Final Fantasy VIII: Chronicles Chapter 1

The Challenge

By Choong Won

There she was... her face, tears streaming down her cheeks, fear in her eyes. "Nooooooo!" screamed Squall. He was standing in a field. "You said you'd be there for me!" He began to run after her. "Sis!!" A wind picked up and blew against him. Flower petals brushed against his face. "Noooo!" Squall fought the wind, but Sis was fading fast. Suddenly Squall felt something slam against his body. He looked at his stomach. His white T-shirt was quickly turning red. The tip of a gunblade was poking out through his shirt.

"Too bad Squall. It looks like you failed again." said a very familiar voice behind him.

Squall slowly turned around and saw Seifer grinning back at him. "Seifer..." he growled.

"Well Squall, any last words?" Seifer switched off the safety to his gunblade. His eyes glinted and he sneered.

"You'll never be SeeD...." Squall glared at him. Hate rose in his veins and the will for revenge came ever stronger.

"Bye Squall." Seifer pulled the trigger. A high explosive bullet ripped into Squall's torso and exploded. A ball of fire engulfed his body.

"Nooooooo!" screamed Squall. A red haze filled his vision and then everything faded to black.

Suddenly Squall woke up.

"." Squall sat up, his bed sheets were soaked with sweat. "It's just a dream." He got up and changed into his normal attire, T-shirt, black leather pants, black boots, and a fleece leather jacket.

"Why does the dream seem so familiar?" he asked himself, as he combed his hair. "I've lived my life at Garden..." Squall paused and dug deep into his memory. "And the orphanage. I remember Sis...." And then his memory drew a complete blank. The last thought Squall had of 'Sis' was a sunny day at the orphanage when Sis was reading a story to everyone.

"Oh well. Time for breakfast." Squall frowned and walked out the door.

* * *

"Would you like our 'scrambled egg special' or our 'bacon and a pancake'." asked the lady at the cafeteria.

"Pancake, with milk." said Squall. He always ordered the same thing; it wasn't him to do something erratic. Besides, he hated to think that the yellow-brown goop that was the 'special' would actually be good for you.

The lady pulled out a plate, slapped a pancake on it, dropped two pieces of bacon on it, and grabbed a milk container. "Here you go. 525 gil." She handed the plate and milk over to Squall. Squall handed her the money from his wallet.

Squall quickly scanned the dining area. Most of the seats were filled with cadets, talking and laughing as they ate. Squall saw a seat in the far corner that didn't have anybody sitting near it. "Breakfast in peace." he said to himself. He walked over and set his plate down.

"Hey Squall!" sneered Seifer as he came up to Squall's table just as Squall was about to sit down. His two sidekicks, Fujin and Raijin, were on either side of him. "I'd have to thank you for doing so well on that test. Without you, I'd have failed it." He jabbed Squall in the ribs. Squall turned around and glared at Seifer.

"Great," Squall thought. "Just what I needed.Seifer."

Raijin decided to put in his two-cents worth as well. "Yeah, Seifer's the best cheater in the world, ya know." He paused to gather his thoughts. "He can also whup ya any day, ya know."

"Whatever..." said Squall, in his normal monotone voice. "My bacon is getting cold." he thought to himself. "Stupid Seifer." He turned his back on Seifer, sat down, and began to eat.

Seifer was obviously annoyed that Squall didn't react to his taunting. He grabbed Squall by the shirt collar and hoisted him up. "Don't turn your back on me!"

"Put me down Seifer," said Squall coldly. He closed his hands into fists.

"Look Squall, I can kick your butt any old day. Just name it." Seifer didn't have his general cockiness in his expressions. Instead all Squall could see in his eyes was anger.

Squall glared back at him. "What a hot-head," he thought to himself. "It's time he gets what he deserves." "Tomorrow. At the mountain. At sunrise."

Seifer set Squall down. Squall noticed that the anger had left Seifer's eyes and he was back to his old self. He grinned. "Sounds good to me. You'd better bring a big bandage, Squall. Cause you're gonna need it!" He laughed and walked off.

Squall glared at Seifer as he left. As soon as Seifer was out of sight, Squall sat down and ate his breakfast. "Great, now my breakfast is cold," thought Squall.

* * *

"Class is dismissed." Quistis quickly walked to her chair and sat down. "Oh Squall! Can you stay for a minute?"

"Now what?" thought Squall. "I hope it's not another 'You should be happy' speech." Squall got up, grabbed his personal digital computer, and walked over. "Yes, Ms. Trepe?"

"I heard about the duel. And I don't like It." said Quistis in her 'no-nonsense' voice. Her eyeglasses made her look a lot older than she was. In fact, she was only a year older than Squall. She was now peering at Squall through those lenses, which made Squall slightly uncomfortable.

Squall rolled his eyes. "Whatever..." He thought, "Why does she always have to get into my business?"

"Look, Seifer's a lot bigger and stronger than you. One of you two, is going to get hurt from this!" Quistis frowned at him. "Don't get involved with Seifer; he just wants to fight you and show you who's better."

"It is up to me to decide.... don't worry about me." Squall frowned and then walked off.

Quistis clasped her hands together. "That's why I worry about you Squall. You never let someone else into your life. Why are you like this?" Quistis quickly pulled out a notepad. "Memo: Have someone check Kenka Mountain training area, after breakfast, tomorrow."

* * *

Squall quickly found a spot in the lunch line. The line was always long when they served hotdogs for lunch. "This could take a little while," thought Squall. He noticed a large guy cut in front of a guy with pointy blonde hair, and a tattoo on the left side of his face.

"Yo!! The heck ya doing!?" protested the blonde hair kid. He poked the guy in front of him in the back.

The large man turned around. "Move it pipsqueak! Or I'll bust your head off!" said the big guy. He rolled up his sleeves. Squall judged that by the size of the man's muscles, he probably could decapitate someone, barehanded.

"Pipsqueak!? Why I outta...." The blonde hair kid went into great detail on how he would beat-up the large guy.

"The blonde hair guy has sure got a short temper and a lot of nerve." thought Squall, certain the big guy would pulverize the blonde hair kid.

"Heh heh, get load of this!" shouted the big guy. Everyone in the cafeteria turned and looked at him. "Little Quirt's gonna knock my block off!" Some of his friends started laughing. "Well, normally I'd let you have the first punch, but I've been waiting to see how far you'd fly when I punch your light out." The big guy quickly threw a straight punch.

Squall cringed, expecting to hear a deep 'thump'. Instead, he saw the blonde hair guy catch the big guy's fist and pull the big guy over his shoulder.

"THUMP!" The big guy did a face dive into the tiles. Then the blonde hair guy started to punch the living daylights out of him. Garden staff was quickly alerted and rushed to the scene.

"Hey! No fair! I'm not done yet!" protested the blonde hair guy as the Garden Staff dragged him away. "And I didn't get my hotdogs!" He shouted, just before he was dragged out the door.

Squall sighed. "What a hothead." he thought. He suddenly realized it was his turn to order. He stepped up to the counter.

"What do you want?" asked a cranky old cafeteria lady. "We're out of hotdogs." She was flipping some green looking things on the burner. Squall tried not to look.

Squall sighed. "A chocobo sandwich with orange juice please." The day always seemed better, when you got a hotdog for lunch.

"That it?" the lady raised an eyebrow. She looked about fifty, but Squall had never bothered to ask. In fact he didn't even know her name.

"Yeah." Squall thought, "Why would I want to know her name anyhow? She's probably really boring and talks all day."

"623 gil please." said the lady as she rang up the price. She then grabbed a plate, put a wrapped sandwich and a small carton of orange juice on it.

"Here." Squall handed her the money and took his plate. "I wish they had hot dogs," he thought.

* * *

Before Squall went to bed, he took out his gunblade. "Better check it, just in case." he said to himself. "Don't want to come unprepared."

The gunblade was a mix between a revolver and a sword. It had a large blade at one end and a gun grip at the other. Near the gun grip was an enlarged revolver, but the short barrel was embedded in the blade. The gunblade was a melee weapon that was very deadly in that it shot explosive rounds when the trigger was pulled. In order for the gunblade to stay in the best condition, Squall needed to do a checkup at least once a week.

After the gunblade was carefully inspected and cleaned, Squall made sure it was completely unloaded. Each 'bullet' was highly explosive and was able to blow up a small boulder. When used against people, the explosion could literally 'blow them up'. Even a near miss would give them a concussion from the blast. "Better not have it loaded." Squall thought. "It might be kinda hard to explain why Seifer didn't come back from training." The thought almost made Squall smile.

He then took the gunblade and carefully laid it in its case. "Time for bed. I've got to get up early tomorrow," he thought. Squall got into bed and turned off the light.

The last thing he remembered was Sis smiling at him.


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