A Mist Over Winhill Chapter 14
By Kate Lorraine
"Twenty minutes and counting," Daniel said as Quistis studied the screen. She saw the expressions of confusion on the faces of the five crew members and felt like her heart was about to burst with guilt. What had those men done to deserve being sentenced to death? Yet the red scorpion did not care, it just wanted the blood of Rinoa Heartilly. The Silent Queen was the one that felt doubt. Quistis pressed her lips together and saw the dark haired boy run in with Ellone by his side. He walked across the room and examined the timer. He too would die, the familiar looking boy but she did not care so much about him. He was Rinoa's consort, Ellone's friend and on top of that he looked eerie.
"Turn on the sound, I want to hear what they are saying." Quistis said.
Daniel nodded and flicked the switch.
So let's hear what they say in the last moments of their lives.
<<"This timer, it just started ticking. You're part of SeeD right? Can you deactivate it?">> The man's voice came over the speakers from the Lunar Space Station so far away.
Quistis reached over to her whip and squeezed it nervously in her hands. Her mind began to drift aimlessly. He was a SeeD huh? A SeeD and a sorceress, how particular. She had never seen a pair like that before. The seconds ticked by.
<<"Well," he said "If you are sure it is nothing then why are you wasting my time with it?">>
Quistis heard Daniel chuckle nervously at the irony of the statement. Daniel shook his head in sorrow. Quistis said nothing. Her eyes opened wide as she saw Rinoa Heartilly suddenly step into the room. Quistis nodded gently. Yes, Rinoa, I want to see the look on your face when you die. But no matter how much pain you suffer it will never make up for all the innocent lives you took.
<<I'm sorry Squall,>> The sorceress said to her knight. <<"Hate me forever but don't hate yourself. Please.">>
Quistis felt a pang of sorrow for Rinoa then, she did sound like a normal girl when she said .. . .. .Squall .. .Squall? Quistis jumped up suddenly. It hit her then, who he was and why he looked so familiar.
"Unseal the escape pods!" she ordered immediately.
"What?" Daniel asked breaking from his trance.
"DO IT NOW!!!" Quistis yelled. She turned around to look at the Trepies, technicians, and scientists in the room. "UNSEAL THE ESCAPE PODS!" she hollered. After a moment of hesitation, as they stared at their queen in bewilderment, everyone in the room exploded into life and began to do as she said.
Quistis turned back to the screen and prayed.
Please Squall, get out of there, get out of there now.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Was he alive?
He wasn't sure.
Looking down he saw grass beneath his feet. That perfume in the air of lilac and roses. But he wasn't supposed to be here. Something had happened a few moments ago. Rinoa . .she did something. . .something terrible. Yet at that moment standing on the bluffs he couldn't remember for the life of him . .what that was. Had she tried to kill him? No, it didn't seem right. Had she tried to kill herself? Maybe. . . Maybe . . .it was a thousand other possibilities but he was sure someone close to him had died.
The mist, it was so thick but it was getting better. Crying, there were a lot of people crying in the distance. He saw his mother suddenly, she was slowly getting to her feet. So slowly so painfully it was as though she had been turned into stone. Squall began to run towards her, as fast as his tiny legs would take him. He tripped midway but she didn't notice. He decided not to cry, today he had cried enough and she needed him to be strong for her . . . .because she had cried so much.
"Mama!" Squall said as he came close to her. He raised his arms.
Pick me up. Hold me. What's wrong mama? Why are you so sad?
She ignored him. He saw the general and Julia also getting up slowly from the ground where the three of them had been kneeling. The general looked up and he saw the little dark haired boy.
"You killed her," he hissed. His eyes filled with anger as though someone had lit a match behind them . "You, you little piece of shit." Although Squall did not understand what "shit" meant exactly he knew by the tone of the man that it was something awful. Suddenly the general violently reached out and tried to grab him.
Screaming in terror, Squall jumped behind his mother's legs. Raine glared at the general as she reached down and picked up her son.
"It's not his fault. Stop it you bastard. My son had nothing to do with your daughter's death!"
The general looked like he was about to attack Raine when Julia grabbed him.
"Stop," she whispered through her tears. "We've seen enough death for one day, stop please, no more."
The general's eyes were so wide with fury that they seemed to be on the verge of popping out of his head. "You little shit, that was my daughter you killed. How dare you doubt her? How dare you think for a second that she was not completely loyal to you? I'll tear you from limb to limb and feed you to my dogs!" the general jerked once more in Raine's direction as Julia held him still.
"Shut up!" Raine yelled from behind her tears. "Even if the fault is my son's you can't blame him for the sins of his future self. I'm sorry that your daughter is dead but remember that I too have just witnessed the death of my son!"
The general glared at Squall once more. "You, you worthless little bastard. She loved you more than life its self. She died for you. How could you live with that sin upon your shoulders?"
Raine reached up and tried to cover her son's ears but he heard. He stared spellbound at the general with tears in his eyes but he did not cry, he would be strong
The general spat upon the ground suddenly.
"Loire, I despise you, Loire. I will make sure to my dying day that my daughter never meets you and that she will NEVER, as long there is a breathe in my body, bestow upon you any of her sacred love." He grabbed the sleeping Rinoa from Julia's arms and left in a rage.
Julia looked at Raine and Squall sadly.
"Perhaps, Raine, it really is better should they never meet." Julia whispered as she turned and went after her husband.
As the two disappeared over the bluffs, Squall felt his mother press her forehead against his.
"Why Squall?" she asked gently choking as a new torrent of tears began to flow down her pale cheeks. "Why did you do it? Why did you doubt her? Why did you force your mother to watch you die? Squall, my dear, why?"
Squall reached over with his tiny hand and wiped away some of her tears.
"Please, mama stop. Please." he whispered, but she wouldn't.
It was then when he understood that he had done something monstrous.
Something which could never be forgiven.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"I'm sorry Squall," a voice came out of the darkness. "I took you back in time again. You always take me back there for some reason Squall, when I am not directing our destination we always go there. Why?"
"I don't know . . but I think I'm beginning to understand," Squall replied in the darkness. He was on the brink of waking up. So close.
"I'm glad that you are alive. I was worried. Rinoa . . she went a bit hysterical when she saw the space station explode."
"Does she know that you are talking to me now Ellone? Can you try to talk her out of what she is doing?" Squall asked tentatively.
"It's too late Squall, she's not here anymore."
"What?" he asked. "Did she faint? What do you mean she's not there?"
"She found an emergency space suit, each of these pods have one. She took it and left. I think she went to end her life."
"Squall?" Ellone asked. "Squall, I'm scared I'm floating through space all by myself. Will you come find me? I don't want to die."
"Squall? Are you still there?" Ellone asked desperately.
"Take me to her Ellone," Squall whispered. "To the present. I want to speak to her."
"What? She betrayed you Squall. How could you even think of that?"
"Just do it Ellone. Please, just this once."
After a moment of indecisiveness, Ellone finally gave in.
"Alright, Squall, just this once."
* * * * * *
[Remaining Life Support: 15 sec]
Some said that space was emptiness, the absence of matter.
Yet strangely as she drifted aimlessly through this void she had never felt more full. There were no choices to make in space. No one to betray, no one to find, no one to force yourself not to love.
Some said that life was nothing but chemical reactions that came from putting all the matter in order. What happens when those reactions stop, when let's say, you are scattered stardust. No more chemical reactions, no more order does that mean that there is no more life? No more Squall, he was dust in the wind.
Rinoa closed her eyes but it made no difference, darkness here, darkness outside. The only difference was that there were stars outside, tiny specks of light that really made no difference at all. Yet at that moment she wanted to keep her eyes open. As insignificant as these tiny particles were, she wanted to see them before her world was dark forevermore.
[Remaining Life Support: 0 sec]
The thought of dying with her eyes open terrified her. She would rather fall asleep and never wake up. But it was so cold here, and she was so scared. She did not want to run out of oxygen and drown in barren air. Floating in the black river of space, she would be a beautiful corpse with a raven colored garland around her head.
[Life Support Has Terminated.]
Rinoa closed her eyes peacefully and prepared herself for everlasting rest.
However she was not so lucky.
There were no voices in space. It came from inside her own head.
((What? Squall is that you? You're alive?))
(Rinoa don't do this, please.)
It made her want to laugh suddenly he was alive! But she didn't. Laughing would probably use up too much air and she just might drop dead in mid chuckle.
((I'm glad Squall, that you are alive. Why are you here?))
(Why are you doing this? Is this about Ellone? I forgive you.)
((Forgive me? Are you insane? I kidnaped your sister. I almost undid what your mother and father died for.))
(I forgive you. Don't ask me about my motives.)
She was glad then, that she would die forgiven. But even if he could somehow by some miracle forgive her, she would never be able to forgive herself.
((Goodbye Squall . . .I love you.))
Rinoa closed her eyes and fell into space. In her quiet solitude she fell and fell, trying to ignore Squall's voice. Maybe death was just a bottomless black hole and you kept falling forever. Oh how I want to be beside you Squall. How I wish that were meant to be. Laguna Loire. Son of Laguna Loire. She tried to picture it in her head. Her thoughts were merging together like one big mess of strings.
You two are bound together by destiny. .. . .We are all alone . . . You must promise me that you will find him. This is my last wish . . . .. . .If you don't tell me your name soon I'm going to make one up for you, . . . .This is no ordinary mission. . .. . .You're going to like me. You're going to like me.. . . .I met a boy. . .No, a kiss will do.. . he was wonderful. . . .Would you believe that I wanted to apologize for lying to you . . . What is it? Is it a lion . . .
Rinoa opened her eyes as she saw the double rings floating before her. Her eyes warmed with tears. Griever, the flaming head of a lion looked back at her. So here, before the empty space dotted by distance stars, Griever was to be her last sight.
He carried a machine gun, had a strange fetish for monsters. . . Yeah, lions are known for their great strength and pride. I call it Griever. . . .He had some strange monster accessories . . .Great strength and pride kinda like you, Squall. . .
((No!)) Rinoa stared at the rings before and tears erupted from within her. She finally understood. ((Squall .. . .Squall Loire. He was Squall Loire not Squall Leonhart. . .Squall Loire .. oh god))
(Rinoa?) Squall's voice came once more and Rinoa realized that he had not yet left her.
She pressed the bottons at her throat and a new flood of oxygen came into her helmet. Like a famished vampire she drank up the sweet air.
((You .. you are Squall Loire. You are the one my father wanted me to find .. it was you all along.))
Rinoa cried quietly and realized that she could not wipe the tears from her face.((Oh god Squall, . . . Squall?)) Rinoa searched her head for his voice but all she heard was silence. Was she wrong? What if he was not Squall Loire? What if .. . . .She fell into something then. . . something firm that stopped her eternal fall.
His arms. He turned her around holding her in his gentle embrace and she saw his face. It was a sight she thought she would never see again. She smiled at him and held onto his arms. Here, drifting together, death . . .surely they can't die together here. But she had no strength left in her.
It's up to you Squall. I can't do anything . .anymore.
He turned her once more, holding her with one arm as she saw a flaming red spaceship careening towards them. She clung to him and the ship as they caught hold of it. She hung onto the smooth surface for her dear life but he tugged her along as he moved closer to the entrance. In a blur before her tear stained eyes, he pushed a series of bottons and the door slide open. He shoved her in first then went in after her.
In the air duct, they both removed their space suits.
"Thank you Squall," she said as they walked into the hallway of the spaceship. He glanced around looking for some sort of communication mechanism.
"Squall, why did you do it?" she asked. "Why did you come after me?"
He finally turned his eyes back at her, his regular look of annoyance on his brows. It made her smile. So things were back to normal. That blank look was gone, she just hoped that she would never have to see it again.
"There's no time for us to talk about that now. You want to get back to earth safely don't you?"
"Do you mean am I still suicidal? No, not really. You are Squall Loire aren't you?"
He winced at the name. "Yeah, my mother changed our names in a futile effort to elude the Estharian soldiers. My father was Laguna Loire. Your father told you to find me?"
"Yes, it was his last wish. Why do you sound so surprised?"
Squall looked away remembering the general's words. So he had gone back on his vow after all.
"Squall? Is there something you are keeping from me?"
"Yeah, there are a few things we need to find out later .. .about Winhill and what really happened fifteen years ago."
Rinoa nodded. "Alright. As for now let's go find some way to contact ground control."
* * * * *
Quistis stood there at the control panel.
"There is still no sign of him?" she asked. "In any of the escape pods?"
"The last sighting was with Piet in the escape pod but after he left suddenly . .there has been no sign."
Quistis shook her head. "Shut up Daniel you are not helping." Quistis sat down and sighed.
Squall, what have you done? The life support in that suit does not last this long. Are you dead already?
"This is strange," one of her technicians remarked.
"What?" Quistis asked.
He nodded with a look of respect on his face. "Ms President, the spaceship, Ragnarok, I think there is someone on it."
"Send out a signal, try to contact whoever is on it!" She snapped.
<<"Hello?">> A muffled voice came from over the speaker. Quistis felt as though a weight had been lifted from her chest. He was safe. He was alive. She would see him again.
"Is this really the spaceship Ragnarok?" the technician yelled in glee. "Wow, this is amazing."
<<"Can we make it back from here?">> his voice came again.
"Yes, just follow my directions," the technician said again.
Quistis sat back and smiled. She nodded at her workers.
"Okay, now you should all concentrate on looking for Rinoa Heartilly and Ellone."
It was only an hour later when it hit her.
"Rinoa Heartilly is on the Ragnarok with Squall," she said in a sudden breakthrough.
"Huh? Ms President?" one of her workers asked.
"Contact the Ragnarok, ask how many people are on it and who they are."
A few moments later her suspicions were confirmed. Quistis shook her head then.
Squall Squall, you left the Lunar Pod to go after Rinoa Heartilly? What a fool you are.
"What should we do?" Tom, a scientist asked her.
"The SeeDs that you found in Esthar the other day. . .they may be of some
use after all. Get me Odine. I have a few requests."
* * * * *
"We wish you God Speed," Ground Control said.
"Thanks," Squall replied softly to the speaker as he glanced over at Rinoa who kept her place near the door. He gestured for her to take the seat beside him.
Rinoa smiled as she suddenly felt herself leaving the floor. Giggling nervously she playfully did a somersault in mid air. Her hair formed a black cloud around her head as she bobbed up and down. She saw him leave his seat and a few moments later he swept her into his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck and began to laugh softly. He left her near the seat beside his own and motioned for her to sit down but she wasn't planning to be so obedient. In a moment of playfulness she jumped onto his lap and pressed her cheek against the fur of his collar. She reached over with her left hand and cupped his face.
"Will you tell me now why you came after me?" she inquired gently.
He reached up to her hand and wrapped his gloved fingers over it. He looked slightly annoyed at their closeness but did not appear to be on the verge of forcing her away.
"It had to do with Winhill. I think I'm beginning to realize now that Winhill is connected to everything."
Rinoa nodded as she pressed herself closer to him. "I'm sorry Squall, for deceiving you. I just thought that perhaps I could have both the approval of my own kind and the one I loved but I guess I was wrong. I should have realized in the beginning that it was always one or the other. Squall, I . . .still don't understand why you came for me."
"I'm not sure either. I guess it was impulse."
She laughed nervously.
"Is that all it was? You decided to save the life of the world's most dangerous sorceress because you felt like it?"
"You would have made the right choice eventually, Rinoa." he said quietly barely above a whisper. "I have faith in nothing, in no one but I have it in you. After my mother died, after Ellone disappeared, I thought that I would never trust anyone again but after I met you I began to believe that perhaps for one last time I could.
"How about in the Space Station? Did you still have faith in me then?"
"No but I am willing to take this chance. Sometime a long time ago I think I betrayed your trust the way you just did mine. I guess we are even."
"I have no idea what you are talking about."
Silence. Only the sound of the black soup of space greeted her ears as she sat in awkward closeness. Finally she spoke up again merely for the sake of speaking.
"How can I accept that when I've abused your trust so badly? I can't . .. the debt I owe you is too high. I can never repay you for what you have given me."
"Then don't. Perhaps in another world things were simpler but for us we need to cope with the circumstances of this world."
She nodded sadly and leaned over to hug him. She did it so suddenly he did not have the chance to push her away. It was good, holding him, feeling the solid weight of his flesh in her arms.
"Perhaps Squall, next time, it will be better. The next turn of the wheel, the next time I see you standing at that dance, there will not be so many obstacles in our way. We wouldn't need to travel so far to find each other."
"No," he muttered. "There will always be obstacles. In this world, the last and the next. Perhaps somewhere out there, there is even a world where you have nothing to do with the sorceress Edea and I remember nothing of Winhill."
"And in that world," Rinoa disclosed lightly "there is perfect love and perfect trust."
"No," he said as he took her hand off his cheek. "There is no such thing. But I know that no matter what the circumstances are or were, they cannot be happier than we are now . . .or more frustrated . . .or more irritated."
She chuckled under her breath but grew serious.
"Everyone will hate me for what I did to Ellone. What are you going to do about SeeD? It's all my fault."
She gently untangled herself from him and retreated to the seat beside him. She pulled her legs up and hugged them to her chest.
"They'll never let us stay together and perhaps Squall, it is best for you if we didn't."
Squall was speechless for a few moments before the speaker flared up again.
"Spaceship Ragnarok? We are collecting escape pods we have a pretty good idea of what happened. Will you please report the names of the passengers on board?"
Squall watched Rinoa carefully for a few seconds more before he leaned forward and spoke.
"I'm Squall Leonhart, a SeeD from Balamb Garden," he said.
"Is there anyone with you?" the man asked.
Squall hesitated but Rinoa took the burden off him.
"Rinoa Heartilly, the sorceress," she reported and then closed her eyes.
"The sorceress?!" the man exclaimed. " . . . .the sorceress will be seized upon arrival."
Rinoa leaned back and grew silent.
So this was really the end.
Squall turned to her then, looking thoughtful.
"I can take this off of autopilot Rinoa. Let's go to Winhill."
Author's Note : The conversation Squall and Rinoa had in this chapter about the other "perfect world" was a tribute to the one Cloud and Tifa had at the end of FF7 Twisted.
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