Reflections on "The Gunblade Saga"

It began on a whim. June, 2003, a bored college student who was trying to write the next big epic fanfiction based on Final Fantasy VIII had read several fanfics written by other authors trying to create a novelization of this most epic of epic games. Dissatisfied with them, he began to write his own. It started simple, a close-to-the-script adaptation that added in details and filled out story elements, starting from the beginning of the game and continuing on, adding twists to action sequences and expanding upon the concepts from the game. Nearly two years later, in April of 2005, a story tentatively entitled "The Gunblade Saga" ended, as a complete and total novelization of Final Fantasy VIII. In all honesty, I never would have realized it was this much of a challenge. The game itself was massive and tremendous, and putting it in written form was an incredible task, yet unbelievably rewarding.

Its been one long, wild ride, I'd have to say. from the beginning I wanted to put my own spin on FFVIII, even after I got done with the game for the first time way back in 2001. I'd written some fanfiction, but going to the extent by which I did when I began writing this was unprecedented for me, and in all honesty, many other writers as well. Looking back I'm amazed to see what I've written, and am honestly staggered by the implications that I, of all people, wrote this stuff. If someone had told me I would do something this massive two years ago, I would have laughed at them. Now I can simply sit here and be amazed.

Why did I write this? I'm not entirely sure myself. One big thing that drove me to write fanfiction in the first place was a love for the characters and the setting. When I got done watching the ending cutscene, where Squall kissed Rinoa and the camera panned back, showing Garden flying over the sea, followed by the shining letters of "The End", I honestly felt saddened that the story was over. To this day I can't watch that scene without thinking that it is a terrible thing that this story ended. I can't say that with any other Final Fantasy I've played to date. I was disappointed with the endings for VI and VII myself, but VIII's ending made me sigh and wish I could see more. I wanted to see Squall and Rinoa's future, to go beyond their kiss and look at what would happen ahead. I wanted to see Selphie and Irvine get together or even break up. I wanted to see Zell's future, Quistis' future, Cid and Edea's future . . . I wanted to see it all. I wanted to see more than that final kiss. I didn't want the story to end. With the sole exception of Chrono Trigger, no other game made me feel that way.

That's the magic of FFVIII, and part of the reason I love fanfiction for it.

But why write a novelization? it's a great question. Some would say that those who write novelizations love the game so much they'd want to see it in print, where they can read it wherever they want, whenever they want. Some would like to see deeper meanings and thoughts within their characters. Some would want to apply their own spin to the storyline and improve upon shortcomings. My motivation really sprang from a variety of sources, among them ones I can't yet name. I think part of my plan was to recapture some of the great emotional moments from the game, including that final kiss. I honestly cried when I was writing the meeting in compressed time, with the Eyes On Me lyrics included, because that scene, and the final kiss, were so emotional for me.

When I look back at this fic, one thing that strikes me the most is this simple fact: never, ever, even once, did I consider stopping. I never gave up. I never even considered giving up. from the first word to the very, very last, I wanted to do this thing, to finish it. I walked in with a dedicated heart, and I walked out feeling an unbelievable sense of accomplishment. At 6:12 AM on April 2nd, when I typed in "The End", an incredible rush came over me at my accomplishment. I stood up, I raised my hands, and I laughed, because I had finished two years of joyous writing. Through thick and thin, through computer problems and internet providers, through different universities, majors, jobs, girlfriends, and career choices, through my final decision to join the Marine Corps, this has been here.

To me, The Gunblade Saga was more than just a story. It was a goal, an accomplishment, a calling and a purpose, and, strangely enough, a friend, if you will. I came to know the story of FFVIII intimately with each new chapter, and bound myself tightly to the characters of Squall, Rinoa, Seifer, Irvine, Selphie, Quistis, Zell, Edea, Cid, Laguna, Kiros, and Ward, and even felt some influence from them in my own life. The Gunblade Saga was a part of my life for two years, and I poured my heart and soul into it. I feel that no other RPG has reached the greatness of FFVIII, and I hoped to catch that power in my work, and I believe, in all honesty, that I succeeded.

As with my previous insert, it might be time for a long reflection on the individual chapters, and what was going through my head with each one.

Cold: Inspired by the song of the same name by Crossfade, this chapter was aimed at a concept I wanted to hit during the course of the story: nothing can defeat Squall in physical battle, but when it comes to his heart and his emotions, those are points where he is vulnerable. Inspired partially by Luna Manar's "Falling Forever" fanfic on Icy Brian's site.

This was also the very first chapter that involved Edea as her normal self, and I tried to capture her loving aspect along with her wisdom and a degree of her power as well. I also wanted to remind people that Matron really was a Sorceress while you were controlling her, though her power is dramatically diminished.

I believe that the most important part of this chapter, however, was showing how Squall was very steadily progressing down the road to being in love with Rinoa. I had to establish that there was definitely something between them, and Squall was only realizing it when he was severed from Rinoa. I believe the most important part was the decision that Squall had already lost Ellone before, and he wouldn't lose Rinoa if he could avoid it.

Interlude: Dragonslayer: I knew that, within the constraints of the storyline I was writing, that I wouldn't be able to write the Shumi village sequence, and reflect on Laguna being present there. So, in order to include the village and expand on Laguna's story, I set the beginning of this chapter there.

The Shumi always struck me as interesting, kind of like gnomes or dwarves in a sense, with their ingenuity and underground ways. I enjoyed covering their culture and society.

As for Laguna himself, the chapter was largely self-explanatory. I used some Halo references throughout, and the title was a throwback to the "Ye olde dragon-slayings" of old literature. As a side note, a thread I was planning on following up on in that chapter was the gunblade Laguna used. It was actually intended to end up in Seifer's hands later on and used as a model for him to build Hyperion off of. I must have forgotten that idea as I got near the end where Seifer was going to say it.

Rinoa: One part I really wanted to do was Squall praying. Squall isn't a particularly religious type of person, but I did want him to reach out to a higher power, as many people have to do so in times of great stress.

I only had two other major objectives here: to present Squall's continuing development in the direction of loving Rinoa, and to describe Esthar, and give a truly breathtaking into the city. I think I succeeded on both counts.

Final Interlude: Hero: Another self-explanatory chapter, really. I did want to bring back our good friend Randolph, and I threw in some of my own Corps pride in as well with making him a Marine. For some reason I like Dollet and Esthar more than any of the other nations in this game . . . Though I love all the nations and peoples of FFVIII. This was also the first point where Halo-esque technology was used in large amounts, which I felt fit very closely with Estharian weapons and tech.

And Laguna quotes Bugs Bunny. Pwn, man.

City of Dreams: Ah, the entrance of Spark! I sincerely loved this chapter, even if it was little more than an introduction of the city of Esthar and paving the way for the air war and Selphie's use of the Halconnen. Speaking of which, I really should have changed the name on that thing. Maybe I'm reading too much of Daz's work, eh?

Lunacy: The big air war chapter. I really wanted an Independence Day kind of conflict here, and I think it worked out well. I included some homages to Rogue Squadron with Raptor Squadron, a group that may make an appearance in later FFVIII fanfics.

It felt kind of odd interposing sequences with intense battles between the Estharians and Galbadians and the peaceful scenes on the Lunar Base. Like Chris Ganale said, it sucks having to change the music every few minutes.

Oh, yes, and Selphie got to use the Halconnen! Seriously, that is just the kind of gun you can imagine her wielding, isn't it?

Apocalypse Now: the chapter in which Squall did the thing that made him awesome. I sincerely enjoyed covering the emotional turmoil he was going through in this chapter, and I think I captured it well, especially judging by everyone's responses. One bit I loved the most was Squall's urge to punch Laguna when he said that Squall wouldn't be able to save Rinoa. The moment where the emotion really peaked for me was when Squall screamed "Fuck!" which was what I always imagined was going through his mind as he had to retreat.

One regret I did have was that I was unable to flesh out the Lunar Cry itself, and I think that I did remove the apocalyptic level of destruction it caused in FFVIII.

Eyes On Me: Whoa. I'll say, here and now, that I was actually tearing up as I wrote that opening in this chapter. I had wanted to do a little spiel on the power of love, and that segment was really beautiful for me to write, and I think it was one of, if not the, best sequences in the storyline.

Of course, this was followed up by the discovery of the Ragnarok, the battle with the Propagators, and Rinoa's use of her Sorceress powers, then followed by Rinoa and Squall's beautiful conversation on the bridge, and then Squall musing on losing Rinoa and how it was hurting him inside, and then the talk with Zell and Quistis, and then Squall's rescue . . . I was floored throughout this chapter by its awesomeness and the incredible scenes I had to work with.

Without question, this was perhaps my favorite chapter to write out of nearly all of them, excepting the epilogue.

A Strange Twist of Fate: Ah, the clincher! The promise, the meeting with Laguna, and the final briefing!

I set out here to further the Squall and Rinoa relationship, now that it had reached its critical point. I sincerely enjoyed writing the talk between them, and the promise at the flower field. I knew I had to do it well, and I knew I had to tie everything back to that same field. That was an essential part for me.

Laguna's briefing was placed in Garden because it made sense, especially with the United Nations/Allies-style way the war came together. I hit on this crazy idea that maybe I could bring back Dollet's 125th and everyone's favorite badass Dollet commander, and include Estharian fighters on the attack, and I thought, heck, why not bring in Caraway and the Galbadians too?

And, of course, there was the actual long, long awaited meeting between Squall and Laguna. A bit anti-climactic, but still a fun bit to write.

Flight of the Ragnarok: The most striking parts of this battle, for me, was not the engagement as much as the lead-up. The dialogue for the Squall-Laguna scene where the truth was revealed hit me while I was in the middle of the previous chapter, and I knew I had to write it down before I lost it in my head, and I built the rest of the chapter around that. I also really wanted to have a scene where Rinoa met with Edea and talked to her, and thus I added the talk between them where Rinoa picked up Bahamut.

The Seifer battle was kind of intended as a jab at the cheap "everyone vs. one" battles you fought in-game against him. Really, Seifer never stood a chance in the game once you ganged up on him, and that was reflected here with how easily he was dropped. Of course, that led into the climatic final clash in . . . .

Heaven or Hell: Holy heck, yes! This was a chapter that had been in my head for a long time: Seifer and Squall fighting hand-to-hand with everyone tackling Adel as a backdrop. I had prewritten he Squall/Seifer intro to the battle many weeks in advance, anticipating this battle eagerly, and I enjoyed every sizzling, bone cracking, bullet-flying moment. Of all the Seifer battles, this one was the most brutal and the one I savored the most.

The Festival of the Damned: Originally was going to be two smaller chapters, but I decided that I was done with waiting for the final clash and I wanted this story over with. This is the chapter where I felt that I really was headed down the final stretch, and I barreled through it with ferocity, typing furiously as I wrote out every battle and detail with glee. I was so intent on getting the details right that I actually played through the game from my last save point right after the Sorceress Memorial so I could get this part down right

Lionheart: I wanted the final battle to be epic and desperate, and I wrote with that objective first and foremost. I had already determined the "death order" a while before I wrote this and set out to make each character's fall unique and meaningful, either in impact or in brutality. The image of Squall striking down his foes with Blasting Zone while standing over Rinoa's body was clear in my mind a long, long time ago, and the use of Lionheart was present in its incarnation here even before then. Blasting Zone was supposed to be Squall's rage peaked and unmatched, but Lionheart had to be something so much more . . . The result of the rage taken from all across time, a suitably desperate attack for the end-of-the-universe ending of FFVIII

Epilogue: Waiting Until the End: The ending was sugary sweet and beautiful, and I wanted to seize it myself once again in my writing. I knew I had to bring everyone back, and explain what was happening, as well as provide Squall's point of view. Part of the reason why Squall was the only "survivor" of the Ultimecia battle was because he was separate from the others during the ending, and I used that as the defining reason why Squall was separated.

Including the Eyes On Me lyrics here simply made me cry while writing them, as I've already said. It was so beautiful, I felt, to include them in that final meeting between Squall and Rinoa, where she brought him back. I tried to capture the sadness and then joy of that scene with the lyrics and my descriptions. Heh. Maybe I should try songfics?

An idea I scrapped was to have Squall run into another timeframe at the orphanage, but rather than meet Edea and his younger self he'd see an older version, in which they'd have a talk about Squall's future. But as I said, I scrapped it.

The final few segments . . . Well, I wanted to mimic the feel of the cutscenes with minimizing the dialogue during the party. At the same time, a degree of dialogue would help enhance it at specific points. There were periods where I had the characters talking but wrote no dialogue, to help capture those moments more precisely.

And finally, there was the kiss at the end. I had that music, from that moment, playing in my head as I wrote that part, and I felt tears in my eyes as I wrote that last sentence.

"She pulled him in as well, bringing both of their souls together under that starry sky as Balamb Garden flew across the sea, silent, undisturbed, and perfect."

At that moment, I sat back, and managed a joyous laugh, before I typed "The End" They have to be the two most satisfying words I've ever written in my career as a writer.

Every chapter saw the increase in my skills as a writer. I started as just an action scene buff, with only a little skill in depicting emotional turmoil or angst, or personal beliefs and characterization. I ended as so much more, judging by all the wonderful reviews.

Everyone who has helped me along my path deserves incredible thanks. Without the reviews, this story never would have advanced to be what it was. Without people letting me know that I was doing a good job, I would never have completed this. I speak from the heart when I say that hearing good comments on my work makes me feel good. All authors write for good reviews, whether they admit it or not. I am no exception, and I thrived off my reviews, rushing to my mailbox in the hours after I posted my last chapter to see who had reviewed and said what about what.

On that note, I'll do my shout-outs early, before moving on to my thanking of all who helped me on this path.

Sherif: Mwahaha. Yes, I killed them! I killed them all!

On that note, you've been one of my constant reviewers. Your input has always been great. Thank you so much!

Dragoon Swordsman: "Interesting"? Not exactly the way I'd put it. :P You've been with me for a long time too, since before I can remember. How far back did you start reviewing? Its always been great having you around.

Ma-Chan1: Yeah, I'm almost sad to see its over myself. Of course I'm going to write more! Its in my blood to write! I had a similar theory, but as you can tell, that feather was more of a symbol of Rinoa's consciousness seeking out Squall in time. I would not mind at all if you copied this work. I have no problem with people copying my work as long as they ask for permission first.

Don't worry about not being here since the beginning. Only a few people (among them myself, heh) have been reading this since its inception.

My reasons for killing the heroes range from the fanboyish ("My story is important because everyone DIES!") to the desire to show the desperation of the final conflict and the sheer power behind Ultimecia and Griever. I'm happy to know that you think I'm that good. I'm glad you've been there reading with my writing for all this time!

Jade Almasy: I did want to hint throughout this story that Irvine and Selphie were sort of together. Their development got more and more subtle and yet more apparent as the final chapters progressed. Selphie's rage over Irvine's death kind of showed that, as well as the hug they shared at the end when time was restored.

You're another long-timer that I'm glad has been with me for so long. I always knew you'd review if you had the time, and thank you for it!

Chris Ganale: Cheap win. :P I only used Invincible Moon for my invulnerability, thank you very much. (okay, so I never bothered unlocking Item XD )

Bwaha! I raped your head:P And go ahead, finish your story. I glanced at it, and it looks great, even if I never played FFX. Maybe I should do something similar with FFVIII? Hmmm . . . .

You, too, have always been there for me, man. Spotting my references left and right! Always nice to know you catch these ideas when no one else can. XD Glad to be riding this train with you, too.

Rikke Leonhart: Yeah, killing Selphie made me sad too. I knew she would have to die, and that saddened me. But then I got sadistic and laughed while I was doing it. (I know Kaiser will kill me for saying that XD)

Omega….pardon me while I rock back and forth and cry in child-like terror.

I don't think you've been with me for too long, but you've been there for a while, though. Still glad to see you rode this with me until the end!

Elachim: Hey, handing out military knowledge is no problem for me. If you ever have any questions, ask away! I'll be making my email public soon, anyway.

Solid Shark: Glad to know you love it too! You've been with me for a while too, haven't you? I've always appreciated your reviews, man!

Icedragon6171: I tried to render Ultimecia as this horribly evil enemy that's imply seemed invincible, and I'm glad you think the same way. While you haven't been there for me for that long, I still appreciate what you've written about my work. Thank you!

OniRazz: My MGS story isn't up yet. I'm waiting a while before posting that, so I'm sure I'm ready to finish it when it is time to finish it. And thank you for sticking with me for such a long time. I'm glad you loved my work!

Angel of Apocalypse:

DBZ Fanfiction Queen: Squall used Rough Divide on NORG. Oh, I know Tiamat was a GF, who Ultimecia corrupted. My words must have come out wrong there….

Well, I tried to make sense out of it, and the image I had of Squall using time as his weapon really sealed the idea of what was happening there for me. I always figured she was simply high on all the power she was gathering by compressing time and had really hit a point where she was losing touch with reality . . . Or reality was losing touch with her, heh.

Doing Squall's delirium was actually really hard for me to figure out, but I think I pulled it off well. I really didn't try to explain it too much myself, except as this random barrage of memories he was experiencing within time as Rinoa tried to find him. And yes, I think it's a Garden Festival there too. Maybe not the only one (the one in FH was one as well) but there's nothing to say that there can't be two of them!

As one of my reviewers, I knew I could always expect a great review from you and let me know what you were thinking about the chapter in no uncertain terms. Your reviews are always among the ones I looked forward too especially. Thank you for riding this with me to the end!

Daniel Wesley Rydell: Yes, it is right. :P Thanks for the steady reviews, man. You're another one who's been with me for before I can remember, and I'm glad you stuck with me until the end.

Rusty Knights Productions: Darn you, you silly person (or persons). You need to finish FFVIII! I've always appreciated what you've said, for as longer s you've been with me on this. Thanks for everything!

Kolostraminindincranin: Thank you! I did have that crazy image of the chopping of the castle in half, but you have to remember, this is Blasting Zone here. The blade pokes out into space for crying out loud. I was intending for the strike to leave this massive fissure in the ocean in the future world too, but I decided that that was a little too over the top. Good luck with you Baldur's Gate novelization! Makes me want to actually play that darn game again.

Anime Obsessed Fan: Yeah, everybody died. Pooh. Like I said, the image of everyone falling left and right was there for a long time, and I really wanted it to only be Squall at the very end, just like it should have been, cutting down Ultimecia with a final, desperate limit break.

I agree that the worst part about a great story ending is just that: the ending. But that's why there's fanfiction!

DeathDragon66: What amazes me the most is my devotion. I think I took that out of this fanfic when I wrote it, I went in with a wishy-washy tendency, but I walked out with an incredible feeling of determination to succeed. That's one gift that Gunblade gave to me in writing this.

Wolf of Light: Thanks! You've been there for . . . Damn, a long time, haven't you? Thank you for every review! (You spelled it right, by the way)

Kimahrigirl: You're welcome! That's the kind of response I hoped to invoke with this story, and I'm glad it happened with somebody. And yes! Go read Synthesis! I'll be updating as soon as I figure out what the next sentence in that story should be! XD

Cherieandpepe: Another reaction I love to see. I'm glad you're showing this to others who've played the game and who might love it as well. I hope to get some more reviews! Thank you for sticking with me through it all!

Shootski: No relation to Unreal. That was just something I thought Zell would say. And someone commented on my use of "final fantasy"! Did everyone else miss that? Heh. Thanks. I don't think I'm that good, myself, but that's just me.

Jihan Al-Kwasarmi: hey, that's okay. As long as you're reviewing, I don't mind waiting around for them. Thank you for complimenting my fight sequences. I really get into combat, and I try to make the battles as realistic and fun as possible.

And yeah, I know! What was Square thinking with those glaring scientific inaccuracies? XD

Xephon: I am? Cool. Unfortunately, no one prays to me so I have no power over the world, regardless of my deific standing, according to D&D rules.

Thyana: Thank you! I certainly intend to write more, no doubt about that!

Patronus: Thank you too! I agree that FFVIII was a challenge to novelize but not as bad as other games. Imagine novelizing Resident Evil 4 or something.

Lady-Rinoa: Its okay if you never made a review. You made one now, right? Hey, I'm glad to know I made you smile with my work. I mean, that's half the reason I write, so others can be entertained and let me know that I can entertain them. And don't worry, I'm quite intent on making more fanfics, and obviously around Squall and Rinoa.

Geminidrake: Thanks!

Crazy Lady Georgey: Two words: hanks much:D

Chloe: I've also written the only one. Or rather, the only complete one. XD

E: Ummm . . . Wow. THIS is a review. I'm gonna get something to drink, responding to this monster may take some time. Not even I leave reviews this long!

Thank you about the descriptions. At first, I wanted literal descriptions, but as time progressed I came to understand that having the descriptions flow around the events worked more smoothly. I tried to capture the magic of each moment in my writing.

It did strike me as odd that Quistis was helping you in the battle. Sometimes when I play through I just have her stand there while Squall attacks Ifrit alone . . . Either that or I kill her before we meet Ifrit so Ifrit won't be distracted by her.

The battle with Elvorlet didn't have Squall's limit. That was more of a Matrix-style leap and slash thing, and not Renzokuken. Now, Seifer, he did use a Limit, obviously. Heh.

X-ATM092 didn't have nanorobots. I was imagining that they were more like . . . Little insect robots, like maybe the size of large ants, instead of nanotechnology. And yeah, it does seem like that thing adapts as you flee down the mountain, doesn't it? That's why I made it learn as if followed them.

Timber did strike me as a polluted city, to a degree, when I was playing through it. Well, not so much as polluted as much as it was simply more primitive than other cities. I mean, you pass through Dollet, Deling City, and Balamb, and they're all large, open, clean cities with high technology, and then you get to Timber, and everything seems older and more primitive, and by association, a little bit more dirty. My editor really pointed that out to me.

The train sequence was definitely one of my favorite moments to write, especially because it was a tense action scene with no actual combat, which was a bit different from my previous action sequences.

Hey, I like it when Zell kicks ass too, heh. Throughout the story I kept Zell on this same basic track of being the headfirst, charging guy who ran up to things and hit them until he was knocked away. Made fights easier to write when I was considering how each person would act.

There weren't any other Seeds in the battle with Edea, excepting Rinoa, who helped Squall wounded Edea before he was impaled.

The real guns used in the prison break were there for realism, yeah, but also because I am a bit of a gun nut. Not too much of one, but quite a fan of firearms myself.

And yeah, I did enjoy writing Squall kicking ass against the other cadets in Balamb Garden. Maybe he had too easy a time beating them, but then again, it is Squall, after all. Writing the MD Level segment was a challenge, of course, but I think I laid it out fairly well.

I loved writing Squall owning NORG. Our first use of Renzokuken's Rough Divide finisher as well!

The always irked me about the infiltration of Balamb, how known enemies of the state could just wander around without much question.

A big point on the original chapter, "Art of War" was to shed more light on some of the characters and their interactions, as well as to air out the grievance between Rinoa and her father. I really wanted to have them make up with one another, and I had a few tears in my eyes writing that scene.

Part of my inclusion of Dollet was an understanding that the Garden organization by itself didn't have enough troops for the mass-combat I really wanted to get at here. They didn't have many allies, but of them, there was one army that really would stand out and had already fought beside them, and an army I felt was really underplayed in the game. Thus, I brought in Dollet as comrades with Garden in the huge battle.

Now, THAT is a compliment. I wrote the best battle you've ever seen? Wow. Man, that really is a compliment right there! I agree that I did kind of downplay Quistis and Xu, but I was running out of ideas for them, and of all the combat styles I can really write, Quistis' rante was the hardest for me to write in this story. It doesn't help that Quistis is the least favorite of my characters, but still a character I like.

Squall in that battle was supposed to be very similar to Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings movies, a complete, virtually invincible badass on the battlefield. I've already said it before, but Squall was deliberately modeled around Aragorn as my primary inspiration for how he would fight.

Yeah, I chopped off Seifer's hand! I really wanted to make that battle dead serious, as it was going to be the last real gunblade duel they would have in the story. Seifer was intended to be made just as hardcore and tough as Squall in that battle, if a bit more fanatical and deluded.

The bridge scene was one part that was a real clincher for me. I felt I had to do it properly to convey how Squall had grown to accept Rinoa into his life and how he would do whatever it took to save her. I figure Squall didn't really love Rinoa up until the scene on the Ragnarok, but up until that point simply wanted her back so much that it overrode his feelings for her. Eventually he came to realize that he did love her as he was saving her. An impression I got from the game was that Squall and Rinoa would have ended up together even if she hadn't been possessed, but that the possession itself was a catalyst that rapidly brought them that much closer together. In that sense, Ultimecia kind of caused her own demise.

As I've said before, the final battle between Squall and Seifer was envisioned a long time ago as a hand-to-hand battle. I really felt like it clicked with their rivalry within the story, and I hadn't actually written a fight like that yet, so I dove for it with a relish.

The Ultimecia battle I approached with some apprehension. I felt I had to get it powerful and epic, but at the same time I felt I had to keep it real. Obviously, Irvine needed to go first; he was physically the weakest character without GFs. Selphie burned away in rage at Irvine's death, and this was followed by Zell dying in his final, selfless charge. Quistis sacrificed herself to save Squall, and then Rinoa was murdered, fueling Squall with a titanic rage of epic proportions that sliced Ultimecia's castle in half.

And, well, of course I read the review. I read every review. Especially monsters like this one. This has to be one of the more satisfying reviews I've gotten.

And now, last but far from the least, two reviewers I feel personally close to as comrades in the fanfiction world.

Prodigy: I knew you'd love the ending. We've both been striving for this for a long time, and I knew I had to get that ending perfect, or, like you said, this whole thing would have been meaningless.

400,000 words? Really? Wow. That's . . . damn. I knew it was big, but even that figure staggers me.

Just out of curiosity, how big is my fan base here? Is there a huge running tally or what? Do I have a Peptuck Fanclub or something? Heh.

Please, man, hurry up and write! I want to see what you're doing. And if you need an editor, dial me up. I'll be making my email public after this reflection goes up, so send me some chapters for me to have a look at if you want.

Kaiser-Kun: You've been one my closest reviewers, and I have to thank you for that. Stick with me, I ain't done yet! Keep up your translating, and I'll keep up my writing.

When it gets down to it, no project is a one-man venture. There are always people who support oneself along the way in one respect or another. I have a few people I need to thank for directly or indirectly influencing this story.

Aaron Jordan (aka Xenogears): If there is one, singular person responsible for helping The Gunblade Saga reach its end, it would have to be you. Aaron served as my editor throughout the long ride of Gunblade, and was directly and indirectly responsible for some amazing scenes in the storyline. The Garden battle would not have been half as amazing if it had not been for his contributions. He was always there to lend me advice and chapter titles, and I can say in all honesty that he was the biggest influence on this storyline.

Aaron, The Gunblade Saga is as much your novelization as it is mine. I thank you from my heart.

Cesar Carranza (aka Kaiser-Kun): In the more recent months Cesar has become a great friend of mine, Aside from being a constant reviewer, he's given me great advice on my fanfiction and offered a great deal of support throughout the writing process. If there was any single reviewer who helped me the most on the road to finishing this, its you, Cesar. Gracias, mi amigo!

CJ (aka Prodigy): Prodigy, you are the man who made me want to write this thing. I'll state, here and now, that as a writer, you are better than me, and would likely have produced a work superior to mine if you'd had the time to write your story out. I'm going to keep a close eye on your work and give you my thoughts too, and I hope you can succeed as well

Robert Allen Salvatore: There has to be at least a few authors who inspired me to write, and R.A. Salvatore is the best of them. His incredible descriptions and top-notch battle scenes have directly and overwhelmingly influenced my writing, as well as his tales of swords and sorcery, and a well-known dark elf named Drizzt, a character so morally strong, honest, and good that I literally use him as my moral compass. Squall was heavily based off him in many respects, and I must say again, all of my writing has been directly influence by Salvatore's novels. Simply outstanding.

Darren "Edge" Shier (aka Daz Shier): Darren. One of the gods of FFVIII fanfiction, a writer who has also massively influenced me in my ability to write emotional sequences and make my writing just plain fun. An incredible author who can craft a story like no other. I cannot recommend him enough. He is simply that good.

Ashbear: Ashbear has played a major role influencing me as well. As an author, her descriptions and emotional scenes are evocative and gripping, and even more than Darren, made my ability to write emotional scenes grow and expand. She truly stands at the top of FFVIII fanfiction, and I have to thank her for all she's done and how it inspired me.

The RI Crew: All of them are amazing writers who put me to shame. Every one of these guys helped me improve my writing skills . . . Even if a few have an irrational dislike for FFVIII.

Gunnery Sergeant Jason P. Moffit, United States Marine Corps: Like hell he'll read this. :P Nonetheless, I need to cite my Gunny as a major influence on me, and thus, on my work. A real tough mo-fo, with the attitude to drive me and my fellow midshipmen in ROTC to get things done and get them done right and perfect, Gunny Moffit played a major role in shaping me as a man, and thus, shaping me as a writer. My special tribute to the Gunny is Colonel Randolph, modeled after his hardcore badass ways.

Lance Corporal Jason C. Myers, United States Marine Corps: One of my closest friends, a fellow writer, and a major influence on my writing as long as I've known him. A bit crazy, but definitely a true friend and an honest man if I can name one. He earns a mention here, both because of his friendship and the strength he has given me in following his example.

Bungie Studios: Because taking over the world is everyone's plan, but only they have the potential to succeed. And they made Halo, too, so that might have something to do with it.

Linkin Park: Because Mr. Hahn is a god, its just no one else has realized it yet.

Bolivian Flame Geckos: Because for some reason I felt like writing "Bolivian Flame Geckos" here.

Kohta Hirano: The insane perverted genius behind Hellsing. This guy is just . . . Weird, but very cool. Mad props to the man who invented Alucard.

Square: For making FFVIII in the first place. Without them, this never would have even begun.

And Most Importantly, and Cheesily, of All, You Guys. Every one of you crazy reviewers deserve my thanks for propelling me along my voyage to complete this. Thanks to all of you guys, from the depths of my heart. This story is for you guys, and all other fanfic authors out there.

And that's a wrap, people. The Gunblade Saga is now officially completed. Its been a great ride with all of you crazies, and I hope you stick with me in my future writing career. Who knows, I may publish something someday!

Until next story, whenever that may be!