Payback's a Bitch 2: Redemption Chapter 11
By Joe L.
The news of Braka'karin's sent the media of Dacar, and of the entire world of Baakar, into a panicked frenzy. Allegations, both wild and truthful, were paraded as if they were on display. Some accused members of the Rebellion as to the murder of Braka'karin. Others pointed the proverbial finger at none other than King Zarin himself, along with his cabinet. Zarin steadfastly denied the charges, but not so much as to sound over-zealous. He blamed it on militant radicals hoping to continue the war and the misery that pervaded the land.
The Rebellion did not know what exactly to think. Not to mention they had no idea who could possibly fill the void left by Braka'karin's death. The Rebellion never had chosen officials, because it was Braka'karin who had formed them. Therefore, they never truly expected him to die before the Rebellion's cause had been put into action. However, generals of the Rebellion were already making their claims that they were the rightful leader.
The assembled members of the Rebellion met in a private room in Castle Zarin, with guards posted outside with strict orders to let no person enter or leave under no circumstances. The penalty would be death. Inside, twenty members of the Rebellion sat at a large wooden table, conferring of important matters at hand.
"Who shall be appointed commander? And more importantly, are we to continue peace talks with the Imperials?" A general named Huratli asked in gruff tones. A veteran of many armed conflicts, Huratli seemed to be the least concerned at the death of Braka'karin. Not only was the Ghiite very moody at times, but in Huratli's mind, a less than brilliant military tactician. Personally, who wanted the war to continue and for the Imperials to be crushed.
"I say we follow Braka'karin's wishes and depart from Dacar. The damned Empire has no intentions of creating peace. The bastards murdered out leader!" A young officer cried out, banging his fist against the table.
"There is no evidence to thus far to incriminate any Ghiite at this time. For all we know, it could have been one of out own," responded Qeagin, a rather subdued Ghiite, prone to over-analyzing every single thing to the point of insanity.
"Are you crazy, man? Of course Zarin and his lackeys killed Braka'karin. I say we marshal our troops from Zandose as soon as possible and prepare them for the march to Dacar!" Another official cried out, much to the approval of his esteemed colleagues. However, a few of the older generals shook their heads at the foolishness of the Ghiite's remark.
"Damn it, before we decide to storm Dacar, we need to elect a new leader! And since I have served the Rebellion almost since the beginning, I appoint myself commander-in-chief of the Rebellion," the general named Bwero called out, a tinge of arrogance in his voice.
"No, I nominate Huratli! His experience in battle is unparalled by anyone of us, and he served under Braka'karin longer than you, Bwero!" A Rebel shouted in protest to the upstart general. With that, the conference became an orgy of shouting, insulting, slandering, arguing, and general chaos. No commander could be named, and no agreement could be made on what action to take.
After around two hours of heated debate, the Rebellion agreed to name Huratli Kilorese commander-in-chief of the Rebels, and that the Rebellion, after Braka'karin's killer was caught and tried, they would immediately leave Dacar and return to Zandose, to prepare for the assault on Zarin's main forces.
"It is agreed then," Huratli boomed in his deep, gruff voice. "As your commander, my first action is to order all of you back to your private quarters and wait for my instructions. I personally will speak to Zarin and his police about what is being done to solve the murder of our beloved leader, Braka'karin." With that, the new leader of the Rebellion rather abruptly left the meeting.
As Sephiroth awakened from his deep sleep, he peered open with one eye. He was shocked to find military personel surrounding his quarters, weapons drawn and ready to shoot him dead. Before a word could be uttered, one of the soldiers spoke up,
"Private 2nd Class Sephiroth, you are hereby under arrest for the murder of Braka'karin." Sephiroth's weary mind could neither comprehend nor fathom what was happening. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, the Ghiite's voice distant and detached.
"What.... are you talking about? I-" the soldier snapped his fingers, and two other soldiers threw Sephiroth out of bed, smacking his face against the cold floor. The other resting soldiers in the barracks were rather rudely awakened by the commotion and were intrigued to find the human soldier being arrested.
"You are to be taken to jail and your trial will commence at midday tomorrow," the Ghiite officer spoke in a matter of fact tones, though there was a sense that he was getting satisfaction out of reprimanding the human. As the soldiers handcuffed Sephiroth, he groggily rasped,
"By the bloody gods above, this is madness! I wasn't even aware of the fact that Braka'karin was dead!" At the remark, the senior Ghiite shook his head, and ordered the other soldiers to escort Sephiroth to the dungeon below where he would await his trial.
"That might be Sephiroth, but we found evidence that your blade dealt the killing blow to the late Rebel leader. Your Masamune killed Braka'karin." Sephiroth muddled mind nearly seemed to burst at the advent that somebody used his sword. It all became clear in Sephiroth's head what had happened. He had been framed by someone, someone who wanted to see the Rebellion destroyed and the dominance of the Empire. However, nothing in Sephiroth's mind could have explained why someone had used the Masamune. First off, he had no idea of where the blade might have been. The last time he had remembered being in possession of it was on Earth when he had battled Gyver. That had been many months ago, perhaps years. He wasn't clear on how time flowed on Bakaar. In any case, Sephiroth had presumed his beloved Masamune lost.
For all of the questions that had yet to be answered, Sephiroth was sure who was the mastermind of the murder. Zarin. There can be no other, Sephiroth thought to himself as he walked mutely through the halls of the palace. Sephiroth was totally oblivious to the gasps that Ghiites greeted him with, shocked to find a Fist of God responsible for the death of Braka'karin. They're fools, the whole batch of them, Sephiroth darkly thought. They're all just marionettes being led on by a puppet master, and yet they don't even realize it. They think they have control over their lives, they think they have free will. Ha. No more than I had as Hojo's pet. The most pathetic thing is that they don't realize that their master is willing to cut their strings at any time, if it provides a gain for him. Mark my words, Zarin, I will not let you win this time. I will not stand idlely by and watch you drive this world to destruction, nor will I await my own certain death. I have no love for these reptilian abominations, these Ghiites. I despise them and see them as weak, just as they percieve me. However, a parasite such as yourself cannot be allowed to live any longer than you have already have. In your reign you have infested these people, sucked out their will to live and any chance of a peaceful life. Yet you see them as nothing more than grains of sand.
I will fight you, Zarin. Even if that means my impending doom, than so be it. I will eradicate you.
King Zarin Ketsuo awoke from his deep sleep to the omnipresent mental voice.
Zarin. Are you prepared for my true power I offer to you?
With that, Zarin felt a painful throb in his head. The ache started out very slow, and very quickly increased it's crescendo. Zarin clenched his fists and fell to one knee, the pain overwhelming him. Then the pain made it's way through every pore of his scaly body, sending him convulsing on the plush red carpet of his provate quarters. And it still increased. Zarin summoned every bit of his mental prowess to try and keep from crying out in pain, but he felt that his training could not have prepared him for this.
It is nearly complete.
Damn! The pain! Was Zarin's mental reply, though the creature did not care about Zarin's whimperings. Just as though he felt he would slip into unconciousness from the pain, to never wake up, suddenly the pain stopped. A strange sense of euphoria washed over Zarin, as he calmly lifted himself from the ground. With a pleasant grin on his face, Zarin cleared the cobwebs from his head and headed for his private bathroom.
As he waited for the water in his tub to heat, he stared at himself in the mirror. If only for a moment, there was a flicker in his eye. He paid it no heed, and proceeded to take his bath. Though in the back of his mind, while he no longer controlled it, he knew what it was. Madness.
It was cold in the cell. And dark. After all, the prison of Dacar was buried around 75 feet under the actual city itself. Constructed during Yama's reign, it was a giant maze of twisting corridors and dank cells. The worst of criminals were sent to the Dacar Correctional Facility, murderers, robbers, rapists. The scum.
Being left in a putrid cell was nothing new to the man named Sephiroth. In fact, most of his childhood was spent in one, under Hojo's supervision of course. However, Sephiroth noticed immediately an eerie quality to this prison. As one got deeper into the prison, the turns and twists became more erratic, and the hallways seemed to almost get smaller. It was each level of the penetentiary reflected the architect's growing insanity.
The only thing in Sephiroth's cell was a tiny and rather disgusting cot, along with a toilet. Being that there was no toilet paper, Sephiroth immediately decided he would have to stave off any bowel movements for awhile until he found a way to escape, if there was one. And he disdainfully was already believing there wasn't one.
The events that had just transpired were still but a blur to Sephiroth, who still was in partial denial. Why am I here? Sephiroth shook his head in disgust, because he knew the answer. Why would Zarin frame me of all people? I can understand him wanting to get rid of Braka'karin, but I am but a weak warrior. Does he really believe me that dangerous of a threat to his corrupt monarchy? No. I have neither the power nor the determination to be able to defeat Zarin. He is as much beyond myself in power as I am a normal human. No doubt there is some piece of information, a miniscule detail, that I must be overlooking. How does my destruction preserve Zarin's crown? How....
Perhaps I am peering too deep into this mystery. Perhaps I am but a pawn in this game of chess, and nothing more. There is nothing to gain by my death. Zarin needed a sacrifice.
Sephiroth swore silently and punched the brick wall, though his fist only hit the invisible barrier that surrounded the prison, to prevent any part of it from being destroyed. However, Sephiroth imagined that while the barrier seemed to be impenetrable, given time he would no doubt be able to discover a flaw in it and exploit it. After all, the prison had been in service for over 2,000 years. It would be naieve to think it was still fully opertional, as the prison warden would have one think.
After what seemed like years to Sephiroth, though was closer to two hours, a thought donned on the warrior. Perhaps this has to do with myself, Gyver, and Cloud's defecting to the Rebellion. For all of the secrecy, there is no doubt that Zarin knew about our meetings. And using this information, he will use it to banish or execute all three of us for the murder of Braka'karin. It would be the perfect way to get rid of Gyver, who seems to hate Zarin with a fiery passion. Though I do not know why, I can only guess that Zarin's deceit somehow affected Gyver.
It was at that moment Sephiroth sank into despair, all hope lost. Zarin has spent many nights planning all of this, if not months or years. He has every detail taken into account, every angle covered. Even if I am not convicted of murder, I will no doubt be found guilty of treason for planning to abandon the Fists and join the Rebellion. As will Cloud and Gyver.
As Sephiroth continued his mental tirade, he fell to the floor and put his head down dejectedly. He is too strong. Too smart. Too perfect. How can we hope to defeat a man who has thousands of fanatics ready to die for him, and while he himself is impossibley powerful. Why must evil prevail? Why must the people who try to right the wrongs always be made into martyrs? Why am I to die here, an outcast, a traitor? Why has fate handed me such a cruel deck? Was I that bad in a past life? I admit, I am no saint. I'm not a hero. And I have committed many wrongs in my life, some which are unforgivable. And yet, I have never been able to control my actions. I have always been a pawn, a puppet... How can a person so evil as Zarin exist? Damn me, why must I be so weak?
And so the trial began in the Great Court of Dacar. It was a room constructed of lumber and bricks, a rather plain looking building in contrast to the overwhelming beauty of Castle Zarin. Of course, there were many benches for spectators to listen to the proceedings, but there were no benches for the accused or the prosecutors. In the front was a large throne, ornately decorated with the finest of materials. Here was the seat of King Zarin, who would decide the fate of the accused.
The room was a massive orgy of anxious Ghiites, still in shock over the fact that one of the Fists of God, a human no less, had murdered Braka'karin. As abruptly as the chatter had started, it stopped as the great oak doors opened and Sephiroth, bound in chains around his ankles and hands, walked in the Court escorted by three heavily armored guards. Sephiroth's face was ashen, his eyes tired and red. There was a faint silver stubble that marred his chin, as he had not shaved for a matter of days. He opted not to look the Ghiite in the face as he passed them, who all stared at him in disgust and contempt. He was lead to the front of the Court, and before King Zarin. Then he was forced to his knees before the King, as was Ghiite custom. For a moment, the great Ghiite King beheld the pitiful man, and a smirk crossed his usually stoic face. In an instant before anybody other than Sephiroth noticed it, Zarin returned to his visage of the cold and distant King.
In a few moments, the prosecutors and defense attorneys were brought in, however with less fanfare. There were two of them, dressed in the ceremonial red robes and black capes of Ghiite royalty. The defense attorney, whose name was Najia, walked over beside Sephiroth and himself took a knee for a moment, a sign of respect for the accused. He then was back on his feet, and looked at the prosecutor, the Ghiite Jaio. For a moment the two stared at each other, and then nodded towards one another in mutual understanding.
"Let the trial begin," Zarin boomed in a voice that was powerful, confident, and proud. The Ghiite's in attendance looked at one another in silent confusion. Never before had Zarin been so imposing. They were used to a King of few words and dark looks. "Sephiroth, you are accused of murder of the Rebel leader Braka'karin. How do you plead?" Najia cleared his throat, and then tentatively spoke,
"My Lord King, I believe that Sephiroth to be innocent of all charges." Zarin nodded and motioned for Najia to continue his speech. "First off, I would like to say that while my client here has only been a citizen of Bakaar for approximately nine months, he has been an officer of outstanding courage and honor. His loyalty to the Empire is unmatched by any.
To say that Sephiroth is guilty of murder is absurd. There is absolutely no evidence pointing directly at him, except for the slash marks on the bed which have been identified as being made by Sephiroth's sword, the Masamune. However, I would like to say that at the time of his arrival, the Masamune was in possession of the military under orders of Captain Geonia Falo'Zor. And since that time, my client has not seen nor has he wielded that blade. Also, I have witnesses who say that at the approximate time of the murder, they saw Sephiroth meditating on his bunk in the Fists of God's barracks." At that moment, Jaio interrupted and called out,
"Blasphemy! I have written reports that once Sephiroth was transported from the battleship Thor to Dacar, that the Masamune was missing from the possession of Captain Falo'Zor!"
"My lord, I object!" Najia started to reply, but Zarin shook his head in his usual resigned manner, and motioned for Jaio to continue his rebuttal.
"I believe that Sephiroth managed, on the way to Dacar, to steal his precious Masamune from the Captain and somehow hide it from authorites for all this time.
And let it be known that the day before the murder of Braka'karin, I have eye-witness reports of Sephiroth along with two other soldiers, Sh'kaar Nali and Gyver Deldrin, entering Braka'karin's private quarters. While I have no idea of what may have gone on, I can only speculate as to what took place."
"And what do you believe?" Zarin asked in a subdued, almost bored tone. He was ready for this trial to be over and for all three warriors to be executed and out of his air.
"All three of these men conspired to kill Braka'karin. Gyver Deldrin, Sh'kaar Nali, and Sephiroth are all guilty of murder! I believe all of them planned to defect to the Rebellion, each for his own reasons angry at the Empire. However, I believe Braka'karin would not except them into his alliance and this angered the three men. Seeking to gain revenge, they all three plotted to murder the Rebel leader." At this, the crowd became an uproar of cries and shouts, of both anger and happiness, confusion and understanding. Still, Sephiroth did nothing, knowing the absurdity of everything and yet not caring in the least bit. There is nothing I can do to prevent this. My fate has never been my own to choose, just as it is now.
"Order!" Zarin cried out with a psychotic fury, instantly quieting the crowd. Closing his eyes for a brief moment, the King opened them yet again and regained his composure. "Guards, find and arrest Gyver Deldrin and Sh'Kaar Nali. This trial shall not continue until they are brought here." With that, the crowd yet again burst into an explosion of commotion and chaos. Najia put his hand on Sephiroth's shoulder and whispered,
"I'm sorry, I tried my best.... But it-" At that, the distant Sephiroth looked up from the wooden ground and stared at the Ghiite with such bitterness and regret, that Najia felt the urge to turn away.
"You're a terrible liar, friend," Sephiroth mockingly whispered, a grim smile playing across his face. "My fate, along with Cloud's and Gyver's, was sealed a long time ago. We have become a nuisance to Zarin, and he needs to be rid of us. Still, you are no more innocent than anybody else. You never intended to defend me, only to present it as such."
"What are you talking-"
"Quiet, pawn. My two "associates" enter," Sephiroth pointed to the entrance of Cloud and Gyver, both bound in chains with looks of pure anger and hatred across their faces. They two were thrown alongside Sephiroth, who uttered, "So glad you could accompany me, my dear partners in crime."
"Let the trial begin anew," King Zarin called out, yet again silencing the raging audience. Now, after many hours of planning, Zarin's plans had come to fruition. His three adversaries were at his feet, their fate in his hands. And Zarin was not a caring Ghiite.
"You three stand accused of murder. How do you plead?" Before Najia could begin his defense, Gyver retorted with a snarling voice,
"Does it matter, Zarin? I know your tricks, do you think I am that stupid that I don't know what is going on here? Could there be any manner of evidence that could prove our innocence? I think not. Why do insist on all of this nonsense, all of this courtroom pageantry, this senseless trial? Why the game Zarin, why? Why not just destroy us outright, as you have done to all of your other foes? Why don't you admit it, you killed Braka'karin yourself and framed all three of us for it as to get rid of us? Just as you murdered my Father to frame your own father, Yama Ketsuo?" The courtroom was so deathly silent that not a single person stirred, only wathced the three prone figures on the ground, and the extravagantly dressed King sitting atop the throne, looking down on the three prisoners.
"You are mad, dear Gyver. You always were, just as your Father was. And yet, I cannot help but pity you, a Ghiite who had no choice but to inherent his Father's madness, the quest of regaining Earth for the Ghiite people, of abdicating my Father, my bloodline, from the Throne of Bakaar.... Still, you were a loyal soldier of the Empire and an exceptional warrior whose service will never be forgotten, just as your Father."
"However, your murder of Braka'karin is inexcusable. I'm not quite sure what must have been going on in the minds, of you three, but there is no doubt as to what happened. You three, Fists of God, murdered a Ghiite in cold blood. And while he was an enemy to the peace of all Bakaar, he was a Ghiite no less and deserved an honorable death, one on the glorious field of battle." At this, Zarin stood up from his throne and looked down on the three prisoners. With his arms folded across his chest, the King of Bakaar and of all Ghiites spoke in rich, flowing tones.
"And yet, you three proved to be admirable soldiers, for all your faults. All of you, I promise I will not forget you valiant actions. And that is why you will be given an honorable execution, one in which there will be no heckling nor taunting from the crowd. You will be treated with the respect and dignity of three Fists of God, and more importantly, of incredible warriors of the Empire. I regret that things would have taken place differently, that you three were still at my side, not on your knees before me, awaiting execution. You could have been my strongest warriors ever..... We could have changed the world, made Bakaar a better place for all Ghiites. Yet you squandered all of this away, and gave into hatred and anger, and frustration......." The King of Bakaar turned away for a moment and seemed to wipe a tear from his eye. Then he whirled back around and the look of pity was gone. Replaced by it was one of stoicism.
"I find all three of you guilty of murder of Braka'karin. Your execution shall be tomorrow, at sunrise. That is all, the court is adjourned." With that, King Zarin walked out of the Great Court of Dacar, leaving the Ghiites on the benches in mute confusion.
All was quiet in Huratli Makarin's private quarters, save for the soft hum and flicker of the television set. On the bed sat Huratli, sitting indian-style and his eyes closed. He often meditated to relieve stress, and now was a time when he felt something akin to Atlas, the mythical figure who supposedly held the weight of Earth on his shoulders. Having to immediately accept leadership of the Rebellion was something Huratli had planned, realizing the prospect that Braka'karin would most likely die before his dream came to fruition. However, Huratli had not expected, nor was he prepared, for the sudden influx of duties and decisions that depended on his jugdement.
While he was no doubt a brilliant military strageist, he was no heroic figure like figure to the Ghiites that Braka'karin. For all of his mannerisms, his aloof attitude, his cold demeanor, there was a certain charisma about Braka'karin that had drawn many Ghiites including Huratli, to join his cause. Huratli never could quite manage to point out the exact reason of Braka'karin's success as the commander-in-arms of the Rebellion. Perhaps, Huratli pondered once, it was the culimination of Braka'karin's qualities that draw people to him. Ghiites admire his courage, his defiant determination, his physical prowess, and his strong sense of justice.
Huratli opened his eyes from his meditation when he heard that the murderers of Braka'karin, three Fists of God, had been put on trial and convicted of murder. They were to be executed tomorrow, so said the correspondent reporter. Not only was Huratli interested in the fact that the murderers were Fists, but that they were Sh'kaar Nali, Sephiroth, and Gyver Deldrin, the three soldiers planning to defect to the Rebellion.
As if reading his thoughts, a Ghiite Rebel stormed into Huratli's room, not bothering to knock.
"Sir, have you heard the news?" The Ghiite hurredly asked. The Rebel general nodded, and softly spoke,
"Yes. However, I find it quite impossible that those three murdered our dear Braka'karin. Still, I firmly believe justice has been served." The other Rebel contorted his face, scrunching it up and looking at Huratli in total disdain.
"Sir, you must be kidding me? I don't believe for one second that those soldiers murdered Braka'karin! It's the blasted Empire I tell you!" Huratli shook his head, chiding the youth for his behavior.
"Perhaps, young warrior, but perhaps not. I truly believe that the Imperials sincerely want peace with us, and murdering Braka'karin would plunge this world into an even more destructive civil war."
"No! For whatever reason, King Zarin and his cronies murdered Braka'karin and blamed it on those three warriors. Open up your eyes, sir. Can't you see we are falling apart at the seams, to the Imperials advantage! We must strike fast, and strike hard, lest we become a divided Rebellion. And divided, we have no chance of defeating the Imperials in combat."
"Are you talking of mutiny, boy?" Huratli angrily retorted, standing up from the bed and staring the youth straight in the eye.
"Yes sir. There is already talk among cadets of storming Castle Zarin and assassinating King Zarin."
"Stupid......... I will have no assassins among my ranks, child. Tell your friends to not do anything rash or they will face my wrath. Understood?"
"Yes sir," and with that, the youth Rebel exited from Huratli's quarters, leaving the Rebel leader alone, with the horrible feeling that the youth had not been lying, that perhaps there was a chance that Zarin had been behind all this madness. No, that is impossible. Irrational. And yet.... why does it feel like the truth?
Your such and inspiration for the ways that I will never ever choose to be
Oh so many ways for me to show you how your savior has abandoned you
Fuck your God, your lord, your Christ, he did this took what you had and left you this way
Still you pray never stray never taste of the fruit, you never thought to question why
"Judith" by A Perfect Circle
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic