Hand of Ice Chapter 11

Genesis of Strychnine

By General Wyvern

Unlike what she had said earlier at Garden, Selphie did not go all the way to Yaulny by chocobo. Sometime near the end of the first day, she felt sorry for Sly and rented a car at the next town. Being close enough to the Galbadian boarder, she was lucky that there was someone there who could speak Galbadian.

She was also pleased to find a radio station that spoke in a language she could understand, not that she could keep up with the fast paced lyrics. Sly had been stuffed in the back seat of the car, and was passing the time by pecking at the seats.

Selphie drove the car like a mad woman, nearly hitting two animals, a monster, actually hitting a monster, and narrowly missing a human pedestrian. Though, her driving would have been better if she wasn’t too concentrated on the song on the radio, and was watching the road. She ended up driving right off the road and into a bramble of yellow snake horns.

The soft thorns from the plant weren’t enough to puncture the tough, summer thawed rubber tires, but they did manage to stick themselves to the fender of the sickly green car. Miraculously, she had gotten onto the road again as she was wildly turning the steering wheel to her off-key singing. It was pure dumb luck.

Traffic had been efficiently light, but grew heavier as she drove onto the Yaulny Canyon Bridge. The canyon was a popular tourist attraction, and commercial sites were busy on both sides of the bridge. However, the traffic wasn’t bad enough that she had to break several times because of a jam, but she did cause minor accidents as other drivers stared at her, wondering why there was a chocobo sticking its head out the back seat window. Sly gave all the cars that passed by a hardy ‘Wark! Wark’.

Selphie didn’t hear the desperate squealing of tires. The map in front of her was taking up too much of her thinking.

“Let’s see.” She spoke to herself, tracing the route she had taken with her finger while keeping her feet on the steering wheal. “I’ve traveled five hours from the outskirts of Roshfall, I am now somewhere over Yaulny Canyon in the Yaulny Canyon territory, so that gives me…”

Scrivens had given her the map, and had marked the North Yaulny Hospital with a standard X. He had also given her the best route, the same one that was taken by July, Cameron, and Nida. On the map, it showed that the hospital was smack dab in the middle of the jungle, anyone desperate, and stupid enough to escape from that place would need a miracle to see the plains of either Timber or Galbadia.

Sly, who had grown impatient, started to nuzzle Selphie’s shoulder, as if asking when he could get out. Giggling, she shoved his beak away. Sly kept up a few more times, but decided against it when he realized Selphie wouldn’t give in.

He gave a chirping whine, Selphie looked solemnly to see what was the matter.

She gave the chocobo a gentle pat on the head. “Don’t worry boy, you’ll get out soon. Just as soon as I can find that hospital.” She grabbed the burlap bag she kept on the passengers seat, putting a hand in; she took out a hand full of greens. “I bet your hungry?” She asked the bird. Sly chirped excitedly when he saw the greens in her hand. She gave them to him, and he snatched the greens with is beak, crunched them and swallowed them. The chocobo gave a ‘Wark! Wark!’ of his approval, but he still wanted to know when he would get out to stretch his legs.

While Selphie was intent on giving Sly those greens, she did not notice how she swerved from lane to lane several times, causing a major riot with the other drivers.

§

Seifer sat on the dingy old couch in his loft, thinking.

Fujin had come home last night and asked how it had gone with him and Squall. He told her plainly that they had refused him entry. He was very near ready to drop the subject and just feel good knowing that Leonhart would rot in the institute, until Fujin brought up a brainstorming subject.

“BIT HIS HAND!”

“How?” Asked Raijin.

“JUST BIT IT. BLED BADLY!”

“How badly?”

Fujin ignored that question, since ‘badly’ meant ‘badly’. She didn’t stop, though. “BLED BLACK BLOOD!”

“Black blood.” Seifer scowled. “How much of that gossip do you believe?”

“NO LIE! TRANSFERRING!”

“Transferring!” Raijin repeated. “Whoah! I guess they wouldn’t want to let him get away if they think it’s that bad, ya know.”

Seifer gave the big guy a sarcastic sneer. “No Raijin, they probably wouldn’t want someone with black blood running free in the jungle…” He stopped. The first click in his head sounded. “Fujin! Did you perchance hear where he’s going?”

“RUMORS! BIGGEST ONE, THE G.B.N.!”

The G.B.N: Galbadian Blancon Nutweb. Translation: Galbadian Federal Intelligence. A second click.

Stooping over in thought, Seifer began to scheme. Let’s see. The G.B.N. That’s a big rumor. The staff is apparently scared. Raijin has a point, they don’t want Leonhart loose. Why do I care? Let’s analyze. If Leonhart were to go missing, they would want him back. They would pay to get him back. That’s it! But do I want to sacrifice my pride for profit. Hell yeah. Seifer, you devious bastard you! “Listen up and listen good!” He announced to his posse. “I’ve just got a plan to wipe out our financial problems for a couple months… hopefully a year.”

“SPEAK!” Demanded Fujin.

“Okay, but first. Is there anyone who could be eavesdropping? Nah, screw that! We’re goinna kidnap Squall ‘The Freak of Nature’ Leonhart!”

Expectedly, the other two were astonished that Seifer would do such a thing.

Raijin spoke up first. “Well, why?”

“Because, you genius! What if he did escape. They’re goinna want him back. And in that jungle, they won’t find him by themselves, they’re goinna need help.”

“So…we help them?” Asked Raijin absentmindedly.

“Better. The reason why we kidnap Psycho Squall is because, when they demand a reward for his capture, we bring him in, unharmed, and we collect.”

“But what if someone else finds him before us, ya know?”

“MORON!” Fujin gave him a swift kick in the shin for his stupidity.

Seifer continued. “They won’t find him, because we will have him! You lunk head! I take back what I said about you being a genius!”

Still nursing his maimed shin, Raijin looked towards him with a vacant stare. “When was I a genius?”

“In a distant fairy tale.”

“Cool, I love fairy tales, ya know.”

“So do I Raijin.” Seifer sighed, thinking about how good it would be if he had a bit more brains. “So do I.”

Now, he sat alone, thinking about how he would go about his grand kidnapping campaign. In other words, waiting for that third click.

§

Skid marks were etched onto the damp gravel as Selphie pulled into the hospital parking lot. It wasn’t a very big lot, only big enough for a dozen vehicles. The SeeD got out of her car, the ball and letter in hand, also remembering to keep the windows open for Sly. The chocobo poked his head out of the window, making soft warking sounds. Selphie reassured the chocobo she was coming back, then stroked his head.

She left the chocobo with a smile. Ambling over the gravel lot, she looked around her. She had been in the jungle before. Also, hidden behind all that thick foliage were predators, quicksand, parasites, and also monsters. Some of the larger ones she could hear, roaring and hissing in the distance along with a chorus of birds’ chirps and mammalian hoots. The building in front of her was of large stone brick, no older then fifteen years, but the humidity and severe weathering of the rain forest made it look twice its age.

Ascending the steps, she could hear Sly’s warks from the parking lot. Regardless, she continued to the white double doors. Pushing the huge doors open, she came into a room with yellow tiling, hanging glass lanterns on the ceiling, white walls, and a great big window at least ten feet tall to her left. The wall behind the reception desk wasn’t white, but simple red brick, beside it were the sterile halls that led into the actual hospital.

Selphie looked towards the few chairs put to the side of the reception for a waiting area, a couple of people were there, looking at the tiny portable TV set on a small birch coffee table. Another window was behind that waiting room, of the exact height and width as the one it was adjacent to. It was too bad that the side of the brick hospital could still be seen, or the view of the tropical brush would have been perfect.

A younger man, less experienced, and less mean, replaced the stingy nurse that was at the reception desk when Seifer was there. Even if it would have been that old nurse, Selphie trotted forward to the desk, trying to keep a cheery face in the dismal atmosphere.

“Hello. I’m looking for a Squall Lennon…Leo…Lin…how many patients by the name of ‘Squall’ do you have here?” Selphie asked the receptionist in Classical Galbadian.

The receptionist gave an inane look at her for a second before he got out a large list of patients. He scrolled through the ‘S’s quickly.

“We have only one.” He answered, but spoke in New Galbadian. Selphie wasn’t surprised of the use of language, as they were pretty close to the border with Monterosa.

“Okay, then I’m here to see the only Squall in this hospital.”

“I’m sorry miss,” he started, “but I’ve been told that that patient isn’t allowed any visitors.”

“Are you sure?” She gave him a whiney look, quit natural for her to give, but the receptionist took it as a flirt, not that he minded. He was also taken in by her Nywll accent.

He decided to stick to his job. “Yes, I am very sure. A name like ‘Squall’ is very unique. When you are told that a certain patient with a unique name is to not have any visitors, it’s very hard to forget that very unique name.”

Selphie took a second to work out what the receptionist had said to her. “Oh, well, can I still deliver somethin’?” She showed him the ball and letter she carried under her arm. The young receptionist became stuck between two decisions that seemed to smear into each other: let the girl in so she can deliver her gift herself, or turn her down and give the patient the gift himself. Thinking it over a bit, being rather new at the job, he figured Selphie was probably Squall’s sister. True, she looked nothing like him, but that didn’t mean much, not all siblings needed a resemblance. She couldn’t have been a friend, because, in his short period of experience, he learned that family put the patients in the hospital, and the friends knew nothing.

“Tell you what,” he told her quite friendly like, “go wait over their in the waiting room and I’ll bring him out.”

Selphie’s face lit up with the brilliance of a supernova. “Really?”

The receptionist nodded that he would. Joyfully, she left to go sit in one of the seats while he went to get another nurse to bring him Squall.

The chairs in the corner were of two kinds: those that were simply made of spruce planks and painted black, there weren’t many of those. The second kind, were all fitted with red padding, and were worn on some of them. Selphie took one of the padded ones. The top left corner of the backrest was a bit ripped. The two visitors that were there looked up to see who had come, then, having their curiosity sated, they looked away again. The TV on the coffee table was stuck on a Timber game show, but it wasn’t worth watching, the horrible reception had eaten away the colour and drowned out most of the sound with all its frequency fuzz.

She waited for an hour, all the while, not loosing her oblivious smile. One of the visitors, an older man, looked at her several times as if to say: ‘why the hell are you so happy?’ The receptionist returned, pushing Squall in a wheel chair. He was outfitted with a robe that had been tied around at the waist. His wrists and ankles were tied down to the chair. Selphie noticed his head was bowed, as if he were asleep.

With her usual, lively bound, she approached him, noticing right away that he really was asleep. His hair hung limp, and his hands and feet were of more white then what were considered healthy, with nails that had grown a bit. Most other patients got their nails clipped, but since he was so new, the staff wasn’t taking him as serious.

The receptionist nurse let go of the handles on the chair. “He’s yours for an hour.”

Selphie shot her head up towards him, looking very surprised. “An hour?”

“Yes, the nurse who usually looks after him had just chosen this time to take her break. So, you have him for an hour. You can take him to the recreation room just down the hall. I can take you there. Just keep in mind, he bites.”

“Just a second.” Selphie remarked, tilting Squall’s chin up so she could see his face. His complexion had gone pallor and emaciated, his lips were thinner then she remembered, and his eyelids held a deep shad of purple, but she still recognized the scar between his eyes.

Selphie let his head drop limply back. “Yeah, that’s him.”

She took hold of the handles of the chair and fallowed the nurse down the hall. He led them to a large, quarter circle room at least twelve feet high. The wall with the door was a simple white, but the straight wall beside it was a red brick, with several bookshelves, a few potted plants, and chairs. Some patients with their nurses were there. The rounded part of the wall was one giant window, paned with metal triangles. The jungle view outside was even better then at the lobby. The bark of red palm and sequoia was clearly seen, hanging their lively greenery above them. Thick brush and ferns that completely covered the ground surrounded each tree. Selphie recognized the many wild, tropical flowers that grew all over the brambles: Blue rose, golden Bitter Sweets, pink and red Skink Wings, giant Endwon petals, several tropical species of mistletoe, and violet Spindle Weels. The afternoon sun that shone down gave the outside a beautiful deep green glow. The floor of the room was of the same red brick, but they were not rectangular like on the walls, they were hexagonal. Some tables were set up by the window wall, one trio of patients, flanked by a doctor, were playing a game of Three Pronged Checkers. Another TV was in a corner, it wasn’t on, but was bigger, and looked, all-around, better then the one in the waiting room.

Selphie wheeled the sleeping Squall over towards a couch by the bookshelves. Sitting down on the brown cushions, she undid the straps at his wrists, then, she lifted his head up again.

“Wakey, wakey, Squall.” She called gently, slapping him softly on the cheek. He awoke, groggily and moaning. He blinked several times, getting his focus back to ultra sharp again. He saw Selphie sitting in front of him, and she saw how red the whites of his eyes had become

She gave him a toothy smile as her way of saying ‘good morning’, or, ‘good afternoon’.

“Oh God.” croaked Squall. “What hell do I thank for this?”

“You silly goose,” started Selphie happily, “you don’t thank hell, that’s the bad place.”

No! Really? He thought sarcastically.

“I’m here to cheer you up.” She added.

“That’s bad news, ya hear!” Yelled Cloak. “She’ll damn well yak your ears off. Why is it those with the smallest brains have the biggest mouths?”

He was not happy of her intrusion. “Shut your mouth Cloak.”

“Oh oh,” Selphie teased, “are you here because you hear things? You know, I heard voices are hard to get rid of.”

Squall gave her a vicious scowl. “No, I’m here because I killed someone of my own free will!”

“But you’re a mercenary. It’s in the job description to kill someone.”

Fine! He thought venomously. It’s not your business to know what happened!

“No, tell her. She’ll get a kick out of it.”

“What did I say about shutting up?”

“Oh, I can see you’re grumpy. Good thing I’m here for an hour.”

An hour! He looked around for anything to throw. He saw what Selphie had on her lap.

She noticed how he grabbed the ball with his spindly white fingers. “Rinoa wanted to give you that in person.” She started. Squall looked at Selphie as if she were lying.

Continuing: “She said she would come here herself, but she had stuff to take care of. So she sent me. It says so in her letter.” She pointed at the letter tapped to the ball. Squall saw it too. He took it off, and looked at it. On it, was no stamp, no address, and no return address, not even a name. He aimed to remove the yellow ribbon, but his fingers were much too jittery, and did not obey him well. He even tried using his teeth.

Selphie noticed this and took the parchment. “That’s not how you open a letter.” She started, still smiling. Squall gave her a secret scowl, angry at her transgression.

The envelope did open for her, and, at least she handed the paper back. Squall snatched it right out of her hands and began reading. It brought him comfort to hear how Rinoa was oblivious to what had happened, as her innocence was something to be cherished for him. Now he was free to die in peace.

He put the letter down and took up the ball with both hands. He turned it around several times, admiring its teal skin. He came to the symbol. Tracing it with his finger. First the ring, then the triangle, he began to recognize the seal. It seamed familiar. Why was it?

“I know what it means!” Cloaked teased. “I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS!”

“It’s pretty isn’t it?” Selphie asked.

Squall looked up at her. “Where did you get this?”

“Found it in some statue in a big house in Timber.”

“You found it in prison?”

“I didn’t say the big house. I said a big house.”

“A corporate building?”

Selphie giggled as if he said something funny. “Squall, why do you care so much about where we got it.”

“This symbol. I’ve seen this stamped all over the Deep Sea Research Centre.”

“But we didn’t find it anywhere near the sea.”

“Ask her who she fought for it.”

Squall obeyed. “Who did you fight this for?”

“No one. There was, just this scuffle between the Forest Owls, and this other group they call the Forest Bears, and this big GF that this one girl had blew the statue apart, and out came that ball. It also came with this really cool purple crystal rock, but Rinoa didn’t think you’d like it so she just sent the ball.”

He looked over at Selphie stoically, then back at the ball. He hugged it, relishing the feeling that Rinoa didn’t remember him for a free lancing killer. In that instant, Cloak seemed to go quiet.

“Aww,” quirked Selphie, watching how Squall hugged the innate ball. “Group hug!” She extended her arms with another of her impassible smiles. Squall growled at her like a bulldog as soon as he saw this, so she put her arms down again.

“Okay, no group hug then.” Concluded she, putting her hands back to her sides.

§

Squall had gotten the strength to walk with Selphie to the front door, flanked, of coarse, by two nurses, whom he had come to hate.

The girl waved goodbye to him as if she were going to see him again very soon. He, however, knew better, which was why he did not lift a hand, but continued to hold tightly onto the ball. He watched her leave, sauntering down the gravel lot towards both her rentals. He also wondered why there was a chocobo in the back seat of her car.

Throughout the last hour, she had talked mainly of what the Forest Owls were doing, and spared no detail of how Rinoa was getting along, to his great relief. Though, he was a bit concerned about that financial slump Selphie mentioned. She even goaded him into writing a letter back. Squall was highly reluctant, he wasn’t sure he could have written anything that would give him away, or sound like he was whining. He wasn’t even sure if the doctors would even allow him to use a writing utensil.

But, he did not forget to tell Selphie to not mention where he was, or how he got there. She had obliged easily to his wish, saying flat out that she would not say a thing. Then, she urged him to tell him how he was doing. He found the question highly amusing, but didn’t show the slightest emotion.

“I’m in a goddamn nut house.” He scolded at her. “What do you think?”

“Well…did you make any new friends?” She asked innocently.

He gapped inanely at her.

“Well,” she started to explain, “you are in a mental hospital. I was thinking that you would, you know, find someone with a common interest.”

He still stared at her.

“Well then, tell me how that blood thing is going with you?”

“I bit my hand, and it bled.”

“Yeah, that nurse at the reception desk told me you were a biter.”

“My blood was black.”

“Quistis told me that fake blood was a funny colour.”

“I’ve heard they wanted to transfer me to the Deling Front.”

“Hey! It’s a free trip!”

“They’re not taking me on a tour you ditz!”

“Now, now. Ditz is a very sexist name. Why not use rock head, or chowder brain, they’re not sexist in the least.”

“Glad to.”

A stationed nurse several times for issuing several violent threats every time Selphie said something stupid hit him on the head with a newspaper. It went much like that for a few more minutes until Nurse Gret, short for Gretta, who was looking after him, told her it was time to leave.

Now, he stood on the top of the stone steps, watching Selphie drive away. The flanking nurses turned him away from the outside. He barely heard the door close behind him. Turned around, back towards the hospital, were Nurse Gret and Dr. Karrion, also known by the other patients as Dr. Raven, since he had black hair, and the nature to feed off the pain and grief of his patients. He wasn’t so sure, but Squall thought he was deaf in one ear.

Squall let out a warning hiss towards his doctor as he came towards him. Gret held out a syringe filled with anesthesia. The stagnant yellow ooze looked no better then a dose of strychnine. He stopped hissing, backing up instead. The two nurses behind him stopped him from stepping too far away.

The doctor approached him professional like. “Did that girl give you that ball?” He spoke the chosen tongue of New Galbadian, but there was a distinctive hint of a Dollet accent in his voice. His patient refused to answer, choosing, rather, to move the ball further away from his sight. The nurse on his immediate left took hold of the ball forcefully. Squall tried pulling away from him, but the other nurse grabbed him unskillfully by the neck and forearm. He submitted easily, but still unwillingly.

As the other nurse took the ball, he gave it to Dr. Raven to examine. The doctor turned it around, pressing it in various places for durability. After a few moments, he concluded that the ball was of no real danger to Squall, or anyone else. Too hard for him to pop, or even bite into, yet soft enough that it could not cause any damage. He also noted that there was not seam on the rubber, no mark of where it was molded. It was a perfectly round ball.

He gave the ball back, but instead of snatching it, Squall did not reach for it until the nurse let go of him. Gret took hold of his hand less forcefully then the others, leading him back into the wheal chair she had brought with her.

Dr. Raven gave her a few last words before she took her patient back to his cell. “Make sure that ball stays in his room, it could be a problem if he rolled it all over the hospital.”

Nurse Gret agreed, then, walked off towards the wards.

§

Half of the plan had been pieced together, but Seifer was still missing some crucial elements.

It was decided that the next day, Fujin would have to go back to work to do a bit of undercover studying. Find out any and all entrances and exists. Bring back any information she could about their security system, and any information about the staff and patients that would come in handy.

The next day, she held true to the plan. She discovered the entrances and exits.

The first noticeable entrance was the main door, but it stood as highly monitored and too obvious. There was another, less obvious way in through the back by the cafeteria and kitchen. The security wasn’t high, but its strategic position would have been tricky, and detection would have been high regardless. Windows on the fifth and fourth floor were opened, but only in the afternoon, and they were also monitored; heavily, as if it were common for some escapee to jump out of them. They could have also gotten in through the basement. Security was higher then what would have been expected. But, as Fujin found out by mid afternoon, it branched off into several areas: the kitchen, the security control, where the only place that any real money was spent, the children’s psychiatry ward, and the furnace room. A skylight was built on the roof, accompanied by overgrown ivy on the walls, and the grand sequoias that grew above the whole complex. It would have not been difficult to get to it. The problem was, getting back out the same way.

The whole security system was built as such, that it concentrated more on keeping people in, rather then keeping them out. It wasn’t hard to see why they chose to do so. Their position in the jungle would have made it rather hard for intruders too get to them in the first place. So the main problem lay with keeping their patients out of the jungle. Much of the windows were equipped with the latest in heat sensors and electro shock. If anyone were to touch it while the electrodes were on, they would get a nasty buzz. The windows that had this system were only on the first three floors. The last two floors only had motion detectors on them, and did not but alert security. There were several red, circular tiles that lined the floors of the hospital that were equipped with infrared sensors. These were turned on only after hours when much of the halls were quiet. The tiles, as Fujin had said, would not have been hard to see, but they would have been hard to avoid.

The danger patients sported was told by what floor they were on. The second floor being the most docile, the fifth floor, held the ones that where true troubled customers. Squall was on this one. It was widely known that at times, he would bite anything that moved, even his own hand. Fujin also told them that he was a bit weak for some reason, which made him ferocious when cornered. He had already injured three doctors and two nurses, and had stabbed himself in the thigh with a wooden stake, saying: “It won’t heal, why would I care!”

Odd things to find were cannibals, and there were three of them in the hospital. One doctor nearly lost his face to one of them, and another lost part of his arm before they sedated the patient. The children were not to be underestimated as well, that was how they lost five of them. Two escaped, two killed themselves, only one did so intentionally, and one received mercy killing.

The nurses, allotted Fujin, were not of the brightest lot. But the doctors were different, some even deserved to be patients.

After close deliberation, Seifer could find that the security system was pretty high, but held one great flaw. They trusted their staff too much. It was not worth it to just sneak into the hospital, highjack Squall, and disappear into the night, they would be caught trying to get out. The best route was for all of them to work undercover.

Fujin would return, as she had always, but she would not be alone. She would need to take the bus, and Raijin and Seifer would go with her. While she entered through the front as if nothing was wrong, the other two would head around too the back carrying a plastic bag with a few ‘essentials’: one smock with the alias of ‘Dr. Wynhan’, and one teal nurses uniform with the alias ‘Nurse Allymer’ on the nametag, a bottle of chloroform, thirty feet of rawhide rope, and a rag. Raijin would go in posing as a nurse, since he knew so little Galbadian; it was better for him to do so. If the nurses were as dense as Fujin made them out to be, he would have no trouble getting around. Since the doctors were of a different matter, and obviously smarter, Seifer would go in disguised as one of them.

He would find that Dr. Karrion, and, with the alibi that he had just arrived at the job, would hope that he would give him some much needed access. They would have to be patient for the entire operation to work. It would probably take them a few days at most for him to get Karrion to trust him enough to get access to Squall.

§

That day had passed with little known exuberance. Zell had made a traditional Balambese dish for the Forest Owls. Sadly though, he had to substitute most of the ingredients. The desired work was not as it should have been, but at least mainly Zell ate it.

Selphie had forgotten to drop the rental car off back where she got it, preferring to head none-stop back to Timber. Sly was still in the back. By now, he had pecked off enough of the covering on the drivers seat to reveal the metal frame.

The next day grew promising for Seifer and his posse as they began to execute their plan. It was going surprisingly nice. The nurses ignored Raijin, and the doctors, although wary, believed Seifer’s story. Their cover was nearly blown when he nearly ran into the receptionist who had refused him and Raijin entry. The only member of staff whom he assumed knew their true identity.

A convenience of hiding behind a corner helped him a lot. He couldn’t believe how he had missed that one detail. He hoped Raijin would know what to do if he were to confront that kobold.

“Hey Seifer!” Shouted the particular guy in question.

With surprise and irritation, Seifer spun around to face the phony nurse. “Raijin, where the hell did you come from?”

“Over there.” He pointed bluntly behind him to an elevator.

“That’s nice,” he commented sarcastically, “but next time, don’t shout so loud!”

“Why?”

“Because.” He took Raijin’s shirt collar and, pulling him forward, showed him the woman that was concerning him. She was talking to another nurse and could not see them.

“What about her?”

Seifer pulled him back from the corner again. “Do you remember that day when we first came here?”

“Sure. We were here to see Squall, ya know.”

“And that woman was the receptionist I talked to! If she sees us, it’s our heads on the nine-foot poker! So for now, try to avoid her at all costs. Got it?”

“Yeah. So would you like me to knock her over the head, or break her neck?”

“I said avoid her at all costs, not kill her at all costs!”

“Well, if you put it that way…”

“Just stay away from that woman.”

“You mean the one you called a kobold?”

“Yes, that one.”

A slight pressure, Seifer felt at his ankle, as if something small had bumped into him. He, fallowed by Raijin, looked down to see a teal, basketball-sized sphere. Absently, Seifer picked it up with both hands.

“Now where the hell did this come from?” He asked ignorantly.

Raijin pointed to the same elevator he came out of. “Maybe it came from over there, ya know.”

Seifer gave the ‘eye role’ to that remark.

From down the hall to his left, both of them noticed a middle-aged woman head their way, another nurse. At that point, it was hard to tell if she had heard any of what they said. It wasn’t worth running away; the kobold woman was still to the right of them.

Approaching them, Seifer found the best words he could use. “We weren’t talking about anything!”

The middle-aged nurse didn’t look at all like she had heard anything. “I don’t believe I’ve seen you around.” She started politely enough in New Galbadian. “I’m Nurse Gret, and I’d like that ball back.”

“Ball,” stated Seifer, a little taken aback, “what ball?”

“The one you’re holding. A patient has been screaming for it over an hour now.”

He looked absently at the ball in his hand, then, handed it over. Nurse Gret left them as soon as she held the sphere.

“Wow,” commented Raijin, “were you supposed to lose your cool like that?”

Seifer snapped a reply. “Shut up!”

Turning the corner, Nurse Gret was surprised to see that Squall was right in front of her.

Startled, but not wavering, she confronted him. “How did you get out of your room?”

“You left the door open.”

“Yes, but how did you undo the straps?”

“I threatened one of the nurses who was holding me down. What was his name? Jerk Ass?”

“No name calling. It’s always nice to call people by their real names.”

“If we always did what was nice, twenty-four-seven, we’d have no fun. Now, can I have Strychnine back?”

“Not until you promise to take your medication.” She tucked the ball, Strychnine, as Squall called it, under her arm and out of his immediate reach.

He moaned piteously. “But those ataracts taste like chalk.”

“Then no Strychnine.”

“Fine!” Gret extended the ball towards him, and Squall snatched it away. He cooed softly to the sphere as he wrapped his arms tightly around it, and rocked it gently like he would a newborn. It was an odd behavior for anyone to witness. But, as Nurse Gret saw it, since he had received that ball, he was becoming calmer, more docile towards the rest of the staff. Even stronger, she was surprised that he was walking by himself, though, he wasn’t allowed to be by himself. The ball, Strychnine, was probably a memento of some family, or friend he was really attached too.

She took hold of his arm, still wrapped around Strychnine. “Let’s go Squall, before Dr. Karrion finds out we’ve disobeyed him again.”

“Doc Raven doesn’t care if I jump out of a window.” He hissed. “All he cares about is drugging me up.”

“Squall, what did I say about that attitude of yours? You did promise already you would take those ataracts.”

“Or what?”

“Or I take Strychnine away.”

He wrapped his arms tighter around the ball. “You wouldn’t.”

“Yes I would.”

Squall whined an inaudible reply, turning his back to her.

“Don’t be like that Squall.” Started Gret, crossing her arms. “That won’t help you.”

I was wrong. He sighed inwardly. I didn’t leave Garden; I’m still there. I’m still expected to behave, and if I don’t, they take something away. Typical.

“Think of it this way,” she spoke, “taking your medication will get you more time with Strychnine.”

“Gosh, think you’ll pull an all-nighter thinking about that one, eh?” Cloak snickered.

Nurse Gret observed how he turned his head completely away from her. She had seen this ritual before, and it usually meant that Cloak was talking to him. His way of turning away from the face of another person was thought of to be a way of keeping his conversations quiet, though that theory wasn’t put to the test.

Still holding onto his arm, she led him away, trying her best not to walk too fast. It was at that time, she noticed, first hand he walked with a limp, and also noticed that a faint smell of felt marker was coming from him.

§

Dr. Raven had had Squall taken to one of the small offices on the first floor. To Squall, it looked more like an interrogation room one would see in a police station. All four walls were large brick and painted a creamy yellow, the door was wooden with the grey paint pealing at the corners. A single neon light fixture was on the ceiling, and directly below, a desk. Behind it sat Dr. Raven in a rotating chair, and in front of him, with his back to the door was his patient, beside him was his nurse, ready to use her taser on him if need be.

The doctor had Strychnine on his lap, and it angered Squall. The ataracts he had taken didn’t seem to help, and there was very little reason why they should have. Having been forced away from four other, completely unrelated drugs not so long ago, all the ataracts did was frustrate his system, and this frustration, was exactly what Cloak lived off of.

“I don’t recall giving that hose head permission to hold that rubber doodad!” She scowled. “In fact, why the hell aren’t you doing anything Appalling Pace?!”

Squall responded, his head turned away from the doctor. “I know what st appene”

“Then why don’t you fuckin’ do something?!”

Dr. Raven took that moment to speak to his patient. “Is there a problem Squall?”

The comment was seen as an unwelcome surprise. Squall turned around to face his doctor, his eyes wide open as if he were in shock, though he was truly pissed off.

He held out his thin, shell white hands. “Give me Strychnine.”

“Not until you tell me how Strychnine got away from you in the first place.” Remarked Dr. Raven.

Squall withdrew his outreached hands.

“Who the frikkn’ hell does that frikkn’ quack think he is, anywho?! Tell him anything about what happened and your synapse is goinna have a relapse!”

Dr. Raven waited awhile for an answer. “Squall…”

“I tell you nothing.” He hissed with a heavy Alcauldian slang. Nurse Gret moved closer, he could hear her turn on the taser.

The doctor gave his patient a surprised expression, the kind one would give if they were questioning a child. “Why can’t you tell me anything?”

“Because you wouldn’t care.”

“And why wouldn’t I?”

“Because Cloak doesn’t like you, and I don’t like you.”

“OH YEAH!” Started Cloak with enthusiastic victory. “Stick it to the man!”

“And does this Cloak tell you anything else?” He asked, reclining back on his chair.

“HEY! That jerk’s talking about me! If this were his job, then he’d have spoken about me earlier?! Oh, wait a minute. It is his job!” The entity garbled. “It’s time to remind him about that! APPALLING PACE…!”

“Yes!” He answered, turning his head away again.

“Did you hear what that bastard said?!”

“Yes, I heard everything he said!”

“Then DO something about it!”

“You know what,” he shouted back, getting up off the chair, “why don’t you do something about it! Since it’s your idea!”

In reaction, the nurse grabbed hold of Squall, trying her best to calm him down. Of coarse, he struggled. Gret held the taser up high, ready to zap the back of his neck. From on the doctor’s lap, Strychnine began to wobble a bit, then it shot away all by itself, hitting the taser out of Nurse Gret’s hand. The doctor saw what had happened, but before he could have assessed such an action, he had to assist in getting Squall under control.

§

The talk had stopped right then, and Squall was put back in his cell. Strychnine would have been confiscated, and completely out of his possession, but it was not in the office when Dr. Raven turned around.

Nor was it given back to Squall. It had rolled out into the hall after the confrontation, completely by itself. As if propelled by a specter, it rolled its way down the halls, bounced its way up the stairs, and bumped into a few ankles on its way to the fifth floor. Those that did notice Strychnine move around were too aghast to get down and pick it up, they all just stood where they were and stared at the odd activity before them.

It wasn’t until the fifth floor that it bumped into someone who took any real interest. Strychnine was going down the white tiled floors at its top speed: a mile an hour, when it bumped into the toes of someone else: Raijin.

With a curious delight, he bent down to look at the ball. As if it knew he was there, Strychnine stopped. Like the pupil of an eye, the golden symbol turned up to face Raijin.

“You’re that ball that bumped into Seifer, aren’t ya?”

The ball rolled away in response.

“Hey! Were ya going, ya know?” As if the ball were a living, breathing thing, Raijin went after Strychnine, jogging at a pace that, for him, would be slow, while the ball was giving all it had.

He fallowed it down several corners, not getting too close, but not too far either. Strychnine finally ran into one of the cell doors. It didn’t halt, but just kept running into the door, as if it were trying to knock. Raijin stopped just behind the door. Seeing the spectral movement of the ball made him feel sorry for it.

“D’ya want in here?” He asked it. Strychnine kept pelting the door anyway. “Okay then, ya know.” Politely, he opened the door wide enough for the ball to roll in. He didn’t stop once to question why there was no lock on it, since he was quite new to the place, and very oblivious, but he did feel curious as to what was inside that Strychnine so desperately wanted to get to.

The cell held wall to wall padding, as well as floor to ceiling padding, and a single window adjacent to him. It was dusk outside, and rather dim in the room before him. He noticed Strychnine rolling slowly to the left side of the room, then, bounced on its own onto something. The dim light didn’t make it easy to recognize the patient he saw.

“There you are.” He heard the patient rasp, voice weighed by sleep. “I thought you had run away again.”

Raijin stepped further into the cell to see whom it was.

Strapped by the wrists, and coved with a blue woolen blanket from his bust down, Squall looked at Raijin with glassy eyes weakened from the sudden light that came in through the open door. As for Raijin, he couldn’t really fathom what he was seeing.

A Squall he had seen held the strong, yet delicate features that reminded him of a tom cat, hair that held volume, strength, but fading colour, and eyes as vibrant as a noonday sky, and as cold as tempered steal. That was not what Raijin saw before him. It looked like someone had jammed a cord of chicken wire in his ear and stuck him in the basement for three days. Strychnine, had found a cozy spot next to his head.

“Hiya Squall,” Raijin greeted, sounding a bit overjoyed to see him. “You look awful, ya know.”

Squall looked at him with glazed eyes for a few more moments. “Raijin,” he croaked, “when you see Seifer, tell him to stick his foot in his mouth and dance the Hamajacanez.”

“With one foot?” He asked blatantly. “I don’t know, that could be kind of hard with one foot, ya know.” He smiled as he continued. “I know! Why don’t you tell him yourself, ya know? He’s in this hospital somewhere. I can take you too him.”

Now it was Squall’s turn to light up his attitude. “You’ll take me too him?”

“Yah huh.”

“You mean, you’ll get my ankles and wrists free, and take me downstairs.”

“Yah huh.”

“You’ll take me out of this cell, against Dr. Raven’s orders, and risk getting caught and losing your job, assuming your taking this job legally.”

“Okay, I don’t know what you meant by that ‘legally’ crap, but, yah huh.”

“All right, I’m in.”

Diligently, Raijin undid the nylon bonds. Sitting himself up, Squall scooped up Strychnine, but he did not stand up.

He whispered to Strychnine, “It’s time to get up now, we’re leaving.”

“Yeah, wake up ya sack driven!” Cloaked egged.

The ball began to twitch, then started to glow softly, and eerily. He let it go, and it rolled onto the padded floor. The glow took on a stronger colour while staying soft and eerie. Then, the perfect sphere started to bulge and elongate into a sausage figure…a wyrm…a naga…a lamia, until Strychnine had taken its definite shape and texture.

Not frightened, Raijin continued to look on. The head of the shape arose from a reclining pose. It was nothing but a bleached skull, similarly much like a horse’s, though the front teeth leaned too far forward, and the fangs were too straight and sharp to be anything remotely equine or bovine, but more feline or canine. Even the back teeth were small, and sharp as those of a newborn kitten. On the bridge of the snout, was the symbol that had been on the ball, only navy blue with spatter marks.

Its neck was not bare of flesh like the head, but thin and scrawny anyway. Raijin saw bony knobs when its neck bent. The knobs could have only been bone.

The figure was not naked, but wore a black, leather jacket, sleeveless, and bearing sharp red spikes on the shoulders, and the hem. Worn under the jacket, was a pale beige shirt, tied in front with, what looked like, deep green rawhide, and a brooch made from the skull of a raven that was coloured dark blue. Just under the shirt, one could see the bottom of her exposed rib cage. Around her thin and bony waist was a belt of silver plates, supporting three other belts of chain link that chimed as it moved: the first, gold, the second, orihcalcum, and the third, of white uranium metal.

The lower part of its body was serpentine, but wide open where the belly should have been, exposing her hallowed insides. Sharp, bony barbs from her skeleton protruded from the ends as a means of brutal scuts. A violet ‘throat’ ran down the spine, but was visible not at back, but in front, where Raijin could see it clearly. Only at the hip did a slimy, criss-cross network of arteries cover it.

Its two arms had no sign of muscle, just thin sticks. Only the elbows showed any good shape, bony like the rest of the body.

Both hands had four fingers, and one very long thumb. Both of those hands held a scythe with blades of obsidian.

Strychnine lowered her scythes, nudging Squall gently with her snout of bone. It was at this time that Raijin noticed something like hair coming out of the back of its skull.

“Dude,” he started, pointing at the teal green beast. “What the hell is that, ya know?”

Squall looked displeasingly at him, but answered. “A Guardian Force.”

His immediate reaction was delayed as he was trying to think through what was happening. “Oh, I get it, ya know. If I don’t leave, you’re goinna have that thing bite my head off.”

“Actually, I was going to have her gut you, but that would pretty much be the same thing.”

“Okay.” Remarked Raijin, pointing back at the half opened door. “So, I’ll get out of your face now, and let you escape on your own. If you’re still interested, Seifer’s still on the first floor, and he’s lookn’ really forward to seeing you, ya know.”

“I wish I could say the same.”

Raijin gave him a silent nod before he ran out of the cell, leaving the door open, of coarse.

That’s what I love about you, you big dope. Thought Squall sarcastically. You’re not but sand in water, going with the flow.

“Then tell him to run into a wall next time!” Cackled Cloak. “He doesn’t do that that much anymore!”

“Shut your mouth bitch!” He snapped back.

“Don’t tell ME to shut up! You enjoy slapstick as much as I do! Don’t tell me you don’t enjoy it when Super Brawn McDufus runs into something!”

“I’ll get my kicks my own way!”

“Towards fort weight all saying, forget it!” [I am your own way!]

“Who says?!” His knees seamed to weaken as Cloak argued. Falling on one knee, he looked away from Strychnine as he continued to scream. Quite un-GF like of her, she nudged him in the shoulder, wondering why he was looking away. Cloaked seamed to became quiet when he turned his head to look at his new GF. He curiously wondered, had she lips, could she smile? Ironically, it had been Cloak who had told him that the ball was an embryo. He believed, and she had proven true, further complicating the relation he had with the voice. Now, he couldn’t say she was all-bad, or he wouldn’t have Strychnine.

To the Guardian Force, she took to him much differently then any of his other GF’s. Having ‘hatched’ her from her embryo, she looked at Squall as more of a fatherly figure then a master. Because of that, she would grow much differently then any other GF in recorded history.

Tenderly, Squall put his hand on her cheek bone. Strychnine produced a soft hiss as she was encroached with a greasy purple and black aura. Her shape shimmered and dimmed as the colours gained more area. Then, her form disappeared. Strychnine had been junctioned to Squall.

“Who are you?” Spoke another enigmatic voice, speaking with a bizarre accent he hadn’t heard before. He was about to make a retort, until he realized it wasn’t Cloak. The voice was small, delicate, much like a little girl’s voice, only a bit higher pitched.

“I don’t know,” he answered, “who are you?”

“I think I just merged with you, didn’t I?”

“I call it junctioning.” That question solved it. He was hearing Strychnine. He had never heard his other Guardian Forces talk to him. He understood GF Bahamut, he was as reluctant as himself to talk. But his other two regulars, Shiva and Cerberus, were on good terms with him.

“Why are you talking to me?” He asked her.

“I can talk whenever a damn well feel like!” Shouted Cloak.

“I’m not talking to you Cloak!” Could she even hear Strychnine?

Speaking of whom. “Who are you talking to?” Asked the GF.

Squall didn’t know exactly what to say, or how she would react. “Strychnine,” he began slowly, trying to think through his words, “you aren’t the only one I can hear up there.”

“Ooh, is there more Trail Finders, or Distants?”

Trail Finders? Distants? He was hearing more then he could compute. “I’m not so sure what those two things are, but I call entities like you Guardian Forces, or GF’s.”

“Hey, you called me that when you were talking to that other animal.”

“Animal? Well, I’ll take your word for it.”

He felt the frustration from Cloak. “Goddamn it! Who the fuckn’ hell are you talking too?!”

Cloak. He thought to himself. Will she be a bad influence on Strychnine?

There was no time to ponder, voices were coming down the hall. Squall heard them. They had heard him scream and were responding. Strychnine would be of little help, as a baby, she knew jack squat.

Swiftly, he ducked out of the door.

“In’s gamidin troi monil?” [Who left that door open?] A nurse shouted. Squall hadn’t dodged them; they saw him as soon as he had his head out in the hall.

There were three of them in all, running towards him. He knew he couldn’t take them all on, but he wasn’t so sure he could run away either.

Strychnine squeaked to him. “Squall…”

“Take them on Appalling Pace…” Cloak revved.

“That is your name? Right…?”

“Those that push around can get pushed…!”

“I heard those other animals call you that…”

“They can’t control you and they never will!”

“What are you doing?”

He strongly felt that to take on three physically healthy people was beyond him at the moment. Cloak would not allow him to run away, though. While he was screaming and writhing with confusion, the nurses caught up to him. Before any of them knew what was happening, Squall brought up his fist, his middle and index finger pointed forward, and jabbed the nearest nurse in the eyes.

The guy was stunned. The other two stopped only to see how their comrade had faired. That was all the time Squall needed to get away.

“Wait! You aren’t getting away that fast! Are you?” Cloak hissed.

He stopped his running for only a second. Then, took one of the standard tasers from one of the distracted nurses.

Sensing that he had been robbed, he turned around only to see Squall run away. “Lib’n tabo gonbie!” [He’s getting away!]

“Ban opilin.” [No kidding.] The nurse with the bruised eyes mumbled.

The three gave chase after the one. A few of the patients who weren’t too entrapped in their own metal anguish and noted the chase were hooting and yelling, mainly to encourage Squall. Since they did not like the nurses either, they derived great pleasure in seeing them loose a fight to a fellow patient. One of them even cussed as they came past his cell.

It was much harder to run then he thought. His lame leg gave out very soon and he was caught again. Feeling the sense of defeat burn uncontrollably, he thrust the taser at random angles, eventually hitting all three nurses before they could do the same to him. He was free again, but his bad leg wasn’t getting any stronger.

“Kill them! KILL THEM!” Cloak shouted.

The three bigger persons were already getting up, if they were to catch him again, they would be ready. He had no choice.

“Strychnine. Hjasthita imüra ygriskar.” [Strychnine. Lend me your power.] He whispered.

“What power?”

Before Strychnine got in more words, she was called forth. Starting off as the ball she came from, then growing into her wyrmish image.

Even though she was still wet behind the ears she didn’t really have, she struck terrible fear into the medical personnel, and great interest in the spectators.

Squall called his orders to the GF. “Strychnine! Imüra fjötskad! Iska mir besta!” [Strychnine! Your scythes! Use them!”]

Scythes? She looked at the weapons she had acquired when she woke up. Are these scythes?

To best help her illustrate, she swung her right scythe at the three in front of her. The two farthest nurses were able to escape her swinging blade unharmed, but the third, was not that lucky. The black scythe hit him across the waist, cutting his spine in half. He died instantly.

She stared at the red goo spewing onto the tile and wondered what it was. Her mouth opened to reveal a slender, whip thin tongue of a strong glowing green. Only had she to touch the blood with the tip of that tongue, and she recoiled in certain disgust…the stuff tasted awful.

§

Raijin had made it all the way to the basement when the news had broken out: a patient was out, armed, and dangerous. An alarm was set off to alert the rest of the staff.

Seifer and Fujin were waiting downstairs with a box of donuts they had swiped from the doctor’s lounge, or, at least, that was what everyone else called it.

“Hey, Raijin!” Started Seifer when he was all the way down the stairs. “What the hell’s happening up there?”

“Sorry Seifer,” apologized the big guy, “I didn’t mean for it to happen.”

“For what to happen? The alarm?” He took a cherry filled donut from the yellow box.

“I found Squall! I meant to bring him down here, ya know. But he had this really wonky GF with him, and he threatened me with it!” He saw Fujin sitting alone with a chocolate donut. “Isn’t Fujin’s shift over?”

“OVER TIME.”

Seifer didn’t appear to be surprised at the mention of a Guardian Force. “A GF. So what, you’ve been up against his GF’s before. What’s so different about it?”

“CERBERUS?” Fujin asked.

“That damn mutt?!” Replied Seifer bitterly. “Well, I guess it’s as wonky as they come.”

“No way man! This thing was a new one on me. It was just this skin and bones thing.” Raijin elaborated by making empty movements with his hands. “It was this green lamia bugger in a black leather jacket, and these chain belts. And get this! It has these two huge sickle stick thingies!”

“So where the hell did that thing come from anyway?”

“You know that ball that bumped into you?”

“Yeah, the teal one that that nurse wanted back. What about it?”

“That thing was kinda like an egg, ya know. I saw that ball turn into it.”

Both Seifer and Fujin held expressions of ‘either you’re lying, or you’re crazy’.

Speaking first, Seifer addressed Raijin more calmly then before. “Raijin, do you need to be committed to this place?”

“I’m not making this up, ya know!”

“Yeah, sure. Just tell us who escaped the ever tight talons of Galbadia’s Best.”

“Squall.”

“DUH.” Fujin shrugged.

“I’m aware I wasn’t listening Fujin, cut me some slack. I’m on pins and needles here.”

“Why?” Asked Raijin.

Seifer frowned with his annoyance, then put his donut down and explained. “If it’s Squall that’s really out of cahoots, when they catch him, it will be the harder for us to get him back out again.”

Fujin asked him plainly. “PLAN?”

“First,” he began, “I need a distraction.” He looked around the basement for some last minute inspiration. He came across the security panel. Thinking fast, he approached the panel, scrutinized the buttons, and found a promising escape. There was a large red button on the top right corner that read ‘RELEASE ALL LOCKS’ in New Galbadian. Beneath that was a warning, also in New Galbadian: ‘EMERGENCIES ONLY’

“The perfect emergency, this is.” He chuckled to himself, then, mashed the button with his palm.

Symbolically, he dusted his palms off on each other. “One distraction, achieved. Thank Hyne we were in the basement.”

“Why?” Raijin asked again.

“Because we just stole some donuts, and it would have been a lot harder to hide the evidence upstairs, you twit.”

“Okay, sounds plausible.”

“Plausible, where did you learn that?”

“TV.”

“NOW WHAT?” Asked Fujin.

Seifer answered hurriedly. “While the rest of the staff has to worry about the other loose patients, we nab Squall and exit! C’mon!”

The two agreed with a nod and ran after him to help.

§

Squall hadn’t realized the other patients were loose until one of them came right up to him and began snarling, not even did the escape siren tip him off. Her hair was long and tangled, and a stub of a left thumb was covered with a bandage, evidence she had probably bitten it off.

“Hey! Move it or loose it!” Cloak cawed. A strong hiss had fallowed her sentence, and Squall could envision her drooling at the mouth.

The snarling patient lunged at him, knocking him to the floor. She began to snap and salivate like a mad dog. He tried to shrug her off, but was still too weak, and she got her hands around his throat as soon as she was tired of snapping.

Her grip was surprisingly strong, Squall was gasping futilely as soon as she had her hands in place. With a struggling hand, he brought it up, a glowing, freezing energy materialized at his palm. As soon as the freeze glow had gotten strong enough, it shot out towards the opposing patient like a rock from a slingshot. Huge crystals formed around the cold blue aura and disappeared just as fast. The patient who was hit still stood over him with her hands around his neck. The freezing effect of the was known as a ‘blizzaga’ spell had made her brittle, so Squall was able to snap her hands off with barely any effort. As soon as he got out from under his frozen victim, she fell over. He had completely frozen her.

Still clutching his neck was her hands, frozen in pose. He took the right hand, ripped it off as easily from him as he did from her. The medical bracelet had stuck fast to the purpled skin. The name on it read Akanthia Rolfuss. She had been diagnosed with severe paranoia and suffered delusions of grandeur. First guess had it that she did not view herself as human, but more of an animal.

Squall threw the wrist down, he did not care to know more. Cloak was talking the same time Strychnine was. It didn’t seam like any of them were aware of each other.

Another patient appeared around the corner. His blond hair was more decently cut then Akanthia’s, and wore a robe. The patient looked around him for only a second before he spotted Squall.

“Kill that bugger while you’re sill on a roll…!” Shouted Cloak.

“What happened back there…?” Strychnine asked.

“Don’t lose your chance…!”

“Squall…I think I remember something…”

“DID YOU HEAR ME?!”

Her words, mixed in with the moment, sent him into frenzy. Confident of his last kill, he did not deny his conditioned instinct to keep going. He charged at the patient with a surprising speed. The patient charged back. They met hand in hand. Squall tried to wrestle him into submission, while that other blocked his every move. Since the patient he was facing was bigger, and obviously much stronger, he was tempted to resort to magic again.

Like the blizzaga spell, he held out his hand. An orange coloured glow started that grew to yellow, then white. The patient took hold of his shoulders and started shaking him.

“Stop it!” he bellowed. “Now’s not the time!”

The guy spoke in Alcauldian. Surprising, as the main dialect around the place was of the Galbadian speeches, Dollet, or, quite possibly, one of the many Timber dialects.

He was shook again, this time, his perception became clearer. Squall saw whom he was really against.

“Seifer?”

The vigorous confidence he got from his last kill splintered, he felt weak again. The hand that held his growing spell faltered, firing at a wild angle at the first wall it met, hitting a doctor that had been unfortunate enough to be where she was. Having the nature to only effect organic materials, the spell of meltdown nuked her skin, but did not harm her clothes, or the wall behind her.

Too fast to perceive, the nuked doctor stood standing until the light from the spell disappeared. Her skin had cracked and bubbled, and was bleeding as if she had been turned inside out. Her short white hair, although, should have been effected, was not touched by the spell. She fell limply in only a few seconds. Seifer saw this, and breathed deeply, knowing that Squall had been aiming for him.

He turned his head away from the body, and back to Squall. “What the hell is wrong with you?!”

“Cloak wanted me to kill you. It wasn’t my fault!” He pleaded back.

“Years of semi-unadulterated hatred, and you needed someone else to tell you to kill me?!” He let go of the real patient, whom fell to his knees out of weariness.

“I thought you were another patient.” He whispered.

“What?”

“I thought you were another patient!”

“Did Cloak tell you that too?!”

“No! You looked like another patient!” He looked up at the scowling frown of Seifer, and scowled himself.

“I did?!” Seifer started forcefully, grabbing the rim of his smock. “You see this! That means that I’m a doctor!” Reaching down, he grabbed Squall’s right hand, shaking it in front of his eyes. “I don’t even have one of these plastic bracelets!”

Squall yanked his hand out of his grasp. “You looked like a patient!” He defended again. “You had the blue robe, the cotton shirt and pants!” Grabbing Seifer’s wrist, he shook it in the same manner as he did to him. “You even had the plastic bracelet!”

“Fine!” Dismissed Seifer, wrenching his hand free, taking hold of Squall’s right shoulder with his left hand. “That’s why you’re here, and I’m not.”

Cloaked laughed hysterically as Seifer forced him to his feet. He headed down the hallway faster then Squall could. His wounded leg gave out soon, and he fell, nearly taking Seifer down with him.

“Hey!” He snapped, still holding onto his shoulder. “You may not know it, but I’m here to break you out!” His tone sounded very regretful, and it played well for Cloak.

“Do me a favor, and make his life hell before he does.”

“This isn’t the time!” Yelled Squall to Cloak, turning his head away from Seifer.

“It’s always the time…”

“Shut up…!”

“Tell him about your bad leg…”

“Strychnine!”

“Like that thing can hurt me.”

Having tolerated him enough, and wanting him to be quite himself, Seifer slapped him across the face. “Get up you bastard!” He ordered. “We don’t have much time before the other staff gets up here!” The siren continued around them, reminding him that time was short.

Squall stared at his rival. You hit me! The taser he had acquired from the nurse had been dropped a while ago, but he still had another weapon.

Swiftly, he plowed his elongated nails into Seifer’s exposed wrist. Not having been able to foresee that, Seifer let go of him while he inspected the shallow wound.

Squall crawled away from him for a few steps, then got up on his feet. He looked back at Seifer hatred heavy on his expression. “I don’t need you.” Then, running off, he tried his best to conceal his maimed leg.

Seifer looked at him for a second as he left, noting how odd he managed his steps. Fujin had told him Squall had been severely weakened, that point had made him over confident about his success. Though, he did not pay attention to the warning that he was dangerous when cornered. Looking back down at the gouge mark on his wrist, he had begun to take that warning more seriously. The gouge wound was bleeding.

§

On the fourth floor, with the alarm still blaring, Raijin and Fujin watched the staircases that went up, being ready to catch Squall if he would come down. Several patients had come their way, but none were whom they were expecting. Several nurses and doctors came by, one of them told of how a group of three of them was attacked by some monster, and how one of them didn’t make it.

Someone came down the stairs. Both Fujin and Raijin got ready, but it wasn’t any patient. Seifer had come down as fast as he could.

“FIND HIM?” Asked Fujin.

Seifer answered her, sounding a bit out of breath. “Yeah, I found him.”

“And…” Started Raijin.

“He nearly deep nuked me!” He extended his arm that held the gouged wrist. “Then, the friggn’ bugger stabbed me with his nails!”

“WHERE?”

“He ran off.”

“You didn’t run after him, ya know?”

“No!” He put his arm back to his side, looking at Raijin sternly. “Listen, that freak has a GF, and I only know that that thing offers Leonhart the use of paramagic! So the only way I’m going to confront him again is with the two of you, head on! You got me?!”

Both of them agreed.

While all of them had their backs turned to the stairs, they did not see who had come.

Fujin saw the intruder first. “SQUALL!” She pointed toward the fleeing patient.

Both of the men turned in the direction she was pointed, but only Seifer was truly angered. “You fallowed me! Didn’t you? You stinkn’ rat!”

Halfway between them, and the window at the end of the hall, Squall yelled back. “Go to hell Almasy!”

Raijin looked back at their leader. “You said he ran away, ya know. Why did he fallow you?”

“Beats me how his twisted little mind works.” Seifer replied. “Just get him before he gets away.”

Before they could even begin the chase, Squall laughed hysterically, jumping out the closed plate glass window.

Running up quickly, the three looked out the broken window, wondering if their target had become a gory smear on the gravel. They were wrong. Looking out of the tarnished frame too the gravel below, they saw that Squall was fine. A glowing pair of white wings sticking out of his back vanished as soon as they looked at them.

“A float spell.” Seifer gasped. “I had no idea you could use them for something like that.”

“WATCH OUT!” Yelled one of the nurses, butting in between them. He aimed a large tranquilizer gun out the window and fired.

The first shot went wild. Squall began to run, heading for the tropical foliage. The nurse fired three more times without success before they had lost complete sight of him to the jungle.

Seifer withdrew from the window, addressing his posse silently to come with him. They still had time to catch Squall, before the jungle swallowed him whole.


Chapter 12

General Wyvern's Fanfiction