On Earth as it is in Hell Chapter 11
By Caleb Nova
"A friend of mine once said, 'Life is like channel
surfing, you just flip until you find the right one
for you. That was okay for a while, but then I
realized the only good channels are the porno
ones, and I don't get those."
It is safe to say that Scott does not look to the future for he is afraid.
This statement in its own way is true, and yet it is not. Scott's experience works in him emotions he cannot understand. If you are fortunate enough to have fallen in love, then you might understand. In you arise feelings with which you have no experience and for which you have no name, save one, which is love. Scott has not experience but he has one sole name- fear. This is a simplification, but simple tags are not always put on simple things. And what lies beneath that tag belies the exterior.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The APC was dusty, bumpy, and, Hendrow thought, an eminently unsuitable vehicle for a Vice-King to be. He had wanted to ride into the city with more style, but Julian had insisted on entering with the troops, claiming it would boost morale. Hendrow would be the first to admit Julian cut an imposing figure, but he himself wasn't what the troops needed. Besides, for a man who had shown utter indifference to general morale and comfort back at the Headquarters, Julian was certainly taking a sudden interest the field. Hendrow had his own suspicions on why he had been so damnably insistent. Julian loved to see his ideas in action.
There was also a better reason for staying in the relative safety of the rear. The entire attack leaned heavily on the private armies supposed invulnerability to this 'magic', and the also supposed fact the defenders army relied heavily upon it. Julian's men were competent, but fifteen-hundred men does not an army make. This world seemed more sparsely populated than the one Hendrow called home, and Deling was but one city, so taking it wasn't going to be that much of a problem. But the real battles came later, and Julian had to have an edge that the enemy couldn't match. Magic. It had to be harnessed.
Hendrow's thoughts were shattered as the artillery opened fire in the hills, and he covered his ears as shells flew past, screeching to their deaths.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Zell was at the gate when the explosions started. Or rather, he was not actually in front of the gate, but instead viewing the maddening obstacle from a distance. And he hadn't much time to decide how to circumvent it. He couldn't go over it, there was no other way into the city besides the other gates, and a jeep couldn't drive through solid steel. These lines of thought all became arbitrary, when the gate detonated in a halo of flaming debris.
The shockwave sent the jeep spinning, hurling Zell against his seat and then flipping him over and out the top. In Midair his training reasserted itself and he landed and rolled like a pro, which he was, dispersing his inertia without breaking his body. He sat up, shaking his head, still dazed.
Another conflagration burst to life by the south gate, then another, and another. Soon a full blown shelling was taking place, targeting on the city walls and gates. Zell covered his ears and huddled to the ground, trying to keep below shrapnel radius. The roaring echoed all around, and he could not pinpoint where the fire was coming from.
Then suddenly, it ceased. The wail of sirens became clear and emergency lights lit up the lower cloud cover, giving the scene an eerie glare. Zell punched the ground, exasperated.
"Of all the times for another revolution! How the hell am I gonna get into the city now?"
Then of course, he realized he was sitting on a grate. Scrambling to his feet, he forced the grate to open and looked inside. He was pretty sure Deling had security alarms and stuff down there in case of intrusion, but with a full-blown fire fight raging above ground, who was going to be watching the sewer panels? Perhaps the sudden attack was more fortuitous than he thought.
Zell ducked into the grate, closing it behind him, and missed seeing the first APCs come barreling down the hills.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Squall was kneeling over one of the bodies when the explosions started. He was examining the body for any evidence, though the only clues thus far had been a clipboard and some blank pieces of paper. From the setting and appearance, Squall drew that these had been the Generals aides. Quistis was on the other side of the room, trying to find the General himself, if he was there.
Quistis finished, shuddering as she wiped her hands on a relatively clean patch of carpet.
"No sign of him," She said. "Nothing but his aides, and this."
She handed him a folded slip of paper. He opened it and read-
1127 RILEY ST.
BACK BASEMENT WINDOW
It was obviously a name and address, scrawled in haste, but he didn't know why it would mention a back basement window. He put it in his pocket. He now had a decision to make. The main focus was to escape, but SeeD also had a high priority for gathering information wherever possible, and if this had anything to do with what had happened at the hotel, then it probably should be followed up.
For the moment at least, it all became moot point as the ceiling above his head blew up.
Squall and Quistis were showered with fiery chunks of woods and plaster as the second floor roof fell in, taking off half the first floor ceiling. The noise was spectacular, and Squall, stunned, lay on the floor covered in dust. Pulling himself to his feet, he gained his bearings just in time to pull Quistis to safety before the stairway banister fell where she had been laying.
With a crack, what remained of the stairway plunged into the basement beneath it, effectively sealing their route back to the hidden entrance. Squall rolled Quistis over, checking her for serious injuries. Besides a gash across the forehead and a probable concussion, she seemed none the worse for wear.
However, she was unconscious, and that meant Squall would have to carry her. He picked her up and delicately slung her over his shoulder, grunting at the surprising weight. Moving as quickly as he could, he went for the front door, knowing that there could be police waiting right outside. Possibilities bubbled through his brain. Maybe they knew they were in the house and were trying to kill them, maybe they were demolishing the mansion and Squall had arrived at just the wrong time. It didn't occur to him that Deling was under attack until he looked out past the shattered wreckage of the front door and saw hell raining down on the city.
He noticed that the fire wasn't indiscriminate, but rather the walls were taking most of the beating. He saw the section of wall closest to the mansion has fallen in. Obviously, an errant shell had careened through the hole and planted itself in the General's house. Stepping gingerly around an unexploded shell in the front yard, Squall jogged around the mansion and into the back. Carefully hoisting Quistis into a better position, he clambered up the still smoking mountain of slag back into the upstairs, burning his fingers in the process. His spirits rose when he saw that the passage back to the sewer was not blocked. The stairway was somewhat crumpled and collapsed halfway down, but this would only delay him. Getting a firm grip on Quistis and the railing, Squall started his descent.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Scott was sleeping when the explosions started. He was dozing really, his tired and beaten body too exhausted to go on. Of course, it would be easier to sleep if Irvine hadn't been staring at him the whole time. It was obvious at least Irvine of the others had witnessed the events in the tunnel. But Irvine hadn't asked, and Scott didn't really feel like answering. As if he had any answers.
But what he did have was pain, and in abundance. Aching head, shooting pains through his legs and arms, dizziness, nausea. He leaned back and tried to block out the disturbing sound of Selphie's ragged breathing.
When the boom came, it reverberated throughout the whole tunnel system, shaking dust and small pebbles from the concrete ceiling and waking Scott and Selphie up immediately. Irvine jumped to his feet, swearing with pain as he did so. More and more sharp and loud sounds followed, the shaking become more severe.
Irvine ran over to the ladder and peeked up the stairwell. A roaring swell suddenly echoed from the ladder hole, and Irvine flung himself to the side as molten pieces of steel and chunks of brick fell down where he had been standing. Irvine sat up, gasping with pain and clutching his injured leg.
"The stairwell collapsed," He wheezed. "Or at least partly."
Scott saw his eyes fill with fear, but not for himself. He realized that the building above might have collapsed, taking Squall and Quistis with it. He looked over at Selphie, but the junctions that kept her alive also had put her back into a healing sleep.
He eventually broke the short silence with a question.
"So, what's blowing up?"
Irvine shrugged, sliding into a more comfortable sitting position against the wall. The ground continued to shake, dim explosions rumbling through the subterranean complex.
"Might be some massive fireworks," He said, rubbing his leg. "But I'd bet on some kind of artillery. The city's getting shelled." This was further punctuated with yet another distant roar.
"Why? Who would shell a civilian city? Is this place at war?"
"Galbadia has always been a hotbed of political turmoil."
Irvine savored the sentence for a minute.
"I've always wanted to say that. It's a textbook perfect sentence. Anyway, it could be any number of radicals making a bid for the city. If you control Deling, you control Galbadia. Although, why you would want to is the real burning question. This country is nothing but trouble."
"So what do we do?" Scott asked. "Just sit it out?"
Irving nodded, pulling his hat down over his eyes.
"We need Squall to get down here first. If he... If he doesn't get back in two hours, SeeD regulations say we get the hell out."
Scott thought he was just going through the motions.
"But you won't leave, will you."
It was a statement, not a question.
The waiting began, and lasted for eight minutes before Squall dropped down out of the shaft.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Julian Foss himself was holding the gun to Polground's head before he ordered the artillery to stop firing.
The attack had gone perfectly, and the city had fallen with almost no resistance. Julian's men had entered the city too quickly for orders to reach the Galbadian army. Now the government was Julian's, and so was the army. Hendrow had taken over many corporations in his time, some hostile takeovers, some not. But nothing gave you a sense of victory like taking a something with force. Hendrow thought it may have been the shortest conquest in history, but he wasn't sure of his facts.
Now it was all Julian's, and by association, his. Hendrow smiled as the former leader of Galbadia groveled under gun point.
Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic