The Gunblade Saga Chapter 2


By Peptuck3

        "SEIFER, DRINK?" a woman asked as Squall entered the cafeteria. Those words, and the way they were spoken, were all Squall needed to know that Seifer Almasy and the Disiplinary Committee were about.

        To his left, Squall spotted the trio, clustered around a vending machine. In the center, of course, stood Seifer, who was looking over the selection of drinks in the machine.

        "Oh, yeah, can I get something?" the second member of the group asked. He was huge, even taller than Seifer, with dark, tanned skin, dark hair, and with muscles on top of muscles. He wore an open vest that showed off his massive chest, and a thick necklace of brown balls around his neck. On his shoulder he wore a metal plate with a symbol of some sort Squall didn't know.

        "I'd like some water, ya know?" Raijin continued. Seifer, on the other hand, continued to mull over the drink he wanted. He looked up then, noticing Squall. The other two members of the Committee also saw him as well. Seifer smirked and nodded at Squall, the only real greeting he would give to his rival, aside from a challenge.

        "IGNORE," the third member said. She was short and petite, with pale skin, dyed silver hair that was cut short, and a blue coat that somehow reminded Squall of a pirate. The "pirate" image was further enhanced by the presence of an eyepatch over her keft eye, although Squall didn't know why she wore it. It was hard to imagine that this woman, Fujin, was Raijin's sister, considering how different the two were.

        Apparently, Raijin had missed his sister's order to ignore Squall.

        "Yo, its Squall!" He glanced over at Fujin and the vending machine. "Oh, yeah, Fujin's gonna treat us. Want something?"

        "RAGE!" Fujin growled, and even as Raijin glanced her way confusedly, the petite woman kicked her brother in the shin at his stupidity. Raijin yelped and began hopping around on his uninjured leg, whining at his smarting shin.

        "Ahh . . . Ouuu . . . Ahhh . . ."

        Seifer chuckled at his friends' usual antics, then looked Squall's way.

        "Squall, can't you see the Disciplinary Committee's busy? Don't bother us." Squall shrugged off Seifer's remark and walked past the hopping Raijin. The big, muscle-bound teddy bear finally stopped hopping as the brown-haired cadet walked past.

        "Squall, psst," Raijin said, trying to sound discreet. "Fujin's kinda harsh at times, so you better watch it, ya know?"

        'As if I couldn't tell,' Squall thought. Apparently, Raijin hadn't been discreet enough, or maybe he'd just forgotten his sister was still right behind him.

        "WHAT?" Fujin growled, causing Raijin to spin around, and hop back a bit to get out of kicking range.

        "O-Oh! I-It's nothin'!" Raijin stammered.

        Not for the first time, Squall wondered if Raijin would ever pass the written test for SeeD, considering he was about as intelligent as the vending machine behind the trio.

        The attention of the quartet was suddenly stolen as a cadet blazed past as if he had a T-Rexaur on his tail. The cadet came to a dead stop in front of the cafeteria lady at the counter.

        "D-do you have any . . . hot dogs left?" he asked, heaving and panting. Squall recognized the cadet, but then, most people who had met Zell Dincht did. The small, muscle-bound cadet stood out with his unique haircut, consisting of a tall plume of hair sticking straight up just over his forehead. Zell also featured a frightening black lightning-like tattoo over the left side of his face.

        "Nope," came the expected response by the cafeteria lady. "You're a bit late, I'm afraid. We're all sold out."

        "Damn! Not again . . ." Zell muttered, dissappointed. "Its hopeless if you don't get here early. All right, I'll try again next time . . ."

        "I'll try to order more, but there's no guarantee!" the worker called after Zell as he walked away dejectedly. As Zell passed the quartet by the drink machine, Squall thought he saw an evil smirk on Seifer's face.

        " . . . Speeding," the head of the Disciplinary Committee said suddenly. "Let's go arrest that student for violation of academy regulations."

        "AFFIRMATIVE!" Fujin replied as Seifer took off down the hallway after Zell.

        "Roger, ya know!" Raijin agreed as he followed Fujin out.

        Squall shook his head at the Committee's typical actions. Seifer had a thing against Zell, and he used his power as head of the Committee to make life difficult for the cadet. Of course, Seifer didn't just use his power to bother Zell, he used (and abused) it whenever he felt like it. Seifer had been made the head of the Committee to help keep his generally violent and aggressive tendencies under control through responsibility, and in that regard, it had somewhat worked. But Seifer liked taking advantage of his power, though in reality, the Committee was actually not all that powerful. Anyone above a cadet, an instructor or even a SeeD, could override Seifer's decisions, meaning that Seifer had to limit his abuses to minor actions only, and had to generally keep the populace of Garden under control as he was supposed to. If Seifer got too heavy or frequent with his abuse of power, he could expect the committee to be disbanded and given to someone else. So he had to be responsible. It was actually quite a brilliant idea, and followed the same principles that kept democratic politicians in office; if they abused their power or neglected their duties, they lost their offices, and the same held true for Seifer and his position as head of the Committee. And Seifer liked being head of the Committee.

        After the Committee had left to ruin Zell's day further, Squall went up to the counter. He knew the cafeteria ladies would yammer on for hours if one allowed them, so he made his order quickly, and left with a heavily laden tray of breakfast foods; today was going to be a long day.

        * * * * *

        Squall returned to his room in the dorms a short time later. He'd found an empty table, but it had unfortunately been between one occupied by a group of the Trepies and another claimed by a group of cadets who enjoyed insulting themselves and each other. So, Squall had had to endure simultanious complaints and remarks about Quistis. He'd eaten fast and cleared out before he lost his temper at either group's stupidity.

        Squall stepped through the doorway leading into his dorm. Actually, it was a double dorm, consisting of a pair of bedrooms and a small study area outside. Squall spotted some bags in the room next to his. He'd spent a long time alone in the double dorm, since no one had wanted to share a double room with him, but it seemed someone had finally moved in, most likely from Trabia.

        'Who knows, I might be rooming with that girl I ran into in the hall . . .' Squall thought. Whatever, it didn't matter, Squall knew that if he passed the SeeD exam, which he was certian he would, he would have a single room to himself. 'But you won't be passing anything without fighting Ifrit,' he reminded himself.

        Squall stepped into his room and opened the weapon case for his gunblade. The case was large, and featured the same lion's head design that Squall's necklace and the chain on the end of his gunblade featured. Flipping the latches, he drew out the Revolver.

        He quickly polished the steel of his gunblade, then popped open the chamber.

        The gunblade's internal mechanisms were complex, belieing the simple appearance of sword married to gun. The weapon was loaded with concussive- force shells, or just "bullets" as Squall called them. Each shell contained powerful explosive force, that, whenever the trigger was pulled, would be sent down the length of the blade, with the strength to turn flesh to jelly and armored plating to shattered slag. Each "bullet," however, did not release all it's force in each shot, but rather contained multiple charges for multiple blasts. Each time the trigger was pulled, another "bullet" slid into place via the revolver system, in case something had gone wrong with this particular "bullet" and it couldn't fire anymore, and also to just keep the mechanisms inside the complex weapon as simple as possible. The revolver chambers would keep turning with each pull of the trigger, until all the shells had lost their explosive power, at which point they'd be removed and replaced. Each "bullet" in Squall's gunblade had four charges, more than enough for the coming battle with Ifrit.

        Of course, the weapon had a tremendous recoil, or it would, if it weren't for compensators built into the handle to absorb the shock of the blast and to keep the gunblade in line. The compensators ultimately reduced the recoil to almost nothing, allowing the weilder to strike with amazing precision, yet hit his foes with devastating strikes.

        But, the gunblade was a difficult weapon to master. Only the most skilled and dedicated swordsmen could properly weild the exotic weapon, much less utilize it to its fullest potential.

        Squall took the six shells from inside his weapon case and loaded them into the gunblade. Neither he nor Seifer had loaded their weapons that morning; even if Seifer was willing to use magic when he wasn't supposed to, he wasn't so stupid as to load his gunblade in a supposedly nonlethal match.

        Weapon loaded, Squall checked the trio of bandoleers around his leg, confirming he had enough gunblade ammo to last a week's fighting. Squall finished up his preparation by checking his equpiment belt. He had a good supply of potions of different types: regular healing potions that worked amazingly fast, antidotes for poisons, eye drops in case he was blinded and needed healing for his eyes, echo screens to restore the ability to cast spells if they were somehow lost due to a magical effect, and a few pheonix downs, powerful potions that restored extremely grievous injuries.

        One last thing Squall did was to check his back-up weapons: a pair of solid steel ten-inch combat knives. One he slid into a wrist sheath on his left forearm, the other into a sheath on the right side of his waist belt.

        His preparations done, the SeeD left his dorm. He had checked over his supply of magic, and figured he could use a few more Sleep spells, and he wouldn't really mind heading to the Training Center to get a few Grats in before he met Instructor Trepe to head for the Fire Cavern.

        Squall exited the North Block and headed for the entrance to the East Block. As he walked down the hallway, Squall spotted a pair of students running his way, panic evident on their faces. the two turned around and looked back down the hallway, panting heavily.

        "Something wrong?" Squall asked, startling one of the two frightened cadets.

        "Ahhh! Oh, its just you, Squall," the cadet said, with obvious relief.

        "So, that's the infamous monster," the other cadet remarked.

        "Yeah, I thought I was gonna die," the first student added.

        "T-Rexaur?" Squall asked, knowing there were few monsters in the Training Center that could illicit such fear. Both cadets nodded.

        "Never seen one before," the second said, shaking his head. "Heard about 'em, but damn! The thing was huge!"

        "Yeah, I wet my pants!" the first added, leaning against the wall.

        Squall glanced at his watch and stepped past the cadets.

        "I'd be careful if I were you!" the first cadet shouted. Squall waved a hand over his shoulder, indicating he knew what he was doing.

        The hot, humid air of the Training Center struck Squall like a flying chair as soon as he passed through the doorway. The Training Center was essentially a large enclosed jungle, filled with flora and fauna, and of course, monsters. The vast majority of the monsters in the Center were Grats, a big, plant-like creature, although the Center was home to a collection of other, more powerful creatures, kept as a lesson to all SeeD cadets that they were not invincible.

        The Center had two entrances, one on either side of the door leading to the hallway. Both entrances led through the huge electrified fence that seperated the jungle itself from the rest of Garden. Squall opted to go through the left entrance. He switched off the electricity around the doorway, stepped through, and flicked it back on. Then, Squall delved into the Training Center.

        It hadn't taken long before Squall encountered what he was looking for. He was advancing down a wide, clear road section of the Center, marked by a number of fallen logs, when a lone Grat made its appearance. The Grat had a bulbous central body, like that of a carnivorious plant, with a group of six tiny, skinny legs supporting it. A quartet of long, leaf-tipped tentacles rose up over its body, designed to help the thing batter and pull prey into its spine-tipped maw at the top of its bulb-like body. Grats, Squall knew, were a good source of supportive magic, especially Sleep spells and the magic-inhibiting Silence spells.

        Taking the initiative, Squall focused and reached out to the Grat with his mind. He called upon a the power bestowed by the Guardian Forces, and was able to sense the magical power within the Grat. Singling out the energies he needed, Squall focused on them and drew them out.

        Energy flew from the Grat's body, in glowing purple and blue lines, arcing across the distance between the two. Squall felt the magical power of Sleep spells as they entered his own body, and nodded as he confirmed he had succeeded. "Drawing" magic like this was a basic technique taught to all SeeD cadets.

        The Grat, now fully aware of its opponent, spun to face the cadet. Squall tore his gunlade from its holster and readied it as the Grat charged. the creature's tiny legs carried it surprisingly quickly, and the thing covered the distance in a matter of seconds. The Grat swung its long tentacles at Squall, attempting to batter him into submission.

        The Revolver flashed twice as the tentacles came in, and Squall himself ducked and twisted aside. None of the tentacles had hit, but Squall's strikes with his gunblade had. Two of the Grat's appendages were now shortened stumps, their ends lying on the ground.

        Squall came in right behind the Grat's attack. The Revolver dove into its body, tearing a long gash across the creature's hide. The Grat hissed and began backing away, but Squall quickly focused and put a hand to his head. He gestured towards the Grat and felt the Sleep spells he had stocked diminish slightly, as he discharged some of the energy. The Grat was hit precisely by the spell, and it stopped in place, its tentacles drooping. Squall took his chance and drew a number of additional Sleep spells from the monster, as well as a few Silence spells. By the time he was satisfied with the magic he had gained, the Grat was stirring, so Squall calmly walked over to the wounded monster and finished it with a single stroke of the gunblade.

        Considering how much magic he had on hand, Squall decided he was finished drawing energy from the Grats. However, there was a spot he wanted to hit before he left, a draw point he had found yesterday with an offensive spell. He moved through the Center at a quick but cautious pace, keeping an eye out for any more Grats, but also keeping an ear cocked for the sounds of any larger and far more dangerous threats.

        Squall managed to make it to the draw point with no trouble. He bent down at the site. Here, glowing bits of magical energy seemed to rise and flutter about a specific point on the ground. Squall reached into the energy and felt its power. Using his mind, he drew the magic out like he had with the Grat earlier. Squall felt the magical energy within him; Blizzard, an ice spell. Excellent for taking on fire-based creatures, like Ifrit.

        Squall stood, and turned around. The area he was in featured a small river between his location and the nearest exit. Wooden boards were set across the river to a large stone in the center of the water, and from there, another group of boards led to the opposite bank. Squall started for the planks when he heard the sound of rustling in the trees to his left.

        'Grats,' Squall thought, even as a trio emerged from the foliage. The plant-like monsters advanced, and Squall leveled his gunblade, knowing that the Grats could cut him off from the bridge before he could ever get there.

        "Need some help?" called a voice from behind the Grats. Even as the Grats spun around to take in the new threat, the center one erupted into flame. It screeched, a strange sound coming from a plant, and rolled over dead, tentacles drooping. As the creature died, Squall made out the one who had killed it.

        "They're only Grats," Squall called to Seifer as the monsters charged, one going for Squall, the other for his new ally. Tentacles pounded down at Squall, but as with his previous foe, the sharpened edge of the Revolver put a stop to that strategy. And as with his previous foe, Squall came in behind the attack, countering with powerful slashes that cut the Grat open and left it dead. Across from him, Seifer had dispatched his Grat with a deft stroke and another well-placed Fire spell.

        "Not bad, Squall," Seifer said, observing their handiwork. "But it seems I'm a bit quicker. Two to one."

        "I scored another on the way in," Squall countered, deflating Seifer a bit. Squall didn't say anything else, instead walking towards the bridge, not wanting to be around his rival anymore.

        "So that's it?" Seifer asked. "Only two?"

        "I only came here for magic," Squall replied as he reached the bridge. "No more reason for me to be here."

        "No, that's not why you're leaving," Seifer said, his tone indicating he knew something. Squall stopped at the stone halfway across the river, and turned back to his self-declared rival.

        "I beat you this morning," said Seifer, grinning and pointing at Squall. "I won."

        "You cheated," Squall shot back. "We weren't supposed to use magic."

        Seifer's features hardened. He advanced towards Squall.

        "Let me ask you this," Seifer began as he reached the edge of the bridge. "You make SeeD. You go up head to head against some enemy soldier. He uses magic on you, knocking you on your ass. But instead of giving you a scar, he chops your skull, killing you. Will you complain about him cheating? No, you won't; you'll just be dead." With that, Seifer stepped past Squall on the stone and headed to the opposite bank.

        "Are you trying to say you're helping me?" Squall asked incredioulously. "You're saying this morning was for my benefit?"

        "Yeah," Seifer called out as he stepped off the bridge. He stopped and glanced back at Squall. "People fight dirty in real life. When it comes down to life and death, will you care about rules? Or will you care about survival?"

        His point made, Seifer left Squall on the stone in the river, alone with his thoughts.

Chapter 3

Peptuck3's Fanfiction