Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 8 > Grey0 Reviews
Postgame. Seifer and company make a discovery and embark on a new venture. Quistis discovers both him and his venture, and is particularly unimpressed.
Got a chase last night, from men with truncheons dressed in hats...
Riot Van - Arctic Monkeys
It was a not even a day after Cid's return that Quistis had appeared at his door, at 1:00 PM precisely, with a pleasant smile and a deck of cards. They'd played, she'd subtly prodded at the various shrouds round their past, he'd shrugged and told a few embarrassing childhood stories about her compatriots, and then she'd thanked him and left, precisely at the half-hour mark. Cid found it quite amusing, actually. It was like Quistis had made an assignment for herself out of getting to know him better, scheduled it in. She'd probably read something somewhere about the importance of developing a well-adjusted paternal bond or some such. He'd have to tease her about it, of course.
Cid had finally decided to give up playing Quistis at triple triad, despite the fact that his most prized card was still in her possession. She was just taunting him now. Even though she had better cards in her deck, amazing, entirely preposterous cards he'd never even seen before, Seifer was always the first in her hand. And at first, Cid had actually found the arrogance of this trend a little delightful, because it had been too long since she'd dared show an actual flaw around her would-be father figure. But now...
Now it was costing him more cards than he could really afford.
At one point, Quistis had given him this soft and just ever so slightly patronizing smile, then offered to play a round with basic Balamb rules, none of the complicated foreign ones that had been spreading through the school like wildfire. She quite obviously had the intention of going easy on him.
He had called her on it, and inquired of her, conversationally, "Why don't you just toss me in the grave right now? I hear funeral plots are going cheap these days, trying to beat the rush?"
It had made her laugh, which he considered worth the insult to his gamesmanship.
Cid was (exempting his wife of course, and the good Dr. Kadowaki, and Laguna and company because they'd be very offended, and perhaps that crotchety old man down at the gate, because he wouldn't care) Quistis' favorite person over the age of twenty-five. Probably because he always knew just when to act far under it.
"I have to admit, I'm going to miss this," she gave him a wan smile. "I realize father-daughter bonding," she said the words with a slight laugh, "with a superior isn't quite within the realm of protocol, but-"
"Oh, don't worry," he replied mildly, "I have a better plan."
She gave him a wary glance, "It.. doesn't involve kite-making, does it?"
Quistis was (exempting the rest of the orphanage gang, Rinoa, Xu, and the gentleman who piloted the Garden whose name escaped him at the moment... because it wouldn't be right to play favorites) Cid's favorite person under the age of twenty-five. Probably because she always managed to take it as a compliment when anyone accused her of acting over it.
"Do you think people ... all people, without exception, just... innately need conflict and problems?"
He gave a soft laugh, and considered, "Do they need it?"
"Well not need.." She clarified, "But without it they feel directionless.. bored, even..."
"Hmm," he both liked and disliked the thought. "Like the plot to a story."
"Exactly," she smiled.
He held up a finger as though he were about to say something magnificent. "'There is a theory that states: If ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.' Douglas Adams."
"The final and unsolvable problem," she smiled. "So you agree then? You think we can't just be and be happy?"
"Mmh, I'm not sure I do, actually," he waffled.
"I think I do," she pursed her lips. "When humans, sentient people, don't have a problem to solve.. they become depressed, lose focus, they question their purpose ... ."
"Well it's not as if most people spend a lot of time pondering the mystery of the universe."
"Hmm. No. Most times they take their minds off it, through various other sources. But I can't think of many things that human beings do, as a purpose in life that doesn't somehow replace it with some sort of substitute. They solve problems. How can I make a smaller, more convenient piece of technology, how can I cure this person's illness, how can I reduce crime. More selfishly: how can I feed myself today?"
"How can I take people's minds off those weighty questions?"
"If you like," she laughed. "...Science, disease, crime, they're endless. There will always be hunger."
"So what problem, exactly, do we attempt to solve?"
He always could tell just what it was that was itching at the back of her mind.
Quistis blinked. "Suffering of course," she replied too easily, "We protect people, we save lives, fight terror and tyranny of all sorts."
"Do we?" Cid let out an unimpressed laugh. "Oh, good."
She felt... let down.
It was then she realized that she idolized the man. That at once pleased her and worried her.
He interrupted the awkward silence, "Is that.. really endless, though? You wouldn't know it, the way things have been going."
"There's always a new villain, Cid," she offered a wan smile. "As time goes on, as we struggle, the spectrum shifts. In leaps and bounds. Brighter and brighter. It just seems like there isn't any of the dark left because we're used to something so much darker."
"Did you catch the newscast this morning, the Galbadian press secretary? They're blowing up G-Garden."
"Oh, really? Is that all?"
"You know the first session of the congress since the election was the other week," he inquired, and she nodded in recognition. "Well their first bill: blow it up. No idea how they worked it through three houses so fast. Or was it four? Quadracameral, that's four, right?"
"You are joking.." it was almost a question. Right?
"Oh, no, sorry, you're totally right. They're /im/ploding it. Much tidier, I'm told."
"Why on earth would they do an imbecilic thing like that?"
"I believe the argument goes something like.." he said it monotonously, "Not wanting a dangerous, larger than life reminder of the military and political involvement of their country with what could've been the greatest tragedy of our etcetera, etcetera."
"Well isn't that a bit of... cutting off your nose to spite your face? I mean think of the money that went into building and upgrading and..."
"And the money that went into fuel and supplies and maintenance and staff that they won't have to pay anymore."
"They still need an army," she pointed out. "Even if they don't cruise the world with it, the training facilities in G-garden are more impressive than ours even."
"You remember they promised full disarmament? They're going above and beyond. Monster defense only." he raised and dropped his eyebrows, a small smile on his face.
"Well that is a good sign," she lowered her chin and took in the idea.
"I thought so."
"But they could use the facility for something else, for God's sake. Make it into a proper school. Or a memorial at least."
"Haunted house?" he put forward.
Images of a creepy mechanical Ultimecia possessed Edea rising off her web, then sinking through a cleverly hidden trap door in the floor to frighten all the little children out of their minds as they passed by in a cart made her shake her head. A threatening mechanical Seifer shaking his fist made her chuckle a bit at what the real one would have said upon seeing it.
She hid her wide smile, leaning her face on a fist, "You should ask for an audience in one of their many houses, suggest the idea," she nodded at him.
"I would, but I honestly worry they might take me seriously. I heard something like half of the new officials were elected solely on the basis of a yes vote for the 'Let's burn G-Garden to the ground' bill."
"That's not a good sign."
"Oh, please, I'm sure they're a very intelligent bunch."
"Well as long as you're sure."
She moved her knight innocently back between his bishop and pawn, removing it from a dangerous position.
"You put too much stock in your knights," Cid chided.
"Do I?" she quirked an eyebrow. "Hmm. I guess the knight was just always my favorite piece."
Cid chuckled gently, as if at something in his head.
"And, no, I don't want to hear a pun about that," she informed him preemptively, smiling not quite apologetically.
He smiled back, almost challengingly, and moved his queen cross the board, a move from putting her in something that, with a little more effort, should be a checkmate, "I don't know how anybody can't prefer the queen. Widest-ranging, most versatile... and really, no matter how you hedge round it, nothing beats it in terms of power."
She took a sip of water, then hopped her knight in to put him in checkmate. "Hmm, she didn't see that coming though, did she?"
It was wet, and surprisingly cold, for such an arid looking landscape. It seemed almost like an old fashioned sepia photograph, or the starting bit to The Wizard of Oz, flat dead prairies against shadeless grey sky.
Quistis was kind of wishing she'd taken Zell's request for Team Ragnarok hats seriously, as she squeezed water from a blonde shock of hair. It had just been hard to do after Xu had countered with something about him having to carry a travel tube of hair gel to deal with the resultant misshapening.
"I'll just go get the Major now, right?" their guide ran off.
"Nice tent," commented Xu, brushing the genuine mahogany desk with one austere finger.
Quistis' fear that the new army would be grossly inexperienced because it had weeded out all the old school Delingists was only reinforced when the Major entered, maybe twenty years old.
"Hey..." he blinked at the two blondes of the team. "Wow, this is great. We've got bonafide.. heroes. God.." the major took off his cap and ran his hand through what looked like only recently buzzed brown hair, offering a salute.
The old Galbadian salute had stuck, even if the dictatorial regime hadn't.
Quistis heard a snicker from over her right shoulder and subtly drove the heel of her boot into now-contrite toes.
"It's a pleasure to help the new government in any way we can, sir. We're thrilled with what you're doing here," she smiled offering a matching salute. When in Rome, make sure to flatter every Roman you see profusely... The major appeared to be very pleased with this. She was certain his buttons were going to pop at the swell of pride. "Any new news on the situation?"
"Nope, they're planning on moving the stuff out on a truck in the warehouse, but we're not sure at this point where it is. It could be there or the vault or anywhere in between. The pickup's supposed to be 5:30, but our information's a bit.. um.. sketchy." The young man (he wasn't much younger than Quistis, really, possibly older, even, but it was clear he had taken no part whatsoever in the recent conflict, or in any combat action, for that matter) Should we just.. leave you to it? Or do you not do that part of it? The planning part..?"
Quistis smiled kindly. She was relieved he wouldn't try to micromanage them. "Certainly not, that's part of the services you're paying us for after all. We'll complete the agreed upon objective, to whatever specifics or non-specifics you ask."
"Uh, right, okay, then... your objective, Team SeeD, just to be official," he smiled in an entirely unofficial manner, reading off his memo, "is the procurement of the weapons shipment in it's entirety, and the live capture of the person or persons delivering and/or receiving them."
"Yes, sir," they all answered, saluting, Galbadian style.
"I almost think I liked the old government better," said Xu quietly, with a raise and drop of her eyebrows, as they made their way into the building, where their employers couldn't hear.
"It's not that bad."
"Uh, instructor? The highest ranked guy in the operation couldn't grow a mustache if he tried," Zell informed her.
"Zell... no," Quistis implored.
Zell had a strange tendency to set up biting insults the likes of which hadn't been seen since Seifer Almasy disappeared in Time Compression. You see, Xu's new joke was that Zell was trying (desperately) to give Irvine a run for his money in the field of amateur porn star, due to the few scraggly blonde hairs that were poking out on either side of his nose these days.
"You know what you need to do?" Xu asked. She wasn't going to participate if he was gonna make it that easy. "Intentionally seek out a Warning: High Voltage sign and ignore it," Xu said, without a hint of smile.
Xu was of the opinion that sarcasm was a dead art form, due to its total amalgamation into everyday speech. She'd decided to give it a little something, by removing the ever present indicative tone, and just saying everything as though she were entirely serious. Zell had just recently figured this idea out. For a while, he'd thought she was really nice, and, to be honest, a bit stupid.
He figured out their gist. "Hey, I'm just fair haired, okay?!"
Quistis gave a wan smile at the universe in general, then turned back to her companions, "...So you two are saying you'd rather the country be in the hands of a power hungry dictator and/or mad sorceress?"
"It certainly made for more jobs," muttered Zell.
Quistis gave a look of offense.
"I'm just sayin'!" Zell raised his hands, defensively.
"He's not wrong," Xu shrugged, angling her head to one side.
"See?" Zell pointed at the older girl, victoriously.
"What a terrible way to look at it," said Quistis, brows knit. "It's a good thing we're not in the media business or you two would be out inventing a fake war to cover."
It was unnecessarily dark, and the whole place smelt of copper, for some reason. The chipping paint on the walls was even the color of very old copper. The floor was (mostly) covered in an oft-chipped, off-white tile, whether that color by design or lack of cleaning staff, Quistis didn't feel obliged to guess at.
"Fan out. Xu head for the warehouse through the side passages, Zell, you patrol the main hallway," Quistis ordered. "I'll head for the vault. Don't engage without at least one support. You know the guidelines for combat in tight spaces. And watch your cast aim, this place isn't pretty, but I'd rather it not go up in flames, all the same."
"You really think it's a good idea to split up?" Xu had been odd to her lately. She was older, yet was put under Quistis command because of her lack of active combat status during the war. Oh, and the fact that Quistis had gone up against Ultimecia. Zell probably would have been put in charge, had Quistis not been assigned to the group. It was ridiculous preferential treatment, and she'd talked to Cid about it repeatedly, but he had begged off claiming he had little to no influence over the assignment committee as of late, and that it just made them feel better knowing that one of them was heading most of their teams, so she should let them have their way.
"Yes, I do," she smiled, "I have complete confidence in both of you."
"God, it's like you stole that right out of 'How to Make Friends and Influence People'."
Unilateral disarmament didn't seem such a bad idea, if that's the reaction it got. Xu was almost smiling.
Quistis laughed softly, "Take care of yourselves."
Quistis stretched her fingers a bit, they were getting flinchy round her weapon. She bounced a scan off the doorway and into the room identified by their floor plans as the vault. One blip. Tall, male, and much to her surprise, apparently junctioned.
It was a rare case for even criminals to use GFs, as they were widely abhorred across the entire continent, due to their less beneficial effects. Sometimes petty thugs would use them, with little training or self control, and actually get addicted, losing control to the many influences, giving wantonly into the sickening urge for all sorts of various (sometimes very unhealthy) activities, depending on the GFs junctioned and their strength of will. Food, alcohol, drugs, violence, strange sexual fixations, every GF had their own carnal obsessions. In the rare case shy Tonberry took control, the victim invariably ended up peeking in people's windows. Some were found brain dead with as many as twenty near-dead GFs crowded into their head, and a pearly white hippocampus.
From their information, the fellows transporting these weapons were, for the most part, former Galbadian officials overthrown in the recent civil war, trying to make a quick dollar so they could escape off to some tropical island. Not really the sort for that sort of thing. But if they were desperate...
She slid into the room, uncoiling her weapon, silently (actually quite a skill, something she'd had to learn to develop) and rounded a wall of safes.
He stared at her for a second, predominantly just noting the shape of her nose and her chin, for some strange reason. They were... rounded and curvy and not at all like he remembered. For some reason he remembered pointy. Hard lines, hard looks. Strange how the memory can distort itself.
"Well, fancy that," he said.
His amazement was nothing compared to hers, "...I can't even fathom how you can- " She shook her head, mouth open, with something like disgust. Then her brain and mouth suddenly started to work very fast, "You know how kids read The Emperor's New Clothes when they're little, and that's supposed to teach them that if you're too arrogant someone'll steal your shirt and your wallet, and you'll be naked and poor, and very sad? Well you're the kid that went the hell ahead and did it anyway, except you didn't read the bloody kid's book, no, you got your own specialized version with you as the star, where you alienated your friends and your home and the only family you ever had and ate copious amounts of dirt, and you still can't fucking get it right!" She shoved him.
She was obviously fully junctioned, because it /hurt/.
And he was laughing. He had started, somewhere in the middle of her speech/barrage of vaguely related words.
"This is just too fucking good," he informed her, almost apologetically, on his way to doubling over, but not from pain.
Her eyebrows knit, in something between confusion and outrage, and the skin on either side of her nostrils tightened, as she span through her mental codex.
She'd always hated not being in on the joke.
The sleep made it's way out from her spine, skipping through blood vessels and nerves; it started to feel like the sore, irritable need to drop one's eyelids as it got out to her fingertips, but that was when the carbon hit her nose.
Her eyes shot to the just burst flame straining away from Seifer's gloved hand, and she sickeningly, forcefully, swallowed the in-cast sleep, not willing to waste it, feeling it's depravation on the edges of all her skin. Instead she darted for cover, but the blast caught her shoulder, and spilled her worse than if it had just hit her head on. She was sure she'd bruised her knees, as she landed on a spin.
Low-level variant, fast-casting, pathetic power. Cute. She would have thought he'd grow out of that move, one of these days, but apparently it still worked, so why should he?
She cursed herself, scrambling to her feet, even as he darted past, yelling good-naturedly, his laughter still not quite dissipated, "You know I'd love to have a knock-down drag-out, Instructor, but I got places to be..."
"Whatever you need to tell yourself, Seifer," she dug at his pride, pursuing him out and down the right hallway, trying to gather back up the sleep that was still itching at her body, for proper casting. It would likely make her sluggish, if she didn't. But if she used it at this range it would dissipate so much that it would barely slow him down. She had to catch up.
Zell came running past through the adjacent hall Seifer was headed for. Quistis could've kissed him, and called him as loud as she could, still coughing a bit as she ran. The younger SeeD's gaze shot in their direction, and he nearly left rubber burns on the floor at the scene.
"Stop him, Zell!"
Zell, like the trained SeeD he was, used the momentum of his bones nearly jumping out of his skin to transition effortlessly into a sweep kick. But Seifer was already moving fast, and nearly cleared him, planting one foot on Zell's barbed head.
A detached and whimsical part of Quistis brain briefly wondered if the sole Seifer's shoe would pop like a tire at contact with Zell's hair style.
Zell let out an 'oof' and went forward onto his gloved hands, for a moment. But Seifer had hit it at an awkward angle, and span, nearly losing his footing. Still he managed to keep most of his pace. Zell was up immediately, though, already in the position of a runner at gunshot, now with something to prove. Quistis had finally caught up as well and followed just behind Zell.
"What the hell's he doing here?"
"Why don't you ask him?"
"Hey Seifer, what're you doing here?"
"Why, getting relentlessly chased down a hallway by SeeD's best and brightest, of course."
Both SeeDs were good runners, and kept pace, chasing their former nemesis for all they were worth.
There was another 4-way junction of old-copper green hallways just ahead, and Seifer taunted them, "Just like old times. Except this time I didn't knock down a sandcastle, and you guys aren't wearing buckets on your heads and making siren noises."
Seifer was feeling rather confident, because there was a gigantic boot peeking out from the hallway on his right. He could have kissed that boot.
Now he ducked, and rolled, and Raijin clothes-lined both of the SeeD's chasing him so hard with his staff that they actually went backwards. Zell took the worst of it, and Quistis was not much better off, legs trapped beneath him.
Quistis felt a silence clench her throat, and her eyes fell to Seifer's smug, outstretched hand. How his hand could be smug she wasn't sure, but that was precisely what it was as he let it drop to the ground triumphantly.
"You got one? Get Dincht." Seifer stood, walked over to his mid-cast teammate, and took on a teaching tone. "You know it's times like this when you realize that old advice really is the best: Walk softly, and carry a big stick," he slung an arm around Raijin's shoulder and smiled down at them, "Also, never go up against the guy who could literally eat," he shook Raijin's shoulder, "the both of you," he shook Raijin's shoulder again, "in one sitting."
Zell was writhing in agony, purple from lack of air.
The large man with the soft walk and the big stick considered. "Maybe, y'know?" Raijin shrugged, "How much does the little one weigh?"
"I couldn't guess more than what, Chickenwuss? Hundred? One-ten? What'sa matter? Cat got your tongue? Or is it like a self-conscious thing? Really, I don't know why you would be, you look great-"
It was at this point that Quistis got her hand free, and cast the thankfully-already-mobile Sleep in their direction. It wouldn't keep them down for long, as she was spray casting, but it'd be enough. Because Seifer and Raijin were, of course, caught totally off guard. And they made a very satisfying thump when they hit the floor.
It was a shame that she didn't get to see their faces when they realized what happened though.
She coughed, pushed a slightly less colorful Zell upwards to a sitting position, and hit him on the back a few times as he coughed much more loudly than she.
"It's times like this," she told her former student, who was now shaded just a deep red, "when Mr. Almasy would realize.. were he conscious.. that pride goeth before the fall. And that the fall is immensely gratifying to any and everyone watching."
She thought Zell's next few hacking noise sounded a bit like laughter.
Finally Zell got out, holding his stomach, "Man I'm gonna have a wicked bruise."
"Come on," she scrambled over, tugging two pair of the cheap plastic flexicuffs they were all allocated off of her belt.
Quistis had ordered Zell to go back Xu up and find a still at large Fujin, no doubt somewhere in the complex. She, in the mean time, needed to drag the remainder of the former disciplinary committee out to where she could get some punchy kids with machine guns on them, so they wouldn't try anything. She groaned with the weight, despite the fact that she'd swapped Ultima into her physical strength junction.
Seifer was the first to wake up, and he watched his legs move jerkily across the just slightly muddy ground with pursed lips. Despite the fact that his signature trench was sure to get some very nasty stains, he made no move to get up.
"If you're not gonna fight me, you could at least put them to some use," she said, acidly, following his gaze.
"This is so much more fun though. Passive resistance."
"Passive resistance isn't supposed to be fun."
"And yet it is. Strange how things work out, isn't it Quistis?"
A half dozen border patrol spotted her, and ran up, looking far more nervous than she would've liked.
"Three on each, please, my good sirs, and make sure not to get your fingers too close to the blonde one's mouth."
They did it without question, but they seemed like they were too afraid to tell her that she had some spinach in her teeth, or something of a similar nature.
"Hey, guys, how we all doing?" Seifer inquired of them.
The didn't respond, glances darting back and forth.
"Um..." The major cursed a bit under his breath, eyes bouncing back and forth between the now-both-conscious bound prisoners, the old building, and Quistis.
Quistis tilted her head to catch his gaze while he was in the middle of a fairly potent one.
"Not-uh- not you," he held up his hands.
She nodded patiently.
"This is Seifer Almasy," he said.
"Yes.. I'm quite aware," she gave just the slightest of awkward laughs, nodding and frowning.
Seifer was laughing with much more ease, which was probably the thing that worried her. Raijin didn't look as amused, but he didn't quite look upset either. He looked to Seifer, much like he always had.
"Don't worry," Seifer hit the soldier's leg reassuringly from where he sat on the ground, "They're in the warehouse, with Fujin. All tied up... not un-like me and my friend here," he added a bit pointedly.
"Oh..." the soldiers face cleared. "Oh, good! That's.. wow, great job." He laughed with relief.
Quistis was staring.
"Ooh," the young man got a guilty look and stared back at her, "but this is.. really... awkward. Um, see, I'd love to see you SeeD folks get the credit, you know, you're personal heroes of mine.. of the whole world, really. It's just, the military budget is so slashed it's not even funny and..." The young man flinched at the fact that this did not seem to go over so well with the bruised blonde, "You guys obviously went to a lot of trouble coming all the way out here, and we're really sorry about that, of course. But... I just don't think they'll pay two different groups for doing the same job. And well, we did actually hire Seifer and his.. uh.. guys... guys and girls.. before you, and they did the actual job.. part.. and, well, to be honest, they're one holy hell of a lot cheaper.. so..."
Quistis shook her head, then glared down at Seifer.
"Allow me to spell it out, Instructor," Seifer smiled with a kind benevolence that could only mean trouble, "We're your competition."
"Yeah, thanks, I got it."
(A/N) Trust-busting, for the win. I don't own FF8 or Babylon 5's 'And they made a very satisfying thump when they hit the floor' though one of my computers is named G'Kar. Yeah. I know.
Any similarities you may find between the way I write Cid and a sweater vest clad Robin Williams are clearly just a result of your own diseased imagination and I, therefore, cannot be blamed for it.