By Leanne Ashley

Quick summary: (AU) SeeD battles Ultimecia & her followers. When a prophecy foretells the coming of a savior (Sorceress Rinoa) SeeD, led by Squall, is ordered to protect her from Galbadia's assassins as she journeys to defeat Ultimecia. Squall/Rinoa

Summary: An elite mercenary force known as SeeD is raging a battle against Ultimecia, the reigning sorceress of the future and her followers, the Galbadians. A prophecy foretells the existence of a kind and pure sorceress: the savior, Sorceress Rinoa. Born from the earth to save it, she alone will posses the amazing power to defeat Ultimecia and end the world's turmoil. SeeD's top members must protect her from Galbadia's assassins as they journey together to the Gates of Time where Ultimecia reigns on the other side...

Squall, a cold, reluctant hero, is dispatched as the leader of SeeD's quest to find and protect the earth's savior. He finds Rinoa by chance, and doesn't seem to grasp (or care) as to why she is of great importance. But having thrived on discipline, isolation, and the reluctance to care for others, Squall gradually finds her spirited and caring attitude fascinating. Unfortunately, there is a terrible sacrifice to Rinoa's power and noble intentions to help others.. One that will prove fatal if the prophecy is fulfilled.


She closed her eyes as the gentle passing of countless petals brushed her face. The air smelled of sweet flowers and dewy grass; a common familiarity in her life. She could spend hours standing amongst the tall grass as the passing breeze brought about a symphony of flower petals to sooth her demeanor.

It would be one of her last times out there. She had seen it in the stars and knew. Her seventeenth birthday had just passed. She would be taken away soon...

Her silky black hair danced in the wind, as she didn't bother to hold it back. The light blue duster she wore flowed majestically around her, grazing the back of her bare legs. Her beautiful, yet mysterious, brown eyes caught sight of a flower petal maintaining its elevation within her reaches. She caught it and caged it beneath her fingers, feeling the soft, satiny texture of the small petal as she manifested it into her own creation. She opened her hand and released the petal in its new form: a feather. The wind came stronger then, blowing the object out of her hand and away towards the sky. She turned and watched it leave with feelings of comfortless desolation.

How she had secretly wished to be free. To float away and never look back.

She shook her head suddenly, dismissing the thought.

No. She remembered. You have a purpose. This is what you were born to do.

She heard them calling her then. Not real voices, for they were of a higher being. Their thoughts and feelings were always heard, but never by human ears. She began to run. As the wind brushed past her, she felt the temptation to spread her arms and let the wind hold her back, to create a resistance. The whispers grew around her, riding along the breeze, spreading through her ebony hair and hints of gold. She ran faster, towards her home, towards the voices. Transparent white wings grew from her back as she vanished amongst the flower petals.

Chapter 1: The Interrogation

Squall Leonhart sat concentrating against the cold brick wall that hid his position. His features were hardened, glaring out his deep blue eyes in deep assessment of his situation. His weapon, a manufacture of pure, relentless steel: part blade, part gun, lay in his grip as he held it up beside him for support.

The radio attached to his belt began to emit static as he heard someone on the other end calling his name.

What do they want now?

Squall was a member of SeeD and Commander at Balamb Garden, an elite force created to defeat sorceresses as they attempted to reign over generations. The Garden was the establishment and main headquarters of the training facilitation. Acting as mercenaries on the side, they funded the existence of their exclusive academy.

He had began training at the Garden in his early stages of youth, becoming well adjusted to discipline and unarmed combat. Squall was well admired at the Garden, especially by the female students who were infatuated by his good looks and icy demeanor. But it was because of his cold attitude that he didn't have many friends, much less anyone that was brave enough to strike a conversation with him. He prided himself on being a loner, and was faithful in keeping himself that way. But due to his devotion and reliability, the Garden promoted him to Commander, thus making him the reluctant leader in most missions at only the age of seventeen.

Frustrated at having his thoughts interrupted, he angrily swiped at the radio attached to his belt.

"What is it?" he demanded.

"Squall," the voice replied from the small transmitter. "Have you secured the location of the hostages yet?"

"No sir," Squall answered, immediately recognizing the voice of his superior. He turned his head and glanced over the side of the brick wall. "I've just gotten past the gates of Galbadia."

"Where are the others?"

"I have them on standby in secure areas. Zell is staking out hostage locations."

"Good. After you complete this mission Squall, report to my office and bring the other high ranking SeeDs with you."

…After I complete the mission? What makes you so damn sure I'll be able to do this?

He paused. "Yes, sir."

The transmission ended. He sat frowning at the tiny radio for a few seconds longer. Cid, the Headmaster at Balamb Garden, frequently expected too much from him. Squall was finding it more than annoying.

Supporting his weight on his gunblade, Squall lifted himself off the ground and watched cautiously as Galbadian soldiers walked by.

It seemed most of SeeD's missions revolved around Galbadia in one way or another. Galbadia's recent war declaration against any that oppose the Sorceress made them Balamb Garden's direct enemy. Galbadia supported the forthcoming of the future Sorceress, Ultimecia. It was predicted that she would someday pass through time compression during the final alignment of the eighth star and cause havoc and destruction to all of mankind. Galbadia, rather than fear the witch, chose to celebrate her forthcoming as her devoted followers, knowing they will be spared as her slaves when she finally reigns.

SeeD, formed with completely opposite intentions, fought for the well being of mankind's future. They were preparing for the battle of Ultimecia's coming and opposed anyone on her side, making them in turn, Galbadia's direct enemy.

Galbadia had recently kidnapped two SeeD cadets for questioning. The rumor had spread that Cid, Headmaster of Balamb Garden, was harboring a secret weapon that would ensure the defeat of Sorceress Ultimecia.

Squall couldn't care less about this so-called "secret". All he knew was that two SeeD cadets had been stupid enough to get captured and it was somehow his responsibility to save them.

Brushing his copper colored bangs from his eyes, he fingered an option on his radio and asked it to pinpoint the location of Zell, the man he had sent ahead. Static emitted from the small speaker as a voice cheerfully acknowledged him.

"Yo! S'up, Squall?"

"Keep your voice down," Squall hissed. "Do you want to give away your position?" Why couldn't they have kidnapped this guy instead? He thought contumaciously.

"Sorry man," he could hear Zell chuckling over the static. "Hey, you gotta learn to lighten up!"

"Yeah, whatever. Have you found the location of the hostages?"

"Of course! I told ya' you could count on me!" Zell said with self-satisfaction. "Head over to the Communication Tower at the top of the hill. I'll meet you outside."

Zell Dincht was a fellow SeeD member, highly skilled in the field of martial arts. He had known Squall since childhood and although Squall wasn't much of a friend to Zell, Zell was always a friend to him. He was one of the rare few who wasn't easily pushed away by Squall's anti-social behavior.

Squall clicked off the transmission and leaned back against the wall to catch a glimpse of the large Communication Tower that lingered in the distance. He narrowed his eyes. Two Galbadian soldiers stood in his way.

Guess I don't have a choice…

Gripping the handle of his gunblade tightly, he closed his eyes and carefully thought out his strategy. Opening them suddenly, he pushed off the brick wall with his free hand before joining it with the other at the handle of his weapon. He used the momentum to run full speed towards the two unsuspecting soldiers. Seemingly unprepared, they turned in surprise as Squall slashed his weapon upon their armor, immediately rendering one of them unconscious from the impact. The other staggered backwards and clumsily reached for his weapon, but the young Commander was already running past him. Effortlessly, Squall lifted his arm up behind him and hit the back of the soldier's head with the handle of his gunblade, knocking him out instantly. Squall quickly fastened his gunblade to his belt and continued running full speed towards Galbadia's Communication Tower.

Zell Dincht stood leaning against a large boulder rather uncomfortably. He hated wearing his SeeD uniform. The professional looking outfit was made lacking much needed flexibility on his part. Waiting patiently for his squad leader to appear, he ran a hand through his spiky blonde hair, grazing the jagged tattoo scrawled across his face as he did so. The tattoo was his proud trademark as it was what distinguished him from everyone else.

Patience diminishing, Zell became bored and scanned his surroundings carefully. He saw no one around for miles. Putting up his fists, he began furiously punching air, exercising his physical advantages.

His ears suddenly perked when he heard the sound of tumbling gravel. Turning his head to the direction of the noise, he made sure to keep himself half hidden behind the boulder he was leaning against. Someone was approaching the top of the hill above him, causing dirt and stone to roll down by his feet.

"Zell? Where are you?!" called a sweet, perky voice.

Zell moved quickly out from his hiding spot. "Selphie? Down here!"

She moved breathlessly to the top of the hill and began to make her way down. Exhausted, and clearly not paying attention, her footing stumbled against a rock and she tripped forward. Zell tried to hold in his laughter as she rolled to the floor at his feet. She looked up. Her short, feathered out brown hair shined brightly in the sunlight. She shed no embarrassment as she smiled and stuck her tongue out at him.

Selphie Tilmitt was one of the newest members of SeeD, having trained for it all her life. She was spunky and loud, and much like Zell, very young at heart. But because she was a girl at the same time, she seemed out of place in a military academy. Eventually, she learned to take advantage of such a fact rather than feel insignificant by it.

"What did I tell ya?" Zell said while helping her up. "These SeeD uniforms don't give much."

She rubbed her shoulder in agreement. "Ow… Watch me die on the battlefield because my skirt wouldn't let me run away fast enough…" They both laughed. He wrapped an arm playfully around her neck. "Don't worry, kid. You'll get used to this crazy life soon."

"'Kid'? I'm seventeen like you!" Selphie reminded him. Zell laughed and clutched her neck harder in his grip. "They grow up so fast…"

"Ow! Easy, easy!" she protested. "Don't you wanna know why I'm here? Cid sent me as the messenger."

He released his grip. "Go on."

"Where's Squall? I should wait till the squad leader gets here."

"For what?" came a voice behind them.

Zell and Selphie turned as Squall approached them from the stone pathway. The journey from the center of Galbadia to its Communication Tower on the hill was an exhausting uphill trip, but he didn't look the least bit phased as he walked casually to where the two of them stood.

He frowned at Selphie. "You weren't suppose to leave your post."

"I know," she answered quickly. "But Cid told me to assist you two up here."

"What for?" Squall asked.

Selphie looked around hastily and lowered her voice. "The General of Galbadia is on his way here to question the kidnapped SeeDs. If they take them to the D District Prison…" she ran a single finger across her neck. "Well, you know... They were detected off the main shore, they'll be here soon so we gotta work fast."

"Say what!!?" Zell exclaimed.

"Keep it down." Squall spat. He turned back to Selphie. "Okay, here's the new plan: We get up there, rescue them, and if we don't make it time and run into the General, you-" Squall pointed at Selphie. "-take them to safety where the others are waiting on standby. Me and Zell will hold them back as much as we can." He paused. "If we're not at the east shore in ten minutes, leave without us."

"B-But…" she began. But she quickly shook her head and bit her tongue. She knew better than to argue with Squall, especially when it came to matters such as these.

"Alright!" Zell said, pumping his fist into the air. "Let's kick some ass!"

The three of them charged through the doors of Galbadia's Communication Tower and were greeted by six Galbadian soldiers. Squall held out his gunblade, the shiny metal reflecting the sunlight which shown through behind him from the open doors. Zell tightened his fists and crouched slightly in a fighting stance. Selphie snapped out her nunchakus and twirled them fearlessly in their direction. She had been highly skilled in the practice of this particular weapon since she was a child. Mockingly, she whistled at the soldiers and winked sweetly.

"It's SeeD! Capture them!!"

The short battle, seemingly unfair with three verses six, was in fact, of equilibrium when in sheer comparison of skill. Squall had taken down two men easily with a mere passing of his gunblade, while Selphie had done the same with her trusty nunchakus, knocking her own share unconscious. Zell, furious with his fists, killed off the last two men with only two or three hits.

Having no time to acknowledge their victory, they casually made their way past the bodies and towards the lift.

"What a shame…" Zell joked.

Most soldiers kept as security within the city limits of Galbadia were inexperienced. They were of little to no threat as members of SeeD were more advanced in the field of combat. It was the higher-ranking Galbadian soldiers, the ones that were arriving soon with the General, which they had to worry about.

The three SeeDs quickly boarded the lift and made their way up the tower.

"… But I… I don't… understand… the question…" the boy gasped as he tried desperately to ignore the growing pain in his jaw.

The Galbadian soldier shook his head. "No," he stated coldly. "You must know. You're one of THEM! What is it you know!? What secret is the Garden hiding!?"

"Why are you… so sure I… know…?" the battered boy asked.

"Because I know you… Irvine." The soldier admitted. Lifting his helmet, he softened his voice. "You used to be one of us. You shared in Her glory like the rest of us." He frowned, trying hard to not let his emotions overcome his duty. "But you left us to join SeeD. You left willingly to become our enemy…"

Irvine slowly raised his head, his brown locks of hair fell to the sides of his face. "I had to… I couldn't… take it anymore. I couldn't celebrate the so-called… miracle… that Ultimecia would bring. I never… shared your… vision."

The man frowned and promptly placed the helmet back over his head. "You're a fool, Irvine." He said from under it. "Ultimecia would've made you a God. You would've forever basked in her infinite glory. Now you're only going to suffer like the rest." He shook his head sadly. "You're a fool…"

Irvine spat out the blood that seared in his mouth. His old friend was beyond help now. Looking to his left, he wondered if Nida, the dark haired boy who had been kidnapped with him, was doing all right. After several questions he refused to answer, Nida had been struck repeatedly and was rendered unconscious.

Irvine Kinneas had spent seven years of his life under Galbadian Law. Following, but never truly believing the legend of Ultimecia, who was to eliminate all but those who worshipped her in the near future. He had been raised on hearing the stories of SeeD: the elite mercenary force that sought out to vanquish the Sorceress by all means necessary. It was where his heart truly fell, where he wanted to dedicate himself and towards. Stopping the prophecy of elimination.

He escaped Galbadia at the age of sixteen and took refuge at Balamb Garden. Anyone who left the teachings of the Galbadian Law was hunted down to be returned, or worse, killed. Now, Irvine was seventeen, an expert gunman and a full-fledged member of SeeD.

The Galbadian soldier was about to resume his interrogation when they both heard the lift being activated. The soft humming of the machinery indicated the arrival of company.

"That must be the General!" The soldier announced, pitifully inspecting himself.

Irvine returned his eyes to the floor. This is gonna be bad…

Everyone feared the Galbadian General. He was powerful, influential, and the strongest man on the force.

The soldier waited with anticipation by the floor entrance but was shocked when the lift presented three unfamiliar individuals clad in SeeD uniforms. "S-SeeD!" he stuttered.

"Really?" Zell mused. "What gave us away?"

"Better get a move on!" Selphie warned in her sugary, non-threatening voice.

Stumbling backwards, the soldier ran for the only phone that was connected to one of the pillars. Squall rolled his eyes as he walked after him; promptly ripping the phone off the wall just as the frightened man grasped the receiver.

"Don't waste my time." Squall said bluntly. "We're in a hurry."

At a loss of words, the soldier ran timidly to the lift and quickly exited the situation.

"Smart kid." Zell commented as he untied Nida and attempted to wake him. "I think he's coming around…"

As Selphie untied the other boy, she curiously brushed his long brown hair out of his face. "Hey! I know you! You're Irvine, right? It's me, Selphie! We graduated together into SeeD just last term, remember?"

Irvine chuckled and began wiping the matted blood off his forehead. "I could never forget you, Sefie…Not with a beautiful face like that."

Selphie blushed and helped him to his feet. "One thing at a time, Irvy. You don't want me to make your injuries worse."

Nida's head rolled to one side as he finally started to wake up. He groaned. "Is it over…?"

Zell patted him on the back and helped him up. "Not even close, buddy. C'mon, let's get you out of here."

Nida noticed instantly that Squall was with them. "C-Commander…" he stuttered. Squall winced at the title. "I-I'm sorry, sir. I should've been more responsible…"

Squall sighed. "Don't worry about it. You're alive. That's all that matters."

They all froze then. Their silence covered with the eerie sound of the lift being activated.

He's here…

Squall turned to Selphie. "Get them out of here when I give the word." He turned to Zell, "Zell, you know what we have to do." The spiky-haired boy nodded.

They watched in silence as the lift reached their ground level and Seifer Almasy, the General of Galbadia, stood before them.

Chapter 2: Crimson Metal

Scraping his gunblade calmly against the tower's steel surface, Seifer regarded his enemies coolly as his two colleagues waited obediently behind him. His short, golden hair wavered stiffly in the breeze as he approached the SeeDs, wearing a large gray trench coat baring the red mark of Hyperion on his forearm. Besides Squall, Seifer was the only other gunblade specialist around.

He held up his weapon, pointing the tip of the blade in Squall's direction. "Well, if it isn't puberty boy and the chicken-wuss." He sneered. "Long time no see."

Squall vividly recalled a time several years back when Seifer had still fought on his side. They had trained together as students in Garden (never as friends) and competed against each other for the highest rank possible. Seifer, a naturally gifted cadet, had an unfortunate inability to take orders and control his temper. Such acts prevented him from becoming a member of SeeD, as he grew more and more hostile in his surroundings.

He remembered the day when Seifer suddenly packed his bags and left the Garden out of the blue. He knew it had been inevitable: Seifer never showed up to class, never participated in missions. It was only a matter of time before the Garden Administrators kicked him out. Squall had always heard Seifer rant about how the Garden was stopping him from fulfilling his dream. "One of these days, I'm gonna tell ya 'bout my ROMANTIC dream!" Seifer had told him once. Squall didn't care to question it, but looking back now, he wished he had. The next time he ever saw Seifer was a year later. At the announcement of Galbadia's war declaration, Seifer was introduced as the new General of Galbadia at only the age of sixteen.

Now, at eighteen years of age, Seifer was more than a worthy advisory. Besides being physically capable, he held a lot of influential power within him as the Galbadian army sat at his fingertips. He was almost invincible, and very well aware of it.

"What did you call me!?" Zell demanded in an explosion of fury.

Seifer ignored him and kept his attention focused on Squall. "I heard you made the rank of Commander." A fraudulent smile of satisfaction formed on his lips. "Congratulations."

Squall, now holding out his own gunblade, narrowed his eyes at the older boy coldly.

What's he getting at?

The two young men now held identical positions of power in their rank. Squall, the Commander of Balamb Garden and Seifer, who had once strived for the role of Commander, was now the General of Galbadia. He had been rather displeased at the news of Squall's promotion for he had never fully forgotten about the unspoken rivalry the two of them shared.

"Whatever." Squall snapped. "Get out of the way."

"Are you challenging me?" the older boy inquired. 'I'm disappointed, Squall. I always thought you had more sense."

Squall tightened his grip on his gunblade. "Get out of the way." he repeated.

Shaking his head with a smile, Seifer raised a gloved hand and gestured to the two soldiers standing behind him. "Get the chicken-wuss and the other kids. I'll take care of puberty boy." With that, he slashed his gunblade violently in Squall's direction causing him to stumble back as he luckily, blocked the attack.

Squall watched from the corner of his eye as the two Galbadian soldiers advanced on Zell and the others. Zell immediately sprang into action, taking them both on at the same time as Selphie protected the two wounded hostages. As one of the soldiers raised his sword high above his head, Zell caught his wrist in midair and used his free fist to punch the soldier in the jaw. He quickly detected the other soldier advancing from behind and skillfully did a back kick in the man's face.

The fight between Squall and Seifer; however, was on a more personal level. The anger that rose within each of them with every clash of their gunblades reflected the growing rivalry they shared since childhood. Sharing an almost equal amount of skill, they could've kept fighting each other to an eternity.

Squall charged at Seifer and slashed air when the older boy quickly dodged his attack. Smugly, Seifer held his gunblade back and stretched his arm out to Squall. Waving his fingers, he mockingly signaled his rival to advance.

Squall turned his blade over in his hands and looked over his shoulder at the others. Zell had successfully beaten Seifer's bodyguards to a pulp. "Go!" He ordered them sternly. "Get out of here!"

They nodded and quickly retreated to the unguarded lift. Seifer didn't spare them a single glance as he held up his hand and summoned the element of fire, hurling the ball of energy directly into Squall as the he charged at him.

The young Commander flew backwards, hitting the ground hard in the midst of fire and smoke. The disintegrating embers burned him as he gritted his teeth and quickly attempted to stand. But because he was momentarily caught off guard, Seifer had already raised his gunblade high over his head and struck it down with lightening speed. Without having time to react, Squall could only watch with surprise as the blade slashed down across his face, splitting the flesh between his eyes. A diagonal gash appeared, gushing out blood that fell from his face to the ground at his feet.

Squall looked up slowly, his head now clouded with rage. Clenching his fists around the handle of his gunblade, he got up quickly and charged at Seifer with anger in his eyes. Seifer's smile faded, knowing he had finally pushed Squall over the edge. He attempted to sidestep the attack, but was unfortunately over confidant with his calculations. Squall brought the blade up from behind him and slashed the steel weapon as hard as he could across Seifer's face, cutting against the reflected area in comparison to his own.

Seifer fell backwards; pressing a gloved hand to his wound as it bled violently over his face. Squall sat on one knee and propped up his arm against the other. He began breathing rapidly as the numbing sensation his anger had provided quickly diminished.

"You ass! What the hell did you do?" Seifer hissed through his teeth.

Squall ignored him. Standing up, he weakly made his way to the lift. He constantly had to brush a hand across his face to wipe away the blood that fell into eyes. Cursing to himself silently, he activated the lift.

That's gonna leave a scar… Squall thought bitterly.

Seifer watched the other boy angrily. He struggled to stand, but the effects of rapid blood loss sat him back down quickly. "Squall!" he called out suddenly.

The other boy didn't respond. He kept his back turned as he boarded the lift.

"Squall!" Seifer called again. "Get your skinny ass back here!"

Squall continued to ignore the ranting General as the lift descended.

"This isn't over! Squall!!" was the last thing he heard as the shadows of the lower levels engulfed him.

"Not again… He's not gonna beat me again…" Seifer murmured as he furiously wiped the blood from his forehead. "He's trying to make me look bad…" Ignoring his blood soaked gloves, he grabbed the radio he kept clipped at his belt and clicked on the transmitter.

"Raijin!" he barked. "Activate the X-ATM092 and have it target the SeeDs. They're not leaving Galbadia!"

Squall staggered slowly down the street, the searing pain pulsing madly between his eyes. The streets were empty. Having heard of SeeDs' presence in Galbadia, local residents chose to hide in their homes. How can these people stand having a leader like Seifer? Does he even believe in all this sorceress crap?

All his life he had never really admired anything about Seifer. Even though he had found it impressive that Seifer had mastered the gunblade, his sheer attitude in general had always annoyed Squall. He had labeled him with the name "puberty boy" due to Squall's continuous rejection of the Gardens' female students. Seifer would always loudly proclaim, especially in the presence of authority figures: "Don't worry, Squall. One of these days you'll reach puberty!" Needless to say, Squall was glad when Seifer left. But ever since the day Seifer joined the Galbadians, they were no longer just rivals. They were enemies.

He spat out the blood that fell upon his lip bitterly. No matter what he does or who he becomes, he'll always be the same person. He's never going to change.

Squall stopped in the middle of the street and tried to catch a glimpse of the harbor.

"Did they leave?"

No sooner had he uttered those words than the ground beneath his feet began to shake. A low, mechanical rumbling was heard not too far behind him. He turned in the direction of the noise and began slowly stepping backwards. The hell is that?

The rumbling grew louder and to Squall's surprise, a massive, spider-like robot turned the corner and on to his street.

The X-ATM092 scanned the area with several flashing lasers. Its radar quickly detected the SeeDs' presence and redirected its course in his direction.

"Shit." Squall cursed under his breath. He turned and ran as fast as he could towards the shore as the enormous mechanical spider chased after him, crushing any parked vehicles that were in its way.

As Squall passed under the gates of Galbadia, the X-ATM092 caught up to him. Not letting the large brick pillars get in its way, it pushed its way into them, sending Squall flying from the impact behind him and onto the sands of the harbor.

Zell and Selphie turned in surprise as their Commander tumbled to the ground just a short distance from them. They had decided to go against orders and wait for their leader an extra five minutes past the time limit. Realizing that Squall had company, Zell ran to the doors of their ship and ordered them to start the engine. Selphie lingered outside and waited for Squall before quickly descending into the ship.

Beaten up and clearly malfunctioning, the X-ATM092 struggled to rehabilitate itself. Squall, despite the amount of pain running through his body, forced himself to his feet and began running towards the others.

The machine whimpered to its feet and rescanned the area. The signals quickly focused on Squall as he ran off just ahead. With only one intention in mind, the mechanical spider moved furiously in hot pursuit, easily catching up within seconds.

Squall could feel the X-ATM092 close at his heels. The ship had already begun retreating the area to get out of range of the machine's destruction. Zell waited just outside the doors of the ship and gestured wildly at the Commander.

"C'mon!!" he shouted.

Taking his chances, Squall leaped off the edge of the harbor. He reached with all his might and managed to grasp the smooth metal deck of the ship. Closing his eyes, he waited for the mechanical beast to grab hold of him and pull him back. Instead, he heard the sound of wild gunfire from the top level of the ship.

Irvine, using the gattling gun attached to the ship, fired repeatedly into the advancing robot. "You want some of this!?" taunted the long-haired boy. "Ha ha!"

Squall caught one last glimpse of the beaten up robot as the doors slid shut.

Exhausted, he fell back and leaned against the cold metal doors. Blood still dripped from the wound on his forehead. He glared to himself as he suddenly remembered Seifer.

He probably sent that thing after me.

Reaching a hand to his face, he traced the exposed cut that lay between his eyes. It had yet to close. Examining his hand, he frowned at the amount of blood that it was drenched in.

I must've lost a lot of blood… Squall thought dizzily. The pain didn't subside. The throbbing didn't cease. He felt drained. Leaning his head back against the soothingly cold steel, he closed his eyes.

Authors note: These first two chapters were purely for introductory purposes. Sequels to the original story line don't need many introductions because it's carrying on the original plot… you don't have to explain much because the readers already know. But because this is an AU (Alternate Universe) fanfic, I sorta have to start fresh. I'm getting character backgrounds out of the way so I can get more into Squall's personality and finally introduce Rinoa into the story. Can't wait!! She'll possess her original character traits only I'll make sure she isn't annoying (when she doesn't have to be) Thanks for reading ) I'll try to get new chapters up on a weekly basis. Feel free to email me.