When Quistis came to, she was completely unaware of where she was for a few moments. She stumbled to her feet in a frantic, confused panic before recognising the train cabin in an instant. The side of her head was throbbing; she lifted a hand up to it and felt cool, sticky, half-dry blood than ran all the way down her face and cheek. Then she realised something else – she couldn't see. She blinked, she waved a hand infront of her eyes, she closed and shut them tightly multiple times – but nothing seemed to work.
Just temporary blindness, she told herself firmly. She had partial vision, but the large percentage of her eyesight was blocked with what seemed to be a grey cloudy … substance, was it? It was extremely odd, but Quistis didn't have to worry about that right now.
"Squall?" she called out, groping the air infront of her helplessly, but coming into contact with nothing. She was embarrassed about how anxious her voice sounded.
"Squall?" she said again, even more shakily. Panting uncontrollably, she strained her ears to listen for any noise. All she could hear was the train clickety-clacketing gently along the track. But clutching onto a nearby chair and gathering her bearings, she noted that the train was moving in the opposite direction to what it had been before. It was heading back to Balamb.
When Squall came to, he was completely unaware of where he was also. Feeling very groggy, his head lolled on his chest, and he struggled to lift it up so he could take a look around. His neck ached like nothing he had felt before and the coolness on his back told him that he was sat against a wall. He gently slid down further and lay on his back against the floor, which was also cold, hard metal. Remembering his SeeD training, he came to the conclusion that his neck possibly had a strain or had been twisted somehow, and the best way to soothe this was to fly flat on one's back against a hard surface and rest until the pain subsided.
Squall's deep brown eyes flickered nervously around the mysterious room, but all he could see was bright lights shining down on him and some sort of control pad on the wall. The rest of the room was completely empty, and out of the corner of his eye he thought he could see some sort of door – with bars across it. A prison cell, obviously.
In Esthar? Squall thought to himself. The décor was certainly reminiscent of the country of Esthar, or at least the Esthar that Squall had last visited some 7 or 8 months ago, during the Ultimeca War. Being so technologically advanced, maybe the country had changed completely. Maybe not.
Quistis isn't here, was one of his early thoughts. His mind was spinning. Oh, Hyne … what's happened to her?
Odine … Doctor Odine, from Esthar … Bangles that can supress a Sorceress' powers … but Ellone's no Sorceress …
He rubbed his hands together through his black leather gloves, fidgeting like a nervous child, and he found it unusually soothing.
…Where are you, Quistis!
"Instructor Trepe! It's Instructor Trepe!"
Back at Balamb Garden, Selphie and Zell were hanging around the main foyer. Earlier that day, Xu had received a message from Squall requesting that she get Garden's mobility mechanism up and running. Then, minutes later, she had received a phone call from Balamb train station, informing her that a woman who said her name was Quistis Trepe came off a train from Esthar, and was in a very bad way.
Xu called Selphie and Zell, possibly the highest ranking people left in Garden other than herself, down to the foyer. Meanwhile, Xu herself hopped into a Garden vehicle and rushed to get Quistis. They had just appeared through the turnstiles when a crowd of concerned students leapt on them.
Students were gasping, clambering to get a look, and throwing each other worried glances.
"Look, here they are!" Selphie gasped and rushed forward, Zell following close behind.
Quistis had a huge wound on her head, and a bandage wrapped tightly around both her eyes. Xu, who now heaved up Quistis in her arms and carried her the way a groom carries a bride, looked relieved to see Zell and Selphie.
"Of all the times for Doctor Kadowaki to go on holiday!" Xu grunted under the weight. Quistis was groaning softly in pain. "And Squall's our only other qualified first aider! C'mon, you two. We'd better go to the Infirmary to see what we can do."
"What in Hyne's name happened!" Zell burst, as the trio strode along, Xu trying to shoo away the crowd of gathered students.
"I wish I knew," Xu sighed, turning sharply into an open-air corridor that would take the group into the Infirmary. "Something's not right. A sudden email from Squall asking me to get the Garden's mobility mechanism working, then mere seconds – seconds later – Quistis arrives back in Balamb in a train carriage that's been totally smashed up, and Squall's nowhere to be found."
There was an electronic woosh as the automatic door leading to the small medical room slid open. It closed behind the group of four, and Selphie thoughtfully entered a code onto the keypad beside the door that would lock it, and keep out the interfering students.
"Quistis, can you hear me?" Selphie asked softly, gripping one of Quistis' cold hands. Quistis groaned softly in reply, while Xu strode over to Dr Kadowaki's computer and began typing furiously.
"I'm going to see if I can contact Squall," she explained to the others. "Oh, I wish I knew what has happened."
"S'gotta be Ellone!" Zell suddenly slammed a fist onto his open hand. "If everything you said about Ellone is true, Xu-"
"Of course it is!" Xu barked.
"-Then it must be her!"
"Kidnap?" Selphie wondered aloud, raising to her feet, but keeping an anxious eye on the Instructor.
"The only one who really knows for sure," Xu began, looking up from the computer screen, "…is Quistis."
The three looked on her in silence.
"Train stopped," Quistis managed to croak, and her voice was hoarse. "…heard voices … Squall … arguing … Ellone."
"Gotcha!" Zell burst proudly, and Selphie hurriedly shushed him as Quistis tried to continue.
"Kidnap…" Quistis confirmed with difficulty. "She wants … Garden."
With this, the Instructor's head lolled on her chest and she fell unconscious.