Strange Spirits

Chapter 10

Location: mysterious castle, Thunder Plains

"RINOA!" shouted Squall. "STOP!"

Yet, it was too late. A powerful blast of ultima engulfed the group whole. Their HP points cut down nearly in half. Everyone was groggy from the unexpected attack and Lulu worked quickly to heal their party. However, Squall seemed unfazed. He quietly approached the woman in blue and gazed into her unseeing face.

"Rinoa…I'm sorry. I can't."

"Squall! Look out!" shouted Tidus. The blonde-swordsman then shoved him out of the way as Rinoa cast another ultima spell.

Yuna watched in horror as the bright white flames swallowed up the two men whole. Yuna tried to rush towards them, but Rikku held her back.

"No! Squall! Tidus!"

Though, a second later the flames subsided and revealed that the two were ok. Yuna sighed in relief and heard a shrill laugh coming from the woman in blue. She turned to see Rinoa's eyes begin to flicker a red demonic light and her body started to sway and stagger with each step.

"Foolish humans. You will all perish under my power."

Confused, Squall rose up and faced her. He didn't recognize her voice. She didn't sound like Rinoa at all. He asked, "Who are you? What have you done to Rinoa?"

The possessed beauty threw back her head and laughed. She eyes began to glow again as she smirked under her veil of raven hair. She said, "I am Jenova and the one you call Rinoa is no more."

Squall narrowed his brow. He couldn't accept that Rinoa was gone. He raised his hand in frustration and said, "No! I don't care who you are. Rinoa isn't gone. She can't be gone!"

"Hahahah! I already have what I wanted. Soon this world will be mine and I will be reborn."

"No!" shouted Squall. "I won't let you!"

The scarred-swordsman then lunged forward to attack, but the possessed-sorceress cast another spell. She blasted Squall back with iceage. He staggered back and was about to be struck down again, but this time Yuna, Rikku and Paine intervened. The group of friends banded together and soon Wakka, Lulu and Tidus joined the team.

Together they threw, cast, slashed and shot at the possessed-witch, but all their efforts did was merely slow her down. She was incredibly strong and her evil smile never left her face. Squall knew that he had to save her. He had to free her from Jenova's possessive grip. However, the scarred-swordsmen didn't think he had it in him to slay the woman he loved. He felt guilty for how they had been growing apart since they defeated Ultimecia 2 years ago. Rinoa had been spending more and more time back with the Forest Owls and rebuilding her home while he had been busy taking over major operations at Balamb Garden for Sid. They hadn't seen each other for a long time, but Rinoa still wore his ring. He thought they still had more time together, but Jenova has spoiled everything. Squall was now faced with a decision he hoped he'd never have to make. He had to fight Rinoa in order to save her from herself.

Then, unexpectedly Squall rushed forward with his gun-blade drawn. He was about to slash at her with his sword when suddenly she raised her hand and suspended him in mid air. Squall found himself floating in a strange red light and unable to move.

Tidus inched closer and shouted, "Let him go!" but the possessed sorceress only chuckled at his demand and began to shock Squall with her powers. Yuna watched with terror as his body twitched uncontrollably against the shocks.

Wakka, Rikku and Paine tried to help free Squall from Rinoa's spell, but all their attacks were deflected. They couldn't get close enough to help. Yuna was afraid that she might kill him. She tried shooting at Rinoa with her guns, but the bullets just bounced off an invisible shield.

"No!" cried the former-summoner.

Yuna desperately wished she had the strength to save him, but it was too late. Rinoa was already drawing Squall in. The possessed sorceress smirked wickedly and wrapped her hands around him neck. Rinoa was about to choke him to death and there wasn't anything anybody could do. Yuna could not bear to watch. She turned away. She didn't want to see him get kill that way, but out of nowhere a blur of brown and white leapt forward and latched onto Rinoa's arm.

"AAAAAAHHH!" screamed the witch.

It distracted Rinoa long enough to let Squall free. He dropped to the ground and began to cough. Yuna ran to his side and helped him to his feet. Squall looked up and saw that what saved him was Rinoa's dog, Angelo.

The dog had bitten down hard onto Rinoa's wrist. Squall knew that Angelo wouldn't be able to hold on for long and quickly sprang into action. He pulled away from Yuna and stabbed her with his sword. Rinoa gasped. For a moment the two met each other's eyes and Squall saw the red glow fade from her irises. Slowly, her lids began to close and her body grew limp. He swiftly caught her in his arms and cradled her close as she fell.

Carefully, he placed his hand onto her cheek and held her face. Tears began to fall from his eyes. Rinoa had been freed from Jenova's possession and she gazed up at Squall with her dark brown eyes. She smiled up at him and slowly reached up to brush his hair away from his scarred face.

"Squall? Squall…don't cry…you…you saved me…"

The scarred-swordsman turned away from her touch and closed his eyes in shame. "No. I'm sorry, Rinoa. I wasn't able to protect you like I promised."

Rinoa replied, "No…you set me free. You kept your promise. I…I knew I could depend on you, Squall…always."

Then, a moment later her hand slipped from his cheek and her eyes closed for the last time. Squall felt his heart break in two and watched as Rinoa's body slowly began to disappear into flickering lights and fade away. Squall held onto her as long as he could until there wasn't anything left of her but vapor.

For a long time no words were said and Yuna wasn't sure what to say. She wanted to go to him and give him comfort. She wanted to tell Squall that Rinoa had gone to a better place, but she didn't want to intrude on his grief. Though, a second later Angelo approached the scarred-swordsman and whimpered sadly. He placed his head onto Squall's arm and waited patiently until he patted his head.

Meanwhile, Tidus was uncomfortable with Squall's grief. He touched the back of his head absently and turned away. The former-blitz player said, "Squall, I'm sorry."

However, Squall ignored him and picked up the Griever ring he had give to Rinoa on the floor and held it briefly in the palm of his hand. He closed his stormy blue eyes and rose. He turned to his new friends and in a hollow voice said, "It doesn't matter. Come on, let's go."

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Location: Mt. Gagazet

Seifer was tired. He had practically dragged the old man all away from the ice cave to the village. He knew they couldn't stay in the cave forever and the old geezer looked like he needed medical care. With a grunt he pulled Auron higher and yanked on his harm over his shoulder with his arm around his waist.

"You better not die, old man."

Auron smirked and said, "I wouldn't dream of it, kid."

Seifer was surprised at Auron's smart come back, but didn't say anything else. He liked the geezer's stubborn attitude. It made it more likely that he'd live. He just wondered if the village up head was friendly.

It took several more clumsy steps, but eventually they were close enough to the village to be seen. Seifer saw a group of people heading their way. He was startled to see that they weren't people. Instead, they were a tribe of really big blue fur cats with horns sprouting out from their foreheads. They looked dangerous, but once they saw whom he was dragging around they seemed overwhelmingly concerned.

"It's Auron!" shouted the Ronsos. "Get Kimarhi!"

It wasn't long before the Ronsos surrounded Seifer. The tall blue furry cat people gathered around and helped him pick up Auron and carried him into a house. They seemed like a friendly bunch of fur-balls and Seifer knew Auron was in good hands. The Ronso immediately gave Auron medical care and offered him a warm meal and a place to sleep. Seifer reluctantly accepted their hospitality, but kept his distance.

Later, a smaller Ronso appeared at the door. He had a broken horn on his head and seemed to know the old man. He patted Auron's arm before meeting Seifer's gaze.

"Kimahri, thank you. You saved Kimahri's friend."

Seifer was surprised at the blue cat's manners. He narrowed his brow and said, "Yeah, well don't mention it. I was just passing through."

Though, unexpectedly Auron spoke and with a rough voice, "Hum, you're not just passing through. You're not from around here, are you?"

Irritated, the Knight said, "Why in the world would you say that?"

Auron calmly replied, "Don't deny it. It's true. You're not from Spira. You're from someplace else, am I right?"

Seifer frowned, but admitting stated, "Yeah, so what?"

"Are you working with Sin?"

The Knight was confused. He got up from his seat and turned away from them. "I don't know what Sin is. I'm a Knight. I'm here because I was helping a friend. Tell me, have you seem him? He's a serious guy with brown hair and blue eyes. He has a scar on his face like me."

Auron said, "No, I haven't seem him."

Then, the blue cat replied, "Kimahri also haven't seen him."

Seifer thought it over. He had to find Squall. He had to figure out where he was and get back home. He couldn't waste his time helping old men and talking with cats. He needed useful information so he could get back to his friends.

"Then, I need a map or something. I can't waste my time here when that guy is getting all the glory."

"Kimahri will help," stated the cat-man.

Kimahri then rose. He thought it was the least he could do since Seifer had helped rescue Auron off the mountain. He then headed towards the door when suddenly outside they heard screaming. Shocked, Seifer and Kimahri rushed out and felt a violent earthquake rock the entire village. Ronsos were running in fear. Warriors were gathering their spears. Kimahri and Seifer looked up into the sky and saw that storm clouds had gathered and Sin was looming over head right above them.

"What is that thing?" questioned the Knight.

"Sin," answered Kimahri. "Sin has returned."

However, a second later the monstrous beast began to morph. Sin began to transform. It's body started to glow strange purple and green like and swell out like a cocoon. Then, without warning the cocoon burst open and revealed two enormous black wings. A rain of black feathers descended down from out of the sky and in the center was a huge face of a feminine looking man. Auron struggled out of bed and gaze out from the door and saw that it was the face of the longhaired swordsman. It was the face of Sephiroth.

Then, to Auron's horror the giant face opened it's mouth and began to swallow whole a strange energy from the earth below. Thin strands of green light began to flow up towards the alien skies and grow. Nobody knew what they were witnessing, but it was the very life of Spira beginning absorbed into Jenova like a sponge.

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TBC

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Author's Note: Sorry for the delay, but real life gets in the way and my muse comes and goes. I realize that last chapter had a terrible cliffhanger, but I hope you don't hate me for Rinoa's death. I'm aiming for a SquallXYuna shipper here and I'm not a big fan of cat fights.

Please read and review. Thank you.