Forever Only Lasts So Long Chapter 1
By Shadow Fortuna
A potential employer is always a welcome guest.
* * *
The intercom on Cid Kramers desk sputtered to life, and the nasally voice of his secretary interrupted his thoughts.
Theres someone to see you, Headmaster.
Headmaster Cid sighed, staring down at the crossword puzzle he was trying in vain to finish. Nora, he said into the intercom, do you know a seven-letter term for the aging of alcohol?
He heard Nora snort impatiently. Ferment. Now, this young lady says its urgent, Headmaster.
Oh, send her in, send her in, Cid remarked absently. Ferment, of course, I should have known.
The heavy wooden doors inched open, and he could hear Nora shoo his visitor into the office. When he looked up, he was greeted with the sight of a rather slight teenager standing uncomfortably in the doorway.
Cid stood up and saluted, amused at the bewildered expression on the girls face. She obviously wasnt one of his students. She watched the Garden salute silently, offering an awkward bow in return. Cid chuckled. Well now. Why dont you sit down? He gestured to one of the overstuffed leather armchairs.
She smiled. Thank you, she replied, moving toward a comfortable-looking green chair. She adjusted her prim jacket before sitting. Cid eyes her clothing. It wasnt a SeeD uniform, or even a foreign Garden Cadet suit. Just a simple black travel dress and coat.
He cleared his throat. So, Miss uh, Miss ?
DiGiovanna, she said softly. Stellina DiGiovanna.
Ah, yes. Well, Miss DiGiovanna, what brings you to my humble Garden?
Stellina shifted uncomfortably. Im looking to hire some er, some soldiers, if you will.
Uh-huh. Your military, I assume? She fiddled with a silver ring on her middle finger.
Cid looked at Stellina closely. We might not have the strongest reserve. Have you considered the other Gardens? It is good to keep your options op
No, thank you. Her voice was firm. I believe Balamb is a very good source.
Heh. The Sorceress War last year influenced your choices, eh?
Stellinas head cocked to one side. Perhaps. But I wouldve chosen you anyway. Better vibrations in Balamb.
Cid leaned back into his chair. Hmmm he mused. I cant help much with selectionnot my cup of tea, Im afraid. However, I know of one person who may be able to help. Pressing the intercom once again, he said, Nora, I need you page a teacher for me.
Nora stopped her typing and picked up the PA microphone. Yes, Headmaster. Who do you want?
Cid smiled. Page Quistis Trepe, please.
* * * * *
So, as you see, class, unless you pass the written exam, you wont make SeeD this time. Instructor Quistis Trepe finished passing the tests out to her nervous students. Remember: answer in compete sentences; essay questions are worth ten points; and if the answer is FALSE dont just circle False, write the correct answer. I cannot stress those points enough. She looked out at the classroom. Any questions?
All right, then, begin. Pencils hit paper with dull clicks, and Quistis sat herself down at her desk. Grabbing her red pen, she started grading papers. After 30 minutes, the PA system switched on.
Quistis Trepe, please report to Headmaster Kramers office.
Quistis head snapped up as the familiar voice of the Headmasters secretary echoed through the classroom. Quistis to the Headmasters office. That is all.
She stood and stretched, eyeing her students warily. Kiran, youre in charge, she said to her best student, whose test was already done. Put your test in the box, and let me know of any troublemakers when I get back. With that, she strode out of the room and headed toward Cids office.
I wonder what Headmaster Cid wants this time, she thought to herself. Hope its not just another crossword puzzle.
* * * * *
Headmaster Cid relaxed. Well, Miss DiGiovanna
Call me Stellina.
Yes, of course. Now then, Stellina, he remarked. I just summoned the top SeeD instructor Balamb has. Im sure if anyone can help you, Quistis Trepe can.
Stellina began toying with her ring again. I hope she can, she murmured.
Headmaster, Noras voice crackled on the intercom. Quistis is here.
Let her in, Nora.
The graceful form of Quistis swept into the room, Cid standing to salute her. After saluting back, Quistis glanced at Stellina, then asked Cid briskly, What is it you need me for, sir?
This young lady Cid motioned toward Stellina needs to hire some SeeDs. Quistis, this is Stellina DiGiovanna.
Quistis turned to shake the girls hand. Hire SeeDs? Its been a year, more even
Hello, Miss DiGiovanna, Quistis said warmly.
Stellina, then. What can I do for you? I assume you are ready to select?
Yes, please, Ms. Trepe. She followed Quistis to a filing cabinet.
Quistis. Now, what size group are you looking to hire? We have about one hundred trained SeeDs, and almost as many trainees willing to go, but
A small group, seven or eight at most, will do nicely, thank you, Ms.I mean, Quistis. Stellina ran her hand over the files.
Quistis reached in and pulled out a dozen full files. Heres a start. Opening one, she pulled out a small photo and information spread. Squall Leonheart, current Garden commander. Gunblade user and member of the original force victorious in the Sorceress War last year.
Stellina moved his file ever-so-slightly to her right. Excellent.
Zell Dincht, expert Martial Artist and Squalls teammate.
Quistis proceeded to pull out many of Squalls cohorts, Stellina expressing her approval. After that, they reviewed several others.
Stellina looked up at Quistis. Any marksmen present at your Garden?
Snipers, gunners. Stellina waved her hand impatiently. I need one with experience in firearms.
Quistis retrieved yet another file. Irvine Kinneas, professional sniper. Yet another of Squalls friends.
Ah, Stellina nodded im approval. And yet there seems to be one missing. She turned again to Quistis. Where are you on this list?
Im not uneducated, Stellina said. I keep up in current affairs. Your name appeared quite often whenever I talked to veterans of the war.
Well, certainly I have experience, but
Let me see your file.
Quistis wordlessly handed over her information.
Whipnice weapon. Excellent credentials. She smiled slightly. Modest, were we, Quistis?
Totally understandable. Now this Rinoa character she pointed to a file isnt a SeeD yet?
Taking her exam as we speak. Quistis looked at her watch. Class is almost over.
Ill let you go soon enough. Ive made my decision. She spread six files onto Cids desk, where he was working patiently on his crossword puzzle.
He looked up, flustered. Ah, yes, of course, of course, he said, shoving the paper under some books. Who have you chosen?
Ah, good! Cid praised. Excellent fighter.
One of my best students, Quistis admitted.
Dincht, Tilmitt, Kinneas.
Wonderful, Cid remarked.
And, Stellina finished, glancing for a minute at Quistis, Trepe.
Quistis mouth fell open as Headmaster Cid clapped. Im giving you my best!
Quistis shook her head, knocking her out of her daze. Speaking of giving, she said meekly. Hate to bring this up, but the SeeDs still must decide on a fee.
Double the usual amount. Stellina opened her pocketbook.
But, I, that is, I dont make the decisions for ALL of them
Triple it, then, Stellina replied lazily, picking up a pen and writing a memo.
Surely, Stellina, youll want to Cid began, before Stellina interrupted him.
Quadruple it, and that is final.
Good, good! Quistis nearly shouted. I mean, thats fine, Stellina. Cid, would you ?
Of, course, yes, yes. Sorry to disturb you again, Nora, he said into the intercom.
What is it, Headmaster? Noras voice sounded exasperated.
Get the old group for me, Nora. We have a job for them.
* * * * *
Hope you like it so far! Long first chapter
expect the second soon,
but I need time. I still have to find my muse, catch it, and force it to
work overtime! ^^;;;
DISCLAIMER: The characters of Final Fantasy 8 belong to Squaresoft and not me. HOWEVER, Stellina DiGiovanna is copyright me, Shadow Fortuna. Let me know if you want to use her in an original fanfic.
(And for those who were wondering, George Elliot said the quote at the beginning.)
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