Final Fantasy VIII: Days of Future Past
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part 1
by Roy Tang (zroytang@yahoo.com, http://roytang.cjb.net)

Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VIII and all related characters copyright of Squaresoft.

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"Woah!"

Mecis looked on in awe as she saw her fellow SeeD catapult out of the Lunar Base at incredible speed. She looked up to her companions. "That's amazing."

Kai simply nodded at her. He had seen all this before, and every time a new SeeD came to watch the launch process the reaction was always the same. He looked at the other SeeD beside him, Mecis' "special friend", as she put it. Laguna Hilmark looked on at the launch process in a bored sort of way, as if it was nothing out of the ordinary, even though this was his first time at Lunar Gate as well. "What's up, Laguna?" Kai said, "It's something, isn't it?"

"Yeah, well," the 21-year old SeeD drawled, "I've seen it before in the training simulations."

Kai smiled. "Training isn't much compared to the real thing, kid." Laguna and Mecis had been SeeDs for little more than three years now, but they had spent most of their time in administrative functions rather than actual combat duty. This was only Mecis' second assignment outside of Garden, but Laguna had far more actual combat experience, and he tended to act like nothing surprised him anymore.

"Next please." The technician handling the launch pods gestured towards them.

"Mecis, you're up." Kai gave her a friendly pat on the back. "It'll be fine."

"Er, yeah..." Mecis said not a bit nervously, "It's safe right?"

Laguna put an arm around her to reassure her. "Don't worry. You've seen the sims right? It'll be over before you know it."

Mecis nodded, and Kai couldn't help but chuckle to himself. He had known these two since they were cadets at Trabia, being one of their instructors, and he knew that Mecis always had a tendency for travel sickness. 'She should be fine if Laguna's with her', he figured.

Laguna helped Mecis into the launch capsule. "It would help if we could all go at once you know," he muttered a bit loudly.

"Yes, it would, wouldn't it?" Kai replied before the technicians could respond. "It's just your luck that the other launch units are being serviced today. Don't worry, you'll be launched right after her." Laguna, Mecis and another SeeD were being assigned to guard duty at the orbiting Lunar Base, and Kai was there to see them off.

Laguna ignored him and turned to Mecis. "You'll be fine, okay, I'll be there right after you."

Mecis smiled back at him, "Don't worry about me."

Laguna smiled as well. Stepping down, he closed the hatch and moved away.

"Launch error correction, plus 2. Orbital correction, minus 1. Corrections complete. Commencing launch..." the technicians powered up the launch unit, "3...2...1...go!"

For the second time in his life, Laguna witnessed the powerful force of the lunar launch unit. Acting as a magic-enhanced catapult, the device propelled Mecis' Launch capsule upwards at a precalclated angle, going at more than twice the escape velocity. The launch generated a powerful wake, and it was several seconds before Laguna noticed Kai had said something to him.

"What?" Laguna said to the senior SeeD even as his hearing recovered from the momentary shock.

"I said," Kai repeated, "This is gonna be the last mission for the two of you, isn't it?"

Laguna said nothing and looked up at Mecis' capsule.

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Everything flashed by.

She felt a bump. Then another. And another. She started to regain her senses, and Mecis felt slightly queasy. "Why did I agree to this?" she thought ruefully to herself. The hibernation process initiated at the Lunar Gate prevented her from moving around, but she was still flly conscious. Finally gathering enough strength to look around, she glanced out the transparent glass hull of her Lunar Capsule. Everything was still moving too fast.

Another bump rocked the capsule, and she realized that the bumps were being caused by large energy nets that served to slow the capsule's momentum as it hurtled towards the Lunar Base. Another bump, then another. After one more bump, she realzed the capsule's speed was relatively slower now, and that it was in fact about to come to a halt.

Looking outside, she saw the Lunar Base, a massive space station set into orbit by the Esthar government more than a hundred years ago. "Amazing," she said to herself, "It's larger than I thought."

Four figures dressed in white appeared around her capsule. "Astronauts," Mecis realized, as the four figures started to bring her capsule towards the space station. They loaded her capsule into a large machine, some sort of relay device apparently. The device carted her capsule into the Lunar Base's Dock Area.

She felt a few more bumps, and the next thing she knew, she was inside a large hangar-like structure. She heard a faint voice over the transceiver on the capsule.

"Initiating quick thaw."

With relief, Mecis felt the temperature around her start to increase. Slowly, the numbess vanished from her body, and she was able to move. The capsule hatch opened, and she started to step out. As she looked around, she was surprised to see her capsule was suspended off a wall roughly ten meters off the ground.

"Don't worry," she heard a voice, "Gravity's off."

Mecis recognized the voice as belonging to Rez, the other SeeD she had met at the mission briefing. Turnin towards him, she saw him floating around, surrounded by several more astronauts.

"You okay?" Rez asked her. He was a tall, blond-haired guy, probably no more than 20 years old. Mecis didn't know much about him, except that he was from Galbadia and that they would be working together at the Lunar Base for the next three months.

Mecis nodded. "Just a bit woozy."

"Don't go seasick now." Rez said cautiously. Mecis smarted at the comment. Kai knew she was conscious about her travel sickness, but went ahead and mentioned it on the way to Lunar Gate anyway. "I'm so gonna smack him when we get back," she thought to herself.

She stepped out of the capsule, and felt herself floating in mid-air. "It's like a Float spell," she thought to herself. She recovered her duffel bag from the capsule and floated towards Rez and the astronauts.

"What's with the luggage?" Mecis asked Rez. Rez was carrying not only the standard SeeD duffel bag, but also an additional backpack he wore over his shoulder. It was unusual for SeeDs to carry more than the duffel bag during missions.

Rez shrugged. "I'm a heavy packer."

Mecis was about to reply when one of the astronauts spoke. "Third capsule incoming."

"Looks like your boyfriend's coming in." Rez commented. Mecis didn't answer and just looked out the transparent glass walls of the hangar. She saw another Lunar Capsule come in from the distance, and row upon row of vibrant energy nets appeared in front of it. As the Capsule hit each net, it lost a bit of speed, until if finally slowed to a crawl. The four astronauts loaded the capsule into the waiting relay machine, and she saw how the machine manuevered the capsule into a nearby tube. The capsule shot out and reappeared near where her own capsule was.

"Initiating quick thaw." Mecis realized the voice was coming over a loudspeaker. She saw Laguna's capsule glow momentarily before the hatch opened. Laguna stepped out, dragging his bag behind him. Unlike Mecis, he quickly adapted to the zero-gravity condition and immediately went over to her.

"You okay?" Laguna said to her. Mecis detected a bit of fatigue in his voice and replied. "I'm fine. You look like that trip shook you a bit."

"No, I just need a bit of sleep that's all."

Mecis smiled at his reply. Laguna would never admit to being shaken by anything.

They heard Rez call out to them. "If you lovebirds are ready, we gotta go see the director." He was already being escorted by a couple of astronauts towards a nearby doorway. A couple more astronauts moved towards the pair, motioning them to follow.

"Let's go," Laguna said to Mecis. The astronauts guided them to the doorway and into another room. The door shut behind them, and the astronauts slowly moved them towards the ground.

"Locking gravity." The same voice spoke over the loudspeaker. Mecis felt a feeling of weightedness start to appear around her, similar to how a Float spell wore off. She and the others gently landed on the floor.

"Gravity lock complete. Welcome to Esthar Lunar Base." The door on the other side of the hallway opened and the astronauts motioned them towards it. The voice spoke again, "Please follow the right-hand corridor to report to the Director. Thank you."

The three SeeDs stepped out into the corridor. It opened into three paths, one heading left, one heading right, and a stairway goind up. "Well, time waits for no one," Rez said as he went down the right-hand hallway. Laguna and Mecis followed.

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"Check it out!"

Mecis was looking out the large glass window in the hallway. The window provided a clear view of the surrounding space. At a slight distance from the space station, there was a huge circular structure that seemed to be filled with some sort of translucent crystal. A humanoid figrue dressed in blue could be seen inside the structure.

"Man, you get amazed easily, don't you?" Rez needled her, "That's Rinoa's Tomb."

"I know what it is!" Mecis shot back, slightly annoyed. Rinoa's Tomb was the reason the Esthar Lunar Base was built. Rinoa Heartily, the last sorceress in historical record, was being kept in suspended animation within the crystal prison. Shortly after participating alongside SeeD in the last Sorceress War, she was struck with a fatal disease that was impossible to recover from. Fearing that her death would cause her powers to be passed on to a new, more powerful sorceress, she had willfully succumbed to the suspension process. And she had remained in this same place for the last hundred years, a grim reminder of the danger posed to the world by the sorceress powers. And a grim reminder of why SeeD's vigilance was needed at all times. She had seen pictures of it before of course, but the view from this close was completely different. One could see completely into the crystal prison, and Mecis could almost see the expression on her face.

"She seems so...sad.", Mecis said.

"Sad? What are you talking about? She's a sorceress!" Rez retorted.

"That's not what I'm talking about!" Mecis replied. "Rumor has it that her lover was a SeeD!"

"Oh, please, that's just an urban legend." Rez said. "Why would a SeeD become involved with a sorceress?"

Laguna, having had enough of their witty reparte, nudged Mecis. "Come on, the director's waiting."

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"Just three of you this time? Garden's getting overconfident aren't they?" Dr. Kasim was the head of the Lunar Base staff and director of the Sorceress Research project. "Or are they too busy fighting other people's wars?"

Mecis seethed at the insult. Ever since the last Sorceress had been defeated, SeeD had made a name for itself as a powerful mercenary force. The current head of Garden, Cid IV had justified it by saying Garden needed the money to maintain it's vigilance against the Sorceresses. This, along with SeeD's tendency to unfairly prosecute suspected potential Sorceresses had considerably dimmed SeeD's reputation worldwide.

"That was an unnecessary comme-" Mecis was cut off as Laguna nudged her.

Laguna saluted the director and spoke. "Sir, with all due respect, three SeeDs are more than enough to handle any threat that may appear, and Garden's peacekeeping operations are all geared towards protecting the peace of the world."

"Yeah, whatever." The director looked over the assignment sheet Laguna had handed him. "Laguna Hilmark. Named after the former president eh?" Laguna simply nodded. The director picked up a metallic card from his desk and tossed it to Laguna.

"That's the pass for your quarters, take the elevator further down the hall to sub-level III. Dismissed."

Laguna saluted again, and all three SeeDs filed out of the director's room.

"Nice guy," Rez muttered, "I'm so gonna enjoy working for him...NOT!"

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The door to the SeeD quarters slid open, and the three of them stepped inside.

"Two rooms huh," Rez said, looking around, "Will it be guys and girl, or will you two be sharing a room?" He grinned at the two mischievously. Laguna shot him a hard look.

"Heh, you said the wrong thing." Mecis said.

"Garden Code Article 45 Paragraph 12." Laguna recited in a monotone. "SeeD members are forbidden from having relations while on duty."

"Sheesh, you're really anal about the rules, aren't you?" Rez said, "Lighten up."

"Whatever."

"I call this room!" Mecis said, entering the bigger bedroom. She put down her duffel bag and started to unpack.

Laguna shrugged. He went into the other room. It had two bunker-style beds, similar to those in Garde dormitories. Rez followed, tossed his bags unto the top bed and walked out.

"Where are you going?" Laguna asked him.

"I'm gonna go take a look around." Rez said casually as he walked out of the quarters.

"Don't get into any trouble," Laguna called after him as he went on unpacking.

Mecis stepped into their room after Rez walked out. "Isn't he tired? He's okay though, isn't he?"

Laguna looked up at her. "Yeah, I guess. He's a bit weird though."

"What do you mean?"

"I've worked with him before, during the Timber mission. "

"Against the Forest Owls?" Mecis had heard the story from Laguna before. The Forest Owls were a revolutionary group led by pro-Sorceress fanatics. Laguna had been assigned there a year ago to defend Timber after a potential Sorceress was rumored to have been found in that area.

"Yeah," Laguna nodded, "He was kind of a loner and was really quiet, like he didn't like what was going on."

Mecis shrugged. "He seems fine to me."

"Well, you should get used to him, we'll all be working together for the next three months."

"Laguna..."

Laguna hesitated before asking. "What?"

"After this mission, are we--?"

Laguna sighed. Mecis had wanted to retire from SeeD after this mission. While she was a tough girl, she was physically weak compared to other SeeDs, which was why she had preferred to take administrative functions during her tour of duty. She was tired of her and Laguna constantly being in danger because they were SeeDs, and had wanted to start a peaceful life in her hometown of Winhill. "Didn't the Headmaster at Trabia invite you to be an instructor?" Laguna said to her.

"Yeah, but...I dunno. I'd still be a SeeD." Even as an instructor, SeeDs could be called to combat duty at any time if needed. Mecis sighed, "Do you still want to--?"

"It's just that if we quit," Laguna replied, "then what would I do?"

Mecis smiled. "You could be something ordinary. Like a barber!"

Laguna shook his head. "You're being silly. Tell you what. Let's wait 'til this mission is over. After this one, we'll go on vacation, and we'll decide then, okay?"

Mecis smiled at him again. A vacation was better than nothing. "Okay."

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Kai was walking down a hallway in the Tears Point research facility, several kilometers from the Lunar Gate. He stopped at a door marked "Lunar Observation Control" and made his way in.

The room was a large array of computers and monitors. Several heads craned to look at him when he entered, and all but one went back to their work after they did not recognize him. Sienna Balmont, commander of SeeD's Dincht division responsible for Esthar, nodded to him. "Did the launch go well?" she asked.

Kai nodded back. "They're fine. They should be resting up at the Lunar Base by now."

"Well, they're going to need that rest," Sienna muttered.

"What do you mean?"

"Readings here indicate unusual activity on the surface of the moon over the past few weeks. The 'residents' of the moon seem to be converging on a particular spot."

"You mean--?" Kai was surprised at what she was implying.

"Yes. Apparently, the time has come for another Lunar Cry."

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TBC

Author's Rants:
Well, this is the first time I'll be doing a multi-part 'fic, so wish me luck! Anyway, I know nothing much happened in this part, but I just wanted to lay the groundwork for some future events. I wanted to include the first major plot event in this one, but after writing the above, I felt it would be a bit too long, so I'll just cut it here. Between the cheesy title and the happenings here, can you guess what this 'fic will be about? Stay tuned.
On a side note, if FF8 is my least favorite FF game, why am I writing about it? It's because the story was so weak I have to supplement it myself, lol. No offense to FF8-lovers. =)
As always, any comments, corrections, suggestions, e-mail me. Flames, send 'em to bill@microsoft.com.