Crimson Lies Chapter 4
Final Fantasy VIII and all the characters belong to Square.
I embrace my rival,
but only to strangle him.
Squall stared at his old nemesis, with a look Seifer could not construe. The expression, the best the ex-knight could decipher, was a mix of disgust, contempt, and betrayal. The Commander took out his cigarettes, retrieved one from the pack, slowly lit the tip and inhaled deeply.
"The day started normally, that morning the sorceress and I had been arguing. She had been in a dreadful mood since the prior week, and we had fought the evening before. She was bitching about the amount of time I spent at work, and I told her that my job was vital to the interests of the world, and I couldnt shop all day spending daddys money. Hyne was she pissed, the little princess didnt say one damn word to my face just stormed away. The last words I ever heard her express were 'go to hell Squall'. Her wish came true."
"Around nine that morning, Quistis came storming in slamming her hand on my desk and complaining about Rinoa. It seems that the two had an argument just before she arrived in my office. From what I heard later, they were pretty close to making it physical. Rinoa backed down, ending up saying a few 'choice' words to the instructor, warning her to stay away from me. Quistis wanted her brought up on charges by the disciplinary committee. I dismissed the complaints, although, at that moment, there would've been nothing better than to put Rinoa in her place."
Seifer found a rusty chair and moved it closer, as Squall continued to lean on the rotting wall. Never interrupting the Commanders train of thought, he listened to every syllable that his companion uttered, like an eager child.
"Believe it or not, that was the last normal conversation I remember having. As Quistis left the office, I head screams echo throughout the hallways. I reached for my gunblade, ready for anything. When I neared the emergency stairs, there was a large flash of red, grenades. Several detonated at once, causing massive structural damage. The explosion knocked me down half a flight of stairs, rendering me unconscious. I estimate being out for around two minutes. Two minutes I wish were never stolen from my life."
"I regained consciousness, and continued down the stairwell until I reached the bottom. As I opened the fire door, I was greeted by Galbadian soldiers far as the eye could see. The blue and silver armor was blinding from the sun reflecting off the metal uniforms. They were good damn good, and not the inexperienced ones from Vinzer Delings reign. These men were trained under General Mitchell, a true military man who studied war techniques in his sleep. After a long battle with one of the soldiers, I noticed several people gathered off to the side. There was Quistis, kneeling beside a limp figure. I barely recognized her through the blood it covered her entire body. When I got closer, I could tell the body on the ground was Ellone."
Squall eyes glazed over as he spoke of the incident, refusing to cry or show any undue emotion. He spoke in an informative, monotone voice. Pausing for a moment, he tossed the cigarette butt to the grime-covered floor. He then balled his right hand into a tight fist, as he continued reliving the horrible day that he had spent so long trying to forget.
"A SeeD, a cadet I believe, was the first to speak aloud."
"Commander we will avenge her death in the name of SeeD, Sorceress Heartilly shall pay with her life."
"Her life, the words just echoed through my head with the force of a hurricane. He saw the confusion on my face and continued his explanation."
"Ellone was murdered in cold blood by the sorceress, these soldiers are her men. Galbadia and the sorceress joined forces, like in years past."
"I watched Quistis as she sat gently rocking Elle's lifeless corpse. The tears were rolling down her face, mixing with the dark hues of blood that covered the person we knew as our 'Sis'. So much blood from Ellone...so much fucking blood."
"I had to get confirmation, I looked at Quistis again she nodded slightly, returning her gaze to Ellone. For the first time in minutes, surroundings made their presence known to me. SeeDs continued fighting for their lives, for the survival of Balamb Garden. I assessed the situation, and knew I had to continue to fight. I didnt want to I had to. Details would be sorted out later, I just had to live to hear them."
"Fifty-four SeeDs perished that day. The Galbadian troops withdrew for an unknown reason, leaving us to fully see the damage to Garden. One fourth of the building had to be rebuilt after the battle, millions of Gil in damage. But Gil will never replace those who died. She planned it, waited for the perfect moment to strike. Absolute power corrupts even the most innocent cant ignore its call for long."
Squall paused, noticing his fists. His palms were bloody from the tips of his nails piercing his flesh, not realizing the harm he was causing his own body. Over the years, he learned to thrive on pain.
Seifer tried to hold back the wetness forming in the folds of his eyes. "How Squall? How was Ellone killed?"
"Stabbed stabbed through the chest with a dagger. The sorceress needed the power that Ellone possessed. It had been an obsession with the others before her. How one not a descendent of Hyne could posses such abilities. They feared her."
Seifer was barely audible, his voice unsure and hoarse, "Why? Why would Rinoa wait three years then attack? What time did she have to train armies while attending classes at Garden?"
"She stayed here and relayed messages via computer or other means, we're not sure. She knew Garden's routines and learned our weaknesses, what better way of studying your enemy live among them. General Mitchell was later able to break the spell Sorceress Heartilly had put him under. He was the first Knight able to do that without his sorceress being slain."
Seifer questioned the last statements, now they were getting into a territory in which he had experience. "Mitchell was her Knight? What did that make you?"
"A fool," Squall riposted without hesitation. "A damned fool. Mitchell was able to break the enchantment and rally troops against her. It came out later she had a prior relationship with him, though she was twenty years his junior. Guess her weekend trips to Galbadia werent all to see dear-old daddy," Squall spat with more than a trace of bitterness.
"Jefferson Mitchell? Squall, you want me to believe that Rinoa and Mitchell were sexually involved? The same man who is now President, leader of the World Council? Is this what you truly believe? She used you for no more than a pawn to rule with your so-called absolute power?"
Squall closed his eyes, and in a voice unlike anything Seifer had heard before from his rival, he pleadingly answered.
"I dont want to believe it Quistis, herself, witnessed the sorceress stab Ellone. I would have never believed her capable Rinoa was supposed to be the innocent one. I was sworn to protect her. I should have been there to protect people from her. She had all but warned me with her recent actions, I didnt get the connection until after the attack. We havent seen or heard from her since that day; she vanished without a trace. Mitchell has personally sworn to kill her, for all she tricked him into doing, and the lives she is responsible for taking."
Seifer was silently taking in all the information. No matter how he tried to calculate in his head, some unknown factor didnt add up.
"So, Squall if you 'do' side with the all-knowing President, why are you searching her out on your own?"
"Answers, I want answers. Did she act alone or was someone controlling her mind? Was it her will that brought devastation to Garden? They will kill her without so much as a single question. For what insignificant peace of mind it may offer: I need to know why."
Seifer pulled out a manila folder from his filth-covered trench coat. He opened up the dossier and shuffled through the paperwork that lay inside.
"Here, I have a present for you. These are both the official and unofficial reports that I located in Mitchells office."
Squall raised an eyebrow, reaching for the folder.
"In his office?"
The flaxen haired man smiled, tilted two legs of the chair off the floorboards, leaned back, and smirked.
"Covert operations are my specialty, thanks to Garden and the teaching of your lovely wife. By the way, will you ever tell me how that one worked out? Im sure there is an enthralling story in there somewhere."
Squall appeared displeased the arrogance, but still answered his rival's inquiry, "I married her, what else is there to tell?"
"Oh just the fact that you couldn't have cared less for Quistis romantically for the last twenty-two years. Then conveniently, Rinoa vanishes and you marry the instructor. Did you ever notice her beauty or were you just trying to find a decent substitute to conquer? Remarkable how fast the callous, heartless Mr. Leonhart falls in love. You do love her, dont you Squall?"
"Seifer that is none of your concern, youre crossing the line now." Squall countered with a tone increasing in volume.
"I know we have had our differences in the past. Hell, I would've sold your soul for a measly couple of Gil. Believe me, five years is a long time to think about one's mistakes, events, emotions playing repeatedly in your mind The last thing you feel at night and the first thing you feel at dawn, but I dont have to tell you that Commander Leonhart, do I? You live with the same pain and anguish I suffer everyday. I know you. We are the same, just taken different paths to reach the same destination. You're no better than I am, you hide behind titles and politics, but I feel pain the same as you, Squall. We dont allow ourselves to be happy; its not our nature. Unfortunately, on our way down the self-destructive path we walked upon, we decided to drag innocents along. Quistis and Rinoa are casualties of this war we waged in our minds; they are in fact our collateral damage. The best we can do is to not totally obliterate them in the process, which we have failed to prevent on both accounts. Again Mr. Leonhart, Im asking the question, do you or have you ever loved your wife?"
Squall said nothing. Seifer was getting too close on a touchy subject, and no matter the answer he said aloud, his rival already knew the answer that materialized in Squalls heart. The Commander decided that silence would be his best option.
"Squall, you havent answered Seifers question?" A troubled voice inquired.
Both men turned to face the door quickly, as Quistis silhouette was visible through the broken doorframe.
Renee sat on her bed, knees to her chest. She was anxiously awaiting any word from Alexandra, although she knew that none would ever come. Contact would be excessively risky, especially with all the police and officials snooping around the house. She held a picture of Ally to in her lap; memories would be all she had from then on. Fragments of memories were already the only thing she had left on so many different accounts.
Richard had been no less the bastard today. She tried to cry but the pain was too intense for her newly bruised ribs Richard was nobodys fool. Members of his staff had seen her leaving the house last night, he could add two plus two. The only thing she couldnt figure out is 'why' he hadn't turned her in already. No mention of this was made to police, only the fact that Alex absconded with his daughter. In private, however, it was a different story. He, in fact, went out of the way to keep her from the authorities, flatly refusing to let her be questioned.
She held her knees tighter, rocking back and forth on the bed. Thoughts of the first day she met him circled in her head. He seemed so pleasant, but that façade soon fell apart. It wasnt like her to sleep with a man on the first night, but desperate times called for desperate measures. She needed him, if only for survival. It wasnt impossible to get pregnant after one encounter, right? She could tell by his demeanor that he would take care of his responsibility she betted on it. It truly was the worst day of her life, as she sold everything she had including her dignity. Now, two years later, everything would end. The ironic thing was she wasnt sure if she was pleased or sad with the outcome.
Time was the only factor now. Suddenly, a loud car door slammed causing her to get off the bed. Walking over to the frosted window, she looked down to confirm her worst fear. SeeD. The council had brought them into the investigation. Trabia was no more than a working class oil town, consisting of only two classes of residents - the thousand blue-collar workers who labored hard everyday for their money, and the few that profited off them. Her husband was the latter.
World affairs were almost non-existent here. That was the first thing that drew her to this frozen wasteland. The second was the ship she boarded, hiding within the cargo bay. Now the world would be catching up with them, or more precisely, her. She peered out the window, noticing the vehicle had the markings of Trabia Garden.
That was a comfort; at least it was not Balamb
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