Welcome to Dimensional Legend. I decided a bit of a foreword was in order this time, because this story is on a whole different playing field than the previous two in this trilogy. Most of the storyline from this story comes from a series of roleplaying events with fellow authors Iron Reaver and Daniel Wesley Rydell, combining the world of Final Fantasy VIII with some of the main cast from Final Fantasy X / X-2, as well as many other characters created especially for the story. The occasional bit of story comes from my own mind, in order to fill in the few inconsistencies we left while doing so.

The main reason that this story differs so much from my other two is simple - larger scope. Along with that, liberties had to be taken with things such as combat, magic systems, etc., in order to make the story more of a story and less of an exercise in game mechanics. Obviously, applying RPG mechanics and numerical values to characters doesn't work very well for purposes of a story, so we tried to find a middle ground in terms of "logical and reasonable" while still attempting to tie in the original mechanics in other ways. For instance, certain spells in this story have varying power levels, and most of the "good guys" in this story will make full use of their power by amplifying their spells to deal more damage through expending more Mana, using magic that didn't necessarily exist in the actual game, even creating new skills and spells through their own experiences. If this were a game, the reason for these changes would be simple - a lot of the major enemies were very powerful. Some were less powerful, but had combinations of abilities that made them difficult to deal with or had some non-combat advantage over the heroes. In anything such as this, there are bound to be inconsistencies in things, but we tried to work most of them out as best we could, though I still expect to find them as I continue writing the story.

In terms of story, there are a vast amount of things that have been explained, altered, and generally changed to make a coherent storyline. Trabia Garden, for those of you who know Final Fantasy VIII, was destroyed by a missile attack. In this story, it has since been rebuilt, and serves as more than just a typical Garden, as you'll see. Characters that didn't necessarily have last names in-game were given them for aesthetic and story purposes. The Final Fantasy VIII characters do show up occasionally, but most of the story will focus around Ben, some of the Final Fantasy X-2 gang, and many other characters created by us. When I say "many," I mean it; if my memory serves, Iron Reaver alone played over 40 different characters over the course of the roleplaying, as well as occasional typical characters such as Yuna or Rikku. Daniel Wesley Rydell played the fewest, but overall was more skilled at it than either of us. For a brief rundown, here are most of (I'll not say all, mostly because I likely won't remember them all) the characters that the three of us played over the course of the story.

Iron Reaver: Raj Ahten, Rubedo Alaberti, Onimaru Balthas, Andréa Beoulve, Ein Beoulve, Etchel Beoulve, Silvia Conrad, Zeo Conrad, Katal Corelia, Darius DeValle Jr., Darius DeValle Sr., Katanas DeValle, Revolver DeValle, Anita Drake, Frosty, Aiva Furello (shared with Daniel Wesley Rydell), Lindsey Geneave, R'shiel Harru, Miyuki Itsumi (shared with Daniel Wesley Rydell), Lancer, Leon Masters, Mystique, Ellie Night, Albel Nox, Odin (shared with myself), Ricard Sable, Seeker, Dealen Tormin, Jaden Tsiolkovskyi, Liou Valetti, Dmitri Yuriev.

Nightfire04: Benji Powell, Yuna Kaname (shared with Iron Reaver and Daniel Wesley Rydell), Rikku Katsuragi, Paine Zaraki, Shuyin Mishima, Lenne Kaibara, Tidus Kuroda, Tetsuya Kurabasa, Uriko Kurabasa, Yuki Kurabasa, Freya Vanadis, Xeios, Kisara.

Daniel Wesley Rydell: Liam Bayloh (Angel) / Angelus, Fayt (shared with Iron Reaver), Destine, Will, Locke Cole, Arragious Nicholai, Kitaras Nicholai, Sarek Matthews, Laguna Loire, Maya D'Angelo, Cid Kramer, Squall Leonhart.

You'll notice a lot of references to television shows, other video games, and generally an assortment of random other things that you may have seen in other places. This was typically deliberate (there were occasions where we wouldn't realize we had made a reference until after the fact, strangely), as a lot of our ideas and characters were inspired from other games and shows. There are a huge list of things that influenced the making of this story, including Valkyrie Profile, Final Fantasy VI through X-2 / XI / Tactics, the television show Angel, the Star Ocean series, Full Metal Alchemist, Armored Core, Star Wars, Bleach, Riviera: The Promised Land, the .hack series, and more. These things, among others, influenced a lot of the terms, characters, events, and other things that you might see. Full Metal Alchemist, especially, was a major influence on things for most of the story, as was Bleach, especially during later parts of the story.

For the most part, this story has a serious feel to it, but there are quite a few jokes and humorous moments to balance it out, most of which were made at my expense. My co-authors spent most of their time each attempting to outwit the other, which is where most of the plot itself comes from - my part was more character-driven, explaining interactions and nuances of the story that needed it. This story, like the others, will be rated T, but I'll say in advance that there may be certain events and parts that get graphic. There may or may not be, as it'll likely only be decided while I'm writing it, but consider yourself forewarned. Another note - this story will likely be long. Very long - likely a hundred or more chapters long. Chapter titles will follow this format in the navigation bar:

Book, Part, Chapter: Chapter Title

A typical entry may look something like this, therefore.

I, II, IV: Title

So, if you think you will enjoy it and have an interest in seeing it...then read on. I'll do my best to tell the story as we created it.

~ Nightfire04

Final Fantasy VIII: Dimensional Legend

Book I, Part I: Mortal Conflict - A Hero's Challenge

Chapter I: March For Glory

[Luca, Luca Stadium]

Luca Stadium.

The entire arena is packed with people, here for the first major fighting tournament to be held here. The blitzball season is over, and the circular sphere pool has been moved somehow, making the entire area one big, flat surface, except for a platform at the very back. A podium is standing on the middle of the platform, and several enormous sphere screens are situated around the now-closed ceiling of the stadium. Silently, our group files in through the entrance, and I hand several papers and 8000 Gil to one of the attendants, who ushers us ahead into the stadium.

"Look at all these people...there must be tens of thousands here to watch!" Rikku exclaims.

"Well, it is a fighting tournament. You know people can't resist watching a competition like this," I comment, chuckling.

"Are you scared?" Yuna asks, causing me to shake my head.

"Hardly anything scares me now. I can handle whatever these guys throw at me," I say with confidence.

"Just don't get in over your head," Paine says from behind us.

"I wouldn't really class anything that we've been through in the past year or so 'something we could handle,' you know," I retort, smiling.

"Gotta agree with him on that one," Tidus chimes in from beside me. "From what you guys told me, it sounds like you went through a whole lot."

"You have no idea," Rikku says, sighing. Glancing around, I take a look at the rest of our small group. Wakka and Lulu haven't said anything, electing to merely examine the surroundings, as are Shuyin and Lenne. The latter two seem almost awed at the surroundings, though Shuyin is doing a good job of hiding his amazement. Ahead of me, I can see several figures standing on the platform, fellow fighters who arrived before me.

"I can't wait," I murmur, turning to the rest of group. "I'm going to head over to the other fighters. Wish me luck."

"Good luck!" Rikku says, kissing me quickly on the cheek.

"We'll be cheering for you," Yuna says.

"Ah, this thing's as good as mine!" I say, grinning. "Just leave it to me!" Giving them a thumbs-up, I begin to walk over to the platform to stand with the other fighters. Dressed in the blue and white garb of my Blade Knight dressphere, I stand out a bit more than the other fighters. I have Shinra to thank for that, really. He finally finished a Garment Grid that he claimed was the best of them all. Infinity. It lets all of us change to our special dresspheres whenever we like. Guess he figured we needed it, since we seem to get ourselves into trouble all the time.

"Hey, look at this...I didn't know they let children into this thing," a blond-haired fighter says, smirking at me as I approach. The fighter in question is a brute of a man, easily six feet tall and more than twice my size. Looks to be a martial artist of some sort, as I don't see any weapons on his person, but I can't quite tell. Striding up to the man, I look him dead into the eyes, the expression on my face as cold as the void of space.

"And I think you should refrain from mocking me, lest you eat your words later in the tournament," I say calmly, causing the fighter to scoff.

"And you're going to make me? Please."

"Your funeral," I say simply, walking over to stand on one side of the platform. I can hear a few of the fighters whispering things, but I tune them out, closing my eyes and beginning to go into a sort of relaxation in order to prepare. Other fighters begin to join us moments later, the number of fighters steadily increasing from a mere dozen or so to over forty, continuing to increase as still more fighters join. Finally, the count of fighters stops at a tally of sixty-four, and I smile, knowing that these are the toughest fighters that Spira has to offer.

Looking around the stadium, the entire crowd suddenly erupts into cheers as a man walks out, the arena going dim for an instant as a series of spotlights shine down on the podium and platform we're standing on. The man steps up to the podium, adjusting a microphone before beginning to speak, his voice echoing all around the stadium.

"Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the first annual Spiran Fighters Association Grand Championship!"

With those first words from the announcer, the crowd bursts into another round of cheers, the announcer waiting until the noises dies down before continuing.

"We welcome all the fighters who have decided to participate in the first of these grand events! Now, before we begin, I shall explain the rules of the championship. The tournament will be divided into 32 pairs of fighters and set into brackets, meaning that a fighter will have to win 5 fights to advance to the final round. There, a final fight will decide the grand champion. The winner of the tournament shall receive a grand total of five hundred thousand Gil!"

Inwardly, I whistle, noting the very large sum of money that I'm now fighting for. I can hear faint murmurs from the fighters standing beside me, but they are quickly drowned out by the roar of the crowd, the applause slowly settling down to allow the announcer to continue.

"The rules for the fights are as follows. Any attacks, spells, and weapons are allowed, except for healing magic. The audience is shielded by a barrier that prevents any energy from getting through, so you should have no fear of using your most powerful attacks. Items are not allowed, neither healing items nor attack. If a fighter is knocked down and does not respond by the end of a count of ten, the fighter has lost. In the event of a fighter's death, which we hope will not happen, we have a team ready that specializes in revival magic, so do not worry. That fighter will have lost the round, however. Any questions from the fighters?"

Almost as one, all of us shake our heads 'no'. We completely understand the rules, it seems, and most of us even seem eager to begin. Myself included, as a matter of fact.

"If there are no questions, then I shall direct your attention to the screen above," the announcer says, pointing to the top of the stadium. A large sphere screen is suspended there, and on it, we can see the names of all 64 fighters that have entered. A large bracket system is also set up, and I watch intently as names begin to fill the brackets, the announcer calling out each match-up as it is set.

"Number 7, Benji Powell, versus number 20, Catherine Stone!"

I snap back into reality as my name is called, glancing around the line of fighters to see if I can spot my opponent. As it is at the moment, I can't, and so I simply resume staring up at the screen, watching the match-ups closely. The adrenaline rush from simply being in proximity to what could possibly be the toughest fighters in Spira is overwhelming. I'm quite eager to see how I stand against some of the best fighters from around the world. The match-ups continue to be announced, until all 32 match-ups are finally decided.

"All of the match-ups have now been announced! The first annual SFA Grand Championship will now commence! Best of luck to all our fighters, and may the best fighter win!"

With those closing words, the announcer walks down from the podium, followed by thunderous applause and cheers from the gathered crowd. All of the fighters, myself included, begin to walk to a room in the back of the stadium, the waiting area of sorts. A large screen has been set up in the room, showing the outside so that we may watch the matches. I can hear the announcer call the first two fighters out, and I sit down in the room, staring up at the sphere screen in order to see what I might be up against.

A few minutes later, I have my answer. The fight was brutal. The two fighters seemed to be evenly matched at first, one fighter relying on magical attacks, the other using a bow with their attacks to devastating effects. The final strike came when the archer cast a Firaga, causing the mage to slam a hand into the ground, a Blizzaga sprouting from the ground as a wall of ice to block the attack. The mage then cast Ultima, blowing the archer off his feet to land unconscious on the ground a few meters away.

"Impressive," I mutter, looking up at the screen and watching the announcer declare the winner.

"Ah, you haven't seen me fight yet!" one of the fighters boasts, causing a girl standing beside him to hit him over the head.

"Just shut up, Jacob," a girl says, causing him to chuckle.

"You never let me have any fun, sis," he retorts, grinning. The girl just rolls her eyes, returning to staring at the screen with an apathetic look on her face. Another fight has nearly gone by in the time it took the two of them to finish their small argument, the referee counting out a fighter. The referee finally reaches ten, the fighter unable to pull himself back to his feet, and the referee holds an arm up, signaling the end of the fight.

"That was awfully..."

"Quick?" the girl finishes, looking over at me. "I'd expect nothing less from a tournament of this caliber. If you aren't prepared, you're gone. No questions asked. No one here will show mercy on you. There's no room for that in a tournament like this, because this is to prove who's the best. If you can't handle it, give up now."

"I never said I couldn't handle it," I reply defensively. "I think you're jumping to conclusions about me. First off, I've been in my share of fights. Secondly, I don't think I've ever seen a fight that short, nor that brutal. Just because I'm a bit surprised doesn't mean I'm scared. And if you're in this tournament, you should already know...underestimating people leads to defeat."

"Touche," she replies, folding her arms.

"Will fighter number 7 and fighter number 20 please report to the arena? Your match is set to begin now," the announcer calls over the speakers.

"Time for my first fight..." I mutter, standing up and beginning to head towards the door.

"Scared?" the girl asks, beginning to follow me out.

"You wish," I say, smirking and beginning to head down the hallway to the arena.

This opening was one of the things that I created for the story itself; initially, we had started the story in the world of Final Fantasy VIII, Gaia, and I felt that a bridge of sorts between the last story and this one was in order. It's my hope that the opening will be enjoyable, though only time will tell, obviously. As always, please read and review.