On Earth as it is in Hell Chapter 1
By Caleb Nova
"Why was SeeD made? Like any company SeeD is here to make money, Sorceress shit aside. We are the employers, you are the employees. So get back to work!"
-Unknown SeeD Instructor in response to student query
The Universe is uneasy. A complex concept to be sure, but as true a one as there ever was. It hangs in the dimension we call home, powered by an unknown psyche, a presence of order or creation. Encompassing all the matter we know of, the Universe is for all intents, infinite. Yet still, it hangs in balance, a fragile creation of some Great Design. On the surface, it is black and white, good and evil. But the line between the two is not always clear, and the truth not readily apparent.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Zell Dincht was a SeeD, 18 years old and at peace with life in general, or as much as one can be. Why shouldn't he be happy, pleased even? He had every right to be so. But somehow, at the back of his mind, like an itch he couldn't scratch, he felt something was not well. For the life of him, he couldn't imagine what, but a sense of foreboding rasped at his conscience, making him falter for a minute on his way to the Cafeteria...... But only for a minute.
Zell strode into the Cafeteria with a smile on his face and Triple Triad cards in his hands. Today he felt, was his lucky day.
"Hey!" Zell yelled at the players in the back. "Who wants to play the Master?"
One of them chuckled, shouting back, "I'm game. Tell me if you see him!"
Zell glowered. "Shut up Kevin!"
Kevin just smiled and looked back to his card game. Zell stood there for a second, and then, against his better judgment, decided to play anyway. Normally, playing Triple Triad and losing is not a horrible situation- you lose a card or two, and then just quit. But in Zell's mind, you didn't have fun unless it was high stakes. Sky high.
Zell slid into a chair across from Kevin and slapped his deck on the table. "I bet half my cards and 200 gil!"
Kevin shook his head. "Zell, don't be an idiot. Just play like the rest of us, okay?"
Zell stubbornly crossed his arms, directing a challenging look at Kevin. "Whatsa matter? Chicken?"
Kevin sighed in exasperation. "Very well, we play it your way."
Zell grinned like a shark.
"Lets do this!"
Carefully picking the cards he wanted, Zell played to his utmost of ability, choosing his moves and considering his options. At last, he lay down his final card and looked up at Kevin, chuckling in smug superiority, with the air of a man who could not possibly lose.
Kevin raised his head. "I win."
Zell did a double take. "WHAT?!"
Kevin pointed it out. "See? It's all there."
"Wha-?! No, no, you cheated! See you got that card there... No wait...Well, that other card, no, damn! What about?! Ah.. Shit."
Zell reluctantly dug into his pocket and produced the money.
"And the cards?"
Scowling at Kevin, he cut his deck and passed over his cards.
Kevin smiled at him. "Thank you, hope we can play again."
Zell made a face and left.
Walking out of the Cafeteria, Zell felt depressed. That had to have been the third time this week, and he was running short on cards. It was something he had never thought could happen. A gloom descended on him, making the world seem dim. As is the case in most such moods, all his other problems in life came to mind, adding to his burden, and he unconsciously began to tick them off in his mind.
He was losing at Triple Triad, Squall and the others except for Rinoa had gone on that diplomatic missions to Galbadia, Selphie.........
His mind stopped at Selphie. The issue was the relationship between them, or to be more specific, the lack of. He had watched her from afar since.....He couldn't remember. It wasn't that she was snubbing him, Selphie was too sweet for that. He was too shy, and he waited too long, for now she was with Irvine.
Irvine. The name invoked a series of mixed feeling, most of them edging towards anger. From day one they were like two opposite sides of an argument, never really agreeing on anything. He had always thought Selphie deserved better, but he knew that argument sounded rather flimsy when his mind told him he was that better man. A hypocrite was something Zell never wanted to be, Seifer's fine example etched in his mind. And when push came to shove, deep down where it really counted, Irvine was his friend.
But didn't he deserve something? Zell was tired of being last in line and first to be forgotten. After all that all he wanted was Selphie, and that was the one thing he couldn't have. If she just wanted to be friends, he supposed he could live with that, but lately she had been distant and distracted, not at all her normal self. It was almost as if something terrible was weighing on her mind, sometimes he would catch her on the verge of tears. When questioned though, she would just shake her head, explaining that everything was fine, giving him a weak, but still beautiful, smile. When Selphie was moody, something was most definitely wrong.
Zell didn't wish to dwell though, not now. The Library was having a book sale from the back shelves, something he didn't want to miss.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Silence settled over the Galbadian Court as Squall finished his final speech.
"As such, Garden extends it's full apology to the Galbadian government for any damage done during the fighting, knowing that it was acting under the total control of the Sorceress Edea, and wishes you all success as a country and as a people. Please know that SeeD is always standing by to lend a hand with any problems Galbadia might have in the future."
If the Court noted that he didn't mention any reparations, they didn't say anything. The Head of State took the floor.
"Thank you all for representing SeeD at this gathering. Let it be known the Galbadian people harbor no ill will towards the name of SeeD, and all apologies are accepted."
Squall nodded, looking into the man's eyes for sign of illusion. He noted none but the ease of the acceptance troubled him.
"Thank you for having us."
The Head smiled. "Thank you for coming."
After an uncomfortably lengthy reception afterward, Squall slowly walked down the steps from the Courthouse, eyes on the ground in deep concentration. He didn't trust the Head, not at all. The man not only had ample motivation to move against SeeD, but Squall was sure he had personal reasons as well. The Galbadian people harbor no ill will towards the name of SeeD. Bullshit. The Galbadians considered SeeD nothing more than common terrorists with delusions of grandeur. The Sorceress Edea\Ultimecia had been willingly embraced as a leader, if not by the people then certainly by the government, and both SeeD and Galbadian alike knew it. As far as he was concerned, Squall knew violence was all but inevitable. Instabilities in alliances and business were set so the global stage was similar to that prior of World War I, not that Squall knew what WWI was, and even if he did it is questionable whether he would see it coming. So few ever do. The complexities of nations, silent ships passing and crashing in the dark. The individual is intelligent, but people as a whole are stupid.
Quistis hurried to catch up with him, shoes clacking loudly on the marble stairs. "Squall, wait up!"
Squall stopped and turned to her. Quistis halted next to him and looked over, eyes searching his face. "Well...What did you think?"
Squall didn't need a moments deliberation to decide his feelings. "Something isn't right. That was too easy."
Quistis nodded. "Those are my feelings also." She hesitated for a second, before continuing. "Do you think they will declare war on Garden?"
Squall frowned. "At this stage I think they may be too weak to wage an all out war on SeeD."
She nodded and blew a stray hair away from her eye. "I hope your right."
Squall smiled slightly, only barely noticeable. "So do I." They walked in silence the rest of the way, both contemplative. Quistis reached the car first, and turned to look at him.
"When do you-" Squall cut her off by shaking his head, indicating with his hands that the car might be bugged.
"Irvine and Selphie are waiting at the hotel, we should discuss this with them." They both climbed into the car.
Deep within a dimension unreachable by humankind, something moved. It opened its eyes, slowly at first, sensing the oncoming tide of destruction, almost tasting the strife. It closed its eyes worriedly, wondering if, in the end, would it's people be destroyed?
Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic