Hand of Ice Chapter 1

First Dismissal

By General Wyvern

A depth of unimaginable proportions had been met. It was serene and calming to be drifting around in some dark crevice, not really going anywhere, but going somewhere all the same. Shadows and flickers of images came from beyond the recesses of reason and vision. To have shape, but not seen. To be heard, but not to listen. The images came in faster, at a more furious pace. A silent figure perceived them all with a compassion that no mortal could ever expect to meet.

A name came to that figure from the deep. Was calling him, taunting him, registering his existence for him. But the name held no meaning, just a one-syllable word muttered by people to address him by. Squall had no meaning, nor did it matter that he had lived with that title for his entire life and cared greatly for it.

He drifted about the chaos, virtually shapeless. Six thin, and sinuous wings protruded from his back, glowing with old embers about them. They swayed in the writhing darkness about his bare and emaciated form, covered in acidic denticales. The images before him began to take a more obvious shape. The shapes held names he knew, faces he had seen, but they did not have to be spoken, for the Namelessness to know them.

The once serene images began to take a more profound shape. Melting before his darkened eyes, the runny wisps of color sank to a maroon hue. The black conjured shape, a figure of a ratty cloak with a feline head appeared. Red blotches had converged under the torn fringes of the cloak, shaping them into a long taproot form that squirmed and swayed as if it were another limb. Eyes had appeared on the face, red, and deep in depth, they appeared as funnels that probably went straight to her brain. Flailing about at her sides were her darkened hands. They looked like they emerged right off the arm of the cloak, instead of from underneath. And at the end of each of the five fingers, were claws the size of carving knives.

The cloak hissed a line of nonsense sounds and garbles. A loud snapping sound, as if made by a thousand guns firing at once, sounded all around. The blackness gave away to a red tunnel, stretching out into the black. In the center, where the two hovered, the tunnel appeared as glowing red piping. The form referred to as Squall writhed and sputtered, coughing up his own frozen blood as the thoughts of tortured demons invaded his mind, bringing unspeakable horror behind hidden messages. The Namelessness laughed, showing off a pair of venomous viper fangs, highlighted by seven pointed tongues, each glowing red. She spoke more gibberish, then, shoved her serrated claws into the heart of the Squall form. The winged figure fell to the cold, iron ground. Blood was now flowing freely out of his thin lips. He looked up to see the dark wraith, with her infinite, red eyes. The wraith held in her hand a heart, not disfigured, or stabbed in any way, but still beating, and screaming. The red taproot of the beast began to meander into the metallic pipeline, as the red encircling it began to pulse, waxing and waning like a futile heartbeat. Rhythmless, it was, much like his own heart, that couldn’t keep up a steady beat outside of its owner. The root that embedded into the pipeline shot out of the iron casing, spearing the non-existent air at every angle. One stalk had run itself right through the winged entity, entering through the side of his rib cage, and coming out the other end. No blood came out, as it had all gushed out of his mouth.

A flash of white appeared, along with an indescribable face. Then, no more rang out. Not even the serene images. The pipe had disappeared.


“Hey! He’s waking up!” A hazy voice echoed before him.

The darkness receded before him, giving way to pure light. The name that was once detached from his being came slinging back. My name is Squall. I must be dead. Oh please let me be dead! His mind spoke continued to speak with his heavy Alcauldian accent, even though his tongue wasn’t in use.

Just when he thought the white was impenetrable, two dark blotches invaded its purity. The anger Squall felt at the intrusion of such dirty marks. Beat it. You don’t belong here.


A girl with the soft, black hair of dark satin looked over the weakened form of her love.

Oh, Squall, she thought with worried hurt. What possessed you to do this too yourself?

He was, of now, placed on a bed in a small infirmary room. A white sheet was placed over him up to his shoulders. A heart monitor had been hooked up to him, as well as an I.V. that was stuck in the back of his right hand, and tapped firmly in place with scotch tape.

The girl had found him in the most unusual place. A dry, desolate setting that seemed to have manifested out of nothing. In front of her was Squall, lying in his own blood. She had hoped he was alive, even called out his name, but didn’t respond regardless. It wasn’t hard for her to see that the blood was all coming out of his left wrist, and a saber that lay beside him was sprawled in a manner that it had been thrown. The sharpened edge of the blade was only lightly spattered with blood, meaning it only delt one blow, and an accurate one. The whole episode of rescue and rushed conversation passed quickly as she had been fortunate to run into the help of her closest allies, whom had come out of the abyss of time compression to help her. No memory remained, only her concern for the unconscious boy. When they had returned, everyone was worried, and so he was taken into this infirmary.

On the left side of the still form was a shorter girl with dirty red hair. Short, but curled up at their ends in one large wave.

The form in front of them started to moan.

The red head looked down excitedly, clapping her hands vigorously. “Hey! He’s wakin’ up!”

The two girls looked down at the young man. His eyes fluttered open sluggishly. The icy blue orbs were marred with bloody red shades. He groaned once. His eyes fluttered lazily for a second, it appeared he was having trouble focusing.

Slowly, the dark haired girl, known as Rinoa, brought her hand down upon Squall’s cheek, only lightly touching the paling flesh. In response, Squall jerked his head towards the woman. With the fuzzy silhouette still hiding her true image to him, the young man felt scared at the small contact.

Who are you! Raced his mind, where am I! What did you do? Attempt to move proved useless, he was anchored in position by restraints. Restraints that were, no doubt, attached while he was under.

Did that cloaked wraith put you up to this?

From above him, Rinoa became worried over Squall’s reaction. His head snapped towards her touch. His pupils dilated, swirling about in their sockets in rapid burst, his breaths becoming rapid and shallow.

From beside the red headed girl, the heart monitor went wild. The red head turned towards it with annoyance and began to pound on it.

“Dr. K.,” she called, in a squeaky, girlish voice, and a Nywll accent. “Something’s screwy with this monitor.”

A rather loud whisper came from outside the small cubicle. “ Oh, crap!”

In rushed a plump, middle-aged woman in a white medical smock. Dr. K., she had just been called, and it was true, those were her initials, but her full name was Kadowaki, and her current responsibility was to her ailing patient.

Rinoa moved out of the doctor’s way as she came up beside her.

“How did this happen!” She asked the younger woman.

“I don’t know!” Squeakily protested she to the doctor. “I just touched his face, and he tensed up!”

Not giving it more thought, Dr. Kadowaki took hold of Squall’s bare shoulders. “It’s okay, Squall! It’s okay…” she repeated similar small phrases of optimism until he calmed down. To the patient, the slight jarring on his shoulders seemed to breach the smoky haze. By a little bit, his regenerated sight could now make out simple color. He wasn’t dead, as he had hoped. Knowing these figures, he could make them out to be his old physician, Dr. Kadowaki. The wavy, auburn hair of oh-oh,-here-she-comes Selphie Tilmett glaring over him with a burning, sunbeam smile. And the blue and black hues of Rinoa. His bloodshot eyes were immediately locked on her face. He tried to smile, but it hurt, literally. So it was that the smile was short lived.

I thought I had lost you. But you came back. You truly are a goddess. He thought with a bit of ecstasy.

Groping his throat for a voice, Squall managed to hack out a name. “Rinoa.” His voice was stiff and scratchy, the rolled ‘r’s of his Alcauldian accent were greatly weakened. The girl responded to him, lowering her face closer to his, not forgetting to get Selphie’s own smiling face out of his view.

“Hey!” Piped the neglected girl, “I was there!” Her whine went ignored.

Squall continued to call out the name of Rinoa, as if she could only find him by his voice. She calmed him down with a few shushes, still aware that he was probably still a bit shaken by that last touch.

“You lost a lot of blood,” she started, still, with a cautiously soft voice. “You cut your wrist.” She spoke in a classical Galbadian accent. The last few words, she said with a little regret. Squall couldn’t quite make out the expression on her face, but she new that she was saddened by the tone of her voice.

“But Rinoa,” he started shakily, “I thought I’d never see you again.” I thought it was the only way to see you again.

“Yeah,” started Selphie with her usual enthusiasm, “you lost more then half your blood, n’ that nasty bite mark you got from Griever didn’t help anythin’. Honestly! I didn’t think you were suicidal. Homicidal, maybe, but you got to draw the line somewhere, and you seamed responsible enough not to kill yourself. But you know, now that you’ll have to wait for a donor, we got some black stuff from Esthar. They say it’s synthetic blood that you can have until we find you some real blood, but they say it can only keep you alive for a couple of months before it’s no good and that it doesn’t give you the same zing as real blood. So really, you’re goinna feel like a miserable pile o’ crap for a while ‘til we find a match.

“Dr.K. also stitched that bite mark up for you, but says that she doesn’t know what the hell it is because it’s glowin’ green and stuff, and doesn’t smell like it shoold, and that she may have to amputate it.”

“Whatever.” Squall choked, still looking at Rinoa, who was now looking at a giggling Selphie.

“Really girl,” replied Rinoa in disbelief towards the excessive talker, “I don’t know where’ yew put all that lung power?”

“It’s a gift.” Answered the smiling girl.

What Selphie had said wasn’t really bothering Squall at all. Him losing much of his blood, having to take some artificial junk, and the bite mark that his own creation gave him. He remembered how Griever took a diving lunge at him when he tried to run away, biting his right shin. The Guardian Force did not shake him like a dog would have, but had kept hold of it’s pray, just as Squall had chosen it to do. Letting go just as soon as he drove his weapon into its eye. His leg sure looked pretty gross. The rest didn’t know, but the effects of the venomous bite of the creature; was narrated by his younger, twelve year old self.

It’ll leave a glowing residue that changes color from blue, to green, to gold, depending on the environment around the wounded victim, because its drool contains the power of the sorceresses. It will never fully heal, and will leave a nasty scar. It’ll smell like perminent marker because of the poison that hurts both body and mind. Ah, yes, but he had been a creative boy. It was very likely that he wouldn’t have given Griever those properties if he had known that they would be used against him one day.

Not many people knew about this creation. Even when they saw it with their own eyes, Squall didn’t say a thing, and neither did Rinoa. It still remained a secret between the two of them, and their was a lot more to Griever then he had let on to Rinoa. Much more.

Squall stopped his incisive daydreaming when he felt a tight grasp envelope around him. Selphie was giving him a vigorous bear hug, and nearly choking him in the process. He had, sluggishly, tried to push her away with his own strength, finding that he wasn’t tied down, but, had just been to weak to lift his limbs in the first place. And still was weak. He did, however, manage to hit her in the side.

The Mighty Lion. Rinoa thought sarcastically, with a bit of a laugh as she watched Squall trying to squirm out of Selphie’s ‘deadly’ grasp. The dark haired girl knew, that this would be the only time that anyone would get to hug him. At full strength, he could have drove her head first into an open dumpster.

With no hesitation, Rinoa hugged the young man as well. Squall didn’t struggle as much with her, then with Selphie. And it was no wonder. He was less attached to that red head then her.

Selphie let go of her squirming victim, much to Squall’s relief. “Hey, I almost forgot.” She said excitedly, looking down at the two still holding each other. Turning to the door, she cupped her hands over her mouth, yelling: “HEY! HE’S AWAKE!”

“Rinoa, make Tilmitt stop talking.” Squeaked Squall as Rinoa let go of him, setting him back down on his bed pillow. It wasn’t likely that he was joking. He wasn’t smiling. But then again, he didn’t smile a lot. And probably couldn’t if he tried.

The door burst open, but instead of Dr. Kadowaki, there were three different people. The first to enter was Quistis Trepe. A stern woman of eighteen who took no guff. Her golden lochs were tied up in a loose bun in back of her head, but she let her bangs hang down past her shoulders. Trepe took a stand beside Rinoa.

Following her in was a taller guy with long, honey brown hair, tied up in a ponytail. He wore a Western attire suit, complete with cowboy hat, overcoat, and chaps, probably to make him look like more of a loner to everyone. His name was Irvine Kinneas, and he stood next to Selphie.

The last to enter was a smaller boy of seventeen, the same age as everyone else in the room, excluding Quistis. As blond as he was dumb, his short hair was spiked up in front, and he harbored a simple black tattoo on the left side of his face. What it was, exactly, was beyond everyone else. Whether it was a form of a dragon, fire, or thunderbolts was anyone’s guess. He was known as Zell Dincht, Idiot Extraordinaire, and he stood next to Irvine.

“How’s it hangn’ man?” Zell asked his fallen comrade with genuine enthusiasm. His voice was thick with a Balambese accent. The ‘h’s that were pronounced, sounded like he was spitting, as was general in the Balamese language to ‘spit’ out the ‘h’s.

“Up yours.” Was all Squall replied. Not surprising banter in the least. Even Zell couldn’t argue that he could have gotten more out of him.

“Say,” started Irvine, “Wha’ wuzzit like being unconscious?” the question was obviously directed towards Squall, and was cloaked with a heavy New Galbadian accent. “I would have asked Rinoa, but, like, she didn’t attempt suicide, so it maybe a different experience.”

“Irvine,” Rinoa hissed, “that was a very insensitive question.”

Irvine started to defend. “Hey! Hey! Easy Doll, I’m just curious. I say, if you can lighten the mood, why not, like do that.”

“How’s that lightening the mood?” She spat back.

“Well, it’s like…like…um…not concerning the…um. Touché Rinoa.” He turned back to Squall.

“Sure is!” Rinoa snapped, “and call me Doll again and I’ll sick Squall on you!”

“What! You goinna sick that on me?” Joked he, pointing down at the invalid man.

In response, Squall tried to lift his arms to strangle Irvine. But, to no avail, he couldn’t get his hands above his chest.

“Screw it.” He quipped weakly, letting his arms fall back to their original position.

“Hey, Squall, “ began Quistis in a calm voice, “I know you won’t give a damn, but we’re throwing a shindig in honor of your killing Adel.”

“What about Ultimicia?” Zell asked.

“She’s in the credentials, too. But I hardly think that killing a woman who isn’t even born yet worth celebrating over.”

“She looked pretty mature to me.”

“Yes, but we were in the future.”

“How the hell did we get into thee future?”

“Time compression, you dolt!”

“Oh, yeah.” Zell remembered, scratching his head.

Squall looked at the blurred image of Quistis. “Garden parties suck.” He croaked.

“Yes, we know how you feel about them,” defended Quistis, “but you know, some people might actually like them.”

“Do you?” Asked Irvine with a curious look.

“No, but somebody could.”

From across her, Zell started to chuckle. “Yeah,” he snickered, “good one Quistis.”

“I’ve got a new camcorder for the party,” started Selphie, “don’t know what the heck it’s called, but I heard that its color resolution is next to nil, and that it weighs a tone, but I got it for three hundred gill, which makes it all worth it.”

Selphie, your optimism scares me. Thought Squall.

“And that’s not all,” she continued. “We’re getting the Galbadian Garden students since their garden took a nose dive into the ground. With the money we made from our last mission, we can now afford to get a high definition TV for the common room, not too mention a couch that actually has cushions. And also…”

Rinoa finished off her sentence before the girl rambled on into next weak. She placed her index finger on her closed lips, indicating silence and pointing down towards Squall, who had fallen asleep.

“Gosh, I wish I could conk out like that.” Murmured Quistis.

Rinoa looked towards her. “I guess loosing over two pints of blood will do that to you.”

Selphie looked down at the sleeping figure. “Aww, he looks soooo peaceful.” She lowered her head so she could look at him closer.

What’s up with you, girl? Rinoa thought, with just a bit of jealousy. Haven’t you seen a sleepin’ guy before?

The whole room went quiet, as they all looked at Squall. His lips were moving, as if speaking, but no words came out. Selphie leaned closer to hear them. Rapidly, he snapped his head towards her, similar to what he did to Rinoa, but hissed instead. His mouth gaped open as if to bite into her face. Everyone pulled back, but not before Selphie did. A gasp from the Tilmitt girl could be heard when she saw Squall’s eyes open wide, irises completely shut, hiding the pupils. The spectacle only took a moment before his mouth laxed and his eyes closed.

“Bad dream.” Dismissed Rinoa, looking down at Squall, who continued to doze away.

Zell glared at the speaker with an unsure look. “That must have been some dream.” He leaned past Irvine and Selphie, with none of them being the least bit pleased of his butting in.

Squall had started mouthing words again. None knew what he was saying but Zell. Out of the five standing, he had self-taught himself to read lips. On odd thing for Zell to learn something by himself.

Eldi i mrünir svaka vri tnung? Duristhi illa.” Whispered Squall, in Alcauldian.

“Who the hell’s Cloak?” Zell asked in general, not expecting an answer as he gazed down at his friend with a puzzled look.

But he did get a response. With lightning reflexes, Squall had grabbed hold of his neck, squeezing his throat with unexpected force.

The action startled Zell. “HAEDA MOTÉ!” [HOLY SHIT!]

The heart monitor started to go wild again. Outside the door, one could hear another loud whisper of “oh, crap”, and in rushed Dr. Kadowaki. Again.

The doctor and Irvine yanked Zell away, as Rinoa and Quistis withdrew Squall’s murderous grip.

“Friggin’ hell,” he gasped, rubbing his throat, “he’s got a good grip for someone who’s lost more then two pints of juice.” The heart monitor slowed to normal as Rinoa lowered Squall’s arms.

“Is that normal?” Selphie asked Dr. Kadowaki.

“Well, that dose of electrical magic I gave him to steady his heart must have given him the muscle spasm.” The doctor answered.

Electrical magic, were Quistis’s thoughts. You never told us you had any kind of magic, not alone electrical! Unless… “You use GF?”

“Of coarse I do. Everyone in this school does. The Headmaster, the staff, the cafeteria workers. Even the plumber has one.”

A GF was short for Guardian Force, and was the backbone of their mercenary force: the SeeDs of Balamb Garden. An individual ‘junctioned’ with a GF, to acquire the power that he, she, or it, contained. They were what made the SeeDs appear super human to the rest of the world. The downside was a theory that stated that the junctioning of a GF could result in memory loss. So far, it was just a theory, but Quistis, along with Selphie, Zell, Squall, and to a lesser extent, Irvine and Rinoa, had reasons to believe that it was true.

Quistis looked concernly at Dr. Kadowaki. “Aren’t you afraid it could wipe out half your med classes?”

“Half my ‘what’ now?” The doctor blankly returned the question.

“Good for you Doc,” congratulated Irvine, “why listen ta those GF critics?”

“The GF whosis?”

“Hey, Dr. K.!” Piped Selphie, her hand up in the air as if she were asking a question in class. “Why did you say Squall strangled Zell again?” From her expression, it was obvious she had missed the explanation the first time around.

“Well, like I said before,” started Dr. Kadowaki, “it’s because of the…” there was a pause as she was trying to remember what reason she had given before. “It doesn’t matter, this be most he’s slept in…many years. Wouldn’t you agree Quistis?”

Quistis replied inanely, “Probably. He’s been known to get no more then three hours of sleep on a lot of nights.”

“Three hours of sleep,” Restated Rinoa, “no wonder he’s such a grouch.”

Kadowaki looked over to the speaker with a soft smile. “Yeah, that’s probably it.” Then the doctor left the room. The sounds of electronic pinball fallowed shortly, as well as a few ‘whoops’ and cheers.

The five teenagers stood still for a while, listening to Dr. Kadowaki continue knocking some pixel rendered marble about on her computer. They finally looked back at each other, then down at Squall, who was still sleeping.

Irvine finally broke the silence. “Do you think he’s naked under those sheets?”

“Have you no remorse?” Snapped Rinoa. “The guy nearly died, and all you can think of is naked men!”

Both Quistis and Zell shuddered at those words, what with a picture in their minds they didn’t want there in the first place.

“I’ll check!” Selphie volunteered with a mindless smile.

Now, everyone in the room shuddered, arching their heads back as Selphie lifted up the white sheet.

“Oh my GOD!” She quickly placed the sheet back down. Looking up, she continued, “when was the last time he ate?”

The group murmured between them, with only shreds of hints, no real answers.

Symbolically, Zell waved his hand in front of him as a sign of dismissal. “Psht, he had more important things to worry about.”

“Oh,” Irvine quipped, “and I suppose you know when the last time you ate was?” His question was more of an insult then it sounded.

“Sure do.” Bragged Zell.

“When was it?”

“How the hell should I know?”


Still asleep, Squall began to dream.

He was in a small, rectangular room. About a meter and a half long and a meter wide. The walls were of the barest of plywood, painted cyan. At the front of the room was a single brown, wooden door, consisting of a singe brass knob. The lentil was gone, with only a bare edge of white plywood, and several rusted nails told of where it should have been.

The floor was covered in dirty black tile, with marbled speckles of equally dirty beige. A singe window hung on the right wall of the door, and the left of him. The sky outside was a dingy white, and the telltale signs of a dead tree could bee seen.

He did not dare to look out of it though. From his still position, Squall sat in the corner, adjacent to the walls that held the door, and the window, with his arms wrapped around in knees, looking intently from time to time, at the window, and the door. He was dressed in a baggy, V-necked cotton shirt, and a pair of cotton slacks that were just as baggy. As pale blue in color as the walls, his shirt would probably have hung down past his hips if he were standing up, and the cuffs of his pants would have dragged on the dirty ground, partially covering his bare feet.

The look of the white window scared him. The dread emitting from it came in the rapid burst of a machine gun. Secretly, he dreaded what he would see on the other side.

The doorknob turned suddenly. Squall looked over towards it, welcoming whatever was on the other side as much as he welcomed the sight beyond the window. The door opened, and in stepped some sort of nurse. The woman was short and stalky, with brown hair tied up in a bun. On top of her head was the standard nurse’s hat, and around her waist, the plain white skirt of the nurse’s uniform, the top half looked as if it had been torn off.

Even though she was topless, the woman was far from a teenage horndog’s greatest hospital wishes. It was true she had breasts, and big ones, but they had three nipples each, and were scarred to the point they looked almost reddy-brown. The skin on the front of her stomach looked as if it had been cut off, and protruding under it, was a metallic tube, held together by rawhide strips that were sewn though her skin, and wrapped around the bloodied exterior of the pipe. The left half of her face looked as if it had been blown off with a shotgun at close range. As for the existing half, there was something…not so tangible, that didn’t suggest she was human, but it was hard to describe.

She began to speak, in the smooth voice of a middle-aged woman. “Appalling Pace, the doctor is here to see you.” She spoke Alcauldian, and Squall knew that ‘Appalling Pace’ meant him.

The nurse threw open the door the rest of the way, revealing the same creature he had seen before he had become conscious. Her seven tongues lashed from her mouth, waving around and licking her lips. Pointed ears rose from their flattened positions on her head. Those eyeless sockets locked on Squall. Behind her, was a stretcher. Beyond that, the same pale light he had been dreading to see.

As Squall reluctantly gazed towards the black entity’s eye sockets, a sudden, internal force struck his nerve. Images began to come forward, this time, being more defined then before.

A spider crawled across a flooded road and got sucked in a drainpipe. A heavy chain that was being cut in half with sowing sheers. A human head floating on acid and slowly dissolving. The torn remains of a dove. A dagger slowly melting on an ocean cliff. A naked, skin-and-bones rabbit with a dirty syringe stuck in it’s back as it hopped along an oak wood floor. Human intestines being sleuthed through an old spinning wheal.

Squall received a third person view of his face. His skin had grown unnaturally pale. His mouth hung open limply, lips almost as pale as his skin and peeling, revealing two sets of tartar streaked teeth. His hair fell limply about his face, the color was dulled and graying. His bangs nearly hid his eyes, but he could see that they contained dark circles underneath. The eyes, themselves, were colorless, dilated, bloodshot, and glassy, giving off a blank stare. Finally, the diagonal scar on his face, the one that started at the top of his right eyebrow and headed diagonally down underneath his left eye, was bleeding.

The view of his degenerated features only lasted a second before he was brought back to his previous first person view.

Walking over towards him, the nurse forcefully took hold of his left forearm, hauling him to a standing position.

Last he recalled of the nightmare, he was being dragged by the nurse towards the cloaked figure, while screaming with all dreamlike might.


Selphie had told her to relax, but it was hard for Rinoa to do that when everybody was starting at her. As Quistis had stated earlier, the Garden was throwing a party for the recent banishment of two of the greatest witches to walk the earth, present and future. Word of Ultimicia hadn’t been widespread to many of the students; so much of them believed that it was a celebration of the victory over Adel, and their conquering of the Lunatic Pandora, which was now part of Garden by the rule of ‘to the victor go the spoils’. The same thing couldn’t have been said about the Estherian flagship: Ragnarokk. The Estherain government upon their arrival back to their city had claimed the grand dragon ship. A physician there even took the time to look at Squall. But, due to Estherian law, as a foreigner, he was not allowed into any hospital. Instead, they filled him with their synthetic blood, gave him several prescriptions, and sent them back to Garden on a separate ship. Last Rinoa heard of the Ragnarokk, was that it was in some docking station in the Estherain Desert. And the Lunatic Pandora; was still in it’s origonal position over Tear’s Point.

Rinoa wished they hadn’t dropped her off at the Garden. Many of the students she didn’t know were giving her funny looks, and she had a good idea why they were doing just that. It was probably a very ironic scenario to have been told they were to defeat the sorceress, to have defeated several sorceresses, and then have one invited back home. She was just lucky that none of them were to bring any weapons or magic into the ballroom. But even through all prejudges, she could find console in one person.

She found that person on the balcony at the far side of the ballroom, leaning on the railing. His ebony attire that was a means of intimidation was welcoming to her sight. It kind of reminded her of a black cat.

Or, a black lion. She thought.

Regardless of her advances, Squall remained oblivious. His own mind wasn’t on the battles, the trials of the Sorceress, or the achievements of SeeD. No, they were on ghostly black cloaks, hairless rabbits, corroding heads, skeletal figures with wings, and empty rooms.

His own deathly features that were presented to him in his semiconscious were none to easily to forget. What had the whole episode meant? Was it shock? A brief psychotic episode? He didn’t doubt either one of those theories, but neither could he carry past those images. So intent was he in his thoughts, that the sea he was staring at was as a dark weave of thorns and black smudges. The stars barely registered, and the moon, split into two spirals that mingled and mixed into a milky way of smears and garbled reminiscing.

As Rinoa stepped up beside him, she noticed his eyes were wide and containing no blinks. His mouth was a gape, and saliva streamed out freely. She had seen his thinking face before, but the one she was seeing before her was a new one.

It didn’t worry her that much that he had suddenly changed his thinking face. He had nearly died, and was probably still feeling a bit under the weather.

Rinoa remembered, only about four hours earlier, how much Dr. Kadowaki had protested when Squall had demanded to get up and start walking. The doctor was shocked when she saw him get up off the bed and stand. He only kept his balance for a few second, but he still stood up! Dr. Kadowaki had said that it was a bloody miracle that he could have even sat up, what with just having come out of consciousness only a few hours before. When she had imposingly volunteered to help him up, the doctor had nearly screeched when she saw that he was taking weak, but effective steps forward as Rinoa held him up. The woman had actually gotten on her knees and prayed to Hyne Herself for what she had seen. Rinoa wasn’t that religious, but she had to admit that what Squall had achieved was one hell of a task for his condition.

He had refused to come to the party, but the fight he put up wore him out in only a few seconds, so he had no choice. Quistis had been the one who had brought him in, hobbling and complaining, and had been the one to drop him off at the balcony. It was a mutual agreement, she wanted to go and mingle, and he wanted to go some place quiet. The decision to do so was his better call. Many of the students had approached him with, either questions, or comments. From what Rinoa had heard first hand from Quistis, was that he had gotten ornery. If the cursing wasn’t what made her say that, it was the nipping. Unfortunately, his bite was only the equivalent to gumming, and that made Squall even madder. She had been tempted to set him down at one of the tables… then Zell came.

Rinoa shook Squall’s shoulder lightly, careful not to knock him over.

Instantly, his sluggish expression snapped back to his alert self. “I swear I was listening!”

“Oh, really,” Rinoa began, “then what did I say?”

“Huh, d’you said something Rinoa?” Asked Squall, absently looking at her.

“Well, I don’t know?” She teased. “What do you think I said?”

“Okay, then you said nothing.”

Angrily stunned, she looked appallingly at him. “Is that the way your world works? If you don’t hear what anyone says, they never said it?” She noticed that Squall was staring out into the night again. Apparent to her, was that he didn’t hear her latest comment either. “Are you listening?”

“Why is it, that when we look at a black button,” babbled Squall, “it looks black and not green?”

Terrific. She thought with disgust. Just peachy. I escape the hoards of stares and sour curses to listen to sass back. Well, it could be worse, I could be stuck with that librarian girl while she watches Zell stuff his face.

Her expression became softer as she spoke again. “Let’s start this night off better.”

“This night blows.” Spat Squall.

“Well…there is the party, isn’t that nice?”

“This party stinks.”

“I bet your just saying that because your tired?”

“No, I’m saying this because I’m tired, mad, and hungry.”

Rinoa gave him a scowl. “Must you be so cynical?”


Okay, new tactic. She thought. This questions and answers business ran into the wall a long time ago. Rinoa looked longingly out into the waves. At their distance, and the speed of the Garden, the darkened surface looked as still as bumpy, dark glass.

Squall stared outwards with her. As was before, Rinoa didn’t doubt that he was off somewhere else, as always. But, that was not the case. He saw what she was getting at, and looked higher, up to the stars, his gaze fixing on a constellation.

“Victicious.” He started.

Rinoa, startled that he spoke, looked up at him. “Come again?”

“The giant flounder,” with a trembling hand, he pointed towards a pattern of stars, “Victicious.”

“Victicious,” mouthed Rinoa, “I’ve never heard of that constellation.”

“What constellations do you know about?”

“Well,” she started, looking longingly out at the night sky. “I know Centra constellations, and some Galbadian. Like the Summer Ox.” Then she pointed to another patch of stars in the sky. When connected, they made the shape of winged ox.

Squall fallowed the direction of her pointing finger. He had heard of the Summer Ox years ago when he was talking up astrology.

“Victicious the flounder,” he began to explain, “is a Dollet constellation.” He made a more accurate motion towards the two stars that served as the flounder’s eyes. “The story of Victicious goes,” began Squall, still pointing towards the stars, “there once was a Dollet emperor who had this enormous treasure hoard that kept growing and growing. Many monsters and thieves coveted the treasure, and stole from the trove on several different occasions. When the treasure had almost been completely depleted, the emperor hide the treasure in the ocean where he thought it would be safe. But wyrms and nymphs would make off with small amounts. Many of the fish of the ocean guarded the hoard faithfully: sharks, dolphins, eels, jellyfish, even whales, but they were no match for the wyrms and nymphs, until a hideous little flounder volunteered. Victicious was not strong enough to fend off the monsters, but it was good at leadership, and soon amassed a grand army. Victicious became successful in alerting it’s army of thieves, as he was so small, and hid in the mud so easily.

“Now, the treasure began to grow again. It grew so big that it filled every corner of the ocean, and Victicious’ army was unable to patrol it all. So, feeling cheated, his followers killed him. But the emperor found favor with the flat fish, and prayed to the gods that it would still protect his treasure.

“They granted his wish, by placing him among the stars, so he can see the whole ocean in one glance.”

As Squall finished, Rinoa stood by, completely flabbergasted. “I can’t believe that came out of your mouth.”

“Neither can I.” He agreed.

“When did you become such a storyteller?”

“Don’t recall. Don’t care.” Squall became silent once again. He began to think of his dreams, and now, he had a theory of what they might have meant.

Rinoa actually liked my story. He thought happily. No one has liked them before, and she didn’t tell me it was pagan nonsense. She doesn’t care. Maybe I shouldn’t? Maybe that’s how the social society works? He looked over at the young sorceress as she, herself, looked out over the ocean in serene silence. He stole a glance at the dark waves. Either it was the light from the Garden, or some side effect of weariness, but the water appeared to be glowing a faint violet. It was pretty hypnotizing, for him at least.

Then she turned to look up at him again, but this time, with no distain or annoyance. A contented smile showed, and Squall was perplexed at what it might have meant.

Oh, you’re happy. He thought, his ability to read facial expressions was as slow as always. Ok. I can understand that.

The smile brought him a sense of near nostalgia, of when he first met her, at that very Garden, at that very time of day. He loved the part of her that didn’t really seam to care that much about other’s opinions, and that thought was enough to make him smile himself.

My face is goinna be sore in the morning.

Motioning for an embrace, Squall did not stop her, although he was skittish. Eventually, Rinoa’s confident movements egged him, it was her confidence that warmed him in the first place, and it gave him the courage to kiss her. It was an awkward kiss, as Rinoa had to use all her strength to keep Squall from falling down on her.


“I told you this was a piece of junk.” Irvine whined to Selphie, holding a video camera up in front of her face. “I was about to get Rinoa and Squall in the middle of somethin’ spicy, and this thing,” he motioned to the camera, “conks out on me!”

“Don’t worry,” cooed Selphie, “it’s Squall, you probably didn’t miss anything.”

“I beg to differ! I’ve done this couple watching too long to not know when something of apparent watching is about to take place.”

“You pervert! You’d be called a pervert here, you know?”

“I was called a pervert in Galbadia, but that didn’t stop me!”

Notes for Clarity: Just in case you are wondering; no world is ever a world without diversity, no matter what argument you can come up with. Okay, maybe that’s just a personal statement, but it’s true, a world is so dull in just black and white. So that’s why I have handed out separate languages, and even accents. This way, the world of FFVIII is more of a ‘world’ and not some giant colony of semi-monocultured Caucasians (I’m aware that Kiros and Raijin appear of a different race, so there is no need to point that out).

Chapter 2

General Wyvern's Fanfiction