Demon's Awakening Chapter 1

The Tempest Entity

By Athana Soulfire

Standing alone, one hand clenched into a fist, and the other holding a dangerous weapon- Seifer Almasy growled a command for the lights of the room to turn on. As they lifted, so did his arm. The air sliced afterwards in an incredible flurry of speed and force as his Gunblade streamed across the room and embedded itself into the far wall cleanly. The ringing of the metallic walls afterwards was only broken in it's ferocity by the smooth, even voice behind him.

"How the hell did that help anything-?"

"SHUT up!" Seifer managed, spinning in the small quarters to send a deadly glare over Quistis Trepe She winced, but that was the only reaction she allowed herself. Inside, she could literally feel her heart beating faster as the pure fury that vibrated the room nearly enveloped her senses.

"Calm down, Seifer. Understand me? This isn't going to get you any-" he cut her off.

"Don't you tell ME to calm down, *Instructor*!!!" he snarled. With his pose now more or less unmoving, she could see his entire body quaking in rage, exhaustion, and no doubt loss of blood. His white Trenchcoat was smeared with crimson streams of the liquid. His face was bathed in it, as were his chest and dusty black pants. The scar that ran along the left half of his face had also reopened, and was letting it's share of blood run into his wide open green eyes.

"We have the doctor with her right now. She's getting help! Just... just leave this up to us and-"

She moved forwards instinctively with her arms out as Seifer suddenly stumbled backwards, no longer able to stand. A few feet from him, however, having been oblivious for a moment to the fact that this man WAS her enemy- Seifer pulled his Gunblade from the wall and nearly sliced her slender neck with it's blade, gleaming in red.

She avoided his strike, nearly falling backwards herself- and hardly even realized her Save The Queen was now in one hand. Seifer was in front of her, Gunblade still pointed outwards and body leaning heavily against the wall. His right Knee supported him- just barely, as he gasped for air.

He would die of blood loss if they didn't get him help. Quistis could see long, evil looking gashes all over his form. It was as if he'd run head on into a Ruby Dragon's claws. So... SO much red....

"You've de..decided to loc..k me.. up in h..ere..." She watched his entire chest convulse inwards in one, massive cough. The next time he spoke, Seifer's voice was so shallow and pained that she couldn't believe he could speak at all. " clos..e th.. damned d...door a..nd get ou...t."

Quistis began to stand, now shaking herself. She backed slowly nearer to the shiny, blood smeared door of the small white room- it's four walls and one seething figure all there was to the see. As she opened it's lock and slipped outside, and hand fell on her shoulder and pulled her altogether from the room. She spun to face two soft brown eyes that grated in concern after the door rushed closed behind her.

"Quisty? You alright?"

Quistis straightened out her slim attire, it's orange-red hue falling snugly into place over her body. Without much thought to the tousled state of her blonde hair, she ran a hand through it absently and only just registered two golden strands falling into place at the sides of her slim features.

"I'm fine." She half sighed, half burst. "Squall... what happened?"

"I don't know...." He echoed thoughtfully. "No one does."

She watched him lean back on his heels, closing his eyes to think- or suppress the headache she knew he was forming. Squall's youthful face was etched in worry, and a frown had neatly settled over his thin lips. Quistis touched his shoulder.

"Raijin's dead, did you know?"

The hand withdrew instantly. "What?!"

he opened his eyes and looked to her, shaking his head once. "Zell and Irvine found him wherever they were attacked- or whatever happened." His left eye twitched at the memory. "I can't describe what was left of him Quistis...."

A gloved hand fell over her mouth, and Quistis closed her eyes in pain. She didn't care if they had once fought against him. He was a good person. And so was Fujin.

"Is she-" Quistis began.

Squall shook his head. He knew who she meant. "Fujin's hurt." He let out a long breath, and looked towards the white door he'd pulled Quistis from. It was one of the disciplinary rooms- and it was the only place he could think to put Seifer.

After a moment of silence, Quistis spoke up.

"I know you don't trust him Squall. Even more so considering he still has that gunblade with him..." A hand delicately passed by her neck, remembering. "But ... he's going to die if we don't do something."

Squall gazed at her, understanding. "Did he let you near him?"

"....No. It took myself and two others to get him here as it was."

For a moment, his long suppressed hatred for Seifer flickered over Squall's dark eyes. "Doesn't he realize we are trying to HELP him?!"

"Well when was he ever one to accept help before? And hell if it would be from the Garden which exiled him, and who's headmaster was his arch rival!" She watched Squall's head lower slightly. "I understand both of you, Squall. I always have. And being here, among people he hates..." She shook her head. "Don't even begin to think Seifer will cooperate with anything. Even if it's for his own good."

Squall was quiet for a long moment, still gazing towards the door in the long, brisk garden hall. After a draft ruffled the hem of his white jacket lining, Squall again let his eyes meet hers.

"Quistis, go to the infirmary, with Fujin. See if you can find out anything from her if she's conscious. I'm going to talk to Almasy."

As he turned towards the door, Quistis again touched his shoulder. His head turned slightly to regard her.

"Just don't let your emotions run away with you Squall." She said numbly. "They can be dangerous."


He entered the small, square white room with his spine ridged and ready for attack. Squall subconsciously expected it. Expected a voice to boom with laughter by his ear and add some biting remark to his memory. But there was none. His black clad figure walked stiffly into the room, eyes prepared to meet a man he had not seen in over a year now since his exile from Garden and Balamb.

No flashing smirk regarded him this time. The face he saw was a mask of rage and pain and hate.


His gunblade was up again- but Seifer's hand wavered so badly the attempt to ward Squall away was ridiculous. Squall watched as Seifer moved his beaten and torn form from the floor. He swore he could hear every muscle screaming, every drop of blood that fell to the cold slick ground with the attempt. Seifer never... he never would allow himself to look weak in the eyes of an opponent. Not if he could help it.

But in this state?

"Oh... nic..e...

Squall had never seen, or heard him like this before. In truth, it scared him.

"Seifer..." he began again, hand resting just on the hilt of his Gunblade. "I need to know what happened out there. We found you three completely by chance and-" Squall's hand suddenly tightened over his weapon as Seifer managed a full stance, and carefully edged away from the wall. One hand came up to his messed blonde hair and smoothed it back in a completely unconscious habit he'd always had. Then it wiped clean across his eyes- trying to smear away some of the blood in his vision.

There.... that smirk. It just passed over his features and attempted to hold it's place.

"A... little .. worried Sq...Squall? About wh-what could possibly do t..his to the great Seifer al..Almasy?"

Squall grimaced. "If your still trying to live up to your reputation as complete jerk- can the act. I don't have time for this. Neither do you- with the way your bleeding."

Seifer dared a harsh chuckle, which brought up a slur of blood from his mouth.

He was right though. That was another thing that scratched relentlessly at Squall's mind. Seifer- he knew- was not an easy enemy to defeat. At battle- it sometimes disturbed him to recognize that they were equal, and that Seifer's unusual need to fight could drive the breath from most any opponent. So what HAD gone on? What COULD have done this to he and his friends at such an extent?

Another rasping cough, and then a pained- "... KNOW I..'m right."

Squall didn't answer. He found his eyes warily scanning Seifer's right hand, where his gunblade was hanging limply in a gloved grip. The limb was shaking so badly....

"Tell me what went on." He demanded again, with a voice low and steady. That's not how he felt though. His entire body was strung on wires that would jolt with new thoughts and movements from the man near him. "I Have to know. Whatever you were attacked by- we have to catch it and detain it. Kill it. It's a danger to Balamb and this Garden."

"A..a...a.." Seifer's obvious struggle to meet the word were suppressed as he overcame some internal wound. "At-attacked?!" More blood, more agonized laughter. Squall didn't know if he was in near hysterics or had simply lost himself to pain. But knowing Seifer, it was probably neither. "I rea..really should make thing cl..ear...Squall..."


Seifer collapsed, the deadly gunblade in his hand clattering to the floor. It was all Squall could do in the moments after to force himself near to where Seifer lay. His right hand already had his Gunblade drawn, and the left carefully reached out to the slumped figure. Blood spread underneath his heavy boots as his hand grasped Seifer's crimson streaked trenchcoat by it's hem and rolled back, trying to see his face.

And in a movement that was far quicker then he could have possibly anticipated, Seifer's right hand shot out to Squall's neck. The blood slick glove grasped his windpipe fiercely as Squall flailed for balance, and a second later he found himself directly up to Seifer's face- whose eyes were narrowed and ready- in that moment- to kill him. Squall wouldn't have even had the time to bring lionheart up in defense before his throat was slit. Trembling, but able, the dangerous blade Hyperion was at his neck.

"It's..not me need to .. be concer..ned with at the mom..ent, rookie."

And Squall realized, in disbelief, that Seifer had slowly withdrawn his blade from a perfect killing, and dropped it the few inches to the cold ground. Afterwards, his head weakly touched the floor, and smoky green eyes closed again as Squall felt his entire body fall slack. Another shock took him then- as he found himself frantically searching for a pulse at Seifer's neck. The gasp of relief that followed was simply....wrong.

Squall didn't want Seifer to die. He realized the fact with a certain hate, a certain understanding, and near complete confusion. It was there- the faint... faint beat of life inside whatever blood his arch rival had remaining.


Zell banged his fist onto The plain, cream colored table, watching the pencil he'd sent flying into the air land squarely on the top of Selphie's flip-style brown hair. She jumped and spun instantly, lips twisted into annoyance until she saw the pale look over Zell's face.

"Heeeyy...." She smiled for his sake, vaulting over a chair in her way and instantly taking his two hands in hers. "Cheer up, okay?"

They were in the infirmary, patiently awaiting Quistis to emerge from one of the back medical rooms. The shiny metallic walls, wide open windows and calm breeze which fluttered inwards from outside would usually make this place rather enjoyable to be within. It was always clean and well kept, always cheerful despite whatever illness that might ail you.

Not today.

"Hell..." He grinned weakly up at her. "I look all that depressed and crap?"

Selphie shook her head and shrugged her shoulders, smiling as brightly as her golden yellow outfit. Suddenly, up in her hand, she had a Triad deck and waved it at him suggestively. "I'll even let you win this time!"

"Nah, maybe later Selphie."

She scrunched up her nose and dragged up a chair, straddling it and leaning her elbows on the smooth white table where Zell was sitting across from her. "Okay- then lets go get some hotdogs! I KNOW they got a new order in ta'day. Come on Zell- K'ay?"

"Ya' rhyming!"

"Am not! Come on... lets go!"

Zell put his arms over the table and blew a strand of hair from his eyes. Odd, considering the tuft of blonde above his forehead rarely strayed from place. "Nah... thanks and all. But I ain't really hungry."

Selphie let her mouth drop. "No way!! You haveta be! Zell- your ALWAYS hungry!" In a desperate attempt to get the old Zell back, she grasped his arm and tried to cart him away from his chair. "Come ON! We'll get you a triple double cheesy dog with tons of ketsup and relish and fries!!!"


"And CHILI! A triple double cheesy dog with ketsup and relish and fries and CHILI!!" Zell managed to seat himself back down and tried to ward her away by swatting his hands in the air.

"Selphie! really- I just aint hungry!!"

She let out a tremendous sigh and slumped into her previous chair. "Oh Zell... I'm worried about you! I mean I REALLY really am!" A hand went up to her brown hair and absently began to wring one of the curls in her fingers. "Is it because of whatcha saw?"

Zell shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe, I dunno. Irvine didn't take it to well. In his room I think..." A hand went up to support his head, cupping it in his palm. Selphie watched as he left it at that, just staring listlessly into space.

"I think I'll go check on him..." She said, seeing Zell wasn't really in the mood to talk either. She moved her own eyes to where he was know staring, watching as clouds slowly moved by the open window. It really was such a pretty day... and she wished everyone was in better spirits.

At that moment, the door in back of them both whooshed open with a sound much resembling the breeze outside. In it's entrance was a tired looking Rinoa, black hair limp over her face and shoulders, and behind her was Quistis. Zell and Selphie both turned their chairs to face the two woman as they walked forwards. They both exchanged glances as they did so, and words. Talking about Squall- where he was. And about Fujin.

"How's she?"

"Almost as bent as Seifer." Quistis replied in a non to happy voice. A hand went up to swipe a golden strand from her face, and then Rinoa came up beside her, sighing once. She gazed out the window Zell had been staring through, blue outfit swaying gently behind her as she approached it. Her arms crossed as she leaned over the sill and gazed outwards.

"Is she okay?" Selphie asked quietly.

Quistis walked over and touched Rinoa's shoulder slightly. The girl turned, smiled, and then let her eyes wander again.

"It's just that.... something feels amiss. Like there's an anticipation in the air. Like something's going to happen..." Rinoa said weakly

"Great..." Zell muttered, crossing his arms over his knee's.

Selphie winced as a silence overtook the room once again, and then spun once on her chair before letting her feet stop the motion. Her eyes wandered around the cool medical room, gaze lingering on the shiny white walls and their few fixtures, to the people standing within it. "So... did she say anything?"

Quistis shrugged her shoulders. "Nothing we can use to figure out what happened. She wants Seifer with her, I could tell that much. I think she knows Raijin is dead, for one. And somewhere in that mind of hers, she may even blame us."

Selphie just nodded.

"So...." Zell started, raising a brow. "Do we... I mean- what do we do?"

"the obvious. Figure out what attacked those three so brutally. See if it's still around..." Quistis shuddered very, very slightly. "We're stationed at Balamb right now, but when we decide to leave- who knows if that thing could hurt more people in the town? or maybe even tag along with us and terrorize the garden?"

"Why are we just assuming it's a monster of some sort? We really have no idea..." Rinoa said, turning around and leaning her elbows on the sill. "We... we really don't know anything. And we haveta find out the details from either Fujin or Seifer."

"Until it strikes again." Quistis added in morbid realization.

More silence, then Zell's eyes lowered and finally closed. "He didn't deserve a death like that... He really didn't..."

"We all agree with you, Zell." Quistis murmured. And from her right, where Rinoa was standing came a worried and faint-

"Is he alright?"

"Who?" Quistis asked.


The blonde woman gave Rinoa a long look, and then lowered her head slightly. "Take a look at his friends again, and then ask me the same question."

The raven haired youth nodded with a sigh, and began to leave the room. "I'm going to find Squall."

"He's with-" Quistis began.

"I know..."

Quistis, Zell and Selphie watched Rinoa quietly leave the infirmary, and then each turned to one another as if waiting for some speech. Truth be told, even with Quistis and her natural ability to take over a situation, was at a loss for words about what came next. She'd just stick to what Squall told her to do, and try to speak with Fujin again.

"Go get some rest, you two." She said, taking on a role as instructor once again. I'm going to try and get something out of Fujin once more." As she began towards the metallic door of the medical room, Quistis turned and smiled halfheartedly. "Well- that or go to the cafeteria. Zell- whether your hungry or not you always need a good meal or two."

He returned the same struggling smile. "As ya' say, Quistis!"


Shuffling into the quiet room, Quistis sighed heavily and looked at the unmoving woman on the medical bed in front of her. She remembered back when Squall had lay there, one hand at his forehead where a new scar would form. She remembered having been so angry at herself for not stopping that little fight he and Seifer had embarked on. She remembered all of that when she's slowly walked into this room. White curtains above the bed fluttered back and forth listlessly- and the room aside them, where Squall had first caught a glimpse of Ellone.

Was this truly where that entire adventure had started? All that struggle? The betrayal and anger and friendships?

Quistis suddenly had a dreadful feeling that maybe.... maybe something was starting here again.

"Are you awake?" She said softly, walking towards the bed and sitting in a chair by it. Her hands folded over her lap afterwards, and she waited patiently for a response.



"What?" Quistis winced at her loud voice.

"Go away..."

The fact that she wasn't using her 'second' type of speaking meant that perhaps-this time- they could get somewhere. Fujin was laying straight over the bed, silver hair messed and speckled with red. Her face was smudged with dirt and blood, and her clothing was ripped in more then enough places to know her encounter hadn't been a friendly one. The marks were claws- they were most definitely claws. And where Dr. Kawodski has sewn her split flesh, the area's were red and mangled. It would take more then a few well placed cure spells to help them heal.

Quistis leaned over slightly, trying to see her face again. Fujin had moved her head away from her, staring off into space. Like with Seifer- she was definitely enraged. Both fists were a chalky white as they clenched together, and her jawline was still and tense.

"I need your help here.." Quistis said slowly. "We are completely dumbfounded at the moment, do you understand? We don't know what happened, and we want to stop whatever caused this before it happens again."

A red eye shot to regard her. Above it was a nasty scratch, that if placed a little lower would have rendered Fujin completely blind.

"Where is Seifer?"

"He's... with Squall.'

Fujin grimaced. "STUPID."

"Maybe, but if you think Seifer will be able to do anything in his state, your very wrong."

The eye narrowed in worry. "He was bleeding..."

Quistis, very suddenly, realized how she might be able to get the information she needed.

"Yes, he was, and he still is. We'll get him help if we can." She paused. " You still won't tell me what hurt him?"

"How badly?"

"bad enough. Like you, rips and gashes everywhere. You know Raijin's dead, don't you?"

After a painful moment, "Yes."

Quistis bit her bottom lip. "We can help you get revenge... if we knew what we were dealing with."

There was a long silence. Fujin had lifted one hand to her forehead, where the rip across it was starting to bleed again. She pulled the hand back again and watched the liquid dribble down her hand for a moment or two. Finally, her eyes settled back on Quistis.

"I know what your trying to do..."

Quistis stared at her, finally sure that this was useless. She nodded her head once in anger, in sadness, and began to stand.

"But It's not that I don't want to tell you..."

Quistis stopped, and turned. She looked at Fujin in confusion. "Then what? Why won't you help us?"

More silence, and then: "I.. just don't know how to describe it."

Quistis took a breath. Good, very good. With the way Fujin's temper worked, she was surprised in itself that the woman's voice sounded so calm. "Then... will you try?"

Fujin turned fully, forcing her arms to carry her light weight into a sitting position. Her mouth was still set into it's ever present frown, eye an even darker shade of crimson then Quistis remembered. She also knew the action had to be painful. There was no way it couldn't be. Fujin though, she acted as if nothing had even occurred. Whatever discomfort she was in, it was thickly covered in a mask of emotionless acceptance.

Absently, she realized Fujin was like Seifer in that way. Never look weak in front of an enemy. But... was she really even one? Would Fujin consider her that?

"We were here, in Balamb." She began, and tossed a halfhearted smirk at Quistis. "Not that Seifer cared whether we were exiled from the area or not... but we returned, really, because in..." She winced, as if having trouble with some important detail. "I... think it was Deling, a family was killed there while we were passing through." She moved her hands over her stomach- where four huge gashes were closed and wrapped in sterile bandage. "The same way... like this. No one understood what happened- and so we went searching for the assailants."

"You cared?"

The instant Quistis said it, she wished someone had cut out her tongue. Fujin had a very harsh, dangerous look over her features, but it slowly ebbed away as the moments passed. Her eye didn't move from it's locked position over her own, however, and the act was utterly unnerving.

"Yes, -He- did.." She said quietly.

However Fujin had known Quistis indirectly meant Seifer, she would never know.

"...And?" she said rather hesitantly.

"We heard rumors, people saying they'd been attacked by the night. We didn't understand any of it- and after Raijin nearly got us caught in the area of balamb..."

"All the way here?"

"Yes, we tracked stories and that sort of crap- ALL the way here. More cases then I can remember. I'm surprised garden doesn't know already." From the look on Quistis's face, so was she.


"We were walking- at night. Seifer knew something was wrong- I could tell with the way he acted." She turned her head away slightly, gazing out at nothingness. "He was to quiet, like he was always listening for something. He looked at me- and..."

Quistis watched as she extended one hand, making a very slow clawing motion, and watching her own hand in fascination at the memory.

"The air... came out. It just... bent.. or..."

This was the part she hadn't been able to explain. And Quistis listened, trying to help her. Whatever she was describing, she'd never heard of it before.

"Like when the sorceress compressed time? something to that effect?"

Fujin shook her head. "It was different. Nothing formed from it- just blackness.

Everything was fine, but it wasn't. It was like you couldn't tell- but you could, and..." She lowered her head. "And it vanished. Raijin was ahead of us both. There was this.. Noiseless impact, and he...screamed."

Quistis very slowly shook her head. What was this? What was she describing?

"It killed him then?"

"I don't know." She said honestly. "We found him later on. I and Seifer ran to where he had been, but he wasn't there. Something... compacted by my head. But I couldn't hear it." She almost listlessly ran a hand over a gash at her shoulder. "Then Seifer grasped my arm and pulled me backwards. I didn't even know I was hurt until I looked down and saw all the marks, and blood. I was on the ground after that, and Seifer was in front of me. He kept looking all around, because you never could pin point the thing- but it was there. That... bending... and it hit his side."

Quistis listened quietly. She was shocked, and scared. Because whatever this opponent was, it sounded as if you couldn't even strike it. Fujin described Seifer spinning to swing his gunblade at the dark air- but it streaked right and slashed deep across his chest. Where he struck, the air returned to normal, and then it flanked his back and legs before knocking him to the ground.

"He looked behind me..." She said softly. "And so I knew it was there. He didn't think when he managed to get up from the ground. I thought I was dead when he dragged me forwards and spun- then something sharp struck at my back." Her voice lowered again. "I thought it would go through, but it didn't pierce me."

"...Do you know why?"

Fujin gazed at her, eyes shining slightly. She irritably rubbed away the wetness and clenched her jaw again.

"Because it had already gone through Seifer, that's damned why."

There was a depressed silence before the former instructor broke it.

"No..' Quistis echoed. "No, Fujin- he's alive. Something like that would have-"

"I cast Curaga as quickly as I could when we both fell to the ground. He wasn't breathing, and I nearly wasn't either- so maybe that's why it left. I fell unconscious afterwards. The last thing I remember was Raijin..." Again, she wiped her eyes, now even more angry. "I don't know how I even recognized him...

Quistis watched as Fujin fell silent. "And then you woke up, and you were here."

"Yes..." She looked at Quistis with as much a passive expression as she could manage. To late to hide it though, she could just catch the very... very slight tremble that quivered her bottom lip a moment. Fujin took a deep breath, looked away again.

"You should know, that as soon as we tried to move Seifer, he woke, and damned nearly killed one of our SeeD. That's why he's not here. We locked him in one of the disciplinary rooms.

She didn't answer.

Quistis moved her eyes to the single window in the room. It's white curtains were now billowing violently, but Fujin payed it's cold wind no mind as it lashed her back and silver hair. A storm looked to be moving in fast. The previous blue skies were now gray and threatening. Some area's were darker then others, and she could make out the slightest electrical flashes coming from their depths.

She needed to find Squall, and tell him of what she had learned.


Dr. kadowaki slowly peeled back a bit of the skin on Seifer's arm, grimacing. She lifted it with her surgical tool... just a little farther..

Squall felt his stomach clench slightly at the black, ink like gel which she extracted from one of his wounds. Would it do the same as the other she's taken from him?

The thing shot down the metal of her knife, darted for the floor and attached itself to the first pool of blood it could find. There it stayed, inanimate once again until the doctor picked it up one last time. The creature leapt- back to the crimson liquid all around them. Rinoa's hands tightened on Squall arm, and he gently placed it around her as she shivered slightly. Their eyes met a moment, and then Squall turned back to kadowaki.

"Do... you know what it is?"

"Heavens no..." She whispered, watching the paper thin blackness spread into the liquid it now resided in. "It lives in the blood, as far as I can see. Extracting it would probably kill the creature.."

"Are... there any more? in him? Rinoa asked hoarsely.

From her kneeling position on the floor, the doctor gently ran two fingers up the middle of Seifer's wrist as if checking his pulse. Then she pressed down hard, cutting off the circulation.

"What...?" Squall questioned softly.

"Shhh..." She warned slowly. "Watch..."

They did. Rinoa's grip on Squall only tightened further as the seconds passed, and he tried to reassure her as best he could that everything would turn out all right. No matter what was happening. After a patient minute, Squall's eyes narrowed and then flinched when Seifer gasped violently. He was still unconscious, but the hand which the doctor held tensed. "ah...." The doctor echoed. "No... it doesn't like that much, now does it?"

"The things?"

"Yes, whatever they are."

"He's so pale..."

Kadowaki look at Rinoa in her kind way, ever ready with an explanation. "That's because there greedy little things, and despite the amount of blood he's already lost, they want more. They are also.." She held up a hand. "Undead."

"What-?!" Squall said, breathless.

"Try a Cure spell, Squall. Nothing extensive, or it could kill him. But lets just put this to the test..."

Squall obeyed, coming forwards to where Seifer still lay. He was sprawled on his back- shallow breaths nearly unnoticeable as they faintly rose and fell in his slashed chest. When he collapsed, Squall didn't know whether or not to try and take him to the infirmary himself, or bring the doctor here. In the condition Seifer was in, He didn't want to risk the movement... so...

".. cure.." He commanded softly of his mental reserves, where his extensive collections of both weak and strong magic's were kept. A haze swept by his eyes as the magic performed duefully, and a tinge of color acted out the spell.

"Nothing happened..." Squall said after a few moments.'

"Give it a minute..." kadowaki said quietly. She moved gloved fingers to another gash at Seifer's neck, spreading it just slightly so blood would flow. In a few moments, it was no longer running red. It was running black with the things.

"Their dead. Looks like water, nearly..." she was shaking her head in disbelief. "Never, in all my years..."

"What do we do about this?" Squall asked, moving beside her. Rinoa sat on the floor, arms around her knees and her chin resting atop them. "Where did they come from?"

"I don't know.' kadowaki began. "But I can get them out of his body- little by little. It shouldn't take more then a few hours. The question is- how did they get IN him. These are contact wounds- meaning they were inserted.

"Well, then the question is actually *By What?* isn't it? Or Why?" Rinoa questioned.

"And how do you insert something using claws?" Squall added, shaking his head. The doctor put up a hand and waved their comments away. "Lets not worry about that now, alright? I'm going to take him back to the infirmary with Fujin and get him cleaned up. "I've seen both you and Seifer pushed into my office by Mrs. Trepe with enough blood to sustain any of your average underlings, but this is just a tad to horrid even for me." She sighed heavily, having a hard time keeping up her confident appearance. "I'll keep you informed... but until then, why not give yourself a break Squall, and get some sleep. You and Rinoa don't quite look like yourselves this afternoon..."

He nodded absently, and stood. Rinoa took his hand and did as well when he gingerly offered it down to her. Afterwards, he placed both hands on her shoulders and guided them from the red-stricken room. As the door to it's entrance closed automatically, a thick silence fell over them both. Above and around them was the howling wind as it ripped over the outside walls of the garden. The clear glass of the hall portrayed the weathers sudden ferocity in a way that was unnaturally beautiful- and it was there that Rinoa stopped her walk, shivering. Squall's hand lingered in the air from where it had been at her shoulder, and then it dropped slowly as he turned and walked to her side.

"Rinoa..." he said softly, moving close to her. "What's wrong?"

Her deep brown eyes met his in a pale shade of worry and confusion. The ghostly shadows from the swaying tree's outside played over her delicate features in shades of grey, white and black as her lips parted to speak. "Something's just wrong..."

He cupped her chin, unused to his own tenderness, but unable to help the act. Seeing her eyes so deeply troubled on made his stomach churn with the prospect. "...Is it Seifer?"

Her gaze wandered, unsure. "Partly, yes. But it... it ties in with something else. Those undead creatures- its just all wrong. Not.. Not them- but-" Suddenly anguished, and then angry at herself for the sudden and unnecessary emotion, Rinoa shook her head furiously. "Squall- I'm not making any sense! but I felt it when I was with Quistis, and now it's stronger... when I saw Seifer like that..." She moved her slender hands to his shoulders and clung tightly to him. "Please... just please don't go outside tonight..."

He was nearly breathless at her sudden fear- as if on that last sentence, Rinoa was sure she would lose him. His own arms wrapped over her waist as she held him, listening to the winds and the rain that had begun to pour. Squall sighed quietly in her ear, and spoke.

"I won't, Rinoa. I promise." And then: "Just stay close to me..."

Her head went up- down... side to side and hissing in annoyance. In the vision of what she was- the world was white and black. There, behind that simple hall of glass, were two figures. The talked, then embraced. Pathetic...

her wings contracted and fluttered, the leather-like fabric of their strong flesh bending to her actions. Dagger sharp nose twitching to pick up the scent she was searching for, a snap of jaws revealed her anger at having not being able to find it. Swipe! Swipe! She had hit- and so deftly! She should be able to smell them on the marked human!

~Do not waver, I'sami.~ Came a voice in her head. ~So fired and ready you are? You scared pony of a mare?~ The black skin of her face drew thin as she pulled back thin lips to reveal disturbing fangs.

~Shut up! I did my job- you fled when he hit you- you fled!~

~He hath only grazed me.... I did not have time to jump dimensions, and it wouldn't have looked as if id been hit at all anyway. Blasted Gunblade....~

~I thought it was a Cross sword...~ Isami hissed at the blackness around her, and slunk back into the brush and grey skies of balamb garden's well forested area's. Her claws scratched at the air in front of her, demanding the other to come into her site. Not mortal vision of course... that wasn't how they worked.

~Just stay Quiet you shrieking imp! At least... you did manage to label the blonde youth?~

more hissing. ~Of course- of course! There is no way I might not have!~ up came one hand, the bloodlike flow of blackish corpses streaming from delicate holes at the tips of her claws. ~But I cannot detect their smell to locate him inside those walls... and why that man? Why not HER-!~

The other phased into her view, dark red hair streaming down over his pitch black face and molten silver eyes. ~The sorceress Rinoa?~


He crept forward, body slinking along the ground as his eyes scanned the female behind the glass isami had been watching earlier. Strong limbs crouched as if to spring, and a thin tail slashed back and forth through the storm brewed air. Where it's rain hit his flesh- the drops fizzled away as if placed to a hot skillet.

~She shall soon be ours....~

A silence between the two demons was reached, until Isami broke it once again.

~An her SeeD knight? What of him?~ A chuckle. ~We must be careful, eh? Ultimicia did most certainly underestimate that boy!~

The other demonling craned his head to glare at her. ~Hold thy tongue. Though I held no feeling for that woman, she was of kin, and therefore deserves our respect.~

Isami snarled, her body swaying gently back and forth as she came beside him. ~Rugath, Are you always so true to such causes? She was our enemy- and with Ultimicia dead- the seal over ourselves and the Wyre have been broken! Our queen Vedima will rise as soon as we collect the 'Two Connected'. And they both-!~ her eyes swirled insane colors of red and gold. ~They both are here!~

Rugath growled. ~And until the night doth uncover our powers, we cannot do much of anything, dear sister. They must both be in the forests, as you know. The first hath been marked- soon he will be collected. And she...~ His slanted eyes wavered over Rinoa. Still in the hallway, Squall and Rinoa clung. His hands swept over her hair, crooning words of reassurance, no doubt. The demonling suspected she felt their presence- it would only make sense.

~She?~ Isami wondered aloud, as his sentence had become lost.

~She must be marked before tomorrow night. It is simply a matter of waiting, then.~ More silence. Isami's eyes scanned the dim light able to stream through the wind, rain, and dark clouds of a storm. If it weren't for these conditions- true daylight would have long ago sentenced them both to death.

~Come, lest the clouds break- our skin shall not wish it's presence.~

~Not a meal first?~ Isami asked absently.~ Though the dark skinned man had blood fair enough- she with silver hair.... she was a treat. I simply hadn't been able to pick her off...~

Rugath made a disgusted sound. ~Always your stomach to lead you? in your attempt to kill her- your clawed hand hath nearly split the blonde youth in two as he moved to protect her! All our plans, at an instant, could have been thwarted with his death!~

Isami grumbled and sat back on her haunches. ~Don't be so pouty!~

~To be blood to such as you- Alas!~ Rugath shot her an angry glare and began to slowly drum his thin, knife like fingers over the ground. Isami watched as he very suddenly spoke a string of words only Rugath could so quickly create- and perhaps understand.

~A wind will blow- time hath been bent. Anon- darker then previous clouds shall cover these heavens. I, as with constance, stalk these shadows...~

And she nodded, knowing her brother's confidence in the Awakening of Vedima would surely once again rise their dark empire.


Rinoa's hazel eyes suddenly shot outside, through the thick corridor glass. Tree's and plants swayed violently in the storm winds as if they were trying to reach out and catch the first person to come their way. Hurt them. She whispered Squall's name.


Rugath watched her two pupils meet his own. Ah, Rinoa.... she knew something was wrong even to the point where her conscious was guiding her site towards it's source? her gaze began to drift, frightened now, scanning the garden area. He smiled as Squall gripped her shoulders and tried to follow her frantic gaze- tried to see what Rinoa wasn't sure she was seeing.


Awwww... he looked so cute sleepin' like that....

Selphie tapped Irvine's hat once, the cowboyish persona all to evident as it was slipped down gingerly over his sleeping oval face. The heavy brown overcoat he wore was limply tossed over his frame, as if in a hurry should he have been cold. His arms were up too, serving as a makeshift pillow for his head.

Selphie giggled.

"Hey...!" she whispered quietly at his ear. Irvine's straight nose only twitched very slightly, so she tried again. "Hey!?" A little louder that time. She gathered her voice and prepared to jolt him awake when Irvine murmured softly and a hand rose. It tipped back the cowboy hat, and underneath she could just see his lips twitch into a smile.

"What's up, Angel?"

he flopped it back completely after that, and Selphie was met with a devilish smirk and two chestnut eyes. He blew a strand of light brown hair from his face afterwards.

"You weren't really even asleep were ya!" Selphie accused, scrunching up her nose.

"Just listening to the music those lips of yours make." He said lightly, smiling at her. With a small yawn, Irvine pushed himself up from his bed and draped his arms over his knees. Selphie jumped next to him and sat down almost instantly. Her cheerful smile and sunny disposition were contagious, obviously, because Irvine's hidden depression was slowly leaking away. He loved her for that....

"Something you wanted?" Irvine then asked hesitantly, watching Selphie begin to kick her heels back and forth. She turned her gaze up to him, a few hairs on her head flying out of their natural order as a gust of wind swirled into the room through it's single open window. Irvine shut it with a dismissive swing of his arm and checked the small desk across from them to make sure it's few papers were still in order.

"I just wanted to make sure you were alright..." Selphie answered after a moment. "Zell said you were really down after you and he found poor Raijin. I thought maybe.. you know...You might want to talk about it?"

Irvine smiled yet again, but left it at that. When he and Zell had found Raijins body, he was sickened, angry, sorry... all at once. Blood was something he had never taken to well- no matter what his know all and do all personality might tote. There... was so much of it, and he had been grateful Zell didn't mention the way he had instantly turned away- a previous meal threatening his mouth. It made him feel horrible- instances like that where he couldn't take what true SeeDs were trained to handle... His instructor knew the weakness, and her explanation was simple.

~No one wants to see others hurt. It's against human nature. Consider yourself lucky, Irvine, that you still have a conscious.~

He felt an odd home sickness churn within him then, wishing for the bright and orderly halls of Galbadia garden. He didn't even know why, because being an orphan he really had no true home. And Galbadia certainly wasn't the most friendly place to be....

"Irvine?' Selphie said after minute or two.

"Come on..." he began, moving from awkward topic "Lets go pick up Zell and get some hot dogs."

Selphie smiled again. He had only just barely noticed the cheerful expression begin to slip from her features in previous seconds. "Sure, but last time I talked to him Zell didn't wanna eat nothing!"

Irvine gasped with obvious exaggeration. "No way- Zell? Zell Dincht?! NOT HUNGRY!? Well- we'll have to go and fix that up right now..." he swung an arm over her slim shoulders and guided them both from the bed. "Wait till he see's my Jumbo-dog-triple-platter-chili-special-order plate! There's no way in hell Zell can resist THAT!"

"Are you kidding? I don't think I can REPEAT that!"

He laughed as they both exited his room in better spirits.


~Five or Six hours later~

The storm was in full rage, and night had fallen. No stars shone upon the tempest torn earth as the violent wind, rain and thunder stretched over the area and roared northward. Cutting through the angry night were only the glowing lights of Balamb garden. They shone as best they could, and just managed to light the small town of Balamb itself. There, all power had been lost. The small, colorful port was nearly submerged by the swelling ocean, and many had taken shelter in the train station where ground was higher and dry. With flash and lamp lights a few residents made their way along the streets to it's safety. And from a house just at the far end of Balambs ripped ocean dock emerged a tall black haired woman. Her eyes narrowed at the sky, and she turned.


"Xu! Xu, wait!"

Xu turned her head down from the sky, shivering while her short cropped hair flapped wildly around her. As soon as she heard the voice, she instantly turned around to scoop up a small girl in her arms. Alla quailed as thunder boomed over their hearing, clenching her small little fists over Xu's shoulders and sniffling loudly.

"Don't go! Don't GO!" She cried. Xu knew the thunder scared her terribly, and began inside the house she had emerged from. Her soggy footsteps intended the mat just at the doorway as she carried her sister's daughter safely out of the storm. Inside, it was as if walking into another world. A large fire warmed a vast, well furnished living area. Cherry tables and chairs marked the dining room just to their side, and out of a hall furthest from them both came a very annoyed looking mother.

"Alla, child, what's gotten into you? Let your aunt do as she will!"

"It's alright, Red.' Xu said softly, placing the now sobbing Alla on a soft white couch that ran along the far wall. She knelt to her and patted the girls hands once before getting up again. "She's just scared is all, you know that."

"Aye, aye..." Red smiled weakly at her sister, and then sat beside Alla who instantly buried her face in her mothers reassuring arms. Red adjusted her slim white dress and sighed softly. "After her father was lost during that storm two or three years back, she thinks anyone who walks into the rain will be lost forever..." She kissed her daughter's forehead gently, and smiled up at Xu. "Your sure you can't stay the night? it's horrible out there..."

Xu shook her head, thin arms crossing as she sighed. "I know Red... but with the storm- one can only expect the garden to have some sort of problem. I really should be there should anything occur..." She shook her head, smoothing out her SeeD uniform absently. "It always seems like anytime I come to visit, SOMETHING ends up happening to cut it short!"

"Yeah..." Red bounced her brown curls once, and let hazel eyes soothe her daughter's discomfort. "Just be careful, you hear? Maybe you can make it down again in a few weeks?"

Xu sighed. "All depends on our Garden's flight time.." She chuckled. "Anyway, I'm going to head out again. If things get much worse, do head up to the train station Red." She watched her sister nod. "And Don't you worry about me Alla... I'm a big strong girl, and no monsters mess with the best!"

Alla lifted her red nose slightly and tried to smile. She gave Xu an awkward thumbs up.

Xu smiled, and halfheartedly once again opened the door to the large dwelling. Wind lashed at her hair and clothing as she stepped from the house and gave her sister one last good-bye. Afterwards, the light from the house was cut off abruptly as she shut the door, and Xu was left in the howling rains and wind. She ran the short distance across the dock to her Garden automobile and threw open it's blue door. With a jump- she was inside- and already drenched to the bone.

"Damned storms..." Xu muttered under her breath. For a moment, the sea ahead of her caught her eyes. It really was incredible. The calm, warm waves she remembered mere hours ago were now in a fury. The water had become giant brick walls of freezing strength and speed. They crashed and consumed everything they touched- swept forwards to claim everything they could reach. Beyond them, however, was what truly fascinated her. Eternal darkness- forever and ever under the menacing skies. Gray.. to black... to an even deeper blackness. It was as beautiful as it was frightening.

Xu tore her eyes from the spectacle of nature and leaned one arm over her seat, looking behind her and out the back window of the car. She began to back out of the space she was parked in when the waves again took her vision. Xu didn't know what had instinctively forced her site to them again, but suddenly she froze, as if afraid to so much as breath.

Did... the air.... shift?

She stopped the car, squinting into the storm which ripped all around her vehicle. Her hand slowly moved from the ignition key pad, falling quietly to her side. There she waited. a few moments... One or two more...

"Your loosing it Xu.." She mumbled, and reached to start the car again. That was when an impact swept at her head.

Noiseless and quick- the window shattered inwards. It's shards flew in the air and into her flesh, the wind beat her back into her seat even as she attempted to move. Xu screamed, bringing shaking hands up to her bloodied face. They were pierced with glass, speckled with blood. Frantically she reached for the handle on her door and nearly kicked it open as the storm tore into her.

But.. a *storm* couldn't tear into a person.

She fell on her back hard. Wild and frightened clear eyes frantically searching the night for what she had seen. It had moved! The NIGHT had ATTACKED her!?!!

another scream burst from Xu's throat as an implosion of speed ripped her clear across the chest. She watched her own blood spray into the night, and lay startled eyes over the huge gash in her torn clothing. Xu could only roll to her side and try to make it to her feet, try to reach the safety of her sisters house.

Yet, as her legs finally found the strength to support her, an unseen force swept her legs. Xu flew into the air and landed hard on her stomach. She gasped for breath, crying in pain, again trying to stand.

And then the night come alive began upon her. The tearing of flesh, tossing of blood, and agonized screams went unheard as the storm carried on it's relentless howling. The two creatures of night who had hidden in it, however, were all to content.


When Seifer began to open his eyes, Fujin was right there. She glanced at his chest, grabbed his wrist, checked his pulse. When he took a very deep breath- the first he'd been able to manage, a relieved smile spread across her face. For a while ... she'd been very afraid that the dark enemy had taken him as well.

Don't do this! Please don't die... please!

She remembered her mind screaming that plea, though her features were still and composed when Doctor Kadowaki had brought him to the infirmary. Pale, cold, messed with his own blood.... that wasn't supposed to happen to a person such as Seifer Almasy. With his confidence and skill, you wouldn't believe it COULD happen. And when the usually confident and always able doctor had let a furrow bend her brow, and hesitation fringe each sentence when she spoke, Fujin was brought back to the harsh reality that he was only human.

And just like all the other 'only' human people she had known, he could die.

"Seifer...?" She said carefully His brows furrowed, and head turned slightly to regard her.

Fujin resisted the urge to lift a hand and gently smear away a bit of blood that was still ebbing at his reopened scar. For all the oddities she had just witnessed, this was yet another. No scar was supposed to *reopen*

As if he didn't know where he was, or even who had spoken to him, Seifer's gaze started to drift very slowly over the room. Fujin jumped when he suddenly shot bolt upright, hand unconsciously reaching for a gunblade which was no longer at his side. Then he moved abruptly again when Fujin grasped his arm.

"It's alright!" She said quietly, not used to the tone of her voice.

Seifer still didn't seem to be entirely with her. "Fujin?"

"Don't move that way- your back will split again. There's a gash all the way down and across your right side. Even up to your chest..."

Again, the listless, confused gaze. "... .. What?"

Fujin's hand went to his back, across the deep slash that snaked around his body like a whip might have. She remembered seeing it inflicted- the bending of the dark that struck so quickly only it's damage left any evidence of the occurrence. Seifer tensed noticeably and looked down then, seeing the same wound and it's path over his skin. Nearly all of his chest was wrapped in white gauze, but the blood that seeped through was evident enough. Very suddenly, he remembered the elusive enemy which they had encountered in the forests.

Fujin carefully took her hand away, watching as his eyes narrowed to slits of menace. Their gazes met, and she knew what he was silently thinking.

No one struck him down like this and lived to tell about it. No one hurt one friend of Seifer Almasy's and killed another without a brutal revenge.

"When do we leave....?" Fujin asked quietly. She was just as eager to make this entity pay as he was.

"Whenever I get the slightest wind of where its hiding....." Came his voice after a moment. It was dripping with hate- and for once, it wasn't directed at Squall Leonheart.

"Well now what in the name of.... lay down you 18 year old fool! Down, now!"

Seifer glared up in anger as Dr. Kadowaki entered the small medical room. It wasn't so much a true emotion just as it was an act of habit. He remembered that same tone of voice chiding, yelling... (cursing when he aggravated her enough) at him through the years of his enrollment in Balamb garden. Before everything.

~Seifer, what it gods name-!?~

~Well THEY Started it!~

~lay down, I'll get some cloth... you young devils. You think your invincible... here now.. Seifer... no-dont PICK at the wound!"

He would have smirked at the memory, although he had no conception of how it just happened to slip into his head at a time like this. It was unnerving somehow to see how comfortable Kadowaki was with him. She used the same annoyed features and abrupt shake of her head that he'd always seen before. It was as if she didn't care this was an enemy to Balamb. Like she didn't care he'd commanded the same Galbadian soldiers which nearly destroyed their garden. He didn't like that. It wasn't right.

I'm your enemy... why... don't you hate me?

he must have looked slightly confused, because Fujin was eyeing him questioningly.

"Well Almasy? I said down!" She shook her head at him, one brow raised as she rounded the medical bed and gave him a good, long look. "You've gone deaf too?" One arm went out to his chest and pressed him to the mat. Strong for a woman of her age and size. Seifer just blinked and found no point in arguing as she glared at him- and then turned the same look on Fujin. "And you too? A little better and you both think you can just be up and about? I think not!"

"RAGE...." Fujin said, annoyed.

"Oh, RAGE yourself..." Kadowaki answered with a smirk. "I don't care who you are- under my care, your both patients. AND You follow MY rules. Understood?"

Blank expressions.

The doctor nodded her head, satisfied anyway, and left the room.

"Oddly Cheerful...." Fujin began in the silence that followed.

Seifer closed his eyes, feeling a throb beat throughout his back. "Yes... well, she saved two lives."

Fujin nodded slowly. Without the assistance of Balamb garden... they both would have died. She had not been entirely truthful with Quistis before, mainly because she had forgotten the detail, but the first time she had awoken after the attack was not in the medical room.

It was the first time in her life, minus the loss of her eye, when pain became unbearable for her to withstand. She couldn't move, couldn't think... and her senses had snapped to consciousness because of it. Fujin found herself hunched over, arms tightly around herself where most of her wounds were centered. Right next to her, sprawled on his back, was Seifer. She remembered trying to see if her casting of Curaga had helped him any- trying to see if the massive wound he had taken for her was even partially closed.

Then it was all dark again.

Fujin's eyes trailed to Seifer's stomach, remembering when the black night had run him through as if with a sword. She remembered his arms tightly around her as he spun her entire body away from the creature. When the sharp tip of something deadly tempted her back- she had been sure it would continue onwards through her chest. And then she craned her head in a daze, looked at him, saw the pain.

"Thank you..." She said quietly.

Seifer's head turned, looked at her. "What?"

"When that thing came through your back. The blow was meant for me..." She pushed a strand of silver from her face. "The doctor saved me here- but you saved me then. Thank you."

He was quiet, scanning the white ceiling above them both. His green eyes were drawn to the window a moment, finding something fascinating in the storm that brewed the night outside. Then, quietly, (and he was not one for quiet answers) "We've been going back and forth with this saving stuff allot. You and Raijin saved me from myself when I was under that... whatever the hell Ultimicia was. I managed to get you away from that thing which killed Raijin- you cast Curaga so I wouldn't just fall over and die." Seifer closed his eyes again, brows knotting together. "Well- who's countin' anyway.

"I suppose I might have been." Fujin said, light, shallow breaths echoing in the room. "And your quite a few knots up on me."

He smiled at her weakly. "Well I don't- so don't think about it."

She nodded listlessly, letting her own eye close as well. Perhaps the doctor had been right, because she was feeling pain in her head again, and her body was nothing short of demanding her to fall into sleep. Trying to clear her mind however, only brought about one thought.

"I miss him..." She said faintly.



Though he didn't answer, she knew he felt the same. What would happen now?


"No, no- she left just about an hour ago!"

"Your sure she didn't stop anywhere along the way? Did she mention anything else?"

"No, Xu was going to head straight back to garden from what I gathered."

Quistis felt a pang of worry knot up her stomach a moment. An hour ago? no other stops? Xu would have been back by now. It was a 20 minute drive from Balamb to Garden. Maybe 30 in the bad weather. But an hour? She could have broken down, Quistis supposed. Or maybe the storm just became so violent she decided to stay in Balamb. But then why not at her sister's house?

"Maybe she broke down?"

Quistis shot her eyes up at Squall, who had just entered the bridge with Rinoa. She put up a hand in a "Stay put!" gesture, and then continued over the phone.

"I thought about that. Just keep an eye out, Red. If she doesn't show up in another twenty minutes or so, I'll go out looking. Yes... yes- I will. Goodnig ht, Red. A goodnight to Alla too! Bye..." Quistis placed the shiny, slim gray phone back over the console she was sitting in front of. After a heavy sigh, she swiveled around in the cold chair and gave Squall a long look. Nida, beside her, looked back and forth among those present and turned back to the controls. With the weather whipping the garden like it was, he needed to be monitoring every possible side of it for powerfailures, damage, energy fluxes, annoying monsters, the whole nine yards.

"I've been looking everywhere for you." Quistis began, standing. The ceiling light overhead dimmed just slightly before it's full intensity returned.

"Is anything wrong?" Rinoa questioned. Her soft brown eyes trailed to the phone. Quistis only looked back at it, as if unsure a moment.

"No, not really. Xu is late from returning from her Sister's house. With the weather and all- there could be a multitude f reasons why she's not back just yet."

Rinoa pursed her lips and nodded. Next to her, Squall irritably blew a strand of brown from his eyes and stalked towards the great, spanning window at the front of the bridge. His eyes scanned the darkness beyond it, unable to make out even the most obvious features of the landscape. He and Nida then exchanged a glance- the pilot silently informing him that should they need to move, the garden was still capable. Squall just didn't want to leave the small seaside town of Balamb unattended in this tempest.

Rinoa watched Squall's black jacket sheen as he crossed his arms. Quistis cracked a smile and looked to her, saying: "He's thinking about whether or not we should move Garden, and leave Balamb without aid should any problems arise."

Squall blinked and glared at her, to which Quistis shrugged and absently slipped a piece of flowing blonde behind one ear. Rinoa's pale lips pulled into a slight smile.

"Your good..."

Quistis smirked, finding the slight ease in tension dearly needed. Unfortunately, the break wouldn't last very long.

"Squall- as I said," Quistis began. "I've been looking for you. When neither you or Rinoa was near the brig, I finally came up here and found that Xu was still absent."

Squall nodded. If Xu didn't arrive back soon, he'd have to arrange a team. Away from that subject, however...

"Did you-"

"Yes. She spoke with me." Quistis cut in, knowing what he would ask. "It's hard to explain, and Fujin had enough of a time trying as it was, but I have an idea of what went on."

Rinoa sat across from her in one of the cold metallic chairs which circled the bridge. He blue half-dress and raven hair settled with the teenage girl in unease. "You know what attacked them? Was it a creature we've encountered before?

Quistis shut her violet-blue eyes, rubbing a hand briefly over her right temple. "I don't know. Squall- She said the *night* attacked them."

The still and silent figure of their commander turned his eyes from the storm outside.


"My reaction exactly. I know it sounds incredible- but with what we've seen in the past year?

Squall could only shake his head. What they'd seen indeed.


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