Title:Until the End: Dormant

Author: Sanity Demolisher

Betaed by: JadeAlmasy

Disclaimer: I do not own any Final Fantasy characters and make no profit from this writing.

Warnings:Language, character deaths, prejudice, OCs

Summary:What creates a monster? Is every villain evil from birth? More often than not, prejudices create the very monsters they fear. But what is set in stone and not? What can be done in the name of love and still be morally good? How many bonds can be broken before they are irrevocably damaged? How long does it take when the world is against you before you turn their hate back on them?

Revised: 8/2015

Prologue

Spring, 5002

-"This child in Esthar could be Ultimecia."-

"It's hard to believe it's been two years."

Zell started at the voice and glanced over his shoulder. Irvine tipped his head and stepped up beside him in front of the memorial.

Zell grunted in acknowledgment and went back to studying the statue. The Knight stood with his Gunblade stabbed into the base, staring forward with old eyes. His Sorceress was behind him, a hand on his shoulder and wings spread wide. The figures were so realistic that the names engraved at the base of the statue were hardly needed. Even the scar between the man's eyes had been added to the stone.

His eyes traveled down the stone to the plaque set in the base anyways.

Rest in Peace

- Commander Squall Leonhart & Sorceress Rinoa Heartilly –

4981 y – 5000 y

He looked away, swallowed, and then glanced back up at the stone faces. They were only a few feet above him. The original, near Winhill, was fifteen feet tall but this replica had been constructed smaller to fit inside the Garden.

Finally he glanced over at Irvine, taking in the black attire and grim expression. "You know what gets me every year?" he asked. At Irvine's negative he continued. "We don't even know the day to set the anniversary on."

"Today is as good as any," Irvine replied neutrally.

Zell scowled. "What brought you here?" So far as he knew Irvine had already come to pay respect at the statue earlier that day.

"There's been a sighting of a child with wings," came the reply. Zell's eyes snapped back to his friends' and he felt his eyes widening. The brunette continued. "Someone thought they saw her in Esthar. The headmaster would like us to go over the case again."

After a moment Zell grimaced and rubbed a hand over his face. "Fucking Hyne. Of all the days…" Irvine waited silently.

A girl with wings. Wings meant one thing – sorceronic power.

He'd never really thought much about Rinoa's sorceronic powers until after the war. It was what it was and it had been a huge asset. But afterwards, when it was leaked how destroyed the world had been during Ultimecia's reign of the future, there had been panic. Rinoa had been safe only because she was obviously not Ultimecia, but any sorceress after her had the potential of becoming the tyrant. The fear had only died when Rinoa promised to take her power with her when she died, never transferring it. People accepted that.

Then Rinoa had become pregnant.

It had set off worse panic than before. What would the magic do to a fetus? Was it possible for a sorceress to be born? Did the power even affect the baby? Ultrasounds didn't work, just fizzled and died when placed on Rinoa's belly.

It had gone downhill from there. Rinoa got thinner and more haggard-looking each month and Squall was prescribed medication for insomnia and depression. Xu had eventually taken over as temporary Commander for him as he and Rinoa spent more and more time hidden away. Rinoa became practically unbearable to be around.

After her fifth month of pregnancy, when she'd accidently killed her dog Angelo after it startled her, Squall had taken her to the vacation house in Esthar that Lorie had given the gang after the war. Things had gotten better then, with the press not able to get near the couple. Squall's reports on Rinoa's pregnancy said that she was doing better, getting healthy again. They'd thought it was under control.

Until Squall's communication had cut off in the ninth month.

Giving the statue another glance, Zell sighed and turned away.

Not speaking, they left the Quad and headed for the records room. As they passed through the library Irvine nodded his head at the librarian's glance, then pulled a card from his pocket as they came to the back end of the room and a door. Zell stood aside as the long-haired brunette swiped the card through the reader and opened the metal door. Then, hesitating only a moment, he followed his friend in and shut the door firmly behind them.

"Let's get this over with," he muttered and moved to the filing cabinets in the back, walking past four rows of cabinets labeled 'Active' until he came to the 'Deceased' row. Setting himself on autopilot he shuffled halfway down the row until he found the cabinet marked 'L'. Irvine followed and passed him to pull open 'H'. Zell had opened these drawers so many times in the initial investigation that there was no need to read the names on the files anymore. His fingers reached towards the sizable file near the front and pulled it out. Cradling it to his chest he shut the drawer and glanced at Irvine. Irvine closed his own drawer, nodded at him, and they made their way back to the front of the room to the large table.

Zell placed the file on the table and sat down heavily in one of the chairs. "Pictures first," Irvine murmured, sitting down next to him and opening his file. Reluctantly Zell reached for his own and started pulling out the pictures that had been paper-clipped in and spread them on the table.

It didn't take long for him to start to feel sick. These had been ugly deaths and the fact that the deceased had been emotionally close crushed the fact in brutally. His eye's flinched over the picture of the Gunblade they'd uncovered in the ruins of the house and the mangled pistol found in the clearing, but that only brought him to the picture of the corpse half submerged in the shallows of the stream.

He closed his eyes for a moment before opening them again and focusing on the image. One wing had been torn at the shoulder and sagged, half ripped off, against Rinoa's back. The other, soaked with water, had sunk under the stream's surface. The moisture and blood had stained them a darker color, but he could see even through the film that they'd been grey with splotches of black, not the white they had been when he'd seen them in the war.

It wasn't the dark wings and whatever that implied that frightened him the most however. It was the talons. They looked rather dainty but he'd seen them up close in the autopsy room and the obsidian sharp claws had been stained with blood. The scene had been incriminating enough but they'd done a test on the blood flecks anyways – Squall's.

The torn wing had been shot twice, and there had been two more gunshot wounds in Rinoa's shoulder and leg. The bullet entrances were the approximate size of the bullets in Squall's pistol which had, incidentally, been short four bullets. But no shot had been lethal and the autopsy had shown the cause of death as drowning.

Glancing away from the image he pulled the pictures of ground sections together and flipped through them. There was a lot of area that suggested someone had been down and struggling; some had scuff marks from a pair of boots, some with raked dirt from fingers or in the larger ones, talons. Many had blood soaked in the dirt. Some indicated it had dripped, others showed that it had gushed onto the ground. The faint shoeprints in the dirt had overlapped too much in most to make any sense out of, but he stared at those too. He set them aside in frustration a minute later and turned to one of the last ones.

It was obvious Squall had been lying on the ground a few feet from where Rinoa had been found and the deep scuff marks near where the heels and shoulders would have been showed that he'd been writhing about, most possibly in pain. The blood soaked into the ground underneath the spot added to the gory image but the worst was the Blue Dragon footprints that circled around the spot and the splattered blood trail leading into the forest.

Swallowing his gag reflex, Zell pushed the picture away. "Hyne," he whispered.

The public had been told that the Balamb Commander had died in combat. It was better that way. Blue Dragon's were solitary hunters but when they found food they brought it back to the nests to share. And judging from the sporadic heel marks along the trail he'd been dragged across the Commander had been alive when the dragon had towed him back to its nest.

He breathed in through his nose and reminded himself that Irvine had had Ellone take him back into the last moments of Squall's life. The brunette had never shared what he'd seen but he had assured them that Squall had died before actually reaching the nests.

"Here" Irvine said quietly and passed him a picture of the burned baby skeleton they had found in a freshly turned grave near the house with traces of an inferno spell on the bones.

There hadn't been much to investigate. Father, mother and child had all been accounted for. There was nothing to explain why Rinoa and Squall had been fighting each other but the burned bones spoke for themselves. Lab tests had been spotty due to the charred state but it was clear that the baby had not been born alive; the skull and the sternum were malformed to such an extent that any heart or brain would not have been able to function properly.

They had discovered what the magic had done to the baby after all.

They only had theories but the most believable one, the one they had given the press, had been Rinoa going insane after the stillbirth, destroying the house and attacking Squall. The Commander's Gunblade had been in the ruins - Squall had only used his pistol and he hadn't shot Rinoa anywhere vital. It was pretty clear that he had been acting in self-defense.

Ellone had tried to look further into Squall's past but had been blocked. All she could see of that day was just the few minutes of Squall's death. She'd refused to help after that, saying that Squall had once asked her to not look into his past. She was convinced that he'd done something to prevent her from doing just that in case she broke his trust. The proof that he hadn't trusted her to keep her word and the fact that she had broken his trust had crushed her. She'd never lent her powers to them again.

There were too many questions and not enough answers surrounding the case but in the end it had been closed as a tragic misfortune. There was simply nowhere to go to for the answers. There were only two people who knew what had happened that day and they were dead. It had been laid to rest.

Until now.

"You think she did it?" he finally asked, still staring down at the picture of the baby's bones, his mind circling back to Irvine's words in the Quad.

Wings meant sorceronic power. Rinoa had been the last sorceress.

But if there was some girl in Esthar with wings that meant Rinoa had transferred her power before she'd died. "Dr. Odine said the sorceronic power was unilineal," Zell continued. "There's only the one strand of power that can be transferred from generation to generation. It would mean Rinoa transferred the powers to the girl… unless the doctor was wrong."

Irvine looked at him. "You think there's some other strand of power out there?"

Zell sighed and set the picture down with the others. "I don't know, Irvine. Why would Rinoa transfer her powers after she told everyone she wouldn't? And to some child no one knows about?"

Irvine stood and stepped away from the table and started pacing. "Dr. Odine said there was only one strand of power and that as far as anyone knew the power was only ever transferred to females. Squall said that Ultimecia traveled all the way to the orphanage to transfer her powers to Edea." The brunette rubbed his forehead and paced for another minute before he stopped. "Maybe… maybe a sorceress can't die without transferring their power. It was just Squall, you, and I when Squall ran Ultimecia through. There was no female present. She would have had to leave to find a female."

Zell rubbed a hand through his hair. "So Rinoa lied then when she said she wouldn't transfer it?"

"Maybe she didn't know."

And yet Squall had guessed, apparently, if he'd talked to Irvine about Ultimecia's departure from their battle. Why hadn't he said anything when Rinoa had promised to take the power with her to her death? When had he told Irvine? Why hadn't he told anyone else? Zell frowned and thought it over then came to another thought. "Matron didn't die when she transferred the power to Rinoa."

"No, but it was a close call. A near-death experience." Irvine's voice trembled slightly and trailed off. Zell's mood saddened even further. Edea had died the month after Squall had left with Rinoa. Her heart had just given out one night.

Hyne, if only she was still alive. She might have been able to tell them what they needed know.

"Alright," Zell said roughly, pushing the grief back and running a hand through his hair. "Let's say for the sake of the argument that Rinoa had to transfer her powers. That means she had to have transferred her powers before or during the fight."

"What if someone else was there?"

Zell slunk low in his chair. Maybe; maybe some hiker had stumbled on the fight by accident with their daughter. Or had Rinoa gone out and found some female before going insane? But, why the hell transfer the powers to a child in the first place. The damage an unthinking child could do with that kind of power could be catastrophic. Had Rinoa really cracked mentally before the fight?

He clenched the hand in his hair. How the hell were they expected to figure out what had happened? They had nothing to work from. They didn't even know how old this child in Esthar was. "This is useless," he growled. "Speculation is going to get us nowhere. That child is the only thing that's going to give us any answers."

Irvine sat back down beside him. "You know what it means, don't you?" It was almost a whisper.

"Maybe it's a genetic mutation," he argued, ignoring Irvine's low words. "Do we know what Dr. Odine has been working on lately?"

"Laguna Loire has him under guard in Esthar. We can give him a call but I don't believe Odine would be able to do any human experiments without raising an alarm."

Zell let his hand rub down over his face before dropping into his lap. Rinoa had promised not to transfer her powers to assuage the public. Whether or not she had, there was a new sorceress in the world.

He faced the reality. "This child in Esthar could be Ultimecia."

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Until the End Playlist, Song 1: Bones – Candy Bar Creep Show