For the longest time I've been wanting to work on a Final Fantasy VIII after-game fanfic that spans a wide-ranging, epic storyline. After reading Daz Shier's "The Omega" my desire to perform such an epic rose exponentially. I had been working on a fanfic for a long time, called "Foreshadow" with a long, epic storyline meshed in the politics and wars of the world of FFVIII, with its own characters and concepts, and after much work and constant revisions and changes, I finalized a plotline. There was only one catch:

A little thing called "The Gunblade Saga" that was annoyingly stealing all of my time.

Well, with the end of that story (save for my personal reflections) there's noting on my plate but Synthesis and a few minor projects. Synthesis is currently suffering from an almighty writer's block on my part, but my mind has been furiously working on and processing ideas for the now-defunct Foreshadow, and many ideas I had developed for that storyline are being incorporated here. This story draws upon dozens of sources, ranging from games such as Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Halo, and Guilty Gear to books such as R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms books and the Star Wars books (especially the X-Wing series), to movies and television shows such as 24, The Last Samurai, Chronicles of Riddick, and Lord of the Rings.

So, here, at long last, I've started on my Final Fantasy VIII epic. Wish me luck on this little venture, and hold on tight: its going to be one hell of a ride, hopefully.

Standard Issue Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VIII is the property of Squaresoft. All characters, locations, and concepts except for original creations belong to them.

The Blood of the Chimera: A Final Fantasy VIII Novel

Prologue: Meetings in the Twilight

His eyes roamed casually over the images, particles of light twisted and hardened into objects that hovered in the air. The flowing script was soothing, graceful, far superior to the blocky texts of the other nations. But then, that was always Esthar's advantage, wasn't it?

He scratched his chin, fingering the light goatee he had begun to grow on a whim a few days ago as he looked over the data. He reached a finger up and poked it into the hologram, and moved it, shifting the placement of the data icons within the screen. Several moments later, he opened two menus and scrolled through a folder, before finding the list of items he wanted. He double-tapped the selected folder and opened up the list of confidential files, intended exclusively for his eyes only. He selected the first file, and ran over the data with a slight smile. None of it was new, but he liked going over it, memorizing it. One could daresay he obsessed over it, but that was understandable, considering his position and his plans.

Bureau File Report # 33412

Name: Tilmitt, Selphie Mariana Avril

Age: 20

Height: 5' 1 ½"

Weight: 101 lbs.

Date of Birth: July 16, 3983

Eye Color: Green

Hair Color: Brown

Nationality/Ethnicity: Trabia/ Presumed Balambese

Profile: Currently a high-ranking SeeD of the Garden organization. Attached to Balamb Garden. Expert in wide range of magical manipulation skills such as magical enhancement, empowerment, duration extension, range modification, etc. Highly proficient in numerous combat support skills, such as demolitions, electronics intrusion and countermeasures, piloting, and operation of combat support vehicles, including tanks and long-range artillery. Current head pilot of Balamb Garden, has direct control and command over Estharian Ragnorok-class long range assault/transport vehicle.

While apparently frail and weak at first glance, the subject is extremely dangerous, especially if underestimated. Proficiency with wide range of combat skills and support skills renders her particularly dangerous if disregarded. Has significant political clout within both Balamb and Trabia Gardens, and marginal influence with Galbadia Garden. Traditional methods of control, such as hostage taking and terrorism, appear to have opposite the desired effect, making her especially aggressive. This can be used. However, individually, she is less of a threat that she is paired with allies.

Risk Assessment: B-

He nodded as he looked over the short, almost adorable girl in a traditional yellow sundress worn by most Trabians during the summer months. This picture was old, he knew, taken during the celebration three years ago. Such sloppy work. If they wanted up-to-date files, they had better keep good visual records of the subject. He opened the next file, already knowing that this one was directly connected to Tilmitt's.

Bureau File Report # 22712

Name: Kinneas, Irvine Victor

Age: 20

Height: 6'0"

Weight: 172 lbs

Date of Birth: November 24, 3983

Eye Color: Brown

Hair Color: Brown

Nationality/Ethnicity: Galbadia/Galbadian

Profile: Ranking sharpshooter in Garden organization. High-ranking SeeD. Originally attached to Galbadia Garden, is now part of Balamb Garden's force. Has extensive expertise in firearms of all types. Extremely accurate as well, even with unusual or automatic weapons. However, adheres to Galbadia Garden ethos concerning magic and Guardian Forces and refuses to use them, thus making him nothing more than a mere human being. However, was directly involved with the "Ultimecia" incident and thus has proven his skills are not to be taken lightly.

Fancies himself a ladies' man, but is in fact romantically attached to Selphie Tilmitt. This can be used. Currently has significant political clout with Galbadia and Balamb Gardens. Combined with his personal skills with firearms, this makes him a valid threat, but not high on the priority list.

Threat Assessment: C

Ah, of course. The cowboy. The knight of the Wild West, bursting into Galbadian saloons and gunning down the bad guys in the black hats. Only this one wore a black hat himself. This picture was more recent. He was shown on the streets of Balamb, and part of Tilmitt could be seen as well. That annoyed the man; surely his agents could do better with their surveillance. He opened the next file.

Bureau File Report #23166

Name: Dincht, Zell Adam

Age: 20

Height: 5'5"

Weight: 211 lbs.

Date of Birth: March 17, 3983

Eye Color: Blue

Hair Color: Blonde

Nationality/Ethnicity: Balamb/Balambese

Profile: Current master of hand-to-hand combat in Garden organization. Ranking SeeD. Specializes in hard fighting styles, wrestling, throws, and locks. Has exceptional strength, even for a SeeD; is capable of rending and damaging reinforced metal when junctioned. Uses strength as primary weapon; skills with magic are only average. Features unusual ability to bend time and attack at high speeds as his SeeD Limit Break technique.

Subject is extremely aggressive and hot-tempered. Will not hesitate to attack any threat, and is considered to be a loaded gun waiting to be pointed. However, presenting a distant threat to hostages or the Garden organization has been noted to give him pause and confusion. Highly unlikely to be manipulated beyond by brute force and direct threats. Best confused and then neutralized rather than directly manipulated. Physical prowess makes him extremely dangerous combatant in direct confrontation.

Threat assessment: A

The raging warrior, a brutal brawler who solves everything with his fists. The man nodded with the assessment. He was dangerous if left alone, but useful under the right circumstances. But it would indeed be best to just eliminate Dincht out of hand. The next file was of equal interest.

Bureau File Report # 34228

Name: Trepe, Quistis Miranda

Age: 21

Height: 5'6"

Weight: 136 lbs.

Date of Birth: October 4, 3982

Eye Color: Blue

Hair Color: Blonde

Nationality/Ethnicity: Balamb/Presumed Dollet

Profile: Second in command of Balamb Garden and ranking SeeD in Garden organization. High-ranking political leader of the organization, directly responsible for academics programs, missions, and part of the elite Garden circle that makes the important decisions. Extensive political clout over Garden organization and, to some extent, within Galbadia, Dollet, Timber, and Esthar as well. Skilled in close quarters combat, but best with magic. Manipulates magical energies learned from study of monsters, known as Blue Magic.

As a high-ranking Garden official, subject is knowledgeable about world events, both overt and very covert. Closely tied with international intelligence community, with contacts extending even to this office. Notable tendency to doubt self; can be used to paralyze Garden operations if need be. Political connections very important, and can quickly bring power in Garden to bear on any threat.

Threat assessment: A

Ah. The beautiful and talented Quistis Trepe. Quite the lady, he knew. He had seen her before, especially in a speech she had made during one of the SeeD inaugurations last year. She was one to keep an eye on. Intelligent, sharp, cunning, and beautiful . . . His kind of woman. The next file was of particular interest, recently updated.

Bureau Report # 36349

Name: Almasy, Seifer

Age: 21

Height: 6' 2"

Weight: 172 lbs.

Date of Birth: December 22, 3982

Eye Color: Gray

Hair Color: Blonde

Nationality/Ethnicity: Dollet/Dollet

Profile: An exceptionally deadly swordsman, master of the gunblade. Until recently was a freelance mercenary for hire following acquittal by Estharian and Galbadian officials on grounds of insanity. Previously head of Galbadian military three years ago. Skills with magic and gunblade are ranked in the top 1 of all armed combatants; skill is nearly flawless. Makes extensive use of martial arts, magic, and dirty combat techniques in conjunction with melee skills, making him unpredictable and unconventional in combat. Right hand is cybernetic.

Extremely aggressive and arrogant, subject is prone to diving headlong into combat situations, relying on sheer luck and skill to survive. Experienced and skilled at commanding and inspiring men, and expert battlefield tactician. Known for daring and bravado in battle. Independent and non-conformist; excellent as a lone operative or wild card.

Subject is currently apprehended and being held in covert Iceblood prison complex in Trabia. High danger associated with the subject means that permanent neutralization is a priority. Execution scheduled within the next week. Until executed, still represents a critical threat.

Threat Assessment: A+

The legendary knight and wild card agent. He honestly liked Almasy, which was bad for the mercenary-turned-convict. He only liked people who he wanted dead, or working for him. And speaking of those types of people . . . .

Bureau File Report # 38457

Name: Heartilly, Rinoa

Age: 20

Height: 5' 3 ½"

Weight: 103 lbs.

Date of Birth: March 3, 3983

Eye Color: Brown

Hair Color: Black

Nationality/Ethnicity: Galbadia/Galbadian

Profile: Currently the only known Sorceress in existence. Status is kept highly secret; only select members of world governments and Garden are aware of this. Attached to Balamb Garden as civilian employee, in charge of counseling and student relations, and has a part in negotiations. Moderately skilled in physical combat. Sorceress powers are steadily expanding, as is her control over them. Her magical prowess is not to be trifled with; subject is easily capable of inflicting widespread destruction with her powers.

Currently romantically attached to Garden Commander Squall Leonhart. Status as Sorceress only slightly strains relationship. Subject attempted to give birth to a child over two years ago, but child was stillborn. Unable to recover body for autopsy and analysis. Connections to Garden and national governments of Galbadia and Esthar make her political powers formidable, and her personal magical power as a Sorceress makes her even more formidable a threat. Treat with extreme caution.

Threat Assessment: S

Her. She was one of the keys, he knew. He would not ignore her, and in fact, she was critical. How else could he obtain true power without the aid of one who wielded the strength of a god?

And then, for the grand finale . . . .

Bureau Report # 27717

Name: Leonhart, Squall

Age: 20

Height: 5' 8"

Weight: 169 lbs.

Date of Birth: August 23, 3983

Eye Color: Blue

Hair Color: Brown

Nationality/Ethnicity: Balamb/Galbadian

Profile: Military commander of Balamb Garden. One of highest-ranking Garden officials. Has complete control over Garden military forces, with powers extending to all Gardens. Extensive political connections with Estharian, Galbadian, and Dollet national governments. Highly skilled with magic, and is considered to be the among the best swordsmen in the world. Close quarters combat skills unmatched. Proficient in wide range of vehicles, weapons, and firearms. Shows preternatural sense and awareness in battle, dubbed by some the "warrior incarnate." Direct relationship with Sorceress Rinoa makes him even more dangerous.

High degree of political connections and extreme combat prowess and power makes subject an extreme threat if tackled militarily. Has been known to defeat nearly any enemy he has faced in a direct engagement. Personal connections to world leaders gives him critical edge in military conflict, but also leaves him vulnerable to targeting hostages and terrorism. Combined political, personal, and combat prowess makes him an unmatched foe and extreme threat of the highest caliber.

Threat Assessment: S+

Him. One of the most dangerous men in the world, one could say. Leader of the deadliest military force on the planet, and considered to be the pinnacle of combat prowess at the tender age of twenty years old. Squall Leonhart. Son of the president of Esthar, leader of Garden, and close ally of Dollet and Galbadia. Such a man was not to be trifled with, at all, unless one knew precisely what they were doing.

But then again, the man mused, that was his job, wasn't it? To know what to do, when, and how, with backup plans, contingencies, and everything else conceivably required for any operation right down to the sizes of everyone involved's underpants.

The plan had been laid out. Nearly fifteen years of recovery and preparation. Another ten years prior to that of setting everything up under Adel's rule and then hiding out when that damned Galbadian Loire showed up and conned everyone out of the Presidency. Billions of gil spent to plan everything, on research, on troops, on propaganda, on bribes and purchases and even the occasional SeeD mission to keep things under wraps (what a delicious irony, he mused, when he considered that). The subtle positioning, the back alley assassinations, the manipulation of members of the government, the slow placement of officers of his agencies where he needed them . . . Twenty-five years of work, about to reach its culmination over the next week.

Such exciting times. And for everything to work, he needed this man, Leonhart, out of the picture. So many reasons to remove him, ranging from the political to the personal (he wouldn't like his girlfriend being the main target in the operation, after all) . . . all the way down to the most very basic reasons. Very basic, at the most simple building blocks of humankind.

"Brooding again?" came a call, from a dark, feminine voice. He looked up, smiling as he saw her walk in. No, walk wasn't the right word. Slink. She moved in with almost catlike grace and fluidity, moving across his darkened office like a shadow. He sat back in his chair, his grin wide.

"Its late, Illarra. Shouldn't you be off getting ready for your big day?"

"The plans are laid, everything is set," she replied casually walking closer to the light emitted from his holographic screen. "You should know that by now, Father."

The man frowned. He hated that word, in all honesty, and she knew it. For most people that word would have been spoken affectionately, but in her mouth "father" became a twisted insult to him, spat out with vindictiveness and a degree of disgust. So be it. He wasn't an angel, after all, and they both knew it. There were many things that drove the two to actually work together, but the one that was most important was . . . .

"Are you seriously ready to confront him?" he asked. "To speak to this man you both hardly know, yet know more intimately than any other human being?"

"I've been waiting for my whole life," she replied grimly, and by now he could see her features as she crossed into full view of the light. Beautiful, indeed, with full lips, a slender face, and brown hair, a shade darker than hisworn in almost the exact same style. Her lightly-built but powerful body was covered in clothes mimicking him as well: leather jacket with white fur collar, black pants, black fingerless gloves, and heavy black boots, matching his current outfit of choice. Her eyes were a dark, piercing blue, exactly like his - deliberately surgically enhanced to be darker than they naturally were.

In fact, were it not for her slightly lighter build, narrower and more feminine face, and distinctly female attributes, it would be hard to distinguish her from the man on his holographic screen.

"I work with you because you can help me dispose of him," he explained. "And you work with me solely because I give you the resources and support to deal with this man. I've never met him before, and if what we are planning is pulled off I never want to meet him in the future, if you somehow let him live. I have no stake in you game beyond that it gets rid of Leonhart. As long as he dies, I'm happy. You understand this?"

"Yes, Father," she replied, placing her hands on his desk. "And you must understand how hard it is for me to not gut you every time I see your face, if for no other reason than because seeing that face die will fill me with such satisfaction."

"I actually understand quite well," he replied, smiling and leaning back. "Its rather amusing seeing you struggle to retain your urges to kill me for my face. You want to kill him so badly you'd kill your own benefactor. Though the fact that I am your . . . father, so to speak . . . makes no difference to you, now does it?"

"None," she said, also smiling slightly. "But once I get done with him . . . you have no idea how much I want to hurt him. He's going to bleed and beg for mercy even before I lay a single cut into him."

"Yes, yes," the man replied, shaking his head. "I wouldn't want to be in his shoes once you start to tear into him. I understand such pent-up revenge desires. However, mine is with more than just Garden's Commander. Garden, the Loire administration, Cid Kramer, and Leonhart himself. You eliminate Leonhart and his bloodline, and let me have my revenge, and we'll all be very happy people by the end of the week."

"Because once he's dead," she responded, sneering. "There'll be no one who can stand against you."

"With one exception," answered the man, and Illarra nodded.

"Two, but the other one will be dead soon enough as well, if the guards can ever get around to killing him."

"Almasy is . . . stubborn," added the man, nodding to himself. "But he won't matter. In the end, none of it will matter once we deal with Leonhart and his Sorceress."

"Once I deal with Squall," she growled, and he nodded.

"Anything else?" he asked, and she shrugged.

"No," she replied. "The crews are ready in Fisherman's Horizon and aboard the aircraft. We'll be ready to strike when the time comes."

"Make sure that you are," he replied. "We screw this up and the whole world will be after our heads."

She shrugged again, as if it hardly mattered, and turned, sliding across the room toward the exit. The door slid open and she stepped out of the room, as silent as she had entered.

The man behind the desk sighed and ran a head through his brown hair, then chuckled. What a chance he'd taken in investing in his 'daughter'.

He ran back over the files again, nodding with each one. The key players would have to be accounted for, and that would be handled soon enough, he promised to himself.

When war came, he would be ready to reap the benefits. Esthar would reign supreme, as it should, and none would stand in their way. Not Galbadia, not Dollet, not Loire, and not Garden, it Sorceress, or its cursed Commander.

Laughter resounded in the pub on the west end of Clairmount Street, just north of the docks. Rock music sounded over the din of talking patrons, ranging from sailors to soldiers to policemen to criminals and everyone in between. There were toasts shouted in unison by groups of customers, drinking songs, and healthy bouts of laughter and amusement throughout the smoky, neon-lit pub at this early hour of the morning, before the sun had risen. Reggie's Bar and Grill had that tendency, and was one of the more popular haunts for many of Dollet's workers and sailors.

Nonetheless, there was a degree of privacy in all the noise and the crowds, as two figures sitting off to the side in a sheltered booth wide enough for ten men proved. One was short, with a scruffy beard that seemed to blow in windy drafts all around him without there ever being a breeze, his eyes a peculiar shade of purple. He sipped a thick mug of strong ale as he talked quietly with his partner.

"Been a while since you've walked the earth, mate," he said with a grin. "Thought you'd retired." He took a swig of the ale as his partner smiled.

"One doesn't retire in our line of business," he replied smoothly, with a cultured accent reminiscent of ancient Dollet royalty.

He was handsome, with clear skin, a narrow jaw line, and a short, closely trimmed mustache and beard matching his deep brown hair color. His eyes were dark blue, and quite intelligent and perceptive, taking in all around him actively. Beneath a long black dress coat he wore an immaculate white dress shirt, buttoned and with a long red tie, the end of which flared out like a cross. Fingerless black gloves wreathed his slender, dexteritous hands, which were still perfect and unblemished despite his many, many years of active living.

"Not with Hyne on the loose," laughed the other man, grinning as he set his mug down. "So, you going to tell me why you've called me here? Been a quiet few years, by my reckoning, even with the wars and all going on. Hasn't been an inkling of a major conflict in months now."

"Ah, but, there was a disturbance," the cultured figure responded, gesturing with a finger as if to remind his companion. "Three years ago. In . . . what is it they call it now?"

"Esthar," the other man responded, nodding, his beard waving in the air as he did so. "Aye. Centered there, in the Lunatic Pandora, before they sank it again."

"Temporal compression," the cultured man whispered. "Nasty stuff."

"You smell our old friend at work in this?" asked the bearded man cautiously, and the other nodded, furrowing his brow. He reached up and scratched his chin as the bearded figure took another swig from his mug.

"Patience is the name of the game with eternal entities," the cultured man said after several moments. "But that makes sense, doesn't it? We of all people should know that. Yet, like any being, when we close in on our goals, we get more and more aggressive and urgent to succeed. Even we are not immune to that pull."

"You think our friend caused it?" asked the bearded man, and the cultured figure nodded once more. He sat back, thinking to himself. His companion drank from the mug several times before he spoke once again.

"The plan failed, obviously," he stated, and his friend nodded as he drank again. "Acting too quickly, and giving the denizens of this period time to act against them. I suppose she made a mistake, coming back to this time period, when one considers all the event horizons intersecting at this juncture of existence. Temporal compression simply won't work in the future anymore, and she knows this. Which means . . . She's got to come up with a new plan."

"Who'd've thought bringing about the end of the world would be so hard?" asked the bearded man, chuckling. "You'd think that what with humans having Sorcery it would have been destroyed ten times over by now . . . At least!"

"That is the key to her plan, to be certain," the cultured speaker said with a knowing smile. "Sorcery is the key to everything. And only humans are unstable enough to be used with it to cause wide-scale annihilation. Clearly her plan revolves around humans and Sorcery."

"Well, we know who the powerful Sorceress are right now," the bearded man said, setting down his mug. He held out a hand, ticking names off on his fingers. "There's Edea Kramer, but her power is diminished with her passing of her abilities. She's potent, but her power ain't what it was before the war, that's for certain. Adel Harbringer is dead. Veronica Anderson is unaccounted for, but we know she's holed up in Trabia somewhere. And then there's Rinoa Heartilly. She's got the majority of the powers focused on her right now. Edea's powers, Adel's, and if rumor has it right, Ultimecia's too. Half-dozen minor ones, but Rinoa and Veronica are the ones we need to worry about. Rinoa especially."

"Hmm," the cultured man murmured, looking off into the center of the pub, thinking to himself.

"What do you have in mind?" asked the bearded man, taking his mug in hand again.

"SeeD," whispered the cultured man. "I see event horizons springing from Garden and SeeD in many directions. Strongest from the ones in charge at the moment. The 'destined few,' so to speak. She'll have her eyes on them, if not already. There are many lines and paths to follow in the coming days. It would be easy to turn the world on its head if one pushed in the right spot, with the international peace conference coming at Fisherman's Horizon tomorrow."

"She don't want to turn the world on its head," the bearded man reminded his friend. "You know what she wants: the end. She almost pulled it off with time compression too."

"Its' easier to destroy the world in strife," replied the cultured man. "I have no idea what she intends. But I can stop it if I know where to push myself."

"You headin' out?" asked the bearded man, and the other figure nodded, standing up, his tall frame towering over the booth as he picked up a wide-brimmed black hat and plopped it on his head.

"Fisherman's Horizon,' he replied. "Garden awaits an appointment, and I would like to meet the guardian of the day before I tread there first."

"Always a stickler for tradition," replied the bearded man. He raised his mug in salute. "Take care, and call me if you need my help."

"Until then, Ramuh," responded the cultured man, bowing formally to his friend.

"Aye, until we meet again, Alucard."

A/N: Like I said, its brand new, and has some ideas I'm really excited to get to working on. Its Foreshadow revamped, andI hope I can finish this story this time! Let me know what you think!