The Orphan Chapter 15

War on Garden

By Kate Lorraine

Jim Wallace stepped into the conference room to young freckle faced young man with reddish frizzy hair sitting there with two associates dressed in Neo Garden uniform.

The young man reached forward to shake his hand.

"Hello, General Wallace I presume. I'm Drew Gains, commander of Neo Garden."

Wallace nodded. He estimated the boy's age to be around seventeen. Maybe Caraway was right and they were really fighting a war against children.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Gains. May I ask about how many still remain under the command of Squall Leonhart?"

Gains grimaced, "enough to make this a war far from an easy win. But they can be taken down. They are weak disorganized and lacking in confidence. As you know the old commander, has went into a cowardly hiding place. He leaves his subordinates to fight the war for him."

Wallace contemplated what the boy had said.

"Deling has ordered me to find the sorceress and to punish the gardens for hiding her. You have agreed to aiding me, or so I've heard.

Drew nodded. "But I do have assurance of the safety of my people after Balamb is captured don't I?"

Wallace nodded. "You signed the treaty with Deling, Deling does not go back on his word. Is there anything else you would like to know?"

Drew shook his head, "no."

Wallace paused, wondering if he should open his mouth. Drew nodded looking like he was preparing to leave.

"Wait, Commander Gains, I was just wondering, what are the odds of Leonhart showing up during this war?"

Drew scowled. "Leonhart is gone. He won't show up. I can promise you that. He doesn't care, he never cared about anything but his own safety."

Wallace nodded. "All right, then farewell until victory is ours." Wallace reached over and shook Drew's hand.

* *

"Quistis, I've told the Junior classmen to take refuge in Balamb like you asked me," Selphie said to the blond haired instructor.

"And you, Zell?"

Zell shook his head. "They've landed on the beach. They are gathering their forces. Qusitis, they outnumber us four to one!"

Quistis nodded sadly. She looked at the rest of the room where there was a gathering of SeeDs. She knew then that she would need nothing short of a miracle to pull Garden through this war.

Irvine spoke up. " Trabia Garden has been detained by a thunderstorm. It looks like the storm is heading this way. We might have a chance to stall."

Nida stepped forward. "We recently received a message from General Wallace, Quistis. He said that he'll have mercy on us if we hand over the sorceress and commander Squall immediately."

Irvine chuckled bitterly. "Nida, tell him to shove that offer up where the sun don't shine."

Nida frowned. "Drew's garden is providing them with supplies and shelter. I don't think they are planing to prove any sort of aid in combat."

"Xu," Quistis said, "where is Xu? Is she with them too?'

"No," Selphie said. "I saw her this morning. She was a wreck. She took the chipmunk and went to Edea's house."

Quistis nodded. "Perhaps it is better that way."

"You are the temporary leader Quistis," Selphie said "uh-hmm until Squall comes back."

"You don't believe Squall will show up Selphie?" Quistis asked. "I have faith in Squall, despite all that has happened I still do. He has never let us down before, not until now."

"We can't talk about Squall right now, Quistis, we need to think about Galbadia." Zell said.

Quistis nodded thoughtfully. "All right, we need set up a defense. We are in the Garden, we have the advantage of fighting a defensive strategy. I want you to take out as many Galbadians as you can before the physical fighting begins, which means missiles and bombs. Once you see them appearing over the hills, use the firepower to weaken their attack forces. Meanwhile, Irvine, Zell, I want you to infiltrate Wallace's camp and find out as much as you can. If we are lucky, the thunderstorm will delay their attack. They are camped out on the beach, the storm will be far worse for them then for us."

The group in the room nodded or showed some form of assent. The meeting was dismissed and Zell and Irvine left in a hurry.

After half the room was gone, and the rest milling about aimlessly, Quistis turned to her right. "Joe, you were always my mentor when I was becoming a SeeD. Will you lead the attack at the Quad, while I lead those at the front gate?"

Joe nodded. "I expected that you would ask me that. All right, I'll be at the Quad. Take care of yourself Quistis."

Quistis nodded and saluted Peterson. "We'll make it right, Joe? Then we'll sit at the Garden Festival in a few months, with Squall and we'll all be laughing at this nonsense"

Joe laughed. "We will be laughing but not Squall, he'll probably be frowning in a less irritated manner."

Quistis nodded, "yeah, that's right. Take care of yourself."

* *

It has half past noon when the Galbadian soldiers appeared over the horizon. As they came in a dark mass like a cloud passing over the land. By air, by machine and by foot, they came. A mass of ants heading toward the large peppermint colored Garden that was surrounded by mountain.

The first Galbadian to fall was Vincent Vicks, he was picked off by a bullet and slumped to the ground dead. He had been a secret lover of a married women who was waiting for him in a small town near Deling. He would never return to her now.

The Galbadians pressed forward, losing men rapidly but it did not matter, there were far too many of them in number.

As they reached the entrance to Garden, the physical fighting began.

Quistis was in the thick of it, like some mad goddess, taking down men in a fury. The first one she killed was named Link Ocar, he had come from a tiny village to the south of Deling. He had been heralded as a hero for a long time. Sent off to war by his beloved sister Zeian, he died swiftly at a blow from Quistis' Save the Queen. He would be the hero of time no more.

Selphie made a path of bodies as well through the mass of indigo. She received a tiny nick on her shoulder from a Galbadian named Ash Kazama, in fury she attacked him with a meltdown spell. He collapsed easily. Nida cast curaga on her shoulder healing her completely.

She then went on to attack a burly man named Barret Lawrence. He went at her in a fury, shooting his bullets at her. Selphie ducked and from behind him, Quistis attacked him with a lightening spell. Meanwhile Ash's war buddy, Pikatle was tugging at his body, trying to prevent him from getting trampled. A student named Joe Leon took him down with a lightening spell.

Quistis glanced beside her at Selphie who was busy drawing from a foot soldier in front of her. A SeeD beside Quistis was having trouble with a Galbadian named Nanaki Cosmo. Quistis came to her aid by roughly slashing the Galbadian across the head with her Save the Queen. She then bent over and helped Fifi back to her feet.

"You all right?" Quistis asked as she drew a few Life spells from one of the Galbadians to her left.

Fifi nodded as she picked up her sword and cast a fire spell on a Galbadian who was sneaking up on Quistis. "Thanks Quisty, I'll watch your back, you watch mine."

Quistis continued to fight but as much as she was having success with the soldiers, the Galbadians were advancing. There was simply too many of them. She just hoped that Joe Peterson was having more luck in the Quad.

Five paces to the left of Quistis, a Garden student fell. He was from a town near the Cape of Good Hope. His parents had sent him to garden in the hopes that he would learn discipline and maturity. His mother had placed a piece of jade around his neck for good luck in battle. Now he feel swiftly from a gunshot wound to the stomach. A Galbadian soldier ripped the jade from his neck.

Across the battlefield a SeeD named Jane Heartlock impaled a Galbadian Lieutenant on her sword. She turned to see her friend, Cetri Earth having trouble with a Galbadian who had fallen from his chocobo. Jane came to her rescue and slashed the soldier across the neck, sending his blood squirting into the air, drenching those nearby as he hollered in pain.

Jane reached down to help Cetri to her feet.

She smiled at Jane sheepishly. "That was a close one, a second more and I would have needed a life spell."

Jane nodded, absently, sending a ice spell to a soldier that was advancing on them.

' " Stay close to me, Cetri, I'll watch out for you."

Cetri nodded, pushed her long brown hair back and pulled out her weapon, ready for battle. She absently checked the back of her head, to make sure that her pink ribbon had not fallen out of place.

Lindsey Meow, was a veteran of SeeD. She took down a few of the Galbadians beside her with her staff, She broke their ankles first then cracked open their heads. As she fought she absently glanced out of the corner of her eye, looking for her cowboy sniper. She had only seen him that morning, surely he was around here somewhere. A Galbadian tried to attack her from behind she sent her staff straight into his stomach. He fell down, having the wind knocked out of him. She raised her hand a drew a few tornado spells from him. Irvine, my dear, where are you?

Selphie growled as she began to feel tired and irritated from all the stinky Galbadian bodies she had to climb over to kill more of them. She had reached her limit.

"The End!" She cried out and took out a dozen or so Galbadians. Beside her, Nida whistled impressively.

"Do it again Selphie, you kick butt!" Nida yelled as he took down a Galbadian.

"We can't hold them much longer Quistis!!" One of the SeeDs cried out.

Quistis saw that he was right. She watched the mass of the dead under the dark cloudy sky. Bodies stretching across the landscape while rivers of blood ran between.

Quistis knew that if they fought any longer, the Galbadians would push into Garden. Slowly Garden was loosing the war, although each member took down a slew of Galbadians, there were simply too many of them. Squall, where are you? Quistis wondered. From the air, bombs began to fall from the Galbadian aircraft. The landscape exploded in red, taking out Galbadian and Garden alike. The sky was growing darker and darker as though some mysterious force in the sky was dreadfully angry that the petty humans had decided to wreck such havoc on each other.

Quistis, allowed her Save the Queen to dangle at her feet for a second and she stared absently at the mass of gore and knew that even if they won this battle they would lose the war. There was no way to stall it or to change that fate.

"Quistis watch out!!" Fifi yelled as she cast several thunder spells on the Galbadians that were advancing on Quistis. Being tripled Fifi easily protected the dazed Quistis from harm.

"We are going to lose," Quistis mumbled in awe. She was rudely broken out of her shock as cold droplets of water fell onto her tall blond head. It came slowly at first then started pouring down in buckets as thought the sky wanted to wash the land free of the bloody filth. Finally the sky began to rumble and lightening cracked open the heavens. Rain poured down from the sky onto Garden and Galbadian.

"Whoopee!" Selphie yelled as she saw the lightening strike the Galbadian in front of her.

The Galbadian general was ordering them to retreat as the lightening struck a few of the flying Galbadian airships. Faster than they had come, the Galbadians retreated over the hills, leaving the Garden members alone in the rain, scrambling back to Garden for shelter.

Across the field Jane Heartlock tried to shoulder her way through the mass of soldiers retreating. She searched for Cetri among the sea of men.

She twisted her neck around, scanning the horizon, while casting a few weak fire spells to take out a few more Galbadians and to light up the dark cloud covered landscape so that she could see.

"Cetri!" She called out, but caught sight the girl suddenly. That pink ribbon in her hair shown brightly against the mud she had fallen against. Jane ran over to where Cetri's body laid and held the girl's dead limp body in her lap. Cetri's eyes were blank, but still open, as though she had expected someone to save her.

"Jane!" a young SeeD cried as he came over to where she was kneeling.

He held out his long sword and defended her from the attack of the retreating Galbadian soldiers.

"Jane, forget her, we need to get inside."

Jane ignored him. She placed her hand over the wound in Cetri's stomach where she had been stabbed.

Finally the young SeeD got tired of being ignored. In a daring move, he reached down and scooped up Cetri's body and made a mad dodge for Garden with Jane following close behind. Selphie squealed as the rain began to fall, it drenched her hair and plastered it to her neck. Nida ran over, trying to cover his head with the back of his shirt.

"Come on Selphie, let's get inside. It's really coming down hard."

Selphie nodded, she looked over at the East searching for Quistis. She saw the many bodies that littered the ground and hoped that all her friends were okay. But before she could linger to see if she recognized any of the bodies, Nida grabbed her arm and began pulling her towards the Garden.

"Ouch! Hey I can walk," she yelled at him.

The Garden hallway was littered with the wounded as the students ran in. Some of them were bearing the bodies of their friends, unwilling to leave the bodies to be defiled by the storm. One of them was James Nibel who bore the body of Cetri, a student of garden. Her long brown hair was soggy and limp as James placed her on one of the benches. Jane walked over and sat beside her friend.

"Was she a good friend of yours?" James asked quietly.

Jane looked up at him, her long brown hair a terribly mess from the battle. She bore several shallow wounds on her arms but she appeared to be okay. One of the student helpers was handing out blankets. James took one and covered Jane with it.

"Why did you help me?" She asked him.

"I've been watching you for a long time Jane. For four years in fact, I've been watching you from afar. I was following you today in battle."

Jane nodded and turned her eyes back to Cetri.

"Thank you James."

As Quistis ran back into the Garden drenched. She looked around at the mass of injured. This was all her fault. She led them into battle. She heard the weeping and the moaning that came together in one terrible song of sorrow. It was for her, that song, dedicated to her and her stubborn pride. For a moment she regretted her decision. Was loyalty to one man worth the death of a thousand?

Quistis stood there as Selphie ran past her, hair no longer curling up. She was being dragged by Nida to one of the towel stations. Quistis did respond as Selphie waved to her.

"Hey, instructor Trepe, wake up!"

Quistis jumped slightly with shock as turned to see, Joe coming toward her. He held a towel in his hand which he handed to her for her to dry herself off with.

She took it slowly, moving a daze, and indifferently began to dry out her hair.

"Joe, I'm not so sure, anymore. Is it worth it? For Squall? All this?"

Joe shook his head. "No, Quistis, not you, I trained you to follow your decisions to the end. Don't back out on this. If you do then the students that died today, have died in vain. They died fighting for freedom, for garden, for pride not just for Squall. Squall is a good leader but even he cannot inspire such passion in his people. They fought this war for themselves Quistis, not simply for you."

Quistis nodded, significantly, comforted. "Joe, what will I do without you?"

He smiled. "We have work to do. They'll be back tomorrow."

She nodded as she watched Joe drying out his hair with a towel. He was drenched in rain and blood so much so that it was hard to tell which was which.

He smiled at her. "I'm glad you're safe. I was worried."

Quistis nodded, "But not for long. Tomorrow we might not have the advantage of a storm."

Joe nodded. "But you were right Quistis."

"About what?" She asked.

Joe gestured to the thunder storm. "We were saved by a squall."


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