On Earth as it is in Hell Chapter 2
By Caleb Nova
"Why do all those small candy bars say, "Fun Size" on them? There's nothing fun about a small candy bar."
A galaxy hung suspended in the Universe, vast and complex in it's wonder. Billions of stars followed their preset rotation, traversing the great distances ordained by mutual gravity. But something did not follow this majestic pattern, this grandiose scheme. Erratic in motion and hectic in thought, small, unpredictable happenings occurred on a small, blue-green planet, deep within the system......
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The Hotels in Galbadia have been and always will be infamous for one thing: Price. No matter how shabby or decrepit the building the owners inevitably charged an exorbitant sum. Since all the hotels in the region plyed their trade the same way, a business man or passing tourist had no choice but to eventually be what could only be described as robbed, providing a key staple in the Galbadian economy.
In one such Hotel on the west side of the city of Deling sat Selphie, lost in thought in such a Squall-like pose that she seemed mimic his mental anguish perfectly. That someone might be doing that in itself is not unusual. That Selphie Tilmitt would be in such a state most certainly was out of the ordinary. If Selphie's head was transparent, her every thought displayed as wispy words and memories floating through the conscience, we could see one word predominately repeated: Irvine.
At that moment, the person in question entered the room, sauntering over to the window that she looked out of. His gaze drifted over her body, taking in her petite form. He smiled to himself when he realized she was distracted, unaware of his presence. Slowly, he reached out and placed his hand gently on her shoulder.
Selphie jumped at the sudden touch. She spun around, but instead of relaxing at the sight of him, she only seemed to grow tenser. She forced a smile.
He smiled down at her, while searching her eyes for the problem. "Looking at something in particular?"
Selphie lowered her eyes under his gaze. "Oh, nothing.....Just the lights I guess.." She stood up and smoothed down her skirt. "Are Quistis and Squall back yet?"
He shook his head in a 'no'. "Not yet. Soon I think, the Senate should have adjourned about twenty minutes ago."
They stood in a uncertain silence for a minute, Selphie with her mind elsewhere, Irvine wondering where that was.
He moved first. "Um.. Selphie, I.. Is something wrong? I mean, not that I want to intrude or anything, but you've been pretty quiet for the past couple days, and-" Selphie cut him off.
"No, Irvine, I'm fine. Thanks for asking though," She said rather coldly, making him take a involuntary step back. Her eyes widened as she caught herself, shocked at her own tone. She let out a breath and started walking to the door.
"I think we should go downstairs."
Irvine stood, confused. What had he done?
* * * * * * * * * * * *
On our world, the planer Earth, in 1972, a scientist by the name of Frederick Gallern made a discovery while testing some equipment of his own design. While looking at some isotopes in his private lab, he noticed something strange. The isotope he was testing on had an echo, a second isotope that was faintly readable, but he couldn't actually perceive. Believing it to be human error, he performed the same tests on other forms of matter, and all rendered the same faint shadow. Why? This led him to speculate on the only reason he believed this might be true: Parallel Universes. Quantum Theory already had laid the basis for these ideas, but what Gallern had was something more concrete. That night, Gallern went home, and wrote was to be called, the 'Tunnel Thesis'.
Gallern theorized that other, similar universes existed close to ours, much like Quantum Theory. But unlike Quantum Theory, Gallern did not believe these universes were branches of our timeline. Quantum Theory says that infinite universes are created every second. Everything you could have done that you didn't, everything that could have happened but never did, causes another universe to be created when the instance might have occured. Most people think that means that there is just another universe where you didn't go to the grocery store, but in fact, this applies to everything. Quantum theory says that there is another universe next to us that is exactly the same, except the molecules in one piece of carpet didn't blow the same way when the air conditioner came on. And then another where the air conditioner didn't come on at all.
But Gallern theorized that this wasn't true. His theory explained that the other universes are either like that, or completely different. The theory explained that all the universes were interconnected, like a web, and as such all the universes affected the other, or manifested themselves in some way. Gallern theorized that these manifestations came in the form of books, stories, and the like. Which means that, in theory, Sonic the Hedgehog exists.... Somewhere.
Gallern believed that travel between these worlds was possible, by connecting a piece of matter and it's shadow by a method he called, Tunneling.
The Tunnel Thesis became the subject of fierce debate within all circles of the scientific world, but the theory was never proved, or likewise disproved.
The controversy died out in 1986, when Gallern died of a fatal heart attack. The papers were filed, the materials disposed of and the Thesis was largely forgotten, a memory among the new sciences of today.
What the scientific community was not privilege to was that in 1993 the government set up a laboratory near Granite Peak, Utah. This laboratory's only purpose was to unravel the mystery of Tunneling. Known only to a few, the lab was utterly secret, due to the military options that would present themselves if the experiment was successful.
Over the next five years some progress was made, but no matter was ever actually transported inter-dimensionally. Then, in 1998, a portal was finally created to another world. It was unstable however, and the researchers were unable to see to the other side. After several days of watching it, the team decided it was stable enough to send someone through. Several volunteers were screened, and in the end, one man was decided on, Scott Keyor. Although only 24 years old, Scott had experience in the field science and military training through an extensive government training program which drew from various colleges and state programs. Athletic or promising students were interviewed for possible military careers. Scott was to carry through only a camera and a glass tube containing basic elements, the grip through which the team on Earthside could pull him back through.
After months of preparation, the portal was opened, and Scott walked through. It would be the first and last mistake the Granite Peak Science Station would ever make. Scott had just entered when the strain of actual transportation proved to much for the portal, and the little stability attained was lost almost immediately. Desperately, the GPSS tried to pull him back through, but the collapsing portal did not provide enough Tunnel Space to bring him back into safety. Only five minutes after entering the alien universe, Scott Keyor was stranded from the dimension he called home.
In the next few months, many attempts were made to open another portal, but none succeeded. In 1999 the government cut their funding, and Project GPSS was disbanded indefinitely.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Squall emerged from the car deep in thought, images of the council bouncing through his mind. Something wasn't right, not at all. The Galbadians had shown an almost obsessive resistance to SeeD in the past, and despite their political problems, there wasn't any really pressuring reason to forgive Garden. Or was there?
Perhaps something was forcing Galbadia's hand? Esthar certainly had the military drive to do so, but no motivation was present and he couldn't really see Laguna doing that. Esthar had always taken the passive road, a fact for which Squall was sure the Galbadians gave thanks to daily. However, a more sinister strain of dealings above and beyond the government's sight take place constantly, a recycling routine of murder and deceit.
Squinting through the polluted mist that always seemed to cover Deling, Squall could make out the slim form of Selphie, back lit by the twin posts flanking the double doors. He was somewhat surprised she was out this time of night with the weather like it was. Irvine was also noticeably absent from her side. As Squall drew closer, the look on her face could only be recognized by a kindred tortured soul, a kind of mental anguish that Squall could recognize written on her pretty features all to well.
And like Zell, an icy moment of near prophecy descended over him, and for one instant in time, he was positive something terrible was going to happen. Then, as quickly as it came, the feeling passed.
Selphie spoke only after he and Quistis had stopped right in front of her.
"How was it?" She asked, rather blandly it seemed.
He shook his head. "I'm not really sure." Squinting against the harsh lamp light, Squall peered through the slightly open doorway. "Where's Irvine?"
"He's inside." The tone of her voice made it evidently clear no further questioning was permitted.
"Oh." A few moments of awkward silence prevailed. Quistis broke it.
"We should get inside," She said, taking a step towards the door. Squall moved with her, but Selphie stayed were she was.
"I'll be coming soon. Just need some air..." She turned back to the night sky. Squall hesitated, then thought better of interfering.
He walked away, but halted just inside the door to look back at Selphie. I wish Rinoa was here...She would know what to do.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Zell Dincht was not a normal teenager. He was trained in advanced combat techniques and equipped with abilities that would make most fighters jealous. But today, Zell was displaying some most teenage-like behavior.
Zell paced around his room, punching the air occasionally. At this precise moment in time it is probably safe to say the he was bored as all hell, and as such, he fell back upon one of his favorite past-times: Eating. Striding towards the cafeteria, Zell knew he had to get there fast before the hot dogs were all gone, a circumstance that frequently plagued him. After arriving, he looked at the line, and if it was possible his jaw would have dropped to the floor. At the head of the line was none other than Rinoa.
Zell ran over just as Rinoa bought not one, not two, but three hot dogs. Frantically he turned to the lunch lady but she shrugged apologetically and turned away. Zell glared desperately at Rinoa.
Rinoa looked at him, then the hot dogs. She smiled teasingly and sat down. Zell was drawn to the hot dogs like Irvine to a strip joint. "Rinoa... you gotta give me a hot dog!"
"Hmm... I don't know Zell." She said as she picked up the mustard and put and excessive amount on, knowing that Zell craved mustard.
"Oh my God... Rinoa! You know I need it!" Zell shouted. All the people at the adjacent lunch tables had gone quiet.
"Zell!" Rinoa exclaimed. Zell looked puzzled for a second, then he slowly smiled as the connotation of what he had just said hit him.
"Rinoa... I need you to give it to me! Right now!" Zell grinned as he said it. The entire lunch room had by now fallen silent.
Rinoa glared daggers at him, then handed him a hot dog. Zell's smiled increased.
"I'm not getting enough Rinoa, I need more!" He held out his other hand.
"I am going to murder you!" She hissed as she handed him another hot dog. Zell just smiled as he sat down across from her.
Zell poured on the mustard and said, "Thanks for giving it to me."
Rinoa did not deign to reply. Zell began to eat the hot dog, and everyone else returned to their rudely interrupted meals.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
A man walked through the streets of Deling. His blond hair was long and lank, coming down past his eyes. He wore a dirty and scuffed jumpsuit, which was once blue but was now faded to an almost white, with the letters 'GPSS' stenciled on his shoulder. A shattered glass tube protruded from one pocket. His face was handsome, almost Hollywood in manner, with deep-blue eyes, and a lightly tanned face. A small mark was clear on the left of his his lower lip, indicating that at some time a ring had been present.
He walked with urgency, avoiding crowds and skirting main roads. He strode through town for hours, looking for something it seemed, from dawn to dusk, asking strange questions about scientists, or inquiring about technology. By the time the sun set, the bus conductors almost knew him by name, and the same query followed him wherever he went. "Where to now, Scott?".
Then, suddenly and inexplicably, he stopped. His eyes widened and his breathing quickened as he stared at the petite figure of a woman standing outside the Galbadian Hotel. He shoved his hand down into his pocket and pulled out a ratty, worn square of papers, looking as if they had gone through the wash. He flipped through several pages, then held up the notebook in comparison of the figure and the picture in his book.
A spark of hope entered his eyes.
He jogged, almost ran over to Selphie, and as she stared at him and he stared back, he opened his mouth and said, "Are you......Tilmitt? Slephie Tilmitt?"
Selphie gazed at him for a minute. Then cocking her head sideways, she shrugged.
"Selphie Tilmitt. Who's asking?"
A wave of palpable relief washed over him like a wave. "Thank god! I thought I would never find you guys!"
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Again, that ethereal presence stirred. Something was here that was not supposed to be. This human, this man, he was, different? No, he was human, but yet, he was not the same. The puzzle expanded to fill it's mind, until horrible realization dawned. The seals had been breached.
::AN:: Special thanks to Gene for writing the cafeteria scene.
Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic