On Earth as it is in Hell Chapter 13

Exitus Celatus

By Caleb Nova

"Rinoa was the best thing that ever happened to Squall, and I swear that sometimes he came within an inch of throwing it away. He better be thankful she loves him, if I was his girlfriend I'd never put up with that crap. Wait, that didn't sound good."

-Zell Dincht

Hendrow was on site when the files were discovered, jammed into a windowsill in the basement. They had been found during a full search of Poleground's former residence, Poleground himself now incarcerated in the nearby police station. The files in question were in fact, as Julian had suspected, detailed information on Operation Spreading Sun. Now that the final pieces of the puzzle had fallen into their hands, Hendrow knew the next inevitable step was to apprehend the main researcher and scientific proponent of the project, this 'Odine'. This might prove to be troublesome as it was not yet clear whether the good Doctor was in Esthar or in Galbadia. If Odine was in fact back in Esthar, he would be unreachable. However, if this came to pass, Julian had his own team of scientists ready to tackle the problem. The takeover would be much slower that way, but it was better than nothing.

Hendrow personally dropped the files on Julian's desk for perusal. Julian looked up from his current work and slightly raised one eyebrow.

"The missing files on Spreading Sun. They found them lodged in a window, of all places." He sounded as if the very thought was ludicrous. "Nothing appears to missing."

Julian didn't even blink. "Of course."

He slowly leafed through the small pile, taking note of the important bits before closing it. He looked at Hendrow who had taken a seat in the chair opposite of him. Julian tented his fingers, bringing them up to his lips.

"Michael," He said, turning to look out the window. "We both know that our sudden presence in this world is marked by violence. And really, we are at war."

Hendrow concurred. "Yes, that is true."

"So you see Michael that in war regrettable things happen. The information here put to good use will give us a firm enough foothold to attack the Garden. It is sad, true. Children are always the victims of any conflict. But we cannot have them interfering, and in the end removing them will actually save lives. The men will be reluctant. No one wants to attack a school. We are soldiers, not monsters. But circumstances may force us to do monstrous things. I say this all Michael, so that when the time comes, are you with me?"

Hendrow let out a breath. It was unfortunate that the Garden had to removed. He would instruct the men to take prisoners and offer mercy to those who might surrender. Regrettable, but it seemed to him that Julian was in the right.

"Yes, I am."

"Good. I knew I could trust you to do what had to be done. We will spare who we can and put the entire thing behind us once it is finished. After all, our objective is not slaughter, but conquest."

Hendrow smiled. " 'And when he saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.' "

Julian chuckled, reopening the folder. "Indeed he did Michael. But we have something that Alexander could not have dreamed of. And with further progress, I think we will never run out of worlds to conquer."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Hyne shuddered in her reality. Truly, these Outsiders were mad.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Poleground sat in his cell, his only company his thoughts. It had all been taken from him, everything, in less than an hour. He had worked so hard to rise to the top. So many small people had been crushed with his dramatic rise, and now that he was deposed, he feared for his life. He had no real friends, a few supporters who abandoned him after the takeover, and an abundance of enemies. Now he was unprotected in a public jail. If his enemies didn't kill him directly, then the new government might succumb to pressure to do so in order to gain favor with the masses.

Of course, he knew nothing of the new government. It had all happened so fast. The walls had fallen, soldiers with equipment he had never seen before captured the city, and a man with cold eyes had walked into his apartment and put a gun to his head. It had been a bad day. Even the last official report he received had been bad- the captive SeeDs had escaped. By now they were probably out of the city and gone. If he had still been in power, this would have been some matter of concern- the attack on the SeeDs had been part of a larger plan against Garden, and with their escape Garden would be quick to move against Galbadia. It was all out of his hands now. Indeed, the fact that Garden would probably retaliate was a good thing. Let them cause the invaders some trouble. These musings were interrupted by wheezing chuckled emitted from somewhere to his right. He was startled, unaware that he had any sort of cell mates. He recognized the voice the instant it began to speak.

"So, Poleground," Caraway said, hauling his battered body into a sitting position in a neighboring cell. "Impaled upon your own sword. You do of course realize that you are the one who blocked all my city defense proposals so you could waste more money on your pet projects. Now you are imprisoned in your own jail as I am jailed by my own troops. Irony seems to be the thing these days. Tell me, who has violently inherited your empire? One of the independents?"

"Shut up," Poleground snarled. "Why do you care? Either way, you'll never get out of here. At least I might bargain my way free. What precious information can you offer the new regime, Caraway?"

"Nothing. But then, neither will you."

Poleground scurried deeper into the back of his cell, away from the terrible voice. "What are you talking about? I indeed might buy my freedom, perhaps with the whereabouts of your sorceress daughter...."

Caraway said nothing, but clanking sounds emanated from his cell. Poleground warily peered in his direction.

"What are you doing?"

"Something I should have done awhile ago," Caraway said, moving up to the bars between them. "It took awhile for me to make this. But you seem a more fitting target than a guard. After all, the guards are just doing their job. You are a leech on this country, sucking away the soul of the people, and growing fat on corruption. And you will say nothing of my daughter."

Poleground barely had time to scream as a sharpened piece of steel found it's way to his heart.

* * * * * * * * * * *

It had been awhile now and everyone was still staring at him. Scott fidgeted in place. He wondered if their invisible friend was talking with them. He really didn't think it was a good idea just to stand here. Every second spent standing around was one more that they could be discovered. For the moment though, he swallowed his urgency and waited.

Oddly, it was Squall who broke the silence.

"Who are you?"

Scott fidgeted.

"I told you, Scott Keyor."

"Then what are you?"

Scott held up his hands defensively, confused by the question. "I'm a person. Look, where is this going? I'm obviously human."

Zell opened his mouth to say something, but again uncharacteristically, Squall beat him to it. Irvine just kept one hand on his gun.

"We have a friend who... Sees without eyes. Looks at, essence, karma. You don't exist that way. Your just a hole."

Scott surprised them by only nodding thoughtfully. "Yes, that stands to reason."

Irvine frowned. "How so?"

Scott, without knowing it, lapsed into scholar mode, one hand stroking his chin, the other gesturing to emphasize points.

"Well, according to research done at the lab, the basic atomic structure of every universe differs greatly. Not so much as to make them completely incompatible, but enough so that certain structures existent in only one universe, would be nonexistent to a being from another. On the most basic level. So basically, in my universe this, for lack of a better term, 'ESP' that your friend exhibits doesn't exist. Therefore, I don't appear on their 'radar', theoretically speaking."

Scott nodded again. "Now that I'm thinking about it, this would also explain why the magic backfired on my torturer. Stuff like that isn't around where I come from."

Zell was still back at 'lab'. "Lab? What lab? Odine's lab?"

Squall and Irvine ignored him, thinking over what Scott had explained. Irvine spoke first.

"So, magic doesn't do anything to you?"

"Yeah," Scott said, tired of talking and ready to run. "I guess so."

"And you can't junction."


Irvine blew out a breath. "Well, that limits your options a bit."

"Uh-huh, say, shouldn't we be moving about now?"

Squall shook himself out of contemplation and concurred. They needed to move, now, with no more surprises. Of course, he wasn't quite sure where to move too. The Ragnarok was back at Garden and would take time to get to their location, but that was beside the point. A spaceship would be a too obvious and tempting target for the Galbadians. Or whoever the hell has this city.

They fled from the outskirts of Deling, staying low to the ground and traveling in the ditches by the tracks whenever possible. The going was easy, without anyone spotting them, and the low clouds dimmed the light to the point where it look like evening. The storm was still building, but fortunately, it only drizzled.

The going was easy, but not for Rinoa. She only followed with her mind, but the black hole that was Scott constantly distracted her and wore at her conscience. Sometimes she was tempted to shut down her perception entirely to block out the mental white noise, but concern for Squall and the others kept her ever watchful.

At the same time, she zoomed on ahead of them, searching for quick transport out of the country. With Deling recently falling, the trains would be out, so the best bet would be by boat. It would be best to avoid Dollet. The new establishment hadn't really had time to, well, establish, so while Dollet was still unaware of the recent news it was better to be safe than sorry. A SeeD ship pickup at the nearest beach would work perfectly, unless all the SeeD boats were out on call. One might be rerouted from a mission, but that might not be possible and would take a lot of time. As a last possible resort, they could try to make it to Timber where they could certainly find refuge with the rebels. Timber was a long ways away though, and there was no telling whether or not the new force in Deling would make a complete takeover as soon as possible. Of course, what Rinoa didn't and couldn't know, was that Julian Foss had no interest in taking over the rest of the country until his assets were firmly in place.

It was four hours later that the tired team found shelter under and outcropping of rock a ways off the road, and fell into an collective exhausted sleep.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The man smiled at the gate, holding a fake ID.

The guard didn't smile, but let him in.

The man passed down white tiled hallways towards his destination.

The guards didn't suspect.

The man passed through a door into a large room.

The scientists ignored him.

The Agent took pictures of the portal.

Chapter 14

Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic