The Gunblade Saga Chapter 4

Trial by Fire

By Peptuck3

Artistic license plays a big part part in this next chapter as Ifrit gets seriously beat-down on Squall. I gave Ifrit a few extra abilities and attacks, and also, its just Squall, one-on-one, mano a GF, with Ifrit. Quistis is just support for him.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------

        Ifrit's roar shuddered the very stone beneath Squall, the sonic waves sending ripples through the roiling lava flowing away from its home. Squall wisely backed away as Ifrit took up a perch on the edge of the firey hole, his yellow eyes glowing with inner flame.

        The Guardian Force was huge, twice Squall's height and, if he were flesh and bone, would have weighed at least ten times Squall. He stood on thick, dog-like, heavily muscled legs. Ifrit's chest was massive, at least six feet wide, and was also heavily muscled. Also powerfully built were his thick shoulders, as wide around as Squall's chest, along with Ifrit's mighty biceps and forearms. His fingers and toes were tipped with black claws, and his hide was a dark brown, as if cooked by the hellish flames the Guardian Force commanded. His growling visage looked like that of a hell-spawned lion or panther, and a pair of huge, slender black horns rose from the top of his head and curved back, extending out nearly ten feet. The Guardian Force had long red hair that ran down his back, and also a short red beard around his jawline. Ifrit's eyes glowed yellow, like molten gold, and had no irises or pupils.

        The Guardian Force looked down on Squall, and a deep growl resonated within its throat.

        "YOU CHALLENGE ME?" a powerful voice spoke, resonating from Ifrit, yet his mouth did not move. Squall didn't answer verbally to the Guardian Force's question, instead only hefting his gunblade. A deep laugh boomed from the Guardian Force, and again, there was no movement of the mouth, save for a smile.

        Then, Ifrit's mouth opened and another titantic roar came forth, and even as the shout ended, he was airborne.

        "IMPUDENT HUMANS!" the GF thundered as he cocked a fist.

        Squall rolled forward as Ifrit came down, his fist shattering the stone where Squall had been standing moments ago. As the cadet came out of his roll, he spun around, and the Revolver slashed twice across Ifrit's backside, both times drawing a red line across the Guardian Force's brown hide. Heat burst from the wounds, as if the cuts had vented Ifrit's inner fires. The GF spun back towards Squall, attempting to backhand the cadet. He quickly backed away, but not without taking a clubbing blow on his left shoulder that spun him around and leaving his left side aching.

        'Ow. He's not going easy on me . . .' Squall thought, realizing that the GF could have killed an ordinary man with that single swing. Ifrit growled again and charged, his right leg coming forward in a kick. Squall hopped back, then ducked and scooted forward underneath the leg, slashing upwards into the limb with the Revolver as he did so, and managing to fire off a shot that blasted the GF's leg. The blade and blast tore another reddish hole in Ifrit, and Squall felt the nearby temperature rise even higher as more magical heat energy flowed from Ifrit's torn body.

        The cadet skittered backwards, gunblade ready to attack again. He expected this would be a long battle of hit-and-run if he kept it up with the gunblade, but magic might even the odds.

        Then Squall noticed Ifrit's backside as the GF turned back to face him. The wounds he had cut into Ifrit's back were gone. Even as Squall watched, the gaping tear in Ifrit's leg was sealing up, the damage Squall had done seemingly reversing.

        'What? Oh, Hyne, don't tell me he regenerates damage too . . .'

        "He regenerates?" Squall called out to Quistis, glancing back at her.

        "No!" Quistis replied. "He's an avatar. He can't be killed by a human," she explained.

        "Then how do I beat him?!" Squall shouted back. Even as he asked the question, Ifrit had cocked an arm back as if he were throwing something underhanded. Squall as caught off-guard as the fireball blasted him.

        "Just fight him like you would anyone else!" Quistis responded as Squall fell back, but managed to hold his footing. "You can't kill him, but you can defeat him if you deal enough damage!"

        "Right," Squall replied. Easier said than done. He focused, calling up the magical energies of a Blizzard spell. A chunk of ice formed overhead and struck Ifrit hard, the cold magic sapping his firey strength, a counter to Ifrit's Fire spell. Ifrit roared in pain and charged Squall, again leaping into the air. The cadet readied to leap out of his way as the GF went airborne again. Squall dove forward once more, dodging Ifrit's powerful fist and dealing out another slash across Ifrit's side in retaliation. Ifrit spun, and Squall expected another backhand, but none came. Instead, Ifrit once again swung his arm as if throwing underhanded, and a fireball blew up in Squall's face. The wily GF advanced right behind the spell, preparing to smash Squall with another mighty fist. The balled hand came in and slammed Squall in the chest, hurling him back with the force of a wrecking ball.

        He landed close to the fire pit, and rolled away from its heat, clambering back up to his feet even as Ifrit came at him again. Another mighty punch swooped in, but Squall wasn't there, instead ducking foraward and under the GF's arm and slicing up into his armpit. Squall pulled the trigger, launching the explosive force into Ifrit's underarm, and the Guardian Force howled.

        Squall slashed across Ifrit's body again and managed to dive behind the Guardian Force before another powerful blow could send him flying. The GF spun around and faced Squall, respect apparent on its face.

        "HM! NOT BAD FOR A HUMAN," Ifrit remarked as his wounds sealed. Then, fire seemed to erupt in his palms as he clenched his fists tightly. Ifrit's arms then moved blurringly fast, in throwing motions, and small balls of flame shot at Squall. The cadet ducked under one, rolled forward to evade another, then smacked a third away with his gunblade. A fourth fireball caught Squall in the stomach and sent him back, but he was up in time to block a fifth and dodge a sixth. A seventh came in, which Squall ducked under.

        'Damn!' Squall thought. 'I can't hold out like this. Ifrit's got the initiative, he's a lot stronger and tougher, has mastery over fire . . .'

        Therein Squall found the answer. Fire magic was directly opposed to ice magic. Either was devastating to the other. Squall closed his eyes tightly, reaching into his mind and touching one of the two entities that waited there, the one that controlled ice energy, the bane of fire magic.

        One, two, three more fireballs slammed into the cadet, but these were knocked aside each time as a pale blue sheild formed in front of each attack, protecting Squall. Ifrit's glowing yellow eyes widened as he realized what Squall was doing.

        Then Squall became transparent, and in front of him, a large icicle shot out of the ground.

        The baking heat of the Fire Cavern was gone in an instant, replaced by an absolute, frigid cold. Inside the icicle, a figure moved. The shard of ice suddenly shattered, and standing there was a woman. She was beautiful and shapely, with blue skin. She had long yellow and blue hair, and her body was marked with patches of dark blue.

        "THEY HAVE SHIVA?!" Ifrit exclaimed, realizing the power of the ice Guardian Force. Shiva waved a hand over her head, and blueish-white energy formed there, the magical power gathering and strengthening. Then, Shiva thrust forward at Ifrit. A shockwave of frozen air blasted into Ifrit, the absolute low temperatures devastating the fire Guardian Force and freezing the surrounding air as it was swept away, creating a line of frozen icicles around the path of Shiva's attack. Shiva, her duty done, faded away, and the ice she had created shattered and disappeared.

        For the first time in the course of the battle, Ifrit seemed truly injured. The GF slumped slightly, but as Squall raised his gunblade, Ifrit straightened. He certianly wasn't done yet!

        Both of the Guardian Force's muscled arms shot up. In either hand formed a ball of magma from seemingly nowhere, and then the great GF let the fires loose, hurling both balls at Squall. The cadet had only a split- second to react, and he threw himself backwards, barely avoiding the roiling balls of lava, though he felt their intense heat easily enough as they struck the spot he'd been standing at.

        But the magma balls didn't stop with merely impacting; they exploded, a raging inferno that caught Squall off guard and hurled him back. He landed and rolled, feeling many scrapes and burns all across his body. All the minor injuries and blasts over the course of this battle were adding up, and Squall was feeling weaker. He couldn't keep up the battle at this rate.

        'Damn,' he thought. 'Ifrit really isn't holding back!' The cadet began to struggle to his feet, and as he stood up, Squall felt waves of revitalizing energy cascading up and down his body.

        "Only three minutes left, Squall!" warned Quistis from her supportive position. He glanced at Quistis and nodded his thanks, then turned back to Ifrit, ready for more. The fire Guardian Force had waited patiently for Quistis to heal Squall so he could resume the battle, as it had with all cadets it had faced before. Now, the GF stood ready as well, and as Squall leveled his gunblade, the Guardian Force charged.

        Squall answered the charge with one of his own, gunblade raised for his own strike. Squall's muscles tensed, and he prepared to leap aside from Ifrit's coming attack. Ifrit closed in, his fists erupting into flame.

        And then Ifrit stopped abruptly and leaped backwards. Squall was caught off guard by the clever GF's manuver, and almost didn't react in time as Ifrit sent more fireballs down at the cadet in mid-air. He ducked, weaved, dodged, and rolled, deflected one fireball away with his gunblade, and felt a number of near-misses sizzle past. Even as the fireballs fell and exploded around him, Squall spotted the GF as he landed in front of his fire pit. Ifrit hurled another salvo of the fireballs, but Squall rolled underneath them. He came out of his roll with his free hand moving. Around Ifrit there formed a solid globe of water, the liquid drowning and dousing Ifrit's flames. Ifrit broke free of the Water spell in time to take a chunk of ice in the face, courtesy of Squall's subsequent Blizzard spell.

        Ifrit's shoulders sagged slightly and he began panting hard, and Squall saw the GF must have been severely injured in that barrage. The Guardian Force was close to defeat, and thus, Squall readied the Revolver and charged. The Guardian Force straightened and roared defiantly, cocking a fist at Squall's coming attack. When the cadet was in range, he let fly, the fist flying down at Squall with devastating force.

        He hit only the stone where Squall had been standing as the cadet reversed his own momentum, repeating Ifrit's own trick right back on the Guardian Force. By the time Ifrit had even realized his error, the cadet had ducked back under the Guardian Force's outstretched arm and buried the Revolver in his chest. Ifrit tried to grab Squall, but his hands couldn't grasp the cadet, as he pulled the trigger on the gunblade repeatedly and blasted explosive shots into the Guardian Force's chest.

        Ifrit's massive body spasmed with each shot, and after nearly a half dozen blasts he pulled away from the unbeatable human cadet, tearing his blasted chest free of the gunblade. Even as Squall prepared to follow up, Ifrit dropped to one knee, gasping and clutching his wound.

        "YOU ARE STRONG, HUMAN," Ifrit said slowly. "INDEED, RARELY HAVE I FOUGHT A MORTAL THIS MIGHTY . . ." Ifrit's wound began to seal up, and the GF shakily rose to his feet, head bowed. The glow in his eyes diminished.

        "FOR ME TO LOSE TO A HUMAN . . . I MUST SERVE, AS THE ANCIENT RULES DICTATE. VERY WELL," Ifrit rumbled. The GF clenched his fist tightly, and hurled a small red stone at Squall, who deftly caught it. "I WILL JOIN YOU." With that, the Guardian Force's corporeal body erupted into golden flames that rapidly covered his entire form. Soon, the GF's appearance was obscured by the raging flames.

        Squall saluted Ifrit, slashing an "X" in the air with his weapon, and the Guardian Force vanished, the flames suddenly dissippating and then gone. He turned back to Quistis, his gunblade resting on his shoulder, and looked down at Ifrit's stone. He had done it. Ifrit was his!

        "Good job," Quistis said, clapping. "I don't recall ever seeing Ifrit quite so put to task. Most cadets need to be healed multiple times in that battle," she added. Squall nodded, and dropped his gunblade back to his side. Wordlessly, the pair left the inferno of the Fire Cavern, Ifrit in tow.

        'All that's left now is the field exam . . .' Squall thought.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------

A little touch I added was Ifrit's speaing without moving his mouth. Gives him a more otherworldly aura, I think.

Also, anyone catch Squall's victory animation?

Chapter 5

Peptuck3's Fanfiction