On Earth as it is in Hell Chapter 6

Inherent Instability

By Caleb Nova

"It seems funny now, but I think the most relief I ever felt was when I saw a TV."

-Scott Keyor, Worlds Unknown

The Television is not an old invention by normal standards, compared to say, the wheel, but it has seen tremendous advances. One of the most recent is cable and satellite TV, more reliable ways of broadcast than the old indirect antenna. But before AT&T Broadband and Direct TV, millions and millions of shows were sent winging off into nothing, eternal signals of humanity's broadcasts. What if there was a monitor, a alien force watching these signals, even today? What would a outer being make of daytime soaps or NYPD Blue? Certainly, these shows would describe us in a way we would not want to be described. But outside of this, here is another bit of thought food: If transmissions from other dimensions manifest themselves in our world, surely something from us will affect them.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The black haze that filled his mind and thudded in his brain was unlike anything Scott had felt since Tom Ferguson had hit him on the head with a two-by-four in Third Grade. Scott struggled to remember the incident. He hadn't anything better to do, because as far as he could tell he had no control over any part of the body he could not feel. Yes, Third Grade it was... On the playground, a construction crew was putting in a new cafeteria wall. He wasn't a nerd back then and would have hit back if the playground teacher on duty hadn't have run over to stop him. Plus, he had felt his chances of hitting Tommy weren't very high since he saw five Tommy's. They had sent him to the nurse's office and- Huh?

Bright light on his eyelids suddenly dispelled the fog but not the pounding. Dimly he could make out shapes standing over him, wavy lines slowly coalescing into a recognizable figure.

"Wake up."

"Trying," He managed to squeeze out. "Trying. Still trying."

He managed to open his eyes all the way until things came back into focus. The face staring down at him was familiar, but he couldn't quite place it. Really, it sort of looked like...

"Squall Leonhart!?"

The person in question frowned slightly, as though unsure of his reaction. "Yes.."

It all snapped back to him. The experiment, the streets of Deling, the hotel. And the impossibility of it all. Briefing hadn't prepared him for this. But then, what could?

The one thing he was not aware of however, were his surroundings and circumstance. He sat up to discover both and immediately wished he hadn't. Fighting off the sudden attack of nausea, he struggled to his feet from where he had been laying on a extremely cold concrete floor. The fact that it was extremely cold stuck out in his mind quite firmly and not surprisingly considering he was totally naked.

Well, that's not good. It was fairly obvious that waking up would not be pleasant, but being buck ass naked was not something he was prepared for.

Doing his best with what he had to cover himself, he looked to Squall. "Why, by chance, am I naked?"

Squall was not particularly clothed himself, but luckily there was nobody else in the small concrete cell. "Intimidation. Discomfort from the cold," His aquiline eyes scanned the steel door with no bars that was apparently the only way out. Besides that, the cell was depressingly bare. "Their trying to break us."

Scott smiled despite the circumstances. "They'll have to try harder than this. So, your a, what, CD or something right? How do we get out of here?"

Squall's gaze focused on Scott, as if reassessing him. "Who are you?"

"Well, that's a long story."

Squall raised an eyebrow, the first expression of emotion Scott had seen. "I think we have time."

So Scott began the long task of relating all that had transgressed, followed by a short personal history. As he went through the rather long listing, he was slightly piqued by the fact that Squall seemed pointedly undisturbed by this flux of new information. Scott at least wanted his audience to be a little impressed that he had survived inter-dimensional travel. But then, kill a insane sorceress from the future.... Tactfully, he left out the part of them being a Playstation game.

After he had finished, Squall looked up from his contemplation of the floor and then spoke the question that Scott had been hoping to hear. "How do we get you back?"

Scott shook his head. "I was hoping you could tell me. But first, where are we and why are we here?"

Squall shifted to a more comfortable position. He wasn't sure how much information to trust this man with. "I believe we have been kidnapped by the Galbadian government. You were captured along with us."

"So they probably think I'm a C-thing too, huh?"

"Yes. SeeD."

"Oh. Right."

"So, do you know how to get out of here?"

"We wait."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, a different sort of problem was occurring in a different sort of cell. Irvine and the two girls had also been rudely thrown into their compartment, which would have just been the same sort of problems Scott and Squall where having, except for Irvine's obvious presence.

"Irvine, put the mouse back in the house!" Selphie screeched, the echoes reverberating off the dim walls and rattling Irvine's teeth. She had awoken with no trace of her leg wound, which would have cheered her but for the fact that she had been bagged with the oldest trick in the book. She couldn't tell the others. She felt like she had let them down.

Irvine himself was not in the most comfortable of situations, and he wasn't going to take any crap.

"I can't put the mouse in the house, because there is no house!"

"Well, stop that then!"

"I can't help it! It's natural!"

Selphie sputtered over that one, and after several false starts finally settled on, "Well, then you get that corner!"


He picked himself up to move over into the far corner when a look of poorly disguised cunning came into his eyes.

"You know, if you want to make the problem go away, at least for awhile..."

Selphie desperately looked around for something to throw, but Quistis was too heavy and the concrete looked rather solid.

Quistis stepped in. "Look, stop this. We're SeeD. What should our first move be?"

Selphie started to raise her hand then caught herself. "To escape."

"And then?"

Irvine fielded that one. "To find our Commander."

"Right. Lets start."

The three moved around the room, trying to keep their backs to one another (except Irvine, who wasn't really trying) and find away out, the hinges on the door being the most likely prospect. After a through inspection by Irvine, Quistis and Selphie in turn, it was apparent the hinges were not a way out.

"Stuck like titanium glue," Irvine grunted, trying to bend the pins. "This door isn't going anywhere."

Quistis looked at him.

"Stuck like what?"

"Like titanium glue."

"There's no such thing."

Irvine shrugged, sliding down the wall. "Well, if there was it would be stuck like this."

Selphie sank into a corner, her head in her arms. Quistis raised an eyebrow. "What are you doing?"

Selphie's voice came out muffled. "Sleeping."

Quistis sighed, doing likewise. There was nothing else for it until their captors came for them.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Zell was, in the short of it, not happy. At all. Squall's team was late, and there had been no reports from Galbadia. His frenetic energy surging through his veins, he paced his room. His requests to go to check on the team's status had so far been denied by the Garden heads and Cid himself. Denied. Him! Defeated Ultimecia and all! Sandbagged.

But he wasn't going to take it without a fight. No, he would have permission. He would request every day until they gave him permission to help his friends.

A buzz from the door intercom, or doorcom as they were more commonly known on campus, startled him from his angry reverie.

Turning to the door, he keyed the doorcom. "Yeah?"

"Zell, it's me. Rinoa."

"Oh, right." He fumbled with the pad. The door slid open with a slight hiss, revealing Rinoa in a blue jacket with a hood. She quickly ducked into his room as the door closed.

Zell raised an eyebrow at her dark clothing. "Hey, uh, what's with the covert ops stuff?"

"Curfew is on," She said as she put down her hood. "Remember?"

In fact, the clock had been the last thing on his mind, and he sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. "Uh, no. I mean, yes, but I wasn't remembering. No, I was. Remembering."

"Whatever. We need to talk."


Rinoa sighed, brushing back her hair from where it had been hanging in her eyes. "The mission. Squall and the others still haven't come back, and.." She bit her lower lip, worry coming over her face.

Normally Zell would have told you that worry wasn't in Rinoa's vocabulary. But since the days of the battles and Ultimecia, everyone had changed, none more so than Squall and Rinoa. Their relationship was much discussed in Garden. And in the tabloids, much to Squall's dismay and Rinoa's delight. Many people thought it wouldn't last long and that they didn't have enough in common, but Zell thought they had more in common than it appeared. Sometimes Rinoa could have very Squall-like attributes. In his dim subconscious Zell suspected the 'normal' Rinoa was as much a mask as the 'normal' Squall.

Such things were, for the time being, far from his thoughts. "Yeah, I know. This just really...really.." He struggled for a suitable word. "SUCKS!"

"That's not the way I would have put it," She said wryly. "But you have the point. Zell, why can't we go find them?"

"I told you Rinoa, the Headmaster won't, 'Delegate a team from other critical assignments' to go to Deling. The Garden is really busy right now and I'm on hold for a possible call. We'll just have to wait."

He resumed his ferocious pacing. Rinoa sat on the edge of his bed, eyes following him back and forth.

"Yes, but what about just one of us? I know your on hold, but-"

He vehemently shook his head, as if by doing so he could shake the dilemma free of his brain.

"No, I already tried. Everything. Again and again!" He let loose an explosive sigh, clenching his gloved hands. "It's just no good. If I wasn't a SeeD, I-"

He broke off, as though afraid to talk of not being a SeeD. He stopped abusing the carpet long enough to walk over to the window and glare moodily out into the cloud filled horizon. The Garden was resting in it's usual place at Balamb, and a storm several miles out to sea cast eerie flashes of light that soon dissolved in the flickering twilight.

Rinoa stood up and walked to his side, looking at his face.

"You'd what, Zell?"

He faced her, as readable as always. "I would go and do it anyway."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Even the air seemed different to Hendrow, cleaner somehow. And a slight hint of tang, something else. Magic. He thought to himself, if such a thing could taint the air.

The expedition had emerged onto a grassy plain, a full moon high in the sky. Hendrow had brought the Strategy Guide, but the game map was hardly a real accurate one, lacking any real information other than names and vague locations. Perhaps if they could find one of these, 'Draw Points'. He could almost taste that new power, a high achieved by invincible new technology.

Julian was too efficient for standing around. Workers and guards moved into position, erecting shelters and securing the perimeter. Hendrow nervously flipped to the Bestiary section of the Guide. Some of these creatures would be most difficult to face until the rest of the men were brought through the portal. Especially without the big guns. He had been assured the professional soldiers could hold off long enough to get back in the portal, but just in case he ordered his and Julian's shelter to be built closest to the opening, still glowing in the moonlight.

This area of entrance was to be the base of a huge operation, and a concrete bunker-compound would be under construction first thing in the morning. No expense was spared, and it was turning into a more than multi-million dollar project. Not to mention the fact that the private army Julian was going to hire had only been partially filled out. But if there was one thing Julian Foss had, it was money.

Hendrow gave a slight smile at the thought of the glory that awaited them.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The first sign of their captors came at first light, or what Scott judged to be first light. A metallic clang brought him out of his half-sleep, dozing on the rough floor. A man walked in, dressed in a tight black T-shirt and slacks of the same color. In the dim light he seemed to be only a floating head.


Scott sat defiant, unmoving. The man barked a short laugh.

"You might as well move. Your friend isn't here to back you."

With a quick glance, Scott saw this was true. Squall had disappeared while he had slept. He inwardly cursed his lack of observance. Still, he wasn't going to move until the man did. After a couple seconds of silence, the man in black grudgingly tossed him a pair of boxers. Scott quickly put them on and decided to move. He stood up in what he hoped was a firm posture and faced his jailer. He knew they had moved Squall and himself seperately so there was less chance for resistance. Being half naked with no weapons, he was not in a position to resist.

"This way."

The jailer led him down a twisted hallway, complete with damp steps and slippery ramps. Judging by the smell they were either in or by some sewers. The idea that the sewers were making the floor slick was, to be brief, not cool.

Dim lights lit the way, until they arrived at another blank door, unmarked and anonymous as the rest. The jailer reached up and hit a switch planted in the wall Scott hadn't noticed.

The room revealed was like the rest, except auditorium size and lined with chairs. The front row was occupied by the others, all in the same shorts. Strangely, he noticed the girls didn't have any tops on. Then again, he thought glancing at the guards, maybe not so strange. Either way, they were dealing with soldiers who had little in discipline or courtesy. Already embarrassed enough, he fought his body's natural response, trying to concentrate on the danger of the situation.

The jailer walked up to the podium, surprising Scott, who hadn't thought he was in charge. The man looked at them coldly before clearing his throat.

"Looks like you SeeD aren't so big anymore, hmm? You have the honor of the hospitality of the Galbadian government. Perhaps permanently."

He paused here, leafing through some papers. Scott figured they were blank. He was just showing who was in power. The jailer looked up again, scanning their faces for any reaction to his words.

"We of course have extensive information on all of you. Squall Leonhart, Selphie Tilmitt, and so on. Except for.." He paused as if questioning the wisdom of revealing that he didn't know something.

"Him." He pointed at Scott. "You refer to him as 'Scott'. Who is he?"

Quistis was the first to speak. "Why are you doing this?" She questioned him, refusing to let her nakedness demoralize her.

The jailer ignored her, eyes still searching. "A specialist of some kind, obviously SeeD. An assassin? No, Mr. Kinneas is here. Some sort of spy? Perhaps a martial artist. Zell Dincht is still at your Garden."

None spoke. Scott watched Squall carefully. It was hard to judge a person by a PSX character. Would he talk or not? Perhaps the game had been wildly inaccurate. Whatever happened, this could only get ugly.

The jailer waited for a minute, then gave a smile that was more of a grimace on his hard face. "Well then. Maybe we can fire it out of you."

"No!" Selphie gasped.

Nobody else made any sound, but that was enough to make Scott uneasy. When the man in black turned to give orders, he leaned over at Squall who was sitting next to him.

"Their gonna set me on fire?"

Squall's grave eyes focused on him. "A bit more controlled. Magic."

"Ahh. Wonderful." Scott wondered how long he could hold under torture. He had been trained for it, and now it appeared it would be time to see if all that training was up to the hype.

Chapter 7

Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic