Clash of the Gardens


Prologue

It was a shadowy day filled with ominous clouds in the skies above. The people of Timber were used to seeing these cloudy skies. They witnessed the recklessness of their unwelcome President Vinzer Deling, who had run their hometown for almost two decades now. It was a wonder he ruled for so many consecutive years.

Despite his longing control, there were many people who opposed living under his leadership. Most people of Timber gathered together and formed the Resistance Factions, but there were others that gave in the fight and accepted their harsh reality. Because Deling held the power of the military within his grasp and could order the destruction of Timber's people at anytime, more people eventually lost all hope.

As the years progressed, most of the older men and women no longer fought against his ruling, and had rather die in peace.

Finally after many long years of suffering, the youths of Timber recreated the Resistance Factions, disregarding the warnings of the elders, and had started plans for the Factions; however, the young members of these factions proved to be more intelligent than their elders, for they contacted outside sources to help battle off the President and his minions. They sought freedom, but only wanted to obtain freedom through peace talks, but in the end, it was impossible to stand up to the Galbadian Military alone.

With such a vast military under his rule, Deling was able to conquer most of the western continent. Because he was such a greedy president, he sought to gain control over the entire western continent, but failed to conquer the city of Dollet, which was a harbor town belonging to a chain of Harbor Cities under Balamb's protection. Dollet had signed a contract with Balamb many years before the President had been elected, and the town has never regretted belonging to Balamb.

Balamb City, located on the central continent, had recently lost a war to Esthar, which in result forced Balamb to give Esthar full control of Fisherman's Horizon, another one of the Harbor Cities. Since then, Esthar has been able to safely transport its citizens and goods with trains back and forth from the western continent to their home on the eastern region of the ocean.

President Deling wishes only to take control of every town located on western continent, and to make those who did not live in Deling City, which is his hometown, slaves to his master plan of building constructions throughout Galbadia's glorious lands. Citizens of those cities were ordered to remain stationary, and if any person went against these orders, they would be downsized.

Now, the New Faction Alliances decided to contact one of the Garden Facilities for help. There were three Gardens to choose from at the time; one Garden was deeply associated with the Galbadian Military, Galbadia Garden, it would be a waste of time to contact them, and because Balamb had recently ended its war against Esthar, they felt that during these times the Garden would need rest. The only obvious Garden left to contact was Trabia Garden, and though it is located miles away from Timber, it was as reliable as contacting Balamb.



After the decision to ask for Trabia's assistance, the Factions prepared a secret meeting with Trabia's Headmaster who had personally promised to help their desperate situation. The Factions were overjoyed and could not believe the successfulness of their achievement. For the first time, outsiders had offered to aid in their struggle. The people agreed to meet at Pub in Timber called the Aurora. The day of their meeting approached quickly.

With their nervousness contained, the young faction members secretly guided the Headmaster to the Pub. They managed to get the man inside and sat him down quickly. He looked around the room first and took a deep breath.

"Whom is your leader, or leaders? Tell me, what have you prepared to say to Deling? How will you persuade him to release you from under his governmental control?"

"First off, I'm Zone, and that's Watts!" The brunette pointed to a young gentleman wearing a blue cap and continued, "Deling doesn't care about our health, poverty is growing by the minute, and there is no way to get a job with these soldiers breathing down our backs; and let's not forget about the pollution." The young man leaned in closely to the Headmaster, seriousness burning fiercely within his eyes, "Rumor has it that he's planning to build more to Timber, but nothing of our favor, more like our deaths. He's going to build factories!"

"Yes, I believe I've heard about that. He's building a factory to supply you all with jobs, though it is only a scam to silence your complaints." The Headmaster spoke with a sigh.

"Precisely. But that factory will cause even more pollution than we have now--"

"And, quite frankly, we can't take it anymore!" Watts finished Zone's words.

"I understand exactly." The headmaster said with a nod. " If the President doesn't agree with you all, then my forces will need to take action, indeed. In case it leads to violence, please know that Trabia Garden will stand behind to give a helping hand."

"Thank you. We really appreciate you giving us your time. From all of us at Timber 's Factions, we thank you." Excitedly, Zone rose from his seat and copied the SeeD salute.

"It is no problem at all. I will write up a contract and send it to you, A.S.A.P. Does that sound good?"

"It's very good, sir. Thanks!" Watts said, with more enthusiasm than Zone.
The Headmaster nodded and stood from his seat. He saluted the Faction Members with a personalized Garden SeeD salute. With the exchange of honor, each man took in the responsibility of a thousand lives at his hands. Suddenly, a woman's scream in an attempt to get away from her attacker, resounded throughout the town of Timber.

"Galbadians!" Another person called out. In an instant, everyone stood to their feet and ran out to help. Galbadian soldiers rushed through Timber and slaughtered those who posed a threat to them. The Headmaster looked around for his personal SeeD and saw them lending a helping hand to the citizens. He found himself sighing in relief as his men fought for the people with dignity and loyalty by his side. Seeing his fighting men, he decided to join them, and help to drive out the Galbadian soldiers; however, before he could move to draw his weapon, there was a gunshot fired. His vision blurred as he knelt down to the ground. He had been shot in the back of his neck and was beginning to bleed excessively. One of his men turned around and saw him kneeling on the ground.

"No!" He shouted and ran to him, but was shot by the same soldier. The second SeeD looked at her fallen comrades and managed to escape the Galbadian's wrath unseen. With the Resistance Factions still battling the Soldiers, no one noticed or even heard the great swooshing sounds from above.

"Pull back, Men! Pull back!" The Captain of the Galbadian Soldiers called out.

"Sir! She's not here!" A lower ranked Soldier cried to the captain wearing his brown coat and a sinister face. He held a razor edged weapon known as the Gunblade, which had been known to be the last thing many men saw within their last moments of life.

"Forget about her, she probably knew we were coming! Let's go!" He yelled as he ran and led the men outside of Timber. They ran onto the hills and plains surrounding the polluted town.

Only those civilians who survived the attack remained with their mere tools of weapons. Few of them laughed at the forces that were retreating. They had begun to celebrate until one person looked up and saw missiles in the sky headed directly to Timber. The people screamed and panicked, but it was too late. When the missiles hit, it looked as if they had bounced off the ground and flew straight into the sky, but only to fall right back down with a great explosion. Those who were too scared to run had stood in one spot, watched the missiles gracefully fly up, but point their noses to the ground and fall. One missile was targeted at the pub, and the other to Timber Maniacs. These were targeted as suspected meeting points between the Headmaster of Trabia and the Faction Members.

The buildings exploded and came crashing down. Pieces of brick, metal, and glass flew everywhere. Most of the people were hit and hardly any of them survived with out so much as a scratch. The Galbadians watched the people of Timber rise and fall together in one day. The Captain of the troops watched with a wicked smile on his face. He looked at the men while running a hand through his blonde hair, and gestured them with the same hand, to move out. Together, they would head back to Galbadia and bring their leader the good news: Trabia Garden's Headmaster and the Factions were finished.

The SeeD from Trabia managed to hide herself carefully amongst the hills of Timber. She watched as the Galbadians left in their vehicles and slowly, while in an orderly fashion, headed out to Galbadia Garden. Her heart went out to the people of Timber, but she needed to get back to Trabia and deliver the terrible news.


Days after the incident, things began to go out of control. Trabia's SeeDs were outraged at the lost of their Headmaster. It was now up to the newest leader, the Highest Ranking Officer, to take control. It was he that declared war on Galbadia, not because of Timber, and not because of all those people of Timber had died. It was because they had lost the leader and father figure of Trabia Garden.

Galbadia agreed that war was the best solution. Confident of his victory, Deling thought it would be a great idea to take over the icy northern continent of Trabia Garden as well. The old man smiled and looked at the X marked over Timber. He didn't want the entire city destroyed, but he did want most of the population to decrease. Timber was made up of mostly Resistance Members anyway, so just how much of a big lost would it be? The old man had chuckled to himself and took a seat behind his desk, sighing in satisfaction, "Yes, things are going to change around here. Things will go my way, as planned."

He smiled and looked at the map on his desk. Anyone with as much power as himself would have a smile as bright as the sun, also. But he wanted the entire western continent; he wanted everything. His greediness was beginning to show whilst he looked at the places that weren't his. He could count the towns that obeyed his orders on one hand, though still too little for him. He looked down at the map, and his eyes fell on Dollet. Oh how he wished he could have Dollet.

"Dollet's harbor! There are money opportunities all over that town. Shipping and trading goods, boat rides, and that luxury hotel that I've stayed in a few times; yes, it could all be mine. Dollet is the last piece of this continent…" He sat back in his cushioned chair and sighed, "But it is under the protection of Balamb. If I approach Dollet, then Balamb will strike." He looked around the room as if searching for inspiration. A few moments later, he licked his lips and smiled, "…Balamb's forces have been weakened due to the battle against Esthar. …Ah…it's about time." The President smiled to himself and picked up a piece of paper. He would begin his letter of a new proposal to his General, and those who stood of great powers in Galbadia's Alliances.

Only two days after the President wrote his letter, Balamb received a notice from Galbadia. Galbadia had declared war on Balamb over the rights to Dollet. The Headmaster of Balamb was stunned, and could not reply to the letter that was sent to him so quickly. He sighed at the sad news, and could only find himself thinking: More lives lost.

Balamb had suffered a considerable amount of damage, and were in no shape to handle a war; however, the headmaster knew he could not let the people of Dollet down. He sighed once again and looked down at the slip he received from Galbadia once more.

He rose from his desk and walked to the window of his office. From upstairs, he could see his SeeDs, no, his students on their daily routine. Some had just gotten over the lost of their friends from the previous war.

One year had passed since the war of rights to Fisherman's Horizon between Balamb and Esthar. Even then the Headmaster did not wish to wage war, but it was needed, seeing that their president was desperate for settlement. To avoid the peace at all costs, he wondered what kind of man could run that country. So many people were injured and many lives were lost. The old man stood in front of his window, looking down upon his Garden with a sad face.

How am I going to tell them? He thought to himself. Just then, the doors opened and in walked a young woman with short brown hair. She was the head of SeeD, the Commander of Operations. The Headmaster turned around quickly and faked a smile.

"Xu, good to see you."

"Good Morning, sir."

"What have you got?" He motioned his face toward the papers in her hands.

"Here are the latest reports from those SeeDs you sent over to Dollet yesterday." She handed him the papers with a smile, a smile he felt so terrible to break the horrible news to. She noticed the paper lying on his desk and became anxious to know what it was about. She tilted her head toward the paper and asked, "Sir? What did you receive from Galbadia?"

His eyes quickly went from the papers in his hands, to her eyes. She was surprised to see how frightened his eyes had become. She backed away slowly.

"Is it something I'm not supposed to know?"

"No, actually, its something for us all." He took a deep breath and looked at her, "Xu, Galbadia wants us to hand over Dollet, and if we don't…they demand war to settle this matter."

"War?" She looked at the floor and sighed, "Sir, this is terrible. I must inform the others immediately."

"You needn't worrying about that, I'll tell them over the intercom. Gather those whose ranks are above twenty-five for me."
"Yes, sir."

"And, Xu?" He added on.

"Yes?"

"Please call Squall Leonhart to my office, immediately."

"But sir, he's been suspended for the last two months."

"I'm fully aware of that. I was responsible for his suspension. I've looked over these reports from Dollet by the SeeD I sent out before the others, and there's something here that's haunting me."
"I understand. I'll get right onto my assignment, sir." She saluted him.

"All right, dismissed." He nodded.

She walked out of his office, a thousand thoughts running through her mind.

How in the world can he just give that guy orders? If he's worried about the people's lives, Squall is the last person I'd ever him expect to send out. I thought I was in charge of SeeD around here? What does the headmaster see in him?

She sighed in disgust and called those whose ranks were twenty-five and above. Among them was a tall blonde woman with a whip folded on her side. She was quiet while standing in line. As Xu looked around at the SeeDs who had gathered and began to count them up, she and this woman constantly exchanged glances. Xu ordered them to state their names and ID numbers while she copied them down. Xu had gotten to the blonde and nodded her head when she was ready for the woman to speak. Xu smirked and wrote on the pad while saying silently, "Quistis." Quistis couldn't help but smile as she called out her ID number. After the roll call, Xu and Quistis met up and talked.

"Xu, what's going on?"

"The Headmaster hasn't decided yet, but we may be getting ready for war against Galbadia." Xu was careful as she spoke, constantly looking around in case someone had been listening in. Quistis' heart almost stopped and she faced Xu.

"Are you serious?"

"Of course, but you can't say anything." Xu waved her hand.

"This is horrible…" Quistis sighed and looked at the floor while folding her arms, "One battle after the other. It seems like we're never finished."

"We have to be prepared for anything."

"Understood, but I only hope our forces can manage this stress."

"I agree. Our forces--oh wait, I have one more thing to do. I'll talk to you later, Quistis."

"…Alright, Xu."


Xu walked quickly to the dormitories of Balamb Garden and headed through the halls. Finally she came across his door and knocked hard.

"Squall." She said as she knocked. She banged on the door this time, "Leonhart, open up! That's an order!" Xu became angry and waited a few more seconds, but Squall wasn't in his room. He had been training in the Training Center ever since he was suspended.

Even after all that time had passed, Squall was still angry because he wasn't able to participate in any missions. The Training Center had become his new mission, and he would train until the day he became eligible to go out into the field again. Squall was suspended before because he disobeyed orders. He was only supposed to eliminate one target, but instead, wiped out the entire group.

A SeeD request slip came in from Dollet, stating that their had been a group of thieves whose hideout sat right outside of town. The people couldn't fight them off, and were threatened by the explosives this group owned. Squall was given the order to take out the culprit. When he observed the group for himself, he noticed that there was another man whose position seemed to be right under the leader. Squall knew that even if he had taken out their leader, the crimes would continue in the near future. The only option he had was to eliminate the two men. The others looked like cowards anyway, but as Squall attacked them, he was surprised to see how strong the men actually were.

Out of defense, Squall exterminated the leader and his gang; however, he was suspended for disobeying his orders. He could have been released, but the Headmaster showed some compassion for the young SeeD and made things easier on him. Squall was in the midst of slaughtering the creatures within the Training Center when Xu had interrupted him. She was quiet for a second, and he saw her through the corner of his eye. She cleared her throat before beginning to give him his orders. Squall sheathed his gunblade and turned to her, giving her his full attention.

"Headmaster Cid wishes to speak with you in his office right away." As soon as she had spoken, Squall nodded and walked passed her. He was known for being quiet within the garden, but most of those who had worked with him in the past, knew how he could be whilst on the battlefield. He was the best field SeeD during the war against Esthar. All of the troops seemed to follow his lead though he was never in full charge. Squall had earned respect throughout the Garden, but never allowed anyone to praise him. He disliked having people applaud his skills, and whether they believed it or not, Squall only thought of the war with his comrades, as one; his only concern was beating the enemy. Being a SeeD was his life; the wars and battles weren't a race for fame, but a struggle of victory and power.

Squall arrived in the Headmaster's office and looked at the old man. Headmaster Cid smiled and nodded his head, their silent salutations were understood. Cid cleared his throat and looked at Squall, "…How do you feel?"
"Never been better."

"Had a good break?" Squall simply nodded to his question. "Good. Squall, here is the situation…I have received a SeeDs' letter from Dollet, which states that Timber has been hit by missiles from the only place on Gaia with Missiles. Many people have been injured or annihilated." Cid stopped to take a breath before speaking again. He was not surprised to see that Squall's face had not changed. It remained as blank as it were when he first arrived in the room. He grunted before continuing to speak, "The SeeD has asked for our assistance. There have been some Galbadian troops still in Timber, and I want you to take care of them. Everyone is suspecting that Galbadia must be looking for something in Timber because the soldiers are keeping a careful watch on the surviving citizens." He took a deep breath, "You're to head to Timber, find out what Galbadia is up to, and rid the town of the few soldiers that remain. Understand?"

"Understood. Sir, I have a question."

"Sure."

"Why would Galbadia strike Timber? Isn't it a part of their associates? And also, are there others who are accompanying me? What about the SeeD who called in?"

"There are many Resistance Factions living within Timber, perhaps that was a reason to launch the attack. As far as forming a team, that would only happen if you want others to go with you to Timber."

"No sir, I can handle this mission alone."

"I knew you would prefer it that way, that's why I didn't bother to ask you, Squall." Cid joked with the young SeeD. "However, I would prefer you make sure the SeeD stationed in Dollet is safe."

"Yes, sir."

"Be careful out there, Leonhart." Squall only saluted the Headmaster and headed to the exit. Cid sighed and took a seat at his desk as he thought to himself once more. Another war.


Author's Corner:

Yes, I know…I just finished this story, but because a few people suggested it…I figured I'd go through and separate the chapters. I don't want anyone to develop some sort of eye cancer because of this lengthy story, so now…I have managed to separate it to the best of my abilities and corrected some things that needed changing. I apologize to anyone who might have been in the midst of this story, but I will have you know that it will return…quite possibly, better than it was before.

Now to those of you who asked me to shorten it a bit, I now ask that you speak out and let me know if this is okay. I really mean it.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed before, and thanks to those of you who will review.

Stardust Ray.

BTW: I didn't think people tried to read all that before in one day…Geez, it was a lot to read! Anyway, review me please. : )