Chapter 1

Sifan Leonhart ran across the balamb garden hallway hoping that none of the garden instructors had seen him. It had been around two hours since the classes had started and it was the third time Sifan was late that week. He repeatedly tapped the elevator call button and waited for the elevator to arrive impatiently. The elevator door slid open and Sifan jumped inside and again tapped away at the buttons. He usually didn't care about being late but to pull it off three times in a row would get him into trouble with the garden faculty, which Sifan knew only too well.

He walked out and saw the shiny corridor looking deserted. Not even a junior classman was standing around.

[This is just one of those days.]

He nervously walked to his classroom door, which slid open the moment the sensors picked up Sifan near it.

[Ok...today is Tuesday, which means, Quistis...phew.]

"As you all know, dragon guardian forces like Bahamut prefer to occupy lonely dark places." rang out Instructor Quistis Trepe's voice when Sifan walked in to the classroom in the middle of a lesson on habitation of Guardian forces

Quistis' icy blue eyes fell on the dark-haired boy who had just walked in.

"Ahem."

The class broke into tiny sounds of laughter mainly because of Sifan's regularity in coming late to class.

Quistis sighed, "Sifan... do you realize-"

"Yes. I know. I am late. I am sorry." Sifan interrupted trying to finish the conversation as early as possible.

"We all know you're late." Quistis continued, "However...you seem to have forgotten you have a field examination today."

"Oh yeah, that. Uh.no. I didn't forget." Sifan lied.

"Then where's your gunblade, hmm?"

The class again broke into fits of laughter. They were enjoying the situation more than Sifan was.

[Okay okay, enough already.]

"Meet me after class Sifan. You may go to your seat." Quistis said, turning her attention back to the large computer screen that showed a picture of the deserted research center where Bahamut resided.

On his way to his desk, a flame-haired boy gave Sifan a smirk and shook his head and sighed as if to say, 'some people never change.'

Sifan ignored him and proceeded to sit at his desk next to a handsome young man, his best friend Avatar Fenis, who gave a slight chuckle as Sifan switched on his computer.

"What was the problem? The alarm wasn't loud enough today too?"

"What are you doing here?" Sifan quipped, "You're supposed to be in the physical arts section."

"Hey...no harm learning a little magic. Besides, they just teach the same old stuff in physical arts class anyway" the blue-haired boy said.

"Whatever." Sifan muttered and turned to the computer screen.

[Hmm...I hate these stupid field exams.]

Sifan touched the 'objectives' button on his screen and the computer listed out his objectives for the field exam.

1. Train with fellow student (classman)

2. Stock a minimum of 10 fire spells.

3. Assemble at garden gate.

[Train with fellow student. cant do it with Avatar, he's a physical arts student.]

"Your attention please" Quistis said, "for objective one. I have paired your names. I will now read it out to you. And the place where you are supposed to train."

The flame-haired boy sitting in front of Sifan who had earlier smirked at him sighed in frustration, "Damn.. I was hoping I could nail your ass, kiddo," he said directing his head at Sifan.

[What is Relafen's problem?]

"Just ignore Relafen" Avatar said, "he's been on a high since this morning."

"Take that back Fenis!" Relafen hissed.

"Relafen Almasy and Avatar Fenis!" Quistis said firmly, "will you two let me proceed?"

"I'll get you later" Relafen muttered again.

"Now." Quistis said, "Please move immediately as I call out your names in pairs with your training place."

"Avatar." Quistis said, "You are to proceed to your physical arts classroom where you will be instructed further."

"See ya later pretty boy" Avatar mumbled and proceeded across the classroom after winking at a girl who giggled at him.

"Please pay attention closely," Quistis said, "The following are your locations and partners. Zeron - Aaron at Floor B1 end room. Altraz- Gerald at floor B2 combat ring. Sifan - Relafen at the training center."

[Oh great.]

Sifan got up and proceeded across Relafen whose satisfied smirk started to get on Sifan's nerves. He waited near the door in order to meet Quistis. The students soon cleared the classroom leaving Quistis, Relafen and Sifan alone.

"Boys." Quistis said, "Now I don't want any blood you hear? You'll make contact only with your weapons. Remember, your enemy is out there. Not in front of each other."

"Yeah I know..." Relafen snapped, "Just tell precious Leonhart here not to run away."

With that, Relafen walked out of the classroom loading his gunblade with bullets.

Quistis sighed, "Like father, like son. Seifer was no different... However, in the case of the Leonharts." she turned her head to Sifan, "your father never came late to class, he never forgot his gunblade, AND he never wore that lethargic look on his face."

[Finished already?]

"Whatever..." Sifan snapped.

"Ah yes. The 'whatever' seems to be the only thing that has been carried over..."

"Okay Quistis. We all know I am not like my father. Stop comparing us."

Quistis reached for a long package under her desk and placed it in front of Sifan, "Fortunately for you, you have just received a new gunblade from Esthar. Courtesy, President Laguna."

[Great. Even my grandpa expects me to be like dad, an almighty gunblade warrior...sigh...I should have been born a duck or something].

"Go ahead, open it." Quistis said.

Sifan removed the cover and inside was one of the most beautiful gunblades he had ever seen. Its shine almost blinded Sifan's ocean blue eyes. At the end of the handle was a small chain with a phoenix pendant attached to it. At the bottom of the container was a row of tiny golden bullets sharp enough to penetrate the hide of a ruby dragon.

He took the gunblade, loaded it with the bullets and let it hang by his side.

Quistis smiled, "looks gorgeous on you darling. Finish your training with Relafen in fifteen minutes and meet me at the cafeteria, ok?"

She smiled and went back to some paper work. Sifan walked out of the door and past a couple of students who were engaged in a serious game of triple triad. He pushed the elevator call button and waited.

[Relafen's not going to be easy. He's been aching to prove me a loser. Especially, so that he can get back at dad for putting Seifer to shame. In a way, dads not to blame but tell that to Relafen. ]

"Excuse me?" a girl cadet said knocking Sifan out of his thoughts, "Did you call for the elevator?"

"Sorry." Sifan muttered and walked in to the elevator. After reaching the ground floor, Sifan proceeded to the training center. He was greeted by a dead grat. Its side had been burnt and on its burn mark was a deep cut.

[Relafen. This is going to be a long fight alright].

Sifan walked around trying to get a glimpse of the long trench coat Relafen wore. He imitated his father in almost everything unlike Sifan. A few meters away, Sifan heard another grat screech painfully and fall to the ground.

Relafen Almasy was standing victorious with his foot on the grat's head. His blue eyes fixed on Sifan and his well built figure clearly visible against the background of the dim lights.

"Here, Leonhart" he said tossing a tiny bottle to Sifan, "a nice little potion the grat dropped. You're gonna need it"

With that, he jumped away from the grat and swung his gunblade in the air with a re-load click, "lets make this quick."

The training center echoed with the screeches of noisy grats and the roars of t-rexaurs. The wind now and then blew across Sifan's dark hair before rattling the leaves of the tall trees and bushes. The training had the feel of a small forest all the more necessary for the t-rexaurs to feel at home.

Sifan pulled out his gunblade and reflection of the dim lights of the training center from Sifan's new gunblade fell on Relafen's chest.

"How nice!" Relafen snapped, "Kiddy's got a new toy."

Sifan rushed at Relafen with both his hands wrapped tight around the gunblade handle. With a powerful leap Sifan swung at his opponent with all his might. Relafen's blade quickly made its way in front of Sifan's to block the attack. Sifan withdrew his weapon but half way back he re-swung it and caught Relafen's gunblade revolver knack in the middle, causing the flame-haired boy to stumble backward.

"Had enough of my toy, Relafen?" Sifan said, smiling.

Relafen leapt at Sifan and hammered Sifan's gunblade with his. The flame-haired boy's attacks were not as powerful as Sifan's but they were swift and faster. Sifan blocked the first three attacks but the impact of the fourth one, which Relafen pulled off in quick succession to the other three, made the young Leonhart to withdraw his right hand from the gunblade handle. Relafen was lightning quick in seeing that his opponent was holding his gunblade with his left hand. Sifan was a right-hander, which meant his left hand was weak. It was the perfect moment; Relafen pulled the trigger of the gunblade and the explosion sent Sifan reeling backwards with his gunblade flying up in to the air.

Relafen was sure the battle was over but Sifan ignored the pain incurred to him by the explosion, jumped back into the air, grabbed his gunblade in mid- air, and brought it down heavily with a trigger. Relafen was caught unaware and a late defense resulted in a more powerful and louder explosion scorching Relafen's chest. He backed away from Sifan holding his chest, panting. Sifan suddenly had a better liking for his gunblade.

"No." Relafen said, "never... Leonhart...NEVER!"

He stretched out his right hand and let a fire spell rip through Sifan's balamb uniform. The heat made Sifan's head go dizzy. He dropped his gunblade, and the next thing he knew he was on the ground staring blurrily up at his opponent. His opponent stood in front of him with his foot on Sifan's gunblade. He was still feeling his brain reel from the heat of the spell. Relafen wore his usual smirk.

"Oh my..." Relafen said with a tinge of sarcasm, "Now, why does this look so FAMILIAR?"

"Cheater." Sifan said, "You used magic."

"But you're using a newer gunblade. All's fair in love and war, my precious Leonhart." Relafen said, raising his gunblade "Did you like the Scar your daddy wore on his face Sifan? Didn't you always want one like it?"

"No, I didn't."

A blue lightning spell thundered down on Relafen's head and the boy went staggering backwards and fell to the ground, almost unconscious, with hardly any movement.

Sifan took the potion bottle Relafen had thrown to him earlier, and he threw it on Relafen, "You talk too much, Relafen."



Sifan sheathed his gunblade and made his way out of the training center, the wind howling behind his back.

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