The Orphan Chapter 7
A New Beginning
By Kate Lorraine
Quistis felt a rush of relief as she saw the familiar stairway leading up to the Deling archway.
"Right here," she pointed out to Irvine. "This will lead us up to the archway."
"Great, this place stinks," Irvine remarked.
"Be quiet and climb," she ordered him.
It was a disgrace that ambassadors from Garden would be treated this way yet Quistis knew that she needed to talk to Deling, or at least figure out Deling's plan of action. In the back of her mind there was that continuos festering worry for Squall. She always found it to be her responsibility to watch out for him, he was like a little sibling that needed someone to hold his hand. Although she didn't want to believe that Deling was actually searching for the sorceress, she could help but worry what if they did.
She remembered seeing him on the first day of class. He was clad in leather, as he always was, wearing his favorite jacket. As the class milled in he immediately found himself a seat in the very back. She was slightly offended that he wanted to be as far away from her as he could but there was no room in the front anyway, the Trepies had taken all the seats. Then of course, Seifer came in, bidding farewell to Raijin and Fujin at the door. Seifer, who eyed the class with a smirk on his face and then headed straight for Squall. Squall took no notice of him, sitting there in a hunched position, like he was trying to shut himself in his own world. Squall almost never participated in class but he never got a question wrong on a test. He was a puzzle really. Seifer, on the other hand, was never quiet in class. His smart mouthed answers became a daily nuisance to her. And now look at them, one in exile and one the commander of garden.
Two people made different by circumstances yet completely alike in ability. Quistis knew that even if she pondered this mystery to the end of time she would never figure out what if, what is Squall had been the knight and Seifer the commander? One tiny change in the precious sequence of events and it would not be Squall which her heart was aching for today.
She couldn't think about it. She would go insane if she tried.
"Quistis, wake up, I can't carry you up, you know."
Quistis was jarred out of her reverie as she realized that Irvine had already climbed up the ladder and was watching her mockingly. She frowned and placed her gloved hands on the first rung.
"Don't." She ordered Irvine as he offered his hand as she reached the top.
She stepped out onto the landing and straightened her pink dress.
"Well, I guess you don't enjoy being treated like a lady, Quistis."
"You wouldn't know a lady if she bite you on your nose."
"Care to try?"
Quistis made a sound of utter irritation as she reached over to the door knob. She swung it open, in an exaggerated gesture and stepped out onto the street. She stood there petrified.
"See Quisty you need to re -"
Irvine was cut short and Quistis reached out roughly and clamped her fingers in his arm.
In front of them stood Deling with his bodyguards. Quistis pulled Irvine behind a pillar so that they wouldn't be seen.
"I would prefer to walk the rest of the way this morning," Deling said to one of the guards. He was dressed in a black suit with a stripped gray tie. His balding head was ill concealed by the comb over he sported.
From the black limo parked nearby a shrill voice came.
"Daddy, come look at what Robby's doing."
A little girl, about six years of age stepped out of the limo with a raccoon on a leash. She wore a neat pleated dress with a tiny black sweater. Her raccoon was pulling her this way and that as he sniffed the ground.
Behind her, General Caraway was standing stiffly. His hands were clasped in front of him. He appeared to be trying to ignore the little animal that was sniffing at his newly polished shoes.
"Shari," Deling scolded tenderly, "don't bother Mr. Caraway." Deling strolled over and picked up his young daughter who was struggling to keep her grip on the raccoon's leash.
"Shari, can't you see that Mr Caraway has important things on his mind. Look at how neat and serious he looks. Bother daddy, honey, he doesn't do real work. He just has fun taking care of people."
Shari giggled. She wriggled out of Deling's grip and ran off with her raccoon
accompanied by her governess.
Deling reached over and patted Caraway on the shoulder. Caraway shrugged it off as they began walking in the direction of the presidential mansion.
Deling smiled as he felt the sun on his face. It truly was a wonderful day. He hadn't felt so content for a long time. He glanced over at Caraway, a man he had never really liked or trusted. Caraway was widower of the late singer Julia Heartilly and the scandal surrounding Julia's death had been hideous as Deling remembered. Caraway, he was a man with military skills but no people skills. There were rumors that he had murdered his wife when he found out about her late lover. Deling had no doubt that the rumors were preposterous but they were convincing enough to send his daughter into the arms of terrorists. Deling was just glad that his own wife had died peacefully at her mother's house, far away from him and his public persona.
Yet now and then when he heard the soulful notes of Julia's piano he would remember those days when him and his brother got along. They used to visit that tiny little bar to have drinks as they spoke of their dreams. Julia was the loveliest woman he had ever seen, had Caraway not taken her, Deling would have proposed to her himself. But there were many things he regretted. Allowing his brother to become dictator was one of them.
His brother's visions had gone array. He became too intent upon gaining land and not enough about caring for his people. Deling wanted to change that. He would not let a sorceress destroy him the way she had destroyed his brother. He knew that his brother had chosen him as his successor for one reason - so that he could right all the wrongs of tyranny committed under the Deling name.
"The sorceress is not with SeeD."Caraway, said softy. "That boy might be young but he's no idiot."
"It doesn't matter," Deling replied, irritated at Caraway's inability to wait until the entire cabinet was assembled. "SeeD has been a menace to Galbadia since the sorceress wars. Putting them out of existence would only help our cause."
Deling knew what was the true purpose of this mock war - to destroy SeeD and garden. He could hardly care less about the sorceress and her threat to Galbadia. He knew enough of the boy's family ties to find it safe to assume that the boy would flee to his father once the Galbadian army went too far. Well, Esthar was great with dealing with sorceresses, let them figure out a way. Maybe the sorceress will even take a few government official with her.
Caraway muttered a sound of forced assent.
Deling studied Caraway carefully for any signs of possible rebellion. Deling knew that if he asked Caraway to sacrifice his daughter that would push him to the limit of his loyalty and greed. Deling just hoped that Caraway would keep up his disguise of loyalty until Deling found it fit to dispose of him. Caraway was losing his usefulness fast. Deling did not believe that he needed a strong army once the gardens were destroyed. Esthar was led by that blubbering idiot Loire who had the mental capabilities of a preschooler. There would be no opposition to his reign. No wars to be fought, no lives to be lost. World peace would be achieved. Then Deling knew that he would channel all the war funds to the medicine and to charity. What a golden age there would be then. No child would starve in the streets, no artist gone unfunded, no guns to destroy precious life. All it cost was the destruction of SeeD.
It was a small sacrifice really.
He would make everything right and his daughter would grow up in a perfect world.
As Deling was lost in his daydream he did not notice the woman dressed in pink that had approached him.
"William Deling? May I have a word with you?"
Deling turned around to see a young blond woman standing there. However, his warmth quickly turned to hatred as he realized who she was.
She took a step forward, reaching out with her gloved hand.
"William Deling, I am Quistis Trepe, ambassador from Garden. Can I have a word with you? I don't think you understand our condition. We have no knowledge of the sorceress. We too have been just as baffled by this sudden turn of events. I have come to request -"
Deling cut her off rudely. "Be quiet SeeD. Where are your hidden gunmen waiting cowardly to commit their honorless savage acts? How dare you enter my city and endanger the lives of my people? Seize them!" Deling ordered, yelling at the dozen or so soldiers that lined the streets.
Caraway, following protocol, immediately stepped in front of Deling and pulled out his concealed weapon. He aimed it at the young lady whom he quickly recognized as one of the SeeD whom he had invited into his house long ago. The young man in the cowboy hat who had pulled out his gun also looked familiar. Caraway did not want to shoot them but he knew that even if he didn't the soldiers would. They had begun to swarm around Deling, protecting him in a shell of flesh. These two SeeDs were going to fight the entire Galbadian army? They had no chance in heaven or hell. Caraway aimed his gun at the head of the young lady who was stumbling backwards in surprise. Better to shoot them and let them go fast. Surely, execution was inevitable for them now.
As Caraway pulled his trigger he stumbled backwards and fell flat on his back. The bullet went straight up into the air.
The Galbadian soldier from behind Caraway ran forward. He stood in front of the young lady who being helped back up by her cowboy companion. The soldier pulled off his helmet and the mass of soldiers gasped.
There stood former general Seifer. He had produced his gunblade, seemingly from thin air.
He smirked and pointed his gunblade like a fencer. Behind him, Raijin and Fujin removed their helmets as well and readied their respective weapons.
"Will you come past me?" Seifer asked the crowd of panicking soldiers. They were at loss at what to do. There was chaos all over the place. Guns were being knocked out of hands, limbs were trampled over and the sky was full of screams. Behind Seifer, Quistis had gotten to her feet and began to flee with Irvine at her aid.
Caraway had gotten to his feet and commenced to aim his gun at Seifer's head. The army had found its order and bullets were wheezing past their ears.
"I'll exile you for good, boy!" Caraway yelled as he pulled the trigger.
Seifer dodged, the bullet missed by a hair. "Run!" Seifer ordered Raijin and Fujin as he bursted forward to slash Caraway. Seifer easily knocked the gun of Caraway's hand and slashed Caraway roughly across the chest. Seifer retreated as a bullet hit grazed his shoulder. As he ran toward the archway he turned back once more to cast a Ultima spell on the sea of soldiers.
Fujin yelled his name as she watched him running full speed towards her. She stood beside the half opened door and raised to hand to cast thundaga on the soldiers behind him.
"Hurry!" She commanded him one last time as he dodged into the doorway and
she slammed it close behind him.
Seifer breathed heavily trying to catch his breath as Irvine and Raijin quickly placed a bar over the door to forestall the soldiers. Quistis was making her way down the ladder to the sewer. He felt a tingling sensation on his shoulder and realized that Fujin had just cast curaga on him.
The wound closed, quickly and completely. Raijin had already disappeared down the ladder and Irvine had just climbed onto it.
Fujin walked over beside him.
"Go," she ordered him.
He nodded, seeing no sense in arguing and quickly rushed down the ladder with her following.
Seifer jumped off the last rung of the ladder just in time to catch Quistis telling the two men beside her to shut up and stop arguing. Quistis turned her narrow blue eyes over to Seifer and pointed down into a dark tunnel.
"This way, quickly, before they block off all the exits."
"Yes whatever you say, instructor" Seifer replied making more last smart mouthed comment before he obediently followed her, glancing back absently to make sure Fujin and Raijin were following.
They were well on the outskirts of Deling City before argument broke out once more.
"Alright," Irvine had said "What do you have up your sleeve Seifer?
The entire party stopped dead in their tracks.
Seifer frowned, smoothed back his hair and glared at Irvine. Quistis watched Seifer's obvious discomfort and sensed that to prevent another fight that she should intervene immediately.
"What was very kind of you, Seifer, what you did back there. I really appreciate it." Quistis said to him, hoping that it would reduce the tension.
"Don't thank me, Quistis Trepe." Seifer said, with irritation " I did it out of hatred for Caraway and Deling. I don't care about your petty life or that of Mr. cowboy there."
Raijin chuckled awkwardly.
Seifer was not smirking. Fujin kicked Raijin telling him to stop being an idiot.
"Alright Seifer. If that is what you would like to believe. What do you want now? A fight?"
Seifer paused, another nice insulting comment on the tip of his tongue. But for once in his life he swallowed it instead of spitting it out.
"I want to know what has happened to Rinoa. Is she really possessed by Ultimecia?"
"Don't tell the bastard anything about Rinoa!" Irvine interrupted.
Quistis stared at Seifer.
"I don't know," Quistis said to Seifer, honestly.
"Is that all?" Seifer asked.
Quistis continued staring at Seifer's eyes, hoping that by doing so she could spark a tiny bit of integrity in his demonic heart.
"She's with Squall. They took the Ragnarok. We don't know their current location. We are trying to find them, Seifer."
Seifer nodded. "Alright, you have more important things to worry about. Galbadia are planning to declare war on Garden within two days. They don't care about the sorceress. They just want the complete annihilation of Garden."
Quistis nodded. "Why did you come to Deling, Seifer? Why were you in Odine's lab? It all has to do with the sorceress doesn't it?"
Seifer snarled at Quistis but he was struggling to come up with a new course of action. He wanted his revenge on the sorceress. Garden was fighting the sorceress as well as Caraway and Deling. The possibly occurred to him but was immediately extinguished. He was one of Garden's best, they needed him and in a way, he needed them. But they would never take him back as one of their own. That was beyond any sort of dream.
"I would leaving searching for Squall to me, Quistis, if you want what's good for you."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Because once you find him, you might have to fight him."
"That's preposterous!" Quistis declared.
"Shut up," Irvine yelled at Seifer. "Squall is not a rotten turncoat like you."
Irvine rushed at Seifer with his fist but was met by Raijin. Quistis stepped in between then and pushed them apart.
"Stop it!" Quistis yelled. "Stop! Irvine Kinneas and Raijin Samson, desist immediately!"
The two pulled away as Quistis donned her instructor guise once more.
Quistis glared at Seifer, narrowing her emerald eyes.
"Why would you say that Seifer?" She asked.
"Because I was under the influence of a sorceress. I know. If it is Ultimecia inside Rinoa, Squall is a goner. He hasn't contacted you right? Why do you think that is so? He's probably her bloody knight by now. A pathetic knight he would be, but a knight nonetheless."
"No!" Quistis shouted. "Squall would never. He's not weak like you. Squall won't be made into a puppet. I know that surer than I know that the sun will rise from the east tomorrow morning."
Seifer laughed sarcastically. "You would be surprised, Quistis, at the sorceress's power. I guess my work is done here. Me and my posse will be at Dollet drinking ourselves into a stupor watching Garden crumble faster than dog crap under direct sunshine. Until then instructor." Seifer bowed mockingly at Quistis before he motioned for Raijin and Fujin to follow him as he headed north toward Dollet.
Quistis sighed. She heard Irvine mutter a few curses at Seifer and she half heartedly agreed. Yet in the back of her mind, her worry for Squall increased a notch. She began to wonder about Seifer's words. What if he was right? What if they did have to fight Squall? Would she be able to watch such a thing? Quistis bit her lip and clenched her fists. No, he was wrong. Such a thing couldn't possibly happen.
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