It had only just appeared, in a haze of shimmers and light. He knew what was beyond it. He knew what would come through it if opened, and already the shadows about the chamber began to stir in anticipation as the door tried to do so.
He was ill prepared but confident in his abilities as a wizard to face whatever horror or demon may present itself. A beam of light through the widening opening of the doorway signaled the impending darkness soon to come as a small armored glove reached through and grabbed the frame, pushing the door ever wider.
"Wow! When did we install this new door boss? Just look at the designs! But it doesn't quite go with the dusty dungeon look of the rest of the room. Let's talk drapes."
"Come away from the door, guardsman." The light faded into blackness behind the crudely armored bobcat.
"But booooossssss! Just think, the crystals, white silk drapes, feather pillows, and Oh!...A fountain made from marble with one of those cupid thingys.
"BONKERS MOVE!" A hand began to reach towards them, evil and twisted.
"It could be a whole new look for the entire k..." Bonkers finally looked up and saw the wizards expression, then looked behind himself to see what all the commotion was about.
An eternity of evil about to grab him and take him into its depths.
There was nothing he could do, the hand gripped around the small guard and pulled him in before the wizard could grab the pour soul. He knew what had had to do and was grateful that Gadget had taken this day to help the professor at his lab. He closed his eyes and concentrated. The castle began to shudder as its foundation lifted from its roots. In an instant the tower was no more. Stone, earth, door, wizard, and all gone. Into itself the tower had folded, and through the blackness it fell.
Gadget stood in shock outside the main gates that would have led to the keep. She had a message from the professor, rolled up and strapped to her back. It was a warning. Something had achieved the impossible.
Someone in another universe had achieved time compression and failed to stabilize it. Reality was breaking apart. But the pieces were not falling away as they should. Worlds were forming from a pattern.
And someone was reshaping them.
Sorsha sat at the head of her bed looking through the window behind it. The moon would be full by the next night, and on the lunar solstice, the path of the moon's orbit would be as close to the earth as it would ever be again for another twenty-two years. It was so big in the sky, which made it almost seem like day. These next few nights would be ones of celebration for both the people, and the Gardens.
The Graduation Celebration would be on the night of the full moon.
She breathed in the cool summer night's air as the curtains made shadows dance around the white decorative walls of Balamb's small infirmary.
Footsteps from somewhere broke her from her trance and she slowly slid off the bed to look around. Gathering items and clothes from a locker was the man from the Garden. He slid his gunblade underneath his trench coat and moved for the door.
"Wait..." Sorsha whispered so as not to disturb the sleeping patients.
The man stopped but did not turn to face her.
Sorsha stepped out from around the corner, "Thank you."
He smirked, "Your welcome, besides I should thank you too for getting that door open so quickly."
She smiled, then remembered the ring, "...is this yours?" She held out the ring to him.
He stepped up to her and examined the symbol, then took it into his hand, "The symbol is a knight's cross. A symbol of a sorceress's knight."
"But there are no more knights."
He gestured to the blue cross on his sleeve, "One can still dream," He took her hand an placed the ring in her palm, "Two knights still live, one retired when his dreams faded, one still protects his sorceress, even if he doesn't call himself a knight." He turned away, "I don't know whose ring that is."
He walked to the door, which opened when he neared, and hissed shut when passed through.
"His name is Zakk."
Her heart leapt up into her throat as she quickly turned around to see a tall slim figure, "Luke! Don't ever do that again!" She whispered.
Luke held back a laugh, "Sorry," he whispered back, "couldn't resist any longer. I came to check on you and fell asleep in the corner until you two woke me up."
Sorsha smiled and bowed her head, "Sorry 'bout that."
"Hey, no problem, I needed to get back to the dorms anyway."
Sorsha looked up, "How do you know him?"
"Oh Zakk, he graduated from Esthar Garden a year ago."
"He's a SeeD?"
"One of the best." Then his smile faded. Luke bowed his head and kicked the floor lightly with his boot, "Listen...Sorsha...I'm sorry about not staying back with you...you know...during the evacuation."
"You were following orders, there's nothing to be sorry about."
He through his hands up, "Alright, I surrender! I just...well..." He shrugged.
"Go get some sleep, Luke."
"Right, see you at the party, er...festival...what ever...um..." He reached into his pocket and pulled out two plastic cards, "H-Heres your new dorm room keys, just let me know if you need help moving...
Sorsha grabbed the cards, "Thanks I'll let you know, Good night."
Luke exhaled, nodded and left through the doorway. Sorsha stepped back onto her bed and shut the shades. Slipping under the covers she closed her eyes to rest. Luke waited outside the infirmary for a little while. Guilt still stung for leaving her, even if it was her own order. He took a deep breath and proceeded back to his dorm room.
As he walked he felt the hairs on the back of his neck tingle with a sense of magic. He turned around to see a shimmer dissipate. He shook off any fears he might have had and slowly gripped his gunblade. He turned again to proceed to his dorm when the shadows seemed to move about him. He looked for the creature casting the shadow and failed to notice that it was the shadow itself that struck him in the stomach. He grunted and drew his blade slicing upwards. The creature stumbled back and he ran it through. In an instant it was gone. He checked about him, but nothing remained.
Stunned and not sure if he was dreaming or not, Luke continued on to him room and would report the incident in the morning.
Zakk watched from the second story walkway as Luke disappeared into the dormitory area. He checked his blade, and then proceeded to the outer hatch. Stepping out onto the balcony he looked down at land as it passed by. The Garden floated silently over the hills of Balamb to its original station.
Zell looked up at Squall, leaning quietly against the wall, "They are here..."
"SURPRIZE!!!" Selphie burst into the ballroom with enough energy to power a city and making everyone near jump, followed by a slightly reluctant Irvine. "Hi Squall!" she almost shouted.
Squall managed a small smile and a wave to her, and then resumed waiting for Rinoa.
As Selphie moved on to others Irvine slid up next to Squall, "These kinda of events ain't my style. Especially having to dress in my old SeeD uniform."
Zell chimed in, "'Take a while to dust it off?"
Squall pushed off from the wall and headed toward the balcony for some air. When it came into sight through the crowd he stopped. Quistis stood leaning over the edge, staring into the night sky. He didn't move for a time, and thought of trying to talk to her, or leaving her alone. Before long a hand rested on his shoulder.
"What is he like? Laguna asked.
Squall didn't turn, "Nida was...is a good man. He graduated with Zell, Selphie, and me. He was a co-pilot on our mission to Dollet. He stood against an order from his commander, but followed through with it. Jumping a wall in an assault drop boat right off the beach of Dollet wasn't the best plan. He was commended for both his advice and following orders of his superior. The captain didn't graduate that year for reckless endangerment of the crew..."
"I didn't ask for a biography, son."
Squall let a smirk slip through, "Sorry, but like I said, he's a good man. Great pilot. Plays triple triad sometimes, but we've...never really talked much between battles. I...remember back when we were first getting around the world. He was always at the controls of the Garden. I don't think I ever saw anyone else as the pilot until he went to the Ragnorok with Zell and Selphie. While he was piloting the garden though, Xu and Quisitis were always up there with him discussing strategies and Garden functions. I guess that's how they must have started off."
"Do you think there is any chance that we can get him back to her?"
Squall took a deep breath and turned to Laguna. He looked him over. Laguna was over sixty now. His hair only had a few dark strands left amongst the frost white hair tied back into a ponytail. His hands and body were tough and strong despite his years as a president.
"During the time compression, I was lost in a world without time, beyond anything I had ever imagined. A nightmare of loneliness and sorrow. It took all my strength and Rinoa's love to pull me though, back to this world." Squall turned back to Quisitis, "No matter where Nida is, we will find him."
"I believe you."
Squall bowed his head, "Thanks."
"Now," Laguna said with a pat on the back, "We have to wait for a chance to find them again."
"Hey!" shouted someone behind them. They turned to see a group of people pushing through the crowds, before long Selphie, Irvine, and Zell made there way to the two men. Quistis must have heard Selphie yell and she came over slowly. Her eyes were tired but still shined with the sense of duty that had never faded since her childhood. Zell waved over a waitress carrying a tray of champagne glasses. He looked around and then vigorously began to pass them out to everyone.
"Here, take one, here they come."
They turned to gaze at the entrance as the SeeD graduates began to enter the ballroom. Some came in alone; some were escorted by comrades or loved ones. All entered with a sense of pride that filled the room with each breath. In the end, Sorsha and Rinoa entered. Rinoa was being escorted by an extremely proud Radly, grinning from ear to ear. Sorsha's arm was wrapped around Luke's. His hand shook from nervousness.
Rinoa, leaned over and whispered up into his ear, "Calm down Luke, you look like your about to face a firing squad."
"C-can't be helped, I just feel strange."
"Yes, it involves breathing steadily and having a regular heartbeat."
"Easy for you to say. You didn't leave Headmaster Squall's daughter in the care of a stranger while she is targeted by an Iron Giant."
"That again? Luke..."
"I know...relax." Luke sighed, "I just worry about these things. This place, these people, my friends, family, y-..." Luke stopped himself as Sorsha looked back up at him, "...y-you know?"
Sorsha looked back at the crowd and smile as her family and friends raised their glasses, "I know."
With the help of his wife, Edea, Cid ascended the steps to the stage. His aged fingers slowly produced a small sheet of paper. He read over it, whispered a thanks to his wife. He faced the audience and smiled, "Those of us gathered here today, come to recognize these young men and women today for their outstanding achievements in life. They have been given knowledge, discipline, and trust and used these inside themselves to produce members of an elite team that has changed the fate of the world. This team has time and time again risked everything on the decisions made, not by the faculty, but by the leaders and soldiers out on the field. And time and time again, we have won." A loud cheer came up from the crowd as words faded into the applause. Cid appreciatively waved down the crowd's applause and continued, "Twenty years ago to the day today, I stood before four students in my office. Each had shown the same discipline and teamwork that Garden has come to set it's standards to. These four students became the deciding factor that saved us countless times even before we understood our own purpose as protectors and peacekeepers. These people joined our team and showed us that we were much more at heart than we had ever seen. Up until then, we were regarded as an organization that sold its services to the highest bidder as mercenaries with an uncertain destiny. We had only one goal truly in mind, to fight any Sorceress that may come to power and begin a new war across the world." Cid turned to Edea; she bowed her head in remembrance of her days as a sorceress. Being controlled by another from the future she had almost destroyed all those she had loved. She lifted her head back up to see a small reassuring smile on her husbands face. It was all she needed to remind herself that none of her actions were under her control.
"Now we know our destiny, " Continued Cid once more, "Now we know that we must prepare for the imminent coming of the most powerful sorceress to come into existence, and protect the people of this world against her at all costs. With Graduates like these fine young people standing before you today, " Cid paused, then smirked, "She'll never know what hit her."
The crowd roared with applause and cheers. Shouts and whistles were heard throughout the entire Garden facility. Squall remembered that day so many years ago. He had no idea then the places he would go, the people he would meet, the accomplishments he would make, or the leader he would become in just a few week's time. Zell would become one of the best soldiers in the force. Selphie seemed out of place with her happy-go-lucky disposition, and caught others off guard with her light-heart personality, even the enemy. Then there was Nida, who never stood out, and wasn't assigned to any SeeD teams after graduation, but later made his skills and determination known as the pilot of the Garden during many larger battles.
Squall raised his glass to Cid during the commotion, and Cid returned the toast picking up his own glass up to him. The crowds took several minutes to calm down, but the energy never left them. Zell frantically gathered the members of their small group together.
Squall, Rinoa, Selphie, Irvine, Quistis, and Zell face the three graduates present. As Zell centered himself in the middle of the two groups, Squall could help but wonder as he looked at Sorsha's teammates, (Where have I seen them before?)
"Those of us here tonight, "Zell began raising his glass," Who have come to celebrate the graduation of our friends and family, please raise your glasses on a toast to my favorite goddaughter..."
"Only goddaughter," Rinoa said.
Zell let his shoulders slump in mock defeat, "Details...details..."
Sorsha held in a laugh as Zell pressed on, "A toast to Sorsha and her team..." The group began to take a drink as Sorsha caught a wink from Zell lowering his glass at the last second, "Biggs and Wedge."
Squall and the rest of the group who had known the two bumbling Galbadian soldier screwups, simultaneously blew out their champagne in surprise and stared at Luke and Radly in sudden realization of where they had seen the uncanny resemblances. Confused and bewildered, the three stood together. Sorsha leaned over to Radly, "What's this all about?"
Radly shook his head, "Dunno, 'been getting this all day."
It took ten minutes for Zell to stop laughing.
Radly took another sip of the champagne, ...You know... you could always actually drink some of that.
Luke looked down at his own champagne flute, What do you mean?
Radly rolled his eyes, Exactly what I say, youve been holding onto the same full glass for over an hour now, he almost growled, I dont think you sipped during the toast.
You mean when they...
Yeeeah...I think the headmaster must hold a distance record for liquid projectiles.
Not funny, and defiantly not an incentive to drink right now.
That had to burn his nose...
Rad, drop it.
Down the hatch, He tipped his glass for the last few sips, You could talk to her yknow.
Could...should...would... he looked up at Sorsha, sitting at a table chatting with Selphie and Irvine. Hed been trying to ask her for a dance all night, but still hadnt worked up the courage. Live explosives he could handle, but this, ...cant.
You are one sad little soldier.
Who you calling little, short cake?
Boy, I could whip you around this room faster than childs rag doll in a temper tantrum.
Luke rolled his eyes, Fine, you win.
Dangit, Luke, your supposed to keep it going.
Rad, dilemma, focus.
Radly grabbed a glass off a passing tray, Right!..., He stopped for a moment...took a sip of champagne..., Right...What were we talking about?
Luke didnt even attempt an answer. Had he been sitting at a table, or standing near a wall he would have slammed his head hard. He chanced another glance at her, she was now sitting by herself, smiling, looking out the glass ceiling at the stars. As if he were drawn to it by fate, he looked up at the stars himself. And, for a moment, he could feel something inside himself. It was if the entire sky was theirs at that moment. As if the entire world, at the same time, stopped looking at the stars long enough to miss the streak of light as a shooting star left its fading scar between the infinite points of light. And when it was over, he let his eyes fall once more to her, as she did to him.
Sorsha smiled as she met his eyes, Did you see that? she mouthed to him, pointing at the sky. Luke nodded quietly and smiled. (Dont just stand there and smile, say something back!)
Make a wish, he said back silently. Then mentally slapped his forehead, (brilliant).
Sorsha leaned back in her chair. (A wish?) She thought, (...I...Im not sure what to wish for...) She looked back up at the sky ( The music of the party seemed to drift away as she lost herself in thought.
(...I wish...) The stars grew closer, until they filled her view.
(...I wish...) The still closer they drew, and soon the darkness between them began to spread.
(...I wish...) The darkness consumed all and blinded her completely, the ballroom left behind and far away. She could feel the cold, not on her skin, but inside of her. The cold of the space between stars, between galaxies, a cold so far as to make the light if the universe all but a dim glow that one had to strain to see.
(...I wish...) She felt the words as she said them in her mind drift away.
(I dont know what to wish for...)
Funny, Id wish to be out of the dark, Said a small voice in a frightened tone, Kinda gloomy if ya ask me.
(I heard you...I mean...whats happening?)
Beats me, I just got here a while ago. Starting to get kinda hungry. Got any tuna?
Sardines? Maybe some mustard?
Oh well, shouldnt spoil dinner anyway.
(Im sorry who are you?)
Sorsha felt the impression of a small creature bow in front of her, Bonkers T. Bobcat, at your service my lady!
She saw the garden floating below her. The massive structure floated over the hills of Balamb smoothly and gracefully and the halo beneath it kept it afloat on the air. The floating school had been flying on a combination of magic and technology no one fully understood for many years, and would continue to do so for some while. She knew this somehow, she knew it would not be truly defeated, but one day, its time would end. She watched as the gardens gentle curves and bends lead he sight to the very top where someone stood. She drew closer to the figure. He sat upon the peak as if guarding the entire building alone, his hand resting on the gunblade balanced on end in front of him. He slowly picked up his sword and pointed it out to sea. His blade, like a compass, shifted until it found what it was looking for. Then he slowly rested the tip to the ground once more, and sat as the wind whipped up his long coat and blew his short hair lightly. She drifted down and around to the ballroom where a small crowd had gathered around someone. She weaved and sifted through the crowd to see a woman at a table, staring into the night sky as others tried to get her to respond.
Sorsha blinked. She was back, even though she had the gut feeling that she had never left. She turned her head to see her fathers worried expression.
Sorsha? He whispered. Luke peeked around him, with a much more worried expression across his face, and behind him was Ralph...who didnt seem the least bit worried.
Shee? Told ja sheed com round. He slurred confidently.
Squall ignored him, Sorsha, please, just tell me your okay.
She smiled, Im fine Dad, just took a little trip.
Squall and Luke both breathed a sigh of relief and Squall smirked, Glad you came in from space with a soft landing.
She smiled, Worried that I would... She chanced a glance up to see a small flash of light in the sky. She didnt know how she knew what it was, but that didnt matter at that moment, Lookout! She grabbed her father and pulled him to the floor with her. Lukes instincts kicked in and he dived over the two to protect as best as he could.
Wha ja heck?
It flew through the atmosphere and hit the glass hard sending shattered glass over the ducking crowd. It flew across the room and struck Radly in the chest sending him across the floor in a ball of black uniform, scattered makeshift armor, and charred orange fur.
Radly moaned. The fur stirred and stood on top of him, the last of its armor falling off to the floor.
It weakly saluted to Radly from his chest, Tonkers B. Catbob...service sir your at.
Radly lifted his head, Badly Riggs...at yours.
Bonkers wavered and lowered his salute crisply, Pleased to meet cha.
They both flopped.
Squall opened his eyes to see his daughters worried eyes on him. He smiled and sat up. Small shards of glass fell from his uniform harmlessly, but as he rose, his expression changed.
I... Luke began, ...I was going to ask...for a dance...
Sorsha turned over to see Luke clutching his side. Several small shards of glass jutted from his side and back; he smiled weakly.
Rain check? he asked with a shaky laugh.
Author's notes: Okay Obviously there has been a slight delay in the amount of time it took for me to get this chapter posted...sorry, yes it's been almost an entire year.
But now I'm back and I'm starting to get into the groove of doing this airforce thing. Yay!
Now, I know Icy lets me put this fic up(and there will be more trust me), but I came to realise that I couldn't quite submit my Pics of the charactor without infringing upon the rules and spirit of this site. So I'm planning on creating my own site soon with the help of my friends that will give me a place to post my art and possibly start other projects. By that I mean what ever I can think of to bring in some viewers. Which may include giving away bits and snipits of my novel that I've been working on for the better part of four years(I'm not too good at keeping with one idea...SERIOUSLY).
Wish me luck, I'll post the next chapter soon with the address of the site(if it's is up by then) with the next chapter.
P.S. This fanfic will be exclusive to Icybrian.com