Final Fantasy 8 Remixed Prologue
By Balin Drax
Karl Manx pulled up to the small, squat gray building. Dismounting from his motorcycle, he pulled of his helmet and set it on the seat as he began to open the saddlebags attached to the back. After reaching in and pulling out a thick envelope, he walked up the stairs to the doors of the building. As he reached the door, he looked into the glass to check his appearance. Though he had just gotten off the motorcycle, his black and orange uniform still had its crisp edges. He wiped what little dust had gotten on it and checked his hair.
Though he was barley thirty, his hair had already begun to recede. That was one of the things that bothered him the most about his appearance. He was tall, powerfully built, and had the look of a professional body builder. But his hair! Sighing, he rubbed his hand over it. If he had be vain enough, he might have gotten a genetic regrowth for it to replace what he had lost. But, he was a soldier and didnt worry about such things. Still, he wished he could do something.
Pushing open the doors, he walked into the building. He was immediately assailed be the strong odors of disinfectant, unwashed bodies, and something he couldnt quite place. Refraining from covering his nose, he walked up to the small desk seated in the middle of the hallway. The sectary sitting there smiled at him, but he could tell it was a fake smile. No one would be welcome to see him, especially in a place like this.
Walking up to her, his fished into his inner coat pocket and pulled out a few papers. Handing them to her, he said, I was expected. Ill try and take up as little time as possible, so if you could just show me to your file room, Ill conduct my business and be on my way.
The woman dropped her fake smile and rose out of her chair. Waving for him to follow, she guided him a short way through the building. He had a feeling that they were about the reach their destination, but before they got there, they passed by a small room. Glancing inside, Karl saw about a dozen children playing. They stopped and looked at him, their eyes probing him. He shuddered as he recalled memories from his own childhood. Though none of the children were related, they all shared the same look. Their eyes had a hollow look to them, as if they knew more than any child should. Shaking off his feeling, Karl continued to follow the lady down the hall.
They stopped at a small door, which she had to unlock with a small key that was on a clip on her waist. As they stepped inside, Karl took stock of the small room. A desk and chair sat in the corner with an out-modeled computer sitting on it. In one corner stood a file cabinet. Thanking the attendant, he opened the file cabinet and began to root around in it. Taking a stack of files, he sat at the desk and began to look them over. Most of them he barely gave a glance to, but other he read over carefully. The vast majority of them ended up in the main stack, but a few of them made their way to one he had set aside. Twice more he had return to the cabinet to either return files or to get more. By the time he was done with them, he had a small stack of sixteen folders. Rubbing his tired eyes, he put the remainder back, took what he had set aside, and left the small room.
It took him awhile to find the headmistress. She was tending to a child who had fallen and cut his left arm badly. Oddly, he wasnt crying; he just sat there while she tended his wound. That had to be one of the ones I chose. When she was done, she gave him a pat on his blond head and sent him on his way to go back and play. He gave her a big hung before he left though. On his way out, the boy continued to stare at Karl.
The headmistress stood up and faced Karl. He handed her the folder with no comment so she could look over it. She declined, slowly shaking her head. Putting the files on a small corner table next to them, he handed her the thick envelope.
Youll find all sixteen thousand gil in there, he said, handing the packet to her, One thousand per child, as we agreed. The Garden van will be by in two days to pick them up, Please have them ready by then. Wed like to start their training as soon as we possibly can.
He turned to leave, but felt a hand restrain him. He turned back around to find the headmistress on the verge of tears. She had a death grip on both his shoulder and the packet. It took her a moment to speak, So, this is how it is? Just come in here, make a few selections, and be on your way, huh. I bet thats how you SeeD operate. Find an orphanage that needs to get rid of a few kids, then make an offer to take them off for a few thousand gil. Let me tell you something, if we didnt have to have this money to feed the rest of these kids, Id never let you lay a single finger on any of these little angles. You hear me?
Karl had grown used to this verbal abuse. Prying her hand off his, he spoke in cool measure tones, You are uneducated in this matter, and so I will let you off for your harsh words. We do not, as you put it, careless choose these potential Garden students. I have been carefully taught on how to select.
He turned to leave for the second time, but stopped to add one last thing over his shoulder. I was once a kid like these. I was lost, alone in the world. Until the day a SeeD came to me, I didnt have a future. Luckily for me, I was chosen. From that day forward, I was given a home, a purpose, and most important a family. You think people want to adopt these kids? How many have you had to turn away from here, to make them roam the streets? Too many, am I right? Where I am taking them, they will be well cared for, I can assure you of that. Probably better than you could ever do here. Just have them ready in two days.
With that he left. As he shut the door behind him, however, he heard the sounds of muted crying