The Orphan Chapter 13
By Kate Lorraine
Caraway stood at the large oval window behind his desk. He pulled back the red velvet curtains as he frowned in contemplation at the nighttime skyline of Deling City. The wound he bore from Seifer's sword felt like a shard of glass stuck deep in his chest. It was not about to heal soon.
"General Caraway," the young messenger interrupted softly, fearfully.
Caraway merely ignored him.
"General Caraway, the president wanted me to inform you that to take advantage of Garden's weakness. We should strike immediately."
Caraway pulled his worn age weary hand up to his chin. He said nothing, seemingly deaf to the young man's pleas.
"You may go now," Caraway finally replied.
The young man eagerly turned to leave. However, Caraway interrupted him as he came to the threshold of the door.
"Tell Jim to come in," Caraway said, softly as though he was thinking of something far more tender than war. "Jim Wallace, he should be right outside the door."
The young man glanced back for a second across the dark room. It was like the kind of room that vampires and goblins dwelled. Where the raven would sit on his bust and quote nevermore. The young man just wished that four decades of war wouldn't bring him to the same state of mind as Caraway, to enjoy living in such a room.
"Yes, sir!" The young man said, far less tense now that he was a step away from the safety of the hallway.
He stepped through the door with a breath of relief.
"Stand up straight soldier," someone ordered from behind him. The young man jumped to attention.
"Jim Wallace? Mr. Wallace? I'm sorry I didn't realize you were -"
"Shut your trap soldier," Wallace ordered. "Here in the military I'm General Wallace to you. Remember that if you ever plan on going home to your mama again. Now get out of my sight."
The young man nodded swiftly and obediently. He walked stiffly to the stairs and scrambled out of the mansion once he was out of the range of the two men. Compared to the horror stories he had heard, that meeting had gone quite well.
Wallace respectfully stepped into Caraway's office. He removed his hat and held it infront of him in a gesture of respect to his old friend. The room was musty and dark, the way it had been since Julia Heartilly died. Wallace still remembered the days when he would see little chubby Rinoa sitting in the corner of her father's office playing with her dolls. Then you would hear the tend strands of the piano form the parlor where Julia sat like day and night playing her haunting melodies. It used to be a place full of warm and laughter. But that was then, Julia was dead now, dead and buried in the Deling graveyard underneath a magnificent marble angel. And Rinoa, well Rinoa, the poor misguided child. Wallace could only hope that she would realize one day how much her father truly did love her.
"I'm afraid this a war we have to fight," Wallace stated.
"Garden, the complete annihilation of Garden" Caraway mused, his voice hoarse but calm. Caraway looked like he had aged twenty years in the last five days. His skin appeared to hang from his face. Wallace shook his head.
"Tell me what it is old friend. You never used to hid so much from me."
Caraway shook his head. "I am an old man without a country. This is a war which I cannot win." Caraway allowed his hand to slide over the wound over his chest. Ah, what lovely pain that was. How he deserved that pain, yet it was nothing compared to what he had suffered that day when the dented metal of the car crash swallowed his wife Julia. Rinoa was but five back then. He still remembered the screams. A tear, creeped down his cheek. It traced the wrinkled on his cheek, outlining cracks and crevasses. And each tiny fold in his age worn face marked a place where he had tucked a painful memory.
"Caraway," Wallace said once more. "I will go in your place to Garden, if it is your wish. I will so what Deling asked of you. There is no need for you to go. These past days have been hard on you."
Caraway nodded, with an air of total resignation. "All right Wallace, I will leave Garden to you. But have mercy, remember they are only children.not much different from your Chris and my Rinoa. We are fighting a war against children." Caraway said with bitterness in his voice.
Wallace nodded. "Deling has agreed to work with the leader of Neo Garden, has he not? It will be far easier. I heard that their fighting spirit is waning. After all their leader is gone. I expect this war won't last long with few fatalities."
Caraway folded his arms over his chest. The beautiful pain came again. Like a flower of pain blooming in his chest. A flower for Julia.
"Don't underestimate the power of the Garden and its SeeD," Caraway warned Wallace. "They have spirit and loyalty, it is an admirable trait in those so young."
Wallace shook his head sadly. "If I didn't know better I would almost say that you felt something positive toward those scoundrels. Do you think that young imp that slashed you across your chest had 'spirit and loyalty.'"
"Seifer Almasy." Caraway mused quietly. He reflected on the deep scar he had seen on the SeeD which his daughter had brought to Deling. Almasy was no good. Caraway would have shot him without a second thought. "If he shows up, terminate him, Wallace. He is a menace to society, I don't think you need me to tell you that."
Wallace nodded. "I will see to that." After a few moments of silence, Jim Wallace stepped closer to Caraway. He gestured to the painting on the wall, a old portrait of Rinoa, who was then a tiny eleven year old when her mother died. "Tell me Caraway, why this sudden gloom over the splitting of Garden? In the old days we would have rejoiced happily over the disbanding of these terrorists. Why this sudden change?"
Caraway slowly turned his head away from Wallace. He sighed, a sound filled with resignation and despair. When he spoke next it was with a tenderness that he had spared only for Julia and Rinoa. "The old commander, the one which Deling has been mock persuing.The truth, the truth Wallace, is that I've begun to like that boy."
Wallace frowned. "Did I hear you correctly, general? He's the leader of a band of terrorists, no better than the king of thieves. Rinoa, poor misled Rinoa, don't let her do this to herself. Surely you must be joking."
Caraway nodded. "Deling is plotting my death at this very moment, Jim. I know he is. When garden falls that is my death toll. I'm not going to try to avoid it. I've dedicated my life to Galbadia. I won't die nameless in some cowardly hiding place. I don't fear Deling, I just despise him.
Wallace shook his head and looked down. "Don't say that. Deling would never do such a thing."
Caraway chuckled, sighing sadly. "The boy, he watches over Rinoa the way I've always done. If I were to go I want to know that I would leave my only child in good hands. If he shows up Balamb, Wallace, spare him. Let him live, that is all I ask of you as a friend. He will soon be Rinoa's only caretaker."
Wallace stared at Caraway in annoyance. "Stop it, don't talk like that. I won't have you talking about death. Deling is just a greedy bastard just like his brother. He needs you to plunder his towns and to keep his people under his fat thumb. As for Garden, if Rinoa comes, i promise to escort her safely back to you. I make no promises about the boy." Wallace bowed respectfully to Caraway and turned to leave. He watched Caraway standing at the window overlooking Deling City. Poor Caraway, he's loosing his mind. Leaving poor helpless Rinoa in the hands of a terrorist leader? The poor child. Her father just never understood people, perhaps that was what that had driven her from him. Wallace looked at the portrait of Rinoa sadly once more, before he left the room. To Garden.
The quad was filled to the seams with students as Drew Gains and Quistis Trepe stood on the small stage. Drew had a sympathetic smile on his face while Quistis had her lips pressed tightly together in a look of absolute hatred and annoyance.
The room quieted down as Drew raised his hands for silence.
"My fellow students and SeeDs, this is a grave time before us. As you know Galbadia has recently declared war on Garden. And now I ask you, what incentive do have to fight this war? What incentive do you have to go into that bloody field and risk your lives?"
"For commander Squall!" one of the junior classman yelled, suddenly.
"If he is your beloved commander then where is he now when you need him the most? If he truly cared about Garden's well being he would be on this stage now, not me. But he is not here. He has forsaken you. I like most of you, am greatly saddened by Cid's serious illness and his inability to communicate with Garden anymore. However, had he been able, I'm sure he would tell us that he never intended for Squall to lead garden permanently. Squall is a SeeD, SeeDs fight sorceress, he has broken that code. How can he lead an organization for fighting sorceresses when he himself is in love with one? It is ridiculous."
Quistis spoke up. "Listen to me, don't let him persuade you with his vile lies. These are times that try your souls. Remember that you will not be fighting this war for Squall, you are fighting for the meek and the weak. You can choose to be a coward and surrender to Galbadia but I assure you that sooner or later he will make life unbearable to you, all of you. It is common for a person to choose to suffer injustices rather than correct them. In my short career of teaching I have always believed that Garden trained students to fight and not tolerate. Please don't prove to me what all my expectations were lies."
"But where is he?" A male student suddenly yelled from the back of the room. "Where is Squall, Quistis?"
"Yes, Quistis," Drew said, "where is he?"
Quistis looked at the giant crowd sadly. "He's somewhere, doing what needs to be done. I trust that. I trust Squall. He'll come when we need him the most, I know he will."
Drew snickered sarcastically. "We need him now Quistis. If he's going to be so stingy with his presence I say we choose a new leader, one who will be here, where he is needed."
"Like you?" Quistis asked angrily.
Drew smiled and nodded. "Yes, what a good suggestion Quistis, I would have never expected it from you." With that Drew raised his arms to the crowd. "If elected the new commander I will prevent this war with Galbadia. I will make sure the sorceress is handed over to Deling where she belongs."
There was absolute silence in the room. Quistis stood there practically shaking with anger. For a second she almost wished that Zell and Irvine were here so that they could beat the living crap out of the likes of Drew Gains.
"You can't do this," Quistis whispered shakily. "How can you even tolerate listening to this snake faced liar? Please, listen to me. This is wrong. This is so wrong." She trailed off into nothingness.
"Fine," Drew stated. "Those who would like to fight the war, leave, go and die on that bloody battle field for a petty squabble over your commander's girlfriend. I pity you, in your blind loyalty. Those who would like follow me, stay."
Quistis stared in absolute shock as not one member of the audience left.
"This is the dawn of a new era. Neo Garden, I am your new commander."
In a tiny run down bar in Dollet a female reporter spoke from a flickering television.
"Today, Balamb Garden has split into two sectors, Balamb Garden and Neo Balamb. The other Gardens are expected to follow. Recently elected leader of Neo Balamb, Drew Gains, stated that his sector of Garden will join Galbadia to capture the sorceress from Garden.
'The sorceress is evil,' Gains stated today, ' We have provided her a sanctuary long enough. It is time for Garden to hand her over and allow justice to be done.' Until that occurs, we, Neo Garden, will aid Galbadia in every way possible.'"
The young blond boy who was sitting infront of the television appeared to have heard enough. He swept his eyes over the bar in one haughtily glance then strolled out, with shining blood wetted gunblade in hand. He walked across the street to find the hotel where him and his comrades were staying. However, as he walked into the room, he realized that only one was there - Fuijin.
"Seifer," she said, nodding in quiet greeting.
"Pack up, Fuijin, We are going to Balamb," Seifer said.
She nodded. "Now?"
Seifer scratched his head. "Yes," he replied. For a second he thought she would question his sudden change in disposition, but she merely got up and walked across the room and commenced to pack. He was slightly startled by her obedience but quickly quieted his surprise.
"Where's that fool Raijin?" he asked her, while glancing out the door down the hall. He tapped his gunblade against the door frame, breaking flakes of plaster loose and unto the carpet in tiny showers, minuscule, and unnoticed.
"Left." She replied.
He nodded. "That fool never says where he is going huh? I guess we'll have to go around town wasting out time looking for him."
She walked up to him, studying him with her single eye. Pressing her lips together thoughtfully, she nodded.
They found Raijin on Dollet beach practicing his special move. Seifer laughed. He couldn't help it. As Raijin had his back turned Seifer easily stepped toward and tripped the large man, making him fall on his face in the wet sand. Fuijin suppressed a small laugh.
"Wha? What did you do that for Seifer?" Raijin demanded getting back onto his feet. "You two keep picking on me. It gets annoying, ya know?"
Seifer smirked happily. "Stop complaining, you complain more than a girl."
Raijin glanced at Fuijin and back to Seifer. "Are we going somewhere?" he asked.
"Balamb," Fuijin replied.
"Wha?? Balamb? No Seifer, no not this time. All the gardens are there. They are going to crush us like tiny bugs," Raijin said, placing his index finger a inch from his thumb, to emphasize his point.
"Aw shut up, I'm the leader of this posse. I decide where we go." Seifer said.
Raijin shook his head. "This has nothing to do with the garden splitting has it? That's Squall's business, ya know. I don't want to get involved with that."
"Fool." Fuijin said vindictively.
"Yes," Seifer said, "listen to Fuijin. Come we need to get going."
"It's that sorceress isn't it Seifer? She's the one you are looking for." Raijin asked, not budging.
Seifer frowned. He did not like being placed on the spot by one of his subordinates.
"Yeah so what?" Seifer asked, turning back towards Raijin. "I just wanna find her and kill her, that's all. So no more sorceresses can appear tampering with my head."
"Why? She ain't bothering you Seifer. She's with Squall. Let her mess with his head."
Seifer growled under his breath. "If you don't want to come Raijin then stay. I don't give a chocobo's ass either way."
Raijin looked at Fuijin, hoping that she would talk some sense into him.
Fuijin looked down. " Seifer, is this for Rinoa?" she asked, her voice hardly above the softest of whispers.
Seifer glared at no one in particular. "Rinoa, Rinoa is a sorceress, I kill sorceresses, there is nothing more."
Fuijin looked up, looking significantly less gloomy. "Let's go then, to Balamb."
"Wha?" Raijin asked. "I don't get it." The two members of his posse turned their backs to him and began to walked down Dollet beach to the docks. Significantly agitated, Raijin gave up. "Wait up!" he yelled as he kicked sand into the air, running after them.
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