On Earth as it is in Hell Chapter 7
By Caleb Nova
"I can remember when Scott first showed up, it took awhile to get used to him. There was just something about him, like you knew he was from out of town, or some illegal alien looking for a minimum wage. Funny, considering who he turned out to be."
-Quistis Trepe, What's Hyne Got To Do With It?
One can always get what one wants, and everything has it's price. The golden rule of greed. Whether it be power or mere object, the seduction of ownership is a lure for everyone. Some may resist it, others indulge openly or privately in small ways. To a few, it is a way of life. Men like Julian Foss. This comforting platitude of the self-absorbed and wealthy has little truth in the real working world, or Multiverse. So if you cannot buy it, cannot steal it, then you must take it. And with the Thesis, there is much for the taking.
But taking isn't always easy. The owners of the things being taken are sure to object. And whether it be in Watership Down or Ender's Game, a fight will ensue. As always, to the victor go the spoils.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
There was really no way around it. After a good 15 seconds of solid thought, Scott was still in a world of crap.
The scenery did nothing to distract from his unavoidable doom. He could only stare at the concrete surroundings for so long until his brain wandered back to the forthcoming torture. These thoughts coming unbidden, seeping into his brain against his will and his good sense. The bonds that held him fast in this public torture chamber were unbreakable. No way out. None. Oh, shit.
The jailer returned from a room behind the stage who's door Scott couldn't see. He was about to ask Squall if he could when the man in black set down a black case, slamming it imposingly down on the podium. Scott hid a smile. The jailer tried so hard to be intimidating it was almost pathetic.
From the rather large case he drew a fairly small instrument Scott could not identify. He supposed it was a flamegun of some sort until he remembered the magic part of it. A focus device, then. Something to direct the magic. He hadn't seen anything like that in the game, but then he hadn't seen a lot of the game.
The jailer drew the object and walked down the stairs until he was standing in front of Scott. Guilelessly, Scott stared back. Calm on the surface only. He braced himself.
"This is your last chance," the jailer said softly. "Who are you, and why are you here with the others?"
The fear was real now, but Scott refused to give in.
"Suck it, ass clown."
The jailer only smiled. He reached for Scott's arm, and jabbed the needle-like point on the device into Scott's arm. He gritted back a gasp at the pain.
"Stop!" Selphie screamed. "Leave him alone! He just showed up at the hotel, we don't know who he is-"
One of the guards walked up and backhanded her, silencing her shouting. Irvine gritted back a swear, shooting the man a glare of hatred.
The jailer didn't spare it a glance. He looked at Scott, finger on some sort of trigger, magic ready at his word.
"I would say last chance, but since I already did.." The jailer shrugged, hit the switch, and shot a fire spell into Scott's bloodstream.
A strange roaring filled his head. Scott's first impression was, Well, this isn't so bad. Then it occurred to him that it really wasn't bad. Aside from the noise in his head and the stabbing pain from the needle, it really didn't hurt at all.
He jerked, shaking off the darkness that had threatened to overtake his vision, to find the room surprisingly silent. He was somewhat hurt, expecting at least cries for mercy from his newfound companions. Then he looked down at the floor.
Lying in a charred crater of burnt blood, his face contorted in agony, the jailer was most dead. Scott stared at the body uncomprehendingly.
Scott may have been dumfounded into inaction, but Squall wasn't. In an instant he had used his bare feet to grab the gun from the jailer's flaming holster, burning his toes in the process. Foolishly, their captors had opted to tie their hands in front of them, a stroke of luck.
Squall threw himself behind the chairs, gun firing a precise two shots. One of the six guards fell over, clutching a gaping stomach wound. The second shot hit the other guard on his right in a textbook perfect head wound, the powerful .45 blowing a apple-sized exit wound in the back of the man's head, crashing him to the ground.
The other SeeD scattered, hobbling as best as possible to cover while Squall took down another guard with his pistol, the remaining three struggling to get their guns up and fire. Their reaction time was abysmal, and they were obviously poorly trained.
Irvine reached the other two downed guards in seconds, using his bound hands to grab assault rifle and pistol. Unable to fire the assault gun single handed, he fired the pistol and dove behind the podium where Selphie was crouched, their chairs banging together, making it difficult. Irvine finally managed to cover himself by offering only his chair protected back to the line of fire. Quistis had ducked and crawled over to the third killed guard, weapon laying in the open just beyond her reach.
By now the remaining guards had taken aim and were unloading automatic fire at whim, chipping concrete and shredding the thinly padded seats.
Selphie sent a blast of fire from the podium, forcing the guards to take cover behind the last seat row and giving Quistis enough time to snag the other rifle.
The firing stopped at what had become a standstill, the SeeDs at the front of the auditorium and on the stage, the last guards ducked behind the final row of seats before the open aisle space to the exit. The SeeDs could only advance slowly as they worked to free themselves from the chairs, while the guards couldn't hope to make the exit without getting cut down in the open space, unprotected from the firing position of the podium.
Scott had taken cover in front of the first row of seats, just below the podium where Selphie and Irvine were hidden. Weaponless, he crawled around the perimeter until he reached Quistis, who handed him the recovered pistol from the dead guard. While the situation was deadly, it was also embarrassing. Scott couldn't seem to find a place to put his eyes. Quistis's rather ample assets were a distraction from the loaded guns pointing his way. Perhaps the guards hadn't been as dumb as he had suspected.
A movement at the corner of his eye brought his head snapping around. Squall had freed himself from his chair and was crawling along the aisles in a zig-zag fashion, keeping just out of sight. Afraid covering fire would only draw attention his way, Scott decided to meet Squall halfway.
"Quistis," He whispered. She turned to him. He held out his hands, making it understood he wanted to be untied. Quickly, she reached over and carefully undid the knot, then he did the same for her.
The concrete grated on his stomach as he wriggled along the floor. Fortunately, the seats had solid bottoms rather than separate legs, give the guards no clean line of fire along the ground. He reached Squall in less than ten seconds. Face to face on the floor, Scott opened his mouth to ascertain the plan, when something unexpected happened.
Selphie and Irvine, cut off from the rest of the group and unable to discuss or receive a working plan, decided to let loose with a blistering round of fire, jumping off the stage and behind the first row of seats. Without thinking, Scott and Squall made use of the distraction. Jumping up, they ran in opposite directions down the aisle. The sudden hail of bullets impacted on the far wall and seat tops, and the guards had to move to the sides. The guard on the farthest right made a critical mistake when he moved a few feet too far, allowing Quistis to drop him with a burst.
Two left. Scott thought.
One of the guards had the presence of mind the stick his gun over the seats, firing blindly. Scott had to duck back into safety lest he be hit. Squall, however, was by now on the other end of the row and out of the leftmost remaining guards view. Quistis was edging forward for a better shot. Scott couldn't see Irvine and Selphie but he guessed they were moving up the aisles as Squall had before.
Scott saw at the last moment what Squall was going to do. If he had not, the outcome might have been much different.
Squall was throwing himself behind the last row of seats, giving him a final shot on the two guards. The guard nearest Scott saw him immediately, and turned to deliver a killing round to Squall.
Scott reacted by leaping to his feet, emerging over the seats in a almost graceful arc, raising his pistol, the shot echoing in his ears as everything seemed to slow down. The shell ejected from the gun lazily, floating in it's decaying trajectory to bounce on the floor. He could almost see the bullet before it impacted just under the guards right elbow, into the ribs. The bullet was just smashing through the man's organs when a burst fired by Quistis all but vaporized his head, scraps dispersing in a bloody balloon.
The lifeless remains flew with the force of multiple impact until it's flight was arrested by the wall, spattering warm liquids in a fan-like pattern.
Scott saw none of this. After he landed awkwardly in the seats he jumped the last row into the back, bringing up his .45 to dispose of the final guard. He need not have bothered. The last guard was dead, killed by Squall. Scott's arms dropped in temporary relief as the adrenaline rush thinned itself out of his bloodstream.
Selphie and Irvine were the first to move, running up from the back. Selphie had tied one of the dead guard's shirts around herself in a attempt at modesty. Quistis was busying herself doing likewise. Scott approved. Distractions under fire could quickly prove fatal. Squall picked himself off the floor and walked over to where Scott and Irvine stood. He halted, calm eyes surveying the carnage.
"So," Irvine said, scratching his head. "Which way out?"
Scott marveled at their resilience as he slumped to the floor.
"We need to recover our equipment," Squall spoke while turning to the door. "This complex follows the construction of the old fallout shelters from the Sorceress War. There must be an exit somewhere in the city."
Irvine smiled broadly. "Well then. We'll be back in time for dinner." He turned to Scott, raising an eyebrow. "Suck it, ass clown?"
Scott just shook his head, unable or unwilling to answer.
Irvine reached up to tip the hat that wasn't there. "My compliments on your eloquence. Words, I'm afraid, are not my forte'."
Selphie pushed past the still posing Irvine, giving him a withering look on the way, heading towards Squall who was heading for the door. "Where do we go? All my things are back at the hotel! Do you think our weapons are still there?"
He opened steel door without answering, and the rest followed hurriedly, anxious to exit before their escape was compromised. The SeeDs hadn't seen any cameras, but that didn't mean they weren't there.
The same damp hallways stretched out before them, taking almost random turns it seemed. Rusty or broken doors revealed long empty rooms, built for some unknown purpose, some filled with machines no longer able to serve their purpose.
Of all the things most suited for silent walking, Scott would have pegged bare feet as one of the best. Instead he unhappily discovered that if not careful, bare skin made a loud slapping sound against the concrete. Concentrating on his footing and trying to keep up with Squall and the other SeeDs, he had only a part of his thoughts to puzzle out the sudden and violent death of the jailer.
Why? There seemed no reason for the backlash of magic. Of course, he was in no way proficient in the art himself, for all he knew there might be a perfectly reasonable explanation. The SeeDs seemed to be more involved with escaping than analysis, so the questions would have to wait.
All he had wanted to do was go home. Back to his dimension, which made sense. Who would have known that in the hours since his arrival he would be attacked, brought in for torture, and then inadvertently trigger a unplanned escape? There was nothing left but to follow through, at least until they could find their way from the clutches of the unknown antagonist.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Hendrow nervously watched the sun dawn, revealing with greater detail the landscape that had been darkened from vision by the previous night. There still wasn't much to see. The plain was still empty though lit. It seemed to him that the air seemed thicker, heavier some how. Perhaps they had emerged in a lowly populated area, the lack of pollution leaving the air oxygen rich.
By mid-afternoon Julian's work crews had settled into the hard work of digging and pouring. Digging dirt and pouring concrete. Hendrow routinely patrolled the perimeter, keeping tabs on progress and penalizing slackers. There weren't many slackers to be penalized. Typical as the field seemed, they couldn't mistake the feeling of being far away from home, unfamiliar. Last night none of constellations made any sense. The need to be behind walls was strong, and the men worked harder for it.
Julian was in his tent, waiting for the command central to be completed. Hendrow wasn't sure what he was doing, but it was undoubtedly vital, and Hendrow left him to his concentration.
A reconnaissance team of twenty men was being prepare to venture beyond the area of arrival. Assuming the sun rose and set in the same directions as the one of Earth did, there position was calculated, but the map next to the Toyota ad (an ad that was strangely comforting) was not precise enough to be of any use. To their immediate north less than a mile was a beach, and the south was the same. To the west the land trailed off into a point in the ocean, leading the expedition to believe they were on some sort of peninsula. To the east the land appeared to stop and cut off into a channel across which was a two islands, one larger, one small, and what Hendrow thought was the mainland, the only body of land that didn't appear to terminate in water. Hendrow had studied the map all morning in between his patrolling and believed he knew where they were.
Now it was only a matter of waiting until the rest of the men and equipment came.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Rinoa faced the window of her room, crossed arms hugging herself tightly, as if afraid to let go lest her heart fall out in it's agony. So many days without word. By now Garden was demanding that Galbadia give information on the SeeD delegation. Galbadia was claiming they had vanished without their knowledge. Neither side was giving in at all. And Squall was still gone for all of it.
Where are you?
It hadn't been so bad before, when it had only been a few days. Now every day was a battle not to forcefully find her Knight. His absence was a deepening hole in her mind. She fully understood what they meant with the saying, "Like a Sorceress and her Knight", a common expression for two inseparable things or people. It just was not meant to be. What then, must it have been like for Cid and Edea, apart all those years?
She closed her eyes, reaching out with her mind to find his presence, a futile gesture she knew, tried so many times before. She with all her power could not see to Galbadia, across many miles of water and land. And if she could, Galbadia was so very large. One body and essence so very small, despite their link.
She felt the guardian forces present inside her mind, Siren, Ifrit and the Brothers. In her Sight they appeared as dim lights in her essence, faintly glowing. Then, one was different.
She gasped as her mind was pulled into Ifrit, who became to her more than just the Guardian force, but the Being behind it. She had barely time to understand, 'Let me help you.', before her mind was shot into the sky, expanded. It enveloped the world, Ifrit guiding it, giving it previously unknown reach and clarity.
She flew over Esthar, Trabia, and the Shumi Village at the speed of light, seeing, tasting, smelling sights, sounds, things almost faster than her brain could translate them, absorbing so much information it ceased to be coherent.
Her mind rebelled frantically, essence kicking and struggling in a unthinking fear over her lack of control, fragile link with her body wavering and thinning.
Then she was there, Galbadia. It was but the work of a moment to find him, burning bright under Deling.
He halted, stopping the rest of the team behind him, eyes darting.
Their mind touched for a instant, then she was hurled back into her physical self, collapsing on the floor. She lay there, gasping and covered in a cold sweat. Sitting up, she ran a shaky hand through her hair, grasping at composure.
What was this?
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Dimensional fabric wavered, tore slightly, then compacted and rebound back into it's original form. The tightening Knot woven into the continuum was continually coalescing around a single essence, one man.
The dimension destabilized further, bending reality, gravity, time. Soon, this reality would reject this Knot, spitting out into another dimension, ridding itself of the anomaly before it became a threat.
Hyne watched in something akin to awe, closer to terror. She held the dimensional fabric together until the vibration stopped. Something like this could destroy everything she had worked so hard to create. Never had she imagined that anything below the level of her deity could pierce the walls she and her kind had built so long ago to preserve the boundaries for peace and sanity. Some things should never collide. The fools responsible for this were not her jurisdiction, but she wondered at the laxity of the God who had allowed this to come about. Luckily, the safeguards built into her universe would soon reject the problem, handing it to something else. Hyne settled back to watch, and secretly hoped her untested defenses were enough to fix a Knot of this magnitude.
Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic