight Rinoa, and my apologies for my ramblings...”

“...Goodnight,” Rinoa had finally managed to spit out. What had just happened? She knew that what Seifer had said was of great consequence, but she didn’t understand him in the least. Seifer’s words replayed in her dreams that night.

It was still dark out when Rinoa had been awakened by a sound. A low rumbling, like an earthquake, yet the ground was firm beneath her. As Rinoa sat up, she had quite a shock. They were surrounded by hundreds of people, all wearing black, hooded cloaks, and producing a low pitched hum.

“Seifer!” she whispered, tugging on his sleeve. Why were they all just standing there? “Seifer!” she whispered a little louder.

“Mgah...lugh...rmagh...What?” he asked still half asleep.

“Shh! We have company.”

When Seifer saw their “company”, he woke with a start, “...the hell?”

“What should we do?” asked Rinoa.

“Kick their asses, that’s what! Raijin! Fujin! Up!” Seifer barked at them.

Despite Seifer’s yelling, the people in black remained perfectly still and continued with their humming.

“TIRED,” said Fujin.

“Yo, Seifer, why you doin' this, ya know?” grumbled Raijin, semi-conscious.

“Stop whining, you two, we got a battle!”

Fujin and Raijin were ready to go instantly. The only problem was that when they tried to attack, the cloaks had such powerful shells and protects, no damage could be dealt.

“...the hell is this?” asked Seifer.

“I don’t know,” said Rinoa, “but their protects are so strong we can’t even leave through the crowd.”

“FRUSTRATING!”

“Yeah, ya know? What are we supposed to do, ya know?”

Rinoa shrugged, “Sit and wait I suppose.”

“Wait for what?” Seifer yelled. “What do you want from us?!” He yelled into one’s face, “What are we waiting for!?!”

“More like, who are you waiting for?” a million voices filled the sky.

They all looked up. A pale woman in a blood red dress descended from the sky. When she spoke, a million screaming voices filled the air. “You and you,” she pointed at Rinoa and Seifer, “come with me now, and I promise no one will be harmed.”

“Not without a fight!” screamed Seifer.

“Alright then,” she laughed, “you may have your battle.”

Suddenly the cloaked people came charging at them. The cloaks fought with power that was otherworldly. Before the blink of an eye, Rinoa and Seifer were rendered unconscious, and Fujin and Raijin had been left for dead.

-----------------------------------------------------------

“PAIN,” Fujin said when she finally came to.

“Yeah, ya know, totally kicked our asses, ya know?”

“KIDNAPPED.”

“Yeah, Seifer and Rinoa are gone, ya know? What’re we gonna do, ya know?”

“SQUALL.”

“Oh man Fujin, ya know! We gotta ask him for help?”

“DEFINITELY,” she said as she stood and slowly began to walk toward Timber.

“Wait! Ya know? I’m still in pain here, ya know?!?” he called after her.

-----------------------------------------------------------

“Dude, Squall, you alright?” asked Zell.

“Yeah, you don’t look too good,” said Selphie.

“...Whatever...” Squall had been up all night double checking the area and seeing if she was at the Esthar Train Station. “Rinoa isn’t in the Esthar Area. We’ll be going to FH.”

“Got it!” said Nida.

They had been on their way for about an hour, when Ellone came running up.

“Squall!” He turned, hopeful. Before, Ellone hadn’t been able to connect with Rinoa; there had been some sort of Interference, which only made Squall more anxious. “I connected! Rinoa is heading toward Dollet.”

“Anything else?” Squall asked, “Is she alright?”

“Well...” said Ellone, she hadn’t wanted to tell him this, “...she’s with Seifer.”

“Seifer!” said Squall, “What is he-?”

“-Don’t worry, Squall. When I was connected, they seemed on friendly terms.”

This didn’t bring Squall much comfort, but he was glad Rinoa was safe.

“Nida, Dollet,” he said.

“No, Timber,” said Ellone. Squall looked at her puzzled. “They’re on foot. I doubt they’ve made it to Dollet yet.” Squall nodded.

As the Garden pulled up to the Timber Shore, Fujin and Raijin waved wildly.

Squall exited the Garden with Ellone and Zell and approached them.

“Where’s Rinoa?” Squall asked, clearly angry.

“Yeah! What is she doing with you scum?!” said Zell.

“Hey, ya know! Give us a little respect, ya know. We were escorting her to Dollet, ya-”

“-SILENCE!” Fujin punched Raijin in the Ribs. “RINOA, KIDNAPPED.”

“What?” Squalls fists clenched in anger.

“Yeah, ya know. Seifer too, ya know. These black cloaked guys surrounded us, ya know. Had us trapped in a shield, ya know.”

“...the interference...” said Ellone.

“ATTACKED.”

“Yeah, this woman in red came and took Seifer and Rinoa, ya know?”

“Yes, we know,” said Squall. “What did she want?”

“Got no clue, ya know. But she wanted ‘em alive, ya know?”

Squall stood there, silent. So Rinoa was still alive, but there wasn’t any guarantee how long that would be true. He turned to walk back to the Garden.

“ACCOMPANY,” said Fujin, following him.

“I believe you two were banished from Garden,” said Squall in monotone as he continued to walk toward the Garden.

“Come on! Ya know, we could help ya find Rinoa, ya know?”

“AFFIRMATIVE.”

“How!?!” Squall turned.

“When you let us on Garden, ya know?”

Squall whipped out his gunblade and put it to Raijin’s neck. “How?” he commanded.

“SOUTH.”

Squall lowered his weapon. “Thanks,” he grunted. He turned to leave, Ellone and Zell right behind him.

“Come on, Squall, ya know. We gotta help Seifer, ya know! We’re his posse, ya know?!?”

Squall paused, not turning to face them. “...Whatever...” he said, implying they may join.

“Oh yeah! Thanks Squall, ya know?” Raijin jumped up and down.

Fujin kicked him. “MORON!”

-----------------------------------------------------------

When Rinoa awoke, she was in a cave and bound at the hand’s and feet. She looked over at Seifer. He was conscious, and it seemed he had been for some time.

A cloaked man walked over to her. He poked and prodded and examined her. It felt like she was a fruit and the cloak was checking to see how ripe she was. “What do you want?” she asked.
He paid no heed. He grabbed her necklace. He spent a long time examining her ring. Quickly he shuffled away. “How long have we been here?” she asked Seifer after the cloak left.

“Two days, I think,” said Seifer, looking over at her.

“Do you know anything?”

“No,” Seifer shook his head. “The woman who captured us hasn’t even shown up. Only those cloaks who keep coming to make sure we’re still alive.”

“I’m so glad you’re both finally up.” As if hearing her name, the woman in red entered the area of the cavern.

“What do you want?!” Seifer snapped.

“I want many things, but what I want at the present is justice,” she said. Two cloaks brought in an elaborately decorated throne and bowed. The woman in red gently sat down, folding in her wings.

“Who are you?” Rinoa asked.

“I am Hyne, creator of all life, and now, the destroyer of all life,” her millions of voices cackled.

“What...?” Rinoa asked. Surely this woman must be insane. She couldn’t be Hyne. Hyne was the all powerful creator... still, something in her “voice” told Rinoa what she said was true. “You said you want justice. Justice for what?” she finally asked.

“Eighty years ago, the people of the Centra betrayed me. I sent down a plague of monsters, which you now call the 'Lunar Cry', destroying everything. However, some of the Centra escaped. I had sent down three Sorceresses, each with a bit of my own power in them, to finish what I had started. All of them failed, as did their descendants. They were all too greedy to obey their true calling.”

“That isn’t true!” Rinoa said, “I want nothing to do with power or money,

I just want to live a normal life!” With Squall, she added in her mind.

“As I said, too worried about your own desires to follow your TRUE objective. Now I have come to do it myself,” she continued. “I shall gather the Sorceress’ power and then destroy the Centra.”

“The Centra are gone!” Seifer yelled, “They must all be dead by now! It’s been 80 years!” Seifer yelled.

Hyne looked down her nose at him. “Their blood still lives in their descendants. Now, Sorceress Rinoa, I’ll be needing your power back...”

“The Hell you need me for, then?!?” Seifer yelled.

“You are the Sorceress' Knight, are you not?”

The words took the fight out of him.

“Now as I said...” Red light began to pour out of Hyne’s hands and shot as a constant beam toward Rinoa.

Rinoa felt like her insides were being pulled apart while her outsides were being squeezed together. The pain penetrated every crevice of her soul. Everything was being torn apart. I’m sorry Squall, Rinoa thought, I was supposed to be saving you... She wasn’t sure how much longer she’d be able to endure the pain when-

“-RINOA!!” Squall ran in and deflected the ray with Lionheart. Hyne was about to make short work of him when Raijin, Fujin, Quistis, Zell, Selphie, Irvine, and Ellone came running up.

Hyne stopped and looked from Ellone to Squall to Rinoa to Seifer. “The four of you...united? Then I must have that ring...We will finish this later,” she said as she flew off, her minions trailing behind her.

“Rinoa, are you alright?” Squall said, untying her.

“...I...think so. A little dizzy, but I’m alive.”

Squall swept her into his arms and kissed her as if he hadn’t seen her in a hundred years. He didn’t even care who was watching. He had Rinoa back; that was all that mattered. Squall lead her back to the Garden. She leaned heavily on Squall; despite what she had said, that blast had taken a lot out of her. Squall picked her up and carried her the rest of the way.

“What about you?” she asked, remembering her dream and why she had left Esthar in the first place. “Are you alright? And Garden? I had dreamt you were...”

“I know,” Squall said. “We had been attacked by that creature the night you had the dream.”

“That creature is Hyne.”

“What?” he said, stopping.

“I don’t understand it either,” Rinoa said, shaking her head, “but I know it’s true. It’s almost as if I’ve seen her before...”

“...I know what you mean...” said Squall as he carried her onto the Garden.

So much for Cid’s plan, thought Rinoa, huddled in Squall’s arms. Now, I’m never letting him go.

Squall walked onto the Garden carefully; it was still hovering in midair. Rinoa and Seifer had been held in a small cave in the side of the Almaj Mountains on the Centra continent. They had been searching the continent for a few days. It had been luck that while they flew by the mountains a flash of light had erupted from the cave. Squall had practically jumped off the Garden once it got close enough.

-----------------------------------------------------------

“Hey Seifer, ya know. Got here just in time, ya know?” Raijin said as Fujin went to untie him.

“FORTUNATE.”

“Yeah,” said Seifer, going to get his gunblade at the other side of the room. Rinoa’s Shooting Star lay beside it. He picked it up also. He walked over toward the large group. He nodded a greeting to everyone, “Instructor...Selphie...Irvine...............Ellone...”

He had never really seen Ellone before; whenever he had seen her, she had always been just another request of the Sorceress. She wasn’t all that bad looking. He wore a cocky smile. “Let’s not forget Chicken-wuss.”

“You wanna mess with me?!?” said Zell, practicing a few punches.

Quistis looked at him. “Zell, calm down.”

Seifer laughed as he walked past them. Chicken-wuss was always good for a laugh.

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