The Orphan Chapter 17

Redemption of a Warrior

By Kate Lorraine

Zell spat out a mouthful of Galbadian stew into the mud

"Gross!" He exclaimed to Irvine. "This tastes like chocobo dung."

Irvine nodded and scratched his neck where the horrible Galbadian uniform kept festering him. "It probably is chocobo dung. Now stop eating, we need to go do some serious spying."

Zell spat out some more of residue in his mouth. It had a coppery taste like rusted metal.

"How can we spy on anyone when the General has an airship parked fifty meters in the air?" Zell asked, vindictively.

Irvine shrugged. "Listen we need to find some information for Quistis. Garden needs our help, now can we get going?"

Zell shrugged. "Lead the way. But I'm not sprouting wings and flying to that airship."

Irvine chuckled. "Chicken wuss he muttered under his breath."

Irvine really hated wearing disguises, especially the disguise of a Galbadian soldier. Here he sat in the leaky tent cramped full of soldiers as the storm raged on outside. One of the soldiers beside him offered him some liquor they were passing around. Zell grimaced and stood up. Irvine looked at him strangely.

Don't attract any attention now,

However, the stench in the tent was horrible. It smelled of dried blood, sweat and urine. Zell didn't care about the thunderstorm that raged outside. Even getting burnt to a crisp by a lightening bolt was better then being in here. He walked outside, feeling the cold rain gathering on his helmet and shoulders. It was wonderfully refreshing for a second, after being in that hot stuffy room but soon he began to feel cold. No matter, he wasn't going back in there.

He walked up the muddy hill that overlooked the plains. He knew Balamb was in the distance. Balamb and all his friends that he had to save. He remembered his shy friend, Fifi, the girl who loved her pigtails. He smiled as he remembered her. Was she all right? He had asked Quistis to watch out for her today but Quistis had just ignored him. He hoped that Quistis kept his request in back of her mind somewhere because he did love her. Not perhaps, the dramatic way in which Squall loved his Rinoa. Zell knew he could never live up to that. He was no gloomy superhuman like Squall. He was just Zell, the flawed passionate Zell that lived an all too normal life. He ate hot dogs, punched air and loved Fifi. That was his life in a nutshell.

"Zell, do you realize that you are standing in the rain?" Irvine asked as he approached him.

Zell shrugged. "I'll take the rain any day over Galbadian slime."

Irvine nodded. "Thinking of lady Fifi Zell? Or of mistress hot dog?"

"I'm thinking about Squall and Rinoa."

"What about Squall and Rinoa?" Irvine asked.

"It just pisses me off that everyone is holding Squall and Rinoa responsible for not showing up to rescue them. What if Squall is the one that needs help? He's dealing with a freaking sorceress for Hyne's sake."

"You think Squall is in danger Zell?"

Zell looked down and shook his head. "Edea told me and Selphie that the sorceress would probably be using Squall as her puppet by now. Everyone at Garden is hoping that Squall will show up soon. I'm probably the only one that hopes that he won't. I'm afraid of what state he will be in when we see him next."

Irvine nodded sympathetically. He patted Zell on his shoulder. However the silence was interrupted as they heard voices behind them. It was a familiar voice.

"Quick, behind the bushes," Irvine hissed as he shoved Zell into the mud behind the shrubs.

"Hey watch out I'm covered in mu-"

Irvine rudely clamped his hand over Zell's mouth shutting him up for good.

"Seifer where are you going?" Fuijin asked as the duo appeared in the clearing. Just like Irvine and Zell, the two were dressed in Galbadian uniforms. Seifer, was walking forward, disregarding the rain. He stepped over to the edge of the cliff and looked over the landscape.

"What is it Seifer? Was it what you heard outside of Wallace's office? About what they are going to do to garden tomorrow?"

Seifer paused and turned to her. "Fuijin, I never told anyone this before. I hate Garden for denying me the chance to become a SeeD while they granted that it a wuss like Squall Leonhart, there is no doubt about that. But Garden has been my home for half of my life. I can't watch this."

Fuijin stared at him, "I thought we were going to go fight the sorceress. What change is this Seifer? Are you dreaming of being a romantic hero again?"

Seifer looked at her fondly. "Raijin might betray me Fuijin, but not you. You will help me tomorrow won't you?"

Fuijin said nothing, finally she spoke. "I think you've lost sight of things again, Seifer. We can't go out of our way to fight the entire Galbadian army. We are going to get ourselves killed, this is utterly ridiculous."

Seifer sneered at her. "So you will leave me too Fuijin? I will do it tomorrow, whether you help me or not."

"But why Seifer?" Fuijin inquired desperately. "Do you think Garden will accept you as one of their own. Do you think they will forgive you for saving their petty lives? They won't. You are never going to get any recompensation for doing this. Don't do it, come back to Balamb City with me. We'll go and get drunk, like we used to."

Seifer shook his head, running his right hand through his short blond hair. "There is more to life then that Fuijin. I don't think you understand me at all. When Wallace attacks garden at noon tomorrow, I'll penetrate his forces and catch him. Without his order, they can't send the missiles. I'll dispose of him, therefore sending the Galbadians into a confused mess. I led them once, I know how helpless they are without their leader. That will give the idiotic Garden punks enough of an advantage to take them out. I will save Garden, and I will get my redemption for my sins. Even if no one knows about it I will have my peace at last."

Fuijin watched him with pain in her eyes. "This is one battle I don't think you can win Seifer. Don't sacrifice so much simply for the good of Garden. This is my last plea, please abandon this futile plan."

Seifer said nothing.

"It's been fun Fuijin, while it lasted."

Fuijin watched him, unbelievingly. She ran away with tears in her eye.

Seifer shrugged and turned is glaze back toward the direction of Garden. Then he turned and walked into the trees.

* *

It was midnight when Zell and Irvine made it back to Garden. Zell rushed into the former

master's office to find Quistis sitting there with Joe talking in low whispers with a map in front of them of tomorrow's strategy. Selphie was asleep in the corner with a blanket over her.

"Yo! Quistis!" Zell yelled as he ran into the room, skidding on the carpet.

Quistis stood up and nodded at Zell, then glanced at Irvine.

"Did you find anything?" She asked.

"Irvine!" Selphie yelled, suddenly wide away. She ran over and hugged Irvine.

"I was worried Irvy, did the evil Galbadians hurt you?"

"Hump," Zell said.

"Oh yeah hi Zell," Selphie said with a smile and small tap dance.

"Listen I really need to he-"Quistis began as Joe placed a hand on her to calm her.

"Zell, oh bad news." Selphie said. "Laguna called while you guys were gone. Maniac Athena was stolen! Can you believe it?"

Zell jumped in surprise."What? How? Who? Oh this is bad."

"What's Maniac Athena?" Irvine asked but was promptly ignored.

"Sir Laguna thinks that the Galbadians are behind it. He said that Mr. Odine is worried day and night about that weapon."

"Those Galbadians! Zell yelled furiously.

"What is going on?!" Irvine yelled.

This time he was listened to.

Selphie turned to him. "Maniac Athena is a powerful weapon that can allows the user to absorb the power of a sorceress and kill her. The Galbadians might be thinking about catching Rinoa and using it on her."

"What?!" Irvine asked, shocked.

"We need to get it!" Zell exclaimed. "Tomorrow, I bet that bastard Wallace knows where it is."

"Tell me, what do you know about Wallace, Zell." Quistis inquired loudly.

"It's something we overheard from Seifer," Irvine began.

"Here let me tell you the whole story," Zell interrupted.

* *

Wallace stood at the deck of his airship watching his army clash with the ones of Garden. Around him was his escort, about twenty or so smaller airships that would provide for his safety. The airships slowly sailed in a circle above the fighting men. The force field around them prevented any sort of bullet or firepower from hitting him. He stood there looking down at the bombs bursting in the green landscape. As arm, leg and limb went flying at each loud explosion of red.

As he watched his countrymen die, he felt little sadness, only triumph as the Galbadian army pushed forward deeper into Garden territory. He just wish that Caraway was here to watch this, the old Caraway who used to be his fishing partner. The one who used to laugh at all the many different ways to painfully kill those ignorant terrorists. But he had changed now. Perhaps it was Deling's fault, perhaps Almasy's or maybe Ultimecia's. It didn't matter. He had lost his friend.

Wallace glanced behind him at the many faceless guards that stood in the doorway. Seeing no response from them, he turned his eyes back to the battlefield. Yet suddenly his eyes lingered at terrace of Garden. There was a speck of blue there. He squinted, keeping his eyes on that blue figure. Was it a girl?

As the spaceship came slightly nearer, he was sure that it was a girl. A girl. Rinoa.

He turn and left the balcony.

"Prepare my private ship," He ordered one of the guards.

"General Wallace, is that wise?" Patricia asked him. She was Deling's watchdog. Wallace despised her and Deling's lack of trust in his judgment.

"I am the general here," Wallace stated. "You are here only to observe. Don't object to my commands."

She chuckled which infuriated Wallace all the more. He angrily left to the lower deck of the aircraft where he saw his private ship - Falcon, waiting for him. There was room for ten inside the compact sleek ship but he did not plan to bring many. He glanced over his shoulder and motioned for three of the guards to board the Falcon. He would have to kill them later, if it really was Rinoa that he was to rescue.

Wallace took the controls of the Falcon himself and took flight through the barrier over the noisy battlefield sky. He dipped low and came back up along the side of Garden. Their machine guns were too slow to hit the falcon with any sort of accuracy.

Little Rinoa, you owe your Uncle Wallace for this. In back of his mind he remembered her when she was four. Little chubby Rinoa sitting on his lap, bouncing up and down.

"Be gently, Rinoa," Julia had warned her. "Be gentle to Mr. Wallace."

He had laughed and hugged her then to his surprise, she bit him.

The Falcon was coming over the side of Garden now. The terrace would be in sight soon. This is for you Julia. For all your kindness to me after my wife died. I'm going to rescue your daughter from the clutches of these terrorists and bring her home.

The terrace was in sight now. Yet as he flew the falcon close he felt the steel blade of a knife at his throat.

"Almasy," he whispered. Yet he glanced over the terrace and with his last bit of resistance. It was a woman standing there, a women with one eye and gray hair, that stood on that terrace, watching and smiling, wearing Rinoa's clothes. She was the ugliest sight he had ever seen. And he knew then that he would never, for the rest of his lifetime, ever forget, that woman standing there, smirking at him.

"Land this ship, Wallace," Almasy ordered, he jerked his gunblade closer to Wallace's neck."Now!"

* *

Quistis stared at the giant ship that fell out of the sky. She jumped back, out of the corner of her eye she saw Zell shielding Fifi with his own body as he too stared at the airship curiously. Irvine rushed to her side as well, pointing his gun at the ship.

Then, to their surprise, Seifer Almasy stumbled out of the ship. His shoulder was a mess of bloody gore as he retreated from Wallace who stood there with his gun drawn.

"Almasy! Get up you dog before I shoot you like the beast you are," Wallace ordered, his voice booming so loud that some of the soldiers were shocked out of the fighting.

Seifer smirked at him. " You'll never destroy garden, Wallace, even if you were to kill me."

Wallace clicked off the safety valve of his gun.

"See you in he-" Seifer said but interrupted by a shot rang out then, so loudly and suddenly that the spectators did not realize that in fact there were two shots, not one.

Black blood dripped from Wallace's mouth and from the hole through his heart. His eyes rolled back and he fell. Onto his knees first and then face down into the mud.

Everyone looked to who had fired the shot, and there Irvine stood with fire in his eyes and smoke from his gun. And no one, not even Seifer, understood, why Irvine, had fired his gun, or why Seifer's words had touched him so.

Irvine turned and walked away, back into the depths of the fight, disappearing. The spectators left as well back to their fighting, except Quistis, who walked over to Seifer.

"So they were right, you did come back to help us."

Seifer smirked through his pain. "I didn't want to come back but I appear to have developed a condition called a conscience. I hope this malady will be passing soon."

Quistis shook her head and cast curaga on Seifer's shoulder.

"Get up," she told him. "You have your redemption, Seifer, your deed with not go unnoticed."

Meanwhile on the terrace, Fuijin was watching Seifer being helped up by Quistis. Beside her, laid her sniper gun, which she had used to pick off Wallace.

She smiled.

The gullible Garden fools had fell for it.

Their plan had worked.

The sorceress was theirs.


* Author's Note: In case you are confused, every moment in which Seifer and Fuijin showed up in this chapter was a staged act, including the mock conversation they had infront of Zell and Irvine. If you read it carefully, you will see subtle signs that this would not be an actual conversation Seifer and Fuijin could ever have.


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