Disclaimer: I do not own FFVIII or any of its characters...

FFVIII: The Stalker's Log

Chapter Fourteen: Infiltrate and Secure!

By Traingham

What approached the infirmary shortly after Xu and Quistis had formed their partnership was nothing short of a zombie apocalypse the likes of which both women had never seen, which wasn't entirely a play of words alone. Some female students had been brought into the room by the mysterious faculty members of the garden, or rather dragged in, since there was a lot of kicking and snarling involved. That was to say that somehow they'd been afflicted with the zombie ailment between the time of Cid's announcement and the present time. It was a freakish sight, and strangely enough the eyes of those zombified girls had become instantly glued in the direction of Squall's sleeping quarters the moment they had been brought in much as if they were drawn by the very presence of his flesh, concealed behind the curtains that hid him from their view.

"Hold her down!" Quistis cried out to Xu when one of the afflicted broke free from a faculty member's grasp like a demon possessed. The undead girl made a bee line sprint for Squall's room with beast-like desperation in her movements, but the elite instructor was on her before she could get close enough to tear down the curtain, tackling her through the mid-section and bringing her down like a hunting lioness capturing a gazelle.

"I've got her." Xu informed her friend when she had gained full restraint over the struggling ghoul, folding its hands securely behind its back. "Administer the holy water, if you would? This girl's strength is beginning to wear me to the point that I may stop being gentle with her."

Quistis knelt down beside them and uncorked a vial of the stuff before reaching down with one hand to grab ahold of the undead girl's head and keep it steady so she could carry out the baptism. "I'm going to remember to keep an eye on this one." The blonde instructor noted aloud with a hiss of annoyance. "Deranged girl."

Xu made a little smirk, staring down at the reverting girl with a gleam of respect in her calculating eyes. "You must admire her boldness, Quisty. After all, is it not the eventual desire of every lover to devour the object of their darkest passions?" Her question earned her a strange look from the lovely Trepe who responded coolly, "I get the impression that she was being a little too literal in this particular ca–" She cut short mid-sentence, the look in Xu's eyes unsettling her to no end. "Hynes sake, Xu, would you stop staring at me like that?"

"I apologize." Xu giggled, smiling gently, yet for some reason Quistis couldn't help but detect something sinister about it. "You're surprisingly pure, is all."

The zombies that were brought in had been manageable enough (Quistis' methods had become increasingly aggressive with each patient brought into the infirmary, Xu made note) although there had been increasing reports of zombie sightings with the garden. Apparently there had been an outbreak from the Quad and it was only getting worse. That became a concern only made even worse when the 'Berserkers' had begun their rampage.

"Where is he?" Quistis and Xu looked up at each other from the latest KO'd student when they heard a feral cry come from the entrance. The blonde instructor quietly told Xu to handle the unconscious patient lying on the bed while she left to investigate the source of the ruckus.

"Oh, I see..." She nodded to herself with an exasperated sigh when she spotted the female student at the desk, burning with a fiery aura that blazed from her body. "It's a fucking berserker."

The berserk patient turned a scathing gaze upon Quistis when she heard her speak. The accusation came from her mouth with a frightening immediacy, "You're hiding him, aren't you?"

Quistis slowly backed into a shelf of medical supplied, eying a box of tranquilizers. "And what if I did?" She spurred the unstable young woman, reaching behind her back out of the girl's view to take one of the syringes.

"Tell me where the commander is!" The female berserker walked around the desk with a menacing gait before roaring, "Tell me now, dammit!" Her walk shot forward into a full out charge without warning. She reached out from Quistis when the blonde instructor was within arms reach, but Quistis snatched at the wrist of the incoming grab, got around her and kicked her leg in to get her down on one knee. "Ugh?" The girl looked up at Quistis just as she injected her with the tranquilizer. It was over fairly quickly.

"I hope there aren't more of you." Quistis pulled back the empty syringe and let go of the girl without giving it much thought. She cringed when her ears picked up the dull thud of the girl's face meeting the unforgiving floor. "S-Sorry about that."

"Berserker's now, eh?" Xu pushed through the curtains of the treatment room to step out. "This is beginning to get interesting, hm?"

"Speak for your own interests, Xu." Quistis quipped with a scowl, adjusting her left glove with a tight pull. "When they start swarming the place our own interests will be the least of our concerns."

Xu nodded before glancing at Squall's room, "Yes. I imagine Squall will be in for a rude awakening if a berserker managed to get their hands on him." A devious smirk snaked across her lips. "Or perhaps he will be the one to overcome them."

Quistis looked disturbed for her part, although she couldn't keep her hand from wandering toward her neck to stroke a visible red mark. "I dare not imagine what it is you're driving at with that vague comment."

The elite instructor shrugged. "Lust is a force that takes shape according to circumstance. Quisty, as one who has been afflicted with the 'Berserker' ailment once before, I can tell you just how liberating it is." Xu's eyes swiveled to rest upon Squal's room once again, a hint of longing present within those calculating orbs. "An interesting fetish I've come across. Should Hyne's fortune smile upon me I shall revel in the rewards of its exploration."

"Switch it off, Xu." The blonde instructor told her friend with another sigh, waving her hand about. "I'd like to spare myself the horrors of your fantasies."

"Meanwhile, we should be on alert for the inevitable synthesis of our afflicted patients."

The lovely Trepe pinched the bridge of her nose with a slow bow of her head, knowing full well what Xu was telling her. "Don't tempt it, old friend. Just don't."



Selphie Tlmitt left the dorm hall to the sounds of utter chaos. She'd been in her own room changing out of her unused (Thanks to an absent lion, that would remain unaddressed.) jog suit when she heard high pitched screams come from the other side of her door. Upon coming out the door to investigate the cause of the shrieks of horror she founded upon four young men with their backs pressed against the wall as female students stalked through the halls like blood thirst hunters in search of a prized quarry. The scene might have been comical had it not been for the fact that something was truly amiss about the whole thing. The Trabian set her sights on the young men with a quick question of, "What did I miss, guys?"

"Well, since you asked, IT'S A ZOMBIE OUTBREAK!" One of the more composed of the gentleman answered her, his eyes darting from side to side. "Started in the cafeteria from what I heard."

"They're out of control!" Another of the male students cried out like a man on the edge. "We're running out of holy waters to counteract the zombification, and the guy from the training center won't appear to open shop!"

"And where's the commander?" Selphie inquired calmly, perhaps a little too concerned over Squall's current doings to be bothered by the startling events that were taking place around her. "He's aware of the situation, isn't he?"

"The last I heard of him he was filling in for–"

A trash receptacle was knocked over to the floor down the end of the hall, drawing their attention to a young woman that was stumbling toward them with her head bowed, rocking loosely with each step she took. A few more girls came stumbling around the corner she came around, following her lead like a troop of soldiers, though their formation could hardly be considered organized.

"We need to get moving! They're closing in on us!"

"But what do they want from us? I thought they were coming after the commander!"

The look in Selphie's eyes sharpened at that last bit, "They're after Squall?" he reached over to the nearest guy and pulled him to her, glowering down at him in the most frightening way. "What for, huh?"

"To get medical treatment; I don't know!" The startled student blurted out, alternating looks between her and the approaching mob of the undead. "Oh, Hyne! Could we move along now?" Selphie withdrew her hand.

She looked to the exit, "So he's at the infirmary, right?"

"I'd think so!"

Receiving her answer, Selphie dashed off with a quick "Thanks!" She paid no heed to the distressed cries for her to hold on as she made it out into the main area. The sight that filled her eyes was actually kind of bizarre, more so than she was used to anyway. Aside from the running boy being chased by a line of snarling women

"Zombies?" The yellow clad Trabian gasped, watching on as male students did their best to control the horde of undead girls that were attempting to break through their lines to cross the bridge to the infirmary. "Berserkers?" Which brought her attention to the screaming young men that were being brutally assaulted by the unrelenting yanderes also trying to break through the barricade of hapless male students. "Zombified berserkers?" And finally the most dangerous of the bunch that were attacking indiscriminately at the others like a professionally done reenactment of that one survival horror that kept her former dorm mate up through the nights at Trabia Garden. So seeing all of this "Looks pretty serious." The messenger girl remarked.

"Guys!" A commanding voice somehow managed to stand out from the screams and growls that polluted the air noise. Selphie turned her attention to the main elevator to see a student standing at the top of the stairs surrounded by a few other unfamiliar faces. "The time has come for us to take center stage!" Vaan declared in a most dramatic fashion, raising a fist to the air as a breeze from no readily identifiable source billowed his unbuttoned blazer to seemingly enhance his presence.

Cid (Highwind at the moment, judging by his headband) worked out a kink in his neck before speaking around the unlit cigarette that hung from his lower lip. "Our instructor needs someone to bail his ass, eh? Why not, I'm game boys."

Sora struck an aggressive stance, bending slightly at the knees with both hands held out in front of his chest, clenched into fists. "If Leon's in trouble you can bet that I'll help!"

Setzer crossed his arms and smirked wryly, one eye closed. "Hey, why not? We haven't had the luxury of screen time lately."

Rude adjusted his shades and tightened his gloves. "I've got the boss covered."

Auron snorted, winding his unslung arm in slow circles. "The calm life just doesn't suit our kind, it seems."

"And now that we've all dropped our introductory lines, "Vann pointed out to the mass of chaos crowding the infirmary bridge, "On to the main event!" And the bare chested White Seed cadet let out a battle cry before leading his fellow cadets toward the heart of pandemonium, but enough of them, let us return our attention to Selphie Tilmitt


Indeed, quite seriously...

Selphie looked away from the infirmary, seeing no feasible options to take in getting through without risking a direct conflict. "But how else would I be able to get in there, unless I cleared them all away with an explosive, or something?"

~"Who's taking the drop lines, dammit?" The voice of an angry faculty member was heard amidst the cacophony of screams.

Selphie made a sprint for the cafeteria to try and find a sounding board for her idea, passing another observer in her run that was casually sitting on one of the benches.

Fuujin stood without a word, staring after the Trabian until she vanished from her sight. "OUTSIDE." The eye-patched beauty said to no one in particular. I'll experience the least amount of possible resistance by taking an unorthodox approach, surely. She turned away from the cafeteria to walk opposite of the infirmary and stealthily made her way up the steps to the main elevator. Those zombified berserkers seemed to favor other females as their targets for some reason or another. One of them happened to spot her as she pressed the button to go up and dropped the unconscious young man she was violently shaking to come sprinting in her direction like an enraged torama.

"SERIOUSLY?" Fuujin couldn't help, but wonder why her luck was bringing her such misfortune today. She started tapping the up button vigorously as if to boost the elevator. Come on you damn hunk of metal. She looked over her shoulder to see the feral female student stalking up the stairs after her with a crazed look in her eyes. Oh Hyne, who knew holy waters were actually worth purchasing? "SLOW!" She jabbed an open hand in her would be assailant's direction and the girl's movements, including the waving motions of her clothes, immediately slowed to a comically sluggish pace.

Stepping out of the elevator onto the second floor, Fuujin halted herself before proceeding across the bridge to the curving classroom hallway. After witnessing the chaos downstairs something about the atmosphere up here felt just a little too calm to be natural, especially true when she considered the fact that she wasn't the only student within the garden who would actively take advantage of the mess to put their own plans for reaching the lion in motion. Surely her own operation was coinciding with someone else's schemes, so why hadn't she encountered any of the usual suspects on the way up? The silence that pervaded the entire floor began to feel even more sinister the longer her scheming mind tried to make sense of it...

Fuujin turned her uncovered right eye directly to the passageway ahead of her when the silence was broken by the haunting melody of "Loss of Me". Goosebumps rose across her forearms when a figure stepped into view; Beatrix clad in a french maid attire, turning her uncovered left eye upon her with arms crossed like a huntress spotting her prey. "Taking the unorthodox approach, I presume?"

Fuujin stood on alert, narrowing her right eye imperceptibly. "YOU."

"Hrm." The Alexandrian maid frowned, narrowing her left eye, "But you don't seem to have it with you."

"WHAT?" The stalker quirked a brow.

"The means to scale down to the infirmary through the classroom window." Beatrix explained. "I see. So you aren't the person I was lying in wait for."


"For the one who got ahold of the 'key item' that would allow one access to mi'lord's treatment room, so that I may steal him away in his slumber." She went on, uncrossing one arm to gesture. "Unfortunately we're limited to one of those. Searching the supply box more than once yielded the same unresponsive message–"


[ Beatrix approaches the supply box of drop cables in the supply room and inspects it. ]

[ ~This box is empty. DROP LINE, has already been taken.~ ]


"–therefore I intended to mug the individual responsible for reaping the item before I could do so myself." The maid laid out her plan after the intruding scene had faded away.


"Your words barely faze me, considering your intentions were the same upon first seeing me."

"...FINE." Fuujin's body language shifted to an aggressive stance, prompting Beatrix to respond in kind, cutting the music to "FFIX Battle 2" as the atmosphere became heavy between the two women. The Alexandrian made quirked a brow when the text style in Fuujin's grey box dramatically changed as she spoke, "Then I'll take you down before my delivery girl arrives." The disciplinary member shot forward toward Beatrix in a fashion far too similar to the berserkers downstairs for the maid to tell the difference, and yet Fuujin couldn't help but be bothered by how calm the other girl was, standing still as she came in aproaching fast. Her concerns were rewarded soon enough when Beatrix reached back behind her back with a sight defying swiftness, whipping around simultaneously to bring down a materializing broom upon Fuujin's head the same way a knight would a broadsword.

"Hmph!" Fuujin felt the air pressure over her head fall heavy when the end of the broom came down and tucked into a roll, ending up behind the Alexandrian maid as her makeshift sword struck the ground and rising up to whip her heel at the back of her head with a roundhouse while she still open for a retaliation. Beatrix dropped down under the slicing heel, whipping around with an diagonal slash of her broom that came rising from below to strike the stalker's head, but Fuujin leaned back reflexively just enough to get the brushing feeling of the broom bristles upon her chin before jumping back to put a distance between her and the Alexandrian maid. The test of dexterity was over, it would have seemed. With the opening blows exchanged and dodged it was now time to lay the other flat before the fight progressed too long.

"AERO." Fuujin waved both of her hands in an elegant circular motion before thrusting them forth to project an orb of razor winds in Beatrix's general direction. It was obliterated from existence with a single slash from the maid, surprising her by the lack of effort it took on the other girl's part before she countered with a dash forward. Beatrix tried to end Fuujin with an over the shoulder strike, but the broom head stopped short a few centimeters from Fuujin's forehead, held completely still by a quick save of her palms clapping together around the steel broom handle. Beatrix pushed forward, backing the white haired woman into the wall behind her.

The maid glanced at Fuujin's hands, cracking a small smirk when she saw how steady the disciplinary member's hands remained under the force of her might. "You had Shirahadori equipped as a reaction skill?" She pressed down harder upon Fuujin with a husky whisper to her face, "Your preparation is noteworthy."

"Do not patronize me with your speech craft, maid." Fuujin pressed the bottom of her foot against her adversary's stomach and kicked her away, drawing her chakram, gripping it in a fist and drawing toward the staggering Beatrix to strike her chest with it. The maid saw her coming and raised her broom to parry the vicious strike, knocking Fuujin's chakram armed fist aside with the steel handle of the broom and responding by coming down on one knee, swinging down with the motion to strike the top of her skull with the broom head. With Fuujin bent over by the connecting strike, Beatrix got off her knee and rose up, striking her chin upward in a reverse motion with the other end of the broom.

"Ugh!" Fuujin's head was thrown back by the hit and she almost lost her balance, staggering back into the wall again. She wiped at the trickle of blood from her busted lip with the sleeve of her blue shirt before turning her head back at Beatrix coolly. "You've earned my recognition."

"Pity." Beatrix quipped. "For it is not yours that I desire."

"HYAA!" Fuujin sent her blade missile flying at the Alexandrian maid without warning, running forward to meet her when Beatrix took the bait, parrying the flying chakram aside with her broom. Fuujin gripped the handle of Beatrix's broom with both hands when she was within reach and pulled down hard, bringing the other girl to bend forward. "HA!" Fuujin brought up a knee to crack against Beatrix's chin, raised the stunned maid to an upright position to twist her around while holding the broom so that she had it tightly hooked along her upper body from behind , and brought her back down to the floor with a suplex. Beatrix saw stars explode before her vision returned to her.


...And that's when the two female gladiators heard the elevator arrive.

Fuujin rolled out of the suplex position to get back to her feet to see who arrived, and lo and behold

"KISIRAGI." The lovely stalker greeted the mischievous kunoichi when she stepped out of the elevator, drop cable wrapped along her shoulder.

Yuffie flinched at the sight of her old partner, but the surprise on her face was quickly replaced with her trademark grin. "Hey, Fuu." The plucky ninja greeted in a friendly tone, though her underlying feelings for the eye patched SeeD cadet were anything but after what happened at that Winhill inn. "I was hoping you'd already been knocked silly by those crazies down there, but hey, here you are."

"And here you are." Fuujin said with a sinister look in her eye.

"Yes." Beatrix's voice came from behind the disciplinary member, informing her of her quick recovery. "Here you are, Yuffie."

"Nyuk nyuk." Yuffie chuckled. "Yeah...here I am."

... {THE} ...

~ Stalker's ] [Final Fantasy VIII] [ Log ~

[ Meanwhile, in the darkest depths of Squall Leonhart's subconsciousness ]

"So explain this to me." Squall told the sorceress of matching attire, sitting across from him with a relaxed smirk that appeared to mock him. He had to admit, there was something about seeing Ultimecia wearing his clothes, his trademark bomber jacket particularly, that seriously disturbed him. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that she made the jacket look better than he ever could, but little details, really. On with the question, "You and me are soul mates, but there's another person who has access to my soul? A woman named...Thunder?"

"Lightning." The time mistress corrected for him quickly. "And yeah, she's a soul mate too." Her newest claim made the black lion simply stare. "It's not as difficult to understand as you're making it out to be."

"Break it down for me, then." The young commander challenged her irritably, pinching the bridge of his nose.

Ultimecia leaned back, folding her hands on her lap. "It's all about compatibility, really." She told him in her laid back manner, now crossing one leg over the other before resting her folded hands upon her lap again. "Alright–" She averted her eyes, "To be honest I don't understand all of the details myself, but all of us are brought together in the afterlife to embark on a journey. Some kind of crystal campaign, or something. Like a really long pilgrimage of sorts."

That didn't sound right. "All of us?" Squall quirked a brow at that sly little throw in.

"There's a handful of others who are compatible with you, and vice versa, but most of them are far too busy to make conversation with anybody." The sorceress rolled her eyes with a knowing smirk. "You know, main character responsibilities and such."

"Main characters?"

"Technically you can visit them the same way I'm here meeting with you. It's supposedly very difficult to do while you're still alive; you know, caught within the mortal coil and all of that." Ultimecia explained with a lazy giggle. "Takes a lot of practice and an open mind. Not particularly sure how well you meet the prerequisites as far as that last one is concerned, mister lion."

"That aside," Squall hurriedly got off the subject before she could go off on another explanation. "What makes you and me so compatible to begin with?" His question brought up a rather fine point given how little time he actually spent with Ultimecia in the past, their different walks of life, their positions in the grand scheme that fate had planned for them; all things that the sorceress in question didn't appear to be very concerned about from the looks of the lopsided grin on her lovely face. Then again, her face seemed to be stuck that way.

"Good question." The mysterious witch said melodically, bringing a slight twitch to Squall's brow. "I used to wonder that myself sometimes, but nothing really fazes me anymore. Life will give you gysahl greens; you just need to enjoy the ride."

"Whatever, then." The commander closed his eyes for a time before opening them again when a particular thought struck him. "Tell me something." His request earned him a ready nod from his soul diving companion. "What do you know about the night I spent at that Winhill inn?" His manner in inquiring was hesitant, as if he didn't care to know the details, but had to.

"Oh?" Ultimecia's lazy grin almost appeared malevolent at the moment, though it could have just been Squall's mind suggesting it. Her next words made him wonder, though. "You'd like to know what happened between you and Xu?"

"Huh..." Squall's heart may have skipped a beat at hearing that. "Then...something did happen? I made a move on her?"

"You did everything short of going all the way from what I'm reading here." And yes, the sorceress just happened to be reading from a small, crimson journal of sorts, adjusting a pair of rectangular lensed reading glasses that sat on the bridge of her nose. "You weren't conscious at the time that it happened, so don't beat yourself up over it."

That was bizarre. "...What's the reasoning behind that?" The lion almost appeared stark white, asking that question. "How the hell is that even logically possible?"

"Weeeell..." The small book in her hand went poof, along with her reading glasses. She turned to her left, waving her hand over the empty space to bring up a status screen. Squall looked on quietly at the materialized display showing a hand drawn portrait of himself sporting a smoldering expression floating over a list of various stat parameters, junctioned guardian forces, magic, and mastered abilities. "Let's have a look, hm?" She navigated through the list via the assistance of a small white gloved hand, and clicked her tongue when she came across something.

"What?" Squall moved to the edge of his seat. "Did you find something?"

"Here's your problem." Ultimecia informed him, pointing to a sketchy title in the frighteningly long list of abilities. "You mastered a passive ability called "Ero Diety" at nine hundred-ninety nine ABP, on that becomes active only when the possessor is in a deep sleep."

Squall's response was a flat, "What."

"This ability became innate, sooo..." She trailed off, closing the stat menu before finishing. "Nothing we can do about it, Mr. Freelancer." She allowed a sinister giggle to let slip at his expense.

"How did I even come across such a ridiculous thing?" He asked her incredulously, running his hands through his hair in a surprisingly palpable display of emotion on his part. "And what the heck is a freelancer?"

"Question one; that'll require extensive research on my part, something I don't intend to do for free." The sorceress told him with a cross of her arms. "Second question; a little inside joke that I doubt you could appreciate, humorless lout." And so a staring contest ensued between the two former fated enemies, though with Ultimecia's seemingly permanently enduring mellowness it looked far less dramatic that it clearly should have been, typing it out.

"What do you want?" The lion asked, his tone going business like on her. "I ask because I have no experience appeasing dead women."

"I could teach you more than your inexperienced mind could handle, boy." Ultimecia giggled, a smile crossing her wanton lips. "But what I really want is something else."

"That being?"

"Well..." The sorceress trailed off again, looking aside with a widening grin.

[ Returning to the face off ]

Yuffie Kisiragi wondered just how convincing the grin on her face appeared as she stared down Fuujin and Beatrix simultaneously, all without breaking into a sweat, which was a feat very few could pull off considering that Fuujin had already shown her once before the lengths of her determination in her pursuit for claim over Squall Leonhart. As for Beatrix; well, growing up with that loon in mother Branford's orphanage had her well informed on what she was getting herself into going up against her.

"So what are you girls gonna do?" The thief challenged them, one hand protectively clutching the cable rolled over her shoulder. "Share the rewards after snatching it off my beaten body?"

"Certainly not–NOT HAPPENING." Beatrix and Fuujin voiced their opinions on that possibility ever occurring, and when that was brought back to the forefront of their concerns both of them exchanged glares and separated from each other , standing divided once again.

And once divided, they become far easier to conquer. The wicked Yuffie thought triumphantly. "This makes things fairly interesting then. Nyuk, nyuk." The ninja placed a hand on her hip while cocking it to the side with narrowed eyes. The widening grin wasn't lost on Beatrix so much as it was on Fuujin. "How do we settle this?"

"With these numbers a contest of strength would put us at a disadvantage." The maid reasoned sagely, earning her a raise of the eyebrow from Fuujin.

"REASON?" Fuujin inquired.

"Whaddya mean?" Yuffie shot at her a little to quickly, the grin faltering just a bit. Now way. How the heck did she see past it?

"Did you think that your schemes could elude the powers of my 'ATE', Yuffie?" Beatrix turned a sharp eyes upon the visibly unsettled kunoichi, getting a flinch from her.

"ATE?" Not familiar with the term, Fuujin blinked.

"Her Active Time Events." The ninja clarified for the lovely stalker, her expression growing grim at the development. "I completely forgot about it."

"EXPLAIN." She requested, not comfortable at all with being kept out of the loop.

Beatrix generously provided. "It allows me a glimpse into the events taking place in real time, like how Aya just moved the sight of her rifle scope to line up with your temple."

"WHAT?" Fuujin tensed.

"Shoot!" Yuffie snapped as she kicked at the ground, something that made the eye patched woman roll to the side from reflex given the circumstances. "I thought those ATEs were supposed to be random for you."

"No longer." Beatrix informed the ninja much to her building panic. "I've mastered the subject of my visions. My constant monitoring of lord Leonhart's activities has assisted me with accomplishing that much."

Yuffie gasped. "You mean, you've been keeping your ATEs exclusive to our instructor?" Realizing what that meant, she sneered. "Lucky girl."

"I cannot view them at will, mind you but whenever they are available to me I can access whatever I desire to see at my leisure." The maid readied her broom. "Now, we appear to have found ourselves in quite the predicament. Aya Brea holds the cards in this game, it would seem."

"You mean, I do–SHPYUUN–Huh?" Yuffie's jaw fell open in dull horror when she heard a rifle shot. *WHAP* And fell to the floor, knocked out by a stun bullet enchantment. The ninja stared at her two fellow stalkers with shock, unable to speak from the effects of the bullet enchantment, but fully capable of moving her eyes. The look on the girl's face could only be described as "Hyne dammit, I suck at picking partners".

Beatrix and Fuujin exchanged a panicked glance and dove for Yuffie to take the drop cable, but–SPYUUUUUN–another stun bullet came shrieking in their direction.

"Dammit." Beatrix felt her entire body go rigid with the enchantment, plopping upon Yuffie's legs helplessly. Fuujin fell upon the stunned ninja, and realizing that she was unaffected, wasted no time in proceeding to extract the cable wrapped around Yuffie's shoulder. The entire time she kept on glancing to the side, adrenaline pumping through her veins like liquid fire.

"DAMMIT, DAMMIT, DAMMIT." Fuujin chanted to herself, her hands fumbling around the cable as she slid it free from the stunned girl's arm when–SPYUUN– "FUCK." The last thing that left her mouth before her body became unresponsive. She couldn't believe this; so close and yet now so far. She remained still, holding the cable in her frozen hand for what seemed like an eternity before she saw the elevator car descend to receive someone on the first floor. You must be kidding me. She thought to herself, inwardly seething as the elevator began its ascent to the second floor again. [ "Musica Mundana" Parasite Eve Soundtrack Playing...now. ] The doors opened revealing Aya Brea with a tonfa gripped along one arm, standing over the bodies of three unconscious berserkers. The blonde rookie put away the weapon and reached down to pick her leather jacket off one of the unconscious girl before stepping out smoothly.

"Fuujin, I take it." Aya began, shrugging her jacket on when she had both arms in their respective sleeves. She wrapped her fingers around the cable in Fuujin's hand and relieved her of it, walking past her without sparing a glance. "You might think of me as the one who bested you, and for that I don't blame you."

To Be Continued

I can't help but feel as though things have gotten even worse for me since I returned to the garden. Where did Edea come across all of these eccentric girls, and why do they all want what I want, hm? Can Hyne give me an answer to that simple question? I lead a force of Galbadian soldiers across the world, I've come face to face with my beloved Squall Leonhart on two separate occasions and lived, and yet I'm being given trouble by a bunch of green SeeD cadets. CADETS. I've already met the qualifications for graduation ten times over, and these girls are actually competing on MY level?

On another note, why is my entire room coated with dust? I could swear I cleaned it last night...

-Stalker's Log, September 28th-

The video feed shows Shiva sitting at a reporters table, but something about the usual scene appears horribly wrong: Siren sits to her left coated in a thick sheet of ice. Ifrit stands to her right in a block of ice, seemingly caught in mid laughter. Odin and Gilgamesh are leaning against the wall side by side, encased in ice. Quezacotl is on the floor in mid-flap, caught in a chunk of ice with Tonberry fallen on its side in a similar state, chef knife held firmly in its hand. Diablo is nowhere to be seen, and Cactuar is frozen in mid-escape near the broken window.

"No one...got owned." Shiva mutters to herself, a fake smile plastered on her face. At that moment the door to the news room opens and three women step in; Rydia, Yuna and Garnet.

"Shiva," Yuna begins, approaching the table where she sits, "I'm disappointed in you. You should have known better."

Shiva holds her hands up with a defeated sigh, "How long this time, officer?"

"For as long as it take for you to realize your mistakes." The Fayth summoner tell her in an authoritative tone. She looks to Garnet. "This is going to take some time to clean up."

"Well, that's what I'm here for." The Alexandrian Queen says with a pained grin. "You'll help me, won't you Rydia?"

"No choice." Rydia says with a shake of her head. "Can't leave these guys frozen. Even if they were being such jerks." The green summoner pauses, glancing at Shiva before looking back to Garnet. "But who will take over the post chapter section while Shiva's gone? I doubt Siren will be able to handle it on her own, especially with the cold she'll have in the coming days."

"We already have two willing stand ins." Yuna informs her. "Serah should be here with them in a moment.

As if her words served as a cue, Serah Farron walks into the news room followed by the Shiva sisters. Nix and Stiria. "We're here Whoa!" The girl stops mid-sentence upon seeing the mess. "What happened here?"

"Looks like someone lost their temper." Stiria says with a hint of contempt.

Nix cackles roughly. "I'm not surprised. She always was the hothead of the family."

Shiva sees her XIII cousins and promptly freaks out. "You ARE NOT letting them take over my show!"

"YOU don't have a say in the matter." Yuna puts her down sharply. "Shiva?" At her call Shiva X materializes at her side. "Bring her in."

"Yes, mistress Yuna." The dread locked Shiva says with a nod before turning to her VIII cousin. "Come along now."

"It isn't fair!" Shiva VIII cries out.

Yuna silences her with a cold stare, one that causes even Rydia and Garnet to flinch as well as the other Shivas in the room. "Life isn't fair."