The Orphan Chapter 11
By Kate Lorraine
From Timber Irvine Kinneas and Quistis Trepe boarded a train back to Balamb, the current location of the Balamb garden as well as the Galbadian garden. The Trabia garden was in the process of being repaired but it was expected to join the other two once it was complete. It was a good thing that Timber was no longer under Galbadia's control because all travel between Galbadia and Balamb had been cut off due to the possible onset of war.
The two SeeDs entered the special SeeD suite but neither noticed the superfluous luxuries in the room on this grim day. Quistis sat down and folded her arms. She had a distant look on her face, as though she was contemplating something important. Irvine sat down on the plush leather couch and pulled his hat down to cover his eyes.
"What's going on between you and Seifer?" Quistis asked, suddenly, startling Irvine.
"Nothing." He muttered. "Why?"
She shook her head. "It's obvious Irvine that something has happened. Tell me. What is it? You were more of a hothead than Zell back there."
Irvine waved his hand in a gesture of dismissal.
He pulled his cowboy hat lower. *Stella.* That name. He felt like someone was lighting matches in his chest. He couldn't believe that he had forgotten that name for so many years. He had sworn that he never would, no matter how powerful the GF was. But he had, hadn't he? Irvine replayed the events in his head. He knew he would do this all the time now, so that he would not forget, never again forget.
* * *
He was adopted by a family of three when he was nine. They took him from Edea's orphanage to Timber where he lived for five years before he enrolled in Garden. He never really considered himself to be from Timber, or rather he had forgotten much of what happened there. His foster mother, father, he couldn't remember for the life of him, yet he did remember one. Her name was Stella, she was his new sister. She had short perky blond hair, the color of Quistis' and the style of Selphie's.
And the strangest thing was that she had an obsessive fascination with cowboys. She dressed in a leather vest, short shorts and laced boots. She always had an old dirty cowboy hat on, usually she stuck the blue feather of a Thrustaevis in it. Men loved her. She was like sunshine. A dancing figure straight of a music box. But the best thing was that she was all his. He was always her favorite dance partner, her cowboy partner and her "little man" as she called him.
He remembered during their father's funeral she had sat there on the side of grave, feet tucked under her, with a smile on her face and told the priest that their father probably would have been bored to death by this tedious sermon. "He would never have wanted us to sit here serious and uncomfortable. He would have wanted us to dance and laugh." She told them all, shocking the best of them. A simple child of ten back then, he had clapped his hands and hugged her because her speech made perfect sense to his young mind.
She was his sister the way Ellone was Squall's. But she was so happy. Even when Galbadia invaded Timber and established military rule, she somehow still managed to hold the wildest parties and dance till dawn while he fell asleep beside the bar, her hat on his head, covering his eyes like a real cowboy.
"I don't know why people live the way they do, " she told him "as though life was a contagious disease. It's ridiculous. Promise me Irvy that you'll never turn into a stuffy serious adult. Life is good for making love and getting drunk. Why work so hard for future happiness when you can have it now?"
He had giggled. "Yeah Stelly," he had said. "I'm going to be a cowboy just like you."
She had laughed, placed her hat on his head and taken him, sitting oh her shoulders to the little room underneath the bar where the Laughing Hyenas held their meetings. She twirled around flirting with the boys in the tiny resistance group, while her spunky hair bounced and shined in the dim light of the fading single light bulb.
Of course, then there came the day when a group of soldiers rushed into their bar and began to harass the people, claiming that they were harboring terrorists. Everyone stood mute while two men and a women were dragged away, accused of poisoning the drinks of a few notable government officials. With that Stella stepped forward. She walked over to the blond general and told him promptly that she would not allow him to arrest her costumers.
The general had stared at her in surprise, then humor. "Young whore, get out of my way before you degrade my presence."
Stella stared at him with fire in her eyes. "Let them go or you'll regret it."
With that the general pulled out a gun and shot one of the men in his custody. The man's chest exploded in red and he fell, dead. The general smirked at Stella.
"Yes? Or what?"
Irvine was hiding behind Stella's knees where he watched the man fall. He began sniffing, petrified with fear.
Stella pulled out her gun and promptly pointed it at the general's forehead.
She smiled. "See you in hell, Shojora. I've been waiting for th-"
Bu before she could finish her sentence, her chest exploded. A sniper, hiding behind the door of the bar had picked her off. Her blood splattered all over Irvine as she collapsed onto the floor. He ran over and knelt beside her.
"Stelly, no! No." He had whispered as he held her head with his tiny hands.
She stared at him, her eyes open and glossy in death as the soldiers puller her body away. He had knelt there, that was all that he remembered, kneeling there, forever and ever, watching the blood splattered wood floor.
He enrolled in Garden three years later. He was going to avenge her, his beautiful Stella. He knew the general's name was Shojora. That had been his dream. To stand infront of Shojora, holding his gun, and to say Stella's last words. But two weeks into his schooling, Shojora was lost in combat. From then on Irvine forgot about Stella. He didn't want to remember, how he would now never be able to avenge her death. He became a sniper, guns and women, the two most prominent aspects of his memory. But even though he forgot the events themselves, he always hesitated before he fired his gun with the intent to kill. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew that someone's life will be changed forever by the life he took, maybe it too was a little boy who wanted to be a cowboy.
And the memory stayed beneath the tides of his consciousness until he learned of Shojora's illegitimate child during his visit to Edea's Orphanage after Ultimecia died. He had gone with the intent of finding out who his own parents were but instead he found out that of someone else's.
The records there told of Shojora's mistress, Laura Almasy.
Mother of Seifer Almasy.
* * *
"Irvine, wake up!" Quistis yelled into his ear. Irvine jumped up in a fright.
"What? I wasn't sleeping!"
Quistis laughed. "Yes you were. Come on, if you stay here they'll take you back to Timber." She laughed at him again. He pulled his hat closer to his head and rubbed his hands together. "I bet all the lovely ladies at garden have missed me terribly. The poor things. There is only so much of me to go away."
Quistis shook her head. "Come on Romeo let's go. I wish you would tell me what you have against Seifer."
"I don't like his haircut." Irvine replied playfully. "It looks like it belongs to a ten year old." He knew that couldn't confide in her. He had never told anyone about his Stella or about his grudge against Seifer. Quistis might have been a good place to start but the words stopped at the end of his tongue. He had never been the serious kind.
Quistis playfully tugged at Irvine's pony tail as they exited the train. "Yes this looks terribly mature."
Irvine followed her off the train into the Balamb station. He watched her tight vest hug the small of her waist as her leather covered arms swayed gently at her side. Her Save the Queen dangled at her waist. Queen Quistis. He couldn't think of a better title for her.
"Hurry, Irvine."Quistis said waving to him.
He nodded and followed her.
* * *
Quistis ran into the conference room, formerly Headmaster Cid's office, to find Xu and a small group of SeeDs there.
Quistis's glance skipped from one mournful face to another. It was as though someone was dead. A girl was sitting in the corner sobbing quietly. Xu was looking down, her arms folded, face downcast. The aura of sorrow pervaded the tiny room. No, please don't let it be Squall.
"Squall, Xu is there any word on Squall. Is he okay?" Quistis asked with an unconventional urgency.
Xu shook her head. "No there is no word on Squall but . .."
Quistis secretly breathed a sigh of relief. As long as it wasn't Squall. If anything ever happened to Squall, why she'll go insane.
"What?" Quistis asked, slightly calmer. "Tell me. Simon? Nida? Drew? Tell me what's going on."
They all looked down. Xu was the only one to meet her eye.
"Quistis, Galbadia just declared war on Garden."
Quistis nodded. "I know."
Xu shook her head. "I guess our diplomatic efforts didn't go off well."
"No Deling never had any intention of diplomacy. We were right. He just wants to annihilate Garden. He thinks we are group of terrorists hazardous to the health of his Galbadia."
Quistis studied the gloomy room. "I don't understand, didn't you expect this? A fight with Galbadia is inevitable. How long do you think we could keep aiding resistance groups before they would catch on to it?"
One of the SeeDs, named Drew, finally looked up at Quistis. "If only Squall didn't snatch that sorceress away. Who does he think he is anyway? Plucking that girl away like Paris and Helen. Now we have to fight a war so that he can keep that girl in his bed? And where is he? Shouldn't he be fighting with us? He just disappeared like some coward off the face of the earth."
Quistis was overcome with fury. She had never attacked a member of Garden but at that moment she wanted to gorge Drew's eyes out. She was so furious that she could hardly speak a word in response.
"How dare you. Never in my life have I heard anything so slanderous. Squall saved Garden from Edea, he saved the world from Ultimecia, he saved you, all of you from complete annihilation. What do you do but sit here and complain, you half witted idiot. If I didn't respect the sacred significance of this room I would rip out your tongue and feed it to a Mes-"
Quistis was cut off by Xu who stepped between them to intervene. "Stop," Xu begged, "Please let's not fight amongst ourselves. At this time more than any other we need to pull together. Please, Quistis, Drew. Stop."
"I'm not the only one who thinks this way!" Drew yelled in response. "More than half the garden thinks this war is ridiculous. Who is Rinoa anyway? She's that bloody Caraway's little whore, possibly Deling's illegitimate daughter. Squall need to keep his mind in his head and not in his pants all the time. Any respect I had for him during the Sorceress war is irrevocably gone."
"Fine!" Quistis yelled. "Get out, get of Squall's garden. You are all exiled for treason. I'll fight this war, even if I have to do it myself. Even Seifer was better than you. At least he did it for a dream. You? You are just a bloody coward, slandering a man who is a thousand times as noble as you."
"Please no! No one is exiled for treason. Stop it Quistis. Squall is somewhere, he must have his reasons for not contacting us. We can't fight the Galbadians alone. Quistis, there aren't as many people who would give up their lives for Squall as you may think." Xu stated.
Quistis stared at Xu in absolute shock. "You too, Xu?"
Quistis continued sadly. "I thought that if I had one ally in this room it would be you. What happened to "Squall, I'm behind you 100%? Or was that only for when you knew that it was his job to take of everything. Are you just a fair weather friend, Xu? Turning your back as soon as he is the one in need?"
Xu shook her head, sadly. "Quistis, don't say that. You know I love Squall like a brother. If he needed my right arm I would give it to him without hesitation. But this is Garden. Cid's garden. If you choose to fight Galbadia I'll be right beside you even if it is a loosing battle. But I can't order Garden into this. I can't."
Quistis stared at all of them with tears in her eyes. "I see."
"I see more now than I ever saw before. Thank you Xu, thank you Drew. I used to believe that Garden wouldn't forsake its members. I used to believe that we were all one on a mission to crush tyranny and injustice. I believed that I was sending my students off to glorious noble lives. Now I see behind all the masks. I'll fight this war. I'm not just fighting for Squall and Rinoa. I'm fighting against the oppressors of freedom who would choose manipulate the minds of innocent people. Do you really believe that Galbadia desist if you surrender? Just wait for the next trivial matter which Deling chooses to use as a springboard to war. You'll see then, oh you'll see, as I see now."
Quistis ran out of the room. Two SeeDs tried to block her way but she shoved her way past them.
Xu sighed as she heard Quistis's footsteps disappear down the hall. She had no doubt that Zell, Irvine, Selphie were behind her as well as a good portion of Garden. There was no way to win. Either way, Garden would be destroyed. She just wished that Cid was here. He would know what to do. And most of all, Squall. Where was he? How could sit by and allow this to happen? She knew sadly that Drew and his fellow dissenters were holding a meeting to choose a new commander. At first she was opposed to it but she was beginning to believe that it would be for the better. Squall just wasn't leader material, if only Quistis would see that.
Zell and Selphie walked into the dormitory to see a sight they never thought they would see, the cold level headed instructor was crying.
Selphie ran over to Quistis and placed her hands on the instructor's shoulder.
"Quisty, what's wrong?" Selphie asked, squealing in surprise.
"Yo, Quistis, tell us. Was it those Galbadians? Is it Squall? Is he okay?" Zell asked.
Quistis dried her eyes and stopped tried to best to get her calmness back. It was terrifying to Zell to see her this way. She was always their older sister, the one who knew that was going on. Today, she had broken down. It was like the sky was falling.
"I'm fine," Quistis ordered, and gently pushed Selphe's concerned hands away.
They heard footsteps and the door behind Selphie opened.
"Zell! Selphie! I came right away. I heard you are bac - . . . what the Quistis have you been crying?" Irvine asked, just as surprised.
Selphie motioned for Irvine to shut up. "Is it Squall and Rinoa, Quistis? Just tell us yes or no."
Quistis wiped her eyes with the back of her bare hands. Her gloves were lying in her lap.
"There is no word from Squall. Galbadia has declared war on Garden and . . . " Quistis trailed off and began to twist the gloved in her left hand.
"What?" Zell asked impatiently.
Selphie glared at Zell. Quistis did not notice. She continued where she had left off.
"They .. , the garden is divided. They think Squall dragging us into a fight for selfish reasons. . . . they are going to choose a new commander."
"What?!" Zell yelled. Selphie gasped. Irvine raised his eyebrows.
" No! Yo that's just wrong in a thousand ways." Zell exclaimed.
"That can't be true!" Selphie yelled. "I don't believe it. I don't know anyone here that doesn't look up to Squall. They don't always say it but I know. Everyone in Garden loves Squall. That just can't be true."
Irvine shook his head. "Sometimes when a small minority believes something strongly they can sway the opinion of an unsure majority. We need to find Squall. If he shows up chances are this issue will disappear. You two, any news?"
Selphie looked at her feet and Zell looked confused.
"No," Selphie whispered. "We looked everywhere. No sign of them. It's like they disappeared off the face of the earth."
"We visited Matron and Cid though," Zell added helpfully.
Quistis shook her head and closed her eyes. She looked like she was suffering from a migraine headache. Irvine nodded at Selphie and Zell but he looked just as lost.
"If Squall wants to keep his place as commander he better to show up soon." Quistis whispered tiredly. "They are choosing a new leader this evening."
Author's Note: please don't get insulted over the chapter on Irvine. I only wrote it to explain why Irvine is such a hothead to Seifer. If you hate it just pretend its not here. It has no affect on the rest of the story.
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