General Leo and Celes converse in the rain in Vector.
"The view is better when it's not raining," he said quietly, looking out over the city of Vector.
She glanced at him. "I didn't come for the view."
"Why, then? It's cold out. You'll take a chill."
"I don't feel it." She gripped the railing in front of her with slim, scarred hands accustomed to wielding a sword. Her cloak hung from her shoulders, sodden and heavy from standing in the rain for the past hour.
"No, I don't suppose you do." He fell silent, looking down on the center of the Empire that Gestahl had built with their skills.
She closed her eyes, cool water running down her face like tears. The rain beat on the metal balcony and the imposing walls of Vector, washing away the soot and smoke that the Empire's industries generated in such quantities. She breathed in the smell of rain, so fresh and clean.
"They say you can hear the stories of the slain, if only you listen," she said after a moment.
"Peasant tales," he replied. "It is a soothing sound."
"Hardly," she muttered. After a moment, she turned toward him. "Do you ever regret not taking the MagiTek infusion?" She stared at the crisp lines incised on her palms, angular runic designs that let her channel her MagiTek power through her sword.
"No. I serve my liege and my troops are loyal. I know how to fight, and when. I need no more than that." He shrugged.
"It must be so easy," she murmured.
"Your magic helped you succeed in Maranda. Your troops would have suffered far greater losses if they did not have your skills to bolster their attack."
"Yes." They fell silent, the soft patter of the rain the only sound.
"What troubles you, Celes?"
She chose her words with care. "Why attack Maranda? They had no military to speak of, no particular economic or political sway."
"Perhaps not a military threat, but the Emperor would not simply order a city wiped out for amusement's sake. I am sure that the Emperor knows what he is doing." Leo put his hand over hers. His hand was large and warm, calloused from years upon years of swordplay and bearing a light tracery of scars from many battles.
Celes bowed her head. "You have such faith."
"I have served Emperor Gestahl these twenty-five years," he replied. "I trust that the Emperor does only what is best for Vector. He would not seek unnecessary warfare."
She did not answer, only stood with water streaming from her hair and her cloak. A chill breeze brushed over them, bringing with it the scent of damp earth and rain-soaked forests from the south.
He squeezed her hand gently. "I am leaving in the morning."
"Where?" She looked up, surprised. The grey half-light softened the sharp planes of her face, making her look younger than her eighteen years.
"The Emperor wishes me to assist Colonel Sagravo in the siege at Doma Castle."
Her face tightened slightly. "General Kefka has expressed an interest in the Doma campaign," she murmured.
"I will be careful." He smiled. "I am told you are to travel with the ambassador to South Figaro."
"Safe journey to you." He squeezed her hand again, half-reached forward as though to touch her shoulder, then shook his head and turned to go. "You should come in soon, Celes."
The door closed behind him, and she stood in the rain, counting the numbers of the slain as the raindrops slapped against metal.