Right then. So this is one of my NaNoWriMo projects... and it's also the one I'm falling behind on. I'm going to try and use ffnet to get my act together. That means that while I'll brush over for grammatical/spelling errors, I have not picked it with a fine toothed comb. Feel free to point things out! I delight in feedback, negative or no.
This is rated M. And there will be some scenes that don't follow ffnet guidelines. Those scenes will be posted to LJ & my site. Probably LJ first. (Actually, there is already something from a later chapter of Indulgence on LJ, if you want to see something steamy.)
This is also yaoi. (With a smattering of het, and possibly some yuri. x3) Guy on guy action here, darlings. If it's not your cup of tea, that's fine, but I'm not going to change it.
We also have the holy trinity showing up here as the main pairings; LeonCloud, AkuRoku, and RikuSora (SoraRiku? I haven't decided yet.)
Some lesser pairings that will squeeze their way into the story (dude, it's NaNoWriMo, and I let the muses run free for this event. This means all that repressed sexual tension in other stories gets expressed.): SquallIrvine, LeonSeifer, LeonSquall (yes, you read that right. my crack OTP is feasible due to Time Compression. I am so going to write that out as a sidestory.), IrvineSelphie, LeonSora, SeiferRinoa, SephirothCloud (noncon), ZellSeifer... and probably a heck of a lot more.
However, I have to admit that the only game I've actually played... is Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. And that is a recently acquired game. Like, a "couple of days" recent. I'm only on floor... 8? Something like that. I have not played FFVII, FFVIII, Kingdom Hearts, or Kingdom Hearts 2. I've read some walkthroughs and FAQs, but I obviously don't have first hand knowledge. Since I'm basing this mostly in the FFVIII planet, I decided to... use some creative license, and rearrange the main FFVIII storyline. So that's what this prologue is. My version of FFVIII, with a lot of changes. The most obvious one would be the complete elimination of Rinoa. She'll show up later, but she wasn't involved with Ultimecia, and if you read on, things can still make sense! (But if you see something completely out of whack from my explanation, feel free to point it out.)
I'm going to try and update every other day? We'll see. I am kind of jumping around in my own timeline, but the actual first chapter is almost finished, so that should be up late friday or early saturday.
Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts or it's subsequent games & ideas, nor do I own Final Fantasy VII or Final Fantasy VIII. In fact, if we want to get technical, I probably don't even own this plot. Everything's pretty much been done already by Shakespeare, the bastard.
As Ultimecia ravaged the planet for reasons unknown, Squall Leonhart was forced into action. When Balamb Garden was nearly obliterated, loosing over three quarters of their fighting force and students, Squall stepped up to the challenge, refusing to die a coward. He had not yet even become an official SeeD, but he gathered up the two healthy and willing Balamb occupants, Quistis Trepe and Zell Dincht, and set off on the available hovercraft to Trabia Garden. He hoped to discover the extent of the damages done to the other Gardens, as well as hopefully recruit a few other people talented enough to help fight against the senseless Sorceress.
Thankfully, Trabia Garden had not suffered as much as Balamb Garden; the Garden itself was damaged and incapable of doing many of it's original functions, but the casualties could be counted on two hands. However, none of the students or SeeDs were interested in going to fight Ultimecia unless they were paid, and paid well. Gardens do breed mercenaries, after all, and they weren't willing to risk their lives for a simple 'bit of glory'.
Disappointed, but not really surprised, Squall returned to Quistis and Zell, who had discretely discovered where they might obtain contracts with Guardian Forces. Since Trabia was known for their GFs, Squall decided that he might as well take advantage of their visit to Trabia. As Squall listened to Quistis' report concerning the local and global GFs, they were interrupted by a bright young girl in a student uniform. Her name was Selphie Tilmitt, and she had come to the decision that joining their little party would help her get to Balamb Garden, where she had wished to transfer. She was nothing if not honest, and declared that while she would help, her main goal was to attain a scholarship at Balamb Garden. After a quick summary of her skills and main weaknesses, Squall welcomed her to their party.
After hearing what Quistis was discussing, Selphie also declassified some information she had stumbled upon earlier in the year. While GFs were generally a great boost to one's powers and abilities, they also caused selective amnesia, as the GF consumed memories to make space for a fraction of their soul in the SeeD's consciousness. She also confided that all of the Gardens were known to use a GF on all entry level students to clear out emotional attachments to previous friends and family. It was hypothesized that these memories could be regained eventually, if no further GFs were ever junctioned, but since many SeeD did try to contract a GF once they were able, those memories were usually lost completely.
Quistis and Zell were now less inclined to take the chance in contracting a GF, while Squall was as determined as ever. If those memories had so little significance on him as a person now, then he didn't need them to move forward. Thanking her for the information, Squall picked through the list of known GFs before stumbling onto a name that held virtually no information. Directing the question towards the girl who knew more about GFs than the rest of them, Selphie informed the party that Shiva had never contracted with anyone in the history that the Gardens held. She was a harsh mistress, and would never accept any of the prospective SeeDs that had been sent to her door.
Of course, this further cemented the idea in Squall's mind. A GF with abilities virtually unknown would be a large asset; but he would have to be capable before approaching the icy goddess, and arrogant he was not. He knew he was still just a student, and probably wouldn't even register a blip on Shiva's radar. Therefore, he needed to gain more experience; enough so that he could compete with a second level SeeD at the least. It was also necessary to improve themselves if they were going to face off against Ultimecia, which was their eventual destination.
They returned to Balamb Garden, where Quistis discreetly added Selphie's transfer into the database and made it legitimate, and tried to help pick up the slack. There were still orders and contracts to be fulfilled, and while most of the Garden was trying to rebuild and heal, they were rapidly encroaching upon deadlines. Squall scooped up all of the orders that needed to be done as soon as possible before they dishonored the agreements, and left again without attracting too much attention. The only person to stumble upon their quick arrival and departure was Headmaster Cid, who hoped that Squall could achieve his goals.
Their most pressing account was a war being started against the Dollet Dukedom by the Galbadian regime. It was distressing to hear that the Galbadia Garden was in full support of this senseless war when Ultimecia's reign loomed, but the gil from this venture would be be astronomical. Especially since there were far fewer SeeDs than Dollet was expecting, and they could split the gil between them.
Despite their mostly untried status, Squall's sharp mind and ferocious tactics even encouraged Quistis to allow him full reign over their party. While she was older and definitely more experienced, her tactics were far more conventional and she knew it. Squall fully assumed the leadership position, and they decimated the invading army, and halted the Galbadian advance, which included a good number of Galbadia Garden's SeeDs.
As the cleaning up started after such a large loss, they were approached by a Galbadia Garden SeeD, who introduced himself as Irvine Kinneas. He was a recent graduate, and had yet to form solid ties with his Garden, and was far more impressed by Squall's tactics than he was by what was currently happening in Galbadia. Green students were being pushed into SeeD status far before they were ready and capable, and were being allowed to contract weaker GFs, supposedly for a fight against Ultimecia. Irvine was less inclined to believe that was really what was happening, and as such asked if he could transfer to Balamb.
Squall agreed on the condition that Irvine would also join their ragtag group that planned on defeating Ultimecia. Irvine agreed, and they set off to quickly fulfill the other agreements made with Balamb Garden customers. When they finally returned to Balamb Garden to pick up another round of missions, where they were greeted by Headmaster Cid, who granted full SeeD status to Squall, Zell, and Selphie. Irvine was mildly surprised he had been following a student around, but shrugged it off with surprising grace, stating that Squall was a far better leader than some of the older Galbadia Garden SeeDs had been.
Headmaster Cid also informed them of something he had discovered reading Squall's reports. It appeared that Galbadia's hostilities were stemming from a sorceress named Edea, and that Dollet had promised another large sum if they would investigate the matter, and take action should she prove to be the driving force. Seifer Almasy of the Disciplinary Committee had gone to look into the matter, but had failed to report back, adding strength to the rumors.
Squall scooped up the mission a surprising finesse, and planned their entry and exit, with an optional portion in which Irvine would use his famed sharpshooting skills to rid them of the Sorceress should she prove hostile. A quick jump across the ocean led them into Galbadian territory, where they discovered that not only was Sorceress Edea pushing the attacks, she had also bound Seifer to her as a Knight, leaving him no choice but to follow her orders.
Despite their constant animosity, Squall would not allow Seifer to be killed in such a manner, and so they hastily put together a plan to cause massive damage to the Galbadian regime's HQ, and hope they could sequester Seifer out in the commotion.
While they did manage to put a large dent in Sorceress Edea's plans, they were not able to free Seifer just yet, and returned to Balamb in time to see missiles deployed from Galbadia to Trabia Garden. The Garden was unable to mobilize before the missiles hit, and took a great deal of damage. The remaining Trabia Garden SeeDs were far more willing to join Squall's group now, and left the offer open on their end.
Meanwhile, Balamb's main financial supporter –NORG of the Shumi– had been quietly steaming over Squall's complete assimilation of Dollet's payment, and had traveled to Balamb to seize control from Headmaster Cid to drain their coffers dry. As Squall and his comrades were at the Garden, they quickly put and end to such foolishness, a battle issued by the exiled Shumi resulting in NORG's death.
From their recent foray into Galbadian territory, Quistis brought up a name she had heard from the gossiping soldiers. After a quick and cursory search, Selphie discovered that Ellone was a woman who had been taking sanctuary from Balamb Garden, but had disappeared after the initial attack from Ultimecia. Other than that, the records were infuriatingly blank. However, Selphie did manage to find security footage that displayed which hovercraft Ellone took to escape from Balamb, and they tracked the course it plotted straight into Esthar.
Determined not to allow Ellone to fall into Edea's clutches, because any plan she made simply could not bode well for the woman, Squall and company set off to Esthar. Upon reaching Ellone, they noticed a strange behavior that could not be explained. She seemed genuinely pleased to see Squall, who had never met the woman before in his life, and continued to hint at dreams and the past. While Squall was truly befuddled about her hints, since he hadn't really slept deep enough to dream since Ultimecia's initial attack on Balamb Garden, he took the matter in stride, right up until Ellone could not keep her secret anymore and told him she was doing it.
At the admission, Squall asked what, exactly, she was doing, and Ellone cheerfully replied that she was the one sending him seventeen years into the past in his dreams, to change the past in Laguna's body. Since Squall hadn't been doing anything of the sort –he'd only ever heard of Laguna in passing, as the president of Esthar– he questioned his comrades to see if they had been caught up in Ellone's madness instead.
All replying in the negative, Squall deduced that Ellone must be crazy, and couldn't figure out why Edea wanted the girl at all. A delusional woman with no fighting ability or Sorceress powers was not an asset, it was a liability. They charged Laguna with keeping track of the woman as a precaution, and paid him well to do it. Laguna's actions were also slightly strange, but not as much as Ellone's, and they left Esthar quietly.
At this point, Squall decided that he should go after Shiva if he was to learn anything about her before facing off with Edea. Irvine had also cautioned him about the amnesiac effect of using GFs, since he had been brutally forced to accept Ifrit as a part of his graduating exam, and he knew he had lost memories, as Ifrit was not careful in what he had erased, and there were blatant holes in his mind.
Still, Squall was determined to gain an advantage over their opponents, even if none of his comrades wanted to use a GF. It was, of course, their choice. While he sent the rest of his comrades back to Balamb, he headed to the northern most part of Trabia, seeking Shiva in her ice palace. The goddess seemed amused to see him at her doorstep, curious at his intentions. When Squall explained his reasoning with an icy demeanor, Shiva consented to contract with him, as long as he would never search for his missing memories.
Squall countered that he would never search for them, but she couldn't erase the memories he made now, and nor could she refuse to be his contract if some of the memories came back on their own. Delighted, Shiva agreed, knowing that as long as he never wished for the memories to return, then they would never be uncovered. And as long as she resided in him, junctioned at all times, she would never have to erase his new memories as she was now a part of him. She clearly stated that if he wanted to keep his new memories safe, he would have to keep her junctioned, letting him know the price for his demands.
When Squall agreed, Shiva gleefully took up in a hole in Squall's mind. Though the initial blast of cold was disconcerting, Squall quickly adapted to the presence in his head, and even relished in the feeling of quiet and icy confidence. He had become the first person in Garden history to hold Shiva in a contract. However, he was also trapped in Shiva's palace for a week, as the immediate power that surged through his system and was drained by Shiva was a bit much for his magic-untried body.
Returning to Balamb Garden, he was met with grudging admiration all around, as even Irvine agreed that getting Shiva to agree to his terms would prevent him from becoming a blank automaton, and he obviously didn't need his past memories to be a capable SeeD and friend. Headmaster Cid named Squall the new leader of Balamb Garden after learning what he had gained, and Squall quickly put an end to the current repairs being made on the Garden.
Instead, he summoned all of the capable architects on base, and had them design a new Garden that would be far more capable of absorbing damage, easier to mobilize and move, and could hold more people safely. The architects attacked the project with fervor, having their long term dream about upgrading Balamb Garden for years granted.
In the quiet lull of temporary peace, Squall practiced with Shiva, becoming familiar with the drain Shiva took on his reserves, and getting Irvine, Zell, Selphie, and Quistis used to having her in battle with them. He was a far cry from being able to summon Shiva when ever he liked, but he was getting much better at being able to stay conscious after the adrenaline fled from his body. His limit breaks were also improving, becoming sharper and more lethal, but this was true for all of his comrades. They were a ragtag group that probably should still only be students, but they were improving rapidly under the stress Ultimecia and Edea provided.
War between Galbadia and Balamb was evident; Edea wanted to wipe Squall in particular off the map. Squall left a missive for the remaining SeeDs of Trabia to join them, if they dared, and brought the healed SeeDs of Balamb forth to fight. A conversation in tactics with Headmaster Cid also revealed that he had established the Gardens and SeeD primarily to deal with Sorceresses, after his wife was nearly killed from the Sorceress powers that had been injected into her body awakened. Cid vehemently swore that no good could come from a Sorceress.
When Trabia Garden responded, they brought their hale and dedicated SeeDs to Balamb Garden's side as Galbadia attempted to invade Balamb. Even though Balamb and Trabia's combined numbers were severely lacking, Galbadia had been rushing their SeeD students through the academy, and the soldiers for the Galbadian were hardly trained. As Seifer led the attack, Squall found the opportunity to knock him unconscious and have him escorted to the prisons of Balamb Garden, not knowing if Edea still had a hold on him.
The fight was ruthless and bloody, but Balamb and Trabia emerged the victor, the pockets of Galbadian soldiers retreating as quickly as was possible. Furious, Ultimecia revealed herself as holding Edea's consciousness captive while she directed the woman's actions from a point in the future. Unfortunately, she clammed up before revealing any further information, leaving Squall frustrated, but determined to get to the bottom of this.
Hoping that Seifer was free from Ultimecia's influence, they descended to the cell in which they had temporarily placed him. Seifer was free from Ultimecia's drugging influence, but he was still dazed and unfit to fight. He also confided that he might not be so coherent if he was in range of Ultimecia again. So, it was decided that he would remain with the forces helping to build the new Garden, and he reunited with his friends Fujin and Raijin of Balamb Garden's Disciplinary Committee. However, he was able to tell Squall what Ultimecia was after.
She hoped to use the hypothetical spell, Time Compression, in which she could siphon off all of the powers from all of the Sorceresses and contain them in herself, after which she would rule the planet. This was the reason she was after Ellone, as the woman contained a power that would allow her to send a person's consciousness into the past. He sheepishly added that he knew this from experience, as he'd often fallen unconscious and ended up seeing seeing the past from a man named Laguna's eyes. Apparently the man and his two comrades had defeated a Sorceress named Adel. He didn't know what happened to the Sorceress, but he didn't think that she had been executed or killed.
Recalling Ellone's strange behavior, they reluctantly decided to check up on her again, and ask Laguna what had happened to the Sorceress Adel. Upon arriving in Esthar, they were greeted with mass chaos. Apparently someone had snuck into Esthar's space station and and had freed the spaceship Ragnarok from it's orbit, and it was currently plummeting towards the planet.
When prompted why this was such a big deal, President Laguna reluctantly informed Squall that the ship held the prison in which the Sorceress Adel had been placed in stasis. Furious at having such a dangerous enemy kept alive, Squall's party made their way to the estimated crash site to meet the Sorceress head on.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, by your point of view, Ultimecia had also made her way to the crash site, and was in the process of transferring her consciousness from Edea to the much more powerful Sorceress Adel. Unknown to Squall or his comrades, Ellone had been kidnapped from Esthar when one of Ultimecia's agents had freed Ragnarok from it's orbit. Channeling Adel's power combined with her own, Ultimecia found the correct combination to achieve Time Compression, but accidentally brought Squall's group to her own time.
The fight was brutal and damaging; at one point of the battle, it looked like Quistis had died. Thankfully, she managed to activate her Limit Break for White Wind, and scraped by, before returning to the conflict. The determining factor of the battle was indeed as Squall predicted; when he gained the time to summon Shiva in a quick lull of the engagement, it nearly decimated the rest of Ultimecia's driving power. With a combination attack from the five of them, Ultimecia was slaughtered, and the Time Compression began to dissolve.
While Irvine, Quistis, Zell and Selphie managed to safely return to their own time, Shiva's power, still coursing through Squall's veins, obstructed him from returning immediately. His first stop was to an orphanage he vaguely recognized; like a dream within a dream. When he saw a much younger Cid Kramer tending to himself as a child, he decided that this must have been one of the memories he had given up to keep Shiva.
However, the conversation with Headmaster Cid was now clear; Cid had gotten the idea for the Gardens and SeeD while at this orphanage, and if he didn't miss his guess, it was him who had told him about it. To make sure of his own future, he revealed himself to Cid to tell him about the Gardens and what purpose they would serve. He was then introduced to Edea Kramer, who he recognized as the woman that had been possessed by Ultimecia. Edea had been been what was called a dormant Sorceress; her powers had only been woken up after being subjected to inhumane medical tests. Cid had done all that he could to remove the powers that caused insanity in the women who held them, and left Edea sane and safe, but only with a small smattering of power; hardly enough to light a candle with magic.
His next trip in the timeline was to see himself, three years in the future. He was greeted with a smirk and a sensual kiss. While his senses were still reeling, his future self –call me Leon– informed him that he had been waiting three years for this. What happened next was the most mind-blowing sex he had ever participated in; far better than the drunken romp with Irvine, or even the casual experimentation with other students at Balamb Garden before the whole Ultimecia business occurred. After a breathtaking and exhausting night, Leon casually informed him that he should take up Seifer's offer for casual sex; he'd learn a lot.
Returning to his own time, he was greeted by a frantic Selphie and Zell, and a somewhat worried Quistis and Irvine. He had been missing for two weeks after the defeat of Ultimecia; he chalked it up to the bizarre happenings of the Time Compression. Taking his place as the leader of the now defunct Balamb Garden, he gathered up the remaining Trabia and Balamb SeeDs and students in a conference. He posed a plan to form a new Garden with higher standards, to keep the horrors that Galbadia Garden had inadvertently caused on the rest of the planet from happening again.
With a unanimous consensus, the Garden that had been in the middle of construction was named their new base of operations. Neo Balamb Garden. While it was still a year or so from being finished, it provided a goal to work towards. Many of the students and SeeDs joined in on the planning of the new curriculum and how the rooms should be arranged and equipped. Others started in the excavation of the demolished Gardens of Trabia, Balamb, and Galbadia. They were not going to leave their mistakes available for anyone to sort through. While the project would take some time, they were going to make sure that any and all records and weapons were collected and contained. The use of GFs would now be voluntary, not forced upon entering students to sever emotional ties.
At this time, Squall also became more commonly known as Leon. One of the reasons for this was that the citizens of the planet were clamoring for a hero to stand behind and honor, and he wanted no part in that sort of glory. He had fought Ultimecia because had didn't want to die like a dog, not because he wanted to be recognized for his actions. His actions were not of a hero, they were those of a desperate mercenary, not yet having reached manhood. While they searched far and wide for a mysterious "Squall", courtesy of President Laguna's speech, Leon quietly took his place as the head of Neo Balamb Garden. The second reason was actually because some of the more experienced SeeDs from Trabia Garden didn't feel comfortable addressing him as Squall, but neither wanted to address him as Commander Leonhart. As a result, they called him Leon, and it stuck.
Within a year, Neo Balamb Garden had been completed, and it quietly took it's place on the planet, refusing to advertise like the previous Gardens had done. At this point, Seifer had also initiated the casual sex offer that his future self had told him, and he accepted, unable to drive the night from his mind. It took two more years until all of the previous Gardens were completely dismantled and recovered, but the effort was worth it. They had uncovered far more immoral practices within both the Galbadia and Trabia Gardens; it seemed that only Balamb, under Headmaster Cid, had maintained a fairly ethical program.
The next year brought forth a slew of new changes. While Esthar had been discreetly exploring space, they had not yet discovered intelligent life on any of the neighboring planets. That changed when Organization XIII landed on the planet, and promptly set up a small base. Esthar quickly assimilated their technology and discovered more planets with life on them, beyond their own solar system. With interstellar transportation now available, many smaller crime rings were now expanding as fast as they could. While SeeD members unofficially hunted down as many rings as they could, there were too many to catch them all.
As such, the most prominent ring established was a slave ring, which was quickly assimilated into most modern households. After all, many of the slaves were prisoners from other planets, and with limiters and shock collars, they were easily subdued to do mundane chores around the house. It was like owning a pet, one that was capable of intelligent speech, and one that could be used for a bit of sexual recreation.
It was obvious that had Neo Balamb Garden attempted to take them out quickly, it would cause a massive uprising from the citizens that had grown used to the cheap help. The removal of the slave ring would have to be done slowly and quietly, just like how they had moved into the planet's mainstream society.
And that brings us to today, where Commander Leonhart of Neo Balamb Garden, age 24, was currently working on negotiating an alliance from Organization XIII, who also appeared to be a mercenary association.