Author's Note: Firstly, in order to not spoil elements of this story, I can't reveal which part of the game it contains spoilers for. So be advised, that if you haven't finished the game, and don't want any of it spoiled, it would be best to wait until you have before reading this fic. Also, I'm toying with a few usually assumed perspectives on certain game elements. I thought they would be interesting; One being a new angle on the 'was Seifer mind-controlled or willing?' debate. That's about as much as I can reveal of both my motivations and the plot. Disclaimer: Squaresoft owns FF8 and it's characters, not me. I'm just having fun with them. Warnings: Angst (always), foul language, slight graphic violence.
Homecoming By Lady Tempest
Desolation. A vast, cracked expanse of nothingness. Just beige, and brown, and gray, as far as Seifer's narrowed blue eyes could see. He blinked, lifting his head from the dry ground, dust and dirt clinging to the sweat dripping down his cheek.. Where was he? How did he get here? Seifer shook his head to clear it of the haze clouding his mind like the gray clouds overhead hid the sun. But nothing settled into place, nothing ordered his jumbled thoughts, or made sense of his situation. Carefully, he sat up, his body aching and weary. His muscles were sore, and as he moved, dozens of sharp stings merged into one slap of seething pain. "Shit. If I didn_t know better, I_d think I was on the losing end of some epic battle or something, " he muttered to himself with a grimace of pain. "Fuck, I hurt!" He slowly shifted so he sat cross-legged. Staring down at himself, he ran his gloved fingers absently through his sun-gold hair, his brows wrinkling in confusion. His clothes were ragged, slashed and tinged with dark red in places, scorched black in others. Clear blue eyes wide, his poked a finger through one of the burned holes in his vest and winced as he brushed blistered skin. "Fuck, fuck, fuck! What the hell is going on!" Clenching his teeth against the pain, Seifer eased out of his trenchcoat, and let it slide to the ground in a rumpled, pale-gray heap around him. As he unzipped his vest, he gasped. Oozing cuts and burns riddled his broad chest, angry red skin streaked and sticky with blood, much of it dried and caking, except in the crusted wounds themselves, which still seeped. "Well, that explains the pain" His lips quirked wryly. "Now how the hell'd this happen!" he screamed to the clouds above. "Damn, this sucks! Last I remember... I... was..." He kneaded his forehead, eyes tightly closed. "I was... where the fuck was I? Why can_t I remember?" He slammed his fist into the ground, leaving a small crater of crumbling dirt. "Fuck this shit! Damned if I'm going to sit in the middle of fucking nowhere trying to figure it out." Anger overriding the pain, he hauled himself to his feet, snatching his trenchcoat as he rose. "Now where the hell is Hyperion?" His blue-green eyes darted, scanning the ground around him. Several yards away a long object lay, reflecting darkly from the overcast sky. With quick strides Seifer stood over his gunblade, glints of gold and pink-beige flashing in the metal on the few places not dusted with dirt. He smiled. "Well at least one thing is going right today." After gathering his weapon and wiping it as clean as he could on the side of his dark pants, he glanced off into the distance. Flat land surrounded him endlessly in all directions but one. A cropping of rocks grew into hills, then low mountains further off. If he had any hope of finding civilization and his way home, the mountains would be the key. At the least, he would get a better vantage point to the actual lay of the land. With a deep sigh, he headed towards them.
How long he had been wandering, Seifer didn't know. It seemed like days, but although his lips were dry, he wasn't overcome with thirst. Well, not unbearably so. Hours then. Maybe less, if he felt like being optimistic. His body still ached and every so often one of his cuts would reopen as he stumbled his way through the rocky hills. But he was Seifer Almasy. And if one thing that could be said about Seifer: he was unrelenting. Stubborn, some would say. He never gave up. And would never give up, even if it killed him. The hills sloped upward, rocks weathered with erosion jutting in sudden outcroppings. The way become more difficult as the terrain of stone rose and fell in uneven clusters like the scattered remains of a crumbled mountain. Bent over and limping, his breath heavy and erratic, Seifer struggled to the top of the nearest peak of rocks. More weary than he would ever admit, even to himself, he fell to his knees and rested his tired body for a few moments on the warm stone. Just a few moments. Taking a stabilizing breath, he looked up and stared out over the hazy distance. There had to something nearby, anything to either tell him where he was or how to get home. And a med-kit or heal-potion or two would also be nice. His dry lips quirked into a cross between a smirk and a grimace. A lot of things would be nice: home, a comfortable bed with cool sheets, a cold drink,... holding the one he loved after such a long time apart... Like lightening striking, his mind flashed a clear memory: Timber. He had been in Timber. To protect his love. To make sure President Deling came under the just edge of his gunblade. The bastard wouldn't oppress anyone anymore. But... A woman in black, beautiful, exotic, powerful. She... she... He slammed his fist against the rock, ignoring the shot of pain coursing through his fingers. "Dammit!" Abruptly, he stood. His legs wobbly, Seifer leaned lightly on Hyperion to steady him. The metal gleamed in the muted light of the overcast sky. He wasn't accomplishing anything sitting on his ass, admiring the scenery. Shielding his eyes with his gloved hand, he studied the land spread before him like a dull brown blanket, creased and crinkled with wrinkles and folds. One of those folds drew his gaze. A irregular shape, dark and angled, squarish, like a box. Or a house. He narrowed his eyes intently. A faint tendril of gray rose in wispy curls. Smoke. Too thin to be anything other than a cook-fire or a chimney. Seifer grinned and began his descent.
Seifer strode toward a small house, shack actually, nestled against a large rock-face, and pieced together by sheets of metal and other scraps, much of it appearing to be fragments of what was once a vehicle of some sort. He swallowed his pain and weariness, carrying himself with his usual well-masking confidence, and a little subtle help from his gunblade. "Hello? Anyone here?" he called as he neared the makeshift door of a ragged and dusty brown-gray curtain. If, as it seemed, whoever lived here had been stranded in a crash or vehicle breakdown, there was little hope that civilization was nearby. But, at the least, maybe he could get some water, food, and bandages for his wounds. A clamor of metal clanging against metal rang from inside the shack, a strange modulating echo, both muffled and clear. Suddenly, the curtained door was flung aside and a haggard face, under a scraggly mop of white hair, peered at him with surprise-wide eyes. "Who'er you?" the old man croaked, voice sounding disused. Seifer flashed his most friendly grin. "Seifer Almasy," he said with a slight bow, his trenchcoat swaying with the flourish of his free arm. The man coughed. "Well, Seifer Almasy. Whatcha doin' out here? Kinda far fur a young'in ta be jus' wanderin' _bout." "True true. You see, I'm..." Seifer hated to admit it. "... lost. And I'm trying to find the nearest town, village, whatever, so I can get back home." "Lost, eh?" Stepping outside the doorway, the old man chuckled. "Ya ain't kindin', boy." Seifer fought back the urge to growl at the man, his teeth grinding to keep his pleasant smile. 'Boy. He hated being called 'boy'. "Yeah, well, it does seem that way," he said with a nervous laugh, running his hand through his dust-dulled hair. "Could you tell me where I am and how to get to the nearest town?" The old man scratched his beard-scruffed cheek. "Eh, well, where? Near as I ken fig'r, 'bout fifteen _er twenty miles north'a the coast. Least that where I's headed 'fore ma' truck broke down." "The coast? Which coast? Galbadia or Balamb?" Things were looking up if he were that close to either. Although he didn't recall the Balamb continent having such a huge expanse of nothing. The man blinked at him like Seifer was the biggest idiot he ever met, then bent over laughing so hard he broke into a fit of choked coughs. Seifer narrowed his blue eyes and frowned, but patiently waited for the crazy old man to finish his amusement at Seifer's expense. Stifling more chuckles, the man straightened. "Galbadia? Balamb? Boy, ya are lost! Ya'r on Esthar, boy. Esthar!" Esthar? Esthar? How the fuck did he get on Esthar? It was impossible! The old coot was crazy. A complete nutjob! "That's impossible. I've never been to Esthar," Seifer stated confidently, like he was speaking to child who was struggling with the difference between right and left. The old man grinned at Seifer in the same intent, but with the added attitude that Seifer was not only a confused child, but dirt stupid as well. Seifer's eyes flashed pale blue fire. One thing Seifer hated more than being called 'boy' was being called 'stupid'. "Well, ya have now, boy," the man snickered. "Ya have now." Taking a deep breath, Seifer clamped down his growing rage, his lips thin, pale, and tight. "Supposing this is Esthar." Which was still impossible. "Where is the nearest town or settlement? I need to get back to Balamb." "Well.." The man tapped his scraggly chin. "... if ya head that'a way..." He pointed towards what looked like a pass through a towering stand of rocks. "Ther' should be somethin'. Likely an airbase. I see planes flyin' o'erhead from time ta time comin' from that'a way."
Seifer happily left the crazy old man, who not only told him the ridiculous tale of being on Esthar... Yeah, right!... was also kind enough to spare some a flask of water, slightly dirty though it was, and a bit of dried lizard meat. For an infuriating nutjob, he was alright. The old coot obviously didn't have much to spare for bandages, as all the cloth he had was ragged enough. However, he allowed Seifer use of a jagged pocketknife to cut strips from the legs of his dark pants. Hell if he'd sacrifice his trenchcoat, no matter how much better the improvised bandages would have been. Pants could be replaced, but no one messed with the coat. Cleaning and binding his wounds as best he could, he had set off in the direction he was told, his long, pale legs stark even against the bland terrain and dull sky. Royal blue silk peeked from under his pants-now-shorts with his every other step, his treasured coat fluttering behind him like a pale-gray cape. Hopefully, the old man wasn't as completely senile as he had seemed and his course would indeed bring him to someone who could truly help. Hell, he would almost be happy if it was Esthar, and an airbase was ahead. He would get home all the quicker. Home, where he could ensure his beloved was safe and sound and in his arms.
(end Part 1)(tbc)