Final Fantasy VIII: Chronicles Chapter 6

Balamb Garden

By Choong Won

Squall had just walked out the door to his classroom and was walking towards the elevator, when a girl appeared around the corner and headed straight for him.

"I'm late, I'm late, I'm LATE! ! !" she shouted as she sprinted, blindly, down the hallway. Squall turned to see what was the commotion and saw her heading straight at him. Before he could think of moving, she slammed into him.

"Whoa!" thought Squall, as he stepped back to regain his balance.

The girl had taken the worst of it and had fallen on the floor. "Waaah!"

Squall stood there and watched her get up. "She should have watched where she was going." he thought.

"There." she said as she dusted herself off. "Tee-hee, I'm fine." she giggled. "Sorry. I was kinda in a hurry." She paused to show her sincerity. "Oh yeah! Hey, did you just come from that class? Is. . . . . . registration over?" she asked. Obviously very worried.

Squall nodded. "Too bad." he thought. She looked like a nice of enough person, even if she sounded a little too excited. She too was wearing her SeeD cadet uniform, though it looked a little fresher and brighter than the others he'd seen.

"Woo...Oh, nooo..." she groaned. "This place is soooo much bigger than my last Garden!" she complained. "Oh, hey, hey. I just transferred here. Do you think you could give me a quick tour of this Garden?" she begged.

Squall thought for a second. "I was going to meet Quistis, but this girl probably needs a bit of help. Think I can understand what it's like being here for the first time." He sighed. "Sure." He wasn't sure why he was being so helpful; it was not really his personality. In fact, he realized that he had spent most of his life in Garden, except for.

The girl jumped for joy. "Whoo-hoo! Alright, let's go!"

"We'll take the lift to the 1F lobby and I'll show you the directory." said Squall. He took a second to see if he'd seen her before. She was quiet short, probably five feet or so, had bright green eyes, and light brown hair, which came past her neck and then curve up a bit. "Hmmm...I've never seen her before. She must be really new. Probably came yesterday."

On the way to the elevator, a student motioned for Squall to come over. "Now what?" thought Squall. He walked over to the man.

"Oh, hey, would you like to have these?" said the man, handing Squall some playing cards. "My brother gave me these cards, but they're really not my thing. You can have them if you like." Squall took the cards and gave the man a confused look. "What? How do you play a card game?" said the man. "Hmmm, I think it'd be best to look at the card game explanation in the Tutorial. I don't know much about it, really." He paused. "If you want to play cards with someone, ask them. But keep in mind, not everyone is a card player." Squall pocketed the cards and began to leave. "Oh, and by the way, I don't play, so don't bother challenging me."

"Why do need playing cards?" thought Squall as he walked back to where the girl was waiting for him. "I can always check the Tutorial in my spare time." He motioned to the girl, and headed into the elevator. The shiny golden elevator with its large glass panels that were inserted in the doors and sapphire blue carpeting was currently unoccupied.

The elevator gave its usual 'ding' and opened its doors. Squall pushed the button '1F' and the doors slide shut. The elevator hummed as it descended to the first floor of Balamb Garden. Squall and the girl got out of the elevator and walked towards the main lobby.

"That's the directory." said Squall, pointing to a large panel in the middle of the lobby.

The lobby itself was a mere opening in the walkway. The elevator, which Squall and the girl had just gotten off, was located on a central island, in the main chamber. A pool of water circled around the island. Steps led down to the lobby, which was connected, to the walkway. The walkway was on the outside edge of the pool of water that circled the elevator's island. It too, circled around the elevator's island. On the outside edge of the walkway was a large band of water, which circled around the main chamber of Balamb Garden. Smaller walkways extended out from the main walkway like spokes on a wheel, each leading to another part of Garden. In fact, if you looked down at the first floor from a walkway on the second floor, the first floor looked like a giant wagon wheel in the water. Reddish-orange lines followed the walkway around the Garden. Grayish-yellow marble tiles were laid on the walkway and shined from the various lamps placed on the restraining wall, which was there so that no one would accidentally fall into the water. Also bushes and other plants were implanted into the wall as well. The whole place was really more of an indoor park, rather than a lobby.

Squall and the girl walked up to the directory and Squall pointed to the various rooms and sections of Garden. The directory was a large clear panel with the various sections of Garden in different colors printed on it.

"Well, this is it. Balamb garden is pretty big. It's a good idea to check where you want to go, and select it here."

"I have a question! How do you use this?" she said. She looked at the various buttons on the panel.

"Move the cursor and press cross to select." Squall pointed to a large button with an 'X' on it. "Next, I'll give a quick explanation of the various facilities."

"Yes, sir!" she said enthusiastically.

"You'll find the dormitory to the north. The majority of the students live in the dorms. There aren't many students who commute."

"Yeah, I'm in the dorms, too!"

"You can rest and change in there. " Squall added. "West of the North Block is the cafeteria. There's always a big rush for the hot dogs. You better get used to waiting in line."

"Got it!"

"East of the North Block is the Car Park. We usually take the Garden car when a mission comes up. The front gate is located to the south. . ." Squall suddenly remembered, "That's right . . . I have to go meet Instructor Trepe at the front gate."

"Hm? What's the matter?" said the girl when she noticed Squall had stopped.

Squall shook his head, "Nothing . . ." He quickly changed subject. "Next, we have the quad, located in the West Block. There's an event being planned there..."

"I know! I know! It's the Garden Festival!" shouted the girl. "It's going to be great! I'm planning to be on the committee!" She paused and looked at Squall. "You wanna help out, too?"

Squall avoided her question. "Let's just continue." he said. "South of the West Block is the infirmary. This is where you get treated for your injuries, but a lot of students just come here for advice."

"What's the doctor's name?" asked the girl.

"Doctor Kadowaki." replied Squall. "Now the East Block. This is the training center. It's the only facility open at night. It's used for training, and they have real monsters running loose here." Squall frowned at her. "If you don't take it seriously, you may end up dead. Just be careful."

The girl gulped. ". . .Okay." He wondered how much of it was real and how much was just for show. How good of a fighter was she?

"South of the East Block is the library. There's a lot of material you can look up here, but the terminals in the classroom are a lot more efficient. And you already know about the classroom on the second floor, right?"

"Yep, I remember that one."

"By the way, the headmaster's office is located on the third floor. You need permission to get in."

"Another question. What's the headmaster's name?" asked the girl.

"Headmaster Cid." said Squall. "That's about it. Anything else?"

"Got it!" she said. "Heeey, um . . . are you taking today's SeeD exam?"

"Yeah," he replied. " Hopefully, I'll pass," he thought.

"Then maybe I'll see you again, later. I've already finished my training at my previous Garden." She paused. "I'm taking the SeeD exam today, too. Good luck to both of us, huh!" She turned to leave, "Thanks a lot!" With that she walked off down the walkway.

"Phew." thought Squall. "I hope I don't have to give one of those lectures again." He started walking towards the front gate, which was in front of him. "I'd better hurry. Instructor Trepe is probably waiting for me." Squall walked out of the main chamber and towards the front gate.


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