Disclaimer: I don't own any Final Fantasy VIII characters.

Note: I can't help but add a little more detail into the story by this point. Just force of habit I suppose. The minimalist style isn't very good for character development.

Chapter 3

That afternoon Seifer was sitting behind the large desk in his third floor office holding a cold compress against his eye. Quistis hadn't taken the news well at all.

A knock at the door disrupted the silence of the room and the blonde man lifted his head slowly.

"Come in."

A soldier marched in and halted on the other side of his desk. Saluting sharply, he kept his gaze straight ahead as he spoke.

"The ambassador from Esthar has arrived, Sir."

The Headmaster sighed and dropped the compress onto his desk. Black eye or no, schedules for negotiations were set in stone even if both parties already knew that a truce was impossible at this point.

"Fine. Tell the B1 guards that I'm expecting their report by six this evening. I want full accounts on each subject."

The soldier saluted once more and did an about face to exit the room just as quickly as he had entered. Obviously the Headmaster was in a mood.

Seifer pushed up from his desk and strode to the double doors. Being the ruler of pretty much everything he touched was a hard job most of the time, and it was also boring. There was no challenge in taking over small towns like Balamb and Winhill. Esthar would prove to be much more difficult.


Quistis struggled angrily against the binds that held her wrists and ankles. Her assault on the Galbadian Headmaster hadn't been taken lightly. Such a crime was only punishable by death. That's what she had partially been hoping for, but Seifer wouldn't even let the guards handle her too roughly.

On the other side of the bedroom, the two guardsmen sat in chairs beside each other and talked softly. Occasionally they would cast glances at her, then one would lean close and whisper something that would cause the other to laugh loudly.

Quistis narrowed her eyes. She couldn't even make the guards out real well because her glasses had been broken in Balamb's takeover. She had never been given another pair, and everything had been fuzzy and blurry since then.

She had to get out of there, no question about it. There was no way in Hell that she was going to be the mother of Seifer's children. She had been chosen for her extraordinary intelligence and it would be that same intelligence that would have to get her out of this mess. It was either that or she would die trying, and she had no problem with that.


"Prisoner number 57382. Selphie Tilmitt."

The guard approached the first cell door with clip board and pen in hand. His partner stepped from behind him to unlock the door and let both of them inside. In doing so, the first guard shifted up the edge of his helmet to see better in the darkness.

In the middle of the cell floor was a small, crumpled form.

"Same place we left her yesterday."

"I could never lie there on a dirty floor like that. I don't know how they do it."

The two men laughed as the first one stepped up to the form and shoved his boot against the side of it.

Selphie groaned as she was kicked over onto her back then nearly blinded when the guard shone a flash light right into her face.

The once cheerful young girl had gone through a massive transition since Balamb was destroyed. Her hair was significantly longer and her complexion had grown thin and pale below the healthy level. The old SeeD uniform that scarcely covered her atrophied body was tattered and stained with several assortments of bodily fluid ranging from blood to urine and even to sperm. The guards had taken turns with her for the first few weeks but it had lost its fun when she stopped screaming and gave up.

The guards remembered her as the one who would tell stories to the other prisoners to try and keep their minds off things. It had taken a while to break that optimistic spirit of hers, but now as the guard looked down into those unresponsive green eyes, it was safe to say that she had been emotionally and spiritually killed off.

"No change here. She ain't said anything for damn near two weeks," the first guard stated and wrote something down on the clipboard before walking back out from the cell.

The second guard followed him and locked the door behind them.

"We'll have to ask the Headmaster what to do about her. Who's next?"

"Prisoner number 31865. Zell Dincht."

The two guards rounded a corner and headed down an elongated corridor that had to have been a good thirty or so yards. At the end of it was a single door. The door was solid steel with a very small window near the top of it. Covering the window was a slider that the first guard pulled to the side to peer into the darkened hole.

The prisoner on the other side of the door was giggling softly to himself and the sound of something scraping could be heard. No one had actually seen the prisoner for months. Solitary confinement meant no contact with any other human being. The prisoner received his meals, and that was it. Over time the punishment had taken its toll. Legitimate, intelligent speech had slowly given way to mindless babbling and sporadic fits of screaming and laughing. Even if one day the prisoner was released, he would never be the same again.

"That's check enough for me," the first guard muttered and made a short scribble on his clip board before shutting the slider back over the window.

The next stop on the guards' list was a cell towards the other end of the jail. The cell wasn't like the others as it was not made of steel or bars. It was more of a large, transparent box.

"Prisoner number 74932. Rinoa Heartily."

Rinoa sat back against one side of the transparent enclosure. Just like all the others, she was scrawny and sullen. Her hair had been cut to a mere three inch length all around, and along her legs and forearms was a series of tubes and wires. Keeping a sorceress under control required special accommodations. She was kept sedated and her powers were neutralized by the anti-magic cell that held her. Galbadia had found great use of her as the perfect specimen to test which forces were and were not effective against her. The information they gathered would prove useful if ever another sorceress arose.

The guards approached the box and the second one tapped against the side of it. Rinoa lazily lifted her head. Her eyes had mostly drained of their color. Any blue that was left in them could have only been seen up close.

"This girl creeps me out," the first guard mumbled and shook his head.

"She sure was cute though. You see her? Before this I mean."

"Yep. No wonder the Headmaster had the hots for her."

Rinoa lifted her hand and extended her index finger outward towards the two, but no energy could form at the tip. Again the guard made a note on his clip board and the two moved on to the next section.

The cell around the corner from Rinoa's holding block wasn't quite as fancy. Simple steel bars, similar to Selphie's, but not quite as big. The figure inside was obviously masculine. Shackles around his wrists and ankles kept him secured to the wall behind him.

"Prisoner number 26319. Irvine.....Something." The guards laughed and the second one stepped forward to knock his baton against the cell bars. "Hey! Wake up!" When the prisoner gave no response the guard unlocked the door to let the first one inside. One chance to respond was all that a prisoner got to avoid punishment. Shifting his clipboard to one hand, the guard removed his electrical prod from its clip with the other. With a simple push he turned the prod on and jabbed it at the man's limp form. A shock jolted through the cowboy, but other than that he remained still. The guard stepped back and scratched his head.

"Hold on," the second guard spoke up and knelt beside the prisoner. He took his glove off the press his finger tips to the man's throat for moment, and then stood back up with a shake of his head. "Nope. He's gone."

"We'll have to tell the boss about this one. Wonder how long he's been dead?"

The clipboard guard noted something onto it and walked from the cell.

"Doesn't smell so it couldn't have been too long," the other guard replied and followed him out.

The two continued on, passing by the cell that had once held the blonde female prisoner, and headed to the last stop on their route. The cell was located on the opposite side of Rinoa's containment chamber and was kept in perfect view of it. The man inside was slouched against the far wall. Unlike the others, he still showed signs of life and emotion, or as much of it as he always had since they had him. His body had atrophied but his demeanor had not.

"Number 10036. Squall."

The guards paused some feet away from the cell. The first one shook his head and spoke.

"Can you believe that this guy was the Balamb Headmaster?"

Squall had his knees tucked up towards his chest. With the exception of a ratty white shirt, he had no other clothes to cover him. His hair had grown longer and he now sported a shaggy, unkempt beard. The floor and walls of his cell were spattered with blood, a small puddle of which he sat in now. He watched the guards steadily as they came forward, though he said nothing.

The first guard scribbled something onto his clip board and the other only shook his head.

"I can't believe he's still alive. By now I woulda killed myself if I were him."

"Yep. The boss is kinda sadistic."

"Did he say why we're keepin' these guys alive? They ain't doin' anything but takin' up space."

"Nope. The only one he had plans for was that blonde one," the first guard turned and retraced the hallway back to the head of the dungeon. The second guard strode up beside him.

"Oh yeah, her. What's he want her for?"

"He didn't say. Supposedly we weren't supposed to starve her or anything. Goldman and Padgett got canned for doing it."

"So that's what happened...Think she's dead?"

The men reached the entrance and walked single file up the stairs that would take them to the elevator. The first guard shrugged his shoulders.

"Who knows? But if she is, knowing how the boss is it probably won't be long before she'll wanna be."


Note: Please R&R. :) I'll try to have the next chapter up a little sooner this time.