Disclaimer: Seifer Almasy and other characters, locations, etc. appearing in Final Fantasy VIII are property of Square-Enix. Original characters belong to me. Lawninjas will come after you if you rip them off from me without permission.


Oni: A Final Fantasy VIII Story


Prologue


"There he is."

Galbadia Intelligence Agent Richard Marcins continued to drink his coffee quietly as his partner looked over her newspaper. Kate Brians was acting casual, and was doing a great job hiding the obvious nervousness she felt at contacting a man like this one. Just three years ago he'd been working with Ultimecia of all people. And now he was in charge of the largest criminal enterprise in the city.

He silently walked across the small diner, O'Hearty's, and slid into the seat across from the two GIA agents, black sunglasses shading his eyes. His blonde hair was growing back, almost back to the same length as it had been on his Garden file.

Seifer Almasy was still a relative unknown; the criminal world was loathe to speak his name outside their own circles, so not many people realized the red-coated man with the blonde goatee was actually Sorceress Ultimecia's ex-knight. It was better that people didn't remember him anyway; the magic of Ultimecia had clouded their minds to the truth, and they didn't need to remember who Almasy was. Unfortunately, the Galbadian military, particularly Galbadian Intelligence, knew exactly what they were dealing with - they just had more important matters to deal with, like the Timber Liberation Army.

"So," Seifer said as he stared across at the two GIA agents whom he had never seen, met, or spoken to before. "What do you spooks want?" His voice was tinged with a slight Dollet accent, though it had mostly been expunged by his travels through Galbadia and his life in Garden.

"No small talk, eh?" Brians remarked as she lowered her newspaper. She was in her mid thirties, nearly twice Seifer's age, but looked like she was barely past his twenty-one years. Short brown hair stopped at her green eyes, which were set into a slender face that perfectly fit the cold, clinical expression she wore.

"Okay then," she added as she folded her newspaper up. "Let's get straight to the point. Three weeks ago, Galbadian Rangers attacked a Timber Liberation Army base in the northern farmlands of Timber. Where this took place you do not need to know. Our troops recovered some documents, one of which mentioned a man named 'Doctor George Ball.'"

Marcins watched Seifer's expression, and though he couldn't see the mobster's eyes behind the sunglasses, he did see his eyebrows arch slightly. Paydirt.

"Imagine our surprise when we get word that someone is rather quietly spreading an inquiry about the same person through the Galbadia City underground," continued Brians. "We were eventually able to trace it back to you, and now we're interested in why a mobster happens to be looking into a possible contact with the TLA."

"You guess is as good as mine," Seifer responded, his voice quiet and carefully neutral. Brians narrowed her eyes, knowing that tone, and she knew that she wouldn't be getting anywhere with him. Still, they needed to blow open the TLA, and any lead might be useful.

"Listen, we know you're looking into this man," she continued. "We can help you find him if you'll help us with whatever information you have. We need to know what you know." Seifer was silent for several long moments, and then quietly chuckled.

"If you knew what I knew, then you'd know that I don't want anyone to know what I know," he replied, bobbing his head slightly with each "know." "Especially Galbadian government officials." Brians blinked, not sure what he was getting at, while Marcins chuckled quietly.

"And more to the point, if you don't know what I know, then I have no idea what use the knowledge I have would be to Galbadian Intelligence, as what I do know is sketchy at best. Otherwise I wouldn't be poking around for info on Ball, would I?"

"The same documents we recovered had additional information on them," Marcins cut in. He watched Seifer's eyes carefully as he spoke. "They mentioned two additional names: a 'Soval' and a woman named 'Kathryn.' Have you heard of them?"

Seifer's eyes widened at the mention of the second name, and his entire body went rigid. Marcins did not react, but inwardly he smiled, knowing that they were on the right track. Brians caught the shift in his posture too. The mobster remained silent for several long moments as they watched him.

"You guys are intelligence, right?" he asked suddenly, and the two agents glanced to each other, before nodding. "You gather information, collate data, and analyze it to develop logical conclusions on your enemies. I know, that's how all intel agencies work."

"That's right," Brians replied, not understanding what he was getting at.

"If that's the case, then what I've seen in regards to those names has no connection whatsoever to logic or reason," Seifer replied. "What I know it completely useless to you people. Because of that, I don't see any reason to keep hanging around here with you guys." Seifer suddenly stood up. Brians opened her mouth to tell him to stay, but Marcins put a hand on her shoulder as he turned and started walking out of O'Hearty's.

"Boy's not too receptive to GIA poking around in his business," he offered.

"That was our only lead into Ball, though," Brians replied, shaking her head as Seifer left the diner.

"Don't worry," Marcins said. "Did you catch his reaction to Kathryn? That alone is a good sign we're on the right track. If he won't give us the information directly, we'll just need to keep track of him to-"

The glass of the window next to their booth shattered as gunfire suddenly ripped past. Both GIA agents ducked for cover as the blazing fury of sub-machineguns could be heard outside, and both agents drew their sidearms. Marcins poked his head up over the wall of the diner, and caught sight of men - armor-clad soldiers with rifles and sub-machineguns - pouring out of a van and firing their weapons at Seifer Almasy. The mobster tore his gunblade out of its sheath, and then Marcins took a stray bullet to the chest and was thrown to the floor, and everything went dark.


-
Oni is the sequel to my story Ronin. Go read it first if you don't get what's going on. Oni will have direct connections to my other story, Full Spectrum SeeD, which is taking place at the same time. References to events in both stories will occur; e.g. the Timber Liberation Army introduced in SeeD.

Oni will center far less on crime drama like Ronin, and much more on espionage and mystery, as Seifer seeks to finish the story he began in Ronin and discover more about his history and family. As with Ronin, there will be a secondary sub-plot running through this story, though it will be less independent than the Kathryn/Bones story that was in Ronin.

Until first chapter . . . .