This is my first published piece, so please don't be too harsh on me. Please give feedback or I will not continue!
Also, I do not own any of the characters except Selene. They belong to Square Enix.
A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger.
A word well known by the people of Cocoon. They live out of fear. Ever since PSICOM, the Public Safety and Intelligence Command, started the Purge, nothing has been the same. Here, in Palompolum, people live by this word. Fright. Terror. Horror. Panic. Alarm. Dismay.
We wait for the day that things will go back to normal, but at times like these, it's hard to imagine.
It all started about a year ago, here in Palompolum…"
Felix Heights was a small town within Palompolum, one of the biggest cities on Cocoon.
And one of the most visited tourist attractions. There were many shops lining the streets. The weather was always bright and chilly, but the citizens who lived there loved the casual days.
There was only one school in the city. Felix School for the Gifted. It was a very small school, excepting only the most intelligent students.
The walls were lined with lockers and students mingling. The atmosphere was bright and charming, all of the students always had such an upbeat attitude.
Your long, redish-brown hair flowed behind you angelically as you walked down the hallway. You wore a collared white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, with a loosely tied navy blue tie. A solid colored navy blue pleated skirt hung about halfway down your thighs. The uniform was topped off with navy blue dress shoes and knee high white dress socks. This was the same uniform all female students wore from grade school, all the way through university life. You slipped your arms into the sleeves of your navy colored sweater as you marched down the hallway.
It was your last day in 8th grade. Your last year before you were officially marked as an adult.
You spotted one of your friends at his locker, and slowly approached with a smile on your face.
Before you could scare him, two warm arms wrapped around your waist and grabbed you firmly from behind.
You jumped at the sudden impact, but refused to turn around.
"Hahaha you never change, Selene." The boy spoke.
He released you and you turned to face your childhood friend.
The boy's spiky layered silver hair hung about his ears, and almost matched his collared uniform shirt. He had a soft boyish face, and his aqua colored eyes gazed up at you. He crossed his arms over his chest and laughed.
"Why would I change? It's only been a few days since I last saw you!" you protested at the boy.
You're other friend from earlier approached with a giggle. "Is Hope messing with you again?" he said in a sarcastic manner.
"Oh shut up, Maqui!" you gave him a slight shove.
The boy adjusted the goggles upon his blonde head as he giggled and high fived Hope.
You shook your head in amusement.
Hope was a boy, only about 6 months younger than you, and about 2 inches shorter. He has been your friend, and neighbor, since you were both very little. He was never really into sports, but he was very smart. He was always teased about being weak and afraid of danger, but that never bothered his upbeat spirit. With a friend like Maqui, no one really gave him too much trouble.
Then there was Maqui…
Maqui was one of Hope's friends you had met a couple years back, and you became great friends with him right away. He was about two years older than you, but he still enjoyed hanging out with you and Hope. Along with being 2 years older, he was also about 2 inches taller than you. He loved blitzball, and he was pretty darn good at it. Maqui was one of the star players, and one of the most popular kids in school. He was well known for his knowledge of machinery and his love of snowboarding, too.
"Are you guys excited for the fireworks tomorrow night? There is going to be a festival in Bodhum and everything, I hear!" Maqui smiled as his cheeks turned a bright red color, "Maybe Selene will accompany me to the festival…?" He gave you a charmingly irresistible smile.
You avoided his gaze shyly as you responded. "You know I'm not one for big parties…"
You had always idolized Maqui and his popularity. It wasn't long before you formed a crush towards him; he was quite charming, after all. He could have any girl he wanted. Why was he asking you?
His crystal blue eyes showed a bit of disappointment as he looked down at the carpeted floor.
Hope turned away for a moment, then murmured a soft "I'm going to class" before he walked off.
Maqui sighed. "The kid's had a crush on you for a while now. He insisted I not try to ask you to the festival, but I just had to try…I guess you don't-"
You giggled childishly, startling Maqui. "I'd love to go with you."
A large smile grew on his face. "Great. I'll meet you there." He trotted off happily, leaving you with your thoughts.
The night air in Bodhum was so calm and peaceful. Stars were twinkling in the sky, and everything seemed so perfect.
You admired the atmosphere at the festival, all of the twinkling lights, and all of the girls in their colorful yukatas.
A warm hand rested on your shoulder and a soft voice whispered in your ear, giving you chills.
"You look beautiful"
You turned slowly, looking up into Maqui's crystal blue eyes. He reached down and slowly ran the back of his index finger down your cheek. "I think the fireworks are about to start," he said quietly.
Maqui rested his arms on the railing of the balcony and leaned forward. His everyday dress shirt was now worn without the tie, and the top buttons were undone in a casual manner. He also wore khaki colored dress pants.
"Wow! This is a great view!" You admired, grabbing onto the railing. The fireworks looked gorgeous from where you were standing.
He nodded his head. "It sure is." He looked down at you admirably as he backed away from the railing.
You turned to face him, putting your back to the rail. "Hey, Maqui…I have a question."
He turned to you, his spiky blonde hair blowing in the wind. "What is it?" It was odd seeing him without his signature goggles on top of his head, but somehow it was comforting. Instead of spiked up, his hair fell down in a messy, yet very cute, way.
"Why would a guy like you ask a girl like me to come with you to the festival?"
He smiled, "Well I suppose I could ask you a similar question. Why would a girl as perfect as you say yes to a guy like me?"
You shook your head. "That's not fair, you have to answer my question before asking another!" you protested.
He giggled at your persistence.
He moved closer to you, now only a few inches away.
"Well…" he gazed into your eyes, his crystal blue spheres shining in the moonlight, lighting up with each firework. "Some would call it love…" he leaned closer to you, his voice softening, "That's too superficial for me," He smiled; the warmth of his breath caressed your soft lips. "I prefer to call it infatuation…"
He placed his right hand behind your neck, pulling you closer to him slowly, and his left hand at the small of your back.
"Maqui!" a masculine voice called from down below.
Maqui closed his eyes and sighed. He released you from his hold and leaned over the railing.
"What is it, Gadot? This better be important…" he complained.
The man with spiky orange and red hair came rushing up the stairs a moment later, followed by a dark haired girl and another boy, who had long, blue hair.
"Lebreau? Yuj? Whats going on?" Maqui questioned, walking towards them in a rush.
The girl glared at him. "Its PSICOM. They are starting the Purge tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Maqui yelled.
"Tomorrow, Maqui. Calm down." Yuj said as he brushed some strands of his blue hair out of his face, then crossed his arms.
"Whats a 'Purge'?" you asked quietly.
Maqui turned to you very quickly. "Selene, you have to go home. And stay there. Don't leave the house tomorrow." He grabbed your shoulders and looked lovingly into your eyes. "You have to trust me."
"I…I do trust you." You lunged towards him and wrapped your arms around his waist as he embraced you with one last hug.
"I'll come back to you. I promise." He whispered into your ear.
"Alright Maqui, lets get outta here." The large muscular man named Gadot grabbed his arm and pulled him away, leaving you alone on the balcony.
"Purge…?" you whispered out loud. You gazed up at the beautiful fireworks.
There was someone riding around the firework dome on a sky bike. It was a large blonde man, and a girl you recognized to be one of Maqui's friends from school.
As you watched them momentarily, you admired the couple. Even though you didn't know them, it seemed as though nothing could tear the two apart.
The next day, you did exactly what Maqui told you to do. You stayed at home and watched the news, and the terror of what was going on in Bodhum.
Last night on your way out of the festival, you ran into Hope and his mother, Nora.
They looked so happy together, but you were sad to see his dad not there. Again. Third year in a row. This crushed your spirits a little.
You told them of your confrontation with Maqui and the rest of his NORA gang. The silly group calls themselves NORA, standing for No Obligations Rules or Authority.
You and Hope both thought it was kind of a stupid acronym, but it didn't matter to them.
Hope told you not to worry about what Maqui said, saying it was probably nothing. But you knew something was up. You knew Hope would worry, so you didn't go into detail.
"Selene, I have something I need to get off of my chest…" he looked deep into your eyes. He wore his favorite yellow and orange jacket, and his signature aqua colored bandana. You always noticed that it matched his eyes just perfectly.
"I like you. I really like you. I have ever since I first met you…"
"Hope, you're just-"
"Too weak, I know. But I can prove to you that I can change."
"That's not what I was going to say…"
"I know. You're too nice to say something like that. But you meant it. When I turn 16, I'm joining the Guardian Corps." His eyes filled with passion. "I will prove to you that I am worthy."
You were speechless. You had never thought of him in that way. He was like a little brother to you. Before you could get any response out, he leapt forward, stealing a kiss upon your cheek.
"I know that right now, I am only just a kid in your eyes. But I promise you that I will become a man worthy of earning your love."
He knew you didn't think of him that way, but he did not seem satisfied.
Baffled by his confession, all you could summon your body to do was to grab him by the shoulders. "Just be safe, okay Hope? I don't know what I would do if something happened to you…"
"Those were my last words to him. My last words, before everything changed."
You lay on the roof of your house, staring up at the cloudy sky. It was a very gray and gloomy sky, close to yesterdays. Not even the local birds were to be seen.
The Purge was over, and apparently a bunch of l'cie were fighting PSICOM for some reason. It wasn't entirely clear what was going on.
You heard footsteps approaching your house, so you looked over the edge to see Maqui.
"You're back!" you sat upright.
He climbed up the ladder and plopped down next to you. He nodded his head. "I promised I would be back."
It was easy to tell that he knew something you didn't. He avoided eye contact, and his usual charming smile was nowhere to be seen. "What's wrong?" you asked, brushing some of his blonde bangs out of his eyes. There were traces of dirt and ash on his cheeks.
"It's Hope…" he murmured distantly.
"What happened to Hope?" you shouted, tears in your eyes.
"He…he and his mother were taken aboard the Purge train. And he was…he was turned into a l'cie. His mother is…his mother is dead."
You gripped your head with both hands, feeling it throb violently.
Maqui's warm arm slipped around your shoulders and he embraced you in a hug, pulling you into his chest.
"My parents were taken by the Purge, too…I told them to stay inside, but they insisted they had to go to work. I…I don't even know what happened to them…" a tear rolled down your delicate cheek.
Maqui held you closer, rubbing your back soothingly.
"Whats going to happen to them?" his shirt muffled your voice as you sobbed into it.
"I can't say…" he drifted off. "I know that Hope is with the leader of NORA, though. Snow. He's amazing! I'm sure he will take care of Hope. There isn't a doubt in my mind that he's going to find a way to make things better. He's really tough. Tougher than me, y'know?"
Maqui wasn't even entirely sure that the two made it out okay, after all that had happened.
"He can protect Hope?" you asked.
Maqui nodded. A sigh of relief escaped your lips.
"And, I'll protect you. NORA is keeping watch all over Bodhum, so I can stay here with you." A small glimmer of his charming smile made its way upon his lips when he looked down at you.
The days passed by slowly, each one more frightening than the next. It had been about 8 months since the Purge.
At first, it was just the PSICOM soldiers trying to rid the town of l'cie. But after a while, there were huge monsters that invaded Palompolum, and even Felix Heights.
Every day you would glance out your bedroom window hoping to see Hope return home, but every day it seemed vacant.
You knew that his father, Bartholomew Estheim, would be the only one returning, but even on normal days before the Purge he was rarely there.
Maqui tried to keep the mood in high spirits, but with everything changing so much, even he seemed a little afraid at times.
You sipped some hot chocolate as you sat on the sofa in your living room. It made you warm inside, and you missed that feeling. Everyone close to you had been taken away. Maqui was the only person you had left.
"Do you think that l'cie can ever become human again?" you directed the question towards Maqui, who was in the kitchen making a glass for himself.
He walked over to the sofa and had a seat next to you. "I'm not really sure. I don't know that much about l'cie. Other than the government hating them…"
You nodded as you set your glass on the charcoal colored coffee table.
A loud noise came from next door.
Both you and Maqui quickly sprung to your feet. He stepped in front of you to protect you, out of habit.
"Stay here. I'll go see what that was." He spoke softly but firmly.
"Please. Stay here."
He quickly walked to the nearest window. With a startled expression, he ran towards the front door without speaking a word.
You jumped in front of him right before he grabbed the handle.
He glared down at you, "What are you doing?" he demanded. His whole personality seemed to change. He was now very stern and powerful when he spoke.
"Hope is back, isn't he?" you dared to ask.
He put a hand on your shoulder and gently pushed you aside. As he grabbed the handle, your hand rested on top of his.
"Selene, someone out there is in trouble. There is a huge airship outside and I need to know if I can help." He stared deeply into your eyes.
The grip you held over his hand weakened, and so did your knees. You backed away slowly, struggling to keep your balance.
Maqui rushed from the door to catch you in his arms and help you over to the sofa.
"He's probably already been picked off by the soldiers…even you know that" you whispered, looking off into the distance.
He knelt down in front of the couch and cupped his index finger under your chin to turn your head towards him. He seemed to be back to his usual self.
"Hey, I said I would protect you, didn't I? There is nothing you need to worry about. I'm here, and I'm not going to leave you alone." His charming smile was back, and it was hard to resist.
He placed his hand on the back of your head, entangling his fingers throughout your soft hair, and pulled you into a passionate kiss.
The warm feeling inside was back again.
"Can we at least go outside to see if someone is there? Maybe they could help!" you sat up from lying down next to Maqui on the couch.
He continued to relax, denying the idea of leaving the house.
You stood up and slipped on your tennis shoes. You walked quickly over to the door and poked your head out.
"Woah woah! Wait a minute, Sel!" he jumped up and chased you out the door.
He spotted Snow with his hands up, surrendering to something. "S-Snow?" he ran towards his fellow NORA member. You yelled after him, "What if something bad happens?"
"Then I'll protect you, with my life. I have to talk to Snow." He walked quicker towards the backyard.
"Where do you two think you are going?" a PSICOM soldier grabbed you by the arm and held a gun out to Maqui. You wimpered at the tight grip he had over you.
"Calm down, we were just curious what was going on with that giant airship." Maqui stayed calm, as your heartbeat raced.
"Come with me" the masked soldier commanded as he dragged you along. Maqui grabbed the man's shoulder.
"Not without a fight!" he punched the man across the face, sending him off balance and giving you a chance to break free. You ran behind Maqui and grabbed onto his shirt for safety.
"…And, that was when they took him.
He told me to run and not look back, so I ran. The man knocked him unconscious and took him aboard their airship. I'm not really sure what happened to him, but I'd like to think that he's still out there, fighting…
That was about a year ago, now."
You paused a moment, looking up at the clear sky.
"But Misses Selene, what happened to Hope? And your parents?" a small girl about the age of 4 asked, breaking you free of your imagination.
You smiled. "I don't know…I don't know what happened to anyone."
"But the Purge isn't over yet, is it?" a smart little boy asked.
You shook your head. "No. That's why I'm here talking to you guys. Even though a lot of the adults are afraid, we need to stay strong, for them. I lost everyone that was close to me. But that doesn't mean I can't still have…hope."
Another little girl with pigtails giggled, "That's funny how your best friend's name is Hope, and that is what we need the most."
You giggled, "Yeah…I guess it is." You patted her head and gave her a smile. "Alright guys, we better all get to class now. Recess is over."
"Aw man!" the little boy shouted as he jumped to his feet. "Tell us more of the story tomorrow?"
You shook your head "I'm sorry, Pacce, but that's the end of the story. I don't know what is going to happen next…"
The students ran off with smiles on their faces as they ran to class.
It was hard to keep smiling when you had so much doubt. You wondered almost every day, what if Maqui and Hope never came back? What if your parents never came back?