On Earth as it is in Hell Chapter 10
By Caleb Nova
"I did feel out of place at first, but everyone made me feel welcome. Except Squall. Maybe that's why I kept getting drawn to him, he was a challenge. I'm glad I didn't give up on getting past those walls."
-Rinoa Heartilly, The SeeD and the Sorceress
If there was one thing the world would remember you by, if you could choose, would it be famous last words? A shout out, 'Victory or death', 'Remember the Alamo'. A defiance against the end you know is coming. Maybe it is only a way of expressing contempt for death, a vent for the defiant. Or the last attempt to make an imprint on the pages of history, so that someone will remember you. But how do you know you have been remembered, when your no longer with the living?
* * * * * * * * * * * *
A terror, rain of fire. A maelstrom of Rob Zombie in his head, pummeling his senses and pushing him into utter fear. A shudder of dry bones and rotten flesh, the acrid reek of burning. Is this hell? He tumbled closer to the abyss, his mouth opening in a soundless shriek lost in the roaring chaos. Then he awoke.
Scott found himself laying face down in what appeared to be a ditch, dirty water clinging to his skin and soaking his clothes. Luckily, whoever had put him in the ditch had turned his face to the side so that he wasn't drowning. If anyone had put him there.
Vaguely, he thought he heard voices, muffled by the wind. The rushing air sounded almost like a large object was moving nearby, probably somewhere above his head. It reminded him of the black ball he had dodged in the hotel. During his stay in the sewers of Deling, Quistis had explained that the ball was a spell called, 'Demi'. She had said it had some sort of gravity effect. He didn't really understand it. I hope that's not the sound I'm hearing.
He tried to move, failed. Pain shot through his body, strange tingling pain that seemed to have no specific source. He tried again, and managed to open his eyes. This proved to be twice a bad idea, as this increased the pain and succeeded only in getting water in his eye. Blinking furiously, he managed to clear his vision enough to see what was going on.
He discovered that he was indeed in a ditch, but it was a concrete one. The rushing noise was not a Demi spell as he had feared, but rather a large ventilation fan turning slowly in it's setting. He was lying in a drainage tube to the side of a cement walkway. Voices echoed from the walls, and shifting light reflected off the water. Or at least it would have if the water hadn't been an uninviting brown. Placing shaky hands on both sides of his body, he agonizingly levered himself up into a sitting position.
The tunnel looked strangely familiar. He reasoned this particular environment must have been part of the game. He could hear the grinding of turbines in the distance, a grating sound on the nerves. He grimaced and rubbed his ears. He nearly died of a heart attack when Irvine decided to speak, previously sitting unseen.
"Annoying as hell, huh?" He tipped back his hat, smile still in place. "It's driving Selphie up the wall. Stay at least ten feet away or risk the bitch slap. Well, when she's up."
Scott opened his mouth to reply, only instead of words he released the contents of his stomach. Irvine stepped back in disgust as the vomit splashed, spreading it's cloying odor. Scott retched again and bent double, wiping his mouth. He was shaking violently now and had chills.
"Maybe you need to sit down. Uh, sit down more."
Irvine helped him up out of the ditch onto the walkway, where he collapsed. Scott wasn't sure how long it would take to recover, but this was the last thing he needed. Scott noticed Irvine had a distinct limp. A bulky slapdash bandage peeked from beneath his pant leg, seemingly constructed from what Squall recognized as tied pieces of Galbadian uniform.
When he could breath, Scott choked out a strangled laugh. "I hate this."
Irvine shrugged, not quite sure how to answer something like that. Shifting his weight uncomfortably, he glanced back at the ladder behind him as though still waiting for something.
"What is it?"
Irvine looked back at him. "What's what?"
Irvine raised a finger to the ceiling. "Right above our heads is a mansion that belongs to- a person we know. We might be able to get up and out that way."
"I don't know," Irvine painfully sat himself down. "Quistis and Squall are up there now."
Scott nodded, still winded. He turned his head slightly and had another start when he saw Selphie slumped against the other wall. She didn't moved when he raised an eyebrow. He thought he remembered her getting shot, which would explain her inactivity.
"Don't worry about her," Irvine whispered, trying not to disturb her. Scott saw she was asleep, or pretty close. "Her junctions softened the shot."
Scott felt somewhat envious. If he was shot, how come he couldn't sleep it off? Come to think of it, when in Rome...
"Hey Irvine, where do you get these junctions?"
Irvine looked at him in surprise. "Well, junctions are a pretty complex thing. I guess if you want it from the top, you need a GF."
I remember that much. "Yeah, but how do you actually junction one if you had it?"
Irvine leaned back, warming to the subject. "It's kinda weird, right? You just have this GF, kinda this presence you can feel on the corner of your mind, like a sixth sense, you know?"
"So you can just reach out and grab it with your mind, like it sucks it in or something. It's like reflexive. Your mind just does it when you want it to. You don't need any training or anything and anyone can do it... Which brings me to what I think you want."
"You got it."
Irvine turned serious. "These things aren't empty baggage. They come at a price. You might forget some things."
"I can't remember much anyway."
Irvine smiled again. "Fair enough. You can always keep a journal like the rest of us. Ohhh, how about I give you something gentle to start. You want Siren?"
Looks like some chick with wings or something... "Okay."
"Here ya go."
Irvine released Siren, sending her to Scott's mind. Scott felt a unfamiliar presence on a plane of his psyche he had never known existed. Then an image of Siren formed in his mind, coming closer to connection. The picture blurred and cleared. He had enough time to notice 'Nice tits.' before Siren was hurled away and the metal backlash hit his head like a sledgehammer.
Selphie awoke with a gasp as Scott grabbed his head in pain. His temples were racked with the worst headache he had ever had. He lost his balance and almost fell back into the ditch. Irvine grabbed his shoulders to steady him as the aching subsided.
When his vision cleared, Scott groaned. "I- I don't think it worked."
Irvine nodded, eyes wide. "No kidding."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Hyne didn't have much time to be indignant, but her temper flared as she felt one of her children reject an attempt to be junctioned. She knew Siren didn't reject the joining on purpose. Instead, this Outsider was incompatible. As these thoughts filled her mind her attention wavered. Another star collapsed, shooting it's horrid dying light into an uncaring universe. The supernova drew her back to her business, and she fought to contain her quickly deteriorating worlds.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
It wasn't so much the edging feeling of unease that bothered Zell, he could attribute that to the fact that the vehicle he had so easily hijacked was quickly running short on gas. Zell has hidden in the trees and used a Blizzaga spell on the tires as the jeep had driven past. What he had failed to take into account was inertia- the forward passenger had flown cleanly out the top of the car... The driver had gone through the windshield. The two men in back had been removed by a weak Aero spell, strong enough to send them flying into the air, but not strong enough to lift the jeep from it's trap. He had melted the ice with a quick Fire and that was that. But the broken windshield was now useless against the wind sheer. Squinting uncomfortably, he wished he had some goggles.
Even Rinoa's admonishments for his dangerous stunt, reminding him they had radios, was no damper on his mood. He had a jeep, he had a mission, but he really had to take a piss.
Upon later reflection he might have found it funny that such a little thing could ruin a otherwise perfect operation.
If only the jeep could run on urine. At this point he was pretty sure he could fill the tank. He would pull over, but Rinoa told him he was being pursued and had to make the city line fast. Considering how his bladder ached, he wouldn't be able to stop without wasting a lot of time. Plus, the horizon had turned a ominous gray, thunder echoing from the distance. The flatlands weren't a good place to be caught in a thunderstorm.
So clenching his legs and gritting his teeth, Zell drove on. It wouldn't be long now.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Hendrow liked the look of the city before him- a panoramic setting perfect for someone's bedroom wall. Like a glittering crown Deling lay in the middle of the empty plains. And also like a glittering crown, it was a treasure to be had. A perfect launching point for the new order.
The cars on the streets looked like they did back home. From his perch Hendrow could see a tiny vehicle racing down a dusty strip of road a ways outside the walls. He idly wondered what the speed limit was. The jeep-like vehicle was lost behind a hill and Hendrow turned his attention elsewhere.
There. Yes, there was the City Hall. But the first target of the night would be a large house on the outskirts of the downtown area. The current leader of the Galbadian government was housed there. Roland Polground, 'The Head'. Julian had plans for him.
Hendrow settled back to watch the darkening sky, savoring the first moments before the storm.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Squall gently pushed the portrait aside. Thankfully, the room was dark. Motioning to Quistis behind him, they moved forward into the empty room. But something wasn't right. It was hard to tell in the low light, but it seemed to him that the room was in disarray, papers strewn over the floor and what seemed to be a desk laying on it's side.
The shadows cast from the street lights outside played tricks on his eyes, dark corners filled with moving creatures waiting to prey on the unaware. Squall permitted himself a small smile at his unfounded childlike fears. The mind seemed to go out of it's way to scare itself.
He gestured for Quistis to check the door as he reached behind the desk to take a handful of the strewn documents. A flash preceded the predictable rumble of thunder, briefly lighting the room. Squall could see holes in the wall, jagged punctures in the plaster. He presumed they were bullet holes.
If anyone had died in the mansion it hadn't been in this room. There was no blood or bodies to be found. If Squall had one hope he held on to, it was that General Caraway lived. Whatever else the man was, he was Rinoa's father, and probably the last hope for a sane government.
Quistis came back from a cursory scan of the other rooms on the floor. Technically, there was no need to whisper, but something about creeping around in a dark and empty house demanded it.
"There is nothing here," She said, hushed. "The rest of the rooms look like this, but I didn't see anyone."
Squall nodded shortly, suddenly engrossed in a interesting paper he had found beneath a chair.
Quistis looked around nervously. "Squall, what happened here? Could this have something to do with what happened at the hotel?"
Still wordless, Squall handed her the sheet. Quistis read it's disturbing contents as follows:
SPREADING SUN has been transferred from your jurisdiction. STOP
Relinquish all papers concerning SPREADING SUN. STOP
You have 24 hours to comply.
Quistis tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear, digesting the information.
Squall put his hand to his head, deep in thought.
Deciding he couldn't ignore Quistis, Squall gave a slight shrug. He turned for the door, signaling her to follow.
Quistis hurried after him, voicing her thoughts as they descended the stairs.
"This order to Caraway obvious preceded a shift in power. We may have to face up to the fact that the General has been deposed."
Squall grunted noncommittally. Quistis rolled her eyes and they stepped off the stairwell and into the entrance hall.
"Poleground was ambitious enough to do something like that. Ambitious enough to get rid of Caraway, no matter how popular he was. Maybe even ambitious enough to-"
She almost ran into Squall, who was frozen in the entryway to the dining room. Her last word slipped out of her mouth in a breathless whisper as she saw what lay across the threshold.
A magnificent table lay in the middle of the war torn room, it's polished surface riddled with bullets, the walls and ceiling holding the same staccato patterns of destruction. Dishes were broken, painting torn, chairs shattered. And the bodies.
A man lay on his back in the far corner, shirt ripped open from multiple exit wounds and the carpet around him stained a crusty crimson. A woman sat in a chair, hands curled in supplication immortalized by rigor mortis. Everywhere, dead. Squall made it out to be at least twenty.
It was massacre. There was no evidence of returned fire, no weapons lying with the dead. Just the blood spattered walls and carpet that would never again be clean. It was obvious the General had indeed been deposed, and violently.
Quistis, took a step back, hand over her mouth in horrified stupor.
Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic